Maybe it’s you, a friend, or a family member, but everyone has a certified lemon-lover in their life. Made with 100% real lemon, these moist gluten-free lemon cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting are the perfect dessert for all lemon affectionate aficionados.
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Why You’ll Love These Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Lemon Cupcakes
Fluffy, sweet, zesty, and tangy. These gluten-free lemon cupcakes are all that and more. Topped with a light whipped lemon cream cheese buttercream frosting, these celiac-friendly and dairy-free cupcakes are the loveliest lemon celebration sweet treat for any and every occasion.
First of all, did I mention that you only need one bowl and a whisk for the batter? Secondly, the recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled. In quick conclusion, and plain as day to see, this is the best and only lemon cupcake recipe you need.
Easy Lemon Cupcake Ingredients
As always this recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free. With that said, I do test each recipe with “regular” ingredients and make notes of alternatives or swaps so that everyone can enjoy it.
**Make sure you go to the bottom recipe card for the entire list of ingredients needed.
Flour: I used Kinnikinnick Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour for these cupcakes. This can also be swapped for regular cake flour if you are not gluten-free.
Sour Cream: This can be swapped for dairy-free plain yogurt. You can also use regular sour cream or yogurt if you are not dairy-free. The higher the fat content the better!
Milk: I love to bake with unsweetened almond milk but this recipe will work with any type of dairy-free or dairy-full milk. Like above, the higher the fat content the better.
Oil: Use canola or vegetable oil for best results.
Eggs: A liquid egg replacer such as Just Egg, aquafaba, or applesauce can be used to replace the eggs if vegan. Note that the cupcake texture will change.
Lemon Juice & Zest: Freshly squeezed lemon juice and zest is best. You could use bottled lemon juice if need be but I do not recommend dried lemon zest. It’s far too bitter.
Butter: A must for buttery yummy frosting. I used President’s Choice plant-based butter alternative. Feel free to swap regular salted butter if you are not dairy or lactose-free.
Cream Cheese: Again, as this is written dairy-free, I used Violife plant-based cream cheese. Feel free to swap in regular full-fat cream cheese, the brick kind, in place.
How To Make Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Lemon Cupcakes
As shocking as it may seem, gluten-free and dairy-free cupcakes are just as easy to make as their “regular” counterparts. In fact, the batter only requires a large mixing bowl and a whisk. Here’s how:
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line two cupcake trays with cupcake liners.
Step 2: Combine the granulated sugar and lemon zest into a large mixing bowl and with a spatula or clean hands, begin to mix together firmly. This allows the lemon oil found in the zest to release and deepen in flavor.
Step 3: Pour all the wet ingredients into the bowl and whisk together until fully combined.
Step 4: Add in dry ingredients and again, whisk together until just combined.
Step 5: Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners and bake. Allow the cupcakes to fully cool while you prepare the frosting.
Step 6: Cream the butter, cream cheese, and lemon zest with an electric or stand mixer until light and fluffy.
Step 7: Add the icing sugar, salt, and lemon juice to the creamed butter and mix until combined, fluffy, and delicious.
Step 8: Decorate the fully cooled cupcakes.
Step 9: The best part: devour them!
Lemon Cupcake Options & Variations
A luscious lemon cupcake, in my humble opinion, is hard to beat. If, however, you are looking for a fun flavorful twist on this cupcake staple here are a few different ideas:
Add A Filling: Jam, jelly, pudding, and/or ganache are all delicious filling options. Maybe give this raspberry filling a shot from my lemon raspberry layer cake recipe.
Frosting Flavors: Try topping the cupcakes with a different frosting flavor. I bet this strawberry buttercream would be phenomenal! So would classic vanilla frosting as found in my vanilla cupcake recipe.
Fresh Blueberries: You could add some fresh blueberries to the cupcake batter for a next-level lemon blueberry cupcake. I show you how to add berries to this lemon blueberry cake recipe.
Cupcake Tips & Tricks
Tip 1: Don’t overfill the cupcake liners. I use a 3-tablespoon cookie scoop to measure the batter into each cupcake liner. This helps keep them uniform and prevents me from overfilling. You want each liner approximately ⅔ to ¾ full.
Tip 2: Always make sure the cupcakes are fully cooled before frosting and decorating. Even if just a tad bit warm, the frosting will fall right off. Whomp whomp.
Tip 3: Room temperature ingredients, as noted in the recipe card, aren’t just a suggestion. By helping the cupcake batter fully mix and combine evenly, room temperature ingredients will help prevent over-mixing and gummy cupcake texture.
Tip 4: Vegan cream cheese buttercream is quite soft in nature. Even more so with the addition of lemon juice. Allow the frosting to chill for at least 30 minutes before using it to decorate the cupcakes. This will give the buttercream more structure to pipe with.
Common Cupcake FAQs
How Do I Store Gluten-Free Cupcakes?
These cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Note that as each day passes, the cupcakes will further dry out. Allow the cupcakes 20-30 minutes to sit at room temperature for the frosting to soften back up a bit before serving.
Can I Freeze Them?
Yes, you absolutely can bake and freeze the undecorated or decorated cupcakes in advance. Remove them from the freezer the night before and allow the cupcakes to slowly thaw overnight in the fridge. And like above, I recommend allowing the cupcakes to sit at room temperature for 20-30 before serving to help soften the frosting.
Can I Double The Recipe?
Double it, triple it, whatever. You’ll find this recipe translates beautifully into larger quantities. However, I do advise baking cupcake trays one at a time in the oven to ensure even baking. If you want to bake a double batch, which will give you 4 dozen vanilla cupcakes, I highly recommend using this large cupcake pan.
Can I Halve The Recipe For 12 Cupcakes?
Need only a dozen cupcakes? No problem! All the measurements can easily be halved except the eggs. Since 3 eggs are hard to divide equally, use 2 eggs and you’ll be good to go. Pinky promise.
Can These Be Made Vegan?
Yes, these easy lemon cupcakes can be made vegan. Swap the eggs with a liquid egg replacer such as Just Egg or aquafaba. Not that this will change the cupcake texture.
The Best Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Lemon Cupcakes
Bring on summer! These easy and delicious gluten-free dairy-free lemon cupcakes will have you and every lemon-lover in your life, whether they are gluten and dairy-free or not, enjoying a bright and fresh lemon citrus sweet treat.
I’d love to hear if you make these easy one-bowl lemon cupcakes. If you do, tag me on social media @cakedbykatie and leave the recipe a rating and review below.
More Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Cupcakes
Need an allergy-friendly dessert to bring or share at the next festive occasion? I’ve got you covered:
- Sangria Cupcakes (GF & DF)
- Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes ( GF & DF)
- Peach Rose Cupcakes (GF & DF)
- Vanilla Cupcakes (GF & DF)
- Honey Pumpkin Cupcakes (GF & DF)
- Honey Lavender Cupcakes (GF & DF)
- Eggnog Cupcakes (GF & V)
Gluten-Free Lemon Cupcakes (Dairy-Free)
- Total Time: 60 Minutes
- Yield: 24 Cupcakes 1x
- Diet: Gluten Free
A burst of summer citrus, these easy gluten-free lemon cupcakes are topped with the most amazing lemon cream cheese frosting.
- 2 ½ (400g) cups gluten-free 1:1 flour blend *check to see if it contains xanthan gum
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum *omit if the gluten-free flour blend contains it or if using regular flour
- 1 ½ cups (300g) granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup (160g) dairy-free sour cream or plain yogurt, room temperature
- ½ cup (118ml) canola or vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs, room temperature *can sub for liquid egg replacer for vegan
- ½ cup (118ml) lemon juice
- ¼ cup (59ml) dairy-free milk, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest *approx 2 lemons worth
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream
- 1 cup (227g) salted dairy-free butter, cold
- 1 cup (227g) dairy-free cream cheese, cold
- 6 cups (720g) icing sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- optional: gluten free sprinkles
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare 2 cupcake pans with liners for a total of 24 cupcakes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl combine the sugar and lemon zest and mix on high for 2 minutes.
- Pour in the sour cream, oil, eggs, lemon juice, milk, and vanilla extract and mix on high for 2 minutes.
- Add in the flour, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum (if using) and mix on low until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl when necessary.
- Divide the batter evenly into the prepared cupcake pans. Fill approximately ⅔ – ¾ full and bake for 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes with just a few moist little crumbs.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool in the cupcake pan for 10 minutes and then remove them to a cooling rack to fully cool.
Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter, cream cheese, and lemon zest on high speed until light and fluffy. Approximately 10 minutes.
Add in the icing sugar, lemon juice, and salt and mix on low until combined.
Turn the mixer up to high and let mix for 5 minutes until smooth and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl when necessary. Allow the frosting to chill for 30 minutes before using.
- Fit a piping bag with a Wilton 1M piping tip. Fill the bag with the prepared buttercream.
- On a fully cooled cupcake, start in the center, and with even pressure begin to pipe the frosting in a circular motion moving out and then up. As you move the frosting up to build the swirl slightly twist your wrist to create the ruffle effect if desired. At the top of the swirl, release the pressure and pull off the piping bag.
- Top with sprinkles and enjoy!
- Prep Time: 40 Minutes
- Cook Time: 20 Minutes
- Category: Cake
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: gluten-free lemon cupcakes, lemon cupcakes, dairy-free lemon cupcakes, vegan lemon cupcakes, lemon cupcake recipe
I thoroughly enjoyed the simplicity and adaptability of this delicious recipe
I made them gluten free but used regular butter with complete success
Lots of lemony flavour
Thanks for this one!!! A must try
That is absolutely awesome to hear. Thank you for sharing, Sue!
Super easy recipe to follow. Thansk!
Gotta love a one-bowl cupcake batter!
Can’t use Xanthan Gum, have you ever tried using Psyllium Hush Powder as a substitute? Any suggestions??
What gluten-free baking blend are you using? Most will contain something as a binder and you can simply omit the xanthan. Guar gum would work too.
will this recipe work as a layer cake?
I have not personally tried it but in theory, yes. I have an amazing lemon blueberry cake recipe that I bet you’d love.