Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes

Fluffy and flavorful homemade lemon buttermilk cupcakes, with perfectly domed tops ideal for piling high with frosting.

Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes via forkknifeswoon.com | @forkknifeswoon

Happy 4th of July!!

How are you celebrating? We’re headed to a neighborhood bbq later this afternoon, and I’m bringing these red, white, and blue lemon buttermilk cupcakes along to share.

It’s probably too late for you to bake these cupcakes today (though they’re actually pretty quick and easy), but I figure they’re super yummy and Summer-y regardless of the holiday, and thought I’d leave you with the recipe anyway.

Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes via forkknifeswoon.com | @forkknifeswoon

Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes via forkknifeswoon.com | @forkknifeswoon

Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes via forkknifeswoon.com | @forkknifeswoon

These lemon buttermilk cupcakes begin as a classic white cupcakes, but get a flavorful boost from fresh lemon zest, a generous amount of vanilla, and tangy sour cream and buttermilk.

Thanks to the buttermilk, these tender-crumbed beauties stay fluffy and moist, and emerge from the oven barely golden yellow with gently domed tops – perfect for piping on a generous amount of your favorite frosting. I’m partial to classic cream cheese frosting, which is what I’ve used here.

For the Fourth, I added some fresh raspberries and blueberries, to round out the red, white, and blue theme, but they’re endlessly adaptable, and sprinkles (or simply frosting) would be equally appropriate.

Wishing you a wonderful, delicious holiday celebrating America!!

Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes via forkknifeswoon.com | @forkknifeswoon

Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes via forkknifeswoon.com | @forkknifeswoon

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Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes via forkknifeswoon.com | @forkknifeswoon

Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes



for the lemon vanilla cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 12/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream,¹ room temperature
  • 3 tsp pure vanilla extract

for the cream cheese frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
  • 23 tsp milk or cream, as needed
  • fresh berries, for garnish


for the lemon buttermilk cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in the microwave or in a small sauté pan. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a stand up mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, and lemon zest until combined. Stir in the buttermilk, sour cream, and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined, being careful not to over-mix. Gently fold in the egg whites.
  7. Use a cookie scoop to divide the batter between the prepared muffin tins, filling each just about all the way to the top.
  8. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until the tops are barely golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of each cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes, before transferring to a wire baking rack to cool. Be sure the cupcakes have completely cooled to room-temperature before frosting.

for the cream cheese frosting

  1. In a standup mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held mixer, mix together the softened cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla.
  2. Add the sifted powdered sugar, and continue mixing until completely combined, and no lumps remain. Add milk or more powdered sugar as needed to reach a thick, spreadable consistency.
  3. When the cupcakes have completely cooled, use a piping bag (I used a simple #1 tip here) to pipe on the frosting. Alternatively, use a knife to spread on the frosting. Top with fresh berries or sprinkles, as desired. Enjoy!!


¹ Sour cream made from whole milk (not low fat or fat free) is best for these cupcakes.


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  1. 3.20.18
    Pearse said:

    Laura , quick question is it milk 1/4 c and sour cream 1/4 c

    • 3.20.18
      Laura said:

      Hi Pearse! Sorry if that was confusing – I mean sour cream made from whole milk (not low fat or fat free). So 1/4 cup of that along with 3/4 cup buttermilk. Hope that helps clarify! I’ll make a note in the recipe so that it’s more clear 🙂

  2. 1.8.18
    Aleksia said:

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!!! I LOVE lemon cake and can’t wait to make these. I have made tons of your recipes and enjoyed them all. You’re great!!! Thanks again.

  3. 8.19.17
    Evelyn Bloomhart said:

    I’m not somewhat who usually follows blogs but I stumbled across yours and the pictures pulled me in. I’m definitely going to try a few of these recipes and follow your Instagram as well. Cheers to enjoying the simple pleasures in life like raspberries and baking.

    • 8.19.17
      Evelyn Bloomhart said:

      Correction: not someone who usually follows blogs (couldn’t figure out how to edit my comment above. 🙂

    • 8.29.17
      Laura said:

      Thank you so much, Evelyn!! Your sweet comment made my day! Happy to have you following along 🙂

  4. 7.21.17

    Beautiful like you. I have to try it now. Thank you.

  5. 7.4.17

    these are looking too cute! 😊

Hi! I'm Laura, the food-obsessed cook, writer, and photographer behind Fork Knife Swoon, where you'll find mostly sweet, seasonal recipes and stories from my Northern Virginia kitchen.

All photography and content copyright Laura Bolton ©2021.