Lemon cupcakes, a small batch recipe that makes just 4 cupcakes. Plus, cream cheese frosting!


Lemon desserts were my grandmother’s favorite and now they have become mine. I prefer a lemon dessert over a chocolate dessert, any day. I know that this is slightly scandalous for a girl who bakes dessert for a living, but I still make plenty of mini chocolate cake for you!

I don’t completely dislike chocolate, I just slightly prefer lemon. It may have something to do with this small batch cream cheese frosting! I feel like I can only eat one slice of chocolate cake, but I could eat several lemon cupcakes, hah!

I make these lemon cupcakes with Meyer lemons when they are in season, and they’re so delightful! Meyer lemons are a cross between a mandarin orange and regular lemon, so the flavor is nuanced and subtle.

If you want to mimic the Meyer lemon flavor, substitute half orange zest and half regular lemon zest. You can also use this trick with my Meyer Lemon Scones for Two.

Lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting:

Cupcakes are great make-ahead desserts, because you can store the baked cupcakes in an air-tight dish overnight. Sometimes, this overnight rest allows the cupcake to soften and the lemon flavor to become even more intense. You can even make the small batch cream cheese frosting in advance, and store it in the fridge. When you sit down to dinner, pull out the cream cheese frosting so that it slightly softens. 

You won’t have any issues making cream cheese frosting ahead of time if you’re just going to frost the cupcakes with a knife. However, if you want to use a piping bag and a pretty star tip, then the frosting does have to be a certain temperature to squeeze easily through the bag. Take it out about 30 minutes before you plan to use it, and test it before squeezing.

If you make these lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, let me know! I hope you enjoy them! The recipe only makes 4 cupcakes, so you can make them every day of the week, hah!

Yield: 4 cupcakes

Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Small batch lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


For the cupcakes:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 6 tablespoons unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • zest of one lemon

For the frosting:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon


In a cupcake pan, line 4 tins with liners. Cupcakes made on the outside edge of the cupcake pan will rise higher. Preheat the oven to 400°.

In a medium bowl, beat together with an electric mixer the butter and sugar. After a few minutes when the mixture is fully incorporated and fluffy, add in the egg white, almond extract, lemon zest, and sour cream.

Once the wet ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, add in the flour, baking soda and pinch of salt then beat together but do not over mix. Divide the batter into the cupcake liners and bake for 15-20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted comes out clean (mine usually take 18 minutes).

While the cupcakes cool, beat together all frosting ingredients.

Frost cupcakes once they have cooled. In my mind, these cupcakes taste best slightly chilled.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 420Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 71mgSodium: 357mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 1gSugar: 32gProtein: 4g

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