RECIPE: Lemon Lemon Cupcakes

by Dana on May 3, 2013

I’ve never liked the old adage “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”….cause when life gives me lemons, I wanna eat lemon bars till I’m sick and finish the affair with 24 ounces of lemon-berry slush.


Thank you for making the world smell, taste, and look better.

And thank you for giving me Lemon Cream Pie.
And now a gazillion of these in my kitchen (since I had to test the recipe 3 times to get it just right):

Yay!  Zesty bundles of yellow with fluffy lemon buttercream on top. Mmmmm.
Seriously, this frosting alone is to die for.  And if you’re not a Lemon-Lemon kind of girl, it also tastes fantastic on vanilla cupcakes.

(These are part of the Celebrate Mom series, since you and your mom probably love lemons too).  Okay let’s start baking.

Makes 22-24 cupcakes (or 48 mini cupcakes)
Bake at 350 for 17-20 minutes (10-12 minutes for mini cupcakes)
You need appx 5-8 lemons for the cupcakes and frosting

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice

2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/3-1/2 cup lemon zest *

* NOTE: I prefer a lot of zing in citrus desserts.  So while my husband thought 1/2 cup of zest was too much, I thought it was fabulous.  If you’re a mild lemon girl, start with a 1/4 cup zest, taste it, and add more as needed.  OR….make your favorite vanilla cupcake recipe instead of lemon and then top it off with the lemon buttercream frosting (recipe below).   You need appx 5-8 lemons for the cupcakes and frosting.

Okay, start by zesting a few lemons and squeezing the juice in a separate bowl.  Set both aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder,  and salt.
Add to flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix just until dry ingredients are incorporated.
Add the milk and lemon zest and mix again just till incorporated.
Line two cupcake trays with liners and pour 1/4 cup of batter into each cupcake (for mini-cupcakes, pour 1 Tbl of batter into each one)
Bake at 350 degrees for 17-20 minutes and allow them to cool completely before frosting (bake 10-12 minutes for mini cupcakes).  Be careful not to overbake them!

While the cupcakes cool, prepare the frosting.

1 cup butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
3 Tbl milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
6-7 cups powdered (confectioners) sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon zest (see note above) *

Let the butter soften to room temperature.
In a mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer (I prefer a hand-mixer for frosting).
Mix in the milk, vanilla, and lemon juice.
Add 6-7 cups powdered sugar and mix.
Add the lemon zest and mix….and take a taste.
Add more sugar and/or zest, juice, or milk if needed.

When life gives you lemons…

…dollop them with frosting and enjoy.
Have a great weekend!


This is part of Celebrate MOM, a series with gift ideas for moms and women.

Here’s what we’ve shared this season:
Dishtowel and Napkin Totes
Fabrics A to Z book Giveaway
Dandelions Pom Poms
the Vintage Pearl Giveaway 
Tincan Caddy

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Regina May 3, 2013 at 9:23 am

OMG! mmmmm
how many grams is a cup? do you know?
And how much do those sticks of buther weigh?


2 Florence May 3, 2013 at 12:19 pm

A cup doesn’t correspond to a mass (g) , but a volume, about 240mL in the International System…. or 8fl.oz….or…. which will give a different amount of g depending on what you measure!
But you can find great online converter on the web such as this one

And such a good looking recipe for a lemon fan ! I really have to try those.


3 Kat May 9, 2013 at 7:27 pm

A stick of butter is 1/4 pound


4 Cheryl May 3, 2013 at 9:33 am

Looks absolutely delicious! I love lemons:) Thanks for the recipe!


5 April May 3, 2013 at 10:01 am

How (estimate) many lemons did you use to get all that lemon zest?


6 Carrie May 3, 2013 at 10:17 am

YUM! I LOVE lemons! Gonna pass this recipe onto the hubster for a Mothers Day treat. Thanks!


7 Tressa May 3, 2013 at 10:32 am

I love lemons and lemon treats so thank you for sharing what is surely a delectable treat.


8 M May 3, 2013 at 10:35 am

Hey, Dana,

First, YUM.

Second, you should head to your library and pick up a copy of Bob Staake’s book The Red Lemon to read to your kids, it’s awesome and funny. He also wrote a great book called the Donut Chef.

Third, I make lemon buttercream frosting by whipping up butter, lemon curd and powdered sugar and it’s so good I kind of want to eat it by the spoonful, but I don’t.

Thank you for the recipes!


9 Amanda May 3, 2013 at 10:35 am

Mmmm! Much better than lemonade!


10 Allison May 3, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Awesome, recipe. I Love LOVE lemons, too! I just shared my favorite Super Fabulous Lemon Bars on my blog, check it out:


11 wendy May 3, 2013 at 12:28 pm

what timing!! i was wondering what to bake for church this sunday


12 AP May 3, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Oh my! I am a little over two months pregnant now.. far enough along for cravings to be in full force. I just spent $15 in lemons at Costco! You with this recipe are like an angel sent from above right about now!!


13 Melissa Shultz May 3, 2013 at 12:33 pm

My boyfriend loves lemon desserts. I never really crave them until now. WOWZA! Your description and pictures make my mouth drool. I want to go home right now and make these. I hope I have enough lemons in my fridge to make these tonight.

Thanks for the recipe and the mouth watering pictures. Now I need to clean the drool from my iPad screen. :)


14 Teressa May 3, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Woohoo! I just picked a bunch from the tree the other day and didn’t want to just make lemonade with them. Thanks for the recipes :)


15 Chrissy May 3, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Perfect timing! I was planning on making lemon cupcakes for by baby’s 1st birthday party!


16 Alissa May 3, 2013 at 6:53 pm

CUPCAKE TIP: when filling your pan, use an ice cream scoop! (the kind you squeeze and the little scraper swings along the inside) Get the perfect amount in each cup, all cupcakes are the same size, and you don’t get dribbles on the pan from pouring. Works great every time. :)


17 NiCaam May 4, 2013 at 4:17 am

Thanks for the recipe, I know my kids will love love love it!


18 Michelle May 4, 2013 at 8:59 am

Love, love lemon!!


19 Deborah May 4, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Lemon is my favorite: color, flavor, smell, everything. I ache for these cupcakes, no joke–am totally making them for my quilting bee next time they meet at my house! Yum.


20 coolio August 28, 2013 at 7:41 pm

That’s hilarious because Lemon is my favourite: colour, flavour, smell, everything. I too ache for these cupcakes and am going to make them tonight!!


21 emilia May 5, 2013 at 1:24 am



super duper lemon squeasy peasy easy!!!


22 Lis May 5, 2013 at 6:58 am

A girl after my own heart! Your new neighbors have no idea how lucky they will be to have you. As I was reading this, I was a bit sad that I couldn’t just pop over (haha, yes, from NJ!) to help you polish those off.


23 Kate May 5, 2013 at 9:41 pm

I’m with you! If a lemon confectionery doesn’t make you do cat’s-bum mouth, it’s not lemony enough!


24 Liz Brown May 6, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I am totally obsessed with lemon!! The color, the smell, the taste… mmmmmmm yum yum!! Did you see the mini lemon baked donuts that Whipperberry had on her blog? (thank you Pinterest!) Now I will have to add these cupcakes to my lemon-licious baking list!


25 Katie @ Hello Little Bean May 7, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I love lemon desserts! These look so delicious!



26 Manon May 7, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Those are great! I’ve just made them for the kids when they got back from school. They’re perfect. Thanks a lot!


27 Jessica May 7, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Thank you for sharing this recipe! I had a few of my mother-in-law’s yummy Meyer lemons left and made these right away. I’m making a second batch this weekend – they were amazing!


28 Mikea May 7, 2013 at 11:42 pm

I agree! The last time someone gave me lemons, i made lemon bars! I cant wait to try this cake! Thanks for the recipe and working so hard to get it right


29 emily May 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Just a suggestion from another lemon lover and former pastry chef, zest your lemon right into your sugar, mix together and let sit for awhile before you mix your recipe. It makes a fantastic lemon infused sugar and intensifies the flavor. I’ve used the technique for limes and lemons and it works great! Thanks for the new recipe


30 hannah May 9, 2013 at 5:53 pm

I love this sight! and oh my goodness these look sooo good!! i’m thinking about making them for my mom on sunday! also I noticed you’re using heb powdered sugar! you must be a Texan!! that makes me like you even more! #goaggies also I made your circle skirt a few months ago and I wear it all the time!! it’s sky blue and I wear it with a nice white shirt. it looks fabulous! so I just wanted to let you kn ow you rock and I love your sewing patterns!!


31 Stephanie Merritt May 10, 2013 at 10:04 pm

I love lemon and this recipe was beyond delicious! I made them for my family and then again for a bake sale. I found cute paper wrappers, and dropped them into a clear plastic cup to keep the wrap from sticking to the frosting and put a candy gummy lemon on top (so people knew they were lemon). Sold out of all 50 cupcakes! Thanks for the wonderful blog- I love it and admire you can keep up with it and your busy life!


32 Dana May 10, 2013 at 11:14 pm

oh that makes me so happy to hear! And what a cute idea with the gummy lemon on top. Very cute!
Thanks for sharing Stephanie :)


33 fatima May 12, 2013 at 7:20 am

Hi. I’m starting a mini cupcakery and i want to try the lemon Cupcakes. I would love to know what type of flour, i prefer all purpose, but I’d like to know which to use.

They look delicious! Thanks.


34 Miggy May 15, 2013 at 5:09 pm

So I made these for my family last week and they were a hit. I topped each cupcake off with a fresh raspberry. The color and flavor contrast was good.

BUT, I have NO idea how you got anywhere NEAR the amount of zest your recipe requires (even the lower amounts) with just 4 lemons. I used 8 and barely had over 1/4 cup…I was taught that zest was just the very outer layer of the rind–the yellow part, not the white. Did you did more rind than I did? Did you use more lemons for the zest but just 4 for the juice? I’m so confused! :)


35 Eiman June 17, 2013 at 10:47 am

Just made these yesterday and they were AMAZING. Thank you SOO much for the recipe. If you have any more for anything mint related please share. :D


36 TerriSue June 24, 2013 at 12:37 pm

These look fantastic! I can’t wait to try them. One note though. When you are going to zest lemons it is always best to use organic lemons. The pesticides the spray on citrus crops is enormous. The thick skin of citrus fruit keeps the level down in the juice, though it is present. If you’re going to zest go organic. Now I have to go out and buy some lemons. I have two, but I don’t think that’s going to be quite enough for tis recipe.


37 easy cupcake recipe August 5, 2013 at 2:43 am

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38 Lina June 28, 2015 at 7:55 am

I just tried this recipe and the cupcakes turned out delicious! The frosting was a bit sweet for my family and I (even though I reduced the amount of powdered sugar to 4 cups). The cake on its own is so good though, I’m gonna want to grow my own lemon tree at this rate. I will be making this recipe over and over again for years to come…thank you so much for sharing it!


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