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A frosted lemon cupcake topped with half of a lemon wedge.

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.6 from 8 reviews
  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 26 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American


These easy homemade Lemon Cupcakes are sweet and fluffy, made with tangy buttermilk and then topped with creamy lemon buttercream frosting. It’s the perfect lemon dessert filled with zingy flavor!


For the Cupcakes:

  • 2 cups (380g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (118ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature 
  • 2 Lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) lemon extract, or pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (118ml) sour cream, at room temperature 
  • 2 1/2 cups (350g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons (11.2g)  baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) salt
  • 1/4 cup (59ml) lemon juice, (from the zested lemons)
  • 1 cup (236ml) buttermilk, at room temperature 

For the Frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups (339g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 5 cups (650g) powdered sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) lemon extract
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) buttermilk, cold
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) heavy whipping cream, cold


For the Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and lemon extract. Beat on medium speed until the eggs and oil are well incorporated, scrape down the bowl as needed. Next, add the lemon zest and the sour cream and beat until well combined.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Alternate adding half the dry ingredients followed by half of the liquid ingredients (buttermilk and lemon juice) and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir the batter from the bottom to the top to ensure it’s well mixed.
  4. Using a large cookie scoop, divide the batter evenly, filling each liner 2/3 full. Careful not to overfill. Bake at 350°F for 15-18 minutes. Test the cupcakes for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cupcake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cupcakes are done. Cool Completely.

For the Frosting: 

  1. Cut the butter into pieces. Using the paddle attachment, whip butter for 5-7 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Beat until the butter looks light in color.
  2. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix on low speed until incorporated then add the lemon extract and lemon zest and mix to combine, beating at medium0 high speed for about 60 seconds.
  3. Next, add an additional 2 cups of powdered sugar and the buttermilk and beat on low speed until sugar is incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar along with the heavy cream. Beat on low until ingredients start to mix together. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for another 2-3 minutes to whip additional air into the frosting.
  5. Use a large open star tip to frost these cupcakes. Top with a slice of lemon or fresh berries.


Ingredient Substitutions:

  1. Sour Cream: You can substitute light sour cream for Greek yogurt. You can also use full-fat sour cream if needed.
  2. Buttermilk: To make homemade buttermilk use 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar and then add enough milk to make 1 cup. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes and then stir. If you opted not to buy buttermilk for the frosting, swap it for additional lemon juice or heavy cream. 

Storing Instructions

  1. Baked cupcakes: If you live in a hot and humid environment then I would suggest that you refrigerate cupcakes that are frosted and allow them to come to room temperature before serving. Otherwise, they can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
  2. Freezing: If needed, flash-freeze the cupcakes on a baking sheet for 15 minutes, then transfer them to an air-tight, freezer-safe container. Thaw in the refrigerator for several hours then bring to room temperature prior to serving. If possible, it’s best to freeze them unfrosted.


  • Serving Size: 1 cupcake
  • Calories: 347
  • Sugar: 38g
  • Sodium: 170mg
  • Fat: 16.4g
  • Saturated Fat: 10.8g
  • Carbohydrates: 49g
  • Fiber: .4g
  • Protein: 2.6g
  • Cholesterol: 52mg