Easy Lemon Cupcakes Recipe

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These Easy Lemon Cupcakes may start with a box, but they get zing and zip from yogurt and lemon added to the mix. They are simple and delicious!

Easy Lemon Cupcakes | Life as Mom

I confess. I’m not the best plain from-scratch cake baker. I can do carrot cake and zucchini cake and banana cake like nobody’s business. Even pumpkin cake. But cakes that don’t have added fruit or veg in them. Somehow that’s hard for me.

I’m hoping to reform my ways soon, now that I have this book, but in the meantime, my family prefers it when I buy a box. True story.

I call it cake cheating.

But, over the years, I’ve realized that doctoring up a cake mix makes me feel a little better. I can add butter, yogurt, sour cream, and extra flavorings to elevate a regular old cake mix and feel like I’m putting a little more effort into the experience.

These Easy Lemon Cupcakes may start with a box, but they get all dressed up with yogurt and lemon zest. Take them over the top with some of this Lemon Buttercream Frosting. Yum!

Easy Lemon Cupcakes | Life as Mom

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

We are almost on the eve of the FishMama Trifecta. Mother’s Day, our anniversary and my birthday, fall in a 19-day period this year, with a kid birthday in the middle of it. June brings two more kid birthdays and Father’s Day, so you can imagine that we’ll be eating a fair amount of cake!

Our May Birthday Boy has already requested these easy lemon cupcakes — baked into cake form. If you want to do the same, just adjust the baking time, according to the directions on your cake mix.

These tools make this recipe EASY:

 Easy Lemon Cupcakes

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Easy Lemon Cupcakes
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins
These Easy Lemon Cupcakes may start with a box, but they get zing and zip from yogurt and lemon added to the mix. They are simple and delicious!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: lemon buttercream, lemon cupcakes
Servings: 24 cupcakes
Calories: 148 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup plain non-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1-2 batches Lemon Buttercream Frosting optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °. Line 2 muffin pans with cupcake papers.
  2. Combine the cake mix, yogurt, water, oil, eggs, and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. Blend 2 minutes with an electric mixer until smooth.
  3. Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake papers. Bake according to package directions. Cool completely on a rack.
  4. Frost cooled cupcakes with lemon buttercream, if desired.
Recipe Notes

Store cooled cupcakes, unfrosted, covered at room temperature for up to 2 days. Frosted cupcakes should be stored in the fridge - bring back to room temperature before serving

Nutrition Facts
Easy Lemon Cupcakes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 148 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 20mg7%
Sodium 158mg7%
Potassium 27mg1%
Carbohydrates 22g7%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 30IU1%
Calcium 51mg5%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


Make these cupcakes extra fun with these Mother’s Day Cake Toppers!

Easy Lemon Cupcakes | Life as Mom

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Jennifer says

    I doctor cake mixes too. Have just never put the effort into making good “from scratch” cakes. It is an entirely different skill than muffin/quick breads, yeast breads, etc. My compromise is making the icing. That fluffy old fashioned flour frosting that acts like whipped cream, or the cooked fudge icing. Come to think of it, neither of those use powdered sugar. Small children and a house outside of town may have influenced my tastes : ) One of my favorites is the deep dark fudgy cooked icing that starts like pudding. Yum… I may need to bake something.

    • Diana says

      Are you talking about that frosting where you cook milk and flour and beat butter (and some other things) into it? That stuff is amazing on a chocolate cake! We call it “whipped cream icing” and it’s the regular pick for birthday cakes in my mom’s house 🙂 I’ve never met anyone else who has had that recipe! And your cooked icing that starts like pudding sounds incredible too.

      • Jennifer says

        That is the one! My grandma shared the recipe a long time ago. Her mom used it to top carrot cake. It is the official birthday cake topping. The chocolate pudding-y icing is its polar opposite in a lot of ways, but it is another one that isn’t TOO terribly sweet and doesn’t need powdered sugar. http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/glossyfrosting.htm

        • Diana says

          OH. MY. I have to make that, and soon 🙂 Thanks for sharing! Sounds so easy and I love that it goes on a warm cake too. Yum.

          Funny–my grandma shared it with my mom (it must be a previous generation thing?), and her recipe included the instructions to “cream good.” Now we always joke, “Did you cream it good enough?!”

    • I recently read an article about the different kinds of buttercream. I’m thinking yours falls under “ermine frosting” http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/12/buttercreams-frosting-how-to-make-the-best-buttercream-icing-cupcakes-swiss-buttercream-italian-german-styles.html

  2. Diana says

    The only cake I can do from scratch is the Wacky Cake (it goes by a million names) that is basically a glorified muffin. It uses baking soda and vinegar as the leavener and oil for the fat, so there’s no creaming or folding in egg whites.

    It turns out the best if I used bleached flour (I KNOW! but the protein content is actually less (or something) so it doesn’t bake up as tough. look it up. cake flour would be even better.) and put the flour and cocoa through a fine mesh strainer (in lieu of a sifter). Then you just stir in the sugar, poke holes for the liquids, and stir it up. It’s perfect for people with dairy and egg sensitivities too 🙂

    Your lemon cake sounds just perfect for spring! I bet the yogurt makes it especially refreshing 🙂

  3. Amber says

    Would full fat yogurt work in this recipe?

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