Best Lemon Cupcake Recipe

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4.37 from 11 votes

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Tender lemon cupcakes filled with tangy homemade lemon curd and topped with a sweet, creamy lemon buttercream. A lemon lover’s dream!

triple lemon cupcakes

You will love this Lemon Cupcake Recipe

Welcome to #LemonWeek 2021 hosted by me! What better way to welcome summer than with over 50 recipes featuring bright and sunny lemons? Come join me and my fellow Lemon Week bloggers as we bring you recipes from appetizers to drinks to entrées and desserts!

When I have dessert, it’s got to be all out. And when I start with something great (LEMON), then I believe the next best thing is to double that lemon… So while I’m at it, why not just go for the gold and make it triple good?

I am not messing around here, my fellow lemon lovers: I bring to you today triple lemon cupcakes, because dreams are made of lemon desserts while we float around on sunshine yellow clouds of lemon buttercream.

So what makes these cupcakes triple lemon cupcakes? We’ve got:

1) a tender lemon cupcake
2) a homemade lemon curd filling
3) a fluffy buttercream flavored with more lemon curd

Triple. Lemon. Heaven.

triple lemon cupcakes

So I’ve already showed you how to make the simple lemon curd filling for these bad boys (and also how to use it in some lemon mousse), and since I love taking something that works and using it again, you can actually find the lemon cupcakes and lemon buttercream in other forms around the blog.

You’ll recognize the lemon cupcake batter from my orange creamsicle cake (just sans orange marmalade and of course, with lemons instead of oranges) and the buttercream is my traditional vanilla buttercream, just with a splash of some lemon curd to jazz it up a bit.

It’s great having base recipes that we can easily adapt to accommodate other flavors!

Lemon Curd Cupcakes ingredients

For the lemon cupcakes, you will need:

  • all-purpose flour
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • unsalted butter
  • granulated sugar
  • eggs
  • vanilla extract
  • lemon zest and juice
  • milk
  • homemade lemon curd (store bought is fine)

For the lemon buttercream, you will need:

  • unsalted butter
  • powdered sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • homemade lemon curd (store bought is fine)
  • milk or cream
  • salt

Lemon Cupcake Recipe substitutions and additions

Technically, you can turn these lemon cupcakes into any citrus flavored cupcake. Be sure to use the same amount of ingredients listed in the recipe card for best results.

You can also use any of my other favorite frosting recipes to top your cupcakes. Here is a comprehensive collection of all of my best American buttercream recipes.

triple lemon cupcakes

Let’s start by chatting about the cupcake batter. It’s very easy. You’re just going to have to remember the importance of alternating the flour mixture with the lemon/milk mixture when adding it to the creamed butter and sugar.

How to make Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Curd

MAKE THE LEMON CUPCAKE BATTER

STEP #1 In a medium size bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then set this mixture aside.

STEP #2 Cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add each egg, one at a time, beating on medium-high speed until fully incorporated and scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest and beat again until combined.

STEP #3 Stir the lemon juice into the milk. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl and turn the mixer speed down to low. Add the flour in 2 additions, alternating with the milk/lemon juice. Remove the bowl from mixer and stir with a spatula until everything is completely combined. Be sure you do not overmix this batter.

STEP #4 Spoon the batter evenly into prepared cupcake liners, being careful not to overfill the liners. Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Then, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before filling.

MAKE THE LEMON BUTTERCREAM

STEP #5 In a medium size bowl with a handheld mixer, or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.

STEP #6 With the mixer on low, add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon curd. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until completely smooth, about 3 minutes. Add milk/cream to desired consistency, or you can opt to thin out the frosting with more lemon curd. Add salt to taste.

FILL & ASSEMBLE THE CUPCAKES

STEP #7 Using a sharp knife, cut a circle into the center top of each cupcake. I aim for about the diameter of a nickel and a depth of about ½”. Spoon approximately 1 teaspoon of lemon curd into the hole and replace the piece of cupcake you removed. Push down gently. If some lemon curd spills out, that’s ok.

STEP #8 Frost the cupcakes using a large zip top bag with the corner snipped off or a pastry bag fitted with a tip of your choosing.

triple lemon cupcakes

ALTERNATE FLOUR MIXTURE WITH THE WET INGREDIENTS

I spoke about why we alternate flour and milk in my orange creamsicle cake recipe, but I’ll say it again because it’s good to know!

The base of this cupcake batter is quite buttery and wet. You can only add so much more liquid to this mixture before it just can’t absorb any more.

It’s likely to separate if there’s too much liquid introduced into such a wet base before there’s anything there to help absorb it.

If we start with a little bit of flour, we have a bit more of a vehicle for adding more liquid. I always find the lightest crumb with my alternating additions method. This isn’t always the method when it comes to making a cake or cupcake batter (hello, reverse creaming method in my white layer cake!), but the ratios in this batter benefit from it.

Aaaaand there’s your dose of baking science for the week!

triple lemon cupcake with the wrapper taken off

While the cupcakes bake, you can get to work on the buttercream, which is also pretty simple. Butter, powdered sugar, some vanilla extract, milk or cream, and of course, the star of the show: the lemon curd.

How many times do you think we can say “lemon” in this post?

How to fill Lemon Cupcakes with lemon curd

Now you’ll of course need to wait for your cupcakes to cool completely before you fill them with the lemon curd, but since they’re so small, it won’t take all that much time.

triple lemon cupcake with the wrapper taken off

Once they’re cool enough, you’ll cut out a small hole with a knife. I’ve also used a melon baller, a tiny circle cookie cutter, or the base of a large piping tip. Whatever makes life easier for you.

Fill the hole with about a teaspoon of the lemon curd, and replace the portion of the cupcake you cut out. A little cupcake hat. So adorable.

filling lemon cupcakes with lemon curd

It’s ok if some filling squishes out, just make sure it’s not spilling out all over the top of the cupcake. That can get messy. Remedy this problem by either making your holes bigger or putting a little less filling in them.

Once you have your lemon curd filled cupcakes, they’re ready for their sunshine clouds of lemon buttercream.

triple lemon cupcake with a bite taken out of it

As long as that lemon buttercream gets on top of those cupcakes somehow, you’re in good shape.

Tips to prevent Lemon Cupcakes from sinking

I originally published these lemon cupcakes with lemon curd filling after serving them at my baby shower back in 2016. They matched the yellow theme of his nursery, but also… I LOVE LEMON.

Since then, these cupcakes have been baked many times in my oven, and many times from readers. There is just one giant warning I must give you before you go for triple gold.

triple lemon cupcakes

It is imperative that you do not overfill the cupcake liners with this cupcake batter. They will sink.

Of course, there can be other reasons cupcakes don’t rise properly (bad ingredients, over-mixing), but this cupcake batter is sensitive. Aim for ½ to ⅔ of the way full. Perhaps test out 3 or 4 before baking the entire 12 count pan. But know that even if they do sink, they’re still perfectly tasty!

These amazingly lemony cupcakes always get lots of “oooh”s and “ahhhh”s and expletives (the good ones, of course), and one bite will make you wonder where they’ve been all your life.

Not only do we have the most tender cupcake that is bursting with lemon flavor and not at all overly sweet, there’s a tart, buttery lemon curd accent to each bite, all of which is topped off with a sweet and creamy buttercream with the softest hint of lemon to accompany it.

To make them even more lemony? Throw a lemon slice on top and zest some lemon peel right on top.

aerial photo of triple lemon cupcakes

I wasn’t kidding when I said these are a lemon lover’s dream. All the heart eye emojis.

How to store Lemon Filled Cupcakes

Do lemon curd filled cupcakes need to be refrigerated?

Lemon curd cupcakes should be refrigerated, since the curd will need to stay fresh, but they will be fine at room temperature for a few hours if you need to travel with them or serve them on a display.

Lemon Cupcake Recipe FAQs

Do you spray cupcake liners before filling?

You do not need to spray cupcake liners before filling them.

What is the secret to super moist cupcakes?

It is important to follow the recipe in front of you exactly if you want to create super moist cupcakes. When a recipe calls for room temperature butter, be sure you’re actually using room temperature and no warmer. This can drastically alter the final texture of your cupcake. I also always like to use full fat dairy milk when I make cupcakes that call for milk to bring all the moisture I can.

Will filled cupcakes get soggy?

The crumb of a filled cupcake will always start to absorb some of the moisture of the filling, but it will not make the whole cupcake soggy. If you are worried about this, you can always wait to fill and frost your cupcakes until you are just ready to serve them.

Perfect for summer, perfect for impressing your dessert guests, and perfect for any time you need a sunshine pick-me-up. And not to worry– if you don’t feel like making the lemon curd, you can always buy some (although I can tell you right now, it’s certainly not as tasty!) or just go without it.

triple lemon cupcake with a bite taken out of it

Still tasty, but then you wouldn’t have perfect triple lemon cupcakes, and that sounds like such a sad sad cupcake world. Remember– go for gold and triple it! Lemon lovers unite!

Thursday #LemonWeek Recipes

triple lemon cupcakes
4.37 from 11 votes
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Lemon Curd Cupcakes

Tender lemon cupcakes filled with tangy homemade lemon curd and topped with a sweet, creamy lemon buttercream. A lemon lover's dream!
Prep Time15 minutes
Bake Time20 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Recipe Author Lynn April
Servings: 18 cupcakes

Ingredients

LEMON CUPCAKES

  • 1 and ½ cups (180g) all-purpose flour be sure to measure properly
  • 2 and ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs room temperature1
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • ½ cup (120mL) fresh lemon juice2
  • ½ cup milk3
  • 6 Tablespoons (120g) homemade lemon curd store bought is fine

LEMON BUTTERCREAM

  • ¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups (360g) powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons (60g) homemade lemon curd store bought is fine
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons (15-30mL) milk or cream
  • salt to taste

Instructions

LEMON CUPCAKES

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC). Line a 12 count cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  • In a medium size bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add each egg, one at a time, beating on medium-high speed until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest and beat again until combined.
  • Stir the lemon juice into the milk. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl and turn the mixer speed to low. Add the flour in 2 additions, alternating with the milk/lemon juice. Remove bowl from mixer and stir with a spatula until everything is completely combined. Do not overmix this batter.
  • Spoon batter evenly into prepared cupcake liners (I prefer to use an ice cream scoop with a trigger), being careful not to overfill the liners (I typically aim for filling ⅔ of the way full, using a scant scoop). Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before filling.

LEMON BUTTERCREAM

  • In a medium size bowl with a handheld mixer, or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • With the mixer on low, add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon curd. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until completely smooth, about 3 minutes. Add milk/cream to desired consistency, or you can opt to thin out the frosting with more lemon curd. Add salt to taste.
  • For more buttercream troubleshooting tips, see my book, The Home Baker's Guide to Basic Buttercream.

FILL & ASSEMBLE CUPCAKES

  • Using a sharp knife, cut a circle into the center top of each cupcake. I aim for about the diameter of a nickel and a depth of about ½". Spoon approximately 1 teaspoon of lemon curd into the hole and replace the piece of cupcake you removed. Push down gently. If some lemon curd spills out, that's ok.
  • Frost the cupcakes using a large zip top bag with the corner snipped off or a pastry bag fitted with a tip of your choosing. Store cupcakes in the refrigerator up to 5 days. If you need to travel with and serve them, it's ok if they are at room temperature for awhile. Just be sure to refrigerate them to store them.

Notes

  1. Room temperature eggs: these incorporate into batter much more easily than cold eggs. Allow to sit at room temperature for 45 minutes. If you don’t have time, place eggs in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes or until ready to use.
  2. Fresh lemon juice: do not use bottled lemon juice for these lemon cupcakes. You will need 2-3 lemons to yield ½ cup of juice. 
  3. Milk: I strongly recommend you use whole milk for these cupcakes to impart the best texture with optimal moisture.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @freshaprilflours on Instagram or tag #freshaprilflours!

Nutrition Disclosure

All nutritional values are approximate and provided to the reader as a courtesy. Changing ingredients and/or quantities will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.

A lemon favorite among readers: Lemon Truffles

lemon truffles on a plate

And a whole slew of cupcakes for you to try!

These Mini Cookies & Cream ones are another reader favorite.

mini cookies and cream cupcakes

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38 Comments

    1. Hi, Jess– if your cupcakes were greasy, it’s likely that your butter was too warm. Room temperature butter is typically cooler than most people think, and if it’s past room temperature, it will usually yield greasy results. Butter that is too soft will also mean that creaming it with the sugar won’t get as light and fluffy as it needs to be to maintain fluffy structure. Next, too much flour can yield a dense cupcake, which is why I emphasize weighing your flour to be sure you have the perfect amount tested in the recipe. If you can be 100% sure your butter was the correct temperature and texture and you weighed your flour, then we can troubleshoot something else. Thanks for trying them out!