Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

You’ll also love my lemon cupcakes with blackberry cream cheese frosting!

These sunshine sweet homemade lemon cupcakes with vanilla frosting are incredibly soft and bursting with lemon flavor! Try my Lemon blueberry layer cake next!

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

These sunshine sweet homemade lemon cupcakes with vanilla frosting are incredibly soft and bursting with lemon flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

As the cupcakes cool, make my go-to fluffy vanilla frosting recipe.

I used a Wilton 1M frosting tip to frost the cupcakes. Frost the cooled cupcakes however you prefer – slathering on with a knife or piping on with a tip. It all tastes FAB!

These sunshine sweet homemade lemon cupcakes with vanilla frosting are incredibly soft and bursting with lemon flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 lemon… and cupcakes. Spring has sprung and lemon cupcakes, made completely from scratch, are on the dessert menu!

Love lemon? Make these lemon-y sweets next:

Homemade Lemon Cupcakes

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


  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 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
  • vanilla buttercream and additional lemon slices for topping


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 12-count muffin pan with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. 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, filling them about 2/3 full. Bake for about 18-22 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean when done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.
  5. Frost cooled cupcakes with vanilla buttercream. If topping with lemon zest, do so right before serving. There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cupcake.

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.

Recipe Notes:

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

  1. About 1 and 1/2 Tbsp zest and 1/4 - 1/3 cup lemon juice.
  2. Instead of a lemon slice, decorate the cupcakes with sprinkles, white chocolate chips, or even crushed hard lemon candies.

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© 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 recipes.

See all cupcake recipes.

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



  1. Maria on 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!

  2. Nikki on 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!

    • Sally on October 8, 2015 at 8:25 pm

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

  3. Nadia on 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?

    • Sally on October 21, 2015 at 11:46 am

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

  4. Nadine on 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!

  5. Jen on November 26, 2015 at 4:07 pm

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

  6. Giuliana on 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. 

  7. Jerusha on 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 !!

  8. snow_echo_ny on 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.

  9. Dina on 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. 

  10. Ramz on February 12, 2016 at 1:08 pm

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

  11. Claire on 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!

  12. Monique on 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.

  13. Dory on 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!

    • Sally on April 4, 2016 at 9:57 am

      Same amount!

  14. Marie on 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. 

    • Sally on April 13, 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.

  15. Kelly on 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.

  16. valerieq on 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. 

  17. Tami Nunes on 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. 

  18. Maggie on 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!

    • Sally on May 16, 2016 at 7:04 pm

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

  19. Corrine on May 31, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    I make it the other day. Even 3 days un-refrigerated also still stay very moist and I get good review from friends who tasted.. will be baking it again for my niece full month party this sat…

  20. Mariah on June 17, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    Hi! These cupcakes look absolutely fantastic and I’m going to try them out! The only thing is, in the picture your lemons look very huge but the lemons I have are very small, roughly the size of ping pong balls. So how many lemons do you recommend I use? Please answer!

    • Sally on June 18, 2016 at 8:56 am

      See my recipe note for exactly how much to use. 🙂 About 2 Tbsp zest and 4 Tbsp juice.

  21. Dorene on June 19, 2016 at 4:42 am

    Hi Sally! This looks really good!! I’ve received a few lemons from a friend and searched your recipe index for any lemon recipes, this looks great and I’d like to make this! Would I be able to use oil instead of butter for this recipe? Thanks!

    • Sally on June 19, 2016 at 7:43 pm

      Hi Dorene! There are plenty of lemon recipes; it’s one of my favorite flavors for dessert! Creamed butter makes these cupcakes so unbelievably soft, not to mention buttery and delicious. I don’t recommend subbing it out.

  22. Diane Sowa on June 28, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    These were great tasting but two things happened. They fell and I mean fell. I used brand new baking powder too. They also pulled away from the baking paper. All the way around. I was making them to sell but had to, instead, give to my family. They loved them but I couldn’t sell them at the bake sale.

  23. Colleen on June 28, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    Hi Sally,

    These look great and I think I’m going to give them a try this week after seeing all the comments. One question. My cupcakes always come out tough or too dense! 🙁 I’ve seen people recommend not overmixing. Is that just when adding the flour? O can overmixing at any point make them too dense?

    • Sally on June 29, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      It’s just when mixing the wet and the dry. You can mix the dry all you, but when you mix the wet WITH the dry– that’s where you want to be careful.

  24. Katie Chan on July 8, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Hello Sally, I was just wondering if I could use oil or melted butter. Because I do not have a mixer. Thanks so much! Looks very yummy.

  25. susan banashak on July 16, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Sally! Emergent help with this cake!!!! I forgot the buttermilk!!!! Should I redo?? Thanks!!!

  26. Jim Halbasch on July 30, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Sally, I made these wonderful lemon cupcakes for the first time and they turned out perfectly! I added two fresh raspberries per and topped with one, also topped with homemade candied lemon zest. Beautiful and delicious!! Thank you for the recipe!!

  27. sandi on August 19, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    how long to bake for jumbo cupcakes?

  28. Alyssa on September 6, 2016 at 12:45 am

    Hi Sally! Those cupcakes look spectacular! One thing I just want to make sure though, when you say leftover cupcakes do you mean frosted or unfrosted? And also When you say decorate immediately before serving, do you mean the sprinkling of lemon zest or frosting the cupcakes. Thank you so much I am very excited to try this recipe!

  29. Alyssa on September 9, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    Hi Sally! Thank you so so much for this recipe! I’ve received heaps of amazing compliments from my friends and family and I’ll definitely be making these a lot! They are so delicious and thanks again, your recipes never fail me:)

  30. Kylie C on January 21, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Just made these at 7pm on this cold winters evening. Hit the spot. These are the lightest cupcakes i’ve ever made and tasted. My partner and I loved them. Thanks Sally.



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