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. My frosting came out so runny 🙁 any tips??

    1. Hi Amanda,
      I put the juice in a saucepan and cooked it until it reduced to a syrup. Make sure you cool it before adding it to your frosting, that way it doesn’t affect the consistency and you won’t be disappointed.
      Hope this helps!
      ~ Gayle

  2. How many cupcakes will your recipe make?

    1. This yields 12 cupcakes.

  3. I detest cream cheese frostings (I know…I know). Do you have a suggestion for a buttercream with the berry juice?

    1. Hi Helen! None that I’ve successfully tested yet. What about trying this strawberry buttercream using freeze-dried strawberries?

  4. Savannah Reed says:

    my frosting didn’t really taste like blueberries that much, so I just added some fresh lemon juice to make it more flavorful

  5. I want to make this into a two layer cake. How should I adjust the recipe to get the right proportions?

    1. Hi Olivia! I recommend making my lemon blueberry layer cake. You can leave out the blueberries. Divide between two cake pans. The bake time will be longer since the cakes will be thicker. You can use this blackberry cream cheese frosting.

  6. Hi Sally!
    Can’t wait to try these cupcakes! I was wondering if you recommend any other type of frosting besides blackberry? Such as, cream cheese or another kind?
    Also, for the milk, 1% milk could work or does it HAVE to be whole milk?
    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Claudia! Whole milk will produce the richest tasting cupcakes, but 1% works in a pinch. 🙂 How about:

      plain cream cheese frosting
      strawberry buttercream
      or creamy lemon buttercream

      All would be fantastic!

  7. Can I use peach puree instead of blackberry to make it peach flavored?

    1. Yes! Yum!

  8. I don’t have canilla bean, can I use vanilla bean paste or just the vanilla extract?

  9. My frosting was really yummy but super runny and would not peak no matter how much sugar I added, maybe I added too much puree? Any advice?

  10. Is it possible to use the pretty piping tip like you use for the nutcracker cupcake frosting with this blackberry frosting also?

    1. Hi Christine! This blackberry cream cheese frosting isn’t as thick as the buttercream from the sugar plum fairy cupcakes, so I’m afraid the Wilton #8B piping tip wouldn’t work. The design wouldn’t hold its shape very well.

  11. Hi Sally,

    If I want to make these (or any) cupcakes gluten free, will I get the same results using plain gluten free flour?

    1. Hi Nancy! I have very little experience baking with gluten free flour, so I’m afraid I won’t be much help here. Let me know if you try anything!

  12. Could I use frozen blackberries for the puree and fresh for the topping? Would that work? This looks super good. I love your cookbook btw.

    1. Hi Betty! Thawed blackberries work for the purée, yes.

  13. Hi Sally,
    How would you adjust the bake time if I use a 24-cup mini cupcake pan?
    Thanks!

    1. Sure can! For around 30 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature.

  14. Can I use this recipe for a bundt pan?

    If I use blueberry jam instead of blackberries, would that be okay?

    1. For a lemon bundt cake I recommend this recipe (you can leave the poppy seeds out if you wish): https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/glazed-lemon-poppy-seed-bundt-cake/

      You can use blueberry jam but keep in mind that jam is made with a lot of sugar so your frosting will be very sweet!

  15. These cupcakes are just the prettiest things I’ve ever seen! That gorgeous frosting is such a stunning shade of purple, and it looks so beautiful paired with the lemon cupcakes! I love the mode of decoration, too; just a thin wedge of lemon and a blackberry makes them look incredible, something I would even serve to a queen, but it’s so simple at the same time! I love how your dessert decoration is simple but still so elegant and amazing. Just needing a few everyday items to reproduce those looks encourages me to try it in my own home! I love that I can do that myself without having to search for intricate items, and it still looks far more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen. These cupcakes are just perfect, and I can’t wait to serve them at the little party I’ll be having with some friends for my birthday. I’m going to spoil myself and attempt three different kinds of cupcakes; these, your White Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes, and something with chocolate (I’m thinking of creating some kind of Nanaimo Bar cupcake). They’re sure to be a hit at the party! Thank you for all the wonderful recipes and photography, Sally!

  16. I love this recipe! The cupcakes are delicious and lemony and the cream cheese frosting was perfectly creamy with a definite hint of blackberry. They are also beautiful and I got so many compliments on them when I brought them to a friend’s party. Thank you so much!

  17. Looks delicious and this is my favorite flavor combo! I’d like to make this for Easter but it’s just my husband and I this year. Any way to convert this into 6in cake pans?

    1. Hi Lindsay! Actually, any cupcake recipe yielding 12-16 cupcakes converts beautifully into 3 6-inch cake pans. I recommend you follow the baking instructions for my 6 inch cake recipe.

      1. I had no idea! This could be dangerous for our household!

  18. This is a delicious recipe! I doubled it to bring to a party and everyone loved them. The cake is so delicious in this recipe and the tangy cream cheese frosting is the perfect compliment. The purple from the blackberry puree turns the frosting a beautiful color. Thank you, Sally!

  19. Susan Sutfin says:

    I have made the lemon cup cakes and lemon pound cake and found both to be very dense and heavy. Would I be better to use a cake flour. My family prefers a lighter cake texture.
    Susan

  20. They taste great but they didn’t rise. They were supposed to be for a birthday party but now we’re just eating them at home.

  21. Hi Sally!
    I made this recipe twice and had the same problem both times. When I pull the cupcakes out of the oven they are PERFECT! However, after just a couple minutes the cupcakes start deflating and end up looking kind of smushed (for lack of a better word) and are also dense in texture. This happened when I used both buttermilk and whole milk. Any suggestions? Could it be that I’m using too much acid (too much lemon juice and/or zest)?

    1. Hi Molly! Happy to help. Perhaps too much acid? I’ve never had this happen before so my first guess wouldn’t be that– it would be that your cupcakes are under-baked. If you decide to try them again, I recommend keeping them in the oven for a couple extra minutes.

  22. Sally, these turned out amazingly! Was worried the frosting wouldn’t hold up, but put them in the fridge until ready to serve and they held up beautifully! Thanks for another incredible recipe!

  23. This frosting is AWESOME. Decorated mine the same way as the recipe. They look so elegant!

  24. Hi, this recipe looks amazing and I’ll definitely try it this weekend! Do you think it would work with limes instead of lemons?

    1. Yes, absolutely!

  25. I m vegetarian. So what v can use instead of egg .? Condensed milk is the option? If yes than pls give me the exact measurements.

    1. I haven’t tested this recipe with an egg substitute but please let me know if you do!

  26. I thought these were amazing! Even better the next day. The icing was a little runny but still delicious. How could i convert this to a 9×9 or 9×13 cake?

    1. Hi Chelsea! This amount of batter is ideal for a 9×9 inch baking pan size. Bake at 350F. I’m unsure of the exact bake time, but you can begin checking the cake at about 25-30 minutes for doneness.

  27. Hi Sally!!

    Im am so ecstatic. Just finished making these cupcakes and the baked beautifully. Will pair them with your lemon buttercream.

    Thank you very much for the great recipes!

    Teresa

  28. Can I substitute the butter with oil? If possible, how much? Thank you.

    1. I don’t recommend it.

  29. I give up on cakes… seems something so simple doesn’t work out for me. (Artisan bread on the other hand was great). I have a small oven so I used a rectangular pan to make the lemon cake. However it came out dense, not at all fluffy. The frosting was yummy!

  30. Jennifer Cheuk says:

    Hi Sally, just made these cupcakes. They turned out beautifully. How do I reduce the sugar amount in the frosting without compromising on the stiffness? Mine did not hold well because I lessened the sugar and so I refrigerated them but that made the muffin bottom drier when they had been a lot fluffier just out of the oven.

    1. Hi Jennifer, I’m glad you enjoyed the cupcakes. Reducing the sugar in the frosting will make it very soft. If it’s simply tastes too sweet you can add a bit more salt to cut the sweetness. Or if you are looking for a frosting made with less sugar you can try making my Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

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