Perfect Lemon Cupcakes

The perfect lemon cupcake - perfection in every way!

We are going a little cupcake crazy at our house.

After the fun cupcake capers Logan and I had together on his last visit home I decided to try out some new cupcake recipes.

I am helping a friend with her son’s wedding reception next week and they wanted to have a cupcake bar.  She has put me in charge of selecting and planning the cupcake menu.  I have also been helping with the decorations too and can’t wait to show you what we have planned!

Back to the cupcakes – my first step was to go to some of my favorite food blogs and gather together some recipes.  Over at Real Mom Kitchen I found a recipe for Perfect Lemon Cupcakes.  She had gotten the recipe from my friend Melanie over at My Kitchen Cafe!


The perfect lemon cupcake!

These cupcakes were indeed perfect – lemon through and through.  Lemon cake, lemon frosting – it doesn’t get any better!  The cupcake starts with a boxed lemon cake mix but then is enhanced with some sour cream and pudding  which makes for a very moist cupcake.  The frosting, and it is all about the frosting, was super lemony too with fresh lemon juice and lemon zest.

Lovely Lemon Cupcakes - perfect lemon goodness!

Topped off with half a strawberry these lemon cupcakes were indeed perfect.  They are a definite go for the wedding reception and they are so pretty!

The most perfect lemon cupcake ever!

We had a surprise Sweet Sixteen birthday party at our house this week so I decided a cupcake bar would be part of the party food and an excuse to experiment with more recipes for the wedding reception.  We went with strawberry cupcakes and chocolate malted milk cupcakes for the party (we had a pink and black theme).

I’ll share pictures from the party and two more cupcake recipes on Monday!

I’m still in need of a few more cupcake recipes/flavors to add to the menu so if you have a favorite cupcake recipe please leave it in the comments or send it to me via the contact form – thanks!!

When you make these cupcakes you are going to want two of my favorite tools for working lemons:

Microplaner  and a  Lemon Juicer

Perfect Lemon Cupcakes
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 1 package lemon cake mix
  • 1 C sour cream
  • ¾ C water
  • ¾ C oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 small package lemon instant pudding
Lemon Buttercream Frosting:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, very soft
  • 6-8 C powdered sugar
  • ½ C fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  1. Mix dry ingredients
  2. Add wet ingredients
  3. Mix with electric mixer on medium speed for about two minutes
  4. Use a strong mixer, this batter is thick
  5. For cupcakes, bake them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (I was able to get 24 very full cupcakes from the recipe).
  6. For regular cake, pour into a greased 9x11 pan or two round pans
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes
  8. Don't over bake or the cake will be too dry!
  9. The toothpick test works to check to see if they're done
  10. The original recipe said that the cupcakes will fall after they come out of the oven, but this is normal and to just fill up the indentation with more frosting
Lemon Buttercream Frosting:
  1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl
  2. Add 4 cups of sugar, then the juice and the zest
  3. Beat until smooth and creamy
  4. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency (I added 6 cups total).
  5. Use and store at room temperature. (Don't refrigerate and it will last in a covered container for about three days.)
  6. Garnish with berries, if desired right before serving

This is truly the most perfect lemon cupcake you will ever taste!

Leigh Anne
Hi – I’m Leigh Anne! I have been a homebased mom for 30 years since my first baby boy was born! I love working with women and helping to inspire them to achieve their goals and dreams while still maintaining motherhood and family as their number one priority. I blog about everything I enjoy – creating treats and meals in my kitchen, spending time in my garden, entertaining and party planning, reading, self improvement and tips and ideas on style and fashion.
Leigh Anne
Leigh Anne

Latest posts by Leigh Anne (see all)


  1. says

    I have a great recipe for a chocolate cinnamon cake and the frosting is marchino cherry. Mu husband swears it is the best cake he has ever eaten. I am sure it would work great for cupcakes. I will send it to you a little later when I have time to type it up.
    Can’t wait to try the lemon ones!

  2. Beth says

    Our best Bites posted a really yummy chocolate cream filled cupcake with some good frosting. I made them last fall and thought they were good if you were a chocolate fan. I love lemon, and am super excited to try out your lemon cupcakes.

    For a great frosting/filling try this one. My friend does professional cakes and loves using it:

    Whipped Frosting

    6 oz. Instant pudding
    1 t. vanilla
    1 c. cold milk
    1/3 c. powdered sugar
    1 pt. Whipped, whipping cream

    Blend pudding, vanilla, milk and powdered sugar together. Fold in whipped cream

  3. Jennifer Barker says

    These look gorgeous- you take such wonderful photos! What kind of camera do you have? (I am in the market to buy one but know nothing about them.)

  4. says

    @Jennifer Barker:

    I use a Nikkon D40X but the real trick is good lighting – try for all natural light. No flash, no artificial light. I have a great window in my kitchen with Northern lighting that works well.

  5. says

    Leigh Anne – I can’t get over how talented you are. You are always helping someone (or some group) out with hosting and planning parties and celebrations. You are amazing! I’m glad you liked these lemon cupcakes. The swirled frosting and strawberries look so lovely. Again, I wish I had half your talent!!

  6. LuAnne says

    I am looking forward to your cupcake recipes. Love the pictures also. I bake cupcakes for some friends on a request basis. They don’t bake — I love to bake when I get a chance. I am working on adapting recipes to gluten free because one of the friend’s diet requires gluten free recipes. Thanks so much for sharing the pictures and the recipes. I will let you know how the recipe adaptation works. Are you using a cake decorating tips for piping the frosting?

  7. says

    Your cupcakes turned out beautiful! And aren’t they just luscious. They are still one of my favorites. I have seen a lot of recipes out there lately for chocolate and peanut butter cupcakes. I know recipegirl just posted a peanut butter cookie cupcake and I believe picky palate had one recently for a chocolate cup cake with peanut butter filling. They looked wonderful.

  8. Roxanna says

    Oooh! I LOVE cupcakes! I can’t wait to try these! Looking forward to Mondays post! It’s nothing special, but we like to make cupcakes with the cherry chip cakemix and then frost them with whipped strawberry frosting! Nothing fancy, but tasty!

  9. Cara says

    Could you share your secrets about washing and storing fresh berries? I know you use fresh berries in many recipes. Admittedly, I am not much of a chef or baker. Your blog has inspired me to bake more. This summer I have tried many recipes with fresh strawberries or raspberries but I have nothing but trouble with rotten or mushy berries. I have purchased from both the grocery store or fresh produce stands. I’ve tried washing right away or waiting until I’m ready to use them. I’ve tried storing in or out of the fridge. It doesn’t seem to make a difference. I bought a bunch of strawberries on Monday to use in a salad tonight. I just found that they are all moldy and rotten. What methods do you use to clean and store berries? How far in advance can you or do you typically purchase the berries?

  10. says


    I’m happy to share my berry secrets – not sure they are really secrets but here is what I do. When you buy fresh berries from a store or berry stand plan on using them that day or the next. I am talking about fresh, local berries. Those strawberries you buy at Costco that come from Chile while last a lot longer but fresh local grown berries don’t last as long. We have had lots of sun here in Oregon lately so our berries are really ripe. They need to be used right away. I store mine in the refrigerator until I am ready to use them and I do not wash them until I am ready to use them. I even freeze my berries without washing them. When I put them in the refrigerator I try and store them in a shallow container so they are not piled too deep on top of one another. If you see any moldy or overly ripe pieces remove those right away because “one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch”. Hope this helps – let me know if you have any other questions!

  11. says

    Your cupcakes are beautiful. I am such a rookie baker….love to cook, but baking intimidates me. I was wondering how you bake the cupcakes without the cupcake liners getting all dark and yucky. Your liners look so vibrant. I would love to know your secret; if it isn’t a secret :o)

  12. Kerry says

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I just recently discovered your blog and found this fantastic recipe. I made these cupcakes this afternoon and they were absolutely amazing! Thanks again!

  13. Julee says

    These were such a hit at my mom’s surprise birthday party that I’m making them again for my daughter’s birthday this week. LOVE them! Thanks, again, for another fabulous treat!

  14. Erin Storrer says

    I just made these for Mother’s Day – they are so awesome – a little taste of heaven! The lemon juice in the frosting gives it such a crisp, light lemon flavor…delicious!

  15. Karen says

    These cupcakes look wonderful. I just bought a bag of lemons so I will definately try these. What did you do to ice the cupcakes so pretty?

  16. Rebecca says

    I made these cupcakes using a frosting made with two cups of whip cream and a package of lemon instant pudding. They were the most fabulous cupcakes I have ever tasted! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  17. Cindy says

    I just got done making these cupcakes and they are the best cupcakes I have ever made. They did fall like you mentioned but I just filled them in with the yummy frosting. Can’t wait for my hubby to get home to sample them. Thanks!

  18. says

    I made these and they were delicious. However I switched vanilla yogurt (low fat) for the sour cream and they sunk in the middle. Do you think that simple switch could have caused it? I will try to make them again with sour cream.

  19. Jen T says

    These are so fresh and delicious! After they were baked and cooled I added a little homemade strawberry freezer jam into the center and then covered with the frosting. They tasted fabulous! Thank you!

  20. Kiera says

    I made these today and they were Wonderful!!!!!! Thank you so much for putting it up. It’s a new favorite for us!!

  21. Katie says

    I have made these cupcakes several times and the cake once. They are absolutely amazing! However, the top of the cupcakes and cake don’t stay puffed up, they tend to flatten down after 5 minutes after getting out of the oven. I have tried filling the cupcake tins with different amounts of cupcake batter (1/2 full, 2/3 full, etc.) but they keep flattening out. Do yours do this too? Or do you have any recommendations for me? I have followed the recipe word for word.

    • kristi says

      I have a delicious lemon cupcake recipe fromthe cake mix doctor. The pudding is what makes them fall. Just cut the pudding in half and add real lemon juice and zest formore flavor.

  22. Tricia says

    I’ve made these cupcakes twice and they are so tasty but I have never been able to get my frosting the right consistency even after added extra powdered sugar. It always turns out runny. Any suggestions?

  23. Jessica says

    I did a citrus theme for my sister in law’s bridal shower and I used this recipe. They are delicious!! They did sink a little when they cooled, but fill it up with frosting and you never know, plus it doesn’t matter…they were very tasty! :)
    I got lots of great comments about them :) Thanks!

  24. says

    I just made these and also followed the recipe word for word. For some reason my cupcakes burned on the bottom and sides. :( I have new pans so I don’t know what went wrong. This is the first time I’ve ever burned cupcakes.

  25. Ann says

    Do you use an 18.25 oz cake mix? I’ve noticed that stores generally have 2 sizes of cake mixes. Pretty annoying since one of my favorite recipes calls for an 18.25 oz lemon cake mix and my usual grocery store doesn’t have it. So I stocked up–I’ve got 3 in my pantry right now. :-)

    • says

      hmmm. I’ve only ever seen one cake box size so that is the size I used – I’m traveling right now and not home so can’t check the size in my pantry but it is the traditional size that makes 24 cupcakes.

  26. LH says

    OMG! I made these over the weekend and they turned out awesome! They were so moist and lemony and delicious! Everyone raved about them. The only thing I did different was substitute a 1/2 cup of vodka for some of the water. I didn’t make the frosting just used canned frosting and added fresh squeezed lemon juice to it and it turned out great. Will definitely make these again!

  27. says

    I keep forgetting to try these! they look so amazingly delicious and sweet! I wonder how they would taste as mini cupcakes though, since I can’t eat an entire regular cupcake without feeling ‘greedy’ (weird mentality, I guess).

  28. carolyn says

    I made these for a baby shower and the client wanted cream cheese frosting. They were wonderful!!! Like crazy wonderful! If you have problems with them falling in the middle, I found that they may need an extra minute of baking time. I didn’t want to overbake so I tested at 18 minutes and took them out. They fell a little. The next batch I baked for the full 20 minutes and they were perfect….no falling. So just and FYI

    • says

      Carolyn, So glad they were a hit! I bet they were amazing with cream cheese frosting. Thanks for the tip on baking them a little longer to prevent falling. Will definitely do that next time.

  29. Annice Hill says

    Leigh Ann, thanks for sharing this recipe. I am making them next week for a lunch for college students at one of our local campuses here in San Antonio, TX. We are serving them after a pasta lunch and I thought these would be a nice refreshing end ot the meal. I am making candied lemon slices to decorate them with since strawberries don’t seem very appropriate in October. Also thanks for the decorating video. I am heading to our local cake suppy store right now to get the disposable bags, the large star tip, some beautiful liners, and cupcake transporting boxes. Thanks again.

  30. GiGiMarie says

    Try cutting back on the water and add in fresh lemon juice and zest instead. So super yummy! This is a similar recipe to my lemon cupcakes. My boys enjoy them very much!

  31. Stacey says

    I made these as a birthday cake tonight and everybody LOVED it! I will definitely make again and I might just have to eat the rest of the frosting by itself! Thanks for a great recipe!

  32. Stephanie says

    I tried this recipe tonight and really was NOT a fan…..the cake was extremely dense and the “frosting” was sooooooo sweet and sugary and not fluffy at all. Very sad! :(


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