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Lemon cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting garnished with lemons on small wavy dessert plates | All Images © Beyond the Butter®

Small Batch Lemon Cupcakes

Author: Jennifer
This easy-to-make Small Batch Lemon Cupcakes recipe gives you 6 soft and fluffy cupcakes topped with a whipped lemon cream cheese frosting. Flavored with fresh lemon zest, lemon juice, and a little honey, these cupcakes are incredibly delicious!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Cooling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 6 cupcakes


small batch lemon cupcakes

  • cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon Zest
  • 2 ½ tablespoon Lemon Juice, divided (1 ½ tablespoon for the batter, 1 tablespoon to mix with the honey)
  • ¼ cup Buttermilk or Whole Milk
  • 1 tablespoon Honey

whipped lemon cream cheese frosting

  • ¼ cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 ½ cup Powdered Sugar, sifted
  • ½ tablespoon Lemon Zest
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 tablespoon Heavy Whipping Cream


small batch lemon cupcakes

  • Adjust your oven rack to the 2nd level position (just above center). Preheat your oven to 350ºF and line the middle section of a cupcake tin with 6 cupcake liners.
  • In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Set to the side.
  • Using your hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the unsalted butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until well blended. Add in the egg and vanilla extract.
  • Switching the mixer speed to low, add in the whisked dry ingredients followed by the lemon zest, 1 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice, and the buttermilk. Mix until just combined. Do not over mix. The batter should be light in color and easily scoopable into the cupcake liners.
  • Using a large 3 tablespoon-size cookie scoop (or a serving spoon and regular size spoon), evenly divide the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about ⅔ full.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350ºF or until an insert toothpick comes out clean. They should be yellow in color with light golden brown edges and a relatively flat top.
  • While the cupcakes bake, whisk together the remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice with the 1 tablespoon of honey in a small bowl. When cupcakes are done, remove from the oven and brush the lemon honey mixture over the top of each one with a pastry brush or silicone brush.
  • Continue to cool the cupcakes in the tin for about 10 minutes. Then transfer to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling. Do not frost the cupcakes until they have cooled.

whipped lemon cream cheese frosting

  • Using your hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the unsalted butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy in texture.
  • Switch the mixer speed off to add in the powdered sugar, then turn back on to low speed. Add in the lemon zest and lemon juice, mixing until just combined.
  • Keeping the mixer speed on low, add in the heavy whipping cream. Once mixed in, increase the mixer speed back to medium-high speed whipping the cream cheese frosting until it’s light and fluffy (about 4-5 minutes). If you would like for the frosting to be thicker, add 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar at a time until the consistency you desire is reached.
  • Fill a medium-size piping bag fitted with the Wilton 1A decorating tip and pipe the frosting onto each cooled lemon cupcake. Alternatively you can apply the lemon cream cheese frosting with an offset spatula.

Recipe Notes

  • Recipe adapted from Food & Wine.
  • Recipe times noted are for both the lemon cupcakes and the lemon cream cheese frosting.
  • Ovens are like snowflakes, no two are alike. Start checking the doneness of your cupcakes at the earliest recommended baking time. It's also good to use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is calibrated to the correct temperature.
  • There is an added cooling time of 30 minutes for the cupcakes.
  • It's best to place your cupcake liners in the 2 middle sections of your cupcake tin.
  • Do not to over mix this lemon cupcake batter.
  • Use either a cookie scoop, large measuring glass, or large and small spoon to add the cupcake batter.
  • Fill the cupcakes ⅔ full. When baked they should be relatively flat on top and bake right up to the very top of the liner.
  • Standard cupcake liners were used with this recipe.
  • Frosted cupcakes can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. They can be enjoyed straight from the refrigerator or at room temperature (let sit for 10-15 minutes before eating).
Keyword browned butter cinnamon cream cheese frosting, cupcakes, lemon cream cheese frosting, lemon cupcakes, lemon desserts, small batch lemon cupcakes, small batch recipes
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