Luscious Lemon Cupcakes

A close up of cupcakes on a cooling rack

Cupcakes always bring back memories of childhood birthday parties. In between the excitement of guessing what was inside each of the colorfully wrapped gifts that my friends would shyly offer to me upon arrival and the whirlwind of playing games like musical chairs and “Pin the Nose on the Donkey” (yes, I’m from that generation!), I would occasionally sneak away to gaze longingly at the beautifully iced confections piled onto my mom’s best serving dishes. Secretly figuring out which one had the most frosting was my personal challenge. As the birthday girl, I would have the first pick so it had to be made wisely.

Fast forward several decades and I still find myself critically eyeing the quantity of icing when presented with a choice of cupcakes. Flavors were also a deciding factor – should it be chocolate or vanilla – why not both! In my youth, I don’t believe my mom ever baked lemon cupcakes. But as I and my palate have matured, lemon has become a go-to for dessert.

Is your mouth watering yet? If so, I suggest you hurry up and bake these truly luscious lemon cupcakes. Using only vegan ingredients, we make magic in the kitchen. Then there’s the lemon buttercream frosting. Heavenly. Good enough to eat on its own. But do yourself and your friends a favor and have fun with the piping bag and decorating sugar. A little extra effort yields praiseworthy results. So tie on your apron and start whisking!

What makes a cupcake special besides copious amounts of frosting? A moist, cakelike texture with a bit more heft than a slice of cake is crucial. Flavor, of course. I mean who is going to waste time and calories on a bland cupcake? Then there’s the object of my affection, the frosting. It should be sweet but not too sweet, fluffy yet creamy, and I enjoy savoring a hint of butter with each delectable bite. Colorful sugar adds that special touch and provides a satisfying yet subtle “crunch” with each mouthful.

  • Author: Lori Rodgers
  • Prep Time: Cupcakes 25 minutes
  • Frosting 15 minutes:
  • Cook Time: Cupcakes 22-25 minutes
  • Total Time: One hour and 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1216 cupcakes 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Vegan


Units Scale

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 1/3 cup buttery flavor coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 tablespoon organic lemon zest

Frosting Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 23 tablespoons fresh organic lemon juice


Cupcake Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners
  • In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking, soda, and salt and stir or whisk until well combined.
  • Melt coconut oil in microwave in 30-second increments, stirring until completely melted.
  • Pour soy milk into a glass bowl or measuring cup and heat in microwave for 30 seconds. This prevents the coconut oil from cooling and hardening when added to the liquid ingredients.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together the heated soy milk, melted coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, vanilla and lemon extracts, and lemon zest.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients.
  • Stir until well combined. There will be some small lumps of batter. If there are large lumps, continue to stir another minute or two.
  • Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way. Use an ice cream scoop to ensure liners are filled evenly.
  • Wipe away any batter that dripped on muffin pan with a damp cloth before baking.
  • Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove from pan.
  • Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Instructions

  • Beat butter on medium high speed with an electric or stand mixer for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, starting with mixer on low speed. Increase speed to medium low until sugar and butter are well combined.
  • Add the lemon extract and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and mix for one minute
  • Add remaining powdered sugar one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  • If the frosting is too thick, add additional lemon juice one teaspoon at a time. Beat until frosting is light and fluffy.
  • Frost cupcakes once they are completely cooled. Refrigerate any leftover frosting.

Keywords: lemon, vegan, plant-based, zest,