Easy homemade Lemon Cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting have the perfect balance of sweet and tanginess and are perfect for spring, Easter, or Mother's Day!
This recipe is sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill. Thank you for supporting me in working with brands I love to bring you new recipes!
Tessa's Recipe Rundown...
Taste: The perfect balance of sweet, tart, and fresh. Texture: The cupcakes are tender, light, and fluffy while the frosting is ultra rich, smooth, and creamy. Ease: Very simple and easy. No need to purchase bland grocery store cupcakes!! Pros: Fresh and flavorful. Such a crowdpleaser. These will VANISH. Cons: None. Would I make this again? Definitely!
I have to say that right behind chocolate, my favorite dessert flavor is probably lemon.
Lemon goes good on SO many savory foods, but when coupled with sugar it’s the perfect marriage. Fresh, tangy, and sweet blend together so nicely.
These Lemon Cupcakes would be perfect for ANY spring or summer festivity. Easter or Mother’s Day would be particularly perfect, even a baby shower or bridal shower for something fresh and easy!
Anytime I’ve brought these cupcakes to a picnic or potluck they’ve vanished within minutes so you may want to bake a double batch.
Once again I’m partnering with one of my favorite baking ingredient brands, Bob’s Red Mill, to bring you this spring cupcake recipe. Bob’s Red Mill doesn’t just produce high quality flours, grains, and tons of other go-to ingredients, but they’re also employee-owned. I find that pretty amazing in this day and age!
Bob’s Red Mill Organic All Purpose Flour has a protein content of 10-12% so it’s enough to create cupcakes that maintain their shape and hold up to a generous amount of frosting, but soft enough to yield a tender texture.
With this recipe you really want to make sure not to overmix the batter which can create dense and gluey cupcakes. Use a gentle hand and stir until JUST combined.
Do I have to use whole milk?
Fat not only provides richness, it also enhances flavor. It helps tenderize the cupcakes. For those reasons I highly recommend using whole milk, but if you only have 2% that will work in a pinch. I wouldn’t recommend skim milk.
This recipe includes an amazing fresh lemon cream cheese frosting. Its tangy freshness balances the sweetness so perfectly. Be sure your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature before beating for a smooth lump-free frosting. Scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl as you beat the butter and cream cheese. Even if you have a paddle attachment that scrapes the sides as it goes, those usually don’t get the very bottom of the bowl.
Also don’t skip on sifting the powdered sugar if you want smooth and picture perfect icing.
The amount of powdered sugar in this recipe does make a softer frosting because I didn’t want it to be too sweet. If you need a stiffer consistency for piping with a decorative piping tip, feel free to add more powdered sugar. You can also omit the lemon juice and replace with about 1/2 tsp. lemon oil (or to taste) to thicken.
If you don’t like cream cheese frosting (gasp!) you can always add the lemon zest + juice in this frosting recipe to my Best Buttercream recipe.
How to Make Cupcakes Ahead of Time
The cupcakes can be baked and stored in an airtight container a day ahead of frosting. The frosting itself can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Just bring to room temperature and beat until light and fluffy again.
The frosted cupcakes can be left at room temperature for up to 8 hours, since the sugar in the cream cheese frosting acts as a preservative. After that, you’re best off refrigerating the cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Let come to room temperature before serving.
If you’re serving these outside on a warm day, just keep them in the fridge until you set up for your party, picnic, potluck, or whatever. They’ll lose their chill just in time to be eaten. This will prevent melting.
1stick (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1cup(200 grams) granulated sugar
1large egg, at room temperature
1cup(240 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
2tablespoonsfresh lemon juice
For the lemon cream cheese frosting:
8ounces(227 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
1stick (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2cups(313 grams) powdered sugar, sifted*
2tablespoonsfreshly squeeze lemon juice
Make the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two standard muffin tins with 15 paper liners.
In a medium bowl combine the flour, lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to beat the butter and sugar until fluffy and very well combined, about 3 minutes. On medium-low speed add the egg and beat until combined. Combine the milk and and lemon juice. Add in the flour mixture and milk mixture in alternating batches, starting and ending with the flour, mixing until just combined.
Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the frosting:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, lemon zest, and salt on medium-high speed until very light, creamy, and smooth. On low speed gradually add in the sugar then the lemon juice and beat until creamy and smooth. If you need a stiffer consistency for decorative piping, add more powdered sugar.
*Increase powdered sugar to 3 1/2 cups for a stiffer consistency for decorative piping if you'd prefer.
easter, mother's day, spring
If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a picture and share it on Instagram with #handletheheat so we can all see!
Recipe byTessa Arias
Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.
This recipe was the April 2019 selection for our monthly baking challenge! Every month you can join the challenge by baking the recipe and snapping a photo for a chance to win prizes!Full challenge details here. Check out everyone’s cupcakes:
I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)
As a trained chef and cookbook author, I share trusted baking recipes your friends & family will love alongside insights into the science of sweets. I help take the luck out of baking so you *always* have delicious results! Learn more here.
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