So while we were in Seattle, we went to the wedding of my husband’s younger brother. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law did all the flowers and they were absolutely gorgeous. See?

Now…at the wedding reception, the limes and lemons in the tall vases were fun and whimsical and colorful, but after the bride and groom drove away, those of us who WEREN’T going on a fun, relaxing honeymoon had to figure out what to do with literally hundreds of limes and lemons. My mother-in-law tried VERY hard to get me to throw some into my suitcase, which I adamantly refused to do because a) I didn’t want unsweetened lemonade all over my clothes when we got home and b) now that the airlines so graciously allow us to pay for checked baggage, I figured I could buy my own dang lemons for another $25. Well, being the mother of seven boys that she is, she was not about to let me go home citrus-free, which led to quite a bit of back-and-forth banter. Finally, I remembered that I had this recipe scheduled for today and told her I would take home a carry-on bag full of lemons and limes, which she was delighted to hear. I was half-expecting someone in security to ask, “Hey, lady, what’s with all the citrus?”, but then I realized that a bag full of limes and lemons was probably not even close to the strangest thing they’d ever seen.ANYWAY. Enough story time. Now…I have a little confession to make. I’m not super crazy about cake. I like it okay, and if I’m at a party, I’m not going to say no. But if it’s nothing special, then I’d just rather have a piece of pie or a tart or a pastry or something like that.

Well, I stumbled across this recipe in a dark, dusty corner of Martha Stewart’s website last year when I was getting ready for my daughter’s first birthday. I wasn’t looking for a lemon cake, and I wasn’t looking for a recipe that was so incredibly poorly constructed and hard-to-follow (seriously, whoever edited that recipe should be fired, or at least flogged aa little), but it sounded delish and I was after the flower cake tutorial.

Well…once I figured out what in the WORLD was going on (the baking time for a 9×13 cake is incredibly off, for starters), it ended up being quite possibly the most delicious cake I’d ever eaten in my entire life. Somehow, it’s a little dense (kind of like pound cake) and yet incredibly light and airy at the same time. I used the lemon buttercream recipe from my Southern Living cookbook and seriously…there are no words.

Since it calls for 3 sticks of butter and 5 eggs in the cake alone, I don’t make it too much, but I figured this time around, I’d give cupcakes a whirl. I think they were even better–the cake can almost be too much, but the cupcakes are perfectly portioned snippets of lemony goodness. And they’re so rich that I only need too eat one and then I’m done, which, when I have a million of these suckers lying around, is definitely a good thing.

Lemon Cupcakes
Our Best Bites


1 1/2 c. (3 sticks) of REAL butter
3 c. cake flour (no substitutions here–you really need the lightness of cake flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 c. sugar
5 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons (just zest the other lemons before you squeeze them)
1 c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325. Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners (I used yellow, although white would also be cute).

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Don’t go skimping here–you want the mixture to be almost white and super fluffy. This is absolutely essential to the outcome of the cake.

While butter and sugar are mixing, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside. After butter and sugar have mixed sufficiently, With the mixer running, add eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Beat in vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

With mixer on low speed, alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating until fully incorporated.

Using a standard cookie scoop, place about 2 scoops of batter into each muffin cup. Fill these almost to the top–due to the final texture (again, think super-moist and light pound cake), these cupcakes won’t have a nice, curvy crown, but that’s okay–no one will ever know or care.

Bake about 20-25 minutes or just until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. You don’t want to overbake these even a bit, or they’ll start to lose their delicious moisture. Remove from oven and cool completely. Frost with lemon buttercream and garnish with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or fresh mint leaves.

Lemon Buttercream

1 1/4 c. butter (2 1/2 sticks)
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 c. powdered sugar

Beat butter, lemon rind, and lemon juice in an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating to spreading consistency. Makes 2 3/4 c.

Have we got you in the mood for lemons?
Fresh Squeezed Lemonade
Garlic-Herb Sandwich Spread
Lemon Zucchini Fettuccine
Strawberry-Lemon Face Mask


  1. 1
    HoneyB says:

    So pretty and I'm certain yummy! Wish I could have taken some of those lemons and limes off your hands! I just bought some of both yesterday!

  2. 2
    Krista says:

    those look yummy! i LOVE lemony desserts. i'll have to try these out soon.

  3. 3
    The Cookie Girl says:

    mmmmmm…..Yum! I love almost anything Lemon. They look delicious. Were they at all tart? I love the tart lemon desserts.

  4. 4
    Kate says:

    Cookie Girl, my son won't touch these because he thinks they're "too sour," if that helps… 🙂 They aren't as tart as say, lemon curd, but it definitely has a little zing! 🙂

  5. 5
    Summer says:

    Those sound delicious!

  6. 6
    Erin says:

    Yum! Do they sell cake flour at regular grocery stores, or only specialty stores? I have never even looked for it before.

  7. 7
    Kate says:

    Yep, Erin, you can just find it at a regular grocery store! 🙂

  8. 8
    Sara @ Our Best Bites says:

    You know I'm a sucker for anything lemon. These are so cute and summery!

  9. 9
    Steph says:

    Such pretty pictures Kate! They sound great!

  10. 10
    Melody says:

    What cute tables at the wedding! Those cupcakes looks so good and refreshing. This recipe is in my "to do" pile!

  11. 11
    Alli Blue says:

    Looks deeelish!

  12. 12
    the ungourmet says:

    Such beautiful little cupcakes!

  13. 13
    becca says:

    These look so delicious! I love lemon desserts in the summer 🙂

  14. 14
    Adriann says:

    Oh I SO wish I still lived near you so I could take a couple dozen of those off your hands! They look divine.

  15. 15
    Carolyn says:

    Thanks for giving me my weekend dessert! yum!

  16. 16

    So wait, you mean you didn't use all those lime to make a ton of key lime tarts?! Those are a new favorite at our house.

    But anyway, these look so yummy! Lemon is one of my new favorite flavors for desserts. Mmmmmm… 🙂

  17. 17
    jodi says:

    Kate, these look perfect for a summer treat! yum!

  18. 18
    Jen says:

    YUM!I love anything lemon and I would break out the mixer and try these right now, but I made your strawberry cupcakes for my daughter's birthday and I got 3 dozen cupcakes out of the batter!

  19. 19
    tracyvanhorne says:

    THANK YOU!! Every year we wonder what can we make with all the lemons our tree puts out… I am adding this to the rotation this year! 🙂

  20. 20
    zoe says:

    I just made some lemon ricotta muffins..This frosting would have been delicious!

  21. 21
    Ingrid says:

    So if I don't have one of those fancy-dancy electric mixers fitted with paddle attachments, will just a regular hand mixer work?

  22. 22
    Kate says:

    Ingrid, I imagine you could. The only concern is that the batter quantity is pretty large, so you just need to make sure it gets light and fluffy enough while you're mixing.

  23. 23
    The Wifey says:

    OOh Kate I really don't like cake either. I LOVE cake batter but the actual cake…not so much. But I love lemony things and these looks super yummy-especially the batter. LOL.

    Sara's going to think I'm an alien now. No doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, pizza, spaghetti and now cake. Yeah I'm pretty much un-American.

  24. 24
    gigi says:

    I love cake! I love lemons! Sounds like a perfect combination to me 🙂

  25. 25
    teeny says:

    see, i knoew the lemons were meant to go with you!!

    love ya!

  26. 26
    Haylee says:

    Those look like Heaven! Mmm….

  27. 27
    Carson says:

    How is it that you and Sara don't weigh 300 pounds each with all these fabulous, fattening dessert recipes you post? I gain weight just looking at the pictures!!
    BTW, I shared your Brazilian lemonade recipe at our Enrichment night last night and gave the credit to your website.
    I check your site several times a week and have tried several of your recipes, but this is the first time I've posted a comment.

  28. 28
    Sara @ Our Best Bites says:

    Ah now Carson, you've never met us in real life. How do you know we don't just photoshop all the pictures of ourselves?? Don't let out our little secret! Haha.

  29. 29
    Rachel says:

    Those look sooo refreshing and sound DELICIOUS!

  30. 30
    Kate says:

    Carson, either I give most of the treats away or I eat them all and tell my husband I gave most of the treats away. Neither of which he's particularly keen on, lol!

    And thanks a bunch for sharing the blog! 🙂 I'm sitting here drinking Brazilian lemonade right now, yummmmmm…

  31. 31
    Stephanie says:

    These cupcakes look really yummy! I'll definitely have to try this recipe. I LOVE lemon cake, but like you, only if it's REALLY good. BTW, your pictures look very appetizing! ;o)

  32. 32
    The Food Librarian says:

    Oh! So pretty and delicious. What a great idea. I once got flowers with cranberries in the water..such a nice touch!

  33. 33
    cookies and cups says:

    I can't say I am with you about the cake =) but these cupcakes look so good! I love lemon frosting!

  34. 34
    Cosette says:

    My sister just told me about your blog…she says she knows you guys (Cheryl Ann Jensen from Bellevue). Wow. and Yum. Can't wait to try the lemony goodness.

  35. 35
    Mary Kelly says:

    Oooo… citrus dessert is a weakness of mine. Have you tried to make these with lime juice and lime zest?

  36. 36
    Kara says:

    I just posted an almost identical recipe on my blog that uses coconut instead of lemon. Can't wait to try it this way! I bet you could add just about anything with this batter and it would taste fabulous!

  37. 37
    MommyJ says:

    I love all things lemon. I just pulled a recipe for lemon glaze cookies from Everyday Food that was to die for. Literally. I made the cookies twice in 36 hours and ate almost all of them by myself.

  38. 38
    Cosette says:

    Hi, it's Cheryl Ann's sister again…just thought I'd tell ya my daughter and I made these cupcakes yesterday and WOW…they were killer good.

    By the way my daughter is named Shanna, after her aunt Cheryl Ann.

  39. 39
    Sandy says:

    *swoon* They look wonderful!
    I shall just have to try them.

  40. 40
    Jen says:

    These are SOOOO good, but I'm halving the recipe next time. It makes 3 dozen cupcakes!!!

  41. 41
    Emily says:

    These are perfect! Yum!

  42. 42
    Sara says:

    We made these yummy cupcakes twice,(two different cooks) tasted fantastic, but both times they flopped! Couldnt get out of pan (crusty around openings) and then fell out of the paper liners!! Do we need to add more flour in Utah for high altitude?

  43. 43
    Kate @ Our Best Bites says:

    Sara, my guess is that it's the altitude. I'd try adding 2-3 Tbsp. of additional flour and see if that helps! Good luck! 🙂

  44. 44
    Marnie says:

    Hi There!! I made these today after having numerous left over lemons from Christmas.

    Fabulous!! I had no buttermilk (which is a rare event in this house) but used skim milk and mixed the lemon juice with the milk to curdle it a bit. Worked like a charm.

    Like you I'm a recipe blogger. Would you mind if I posted this recipe on my blog. More than happy to link to your blog to give credit.

    Oh..btw…instead of lemon juice in the buttercream I used Limoncella liquor…excellent!!

  45. 45
    Angie says:

    Oh my gosh, these look so good. I will have to try them! I am glad I found your blog!

  46. 46
    BreathoFreshair says:

    Wow- these have nice flavor and everything, but are just too DOGGONE RICH and FATTENING!! I followed the recipe to a T, continuing despite the skeptical looks from my grandmother, who wondered why I needed a total of over five sticks of butter and five eggs. And, gosh, this frosting is super's just butter and sugar!
    Guess I was looking for a much lighter, creamy cupcake. These were dense and almost gave me a sugar attack. I guess I'm just a wuss, even at 17.

  47. 47
    Patrice says:

    My mouth is watering already. My husband always says lemon desserts are for old people… Well phooey on him I say! I'll make em and he'll eat'em!

  48. 48
    SJMargo says:

    These are truly mouthwatering. Follow the recipe carefully. In my oven they needed a hotter temp setting and/or little longer cook time or else they came out a little pasty on top. I also added more lemon to the cake and doubled the lemon in the frosting . My friends flipped-out they were so delicious!

  49. 49
    Lindsey Melvin says:

    Those were fantastic. Thank you! Best cupcakes I've ever made. I added just a little more lemon than it called for and frosted them to look like yellow roses on top. They were some of the best cupcakes I've ever eaten.
    Also, I should add that I'm an inexperienced baker. If I can make em so can you.

  50. 50
    TheCakeTop says:

    These sound so delicious! I'm looking for a great lemon cupcake recipe for a bridal shower. Bonus, I found a lemon butter cream recipe as well. Thanks so much.

  51. 51
    Kerry says:

    Delicious! I made them in mini-cupcake form, and I am still not done putting them in the oven: I will probably get 10-12 dozen! Yikes! For anyone making them in mini format, I found 14-15 minutes is about the right baking time.

  52. 52
    kimvangroos says:

    I made these the other day and they were a HUGE hit at work! I tossed a handful of raspberries in the icing and it was so good. Thanks for the recipe help, I always come to your site when I need inspiration!

  53. 53
    Shawna & Matthew says:

    Okay, confession: I'm not a fan of lemon. I don't like citrus. However…I made these for a friends' birthday, and I have been converted. These are seriously stupendously amazing. Ah-maz-ing. Yum. I'm not sure if they'll last long enough to make it to work in the morning.

  54. 54
    Shawna & Matthew says:

    Okay, confession: I'm not a fan of lemon. I don't like citrus. However…I made these for a friends' birthday, and I have been converted. These are seriously stupendously amazing. Ah-maz-ing. Yum. I'm not sure if they'll last long enough to make it to work in the morning.

  55. 55
    Things to Do says:

    These are wonderful! I made them for our book club this week! I had a bit of a frosting fail, but still delicious.

  56. 56
    rachel says:

    Your lemon cupcakes are awesome! I made them over the weekend and they were moist and deeeelicious! Thanks for the recipe! The frosting tasted a bit too butter-y to me (my personal taste) so I added a tsp or so of vanilla and loved the final result.

  57. 57
    Patte says:

    These cupcakes have an amazing texture and flavor (as I added a little bit of lemon oil) but they shrank like crazy! So much so that the paper liner just falls off. Would love to make again but I need to understand how come they shrank so much? Thanks.

  58. 58
    Patte says:

    Thanks, Kate. Wonder if I beat the sugar, cream and eggs a little too long therefore adding too much lightness. Either way, kudos on a wonderfully flavored and textured cupcake. Will definitely make again!

  59. 59
    Anne-Marie says:

    Just made these tonight – and they are yummy! I used a bit more lemon juice (and decreased the Buttermilk) and doubled the lemon zest to make a very tart cupcake base. It’s not too sweet and I have your recipe to thank. Thank you for the post and the great recipe =)

  60. 60
    Kari says:

    We’re travelling for Easter. Do you think if I made these on Friday and frosted them on Sunday they would still be fabulous?

  61. 61
    Alyssa says:

    Help! My Sis-in-law wants this in cake form for her birthday tomorrow. What would the correct baking time be? Anything else I need to know?

  62. 62
    Alyssa says:

    Okay.. In case it’s helpful for anyone else, two 9″ rounds took 35-40 minutes to bake to perfection in my oven.

  63. 63
    kelly Hardwick says:

    What is the baking time for a 9 X 13 pan?

    • 63.1

      I honestly don’t know–the Martha Stewart directions were WAAAAAAY off (like by 30+ minutes), so when I baked it as a 9×13, I just baked it until it was done. Every other time, I’ve made cupcakes. Sorry I can’t be of more help!

  64. 64
    Ashley says:

    I have a question Kate if you see this. I have made these several times in Belgium with no problem. I am in Georgia right now and I am making them and I am not sure if its because of humidity or what it is but the cupcakes are pulling from the liners and they are bubbling. I don’t understand? I put in almost 1/2 cup of more cake flour and they did not bubble as much this time but still did. Do you have any idea what is going on?

  65. 65
    Janine M. says:

    I made these last year for my baby shower and they were the BEST lemon cupcakes I have ever had! I bookmarked your website and I’m going to make these again!

  66. 66
    Eileen says:

    I’m making these for a birthday party on Friday. I believe I will half the recipe though, since I really don’t need 2 dozen!

  67. 67
    Celeste says:

    Hi Kate! LOVE all of your guys stuff! I have a quick question about the butter cream. Everytime I’ve made butter cream with butter (I’ve started using some butter and some shortening) it ends up tasting like I’m eating a big stick of butter. Do you ever get that feeling or is it just my preference. I’ve heard some bakeries just use shortening. Thanks!

    • 67.1

      Hmmmm. I think sometimes it can be like that, but it doesn’t really bother me. Have you tried our perfect cupcake frosting and filling? It’s definitely not your typical butter-based frosting.

  68. 68
    Amy Massie says:

    Hi! I was wondering if you can use regular all-purpose flour instead of cake flour? Thats all I have around the house at the moment

    • 68.1

      Hey, Amy! I definitely wouldn’t use all-purpose flour; I know others have in the past and it hasn’t been pretty. I’m sorry! 🙁

      • Patti Wiser says:

        HI, I just made the lemon cupcakes and they were fabulous.. I did not have cake flour but made my own.. For every cup of flour the cake calls for you take 2 tabl. of flour out and add 2 tbl. of cornstarch. Then you sift the flour and cornstarch through a sifter 5 times. Not hard to do.. Love all you two do. Thanks!

  69. 69
    Amy Massie says:

    No worries! I went out and bought some! Wish me luck!

  70. 70
    Audra says:

    Can I just say AMAZING!!! Light and fluffy. Not only the cupcake but the frosting. REALLY nice lemon flavor! I made half a batch in mini size and I could have eaten every last one!!! Thank you Our Best Bites…they truly are the BEST!!!

  71. 71
    D says:

    These cupcakes are SO delicious. They are not very forgiving with the baking time and they do make more that 2 dozen. I made 14 regular sized cupcakes and 48 minis…recipe was not hard to foolow, batter was as light as air, frosting could use less sugar and more lemon juice which I added for more of a tart flavor.

  72. 72

    Don’t fill too full mine crowned!

  73. 73
    Stephanie K says:

    These are so good! I’m pregnant and my baby will not let me eat chocolate so I was looking for a non-chocolate recipe. I am so glad I found this one. They are my husband and my favorite. We will be serving these at my baby shower as well.

  74. 74
    Patricia McCray says:

    Would like to make some

  75. 75
    Nikki Cheairs says:

    One word FABULOUS!!! I did a cupcake bakoff and hands down this one was delicious! So moist and not all overbearing with the lemon taste which I loved loved loved. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. If you have a chocolate cake recipe I would love to have that bcuz every chocolate cake recipe I have attempted has been dry. Thanks again for sharing this awesome recipe. Tootles….Nikki 😉

  76. 76
    To says:

    We loved them so much – after the first batch was finished, I made another one right the next morning. Thanks for this yummy recipe!

  77. 77
    Nikki says:

    Absolutely phenomenal recipe! Thanks for sharing.

  78. 78
    Sally says:

    Any one else have them ‘dip’ or ‘fall’ in the middle? Trying to figure out what happened. They are super delish, and I filled the dip with lemon curd before frosting them.

  79. 79

    […] from Our Best Bites, Food Network and 20 something […]

  80. 80

    […] life gives you lemons, make lemon cupcakes! I combined my favorite lemon cupcake recipe from Our Best Bites (which the author said is actually borrowed from Martha Stewart), and I added a special raspberry […]

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