Cupcakes are a no-brainer for springtime parties, holidays and celebration dinners, especially when they’re as gorgeous as these lemon cupcakes with strawberry frosting.

Light, moist, citrus-infused cake is topped with a creamy pink buttercream that tastes of distilled strawberries. The secret? We use fresh lemon zest and juice to flavor the cakes, and freeze-dried berries to give the sweet frosting a deep strawberry flavor and naturally rosy color.

Our tender lemon cupcakes would satisfy any citrus lover, but if you wanted to mix it up, they’d be great with lime or orange zest, too. You could also try Meyer lemon instead of a regular lemon, but you might want to serve them with a simple sprinkling of demerara sugar, as the slightly more delicate, floral notes could get overwhelmed by the strawberry.

We make our fluffy strawberry buttercream with freeze-dried strawberries, which you can find in most supermarkets, often near the nuts. We love the idea of adding real berry flavor while also naturally dyeing the frosting.


For Lemon Cupcakes

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

3/4 c. granulated sugar

6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temp

1 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest plus 2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/2 c. whole milk

For Strawberry Buttercream

1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp

6 oz. confectioners' sugar

2 tbsp. heavy cream, at room temp

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/8 tsp. kosher salt

3/4 c. freeze dried strawberries, finely crushed, plus more for sprinkling


Make the cupcakes

Heat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time.

Reduce mixer speed to low and alternately add flour mixture and milk, mixing just until incorporated. Divide batter among muffin-pan cups (filling about 2/3 full). Bake until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the buttercream

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl 2 minutes. Add cream, vanilla, and salt and continue beating for 1 minute. Fold in crushed strawberries.

Frost cupcakes

Transfer Strawberry Buttercream to a resealable plastic bag and snip off one corner.

Pipe mounds of frosting on top of fully cooled cupcakes, then sprinkle with additional crushed strawberries, if desired.

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