These easy lemon vanilla cupcakes are topped with a fluffy lemon buttercream.
For the cupcakes:
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature (113 grams)
- 180 grams sugar (¾ cup)
- 10 grams vanilla extract (1 Tablespoon)
- 10 grams lemon extract (1 Tablespoon)
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 180 grams milk (¾ cup), at room temperature
- 240 grams flour (about 2 cups when measured by scooping and leveling)
- 3 grams kosher salt (1 teaspoon)
- 7 grams baking powder (1 ½ teaspoons)
For the frosting:
- 4 Tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature (56 grams)
- ½ teaspoon lemon extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 365 grams powdered sugar (about 3 cups)
- 115 grams heavy cream (½ cup)
- Pinch of kosher salt
For the cupcakes:
- Heat oven to 325° Fahrenheit. Line a cupcake tin with paper cupcake liners.
- Use a hand mixer to cream butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon extract together in a large mixing bowl (you can also use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment). Spend a few full minutes on this step: You want the mixture to be well incorporated (there should be no obvious chunks of butter), with a light and fluffy texture.
- Beat egg and milk into batter until they're just combined.
- Use a large spoon or spatula to gently fold flour, kosher salt, and baking powder into batter until everything is just combined.
- Divide batter into cupcake liners, filling each liner about 2/3 of the way full (we like to use a large cookie scoop for this). Bake at 325° F for 20-25 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Remove cupcakes to a wire rack and let cool completely before you make the frosting.
For the frosting:
- Use a hand mixer to cream butter, lemon extract, and vanilla extract together in a large mixing bowl (you can also use a stand mixer).
- Add powdered sugar and a pinch of salt, then stream in heavy cream a little at a time, beating well between each addition, until you have a smooth, stiff, fluffy frosting.
- Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe onto cooled cupcakes (you can also spread the frosting over the cupcakes with a spoon or offset spatula).
Please use a kitchen scale! Measuring ingredients - especially flour - by volume (with cups) is notoriously unreliable; for best results, use a kitchen scale to measure by weight and follow the gram measurements above. We use and recommend Escali scales.
Equipment. We recommend using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to properly cream the butter in this recipe. If you don't have an electric mixer, you can use a whisk to beat all wet ingredients together by hand (this will take a few minutes and some elbow grease - you want to make sure everything is well incorporated, especially the butter!) We like to use a 3 Tablespoon cookie scoop to portion cupcake batter into liners before baking. Use a piping bag fitted with a large star tip to frost these cupcakes, or swirl the frosting onto each cupcake with a spoon.
Additions and Substitutions. Reduce the lemon and/or vanilla extracts in this recipe for less pronounced flavor. Add your favorite toppings (sprinkles, lemon zest, chopped nuts, etc). Use any frosting you like here: Plain vanilla buttercream, cream cheese frosting, and strawberry or raspberry buttercreams are all good. For more frosting and decorating suggestions, visit our all-about-frosting post or check out our favorite cupcake decorating ideas.
Storing cupcakes. Store cupcakes (frosted or unfrosted) in an airtight container on the counter for up to 4 days. Freeze cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 2 months. For more information, check out our post on storing and freezing cupcakes.
Keywords: cake, cupcakes, dessert