Box cake mixes don’t have to boring. We are taking your box cake mix to the next level with this Lemon Cupcake recipe- complete with a fluffy homemade lemon buttercream. Like lemon bars, but in cake form.
Tender cupcakes are one of my favorite desserts. Whether they be something simple like vanilla cupcakes topped chocolate buttercream, or something fancier like Stuffed German Chocolate Cupcakes, you can make the ultimate dessert with the perfect balance of your favorite flavors.
Lemon desserts are plentiful this time of year, and man do I love a good spring dessert. But not all of us have time to whip up a fancy homemade cake with cake flour and lots of ingredients, right?
Well I have a secret for you. You can still make the best lemon cupcakes using a BOXED cake mix!
Lemon Cupcakes Ingredients
Table of Contents
- Box white cake mix – Any brand will do. Just be sure to use the egg whites only instructions to keep it a white cake.
- Ingredients according box directions – This usually consists of vegetable oil, water and eggs.
- Lemon – I always prefer using fresh lemon juice and fresh lemon zest when baking and cooking.
- Unsalted butter – I always prefer using unsalted butter when baking, that way I can add in the perfect amount of salt that I need. Make sure it is softened to room temperature.
- Powdered sugar – This will give our creamy lemon frosting it’s structure as well as it’s sweetness.
- Heavy whipping cream – We need a liquid to thin out our frosting, and whipping cream helps to give it a light and airy texture.
- Vanilla or lemon extract – For true lemon lovers, I would use lemon extract. But if you don’t want the lemon to be overpowering, stick with vanilla extract.
- Yellow food coloring – This is optional, but to make the perfect lemon cupcakes, I like to add a few drops to make the frosting bright and cheery.
How to Make Lemon Cupcakes
- Make cupcake batter. Prepare the cake mix according to package directions, adding the wet ingredients, lemon juice, lemon zest and optional yellow food coloring.
- Add to cupcake pan. Equally spoon into 18-24 cupcake tins lined with cupcake liners and bake according to package directions and allow to cool fully.
- Cream butter. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth.
- Add powdered sugar. Add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time and mix until there are no dry spots remaining.
- Add wet ingredients. Add the heavy cream and vanilla extract and start mixing until combined.
- Frost cupcakes. Add frosting to a pastry bag with a large round tip (I used a Wilton 1M). Generously pipe onto each cupcake and decorate as desired.
Instead of a lemon buttercream frosting, you could top these homemade lemon cupcakes with a lemon cream cheese frosting instead. You still get that delicious citrus flavor, but with more of a tang from the cream cheese.
For even more fresh lemon flavor, hollow out the inside of the cupcake and fill it with a tangy homemade lemon curd. Along with the frosting, I guess that would make them triple lemon cupcakes!
If you’re short on time, you could even use a tub of frosting straight from the store. Add it to a piping bag and you still have a lemony cupcake that looks beautiful.
Storage and Freezing
Cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days. While they will last for this long, cakes are generally best enjoyed on the day of or after baking.
If you want to freeze your lemon cupcakes, wrap well in aluminum foil or plastic wrap without frosting. Allow to thaw unwrapped at room temperature for 30-40 minutes. Then make the frosting and top.
You can freeze them with frosting. If you can a cupcake tin that fits in the freezer great, but I have a few plastic cupcakes containers leftover from the grocery store that I keep around to freeze just six without squishing the frosting.
More cake recipes:
- Wilton Gel Food Coloring, optional
- 1 box white cake mix
- Ingredients according box directions use egg white only instructions
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Embellishments as desired
LEMON BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter softened
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar
- 3-4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla or lemon extract
- 1-2 drops yellow food coloring optional
- Prepare the cake mix according to package directions, adding the lemon juice, lemon zest and optional yellow food coloring.
- Equally spoon into 18-24 muffin tins, bake according to package directions and allow to cool fully.
LEMON BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter for 3-4 minutes until smooth.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar one cup at a time and mix until there are no dry spots remaining.
- Add the heavy cream and vanilla extract and start mixing on low speed. Slowly Increase to high for 1-2 minutes.
- OPtionally, add the food color last and mix until the color is distributed evenly.
- Add to a pastry bag with a large round tip (I used a Wilton 1M).
- Generously pipe onto each cupcake and decorate as desired.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.
These sound so yummy! Can’t wait to try them!
These are so light and fluffy! I love how you did the frosting and the cute lemon slice on top!
I love how easy this is to make with the jazzed up cake mix. So light and airy too…brilliant idea to use only the egg whites. Thank you!
I LOVE lemon so naturally these cupcakes taste amazing! I love how easy this recipe is and the other kinds of variations to switch things up. Next time I make these, I’m going to try the lemon curd in the middle like you mentioned. Can’t wait!
These were so so good – I can’t wait to make them for every summer pool party this year!
These are adorable! Perfect for a summertime birthday party! 🙂