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)
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…
HERE’S WHAT GOES INTO OUR LEMON CUPCAKES:
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 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!
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.
- 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!)
OUR FAVORITE 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.
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:
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
TOOLS & INGREDIENTS WE RECOMMEND FOR OUR GLUTEN-FREE LEMON CUPCAKES: