These simple lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are a light, fluffy, and refreshing dessert that’s perfect for any dessert table! The cream cheese frosting on top adds the perfect richness that makes it a delicious dessert that’ll keep any taste buds happy!
There’s just something about citrus flavor in anything – whether it’s an orange fruit dip, a homemade limeade, or even just a raspberry sauce with hints of lemon – that is so refreshing. And during the hot summer months, refreshing is what everyone needs!
I’ve always been a huge fan of lemon, especially fresh lemon flavor, and lemon desserts, so these cupcakes have become one of my new favorite desserts!
The airy texture of these cupcakes combined with the best frosting make them a great shareable dessert that people will want over and over again.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Easy recipe – just mix, pour, and bake! These homemade lemon cupcakes couldn’t be any easier!
- Distinct lemon flavor – these aren’t quite as lemony as other lemon treats like lemon bars, but they have the perfect combination of lemon and a mild vanilla flavor. Flavorful without being overpowering.
- Cream cheese frosting – the cream cheese frosting on top is the perfect complement to the moist fluffy lemon cupcakes!
- Lemon juice and lemon zest – make sure this is from actual lemons, the flavor is so much better that way! You’ll need 3-4 fresh lemons to get the right amount of fresh lemon juice and fresh lemon zest for this recipe. In my opinion lemon extract just doesn’t taste as fresh, so I don’t recommend it.
- Cake flour – you could technically use all-purpose flour for these as well, but cake flour gives you the texture you really want. Also, make sure to use the level method to ensure you are using the right amount of flour.
- Unsalted Butter – make sure it’s soft before you try to cream it with the sugar otherwise the butter mixture will not get creamy.
- Baking powder
- Whole milk – whole milk is best to give you the fat content you want for the cupcakes. If you don’t have whole and don’t want to buy whole, you can use a lower fat content milk as well.
- Vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
If you want an even stronger lemon flavor, you can replace the vanilla extract in the frosting with lemon juice and add a little lemon zest to the recipe! This does amp up the lemon flavor quite a bit, so do that if you really want something with a strong lemon flavor!
How to make lemon cupcakes
Okay so if you’ve ever made cupcakes – whether it be hot chocolate cupcakes, banana pudding cupcakes, or even gingerbread cupcakes – you’ll probably be real familiar with how to make these! It’s a pretty basic cupcake recipe!
Start by preheating your oven to 350°F. While that’s preheating, line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Now you’re ready to start mixing.
First, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
Next, beat the softened butter and sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or using a handheld mixer for 2 minutes until creamed.
Then, add the eggs one at a time, and mix until fully incorporated.
Next, slowly add half of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the milk, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix until well-combined.
Now add the remaining dry ingredients and milk, then mix again until the mixture is fully combined and no lumps are visible.
Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners and fill about 2/3 full. You want the cupcakes to fill but not overflow.
Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven. Let cool for five minutes in the cupcake pan then remove and allow to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
Garnish with yellow sprinkles, candied lemon slices, or even lemon candies and serve!
How to Make cream cheese frosting
In a large bowl, beat softened butter and softened cream cheese until well blended and no clumps.
Slowly add 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time, then add vanilla and beat until creamy.
Store the cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container.
Freeze cupcakes before frosting in an airtight freezer-safe container. When you want to thaw, simply take out of the freezer and allow the cupcakes to come to room temperature. Frost once completely thawed.
Garnish these lemon cupcakes with candied lemon slices, lemon candies, mint, or simply just lemon colored sprinkles!
More Fruity Desserts
If you liked these lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, you’ll love these other delicious fruity desserts!
- Brownie fruit pizza – fruit pizza like you’ve never had before! Brownie crust, cream cheese topping, and oh so delicious!
- Chocolate dipped rice krispie treats – white chocolate dipped treats filled with a surprise raspberry flavor!
- White chocolate cranberry cookies – your new favorite holiday cookie recipe!
- Glazed cherry cake – a super simple cake topped with a cherry layer and a sweet glaze!
- Homemade apple pie – classic apple pie made in a super flaky pie crust, so delicious!
Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 ½ cup cake flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup butter (softened)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 TBS lemon zest
Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cups unsalted butter (softened)
- 8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
- 4 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line the cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
- In a large bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt, then set aside.1 1/2 cup cake flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt
- Next, beat the softened butter and sugar with a handheld mixer or stand mixer for 2 minutes until creamed.1/2 cup butter, 1 cup granulated sugar
- Then, add the eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated.2 large eggs
- Slowly add half of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the milk, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix until well-combined.1/2 cup whole milk, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, 1 TBS lemon zest, 1/4 cup lemon juice
- Add the remaining dry ingredients, milk, and mix again until the mixture is fully combined and no lumps are visible.
- Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners and fill about 2/3 full.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting with cream cheese frosting.
- In a large bowl, beat softened butter and softened cream cheese until well blended and no clumps.1/2 cups unsalted butter, 8 ounces cream cheese
- Slowly add 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time, then add vanilla and beat until creamy.4 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Frost cupcakes using a piping tag and your favorite piping tip.
Tips & Notes:
- Whole milk – can be replaced by any other milk if whole milk is not available.
- Lemon juice – use the juice from 3-4 fresh lemons to get the amount you’ll need