lemon cupcakes

whisk and heels - lemon cupcakes - 4web

Lemon cupcakes are one of my favorite sweet treats to make during the summer. ย They’re easier and less involved than pies and tarts (no, I don’t want to cut cold butter into flour when it’s hotter in my apartment than it is outside, thank you!) and the citrus keeps them feeling fresh.

I adapted my go-to vanilla cupcake recipe by swapping out some of the milk for lemon juice, and packing a hefty hit of lemon zest in with the sugar. ย “Creaming” the zest and the sugar helps release the essential oils from the zest and adds another layer of lemon flavor to the batter.

I topped these with a dense cream cheese frosting, but if you wanted a lighter option, you could use mascarpone and heavy cream frosting instead. ย Note that by “lighter,” I meant “not as dense,” and not “less calories.”

tea set: villeroy and boch

Happy eating!

whisk and heels - lemon cupcakes - 3web

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whisk and heels - lemon cupcakes - 5web


lemon cupcakes


  • 1/4 + 2 TBSP whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp citrus extract
  • 1 1/4 C + 2 TBSP all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 C butter, at room temperature
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 1 TBSP lemon zest
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature


  1. Mise en place and read this recipe all the way through.
  2. Mix together the milk, lemon juice, and citrus extract in a small bowl or measuring cup, and set aside. The milk will thicken and start to curdle from the acid of the lemon.
  3. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment set on low, mix together the lemon zest and sugar until fragrant. This will help release the oils from the lemon.
  5. Add the room temperature butter and cream until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated after each addition.
  7. With the mixer on low, add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until it starts to absorb. Follow with 1/2 the milk mixture, mixing again until it's almost all the way absorbed.
  8. Repeat, then add the final flour addition and mix for another 30 seconds; there should be no visible lumps.
  9. Scrape down the side and bottom of the bowl with a spatula and fold a few times to ensure that the mixture is completely combined.
  10. Use a disher (cookie scoop) to portion the batter out into a standard 12-well muffin tin prepared with cupcake liners.
  11. Transfer to a 350 degree oven and bake 16-18 minutes, or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed.
  12. Remove and cool in the pan for five minutes, then carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool completely over a wire rack.

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