Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

Sunshine sweet homemade lemon cupcakes are soft and moist, bursting with lemon flavor, and topped with my favorite vanilla buttercream. You’ll love the refreshing zest of citrus flavor in each bite!

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

How can you not smile sinking your teeth into one of these? The happiest cupcake in the world! Today’s homemade lemon cupcakes are incredibly soft and bursting with lemon, just like my lemon cake. Not too much lemon 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 top them with my favorite vanilla frosting. Sweet vanilla and zesty lemon complement each other wonderfully, though cream cheese frosting would also be delicious!

If these cupcakes look familiar, they probably are– we double this recipe to make lemon blueberry cake, and we use the exact same base recipe for my lemon cupcakes with blackberry cream cheese frosting. The gorgeous purple frosting is naturally colored and flavored with blackberries– and is absolutely divine.

These Lemon Cupcakes Are

  • Sunshine sweet
  • Made with basic ingredients
  • Bursting with lemon flavor
  • A perfect balance of sweet and tart
  • Easy to make
  • Moist and buttery
  • Fun to decorate
  • Topped with vanilla buttercream
  • A great lemon muffin recipe, too

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

Ingredients in Lemon Cupcakes

You need simple, everyday ingredients for today’s cupcakes. The ingredient list is similar to my lemon cake! Let’s review:

  • Flour: All-purpose flour is the base of these cupcakes.
  • Baking Powder: Baking powder helps the cupcakes rise.
  • Salt: A little salt adds flavor.
  • Butter: 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!
  • Sugar: We use all granulated sugar in this cupcake recipe.
  • Eggs: 2 eggs add structure and richness.
  • Vanilla Extract: Pure vanilla extract adds flavor. Try homemade vanilla extract.
  • Milk: Milk adds moisture. I use whole milk, but any milk works great.
  • Lemons: We need 2 lemons for the cupcake batter– the zest of two lemons & the juice of two lemons.

These would be so good filled with homemade lemon curd! See my chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes for how I fill cupcakes the easy way.

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

Frost With Vanilla Buttercream

When deciding what to frost these lemon cupcakes with, I turned to my trusty vanilla buttercream. It’s wonderfully soft and creamy, pipes beautifully (I used a Wilton 1M frosting tip for today’s cupcakes), and pairs perfectly with just about every flavor. I love how this sweet vanilla frosting complements the citrusy lemon cupcakes.

Sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting or a dollop of homemade whipped cream would also be wonderful choices. For even more lemon flavor, try my lemon buttercream or lemon cream cheese frosting from my lemon cake recipe. 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

More Favorite Cupcake Recipes


Homemade Lemon Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


These sunshine sweet homemade lemon cupcakes with vanilla frosting 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*
  • zest + fresh juice of two medium lemons*
  • topping: vanilla buttercream and additional lemon slices


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). 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.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: 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.
  2. Milk: I use whole milk, but any milk is fine.
  3. Lemons: About 1 and 1/2 Tbsp zest and 1/4 – 1/3 cup lemon juice.
  4. Garnish: Instead of a lemon slice, decorate the cupcakes with sprinkles, white chocolate chips, or even crushed hard lemon candies.
  5. Try my lemon blueberry cake next. It is the same exact recipe, only doubled to make a layer cake.
  6. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: homemade lemon cupcakes, lemon cupcakes

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


  1. I made these cupcakes into a three layer 6″ cake. I am making a two tier cake and this is going to be the top tier. I tried the cake batter and it tasted delicious but the layers are currently in the freezer until I make my first two tier cake for my friend! I know she will love it!

  2. These cupcakes came out perfect! I’ve tried other Lemon cupcake recipes before, none worked like this one. Absolutely amazing!!

  3. Hello Sally.
    I was wondering about the use of non-dairy milk. My body really won’t tolerate milk in anything and my daughter is dying to learn to bake. I’d like to be able to eat the fruits of her labors.

    1. You should be able to use any non-dairy milk in the cupcake recipe. Vanilla buttercream frosting is more difficult to replicate since both the texture and flavor comes from the butter.

  4. Hello Sally………I have recently found your website and am so impressed! These lemon cupcakes were awesome! I used cream cheese frosting and so delicious! I would trust any recipes from this site now as everything I have made has surpassed my expectations! Thank you so much!

  5. Hello!
    I’ve tried this recipe today. It ended up giving out 14 cupcakes.
    I baked them in 2 rounds of 6 and one round of 2 as I wanted to follow the oven placement advice.
    I also have a thermometer so the heat was at 350F all throughout the baking process.
    The first batch I did the toothpick test at 20mins. Toothpick didn’t come out clean so put them back in for 2 more minutes. Took them out, toothpick was still a little bit wet. Didnt put them back in. Why? Great question. Left them out to cool. After a few minutes, I noticed they started sinking in the middle. Once completely cooled, they were really sunk in.
    Second batch, did the toothpick test at 22mins. Was still a bit wet, so out them back for 3 more minutes. Took them out. Toothpick test still brings out some moisture. Is that the expected result ? Didn’t want to put them back in as they started really browning on the top. They sunk in a bit, but not as much as the first batch.
    Third batch (of 2), baked for 25mins straight. They werent nearly as browned as the second batch, which baked for a total time of 25mins.
    I checked the thermometer multiple times per batches and it was consistently at 350F. Any idea why I’m getting such different results per batch? Why they sank in the middle ? Why it feels like they are under baked?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Camelia! I’m happy to help. My answer could be a little lengthy here, so I’m going to point you toward my entire post dedicated to 10 Tips for Baking the BEST Cupcakes. I encourage you to make sure that the butter is at the proper room temperature (cool, not overly softened) and that you don’t over-fill those cupcake liners. I know you’ll find a lot of useful information there that can help for your next batch of cupcakes (any flavor!).

      1. Thank you, Sally, for the quick reply!
        I found them sweet enough, if not overly sweet, on their own for my taste but I think they look a little boring with the frosting or anything on top… I was going to go for a vanilla buttercream frosting but I think that will make them too sweet for my taste. Any advice on how I could decorate/accompany them without adding too much sweetness. I have blueberries at home if that can help.
        Thank you!

    2. Good morning! I run a small cake business from home and have found that most of the time, sinking after baking means that maybe there was too much air in the batter which is whipped in when we mix it. I’ve found that if you mix the batter and then let it sit for 20 minutes or so (I cover the bowl with a towel), then give it one good stir the air will be gone and you will get a good rise on your cupcake. Good luck!

  6. Made these tonight to compliment my chicken piccatta dinner. WOW!! These cupcakes turned out amazing. I made them with cream cheese lemon frosting. The right amount of tang and no overly sweet.

  7. I made these cake cakes at the weekend and I love them. I had to use buttermilk instead as I had ran out of full fat but made no difference and I topped with blueberry buttercream.
    I also made a batch of strawberry by swapping out the lemon for pureed strawberry and a batch of almond and cinnamon doing the same swap. All were delicious and I think this is my new go to recipe now.
    Thanks for sharing

  8. Hello sally!
    i want to ask about baking powder. if i cut the baking powder and replace it with baking soda, is it okay? or should i stick to the recipe?

  9. THESE ARE SO DELICIOUS! So much lemon goodness. Moist and smooth. Be sure not to over the cook, my third batch had a thin crispy top (:

  10. I made this and it was delicious! Moist, fluffy cupcakes. Really love it!
    I doubled the recipe but me and my family are not type of sweet tongue, so i reduce the sugar to 1 and 3/4 cup and still delicious. Top it with lemon cream cheese frosting! Yummy. Definitely make this again soon!

  11. Made this for my coworker’s birthday. Everyone loved it! Paired it with the suggested buttercream frosting, too.

  12. I’m new to baking but LOVE your site. Is it normal for the mixture to look a bit curled after mixing the lemon and milk? My oven is awful (and is hopefully being replaced this week) but they came out short and brown on the sides but light on top. I don’t know what I did wrong or if it’s just my broken oven

    1. Hi Jackie, Were all of your ingredients room temperature? When ingredients are different temperatures they won’t mix well and the mixture could look curdled. Here are my best baking tips for cupcakes that I think you will find helpful!

  13. These cupcakes are so soft and fluffy and for once after sooooo many cupcake recipes I’ve tried these turned out PERFECT!! My picky brother LOVED them. Thanks Sally!! 😀

    1. These turned out AMAZING!!! Super simple recipe, great cupcakes! They were soft and fluffy, my dad who doesn’t like sweet stuff…LOVED THEM!! They were absolutely PERFECT!! I am 100% using this recipe again. Thank you so much Sally!

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally