Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting.

These sunshine sweet homemade lemon cupcakes with vanilla frosting are incredibly soft and bursting with lemon flavor!

Delicious and simple Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with creamy vanilla frosting! These are always such a big hit. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Fact: I love lemon desserts more than I love these. It’s true. I’m a fruity kind of girl. My favorite dessert ever is apple pie. Or Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. I’ve been craving lemon cupcakes for awhile, but wanted to wait for spring to get here before I made them. Well, in Baltimore – it actually feels like summer right now. 85 degrees in April? I’ll take it.

The warmer weather is just perfect for my sunshine lemon cupcakes. Yep, that’s what I like to call these babies. And how can you not smile sinking your teeth into one of these? They are the happiest cupcake in the world. The homemade lemon cupcakes are incredibly soft and bursting with lemon flavor. Not too much that you’ll squint your eyes and pucker up your lips, but just enough to give each bite a refreshing zest of citrus flavor.  I topped them with my favorite vanilla frosting.  Sweet vanilla and zesty lemon compliment each other wonderfully.

Feel free to use a cream cheese frosting instead. Or even a lemon buttercream. If you find a nice lemon buttercream recipe, let me know! I’ve been searching.

Delicious and simple Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with creamy vanilla frosting! These are always such a big hit. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The lemon cupcake recipe is laughably easy. Like most of my recipes, I used simple, everyday ingredients. I didn’t even need to go to the store before I made them last weekend.  You’ll simply cream sugar and softened butter together, add 2 eggs, vanilla, and then your dry ingredients. I favor using neutral oil in my cakes and cupcakes because it makes cakes exceptionally moist. However, when I’m looking for a buttery taste, I use butter. In one bite, all you’ll taste is sweet lemon + buttery vanilla flavor. Unbelievable!

The dry ingredients are standard: flour, baking powder, and salt. After mixing the wet and dry together, add some milk, lemon juice and lemon zest.  You’ll need 2 lemons for the cupcake batter.  The zest of two lemons & the juice of two lemons.

The recipe makes 12 standard size cupcakes. The lemon cupcakes take about 20 minutes to bake at 350F. Easy as pie. Well, easier than pie.

Lemon Zest

As the cupcakes cool, make my go-to fluffy vanilla frosting recipe. This frosting has made an appearance on my website a few times before. And receives rave reviews. Trust me, it’s awesome. It looks a little darker than normal in these photos because I used a super dark pure vanilla extract. And I used more of it than normal.

The vanilla buttercream is quite simple – perhaps even easier than the cupcakes, if that’s possible. Mix together unsalted butter, confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla extract. That’s IT. Two very crucial notes that I’ve mentioned a few times before: (1) make sure your butter is softened and not melted in the slightest. I simply took my butter stick out of the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for 45 minutes as I baked and cooled the cupcakes. (2) Use heavy cream. You may use milk or half-and-half, but heavy cream will give the frosting the thickest texture. I highly, highly recommend it.

I used a Wilton 12 frosting tip (a round tip) to frost the cupcakes. Frost the cooled cupcakes however you prefer – slathering on with a knife or piping on with a tip. The Wilton 12 tip is my favorite. I decorated the cupcakes with a little extra lemon zest. Do this right before serving, as the lemon zest will dry out.  You can also use white chocolate chips, sprinkles, or even crushed lemon hard candies. I’ll definitely be doing that last one next time I make these.

Delicious and simple Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with creamy vanilla Delicious and simple Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with creamy vanilla frosting! These are always such a big hit. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com! sallysbakingaddiction.com-4

The homemade lemon cupcakes took me less than 1 hour start to finish.  I cheated and stuck the cupcakes in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process.  I have zero patience when it comes to cupcakes.

Spring has sprung and lemon cupcakes, made completely from scratch, are on the dessert menu. And breakfast menu. Please? I mean they have eggs and milk in them… totally acceptable first thing in the morning.

Homemade Lemon Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Print Recipe

These sunshine sweet homemade lemon cupcakes are incredibly soft and bursting with lemon flavor!


Lemon Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g)granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature preferred
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour (measured correctly)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) milk (I use whole, but any milk is fine)
  • zest + fresh juice of two medium lemons1

Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3-4 cups (360-480g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream2
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • additional lemon zest for decoration, if desired3


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 12-count muffin pan with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until creamed. About 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until everything is combined, about 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 additions, beating on low speed after each addition. Batter will be thick. Beat in the milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice on low speed until just combined. Do not overmix this batter at any point.
  4. Spoon batter evenly into 12 cupcake liners. Bake for about 20 minutes. Check at 18 minutes, then again at 20. A toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean when done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.
  5. Make the frosting: Beat softened butter on medium speed with an electric or stand mixer. Beat for about 3-4 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add confectioners' sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add more confectioners' sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if mixture is too thick. Add more salt if frosting is too sweet. Frost cooled cupcakes. If topping with lemon zest, do so right before serving. There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cupcake.
  6. Make ahead tip: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Decorate/assemble cupcakes immediately before serving. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Additional Notes:

Try my Lemon Blueberry Cake next. It is the same exact recipe, only doubled to make a layer cake.

  1. 1 medium-size lemon = approximately 1 tablespoon of lemon zest = 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  2. Heavy cream is highly recommended over milk or half-and-half for the frosting to obtain the creamiest, fluffiest texture.
  3. Instead of lemon zest, decorate the cupcakes with sprinkles, white chocolate chips, or even crushed hard lemon candies.

© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

Try my Lemon Blueberry Cake next.

This is the same exact recipe, only doubled to make a layer cake.

Deliciously sweet and light Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake. Tangy cream cheese frosting gives each bite a sweet touch!


See all lemon desserts.

See all cupcake recipes.

Delicious and simple Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with creamy vanilla frosting! sallysbakingaddiction.com

378 Responses to “Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting.”

  1. #
    Stephanieposted June 25, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Hi, just wondering if buttermilk and vinegar can be used in this recipe? I noticed you used it for your red velvet cupcakes for added moisture. Thanks!


    • Sallyreplied on June 25th, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      Buttermilk can be used here! No need to add vinegar to this specific recipe, though.


  2. #
    Stephanieposted June 26, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Hi Sally! I’m baking these today. I ran out of all purpose flour and have cake flour. Would I need to add any baking powder or soda to the cake flour? Thanks!


    • Sallyreplied on June 26th, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      Cake flour works– I would use closer to 1 and 2/3 cup of it though. No need to alter the baking powder or soda.


      • Kelly Sreplied on January 10th, 2016 at 2:52 pm

        Soda… I don’t see any baking soda in your recipe? My cupcakes came out extremely dense.

        • Sallyreplied on January 10th, 2016 at 4:57 pm

          There is no baking soda in this recipe– typo in that comment. Sorry!

  3. #
    Minouposted July 9, 2015 at 11:41 am

    How long would I bake these for mini cupcakes?


    • Minoureplied on July 9th, 2015 at 11:42 am

      Sorry just saw you already answered this question!


  4. #
    steffiposted July 30, 2015 at 6:38 am

    Hi sally. Can i reduce the amount of sugar? If so, how much do i reduce it by?


  5. #
    Loriposted August 4, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    Just have to say…delicious! Stumbled upon this recipe of yours and made them for my grandaughter’s first birthday. She dug right in, as did all of us too. So moist with a beautiful consistency to the lemon cupcake. And the frosting was great too. Next will be the blueberry lemon layer cake. Thank you for posting.


  6. #
    Kateposted August 13, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    These look great! I have been laser focused on lemon desserts this week so I was super excited to see these. Since it is the same recipe as your lemon blueberry cake, would it work to add blueberries to the cupcakes too? I always worry about the berries sinking when I make cupcakes.


    • Sallyreplied on August 13th, 2015 at 5:34 pm

      Absolutely- I add blueberries all the time. Stick to a little over 1 cup total.


  7. #
    Amberposted August 18, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Hi Sally! Your cupcakes look amazing! I plan on making them today, but had one question. For the lemon zest, do I use all the zest from 2 lemons? Thanks so much!!


  8. #
    Wanda Dengposted August 18, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Can i please make a video of how i make these cupcakes and put it on my youtube channel? I will of corse give you full credit and link your website 🙂


  9. #
    Judiposted August 19, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    Hi Sally, Can you advise me regarding baking these cupcakes at 4800 ft.  I am still learning how to work with high altitude baking!  I’d like to make them for my daughter’s birthday.


  10. #
    Tiffanyposted September 6, 2015 at 10:30 am

    Sally, i need your help! Im not a fan of lemon cakes or cupcakes but this is the best thing ive had in years. I own this teashop in cornwall, and ive decided to sell them! Im also going to advertise your website. The problem is, how much should they cost? Im not good at these things…


    • Amyreplied on September 15th, 2015 at 2:11 pm

      I know im not sally, but i think you should make them eughty pence per cupcakes.. if the ingredients are organic, i think you should make them 1.20


    • Danireplied on November 10th, 2015 at 7:12 am

      I’m not Sally either, but I’d like to help! Firstly,  searching the web on how to wisely price products will help a lot, so google yourself into an entrepreneur-baker! My mother is a smart business woman and her advice is to take all of your ingred. costs and give yourself a ‘saftey percentage’ for cost fluctuations (this is your saftey net). To add 10% to the ‘raw cost’ is typical. Then labour, gas, water, tools etc gets another added percentage. Now you just have to add your mark-up (what you’ll earn!) Work in percentages, always round-UP and look at your competition to learn a few things from them. Google will elaborate. Hope this helped! 


  11. #
    Mariaposted September 18, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Just made these this morning! Excellent lemony flavor. I did not include the lemon zest because I haven’t perfected zesting without the bitterness. I made a lemon icing instead of the vanilla frosting, which topped these perfectly. Very pleased with this recipe, thank you!


  12. #
    Nikkiposted October 8, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Hey Sally! I love love love these lemon cupcakes! I use them with my favorite lemon buttercream! I was wondering if you think it would be okay to add poppy seeds into the batter to make a lemon poppyseed cupcake or if that would change how they turn out? Hope to hear back from you!


    • Sallyreplied on October 8th, 2015 at 8:25 pm

      That’s completely fine! I would add a couple teaspoons of poppy seeds. They’ll be delicious.


  13. #
    Nadiaposted October 20, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    Hi Sally!  I’m just wondering if I make this into a cake, would I have to double the recipe? Would it give nice thick moist layers for an 8″ size?


    • Sallyreplied on October 21st, 2015 at 11:46 am

      Nadia– see recipe notes for a link to the lemon cake version. You can leave out the blueberries.


  14. #
    Nadineposted October 28, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    I can’t remember the last time I left a comment on a blog but I just wanted to thank you for the delicious lemon cupcake recipe!

    Unfortunately I only had one lemon so I used a orange instead of the 2nd lemon and it turned out great. The citrus flavour is divine and its so light and moist.

    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe!


  15. #
    Jenposted November 26, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Should I leave milk/buttermilk to come to room temp like eggs and butter? Thanks


  16. #
    Giulianaposted December 2, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    Hi Sally! I just made these cupcakes with my mom, they turned out DELICIOUS! Thank you so much for this recipe. 


  17. #
    Jerushaposted December 30, 2015 at 7:22 am

    Hi Sally
    Thanks for such a wonderful recipe ! It’s a new favorite in the family 🙂  
    Tried it several times and it has never failed !
    I used limes instead of lemon and baked it in a 9 inch cake pan.
    Perfect !!


  18. #
    snow_echo_nyposted January 7, 2016 at 10:38 am

    thank you for such an amazing recipe. i made mini cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday. your recipe was the first that popped up when i googled “lemon cupcakes” (she wanted lemon of all things!) i tried to convince her to go for the raspberry icing but she was undeterred – she had to have the vanilla frosting.

    it was amazing. my husband, her teacher and her classmates all raved. your recipe is perfect! can’t wait to try more of your baking recipes.


  19. #
    Dinaposted January 29, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Oh my. Just made these. Count on this recipe for a no fail classy dessert. The fresh lemons make it taste delish. So glad I found this recipe. Thanks so much. 


  20. #
    Ramzposted February 12, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Hey! This looks so delicious! And I am one of those citrus fans too


  21. #
    Claireposted February 29, 2016 at 11:40 pm

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I doubled the recipe to make two dozen cupcakes for my contribution to a cupcake exchange party. I used Nielsen Massey vanilla paste, Meyer lemons, and substituted sifted cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. They came out light and fluffy. I received a lot compliments! Thank you!


  22. #
    Moniqueposted March 27, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Made these today. Great Easter/Spring dessert.  They came out great!!! Your one of my go to sites, for the past four+ years now.


  23. #
    Doryposted April 4, 2016 at 2:00 am

    Hi! Awesome recipe! I’d like to try this. Just like to ask how to substitute milk for the heavy cream? What would be the exact amount? Thanks!


    • Sallyreplied on April 4th, 2016 at 9:57 am

      Same amount!


  24. #
    Marieposted April 13, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    Can I use oil instead of butter in this recipe? 
    I find that busing butter makes them dry the next day. 


    • Sallyreplied on April 13th, 2016 at 9:08 pm

      I don’t recommend replacing butter with oil. That creaming step is crucial! I saw your other comment as well- and you can double the recipe.


  25. #
    Kellyposted April 15, 2016 at 10:51 am

    I just made these for my lemon loving friend’s birthday.  They are so delicious!  This might also be my new go to frosting recipe.  I loved how light and fluffy it was.  I need to practice getting the right texture.  It looked very choppy when I spread it on the cupcakes but still tasted great.


  26. #
    valerieqposted May 2, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    this recipe was amazing! my batter didn’t come together smoothly (I think the lumps were caused by my butter not being soft enough), but they still came out great. 


  27. #
    Tami Nunesposted May 10, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    I’ve made several of your cupcake recipes, very vanilla, and chocolate, Both delicious! I can’t wait to try these, with lemon cream cheese frosting. 


  28. #
    Maggieposted May 16, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    Though I used my own homemade lemon frosting, these are the BEST lemon cupcakes EVER! Have made them twice for 2 different large parties.  These moist, tender, lemony treats received rave reviews from everyone including people who swore they usually prefer chocolate cupcakes.  My cupcakes stayed fresh for days un-refrigerated.  In fact, I think the taste develops more by the 2nd day!  This will be the only lemon cupcake recipe I’ll ever use!


    • Sallyreplied on May 16th, 2016 at 7:04 pm

      What a compliment! Loved reading it. Thank you Maggie.


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