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Lemon Cream Cupcake Recipe

I am currently detoxing myself from cupcakes, after last week was filled with yummy cupcake abundance. I had 3 occasions that “required” cupcakes, and I decided it was a good opportunity to do some experimenting in the kitchen. I wanted a tasty spring confection, and thought lemon might do the trick. After quite a bit of experimenting, I came up with a keeper lemon cupcake recipe that is now a new favorite, and in my opinion needs no further tweaking. They are insanely moist, and just the right amount of sweet-sour combination. The cake is a little more dense than other cupcakes, somewhat resembling pound cake. I originally made it with a lemon buttercream frosting, but decided to try it with cream cheese. Ooohh, I am so glad I did. The combination of the lemon and cream cheese is perfect!

(For those who love coconut, I also have a coconut cupcake recipe that I am ready to share, and possibly replaced my red velvet cupcake recipe as my #1…It is a tough call. Stay tuned, as I’ll share it this week!)

I served these as a breakfast treat for a Bible study that I participate in. Of course, I rationalized cupcakes for breakfast by the 3 lemons (fruit) and 2 cups of non-fat yogurt that they contain. I also made them with a whole wheat flour mixture. That makes them healthier than a doughnut, right?! I didn’t hear any complaints about cupcakes for breakfast. : )

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting


Yields 24-30 cupcakes, depending on size



  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 teaspoons grated lemon zest*, or zest from 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (juice from 2 large lemons)
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups plain yogurt


  • 2 Sticks butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tablespoons Sour Cream
  • 3 1/2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice (Approximately juice from 1 large lemon)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 7 cups of powdered sugar


  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add lemon zest, vanilla, and lemon juice; mix well. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with yogurt (batter will be thick!). Mix just until combined, do not overmix. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes (in my convection oven) or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. I didn’t write down my mini cupcake cooking time, but if my memory serves me right, I think it was around 15-16 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
  2. For frosting, cream butter in a small mixing bowl, until the consistency of whipped cream. Add softened cream cheese, and beat until smooth. Add sour cream, lemon juice, vanilla. Beat on high until smooth. Add additional powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, if frosting is too runny.
  3. Frost cupcakes. I use either a piping bag, or a ziplock freezer bag. Sometimes I bother with a decorative tip, but usually I don’t. I personally find that it is easier to pipe the frosting on cupcakes, than to use a knife. I also prefer the way the piped frosting makes them look. If you aren’t sure what I am talking about with “piping” frosting, take a look at this very brief video.
  4. Optional: grate additional lemon zest on top of cupcakes, for garnish.

*If you are not familiar with lemon zest, it is the outer, yellow, part of the peel. I use a small grater, and just grate off the outside. The white portion of the peel is bitter, so you are just wanting the yellow.

I am frequently asked, “How far in advance can I make cupcakes?” For this recipe, I was pleasantly surprised how moist these stayed, even 2 days later, likely due to the yogurt. If you are going to do these a day ahead, make sure they are in an airtight container. If I were serving these to others, I probably would do them no more than the day before. Another option for making them in advance is to freeze them. I have done this a week ahead of time, without any compromise of quality. You want them sealed in an airtight container, or a freezer bag. To keep the frosting from getting messed up, freeze them for at least 1 hour, uncovered, before putting them in the container/bag.
Changing tunes a bit to a more personal note, we had absolutely fun-filled weekend and a few pictures to share. The weather last week started off amazing, but it was apparently only a tease. We enjoyed a few 70 degree, sunny days. The gorgeous weather reminded me of old California home. The wind was howling, and the girls entertained themselves in our backyard trying to fly their Barbie kite. It is so refreshing to be able to send the kids outside to run off some energy. Sadly, by the end of the week we had snow on the ground again. Crazy Kentucky weather!
Caroline was ecstatic about having Mimi and Gramps visit for the weekend, and attending her school Spring Carnival. The weather was not very springlike, but it didn’t keep them from having a great time. The highlight of the carnival was face-painting, and Carter had us all laughing. He looked at himself in the mirror over and over, each time cracking himself up as if it were the first time he saw himself as a “puppy”.
This picture was taken earlier in the week, as I was working in the kitchen. I heard great laughter, and turned the corner to find this. Carter and Lucy usually play really well together, but I especially loved it when they used their imaginations, finding great joy in a simple cardboard box that was set out for the trash. These days, bubble wrap and cardboard boxes seem to bring more excitement to my kids than any toy I could buy them. If only that would last!
Well, that is all I have time for today. Have a wonderful Tuesday!
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Linda Keller - March 29, 2011 - 3:11 pm

I will vouch for the excellence of these cupcakes!! They DO make a wonderful breakfast food too!!!

Lisa @ Sweet as Sugar Cookies - April 4, 2011 - 2:50 am

What absolutely delightful looking cupcakes, so sunny and cheerful. These would brighten up any day. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog and I’d like to invite you to stop by and link your cupcakes up.

Another Cupcake Adventure | - April 26, 2011 - 12:49 am

[…] Lemon *Cupcake: Substitute Greek Yogurt for Regular Yogurt *Frosting:  We only used one third of the amount of powdered sugar […]

Adriann - May 13, 2011 - 10:53 pm


Just wondering why you switched out the sour cream for yogurt.



admin - May 14, 2011 - 6:54 am

I switched out the sour cream for yogurt primarily because I make my own yogurt, and usually have large amounts on hand. It does cut down on the fat too, but that wasn’t really my motivation. You could definitely use sour cream instead. I think they are pretty interchangeable in this recipe.

Kim - May 15, 2011 - 6:28 pm

I’m turning into a cupcake lady after trying all your recipes. They are top notch!!! I know you have a job now and your time is limited but I’m drooling while waiting for your coconut cupcake recipe.

Mariann - June 6, 2011 - 3:00 pm

Hi there

I just discovered your blog yesterday as I was googling for cupcake recipes and ended up choosing your lemon cupcakes. First of all I want to say they tasted deliciously, however, I could not get them to cook all the way through. When they started to look finished and I opened the door to stick the toothpick in them they completely deflated. I followed the recipe, but maybe I should have just kept my cool and allowed them to get even more brown before even opening the door. Does anyone have any advice for a novice cupcake baker?

Btw; I will definitely also be trying the coconut cupcakes 😀

Isabel - November 16, 2011 - 4:50 am

Hi, Kelly! I’ve tried numerous recipes posted here in your blog. Well, all of the cupcake recipes I must say! All of which are moist and very delicious. Just wanted to ask if you have more cupcake recipes you might want to share? I would most definitely appreciate it! 😀

Stephanie - December 23, 2011 - 2:04 pm

I made these cupcakes yesterday and they are a hit!! Thanks for sharing!

Saba - January 11, 2012 - 4:23 pm

I tried these and have to say… they were amazing… though the batter was a lot, I ended up making 24 regular size and 24 mini cup cakes. All of them were devoured. Thankyou for such amazing recipes.
next on my list is the red velvet cupcakes for valentines!

Carrie Scribner - June 22, 2012 - 2:06 pm

Just made these today. They were DELICIOUS!!!! So easy to make and were moist and flavorful! I needed a heavier cake because I was using fondant to cover them for a birthday party….these fit the bill perfectly! Thanks!

Martha Broussard - January 11, 2013 - 1:58 pm

great recepies, beautiful family. Enjoyed your site.
Thank you for sharing. It was a great joy to read.

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