Print Options:

Lively Lemon Cupcakes



Part cupcake, part muffin, these Lively Lemony Cupcakes are moist and sweet, laced with a tangy lemon taste. For convenience, I sometimes use a ready-made vegan frosting, but if you have extra time you can top these tasty treats Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting.

Makes 12 Cupcakes



Zest from 2 large lemons
1¼ cups nondairy milk
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1½ lemons)
2 1/3 cups, whole wheat flour, plus more as needed
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup vegan cane sugar
1/4 cup water, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons extra-light olive oil (see note)

2 containers (8 ounces each) vegan cream cheese
1/4 cup vegan margarine
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegan confectioner’s (powdered) sugar


To make the frosting, put the vegan cream cheese, margarine and vanilla extract into a small bowl and stir briskly with a fork until smooth and thoroughly combined. Stir in the vegan powdered sugar and
mix until incorporated and smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours before using.


Meanwhile, make the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a twelve-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners.

Put the nondairy milk and lemon juice into a bowl or pitcher and stir to combine. Let the mixture stand for 7 to 10 minutes, while preparing the rest of the cupcake batter. (It will curdle to make “vegan buttermilk.”)

Put the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl and stir with a dry whisk to combine. Add the sugar and stir with the whisk to combine. Stir in the water, olive oil, and the “vegan buttermilk.” Fold in 1 1/2 teaspoons of the lemon zest.


If the batter seems overly wet, stir in a bit more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is moist, but not runny. Alternately, if the batter seems overly dry, stir in a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is moist.

Mound the mixture into the lined cups. Bake for 25 minutes, or until set and a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Put the tin on a wire rack. Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes and put on a wire rack. Cool the cupcakes completely (at least 1 hour) before frosting them.


Spoon the frosting into a piping bag that has been fitted with a star tip. Pipe a generous amount of frosting on top of each cupcake. (Alternately, spoon some frosting or whipped topping on top of each cupcake and spread in an even layer with an offset spatula). Garnish each cupcake with some of the remaining lemon zest.

Serve immediately, or put the cupcakes in a tightly covered container and refrigerate. For best taste, remove the cupcakes from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving.


Chef’s Note: If desired, you may use extra-virgin olive oil in place of the light olive oil, but the cake will be slightly denser, in texture.