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Vegan Lemon Cupcakes

These vegan lemon cupcakes are the perfect mix of sweet, zingy and fluffy. Topped with lemon buttercream frosting, they’re the perfect Spring treat.

close up of a lemon cupcake with frosting on top

I don’t know about you but I feel like Spring is in the air!

I’ve strangely been seeing sunshine in Scotland, the birds singing outside have been waking me up super early in the mornings, the evenings are getting lighter and everywhere smells like freshly cut grass.

It’s one of my favourite times of the whole year!

Since my vegan lemon drizzle cake was (and still is) super popular last Spring, I thought I’d make something else flavoured with lemon.

I have a list of probably over 100 vegan dessert recipe ideas that I want to try and am slowly working my way through them.

Try more vegan cupcake recipes:

But since it’s close to Easter and these lemon cupcakes are sort of an Easter-y (that’s a word, right?) dessert, I thought they should take priority for the blog!

These cupcakes taste very similar to the lemon drizzle cake but the recipe is a little bit different.

Instead of spreading a drizzle over the top, I made some lemon buttercream to pipe on instead. And, if I do say so myself, it tasted absolutely DELICIOUS.

overhead shot of 6 frosted cupcakes on a wire rack

How to make vegan lemon cupcakes

Step 1:

Preheat your oven to 180°C / 350°F and line a 12-hole cupcake tin with cases.

Make sure to reduce the temperature by 20°C or 25°F if you’re using a fan oven, to prevent the cupcakes from browning too quickly.

Step 2:

The next step is to make some vegan buttermilk. This will help to bind the cake ingredients together and, coupled with a leavening agent like baking soda, will help to keep it soft and fluffy as it rises.

To make the vegan buttermilk, mix together 280ml of soy milk (1 cup + 2 tablespoons) and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice in a small bowl.

Set it aside for 5 minutes or so. It should look a little curdled and become slightly thick.

I recommend using soy milk for best results. Some other types of plant-based milks may not curdle but will still work well in the recipe so don’t worry!

Step 3:

Now for the dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, mix together 230g of self-flour (1+3/4 cups), 180g of caster sugar (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. Make sure there are no lumps left hiding at the bottom.

It’s important that you don’t get confused with baking soda (also known as bicarbonate of soda) and baking powder. They react differently so make sure to use baking soda.

*Also, just a quick note to say that caster sugar is also known as superfine sugar in some other parts of the world. It’s halfway between granulated white sugar and icing/powdered sugar.

Step 4:

Next, we add the wet ingredients to the dry.

In the same bowl, use your spoon to make a small well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour in the vegan buttermilk that you made earlier along with 6 tablespoons of oil.

overhead shot of the wet and dry ingredients in a bowl

Mix well until you have a smooth, slightly runny cake batter.

You can use any type of liquid oil for this recipe. I used vegetable oil for mine and would recommend using a neutral-flavoured oil for best results.

Coconut oil and olive oil would work well too but I find their flavour to be a bit overpowering in most cake recipes.

Step 5:

Next, add in the zest of 2 lemons and stir it into the cake batter until smooth.

lemon zest sitting on top of the cake batter in the bowl

Step 6:

Using some small spoons or an ice cream scoop, divide the lemon cake batter evenly between the 12 cupcake cases.

cake batter in cupcake cases on a tray

Bake for 18-20 minutes.

You’ll know they are cooked all the way through if you insert a toothpick through the middle of one and it comes out clean.

Let the cake stand in the tin for around 5 minutes until the tin cools down, then transfer them to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.

Step 7:

While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare your vegan lemon buttercream by mixing together 160g vegan butter (2/3 cup), 560g icing/powdered sugar (4 + 1/2 cups), 1 tablespoon of lemon zest juice and 2-3 tablespoons of lemon zest.

Mix until smooth.

vegan lemon buttercream in a bowl

It’s best to add just a little bit of icing sugar to the bowl at a time and mix it in properly before adding some more. This will prevent lots of mess and make it easier to get a smooth buttercream.

If the buttercream is too thick for your liking, you can add more lemon juice until you get your desired consistency. If you want it to be thicker, just add a bit more icing sugar.

Step 8:

Transfer the lemon buttercream into a piping bag. I used a large 1M star nozzle to prevent any lemon zest from getting stuck in the bag.

Pipe the buttercream onto your cooled cupcakes and enjoy!

piping vegan lemon buttercream frosting onto the cooled cupcakes

Top tips

  • Use fresh lemon juice for best results (not the bottled stuff). Alternatively, you can use lemon extract for a stronger flavour.
  • Soy milk works best for this recipe but you can use any type of plant-based milk that you like.
  • Use a neutral-tasting oil such as rapeseed or sunflower rather than the stronger tasting oils like coconut or olive. This will allow the lemon flavour to come through stronger.
  • Use a large piping nozzle to prevent lemon zest getting stuck in there.


How should I store these cupcakes?

As with most of my vegan desserts, you can just pop these cupcakes into an airtight container and store them in a cool, dry place such as a kitchen cupboard.

They’ll taste best if you eat them within 4 days, but they’re so good that they only lasted about 1 hour in my house!

Can I freeze them?

Yes. You can freeze the cupcakes with or without the frosting on, again in an airtight container. To defrost them, just pop them onto a plate and leave them at room temperature for around 2 hours until they’re soft again.

My buttercream is too wet/dry. How can I fix it?

After preparing the buttercream, you can adjust the consistency according to your preference. Add more icing sugar to make it thicker and add more lemon juice (or water) to thin in out.

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I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you make it yourself, please let me know how it went by leaving a comment below or tagging me on Facebook or Instagram.

Happy baking! xo

close up of one vegan lemon cupcake
4.5 from 6 votes

Vegan Lemon Cupcakes

Soft and fluffy zingy lemon cupcakes with dairy-free lemon buttercream on top.

Course Dessert
Cuisine vegan
Keyword vegan lemon cupcakes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Servings 12 cupcakes
Calories 440 kcal


  • 280 ml Soy milk (1 cup + 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 Teaspoons Lemon juice
  • 230 g Self-raising flour (1+¾ cups)
  • 180 g Caster/superfine sugar (¾ cup + 2 tablespoons)
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking soda
  • 6 Tablespoons Vegetable oil
  • Zest of 2 Lemons

For the lemon buttercream frosting:

  • 160 g Vegan butter (⅔ cup)
  • 560 g Icing/sugar (4+½ cups)
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon juice
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Lemon zest


  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F (160°C/325°F for fan or convection oven). Prepare a cupcake tin with 12 cases.

  2. Mix together the soy milk and lemon juice and set it aside to thicken. This will be your vegan buttermilk.

  3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and baking soda until there are no lumps left.

  4. Use your spoon to make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add your buttermilk from earlier along with the oil. Mix well until you have a smooth cake batter.

  5. Add in the lemon zest and mix again.

  6. Divide the cake batter between the 12 cases and bake for 18-20 minutes. A toothpick through the centre should come out clean.

  7. Let the cakes cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the lemon buttercream frosting:

  1. Mix the vegan butter, icing sugar and lemon juice together until smooth. It's best to add a little icing sugar at a time to prevent mess.

  2. Add the lemon zest to your buttercream and mix well. If you'd like your buttercream to be thicker, add more icing sugar. If you want it thinner, add more lemon juice or water until you reach your desired consistency.

  3. Pipe the frosting onto your cooled cupcakes. I recommend using a large nozzle to prevent lemon zest from getting stuck in the bag.

Recipe Notes

  • Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 4 days.
Nutrition Facts
Vegan Lemon Cupcakes
Amount Per Serving (1 Cupcake with lemon frosting)
Calories 440 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Sodium 96mg4%
Carbohydrates 73g24%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 60g67%
Protein 3g6%
* All values are an estimate only and will vary depending on the food brands used.
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Recipe Rating


Sunday 21st of November 2021

Turned out great for me thank you!


Sunday 21st of November 2021

Glad to hear that Frances :) Thanks for your review.


Monday 23rd of November 2020

Recipe has now been updated. Turns out the cupcake cases I normally use are much smaller than average! Apologies for the inconvenience.

Penelope Lauder

Saturday 21st of November 2020

As the other reviewer said this recipe only makes tiny cakes. Definitely recommend at least doubling the mixture


Saturday 21st of November 2020

Thanks for your feedback Penelope. I will review the recipe.


Sunday 4th of October 2020

Cakes taste nice but they are TINY. I made 12 as instructed but there was no where near enough mixture to make good sizes cupcakes!! If using this recipe again I would double the quantities at least.


Sunday 4th of October 2020

Hello, thanks for your feedback! I'm sorry the cakes didn't rise properly for you. I'm not sure what could've gone wrong as I make this recipe quite often with good results. Did you make any amendments to the recipe at all?

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