Fresh and zesty Vegan Lemon Cupcakes are bursting with flavor! Each bite is spongy, creamy, and decadent. Top them with a vegan lemon buttercream for an elegant presentation!
Turn to these Vegan Lemon Cupcakes when you’re craving a dessert that’s light and fresh. Bursting with lemon flavor, these soft and creamy cupcakes are easy to make and are sure to be a hit at your next party!
All you need are simple ingredients and a whole lot of lemon to make these cupcakes! We’re using fresh lemon juice, the zest, and even lemon extract. All of the ingredients you need to make lemon cupcakes can be found at your local grocery store.
Ingredients you’ll need
You’ll need just 11 ingredients to make the lemon cupcake batter. They are simple and easy-to-find!
(full amounts and instructions in the recipe card below)
Baking is definitely a science so the ingredients and instructions need to be followed carefully for a successful experience.
However, here are a few variations that I have tried that work well too:
- Non-Dairy Yogurt: I prefer yogurt for this recipe because it creates moist and fluffy cupcakes and adds a little tang. However, you can use apple sauce to get similar results.
- Lemon Juice: It helps create a vegan buttermilk by curdling soy milk. Apple cider vinegar will work well too.
- Oil: Any neutral-flavored oil will work here. You can use sunflower, avocado, grapeseed, or vegetable oil.
- Soy Milk: I prefer soy milk because it curdles the best and creates the perfect vegan buttermilk. However, feel free to use any plant-based milk you prefer.
How to make Vegan Lemon Cupcakes (Step-by-Step Photos)
To start, preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C) and place 12 muffin liners in a standard muffin pan. Alternatively, skip the liners and lightly grease each slot instead.
Tips for a successful baking experience:
- Before you begin making the batter, measure all of your ingredients accurately. This is crucial for a successful baking experience.
- To measure the flour, don’t scoop it with a measuring cup directly from the flour container. Instead, Aerate it first, then scoop it out of your container with a large spoon and then into a measuring cup. Don’t tap or pack the cup, just lightly sweep a butter knife across the top to remove the excess flour.
- Use a spatula to scrape all of the wet ingredients out of the bowl. You don't want to lose that moisture!
- For uniform results, make sure to fill each liner evenly with batter.
- Use an oven thermometer as your secret weapon. All ovens vary, so a thermometer will let you know the accurate temperature before baking the cupcakes
Ingredients you’ll need for the frosting
You'll need just 4 simple ingredients. Take a look!
Here are some variations:
- Vegan Butter: I prefer Miyoko's Butter because it has a similar taste and texture to dairy butter, but I have made this with Earth Balance and it was delicious too! Also, I find that stick butter is easier to work with. Some tub varieties contain more moisture and can cause the frosting to become runny.
- Lemon: I prefer fresh lemon juice and zest, but you can also use 1-2 teaspoons of lemon extract.
- Vanilla Extract: You can use vanilla paste or vanilla bean instead.
How to make the frosting
This is so easy! Before you begin, let the butter sit at room temperature for at least 10-15 minutes to slightly soften. Then, sift the powdered sugar using a mesh strainer into a separate bowl to avoid lumps in the frosting.
The cupcakes without the frosting will stay fresh covered at room temperature for a couple of days. You can also store them frosted or unfrosted in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Make the cupcakes ahead of time and freeze them, unfrosted, in an airtight container for up to 3 months. To thaw, leave them out at room temp for 15 to 20 minutes or in the fridge overnight. You can also freeze them with the frosting, but it's harder to store them that way. You'll need a lot more room in your freezer, but it can be done!
You could also make the buttercream ahead of time, too. Either cover the batch and store it in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze it for 2 to 3 months. When you’re ready to use it, thaw the icing in the fridge overnight, and whip it up again until it’s light and fluffy.
Looking for more cupcake recipes?
If you love my lemon cupcakes, you’ll want to try these other tasty cupcake recipes:
I’d love to hear from you
If you make these cupcakes, I’d love to hear what you think in the comment section below. It would really make my day. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Just tag me @veganhuggs and hashtag #veganhuggs so I don’t miss it.
Vegan Lemon Cupcakes
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (*see notes)
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup soy milk or preferred milk or preferred milk
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (*zest lemon before juicing)
- ⅓ cup grapeseed oil or any neutral-flavored oil (avocado, sunflower, vegetable, etc.)
- ⅓ cup plain non-dairy yogurt (sub applesauce)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons lemon extract
LEMON BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
- 1 cup vegan stick butter , slightly softened at room temp (about 10-15 minutes)
- 3.5 cups powdered sugar , sifted
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (*zest lemon before juicing)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 ° F (177 ° C). Place 12 muffin liners in a standard muffin pan.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the soy milk and lemon juice together. Set aside about 5 minutes.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine well.
- To the medium bowl with the buttermilk, add the oil, yogurt, lemon zest, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and sugar. Whisk to combine well.
- Now add the wet ingredients into the large bowl of dry ingredients. Whisk gently until just combined (some small lumps are fine). Don't overwork the batter or it can cause dense and chewy cupcakes that won't rise well.
- Pour mixture into each liner evenly about ⅔ the way full (an ice cream scoop works great for this). Don't overfill.
- Place in the oven on the middle rack for 18-22 minutes until lightly golden. To check for doneness, lightly press the surface - It should spring back. Don't over bake or they will be dry.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let them cool for 5-10 minutes before touching. Now gently remove the cupcakes and transfer them to a cooling rack. Let completely cool before decorating with frosting.
LEMON BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
- Add the softened vegan butter to the bowl of a Stand Mixer (or use a large bowl with a Hand Mixer). Cream the butter on medium for 3-5 minutes until pale, airy, and fluffy (turn to med-high for 10-second intervals if needed). Scrape down sides as needed.
- Over low speed, add the vanilla extract, lemon juice, lemon zest, and a ½ cup of powdered sugar. Mix until the sugar is almost combined. Scrape down sides as needed. Now beat for 60 seconds on Medium-High until fully incorporated.
- Repeat the process with ½ cup of sugar at a time until it's gone and the frosting is thick, smooth, and fluffy. Add more sugar if you want a sweeter taste or thicker consistency. If the buttercream is too thick or stiff, add a few teaspoons of non-dairy milk and mix until fully incorporated.
Useful Tools To make This Recipe
- 12-Slot Cupcake Tin
If using a stand mixer, you can use the paddle or balloon whisk attachment. The whisk adds more air into the frosting which gives it a slightly whipped texture. If you want a more traditional buttercream, use the paddle attachment.