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For lemon lovers everywhere, these lemon cupcakes are bursting with fresh lemon flavor in every bite. Thanks to the reverse creaming method, these cupcakes have velvety tender crumbs and are virtually impossible to mess up!
Table of Contents
- Why you’ll love this recipe:
- Lemon Cupcakes Ingredient Notes:
- How to make this recipe:
- Tips for success:
- Make-Ahead Tips:
- Storing Tips:
- More Lemon Recipes
- Lemon Cupcakes Recipe
Why you’ll love this recipe:
These fresh lemon cupcakes are bright, tangy, and absolutely divine! They’re moist and fluffy, and every bite is loaded with fresh lemon flavor.
- The cupcakes have an even and tender crumb infused with a hint of citrus from the lemon zest!
- Smooth and creamy lemon curd filling adds a burst of fresh lemon in every bite.
- And tangy lemon cream cheese frosting is simply icing on the cake. 🙂
- It’s a lemon lover’s dream!
This lemon cupcake recipe is my go-to for spring and summer festivities, like baby and bridal showers.
Lemon Cupcakes Ingredient Notes:
- All-purpose flour – If possible, weigh your flour with a kitchen scale. Otherwise, use the spoon and level method. Spoon the flour into the measuring cup, then level it off with the flat edge of a butter knife. This method prevents you from getting too much flour, which results in a dry cupcake.
- Unsalted butter – Butter provides a light, tender crumb and buttery flavor!
- Lemon juice & zest – For a bright and lemony bite! Be sure to zest the yellow part of the lemon peel and not the pith. The white pith is bitter.
How to make this recipe:
1. Make the lemon curd
You need to make the curd first to allow enough time to chill it. It can be made a few days in advance.
Check out my step-by-step tutorial in my homemade lemon curd recipe.
When storing curd, lay the plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd. Doing so prevents a film from forming on top of the curd.
2. Make the lemon cupcakes
- In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients. Mix for 10 seconds.
- Add butter and eggs to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed. Increase the speed to medium-high and mix for 1 minute.
- Reduce the speed to low and add the lemon juice/zest. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula, then beat for another 30 seconds on medium-high speed.
- Scoop the cupcake batter into a cupcake tin lined with cupcake liners 2/3 of the way.
- Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Let the cupcakes cool on a wire rack.
You should have exactly 12 cupcakes. If you don’t have enough batter, it means you either overfilled the cupcake liners or didn’t whip the batter enough.
3. Make the lemon cream cheese frosting
- In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
- Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed for a minute so it doesn’t poof outside of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 3 more minutes.
- Stir in lemon zest and salt. Beat for 30 more seconds to incorporate.
4. Fill the lemon cupcakes
- Let the cupcakes cool completely before assembling! Otherwise the frosting and filling will melt.
- Use a paring knife or a cupcake corer to make a hole in the center of each cupcake. Don’t cut all the way to the bottom of the cupcake or the filling will leak!
- Save the cupcake pieces to top the filling.
- Pipe or spoon the lemon curd into each hole. Fill until the curd reaches the top of the cupcake, then cover with the reserved cupcake pieces.
5. Frost the cupcakes
- Frost the cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting and garnish with lemon slices!
- For these cupcakes, I dropped a heaping tablespoon of frosting, then spread it with a back of a spoon! It’s super easy way to frost cupcakes.
Tips for success:
- Lemon curd thickens as it cools. It’ll be a little loose when it’s warm, but once it’s chilled it will be pipeable. Make it a day or two in advance!
- Be sure to use room-temperature butter and eggs for the cupcake batter. And beat the batter at high speed until really fluffy. It’s crucial for perfect texture and rise!
- Don’t overbake the cupcakes! It seems obvious, but an overbaked cupcake is a dry cupcake. Check around 18 to 20 minutes, then add a few more minutes if needed.
- For smooth frosting, make sure your butter and cream cheese are soft. If you use cold ingredients, they won’t mix together well and you’ll have bits of butter throughout your frosting.
- Let the cupcakes cool completely before assembling! If the lemon cupcakes are even slightly warm, the frosting will melt into a soup.
- Lemon curd filled cupcakes require multiple steps, but are worth it in the end! To make things easier, make the curd ahead of time and chill.
- Cream cheese frosting can be made up to three days ahead of time as well! When ready to assemble, leave the frosting on the counter for at least 30 minutes, then give it a good stir.
- Cupcakes are freezer-friendly! You can make the lemon cupcakes, let them cool, and freeze them for up to 3 months. Let them thaw on the counter, then fill and frost.
- Cream cheese frosting will spoil if not refrigerated, so the cupcakes should be stored in the fridge.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
- You can freeze leftover lemon cupcakes! Place the frosted cupcakes on a plate or quarter sheet pan and freeze for at least 2 hours. Transfer the frozen cupcakes to a container or bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
Yes! Lemon curd cupcakes must be refrigerated. Lemon curd is made from perishable ingredients like eggs and butter. It will spoil if it’s not refrigerated. Let the cupcakes sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes to warm up before you dig in!
Lemon zest! Use a microplane to zest the yellow part of the peel into your batter. It will give the batter a fragrant lemony taste without effecting the rise or texture of the cake.
For a true lemon flavor, I highly recommend lemon juice and zest. Lemon extract is made from the oil of lemons and not the juice, which gives it a bold flavor and no acidity. It doesn’t taste like fresh lemon.
More Lemon Recipes
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (240 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice Note 1
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest Note 2
- 5 tablespoons (70 g) unsalted butter cubed and softened
- 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 stick (115 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- ¼ cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
- zest of 2 lemons
Lemon cream cheese frosting:
- 8 ounces (225 g) cream cheese at room temperature
- ¼ cup (55 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 cups (260 g) powdered sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- stand mixer with the paddle attachment
- cupcake tin
To make the lemon curd:
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest for a minute.
- Turn on the heat to low and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches 170°F (75°C), 8-10 minutes. The mixture will be thick, and it'll leave a trail if you run a finger on the back of a spoon dipped in curd.
- Remove from heat. Place a mesh sieve over a bowl and run the curd through it. It makes the curd silky smooth!
- Then cover the curd with plastic wrap, making sure it touches the entire surface. This prevents a film from forming on the curd. Let the curd cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Add butter and stir until the butter is fully incorporated.
- Pour the curd into an airtight container, cover it with plastic wrap so it touches the top of the curd, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to cool completely. Once chilled, transfer it to a piping bag.
To make the lemon cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
- In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix for 10 seconds to combine.
- Add butter and eggs to the dry ingredients and start mixing on low speed, then increase the speed to medium-high and mix for 1 minute.
- Then reduce the speed to low and pour in lemon juice and zest. Stop the mixer, scrape the sides with a silicone spatula, and then run the mixer on medium-high speed again and mix for another 30 seconds.
- Using a large cookie scoop, divide the batter between 12 cupcake tins, lined with cupcake liners. (No need to grease the liners.)
- Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the frosting:
- In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 1 minute.
- Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed for a minute. Then increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in lemon zest and salt. Whip again until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
To assemble the cupcakes:
- Make sure the cupcakes are completely cool before filling them.
- Using the back of a piping tip (or a small pairing knife, or a cupcake corer), make a hole in the center of each cupcake. Be careful not to cut all the way through the bottom of the cupcake. (Reserve the cupcake pieces.)
- Pipe or spoon the lemon curd into the hole. Fill it until the curd just reaches the top of the cupcake. Replace the reserved cupcake pieces to close the filling.
- Finally, frost the cupcakes with the lemon cream cheese frosting and garnish with lemon slices, if desired.
Tips & Notes
– Cream cheese frosting will spoil if not refrigerated, so the cupcakes should be stored in the fridge.
– Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
– You can freeze leftover lemon cupcakes! Place the frosted cupcakes on a plate or quarter sheet pan and freeze for at least 2 hours. Transfer the frozen cupcakes to a container or bag and freeze for up to 3 months.