Lemon-Scented Cupcakes With Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Use this dressed-up vanilla cupcake recipe as the base for special-occasion decorated treats. Just add food coloring and embellishments for endless possibilities.

Easter Cupcake Decorating Ideas

Photo by: Liz Gray

Liz Gray

By: Liz Gray
Use this recipe as the base for any of our easy and adorable Easter cupcake decorating ideas or your favorite designs.


Makes about 20 regular-sized cupcakes or 60 mini cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of one lemon
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk

For the frosting:
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons milk or cream
food coloring, if using

Tip: Room-temperature butter and eggs produce the best baked goods, so remove them from the refrigerator about an hour before you start the batter or frosting. Pressed for time? To raise the temperature of the butter, knead with both hands while still in the wrapper until soft. Do not microwave. For the eggs, place them in a bowl of warm (not hot!) water for about 10 minutes, then drain, dry and proceed with the recipe.


For the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake tins with paper or foil cupcake papers and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, add flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Whisk to combine.

In another large bowl, cream the butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. With the mixer running, add sugar 1/3 cup at a time. Cream another 1-2 minutes, or until sugar is fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed.

Reduce mixer speed to medium-low. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated after each addition. Add the vanilla.

Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture and milk in three additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Turn off mixer and scrape down bowl once more, making sure the batter is completely mixed.

Fill each cupcake tin two-thirds of the way to the top. Tap the tins lightly on the counter to flatten the cupcakes, then bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking your cupcakes around the 15-minute mark — don't overbake! Bake mini cupcakes for 10-14 minutes.

For the frosting:
In a large bowl, cream the butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to its lowest speed and add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and add the vanilla and 2 tablespoons milk or cream. Mix for another 3-5 minutes, until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add more milk or cream as needed to reach the desired consistency. Add food coloring, if using, 1 drop at a time, and mix to incorporate.

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