These Vegan Lemon Cupcakes are bursting with flavor! Perfectly soft and moist lemon cupcakes are topped with a vegan lemon buttercream frosting. Best of all, they are easy to make in just 1 bowl!

straight on photo of 3 vegan lemon cupcakes

Of all the many flavors of dessert out there, lemon has become my absolute favorite. Of course, there are times when nothing but chocolate will satisfy (I’m looking at you Vegan Brownies or Chocolate Cake), but most of the time I would choose a lemony dessert.

I am so excited to share this recipe for vegan lemon cupcakes with you! Not only are they bursting with sunshine lemon flavor, they are also incredibly EASY to make in just 1 bowl. They have just the right amount of “tang” for a lemon cupcake, and are perfectly sweet and moist. This recipe makes about 18 cupcakes, so feel free to cut the ingredients in half or double if you’re planning a party!

straight on photo of 3 vegan lemon cupcakes

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What provides the lemon flavor for vegan lemon cupcakes?

A few things contribute to the lemony-ness of these cupcakes. First, freshly grated lemon zest. I highly recommend getting an inexpensive but handy Zester/Grater so you can easily have fresh lemon zest anytime you want without a struggle. Lemon zest is basically finely grated peel of a lemon, and it adds so much wonderful fresh lemon flavor to food!

There is also a bit of lemon extract in the cupcakes, and lemon juice in the frosting, as well as more zest!

close up looking down on a vegan lemon cupcake.

Want more Vegan Lemon Dessert recipes? Try one of these:

bite taken out of vegan lemon cupcake

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straight on photo of 3 vegan lemon cupcakes
4.74 stars (45 ratings)

1 Bowl Vegan Lemon Cupcakes

These Vegan Lemon Cupcakes are bursting with flavor! Perfectly soft and moist lemon cupcakes are topped with a vegan lemon buttercream frosting. Best of all, they are easy to make in just 1 bowl!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 22 minutes
Total: 32 minutes
Servings: 18 cupcakes


Lemon Cupcakes:

Lemon Buttercream Frosting:

  • 1 cup vegan butter softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 tablespoons soy milk


For the Cupcakes:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a standard muffin pan with paper liners. Spray the cups lightly with oil to help the cupcakes come out easily.
  • In a measuring cup, combine the soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Let sit a few minutes until it curdles (this is your vegan buttermilk).
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened vegan butter and sugar with a hand mixer (or stand mixer) until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add the lemon zest, lemon extract and vanilla and beat to combine.
  • With the mixer on low speed, add in the soy milk/vinegar mixture and mix for 30 seconds.
  • Now add the flour, then sprinkle the baking powder and salt on top of the flour. Mix on low speed until well combined, scraping the sides as needed with a spatula.
  • Fill the liners 3/4 full and bake for 20-24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and they are lightly golden on top. Let them cool completely before frosting.

For the Lemon Buttercream Frosting:

  • Wipe out the bowl you used for the cupcakes and rinse the beaters from your mixer. Beat the vegan butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in 2 cups of the powdered sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. Beat on low, then switch to medium speed and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Now add in the remaining 2 cups of powered sugar and mix. If the frosting seems too thick, add a tablespoon at a time of soy milk. If the frosting gets too thin, add a little more powdered sugar until a spreadable, thick frosting consistency is reached.
  • Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes or simply spread it on with a butter knife. 


  1. May substitute almond, coconut or hemp milk for the soy if desired. I think soy milk makes the best vegan buttermilk though.
  2. For the cupcakes, softened coconut oil could be substituted for the vegan butter, but it won't work in the frosting. You really need vegan butter for the buttercream frosting.
  3. May also be frosted with my Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting if desired.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 360kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 198mg | Potassium: 119mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 43g | Vitamin A: 800IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!


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  1. These taste amazing. I used the absolute wrong baking cups and it turned out a disaster to get these out but that’s entirely on me. Your recipe is awesome and I can’t wait to make them properly. (I mean, they’re still good being dug out with a spoon! Haha)

    1. LOL! I’m thrilled that you loved the cupcakes! I’m sure the next batch will be perfect! Thanks for your fantastic feedback and review!

  2. These cupcakes look wonderful! I can’t wait to try them. I love the combination of lemon and lavender. Do you think I could add either culinary lavender buds or lavender extract to the frosting? If so, would you have a guess as to how much? Thank you so much for all of your recipes!

    1. Thank you! Yes, you could add some lavender. I’m not exactly sure how much as I haven’t tested it here. I’m so glad you are enjoying my recipes!

      1. So, just in case anyone wants to try it, I added 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of pulverized culinary lavender flowers to the cupcake mix. I also added 1 teaspoon of lavender extract to the frosting and cut back just a little on the lemon juice. These cupcakes were absolutely delicious and came out so pretty with light purple frosting! So perfect for the first day of spring! 🧁 🍋 💜 Thank you!

        1. Hi Kendra. Thanks for taking time to share your wonderful feedback and great ideas! Your cupcakes sound beautiful and delicious! I’m thrilled they turned out great for you!

    1. I’m sure you can, although I haven’t tried it! Just be careful when freezing so the icing isn’t smushed in the freezer 🙂

  3. Favorite cupcake recipe ever!!! I sometimes add blueberries to the cupcakes (just poke a few down into the batter, once in the cupcake tin and ready to bake)… and sometimes, I only add them on top of the frosting as a very pretty and delicious decoration 🙂

    1. I prefer to store mine in the refrigerator. I love them cold, and they last a bit longer that way. They can, however, be stored on the counter for a couple of days. Enjoy!

  4. I made these a few years back for a friend’s birthday celebration and everyone LOVED them. Btw, none of these cupcake lovers were vegan (except for me:) We’re celebrating this friend again this year and everyone has requested I make these lemon cupcakes again. Big success Nora! Thanks for this delicious recipe.

    1. That’s fantastic that everyone remembered the cupcakes after so many years! Thank you so much for the wonderful review, Elle!

    1. Yes, you can try using pea milk and coconut sugar instead. A liquid sweetener (agave) likely wouldn’t work as well as granulated sugar. Hope this helps!

  5. I needed major stress relief which baking gives me. Tried these for the first time. Switched it up with a raspberry lemon butter cream frosting and a fresh raspberry with lemon zest sprinkles. Took em to work and no one believed they weren’t vegan. Now they will try to stress me out on purpose.

    1. Hi Marissa. Your frosting sounds delicious! Yum! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback and ideas! I did get your message that you meant to say ‘no one believed they are vegan!’ Thanks again, and happy cooking!

  6. I used creamy oatmilk instead of soy so this might be my problem, but when I made these as cupcakes it was very hard to get the middle to bake, and they didn’t rise at all (which is probably preferable for a double-layer cake). The outside of the cakes was tender and moist, so I think if I adjust the baking temperature to be higher next time this will work out better.

  7. We loved these muffins, the only thing i changed was I used more lemon juice in the icing instead of milk to thin it. It really took some of sweetness out of the sugar. Which we love lemon flavor. Thank you so much. I’m just learning to cook vegan food, so any recipe I find like this I’m thrilled.

  8. Can you make the cupcakes ahead for time and freeze them? I want to make these and vanilla for a graduation party in may. How long can they freeze well and what is the best way to thaw them? 

    1. Hi Vickie. Yes, cupcakes freeze well and they can be kept in the freezer for up to three months. You can thaw them overnight in the refrigerator, or on the counter. If you’ve wrapped them in plastic, unwrap them before thawing. Also, place them on a cooling rack as they thaw to keep the bottoms of the cupcakes dry. Hope this helps!

  9. Delicious and easy! I cut the powdered sugar down to 1 cup because we not a super sweet family. It turned out amazing. May try adding fresh blueberries next time. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Blueberries would be so delicious in these cupcakes! I’m so glad you loved the recipe and thanks for sharing your review and feedback!

  10. These worked really well. I used Doves Farm PLain GF flour and used ground almonds for 1/5th of the flour quantity and it worked perfectly. Thanks!

    1. I haven’t tried it so I’m not sure how it will work. I generally do like that particular gluten free flour though, so hopefully it will work well!

  11. I followed the recipe and made into a double 6 inch layer cake. Doesn’t have the rise of a conventional cake so only 4 stars but has good flavour and has mire if a sponge texture. Make sure you make the buttercream that accompanies the recipe as it is for sure 5 Stars. Made a very lovely birthday cake with a vegan lemon curd filling.

  12. Made this but they were slightly dense (probably due to my oven not the recipe), my friends (non-vegans) loved the cupcakes, especially the icing! i only added about 1 cup of icing sugar as I don’t like things too sweet but overall loved the recipe!!

  13. This cupcake recipe was perfect. By far the best white cake recipe I’ve tried. It had a subtle mellow lemon flavour that paired well with the tangy lemon ermine frosting recipe that I paired it with. I used my stand mixer and becel plant based unsalted stick margarine. The texture was quite light
    With a fine crumb.

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