Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Also try my lemon blueberry layer cake!

lemon cupcakes with blackberry cream cheese frosting

I had a major case of the blahs earlier this week. I caught a cold from all the travel/hustle bustle. But, thankfully, I’m feeling much better as the week progresses. For my Instagram friends who suggested drinking hot water + 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar + 1 Tbsp lemon juice + 1 Tbsp honey, thank you! I added a little cinnamon and sipping it a couple times really helped me get over this bug. We’re dubbing that warm concoction the cold-fixer-elixer. Try it next time you’re down!

lemon cupcakes with blackberry cream cheese frosting topped with blackberries on a white serving plate

Now let’s focus on better, brighter, happier items!

We have lemon cupcakes with blackberry cream cheese frosting on today’s menu. These cupcakes are all sorts of flavorful with a giant dose of naturally colored (yay!) and naturally flavored (yay again!) blackberry frosting. They’re your dessert answer for everything coming up:

  • Literally any springtime celebration = these cupcakes.
  • Lilac/lavendar wedding color scheme? Done.
  • Bridal shower? Obviously.
  • Baby shower? This is your dessert, totally gender neutral.
  • Mother’s Day celebration? Mom approved.
  • No reason at all? Do you even need a reason to make cupcakes?

In terms of flavors, they remind me of my lemon berry yogurt cake.

lemon cupcake batter in a cupcake pan

lemon cupcakes

This is my basic lemon cupcake recipe. They’re soft and fluffy with bright and sunny lemon flavor. I published the recipe 4 years ago and they’ve never steered us wrong! The recipe is actually my most popular cake recipe on my blog: lemon blueberry cake… only reduced to make cupcakes. So if you’ve tried the lemon blueberry layer cake recipe, you know the cupcake version is a winner too.

There’s nothing crazy or fancy about the batter. Simply creamed butter + sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, milk, and lemon. The usual gang! The batter is creamy, silky, and has the most unbelievable fresh lemon fragrance. You’ll fall in love even before you steal the first taste.

Remember to only fill your cupcake liners 2/3 full– just like you see above.

Grab fresh blackberries, puree them in a food processor (I use my little ninja!), then push through a fine mesh strainer to rid the seeds. You’re left with thick and seedless blackberry juice, which will go directly into the frosting. I suppose a blackberry jam works just as well, though the flavor may not be as potent.

2 images of pureed blackberries in a food processor and blackberry puree in a mesh sieve

blackberry cream cheese frosting in a glass bowl

(Don’t you just want to swipe a taste with your finger???)

I don’t suggest doing this method with any other berry– though raspberries *should* be fine. Strawberries and blueberries produce a juice that’s much too thin for cream cheese frosting. You know what to do instead? Freeze-dried berries. You know I swear by freeze-dried strawberries in frosting.

#1 Issue with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is a cream cheese frosting variation so make sure you’re using block cream cheese, not cream cheese spread. That’s the #1 issue readers face when making cream cheese frosting. You want the actual block of cream cheese, sold right next to the tubs of cream cheese spread.

The blackberry flavor in this frosting is mild, but you’ll know it’s there. The blackberry cream cheese frosting is a little thinner than we’re used to because of the added juice, but I was still able to pipe it with my #12 round tip. I actually loved how light it was, especially paired with an equally light lemon cupcake. The frosting is also super soft and just as creamy as you see in the photo above. ♥ ♥ ♥

lemon cupcakes with blackberry cream cheese frosting

This is, without a doubt, my new favorite cream cheese frosting. I’m already planning on using it to fill a sponge cake roll and urge you to try that too! Also, doesn’t looking at the purple color instantly put you in a better mood? Experience it all ASAP. ↓

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lemon cupcakes with blackberry cream cheese frosting

Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 mintues
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These lemon cupcakes are soft, fluffy, and exploding with lemon flavor. Topped with fresh blackberry cream cheese frosting for the ultimate treat!


Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (188g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 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
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) milk*
  • zest + fresh juice of two medium lemons*

Blackberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup fresh blackberries, divided*
  • 8 ounces (224g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs and vanilla, then beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk, lemon juice, and zest until combined. Do not overmix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick.
  4. Pour/spoon the batter into the liners – fill only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For around 30 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
  5. Make the frosting: Puree 1/2 cup – 2/3 cup blackberries in a small food processor. Push through a fine mesh strainer to rid the seeds. You’ll have a couple Tablespoons of puree.
  6. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, blackberry puree, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes.
  7. Frost cooled cupcakes. I used Wilton #12 round tip. Garnish with remaining berries.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. Plain 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. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | KitchenAid Hand MixerNinja Master Prep | Glass Mixing BowlsMini Strainer | Cupcake Liners | Cupcake Pan | Frosting Bags | #12 Round Decorating Tip
  3. Milk: I suggest whole milk or buttermilk. Any milk is fine, but you’ll get the most wonderful moist, soft, and rich texture with either of those 2.
  4. Lemons: About 1 and 1/2 Tbsp zest and 1/4 – 1/3 cup lemon juice.
  5. Blackberries: I don’t suggest using frozen blackberries, nor do I suggest any other berry. Raspberries *might* work, but strawberry and blueberry puree will be much too thin. Instead, use freeze-dried strawberries or blueberries like we do in this frosting.
Creamy, silky, and smooth blackberry cream cheese frosting made from blackberry puree! The BEST spring dessert, bridal shower, baby shower, and wedding cupcakes recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

206 Comments

  1. Hi! Huge Sally fan here. This is the first recipe from this blog that I haven’t been able to perfect! Was hoping to have some input.

    Actually the cupcakes turned out perfect, it’s the icing. The icing was really runny! At first it would just spill off the cupcakes. I ended up adding probably almost a cup more sugar and it only stiffened it up enough to wear it would sit on the cupcake and not spill but it was still really runny. The blackberry and lemon garnishes sunk right through it.

    Any input? I ran the mixer as long as the recipe calls for so I don’t think I overmixed it. I think I might have overmixed the blackberry puree or put too much blackberry puree in? Would that be a factor?

    But still, the frosting is absolutely delicious. My friends say these cupcakes are my best yet, despite being the icing being really messy. The flavor of the cupcake and the frosting is just perfect. Totally addicted.

    1. Hi Jennifer! Are you outside of the US by chance? Cream cheese products vary by region and, unfortunately, cream cheese is much thinner outside of the US and usually results in thin frosting. Chilling the frosting in the refrigerator helps to solidify it so that it spreads much easier and holds its shape on the cupcakes. (That always helps cream cheese frosting!)

      1. AAH! Sally herself! Hi there, Sally. No, I live in the US and used a full 8oz block of cream cheese. Maybe next time if I have this problem, I’ll try more cream cheese? The frosting was so delicious I saved it in the fridge to put on bother baked goods, and I guess it’s firmed up a bit but not a lot.

    2. I made these and the cupcakes came out delicious – tender, fluffy, buttery, with a bright tang from the lemon and a sweet hint of vanilla. I’m in the process of making the frosting right now. I think the farm stand I went to goofed, because my “blackberries” look distinctly boysenberry-like, but they pureed beautifully, so I’m not too worried!!

  2. Hi!
    If I used blackberry preserves, how much would I need to add in the frosting? TIA!

    1. Hi Claire! You can use blueberry jam or preserves, but keep in mind that jam is made with a lot of sugar so your frosting will be very sweet. Use an exact replacement of the puree, which is a couple Tablespoons.

  3. I used the frosting recipe for a blackberry/raspberry cake for my sons birthday. We really loved the flavor with a classic butter cake base and filled with the frosting and fresh berries. I was just disappointed by the texture, it was not stiff enough to pipe decorations. I actually used a whole stick of butter and one more cup of powdered sugar than your recipe. And I used 1 cup of both berries mixed together and cooked it with 2 tbsp lemon juice, strained it and then only ended up using 3 tbsp total in the frosting. But all in all the cake was delicious. Thank you!

  4. Elaine Folkesson says:

    Hi Sally! Just made them this morning and it ties choc/choc for my favorite cupcake ever! However, I’m having the same thinness issue, but we decided to just glaze them and skip piping. I hope you’re having a lovely Mother’s Day and not seeing this until another day! Thank you as always for the blog we LOVE to visit and share!

  5. Hi Sally! this was absolutely divine! I made some for my tutee’s family 🙂 Could I just ask, how did you get your cupcakes to come out of the oven with very little cracks on the top? could it be my oven temperature?

    1. Hi Nicole, the cupcakes could be over-baked– they’ll begin to crack on top if they’ve been in the oven too long. (Some cracks are normal though, so I wouldn’t worry!)

  6. I made these for a small Fourth of July picnic we hosted. Thank goodness I doubled the recipe! These are AMAZING!!! They were such a hit and a new favorite. You instructions were so easy to follow. Thank you for posting these cupcakes.

  7. Hi Sally!

    First time making one of your recipes and it turned out amazing. The lemon cake was outstanding. When I strained the blackberries they made sooo much juice – but I only used a couple tablespoons as you mentioned. I had no problems with consistency of the frosting at room temperature. If I had added all of the juice, it would have made it runny. Saving this one! Thank you 🙂

  8. Hi Sally! If you were using the blackberry frosting for eclair filling would you add more blackberry flavor?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Andrew, This is delicious in eclairs! You can start with 2/3 cups of blackberries and taste your frosting. If you would like more flavor feel free to add more, just keep in mind the more liquid you add the thinner the frosting becomes.

  9. I was really excited about this recipe because it’s blackberry season and I had just picked a bunch of fresh blackberries!! But I had very mixed feelings about this one. The lemon cupcakes themselves turned out great-the icing was the issue. I should have listened to the comments-it was really runny, and on top of that I couldn’t taste the blackberry flavor (just cream cheese). I made sure to only add 2 TBSP after reading the comments, but it was still too runny, and I added an extra 300g confectioners sugar to try and stiffen it up. It might be my cream cheese (living in Europe) but I think either way, I will go with a buttercream next time so that I don’t lose all my yummy blackberry flavor. To enhance the flavor on these, I added a bit more of the purée that I had left over and marbled it with the icing, and then I added an extra blackberry on top. I would make the lemon cakes again, but would not recommend the icing.

  10. Can I use heavy cream instead of milk in the recipe for the cupcakes?

    1. Hi Bobby, I don’t recommend it. Heavy cream is too thick for the cupcake batter.

  11. Very nice cupcakes! Frosting worked out great, taste was amazing! Thanks so much for the awesome recipe!

  12. Thought this would be an amazing recipe and the flavour of the cupcakes are amazing; however they were big and fluffy in the oven only to shrink as they cooled and the icing was supper runny and it made far more than one batch of cupcakes could ever use – and I love icing! Sadly this is not a recipe I will make again. 🙁

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi JM, Thank you for trying this recipe. Are your baking soda and baking powder fresh? I always replace mine after 3 months because they begin to lose strength quickly after that. The cupcakes will rise then quickly sink if there is a problem with the leaveners. For the frosting, be sure you are using full fat block cream cheese (not the spreadable kind sold in a tub) and you can add less of the berry puree (or even reduce it down on the stove if it’s very thin) if you wish to try it again.

  13. Patricia Schaefer says:

    Do you think you could make these into lemon lavender cupcakes? Maybe add lavender to the milk? I’m looking for a lemon lavender cupcake recipe.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Patricia, Yes infusing the milk with dried culinary lavender would be so delicious! You can see which lavender Sally uses and how she infuses the milk in this Blackberry Lavender Cake. Let us know if you try it!

  14. Your blog is my go-to for everything and this has been my favorite recipe of yours I’ve ever made!! So flavorful, can’t wait to make again!!!

  15. I would like to make these using buttermilk but don’t see baking soda in the ingredients. Do I need to add any and adjust the amount of baking powder?

  16. Hi Sally!

    I have tried this recipe and it is wonderful. Do you have a recipe for a lemon velvet cake. I need to make a 6in two layer cake. Any pointers will be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Teresa, I don’t. You can actually use this batter to yield a 3 layer 6 inch cake. (See my 6 Inch Cakes for details.) You could use 2/3 of the batter to make it only 2 layers, then use leftover batter for a couple cupcakes on the side.

  17. Hi there! I have made this recipe like 3 or 4 times and I’ve only just started baking this often! I love all of your recipes! They are the BEST and EASIEST to follow for a brand new baker! I was wanting to make this for my girlfriend’s mom for her birthday and wanted to know if this recipe can be made into a 6-inch tiered cake? Please let me know! I would LOVE to try baking a cake (seeing as my go to right know is cupcakes and I love doing those!) just want to try my hand at a cake!

    1. Hi Sally, I have got great results with your cake recipes and was so glad you had a recipe for lemon cake. However, my cake became a little dense, it shrunk considerably from the sides of the tin and the top was a little sticky although the toothpick inserted inside came out clean. (BTW, I used this recipe for 2 small cakes – didn’t want a layer cake).
      I can think of the below as the probable “problem causers”. What do you think?
      1. I kept the butter out too long. It’s pretty hot in India now and the butter was too soft?
      2. I creamed the sugar and butter for more than 2 minutes (read about this in your problem solving post). The sugar crystals i used are pretty big.
      3. Was a little doubtful but I added the milk and lemon juice after adding the dry ingregients? Used the mixer just until combined both times. Was wondering if I should have added the milk and juice before adding the flour (used cale flour) and just folding in the flour.
      Baking relaxes me but when things don’t work out despite keen attention, it’s very depressing.
      Your suggestions are much appreciated.

      1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Amoolya, What size pans were you using for your cakes? This recipe (actually, any cupcake recipe yielding 12-16 cupcakes) converts beautifully into 3 6-inch cake pans. We recommend you follow the baking instructions for these 6 inch cake recipes. If you used 6 inch pans but only divided the batter into 2 parts instead of 3, it may have been too heavy to rise properly. You can also see all of our tips on how to prevent a dense cake for more troubleshooting help.

  18. Hi Sally!!
    So, my plan is to make a 4” round 3-layer cake. It would be lemon cake, and I was hoping to use this blackberry frosting. Would I need to double this frosting recipe in order to do a full crumb coat plus a nice coat?
    Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lauren, we recommend doubling the frosting just to make sure you’ll have enough. Happy baking!

  19. Does the milk not have to be room temperature for the lemon cupcakes. I’m making desert for Super Bowl (wife, kids and grandkids are doing meal). I am going to bring it to room temperature to be safe but it would be nice to know for future reference.
    Love your site by the way…those Apple Cider donuts are amazing.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Bob, Yes, unless otherwise stated all ingredients including the milk should be at room temperature. If you are interested, you can read all about why room temperature ingredients make a difference.

  20. This our family’s new favorite. Even my non-dessert eating husband at a whole cupcake and commented on how delicious they were. The slightly dense cupcake with the tangy lemon was everything I love about cupcakes. I found the icing consistency just fine, although initially I was concerned that it might be too thin. I even just used a baggie to “pipe” on the frosting and it turned out beautifully. I used large cupcake liners, so that may have helped the icing stay put. Thanks for another great recipe!

  21. Lauren L Olson says:

    I was so excited to make these but they didn’t come out that well. The bottoms were ultra brown because I had to keep them in longer because the top was not finished. They broke apart when I took the muffin cups off. I followed the directions and even watched the videos on measuring. I did let the butter sit out to room temperature ( overnight) but was wondering if my room temp is too cold. That is the only thing I can think. I will try again. I didn’t frost them and I know my husband will still eat them but I’m really disappointed. I will try again. Any suggestions? BTW, I did use whole milk and my baking powder is brand new. New muffin pans, an oven thermometer, too. Any recommendations are greatly appreciated.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lauren, If you left your butter out overnight I wonder if it was actually too warm. Room temperature butter should still feel cool to the touch, which is usually after it sits out for about 1-2 hours. Here is more information on Room Temperature Butter that I think you will find helpful. Also make sure your oven rack is in the center of the oven – if the bottoms are baking before the top move your oven rack up a bit, or you can even place a cookie sheet under the cupcake pan to help the bottoms not burn. I hope this helps!

  22. Hi there Sally! Was just curious if you think this frosting recipe would work if I switched the blackberries for Raspberries? Thank you so much! I’m such a huge fan!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Dayna, raspberries *might* work, but instead, you can use freeze-dried raspberries similar to what we do in this frosting. Let us know what you try!

  23. Hi! I love your website and it’s my go-to for a lot of my baking 🙂 I want to make these for my mom’s birthday tomorrow and I have a few questions.
    1) I want to be able to pipe decorations without making the frosting too sweet. Will cornstarch thicken it (and if so how much)? or is there something else (and amount of it) I should use instead?
    2) Do I need to make any adjustments to the batter for mini cupcakes?
    Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Preksha, For around 30 mini cupcakes, you do not need to make any adjustments to the recipe. Bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Because of the both the cream cheese and the blackberry juice, this frosting won’t hold an intricate shape when piped. We were able to use a round tip as shown in the photos above, but even after refrigerating it’s not likely to hold piped decorations. We don’t recommend adding corn starch. If you can find freeze dried raspberries you can grind them to a powder and use them the same way we use strawberries in this strawberry frosting.

  24. This is amazing

  25. Amazing flavor. But the frosting is too thin. doesn’t stay even if i added 1 cup of icing sugar. I live in Canada, probably the reason but any suggestion what can be used to make it thicker.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Chantal, we’re you able to use a full-fat cream cheese block? Cream cheese spread or a lower fat block can result in much thinner frosting. As you mention, a little extra confectioners’ sugar can help thicken it up a bit, but the full fat cream cheese will be key here. Thank you so much for giving this recipe a try!

  26. Donna L Savage says:

    Thanks so much for the yummy recipe. I made these and while they were delicious, I was not happy with the icing which was gluey and heavy. Don’t know what I did, but I think I’ll leave the vpcfeam cheese out next time and go with a whipping cream type. Again, thanks!

  27. Stars are for the cupcake.
    At first I had the same issues with frosting–on the runny side and more subtle flavor than I hoped for, but I had only used one Tablespoon of the strained blackberries to mitigate runniness. So I added a little more sugar to stiffen. I had some lemon curd on hand and added about one T, which kicked up the flavor a lot and brought out the blackberry flavor more. Then I noticed that there was still soft pulp in my strainer, so I restrained that in a less fine mesh. I got only soft pulp through (almost a T), no seeds, and I added that to icing–more flavor without thinning it. I felt like it was a lot of tinkering, but it was tasty and a nice complement to the cupcake.

  28. Sally: [clearly states] “strawberry purée produces a juice much too thin for this dressing”.
    Me: “Nah!” [produces a frosting that looks like soup].
    Next time, I will follow your instructions! But the cupcakes are delicious. : )

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