Calling all lemon lovers- these lemon lavender cupcakes are for you! Soft, fluffy lemon cupcakes are topped with swirls of luscious lavender buttercream frosting. They're citrusy, bright, and floral, making them the perfect dessert for Spring and Summer.
Lemon and lavender is one of my favorite flavor combinations ever, so I created this lemon lavender cupcake recipe! They're one of my favorite treats to make during citrus season and Springtime.
The cupcakes are frosted with floral and silky smooth lavender buttercream. The vibrant, fresh lemon cake base is extra fluffy thanks to the reverse creaming method!
Instead of creaming the butter and sugar separately, the butter, sugar, and dry ingredients are mixed together at the same time. This makes the batter impossible to overmix and limits gluten development- both of which make for a super tender cake!
You can make these for bridal showers, Summer date nights, or as a treat for yourself! If you love cupcakes as much as I do, try these brown sugar cupcakes, small batch vanilla cupcakes, matcha cupcakes, and strawberry prosecco cupcakes.
I know you're probably drooling now, so let's talk ingredients for the lemon sponge. Full ingredient measurements and instructions can be found in the recipe card below!
- All purpose flour- This gives the cupcakes structure and a moist crumb.
- Granulated sugar- Granulated white sugar adds the perfect amount of sweetness. Caster sugar and cane sugar work as substitutes.
- Baking powder- This helps the cupcakes rise and become fluffy by adding air bubbles to the batter. Make sure your baking powder is less than 6 months old as it loses its rising power over time. Do not use baking soda since it is much stronger than baking powder!
- Sea salt- Use finely ground sea salt or table salt to balance the sweetness of the cake.
- Unsalted butter- Make sure the butter is at room temperature so it's easy to mix in. Room temperature butter will be cool to the touch but easy to indent with your finger when applying gentle pressure. It should look smooth, not greasy.
- Large eggs- Make sure the eggs are at room temperature so they blend in perfectly. Pull them out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you start baking.
- Lemon zest- Lemon zest refers to the bright yellow peel of the lemon. Zest contains lots of flavorful oils and isn't acidic or tart like lemon juice. To zest a lemon, carefully move the lemon in one hand back and forth against a rasp grater in the other. Rotate the lemon as you go, avoiding the pale part of the peel under the yellow.
- Lemon juice- Fresh lemon juice adds tartness to the cupcakes. After zesting your lemon, slice it in half and squeeze the juice into a small bowl by hand or with a citrus squeezer. Remove the seeds before adding the juice to the cupcake batter.
- Pure vanilla extract- This rounds out all the flavors.
- Buttermilk- This adds additional tang and helps to tenderize the gluten, giving the cake a softer texture. Pull this out of the refrigerator at the the same as the eggs.
- All purpose flour: Use a measure-for-measure gluten free flour blend if you're baking these for someone with gluten sensitivities.
- Sea salt: Kosher salt or pink Himalayan sea salt can be substituted. Add an additional ¼ teaspoon if your salt isn't finely ground.
- Buttermilk: Plain kefir, plain Greek yogurt, or sour cream can be substituted at a 1:1 ratio. You can also make homemade buttermilk by combining 1 ½ teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar with whole milk.
Helpful Equipment and Tools
Here are some tools that will help you succeed in the kitchen!
- Stand mixer or electric hand mixer
- 12-well muffin tin
- Cupcake liners
- Large cookie scoop to evenly portion the batter.
- Piping bags or a Ziploc bag to pipe the frosting on top of the cupcakes.
- I used a Wilton 1M piping tip to pipe rosettes on these cupcakes, but you can use whatever tip you like best.
How to Make Lemon Lavender Cupcakes
Make the Cupcakes
Before you start, zest and juice your lemon and then preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a 12-well muffin pan with cupcakes liners and set aside.
STEP 1: Add the all purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to a large mixing bowl or to the bowl of a stand mixer. Give the ingredients a quick mix with a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low, spinning about 5 times.
STEP 2: Add the softened butter to the mixing bowl. You can cube the butter beforehand or just add in the whole stick. Beat the mixture on low until there are no large clumps of butter and the texture looks sandy.
STEP 3: Turn off the mixer and then add both of the eggs, the lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Mix on low until a batter begins to form.
STEP 4: While the mixer is running on low, slowly pour in the buttermilk and continue mixing until the batter looks cohesive with no lumps or pools of milk.
STEP 5: With a spoon or large cookie scoop, portion the cupcake batter evenly between the 12 liners in your prepared pan. Fill them ¾ of the way full so they don't overflow as they rise! Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes or until the tops bounce back when lightly touched. Remove them from the oven and let them cool to room temperature before decorating!
Make the Frosting
The lavender frosting is quick and easy to make with a hand mixer or stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Check out the full lavender buttercream recipe for detailed instructions, a how-to video, and expert tips and tricks.
STEP 1: Add the softened butter to a large mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl and beat it on medium-high speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix for 5-8 minutes or until it's smooth and creamy.
STEP 2: Mix in the lavender and vanilla extracts on low until well incorporated.
STEP 3: Start mixing the powdered sugar and salt in on low speed until roughly combined. Increase the speed to high and mix for 3-4 minutes or until the buttercream looks light and fluffy.
STEP 4: Mix in 1 tablespoon of heavy cream at a time until the desired consistency is reached. When you lift up your mixer, the buttercream should form a stiff peak with a curl on the end. If the frosting looks too thick, add more cream. If it looks too thin, mix in 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar at a time until it thickens up.
Once the consistency is right, stir in a few drops of purple food coloring if desired.
Frost the cupcakes
Once the cupcakes have cooled to room temperature, fill a piping bag or Ziploc bag fitted with a piping tip with frosting. Then, pipe 2 swirls of frosting on each cupcake. Sprinkle with sanding sugar and dried culinary (edible) lavender flowers and enjoy!
Expert Baking Tips
- Use room temperature ingredients. Cold dairy ingredients don't get mixed in evenly and can make the batter curdled and lumpy.
- Measure flour correctly. The best way to measure flour is with a kitchen scale. If you don't have one, gently spoon flour into the measuring cup (don't pack it in!) and swipe the excess back into the bag with a butter knife.
- Don't overfill the liners. Filling each cupcake liner ¾ of the way full leaves plenty of room for the cupcakes to rise without spilling over.
- Let the cupcakes cool. Make sure the cupcakes have cooled to room temperature before frosting. Transfer them from the muffin pan to a wire rack after 5 minutes- no longer! Leaving them in the tin longer can cause condensation to form inside the wrappers, making the cupcakes soggy.
Additions and Variations
- Frosting: Try leaving out the lavender and frosting the lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, vanilla buttercream, or lemon buttercream.
- Toppings: I love adding fresh blueberries or strawberry slices on top for extra color. Try adding a drizzle of lemon curd for an extra tart flavor! You could even core out the middle of the cupcakes after they've come to room temperature and fill them with a tablespoon of lemon curd. Yum!
Storage and Freezing
Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Store them in the refrigerator for an additional 3 days after that.
If the cupcakes are frosted, store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Let them thaw on the counter for 2 hours before eating.
Leftover frosting can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Let it come to room temperature before decorating the "bald" leftover cupcakes.
Make sure the cupcakes don't have frosting on them before freezing since they'll get soggy when thawed. Freeze them on a baking sheet for 2 hours our until frozen solid. Then, transfer them to a freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to enjoy, remove the cupcakes from the freezer and let them thaw at room temperature for two hours or in the refrigerator overnight. Frost before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can! Use a measure-for-measure gluten free all purpose flour blend. Make sure the flour you choose contains xanthan gum included in the ingredient list to help hold everything together. I've tested these cupcakes with regular and gluten free all purpose flour and there isn't a significant difference!
I highly recommend using fresh lemon juice instead of the bottled stuff from the store.
Yes you can! Follow the instructions on your bottle of lavender paste for how to substitute it for extract.
More Cupcake Recipes to Try
Lemon Lavender Cupcakes
- 1 mixer electric hand mixer or stand mixer
- 1 large mixing bowl
- 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour 150g
- ¾ cup granulated sugar 150g
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter 113g, softened
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 3 tablespoon lemon juice 40g
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup buttermilk 113g, room temperature
Lavender Buttercream Frosting
- ½ cup unsalted butter 113g, softened
- 2 teaspoon lavender extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar 240g
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1-2 tablespoon heavy cream
- Purple food coloring optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside.
- Add the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and butter to a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Use a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to beat the mixture together until the butter has completely combined with the dry ingredients and no lumps remain. The texture will look sandy.1 ¼ cup all purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon sea salt, ¾ cup granulated sugar, ½ cup unsalted butter
- Add in the eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and buttermilk. Mix the ingredients together on low until a homogenous batter forms.2 large eggs, 1 tablespoon lemon zest, 3 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ cup buttermilk
- Using a 3 tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop the batter into the muffin liners. Fill them each ¾ of the way full. Transfer to the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with moist crumbs, never wet batter.
- Remove the cupcakes from the oven. Allow them to cool to room temperature before frosting them.
Lavender Buttercream Frosting
- In a the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed for 5-8 minutes until light and fluffy.½ cup unsalted butter
- Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then mix in the lavender and vanilla extracts on low.2 teaspoon lavender extract, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Mix in the powdered sugar and salt on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to high and mix for 3-4 minutes or until the buttercream looks light and fluffy.2 cups powdered sugar, ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Mix in the heavy cream on low 1 tablespoon at a time until the buttercream reaches your preferred consistency. Then, mix in a few drops of purple food coloring if desired.1-2 tablespoon heavy cream, Purple food coloring
- Fill a piping bag with a large tip with the lavender buttercream. Pipe two swirls on top of each cupcake. Sprinkle sugar and culinary lavender buds on top and enjoy!
- Bring the butter, buttermilk, and eggs to room temperature. Room temperature ingredients mix more evenly.
- Measure the flour with a kitchen scale for accurate weight. If you don't have one, gently spoon the flour into the measuring cup without packing it down.
Looks delightful! And for the record, I love cake with a little density. If I'm going to splurge, I'd rather have cake than air! Looking forward to trying this.
Hey Lorinda! Thank you so much!
These look delicious! My husband and I are starting to suspect he has a serious gluten intolerance, maybe even celiac, but he has such a sweet tooth and I don't know any GF dessert recipes yet. We'll have to try this one!
Thanks Megan! I hope you like them if you try!