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Gluten-Free Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting

Gluten-Free Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting – These light, fluffy gluten-free lemon cupcakes are perfect for any special occasion. You’ll love our fluffy lemon frosting, too! (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Friendly)

Front view of gluten-free lemon cupcakes with lemon frosting, fresh berries, and edible flowers on a white cake stand

Spring is HERE and we’re ready to celebrate!

As is our unofficial tradition, that means we’re bringing in a new lemon recipe! For the past several years, I’ve naturally gravitated toward sunny lemon recipes when spring hits. From glazed cakes to energy bites to poppy seed muffins and more, we LOVE lemon recipes this time of year! They feel light, fresh, and bright–a perfect mirror to the sunny spring weather we’re welcoming in.

Our Gluten-Free Lemon Cake recipe has been one of our most popular recipes, and many of you have asked for a cupcake version. Today, I’m here to deliver with these gluten-free lemon cupcakes with lemon frosting.

Light, fluffy, lusciously lemon cupcakes with velvety lemon frosting on top are a spring dessert you’ll fall HARD for. These lemon lovelies are a perfect gluten-free Easter dessert, but I can also see them at baby showers, birthdays, Mother’s day, 4th of July, and more. (Sophie’s already got her eyes on them for her birthday this year…)

One thing I love about our gluten-free lemon cupcakes is that they’re pretty low-maintenance. There are a few tricks I use to make these babies extra amazing, but there’s no advanced or fancy techniques involved! These easy lemon cupcakes will make you feel like a pro, whether you simply top them with frosting or go all-out on decorating. (It’s SO MUCH easier than you think to make them look amazing!)

Let’s get started on these gorgeous gluten-free lemon cupcakes with lovely lemon frosting…

Front view of gluten-free lemon cupcakes with lemon frosting, fresh berries, and edible flowers on a white background

Here’s What Goes Into Our Lemon Cupcakes Recipe:

FOR THE WET INGREDIENTS:

  • (Almond) Milk + Lemon Juice. You’ll simulate a buttermilk effect (with some bonus lemon flavor!) by combining milk (I like almond) and fresh lemon juice. (I do NOT recommend bottled lemon juice for this recipe.)
  • Lemon Zest + Sugar. For more lemon flavor, you’ll rub lemon zest into the sugar. This might seem silly, but it will help release the lemon essential oil from the zest and infuse it into every grain of sugar. It’s worth taking the extra few seconds to do!
  • Avocado Oil + Eggs. To keep the lemon cupcakes moist and light, I use a mix of avocado oil and eggs. Another neutral-tasting oil can be used as a substitute.
  • Vanilla Extract + Lemon Extract. For flavor, I like using a mix of vanilla and a little lemon extract. The gluten-free lemon cupcakes will have lots of lemon flavor from the lemon juice and zest we’re using, but I do like giving the cake a little more punch, which comes from a good-quality lemon extract.

FOR THE DRY INGREDIENTS:

  • King Arthur Baking Gluten-Free Measure-For-Measure Flour. I prefer this measure-for-measure flour blend for my gluten-free lemon cupcakes because it’ll give you the lightest, fluffiest results without a lot of fuss or weird aftertaste. I *highly* recommend it whenever possible. My second favorite choice is this one. (Just know if you’re not using King Arthur brand, your results will likely vary slightly.)
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda. For plenty of fluffy puff, I use a mix of baking powder and baking soda
  • Salt. A little salt helps balance the flavors of the gluten-free lemon cupcakes beautifully.

A LITTLE LEMON SIMPLE SYURP.

You’ll make a quick lemon simple syrup by dissolving a little sugar in lemon juice and warming it until the sugar dissolves. When the gluten-free lemon cupcakes come out of the oven, you’ll brush them with the syrup while they’re still warm and it will help lock in the moisture so your cupcakes don’t dry out. (It also adds lovely lemon flavor!)

OUR LOVELY LEMON FROSTING.

Then, when the cupcakes are cool, you’ll frost them with our lovely lemon buttercream frosting. It gets fresh flavor from more lemon zest and lemon juice, but has a softer flavor that pairs beautifully with the lemon cupcakes. It’s made from butter or vegan butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, milk (I use almond), vanilla extract, salt, and powdered sugar. Pretty easy!

Front view of a gluten-free lemon cupcake with lemon frosting, fresh berries, and edible flowers on a white background

Make Them Pretty! Here Are A Few Fun Ways To Decorate Lemon Cupcakes:

  • USE A PIPING BAG + TIP. I used a piping bag with a simple open star tip (mine’s tip 2D from this set, but it’s equivalent to a Wilton 2D tip) and simple spiral technique you can see in the video, but you can try one of these cupcake frosting techniques if you want to branch out!
  • SPREAD WITH A SPATULA. If you don’t have a piping bag or if you prefer to frost your gluten-free lemon cupcakes by hand, you can use an offset spatula and this frosting tutorial for pretty, professional-looking cupcakes without a lot of fancy skills!
  • ADD FRESH BERRIES. Fresh berries and lemon are such a beautiful combination. Use a mix of berries (like I did in these photos), or use just one strawberry or half strawberry to make a more subtle impact.
  • USE EDIBLE FLOWERS. Chamomile blossoms (pictured) or other edible flowers can be SO beautiful on a gluten-free lemon cupcake. They feel light, fresh, and spring-y. Look for edible flowers in the fresh herbs section of your grocery store, or opt for other edible blooms in the floral section. I like adding them gently to the cupcakes so they’re easy to remove, if people would rather not eat them.
  • FRESH MINT LEAVES. Fresh mint looks gorgeous! Use a leaf or two on their own, or tuck in with berries, flowers, or…
  • WITH CANDIED LEMON. Fresh lemon slices can be a bit wet and cause your lemon frosting to run, so candied lemon slices work really well instead! Pick them up at a store (Trader Joe’s has them!) or make your own candied lemon slices to use as decoration. So pretty!
  • SPRINKLES. Sprinkles are quick, easy, and fun, especially for a birthday or celebration. Choose pearly white sprinkles like these or these for a more upscale look, or add your favorite colorful sprinkles (like these or these) to add playfulness.
  • PRETTY CUPCAKE WRAPPERS. Probably the easiest way to make your gluten-free lemon cupcakes look cheerful and polished is with fun cupcake wrappers. Try polka dots, fun stripes, or something cheerful like these cupcake kits. (We love the kits for birthdays!)
Overhead view of a gluten-free lemon cupcake with lemon frosting, fresh berries, and edible flowers on a white background

Our Favorite Tools & Gear For Making Gluten-Free Lemon Cupcakes:

  • A MICROPLANE ZESTER. A zester (sometimes called a rasp) will help you get fine, delicate strands of lemon zest. This makes for more even flavor in both the gluten-free lemon cupcakes and the lemon frosting.
  • A LIGHT-COLORED MUFFIN PAN. A good muffin pan will help gluten-free lemon cupcakes (and muffins!) bake more evenly. I prefer light-colored muffin pans because they tend to give a more even, golden brown. Darker pans can sometimes cause darker browning.
  • THE BEST EVER NONSTICK CUPCAKE LINERS. The best non-stick cupcake liners I recommend time and time again are these parchment ones. They’re COMPLETELY nonstick. No more losing half your lemon cupcake to the wrapper! (I hate it when that happens!)
  • A COOKIE SCOOP. A cookie scoop is one of the most versatile tools in the kitchen, and it makes evenly adding batter to muffin cups so much easier. I also use them for measuring cookies, making muffins, sizing meatballs, and even making energy bites!
  • PIPING BAGS OR ZIP-TOP BAGS. If you plan to pipe your frosting, a piping bag or zip-top bag is a must. (If you use a zip-top bag, just snip off one corner to match the size of your piping tip, and you’re good to go!)
  • PIPING TIP. I use a simple open star tip to pipe the lemon frosting onto my gluten-free lemon cupcakes. The 2D from this set or a Wilton 2D is just right! Feel free to use another tip for a different effect.
  • OFFSET SPATULA. If you prefer to spread your lemon frosting, an offset spatula makes this job SO MUCH easier and smoother.
Front view of a gluten-free lemon cupcake with lemon frosting, fresh berries, and edible flowers on a white background

FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Gluten-Free Lemon Cupcakes:

3 Tricks For Zesting Lemons. Lemon zest plays a key role in our gluten-free lemon cupcakes and our lemon frosting. Here are a few tips for zesting your lemons well:

  1. Use a microplane zester. A fine zester or rasp will give you more delicate strands of zest than a peeler or grater. This will help you infuse the lemon cupcakes and lemon frosting better!
  2. Zest the lemons *before* you juice them. It’s SO much easier to zest lemons before you juice them than it is after. I recommend starting with this step if you can for both the frosting and cupcakes.
  3. Avoid the white pith. When zesting a lemon, you only want to get the yellow rind (where all the lovely lemon essential oils are stored). The white layer below, called the pith, is quite bitter and can add an off taste to your baked goods. Try to avoid the pith if you can!

Let The Cupcakes Cool Completely Before Frosting. Don’t be tempted to frost your gluten-free lemon cupcakes before they’ve cooled properly! Frosting the cupcakes while they’re still warm at all will make your frosting melt and run. Not pretty.

How To Store Gluten-Free Lemon Cupcakes. If you have only added frosting + room-temperature decoration (like sprinkles), you can store frosted gluten-free lemon cupcakes in an airtight container or cupcake carrier at room temperature for about 1 day. If you’ve added perishable decorations (like fresh mint, berries, flowers, etc.) I recommend storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2-3 days. (Like many gluten-free cupcakes, they’ll start to dry out a bit faster than traditional baked goods, especially in the refrigerator)

Can I Freeze Gluten-Free Cupcakes? You can! Freeze them in a single layer in an airtight container or bag. Gluten-free cupcakes freeze best when they’re not frosted, but if you’ve only added frosting (no decorations), you can freeze leftover frosted lemon cupcakes for a few weeks.

Our Favorite Gluten-Free Flour For Cupcakes. In our experience this measure-for-measure gluten-free flour blend makes for the lightest, fluffiest gluten-free cupcakes without any gumminess or strange aftertaste. I *highly* recommend it for these gluten-free lemon cupcakes. If you use a different flour blend, your results may be different.

Front view of gluten-free lemon cupcakes with lemon frosting, fresh berries, and edible flowers on a white background

TOOLS & INGREDIENTS WE RECOMMEND FOR OUR GLUTEN-FREE LEMON CUPCAKES:

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Front view of gluten-free lemon cupcakes with lemon frosting, fresh berries, and edible flowers on a white cake stand

Gluten-Free Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting


  • Author: One Lovely Life
  • Total Time: About 1 hour
  • Yield: 12 Cupcakes 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

These light, fluffy lemon cupcakes are lovely for any special occasion! (Dairy-Free Friendly)

Note: you’ll have a generous amount of frosting here (about 2 1/2 cups), which may be more than you need depending on what style decoration you use. The nutrition facts include the full amount of frosting, so the actual nutrition facts are likely less than what is shown below (since you’ll have frosting leftover).


Ingredients

Scale

For Gluten-Free Lemon Cupcakes:

  • 1/2 cup milk (I use unsweetened almond milk)
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice*
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest* (about 2 lemons’ worth)
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil (can sub melted coconut oil, butter or vegan butter)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/41/2 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1 3/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour baking blend (we recommend King Arthur Flour Measure-For-Measure)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the Lemon Simple Syrup:

  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

For the Lemon Frosting:

  • 1 cup (8 oz.) butter or vegan butter, softened to room temperature (not melted)
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon zest*
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch salt (less than 1/8 tsp.)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice*
  • 2 Tbsp. milk (I use unsweetened almond milk)
  • 33 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Optional decoration: fresh berries, edible flowers, fresh mint, candied lemon slices, sprinkles, etc.


Instructions

For Gluten-Free Lemon Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with paper muffin cups.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup (or a small bowl), combine lemon juice and milk. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
  3. While the lemon juice and milk is sitting, rub lemon zest into the sugar in a large bowl. (This gets the lemon oil into the sugar and distributes the flavor.)
  4. Add milk mixture, avocado oil, eggs, vanilla, and lemon extract to the sugar mixture. Whisk until well combined.
  5. In a medium bowl, stir together flour blend, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  6. Scoop the batter into your muffin cups, filling almost to the top.
  7. Bake cupcakes 17-20 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, with just a few moist crumbs.
  8. Brush the cupcakes with your lemon syrup (see below) and cool completely before frosting.

For the Lemon Simple Syrup:

  1. While the cupcakes are baking, make your lemon simple syrup. In a small bowl, combine sugar and lemon juice. Warm in the microwave 20-30 seconds and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. (You can do this in a saucepan on the stove, if you prefer)
  2. When the cupcakes come out of the oven and are still warm, brush the syrup over the cupcakes.
  3. Transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack and cool cupcakes completely before frosting.

For the Lemon Frosting:

  1. When the cupcakes are completely cool, make your lemon frosting.
  2. In a large bowl (or in a stand mixer), beat the softened butter 1-2 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  3. Add lemon zest, vanilla, salt, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp. milk and beat to combine.
  4. Add 1 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar and beat to mix in.
  5. Add another 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp. milk and beat until light, fluffy, and well incorporated.
  6. If your frosting still seems a bit wet or seems slightly separated, add more powdered sugar 1 Tbsp. at a time until it reaches a better consistency.
  7. If your frosting seems a bit dry, you can add more milk or lemon juice 1 tsp. at a time until it’s thinned out to a better consistency.
  8. Transfer frosting to a piping bag (you may need to this with 1/2 the frosting at a time), and pipe onto your cooled cupcakes or spread the frosting on with an offset spatula.
  9. Add any desired decorations while the frosting is still soft and enjoy!
  10. Note: you’ll have a generous amount of frosting here (about 2 1/2 cups), which may be more than you need depending on what style decoration you use.

Notes

*Pro tip: Zest your lemons FIRST, then juice them.

Storage notes: If you’ve added non-perishable decorations (like sprinkles) the cupcakes can stay at room temperature up to 24 hours. If you’ve added perishable decorations (like fresh berries, mint, flowers, etc.), the cupcakes can stay out at room temperature for up to 2 hours, and then need to be refrigerated.

Try 14. These cupcakes are definitely on the big side, so if you like, you can divide the batter among 14 muffin cups instead of 12 and fill them all about 3/4 full. There will be plenty of icing to make 14 cupcakes.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Amercan

Keywords: gluten-free lemon cupcakes, gluten free lemon cupcakes, lemon cupcakes, lemon frosting, lemon buttercream, dairy-free lemon frosting, dairy-free lemon buttercream

4 Comments

  1. Great recipe. I changed it to canola oil instead of avocado oil and I let batter rest 30 minutes. Next time I will cut back a few minutes on the cooking time. They are a bit dry.

  2. This is a keeper! Not only are the directions fantastic but the cupcakes were amazing! Sometimes when I look at a recipe with do many steps, I save it but never wind up using it. I’m busy and tired most days, but I made this one because it looked so fun. I used Bob’s Red Mills 1:1 GF flour and canola, as it was all I had. It was delicious, lemony, spongy and didn’t taste GF. Did I mention beautiful? I will be making these for a wedding reception. Thank you for sharing.

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