Easy Homemade Lemon Cupcakes | Renee's Kitchen Adventures

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Easy Homemade Lemon Cupcakes

Easy Lemon Cupcakes are a sweet treat every lemon lover will swoon over. You won't believe how easy these tender lemon cupcakes from scratch are to make! Topped with a lemony buttercream frosting, they are the perfect cupcake flavor for a summery day! (or any day!)

Easy Lemon Cupcakes by Renee's Kitchen Adventures on a white platter, garnished with lemon wedges and yellow sanding sugar close up

Scroll down for printable recipe

It's no secret lemon is one of my all time favorite flavors.

I've got a bunch of delicious dessert recipes with lemon on my blog! A few of my all time lemon dessert recipes are these amazing No Bake Lemon Cheesecake Squares and these always popular Lemon Shortbread Cookies. But, I also love the flavor of lemon in savory recipes too.  A few of my favorite savory lemon recipes are Pork Chops Romano with Lemon Butter Sauce and Creamy Lemon and Basil Chicken Salad.

If you're a lemon lover like me, you might want to take a minute to browse all the lemon recipes on my blog! But today...it's all about these delicious, homemade Easy Lemon Cupcakes!

Easy Lemon Cupcakes by Renee's Kitchen Adventures on a white platter garnished with lemon wedges and yellow sanding sugar with a few cupcakes off the platter to the side and a knife and cutting board with lemons in the back

When I say easy recipe, I do mean easy recipe. I love, love, love the basic cake method I use to make homemade cakes and cupcakes. Not only is it easy, but it always delivers tender and moist results. I also love that with just a few swaps and trials and errors, I can produce flavor variations on the basic recipe. This recipe for Easy Lemon Cupcakes is the newest recipe variation to the family!

How do you zest a lemon?

Since this recipe calls for lemon zest in the batter, you'll need to understand how to zest a lemon. There are several methods to extract the zest from fresh lemons, but the one I recommend involves the kitchen gadget known as a microplane grater.  

By gently moving the sharp edge of the a microplane over the skin of a lemon, you will be able to extract finely grated zest and lemon oil but none of the white pith. The pith is the white layer just under the bright yellow skin and it can be bitter. You want to avoid adding pith to any recipe calling for lemon zest. 

Using a microplane grater works well for any citrus fruit you might want to extract the zest from. 

If you don't have a microplane grater, you can use a peeler to carefully remove the zest and then finely chop what is removed. But, it's difficult to not get any white pith in the zest when you use this method. 

Easy Lemon Cupcakes by Renee's Kitchen Adventures overhead shot with cupcakes scattered on a board with a blue and white checked towel with lemons on it to the left

How to make Lemon Cupcakes

To make lemon cupcakes, first gather up all the ingredients and equipment. 

Ingredients needed for Lemon Cupcakes

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 TBSP finely grated lemon zest ( approx. 2 lemons)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. pure lemon extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

Equipment needed for Lemon Cupcakes

  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups (both dry and liquid)
  • Whisk
  • 2 regular sized muffin tins
  • paper liners for muffin tins
  • Wooden spoon or silicone spatula

The lemon cupcake batter comes together easily by mixing the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then combining the two. It's very important to mix the two just until they are combined. Do not over mix. Over mixing will cause the flour to develop gluten and that will mean a tough cupcake. To keep the cake tender and moist, only mix until the ingredients are combined and do not use an electric mixer. 

Once the batter is combined, portion out about 1/3 cup for each paper lined muffin tin well and bake as directed. 

Easy Lemon Cupcakes by Renee's Kitchen Adventures batter in paper lined muffin tins ready for the oven

When the cupcakes are completely cooled, frost them with the lemon buttercream recipe below. You will need an electric mixer to make the frosting.  Yellow sanding sugar and lemon slices for garnish are optional, but fun!

Lemon cupcakes, lemon cupcake recipe, lemon cupcakes from scratch
Dessert, cakes
Yield: 24 servings
Author: Renee Paj
Easy Homemade Lemon Cupcakes

Easy Homemade Lemon Cupcakes

Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 25 MinTotal time: 40 Min
Easy to make, homemade lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting are the perfect lemon treat for any time of the day!


for lemon cupcakes:
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 TBSP finely grated lemon zest ( approx. 2 lemons)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. pure lemon extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
for lemon buttercream frosting:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 tsp. pure lemon extract
  • 2 TBSP to 1/4 cup half and half, enough to make frosting spreadable


How to make lemon cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two regular sized muffin pans with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest.
  3. In a small mixing bowl or 4 cup measure, whisk buttermilk, oil, lemon juice, lemon extract, and eggs until well combined.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir until JUST COMBINED. Do not overmix! Over mixing will create gluten and your cupcakes will be less tender.
  5. Put about 1/3 cup of batter into each paper lined well of each muffin tin. You should have enough batter to make approximately 24 cupcakes. If you don't quite make 24, remove the liner(s) that aren't getting used and fill halfway with a little water. (This will help all the cupcakes cook evenly.)
  6. Bake in preheated oven for approx. 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven, let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Frost when completely cooled.
How to make lemon buttercream frosting:
  1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and salt with an electric mixer.
  2. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  3. Mix in the lemon extract and add enough half and half to make the frosting spreadable starting with 2 TBSP and increasing as needed. Mix until light and fluffy. Pipe or spread on completely cooled cupcakes.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

18.32 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

6.05 g

Carbs (grams)

32.81 g

Fiber (grams)

0.41 g

Net carbs

32.40 g

Sugar (grams)

23.31 g

Protein (grams)

2.79 g

Sodium (milligrams)

170.74 mg

Cholesterol (grams)

52.63 mg

Nutritional Information is an estimate

Easy Lemon Cupcakes by Renee's Kitchen Adventures cut in half to see the inside of the cupcake

If you love this lemon cupcake recipe, make sure you pin to your Pinterest boards and share on social media! 

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