This easy lemon cupcakes recipe makes light and fluffy cupcakes topped with lemon buttercream frosting and bursting with lemon flavor.

Lemon cupcakes on a cooling rack

Lemon flavored desserts are my favorite, from lemon chess pie, to lemon pound cake, I’m all about that sweet and sour flavor.

These easy lemon cupcake recipe starts with a box of cake mix and then you add pudding mix and sour cream give the cakes a moist, fluffy texture.

It’s an easy way to doctor up cake mix to make an amazing dessert, just like our Coconut Cake (and cupcakes!) and Sock it to Me cake.

Lemon is amazing but if you want something chocolat-y give our Triple Chocolate Cupcakes a try!

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Ingredients used to make lemon cupcakes

Ingredients You’ll Need

Here’s what you’ll need for the cupcakes themselves:

  • Yellow cake mix – You can use your favorite brand or use the cake mix from our yellow cake mix found here.
  • Instant lemon pudding – The pudding helps add flavor, moisture, and structure to the cake.
  • Sour cream – Sour cream adds additional moisture to the cake.
  • Vegetable oil – You could use a similar, light tasting oil.
  • Eggs – Either brown or white large eggs work well.
  • Lemon extract – The lemon extract gives the cupcakes their flavor.

For the buttercream frosting, you’ll need:

  • Unsalted butter – Make sure you bring the butter up to room temperature before using.
  • Powdered sugar – Do not use granulated sugar for the frosting since it gets gritty.
  • Flavors – You’ll need a little bit of vanilla extract and lemon extract.
  • Yellow food coloring – This is option and gives a nice yellow hue to the frosting.
  • Milk – You could use heavy cream, light cream, or half and half.
Lemon cupcake topped with a swirl of yellow lemon buttercream and white sprinkles

Instructions

Step 1 – Prepare the batter. Before getting started, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

As it heats, mix the instant pudding, sour cream, and vegetable oil in a large bowl of your mixer. Mix together using the whisk attachment on low speed until the ingredients just come together.

Next, add the eggs 1 at a time, mixing after each egg until it is incorporated into the batter.

Step 2 – Prep the muffin tins. Line each muffin tin with your favorite cupcake wrappers. Next, scoop approximately 3 tablespoons of batter into each muffin cup.

Step 3 – Bake the cupcakes. Once you have filled each tin, bake the cupcakes in the oven and for about 18 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.

Carefully remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Step 4 – Make the frosting. While the cupcakes cool, you can make the buttercream frosting. First, add the butter and powdered sugar to the clean bowl of your mixer. Use the whisk attachment to mix it together. Start at a slow speed to prevent the powdered sugar from going everywhere and then move to a higher speed to whip the frosting. This will make it light and fluffy.

Once the icing is fluffy, add the vanilla extract and lemon extract and continue to mix. If you want to color your frosting, add 1 to 2 drops of yellow food coloring now.

If the frosting is still too firm add the milk or cream at 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing well in between each and stopping when you reach the right consistency.

Step 5 – Frost the cupcakes. Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, place the frosting in a piping bag and pipe the frosting onto each cupcake. 
Serve and enjoy or place them in your cupcake carrier to store or bring to your next get together.

top down of several lemon cupcakes on a cool rack

What Does Adding Pudding to Cake Mix Do?

The pudding mix helps add additional moisture and structure to the cake. The lemon flavor also helps enhance the lemon flavor in the cake. Pudding is an easy way to help prevent your cake from drying out as it bakes. 

Making A Sheet Cake Instead

If you prefer to make a sheet cake, you don’t need to change much. To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Next, grease and line a 9×13 inch baking pan with a piece of parchment paper. 

Pour the batter in the pan and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until  a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. 

To store or bring to a get together, I highly recommend using a cake carrier like this one. It makes it super convenient to store and transport the cake.

How to Store Them

These cupcakes are safe to store at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. I recommend placing them in an airtight container to help preserve freshness.

Lemon cupcakes on a cooling rack

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Servings: 24
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 30 mins

Lemon Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

Lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting are moist cupcakes with a delicate, tender crumb. Make these baked treats for a perfect finish to any occasion!
Close up if single lemon cupcake with white sprinkles
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Ingredients

Cupcakes:

  • 15.25 ounces Yellow cake mix
  • 3.4 ounce Instant lemon pudding
  • 3/4 cup Sour cream
  • 3/4 cup Vegetable oil
  • 3 large Eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Lemon extract

Buttercream Frosting:

  • 1 cup Unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2.5 cups Powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons Lemon extract
  • Yellow food coloring, optional
  • 1-2 tablespoons Milk

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl combine the cake mix, instant pudding, sour cream, and vegetable oil. Mix together using the whisk attachment on low speed until the ingredients just come together.
  • Add the eggs 1 at a time, mixing after each egg until it is incorporated into the batter.
  • Prepare a muffin pan by lining each tin with a cupcake wrapper.
  • Scoop approximately 3 tablespoons of batter into each muffin cup.
  • Place the cupcakes in the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  • While the cupcakes cool make the buttercream frosting. Add butter and powdered sugar to the bowl of your mixer and using the whisk attachment mix it together. Start slow so the powdered sugar doesn’t go everywhere them move to a higher speed to whip the frosting and make it light and fluffy.
  • Add the vanilla extract and lemon extract and continue to mix. If you want to color your frosting add 1-2 drops of yellow food coloring now.
  • If the frosting is still too firm add the milk 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing well in between each, stopping when you reach the right consistency.
  • When the cupcakes are completely cooled place the frosting in a piping bag and pipe the frosting onto each cupcake.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupcake, Calories: 280kcal, Carbohydrates: 31g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 47mg, Sodium: 166mg, Potassium: 33mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 20g, Vitamin A: 316IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 15mg, Iron: 1mg
Nutrition Disclaimer: We are not certified nutritionists. Nutrition facts are an estimate and are provided as a courtesy. They are generated by an online API which recognizes ingredient names and amounts and makes calculations based on the serving size. Results may vary.
Author: Kat Jeter & Melinda Caldwell
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Dessert
Keyword: lemon cupcakes, pudding mix cupcakes