Mini lemon cupcakes may be cute and small and bite-sized, but they boast BIG lemon flavor! The cupcakes are filled with tangy lemon curd and topped with a swirl of lemon condensed milk buttercream. This easy lemon cupcake recipe is perfect for any season, any occasion. And they are so simple to make!
May we introduce you to the best lemon cupcakes? That’s no exaggeration by any means.
This mini lemon cupcakes recipe checks all the boxes: it’s simple, delicious and an ideal treat for any lemon lover. The cupcakes are ultra moist and tender and the pop of bright lemon curd paired with the creamy lemon buttercream frosting is simply divine!
These little cupcakes are inspired by a few of our favorite lemon desserts. Our Lemon Curd Cake, Lemon Lavender Cake and our Lemon Golden Oreo Cheesecake all strike the perfect balance of sweet and tart, with an irresistible lemon-y pucker. Cute lemon mini cupcakes are the answer when you need all of that deliciousness in the simplicity and serving ease of a cupcake!
Why This Cupcake Recipe Works
The cake is ultra moist and tender. The homemade lemon curd filling adds an additional flavor boost and a fun, complementing texture. And the creamy lemon frosting is light, fluffy, and not overly sweet.
Replacing some of the butter in the cake with oil is key to getting a rich, buttery flavor in the cake that remains tender and light without weighing it down.
Why you’ll love these homemade lemon cupcakes:
- They’re delicious bite-sized treats that are easy to make!
- These mini lemon cakes have an intense lemon flavor that is irresistible.
- Bite-sized and convenient, they are great for special occasions, birthdays, baby showers and fancy dinner parties.
The Ingredients for Mini Lemon Cupcakes
Here’s a look at the basic ingredients you will need to make these mini lemon cupcakes.
For the ingredient amounts, scroll to the bottom of this post to view the printable recipe card.
- Granulated sugar. For the perfect amount of sweetness in the tender cupcakes.
- Sour cream. This adds moisture and light tang to the cupcake. It should be at room temperature.
- Egg. Make sure your egg is at room temperature so it blends well with the rest of the ingredients.
- Butter. Unsalted butter will give the cake a rich, buttery flavor. You will also need it for the lemon buttercream.
- Canola oil. A small amount of oil helps keep the cake extra moist and tender.
- Lemon zest and juice. The zest of one lemon plus a couple tablespoons of fresh lemon juice gives the cake a natural lemon flavor.
- Lemon extract. More extra lemon flavor! You will need it for the cake and the buttercream.
- Dry ingredients. Your baking basics! All-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Lemon curd. You can use store-bought lemon curd or prepare our homemade lemon curd in advance! You will need it for the filling and the buttercream.
- Sweetened condensed milk. This gives the buttercream a lightly sweetened, creamy flavor with the fluffiest texture! Since it’s already sweetened, you won’t need to add any powdered sugar.
- Yellow food coloring. This optional ingredient will give the frosting a yellow hue.
Ingredients for the cupcake batter.
Ingredients for the lemony condensed milk buttercream frosting.
Our Mini Cupcakes Recipe
Here’s a quick overview of the process for these bite-sized lemon drop cupcakes but be sure to view the printable recipe card for all of the details and recipe notes!
For this recipe, you’ll need mini cupcake liners and two mini cupcake pans for a total of 36 mini cupcakes.
In a large bowl, add the sugar, sour cream, egg, melted butter, oil, lemon zest and juice and lemon extract. Whisk the wet ingredients. Sift dry ingredients into the cupcake batter. Use a wide spatula to fold in the flour mixture.
Fill the mini cupcake pan. Each cupcake liner should be about 2/3 full. Bake until done, about 12-16 minutes at 350°F. Transfer the mini cupcakes to a wire rack and cool completely.
Lemon Buttercream Frosting
I love this recipe for the frosting. It is a simple condensed milk buttercream that I flavored with lemon curd and a splash of lemon extract. The isn’t as sweet as American buttercream, and it is much easier to make than Italian meringue buttercream.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter for a few minutes. With the mixer running, slowly add the sweetened condensed milk, about 1/4 of it at a time.
Add the lemon curd, lemon extract and optional food coloring. Beat well to combine. You can add lemon zest for more lemony zing, but it will leave flecks in the frosting.
Fill a piping bag with 1/2 cup lemon curd. Plunge the tip straight down into each mini cupcake and gently squeeze until the cupcake bulges slightly.
Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag and swirl it over the top of each cupcake.
Tips for Success
- When making the lemon condensed milk buttercream, use butter that is slightly cool- not too warm. The ideal temperature is 64°F to 66°F. It should be soft enough to make an indent if you press it with your finger. If the butter is too warm, it will not hold an emulsion for the buttercream.
- If the buttercream frosting breaks (it looks curdled or separated), place it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. Re-whip it after it chills. You can also whip 1/4 cup butter in a separate bowl, then slowly add the broken buttercream. Both of these techniques work to fix the emulsion.
- Store leftover cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature (in a cool place) for up to four days. You can also store these in the refrigerator.
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? More Recipes You Will Love:
- Lemon Ricotta Cake is rich and tender with a lovely lemon flavor and a moist crumb. It’s like a combination of cheesecake and butter cake- it’s creamy and rich yet incredibly light.
- This Creamy Whole Lemon Tart has an incredible texture and flavor! The soft lemon custard bakes in a sweet shortbread pastry. The filling is made in the blender and features whole lemon for a bold lemon flavor.
- This recipe for Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes is must-try! The velvety texture, tender crumb, and delicious cream cheese frosting is a classic combination that is simple to make at home.
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- ⅔ cup granulated sugar (135 grams)
- ⅔ cup sour cream, room temperature (152 grams)
- 1 egg, room temperature
- ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon lemon extract
- 1-½ cups all-purpose flour (180 grams)
- 1-½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup lemon curd (store-bought or homemade
- 1-¼ cups butter, slightly softened (284 grams)
- 1 can (14 ounces) of sweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup lemon curd (store-bought or homemade)
- ½ teaspoon lemon extract
- 2 to 4 drops of yellow food coloring (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and place 36 mini cupcake liners in 2 mini cupcake pans.
- Place the sugar, sour cream, egg, melted butter, oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon extract in a mixing bowl. Whisk until well combined.
- Place a sifter over the bowl and sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the batter.
- Use a wide spatula to fold the flour mixture into the batter.
- Fill each cupcake liner ⅔ full and bake for 12 to 16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
- Transfer the mini cupcakes to a wire rack and let them cool completely before filling and frosting them.
Fill the Cupcakes
- Fit a decorating bag with a round tip (I used a #12 tip) and fill it with ½ cup of lemon curd. Plunge the tip straight down into each mini cupcake and gently squeeze the bag. When you see the cupcake bulge and some of the lemon curd starts to swell out of the cupcakes, stop squeezing.
Make the Lemon Curd Buttercream
- Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat it with an electric mixer for 6 to 8 minutes until it is very pale yellow and fluffy (a whisk attachment works best to aerate the butter). Stop the mixer a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- With the mixer running, slowly add the sweetened condensed milk ¼ of the can at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl between each addition. Make sure you add the condensed milk slowly so the emulsion doesn’t break.
- Add the lemon curd, lemon extract, and food coloring (if using). Beat well.
- Place the buttercream in a piping bag and swirl it over the top of each cupcake.
- When you make the lemon condensed milk buttercream, the butter should be slightly cool but soft enough to make an indent if you press down with your finger. If the butter gets too warm, it will not hold an emulsion for the buttercream. An ideal temperature for the butter is 64°F to 66°F.
- If the condensed milk buttercream breaks (looks curdled or separated), place it in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes, then re-whip it when it chills. Alternatively, whip ¼ cup of butter in a separate bowl then slowly add the broken buttercream.