Vegan Lemon Cupcakes [+VIDEO!]

If it involves lemon, COUNT ME IN! I’ve been wanting to make these Vegan Lemon Cupcakes for quite some time and I have finally perfected them! Topped with a simple lemon buttercream frosting and made with just 11 ingredients these cupcakes are oozing with lemon flavor that comes from using fresh lemon zest, fresh lemon juice and an optional lemon extract.

Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Vegan Lemon Cupcakes:

  • unsweetened almond milk – I typically use almond milk for most of my baking, however you can substitute for any plant milk you have on hand.
  • apple cider vinegar – you’ll use this to combine with the plant milk to create a vegan buttermilk.
  • all-purpose flour – I always use all-purpose flour, however if you’d like to try a gluten-free version you can substitute with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Flour.
  • organic cane sugar – adding sugar will help balance out the tartness of the lemons.
  • baking soda – this will act as your leavening agent to help the cupcakes to rise.
  • baking powder – baking powder will help to create a light and fluffy texture in your Vegan Lemon Cupcakes.
  • fresh lemons – fresh lemons are essential! Be sure to zest your lemons before juicing, it will make your life so much easier!
  • vegan butter – you can use any vegan butter you like, but I most often use Earth Balance.
  • vanilla extract – vanilla is the perfect addition to complement the lemon flavor!
  • lemon extract (optional) – this will give you that extra boost of lemon flavor that will make you fall in love with this recipe for sure!
  • unsweetened applesauce – adding unsweetened applesauce will act as your egg substitute.
  • organic powdered sugar – this is used to create the frosting.
Vegan Lemon Cupcakes on wire cooling rack

How to Make Easy Vegan Lemon Cupcakes

Making these vegan lemon cupcakes is really simple. As I mentioned above, all you need are just 11 ingredients. The first thing you want to do is gather all of your ingredients. There’s nothing worse than starting a recipe and getting halfway through it only to realize that you are missing ingredients. 

Once all of your ingredients have been accounted for, go ahead and preheat your oven to 400 degrees, then combine the unsweetened almond milk with the apple cider vinegar to create a vegan buttermilk, then set it aside.

Vegan Lemon Cupcakes on small white plate

Starting with the dry ingredients, add all of them to a large mixing bowl. This includes your flour, organic cane sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Use a whisk to mix them together until well combined. 

Next, add your wet ingredients to the same bowl- melted vegan butter, vegan buttermilk (unsweetened almond milk and apple cider vinegar mixture), vanilla extract (and optional lemon extract) and unsweetened applesauce. Whisk all of these ingredients together until the batter is mostly smooth.

Line your cupcake pan with liners and disperse the battery evenly into each space. For this step you could use a 1/4 cup measuring cup or even a large cookie scoop. Using either of these tools helps to make dispersing the batter evenly a lot easier.

Vegan Lemon Cupcakes on wire cooling rack

If by chance you don’t have any cupcake liners for your Vegan Lemon Cupcakes, you can also spray the pan generously with a neutral cooking oil or brush the inside of the pan with additional melted vegan butter before adding in the batter. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 18 minutes.

Making the Lemon Frosting

While the cupcakes are baking in the oven, now would be a great time to prepare your vegan lemon buttercream frosting. Add all of the frosting ingredients to a large bowl– softened vegan butter,  sifted organic powdered sugar, lemon extract, and fresh lemon juice.

Use your hand mixer or a standing mixer to mix the ingredients together thoroughly until you have created your vegan lemon frosting. Set aside until needed.

Vegan Lemon Cupcakes on wire cooling rack with lemons

Once your cupcakes have finished baking, allow them to cool completely before proceeding. If you’re in a rush you can transfer them to the freezer or refrigerator for 30 to 45 minutes to help speed up the cooling process after allowing them to cool for about 15 minutes on the counter outside of the cupcake pan.

After the Vegan Lemon Cupcakes have cooled you can frost your cupcakes however you’d like–  using a piping bag and tip or by simply applying the frosting over top of each cupcake with a butter knife. The choice is yours!

Vegan Lemon Cupcakes on wire cooling rack and small white plates

Just to pretty things up a little bit, I always enjoy adding fresh lemon zest to the top of my Vegan Lemon Cupcakes. This part is totally optional, but it’s always nice to have!

How to Store Vegan Lemon Cupcakes

Storing these vegan lemon cupcakes is simple! Place them in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge or on the counter until you’re ready to enjoy them.

They will last 3-4 days on the counter and up to 1 week in the fridge. If storing in the fridge, I would recommend removing them an hour or two before serving and placing them on the counter so they are room temperature.

Closeup of Vegan Lemon Cupcakes on wire cooling rack

I know you’ll love these easy Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes! They are delicious and the strawberry filling adds a welcomed surprise to this delectable treat! Give this recipe a try and let me know how it goes in the comments below!

Tip: for a guaranteed smooth frosting, be sure to sift the powdered sugar. Taking a few minutes to sift the powdered sugar will definitely keep you from over-mixing the frosting trying to remove lumps that have formed.

Vegan Lemon Cupcakes on small white plate cut in half

Where Does the Lemon Flavor in Lemon Cupcakes Come From?

The main culprit behind the delicious lemon flavor in these vegan lemon cupcakes is the combination of lemon zest, lemon juice and lemon extract (optional). These are key ingredients that should not be done without! If you’re not familiar with lemon zest, it’s simply the finely grated pieces of skin from a lemon. To get the zest, you can use a traditional zester, or the finer side of a cheese grater. Either of these will work!

To help add to the flavor (just a little), the lemon juice comes into play. However the zest does a lot of the heavy lifting. Want even more lemon flavor? Try substituting the vanilla extract for lemon extract to kick things up a notch.

Vegan Lemon Cupcake on small white plate facing up cut in half

Tips for Making the BEST Vegan Lemon Cupcakes:

  • For the frosting, be sure your vegan butter is softened, not melted. As you might imagine, melted butter will result in a super runny frosting, which is certainly not what you want! To soften it, simply leave it out on the counter for a few hours.
  • Measure the flour correctly. Use a spoon to scoop the flour out of the bag and into the measuring cup, then use a straight edge (like the handle of the spoon) to level out and remove any excess flour from the top.
  • Don’t over-mix the batter. It’s okay if the batter is still a little lumpy. Over-mixing the batter will create a more dense cake. We don’t want that!
  • Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting them. I know you’ll be ready to frost and devour these bad boys the second they leave the oven, but it’s so important to allow your Vegan Lemon Cupcakes to cool completely before frosting them. Otherwise, the heat from the warm cupcakes will cause your frosting to melt and likely flop right off the cupcake. We don’t want that!

I know you’ll love these Vegan Lemon Cupcakes! They’re super easy to make and so delicious! These cupcakes would make for the perfect dairy free birthday treat, or recommendation for anyone looking for dairy and egg free desserts for kids. They’ll love these, promise!

I took them to work (because I don’t need the temptation lingering in my home!) and they disappeared QUICK! Give them a try and let me know what you think in the comments below!

More Cupcake Recipes You’ll Love:

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This post was updated on 4/2/23.

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5 from 2 votes

Vegan Lemon Cupcakes [+VIDEO!]

Easy Vegan Lemon Cupcakes that are light, fresh and BURSTING with delicious lemon flavor! The perfect dairy-free treat for any occasion! Completely dairy and egg free.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Cupcakes, Dessert, Frosting, Lemon
Prep Time 23 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 41 minutes
Servings 12 cupcakes


Lemon Frosting


  • Preheat oven to 400°
  • Combine the almond milk and apple cider vinegar to create vegan buttermilk. Set aside.
    ¾ cups unsweetened almond milk, 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest to a large mixing bowl and whisk them together.
    1¾ cups all-purpose flour, ¾ cups organic cane sugar, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp baking soda, ½ tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • Add the melted vegan butter, vegan buttermilk mixture, vanilla extract, lemon extract (optional) and unsweetened applesauce to the same bowl. Whisk to combine until batter is mostly smooth (will still have some lumps due to the lemon zest).
    ½ cup vegan butter, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp lemon extract, ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • Disperse the batter evenly among a standard sized muffin pan lined with baking cups (if not using baking cups, spray the pan generously with neutral cooking oil or vegan butter).
  • Transfer to the oven and bake for 18 minutes.
  • While the cupcakes are baking, place all of the frosting ingredients in a large bowl and use a hand mixer to combine. Set aside.
    2 cups organic powdered sugar, ½ cup vegan butter, ½ tsp lemon extract, 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Once the cupcakes are finished baking, set them aside and allow to cool completely.
  • Apply the frosting overtop of each cupcake and garnish with fresh lemon zest (optional). Enjoy!



Store cupcakes in an airtight container for up to one week.

Old photo:

Vegan Lemon Cupcakes


  1. Pingback: Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Cake | ICanYouCanVegan The BEST Lemon Poppy Seed Cake!

  2. 5 stars
    Loved these! I loved that they were easy to make and used ingredients that I like to use. They turned out SUPER DELICIOUS! Really enjoyed the lemon zest on top.

  3. For the frosting, can you use lemon juice in place of the lemon extract?

  4. Hi! I have made this recipe a couple of times and it has came out gummy. I have made other recipes also and the same outcome. I have researched and made sure I was doing everything correctly.

    • Hi Angela, I’m sorry to hear that you’re having trouble with the recipe. It’s tough to know exactly what went wrong without being present, but it’s possible that you’ve over-mixed your batter. It’s important to note that the batter doesn’t have to be completely smooth. Only mix until the batter is *just* combined, it’s okay if it’s still a little lumpy. Also be sure to check out the video!

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