Recipe | Easy lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream icing

Delicate, fluffy lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream icing.


Still avoiding chocolate in the post-festive period, this week I’ve made easy lemon cupcakes. These are so simple to make using the most basic of sponge recipes plus some lemon zest. The buttercream swirl helps to make them a little more exciting! Perfect for every occasion from afternoon tea to the school bake sale.

Ingredients (makes 10-12 lemon cupcakes):

  • 125 g / 4.5 oz butter or margarine
  • 125 g / 4.5 oz caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125 g / 4.5 oz self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp milk (use the milk you already have in the fridge)
  • Finely-grated zest of 1 small lemon (you can use less if you want your cakes to be less “lemony”)

For the buttercream

  • 100 g / 3.5 oz butter (softened)
  • 200 g / 7 oz icing sugar (sifted)
  • 1-2 tbsp of lemon juice (depending on how “lemony” you want your buttercream). If you are using artificial lemon flavouring, use a few drops.
  • Yellow gel food colouring (optional)
  • Possibly 1-2 tsp of milk if required


Put 12 cupcake cases into your muffin tin. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (160 fan)/ Gas Mark 4 / 350 degrees F.


Using an electric mixer (or hand beaters), beat the butter for a few minutes until it is paler in colour. Add the sugar and beat again for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is fluffy. Add the eggs, beating your mixture after adding each egg. Add the lemon zest and flour and stir through slowly until combined.

Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases.


Bake for about 20 minutes until the lemon cupcakes start to brown on top and a knife inserted into the middle of one comes out clean (not gooey. Some crumbs may come out but that’s fine).

Take the lemon cupcakes out of the oven, leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before setting them out on a wire rack to cool completely.


To make the buttercream, first beat the butter (using the electric mixer again) for at least 5 minutes until it’s almost white in colour. Add the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Be careful here to avoid an icing sugar cloud. Make sure you use a lid on your mixer. If you would like your buttercream to have a lemon flavour, add as much lemon juice as you like at this point and stir through until combined. If the resulting buttercream is very stiff, add a little milk, stirring between additions, until it reaches a consistency you will be able to use in a piping bag. Of course, if you’re planning to apply the buttercream with a knife or spoon, you won’t have this to worry about!

I created the subtle two-tone swirl by dividing the basic buttercream mix in half and adding yellow gel food colouring to one half. I then spooned both colours into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.


All that’s left is the fun part: piping the final buttercream swirl onto the lemon cupcakes.


Lovely light lemon cupcakes. So good it’s a little too easy to eat more than one in a single sitting!


If you would like other recipes featuring lemon:

Lemon sponge layer cake with lemon curd and vanilla buttercream filling close up


Lemon sponge layer cake with lemon curd and vanilla buttercream filling.




Lemon sponge cake with white icing and yellow feathered icing sliced 3



Lemon sponge cake with white and yellow feathered icing.



Claire Huston / Art and Soul

45 thoughts on “Recipe | Easy lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream icing

  1. Lemon addict talking over here (I eat lemons like apples…)! Someone please pass a napkin cause I’m drooling over here… All the cupcakes look SO tasty and perfect! Would it be too much to ask for a care package? haha Anyhow, definitely trying the recipe!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Recipe | Lemon drizzle cupcakes | Art and Soul

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