Lemon Vanilla Cupcakes


Last week was my friend Rachel’s birthday. She lives in Chicago, so although I didn’t get to celebrate on the day with her, I made her some of these lemon vanilla cupcakes last weekend when she was in town. I didn’t get them frosted before she left (whoops) but since she’s not a frosting fan anyway (weirdo) it all worked out.



There will be SO MUCH cake in my life this week. I was finally forced to take these cupcakes to work today to stop myself from eating them all at once, and tonight I bake cake #2 for a co-worker’s son’s birthday. Then Friday is Kyle’s 24th, which means even MORE cake! Oy.



So, yeah. SO. MUCH. CAKE.



Not that I’m complaining. Obviously. Cake is the best.




Long story short: if anyone else is in the mood for cake this week, tell me now. I’m on a roll.




Lemon Vanilla Cupcakes
YIELD: 18-24 cupcakes
For the Cupcakes:
  • ½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup buttermilk (see how I make my own buttermilk in this recipe)
For the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
  • ¼ c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (give or take, depending on what kind of consistency you want. I like my frosting pretty thick because it holds up well when it’s piped or it’s warm outside)
For the Cupcakes:
  1. In a stand mixer, cream together butter, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest, and sugar.
  2. Add the egg and the egg white one at a time to the mixer while it runs on low speed.
  3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and salt.
  4. In a glass measuring cup, make your buttermilk. (In this case, I used 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar + milk until the mixture measured ½ cup.)
  5. Add the baking soda to the buttermilk (trust me) and stir. The baking soda will react with the vinegar and your mixture will swell up a bit and take on a foamy consistency. This is what you want!
  6. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture (starting and ending with flour so as not to deflate the batter) to the batter, mixing after each addition until all the flour and buttermilk have been incorporated into the batter.
  7. Pour batter into cupcake pans and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let cool and top with your choice of frosting. I used Vanilla Buttercream! (Recipe below).
For the Vanilla Buttercream:
  1. In a medium bowl, cream together butter, vanilla, and ¼ cup of the powdered sugar. (This is easy to do by hand but also works great in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment).
  2. Add 1 Tbsp. of the milk and another ½ cup of the powdered sugar and mix well.
  3. Add remaining milk and stir.
  4. Add remaining powdered sugar as needed until your frosting has achieved your desired consistency. (I usually use all 2 cups, sometimes more.)
  5. Frost your cupcakes and dig in!



Leave a Comment

  • joanne March 21, 2015, 9:55 PM

    Hi. Can I use plain flour on this recipe?what’s the different between all purpose flour and plain flour?thanks

  • Anne February 28, 2015, 4:23 AM

    What is the weight of a stick of butter? It’s difficult to know as in the UK all our ingredients are measured in pounds & ounces or kilos & gramms.

  • Keyn February 19, 2015, 4:28 AM

    Hi jessie! Why doesn’t you recipe include baking powder? I saw many recipe that has it.. And what does baking powder do in cupcakes anway? ^_^

  • Nikki December 6, 2014, 1:19 PM

    I see you use all-purpose flour. Is cake flour the same? Which do you recommend?

  • hira October 29, 2014, 8:30 AM

    I tried these…sooper yum! Thanks

  • kris July 12, 2014, 11:01 PM


  • Ellen July 11, 2014, 4:46 PM

    What’s 375 fahrenheit in degrees??

    • Jessie July 16, 2014, 11:43 AM

      375 degrees fahrenheit.

      • Ellen August 12, 2014, 1:29 PM

        Sorry I meant what’s 375 degrees Fahrenheit in degrees Celsius (metric system)… I looked it up. It’s about 190 degrees Celcius. Give or take if the Oven is Fan-forced.

  • Missy June 26, 2014, 11:42 AM

    Well I feel silly now…I finally saw it up at the top…sorry about that!

  • Missy June 22, 2014, 5:28 PM

    Hello! I’m planning on making some cupcakes for my niece’s welcome party in a week and stumbled across this page for the lemon cupcakes along with your other one for chocolate cupcakes. I was wondering, how many cupcakes do these recipes make? I didn’t notice it anywhere and didn’t know if it was a standard 12 or 24 (I’ve never made homemade cupcakes before!) Thanks!

  • Rabia June 12, 2014, 6:40 AM

    Can we leave cupcakes after frosting for a day or so? i hope the frosting will not loose it shape in a day?

    • Jessie June 16, 2014, 11:08 AM

      The frosting should be fine as long as it’s in a relatively cool area – a too-warm room can cause the frosting to lose a bit of shape. If it’s too warm outside to leave cupcakes on the counter for a few days, I like to pop them in the fridge and then bring them back to room temperature when I’m ready to serve. If I’m frosting cupcakes a day in advance, I also like to wait until I’m ready to serve/eat them before I add any toppings or decorations (like fruit, sprinkles, etc.) – that way, you avoid the toppings sinking into the frosting too much or any colors running together, and cupcakes still look new and fresh (even if you made them in advance)!

  • Audrey December 16, 2013, 8:34 PM

    Is the temperature in degree Celsius or Fahrenheit? Thanks!

    • Jessie January 7, 2014, 11:05 PM

      All of my temperatures are listed in Fahrenheit – sorry for any confusion!

  • Sandi October 30, 2013, 3:30 PM

    I made these as plain vanilla cupcakes, and made my own buttermilk by using lemon juice mixed in milk instead since I didn’t have any vinegar…let me just say, these are the best smelling vanilla cupcakes I’ve ever made! I have yet to try them but I can’t wait. I’ve never been so tempted to taste the batter when making vanilla cupcakes until I made these! They came out perfectly also. Thanks!

    • Jessie November 7, 2013, 11:26 AM

      I’m glad to hear that! I hope they tasted great!

  • Cookie October 7, 2013, 2:23 PM

    I’m new to frosting. Will this keep in the fridge for a few days?

    • Jessie October 7, 2013, 2:37 PM

      It will! Just let it warm up a bit on the counter before you pipe it so that it won’t be too tough to work with. You could save it for up to a week before use.

  • Sinny August 25, 2013, 2:00 PM

    I have never baked cupcakes before and wanted to try one. Could you please tell me what type of sugar should i use in this recipe. Is this granulated sugar or powder one.

    • Jessie August 28, 2013, 12:19 PM

      Hi Sinny,

      All the sugar in my cupcake recipes is standard granulated sugar, unless otherwise noted. Good luck!

  • Annie November 10, 2012, 10:26 AM

    Will the amount of frosting cover an 8×11 or 9×13 pan cake?

    • Jessie November 12, 2012, 3:33 PM

      If you’re taking the cake out of the pan and frosting the top and sides of it, I’d say make extra frosting just to be safe. This amount is usually enough for me if I make a 6″ round, but I also don’t like a whole lot of frosting on my cakes. If you want, you can always start with one batch of the frosting, and if it looks like not quite enough just add more milk and powdered sugar a little at a time until you have an amount you’re happy with! Otherwise, just double the frosting recipe and keep any leftovers in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer (this actually freezes really well – just let it come back to room temperature and give it a good stir before you use it again!) for a couple of months. Hope that helps!

  • Amanda September 20, 2012, 9:37 AM

    Sadly, these didn’t turn out for me =(

    • Jessie October 5, 2012, 12:23 PM

      Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear that. Generally when I have baking problems it results from one of a few things: I have old baking powder/soda, I used a butter substitute without adjusting other ingredients, I opened the oven too many times while they were baking (that gust of cold air can make cakes in a hot oven deflate a bit, which is no fun) or I left my mixer running too long and overbeat the batter. It’s hard to say without being in the kitchen whether one of those was the issue – in the meantime, I’ll double check my recipe again and make sure I didn’t miss any mistakes on my end! Thanks for letting me know about this!

  • Eva September 9, 2012, 12:30 AM

    Mmmm…looks good. Next Project for me…

  • ally August 8, 2012, 10:32 AM

    flawless job! there’s nothing quite like vanilla & lemon!

    • Jessie August 8, 2012, 10:54 PM

      Thanks, Ally! I agree – it’s one of the best flavor combos out there.

      • rosy November 12, 2014, 2:44 PM

        I change the lemon to orange .it taste great too.