These are the easiest lemon cupcakes you will ever make. They are light, fluffy, and bursting with fresh lemon flavor!
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My lemon cupcakes are one of my favorite desserts to make in the spring. I love bringing them to parties or dropping off a batch at my neighbor’s door. They are just such a friendly dessert! And no one can resist that bright, bold lemon flavor. It really is the flavor of spring!
I mean, it even looks like sunshine, doesn’t it?!
Lemon Cupcake Recipe
These easy cupcakes are actually made from a box of white cake mix. I take the cake mix and doctor it up, turning it into an incredible, rich lemon cake. Lemon zest and fresh lemon juice are really all you need to turn a basic, boring cake into a sweet lemony treat.
Since I believe lemon cupcakes should be completely packed with intense flavor in every bite, I also add lemon frosting to the top of the cupcakes. The homemade lemon frosting is pretty easy to put together. Simply beat butter and powdered sugar together and then add more lemon juice and more lemon zest.
When it comes to lemon cupcakes, you really can’t have too much lemon. The more flavor, the better! So, if you are a true lemon dessert lover, this cupcake recipe is for you. It is the most lemony cake I have ever made.
(Can’t get enough lemon? Try my Lemonade Cake next!)
Ingredients for Lemon Cupcakes
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- White cake mix – Any brand of white cake mix will work. I like Betty Crocker Super Moist white cake, but the vanilla flavor is also really good.
- Milk – Whole milk works best.
- Canola oil
- Lemon zest – Freshly grated lemon zest is the best and has the most flavor. You can use store-bought zest as well.
- Butter – I use unsalted butter to make the cupcake frosting.
- Powdered sugar
- Lemon juice – Fresh lemon juice will have a bright, bold flavor. You can use bottled lemon juice as well, but I would definitely recommend using fresh juice for the best results.
- Use buttermilk in place of whole milk to add a nice, tangy taste to the cupcakes.
- Replace the canola oil with melted coconut oil to give the cupcakes a tropical flair.
- Make a lemon cream cheese frosting using my cream cheese frosting recipe. Add the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and the lemon zest to the cream cheese frosting to make it lemony. It is delicious on top of these cupcakes.
How to Make Lemon Cupcakes
- Prep your tools: Start by preheating your oven to 350º F. Then line a cupcake tray with paper cupcake liners. This recipe makes about 24 cupcakes so you may need two trays.
- Make the cupcakes: Add the cake mix, eggs, milk, oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest to a large mixing bowl and whisk the ingredients together to form a thick batter. Scoop the cupcake batter into the paper liners, filling them halfway.
- Bake the cupcakes: Bake the cupcakes for about 18 minutes. The tops will be a light golden brown and the cupcakes will spring back when touched. Let the cupcakes cool on a wire rack.
- Make the frosting: Beat the butter and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to get everything mixed well. The butter mixture should be almost white, so it can take about 5 minutes of high-speed mixing. Add the lemon juice, milk, and lemon zest and stir everything together.
- Decorate the cupcakes: Use a piping bag fitted with a star tip to frost the cupcakes. I like to pipe the frosting in a spiral on top then add a few yellow sprinkles. The lemon cupcakes are then ready to enjoy!
If the edges of the cupcakes start to look too brown as they bake but the centers are still not cooked, lightly place a piece of aluminum foil over the tray. This will deflect any direct heat from the oven but let the cupcakes continue to bake without getting too dark.
How to Store Lemon Cupcakes
If you have extra lemon cupcakes, they can be kept at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 days. You can also place the container in the fridge to keep the cupcakes for up to a week. I like the texture of room temperature cupcakes best but they are surprisingly refreshing when cold!
To make moist cupcakes, you want to resist overmixing your cupcake batter. Whisk everything together until just smooth but then stop mixing. Overmixing will develop the gluten in the flour and start to make the cupcakes too chewy. Just mix a little bit and then bake for really moist cupcakes!
I like to use milk in my cupcakes which makes them very rich and dense. Buttermilk is also great in cupcakes to add a delicious, tangy taste.
Over baking can make cupcakes dry. You want to take the cupcakes out of the oven the moment the center is set. If they spend too long in the oven, the cupcakes will dry out and then be hard once they have cooled. Be sure to check the cupcakes a few times when they start to get close to the end of the baking cycle.
- 1 box (15.25 oz) white cake mix
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup whole milk
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup butter
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2-3 tablsepoons milk
- Zest of one lemon
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
- In a large bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients; beat on low 30 seconds. Beat on medium 2 minutes. Use a cookie scoop to scoop the batter into the paper cups, filling them halfway. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.
- Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
- For frosting, in a large bowl, combine all ingredients; beat until smooth.
- Frost cupcakes with a piping bag.