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Lemon Cupcakes

These lemon cupcakes are a little burst of sunshine, capturing the essence of a warm summer day. I can’t stop making them!

The cupcakes turned out so moist and fluffy, bursting with bright lemon flavor in every bite.

And the frosting is just to die for! It’s rich and creamy with the perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess.

Homemade lemon cupcakes, baked to perfection and topped with a swirl of tangy cream cheese frosting
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I love how easy they are to make, too. I’m already planning to make them again for my next picnic or potluck.

If you’re a lemon lover like me, you have to try this recipe! 

Why You’ll Love These Lemon Cupcakes

Bright Citrus Flavor: They have a vibrant, tangy citrus flavor to delight your taste buds. They’re sweet enough to satisfy a craving but also refreshingly light.

Moist Texture: Adding buttermilk and sour cream makes these cupcakes ultra moist. They’re also light, fluffy, and tender. 

Portable: Like all cupcakes, these are great on-the-go snacks. You can take them anywhere!

Delicious cupcakes in a cooling rack, infused with lemon zest and juice for a refreshing burst of flavor


  • All-Purpose Flour: Flour is the foundation of most baked goods, and this cupcake batter is no exception. It provides structure and stability. 
  • Granulated Sugar: It adds some much-needed sweetness to balance out the tart lemon. 
  • Baking Powder: The leavening agent helps the cupcake batter rise. It also gives the treats their light, fluffy texture. 
  • Salt: It’s a flavor enhancer. Fine-grain table salt works best. 
  • Unsalted Butter: Softened butter provides richness and a tender, moist crumb. If salted is all you have, simply reduce or eliminate the extra salt in the recipe. 
  • Large Eggs: They bind everything together and add extra moisture. Set them out early so they can warm to room temperature. 
  • Sour Cream: The secret ingredient for extra moist, soft, and fluffy cupcakes. 
  • Buttermilk: Its acidity reacts with the baking powder and improves the cupcakes’ overall texture. 
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: For that bright, tart lemon flavor. Freshly squeezed is the only way to go. 
  • Lemon Zest: The zest provides an intense lemon aroma (as well as flavor).
  • Cream Cheese: It provides the creamy base for the smooth, slightly tangy frosting. For the best results, use full-fat brick-style cream cheese. 
  • Powdered Sugar: It works better than granulated sugar in the icing since it dissolves more easily.
Golden-yellow lemon batter in a glass bowl
Making lemon cream cheese frosting in a glass bowl on a white marble table

How to Make Lemon Cupcakes

These cupcakes couldn’t be easier to whip up!

1. Prepare. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. 

2. Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl until combined. 

3. Mix the wet ingredients. Use a separate bowl to combine the lemon zest and sugar. Mix by hand until well-mixed and fragrant. Then, add the melted butter, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk, and lemon juice. Whisk until smooth. 

4. Finish the batter. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ones. Mix gently until no streaks remain. Don’t overmix! 

5. Bake. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them 2/3-3/4 full. Then, bake for 16 to 18 minutes until the tops are lightly golden and the middles are done. 

6. Make the frosting. Beat together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Then, mix in the powdered sugar, lemon juice, zest, and salt until smooth and creamy. 

7. Finish the cupcakes. Remove the cupcake tins from the oven and let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Then, frost and enjoy! 

Moist, fluffy and zingy lemon cupcakes in a decorated kitchen stand

Tips for the Best Lemon Cupcakes

Follow these tips to ensure your cupcakes come out perfectly every time: 

  • Room temperature is best. This is especially important for the butter, eggs, and sour cream. Letting them warm to room temperature ensures they’ll mix more easily. 
  • Be gentle! Don’t overmix the batter. Overmixing is the number one culprit for flat, dry cupcakes. Mix everything slowly and gently. Stop as soon as the ingredients are incorporated. 
  • Zest before juicing. Always zest the lemon before juicing it. It’s almost impossible to zest an already-juiced lemon. 
  • Don’t overfill! You should only fill your cupcake liners 2/3 to 3/4 full. Doing so leaves plenty of room for the cupcakes to rise. 
  • Have fun with variations. You can make this recipe with different citrus fruits, such as limes or oranges. You can also add mix-ins to the batter or top the cupcakes with lemon mousse, whipped cream, or fresh berries. 
Irresistible homemade lemon cupcakes, moist and fluffy with a burst of citrus flavor in every bite.

How to Store

How you store your leftover cupcakes depends on whether they’re frosted. 

To Store (Cupcakes): Store unfrosted cupcakes in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Frosted cupcakes should also be in an airtight container, but they should be refrigerated. They’ll last for up to 5 days. 

To Store (Frosting): If possible, leave the cupcakes unfrosted and store the frosting separately. Place it in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week. Before using it, bring it to room temperature and re-whip it. 

To Freeze (Cupcakes): Wrap unfrosted cupcakes in aluminum foil and place them in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag. Freeze them for up to 3 months. I don’t recommend freezing frosted cupcakes. 

To Freeze (Frosting): Freeze frosting in its own air-tight container for up to 3 months. 

To Thaw: Let unfrosted cupcakes thaw in the fridge overnight before frosting and serving them. Thaw frozen frosting in the fridge overnight, as well. Then, let it sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour before re-whipping and using it. 

More Cupcakes You Have to Try

Strawberry Cupcakes
Death by Oreo Cupcakes
Mary Berry’s Lemon Cupcakes
Vanilla Cupcakes
Chocolate Cupcakes

Lemon Cupcakes

Course: DessertCuisine: American


Prep time


Cooking time


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These homemade lemon cupcakes are light, fluffy, and delicious! With a luscious cream cheese frosting, they truly can’t be topped.


  • For the Cupcakes
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed

  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest

  • For the Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened

  • 2 cups powdered sugar

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

  • pinch salt


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until combined.
  • In a separate bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar by hand until fragrant. Add the melted butter, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk, and lemon juice. Whisk until smooth.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix gently just until combined and no flour streaks remain. Do not overmix.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling each about 2/3 to 3/4 full.
  • Bake for 16-18 minutes, until the tops are lightly golden. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs when they’re ready.
  • For the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Mix in the powdered sugar, lemon juice, zest, and salt until smooth and creamy.
  • Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then, transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost the cooled cupcakes and serve. Enjoy!


  • Use your fingers to mix the lemon zest and sugar, squeezing gently to release the oils from the zest.

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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