These lemon poppy seed cupcakes are light and fluffy, bursting with citrus flavor, and wonderful crunch from the addition of poppy seeds. Topped it with a lemon buttercream frosting for a perfectly puckery, sweet treat.
I don’t know about you but I was never much of a lemon dessert person. Then for some odd reason the older I get, I’m like more lemon please!! The more lemon, the better. Who is with me?
And then you add in poppy seeds and it’s just the perfect dessert. Like this lemon poppy seed bread. Full of citrus and texture. I can’t get enough.
So I thought why not swirl some poppy seeds into a lemon cupcake? Yup it was a good idea. I started with my Lemon Cupcakes With Berry Buttercream, but added in a bit more lemon flavor (in the form of fresh lemon juice), stirred in the poppy seeds, and made a lemon buttercream frosting this time.
Ingredients For These Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
- Dry Ingredients – You will need cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Just measure and whisk them together in a bowl.
- Wet Ingredients – You will need unsalted butter, granulated sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla.
- Mix-ins– I added lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, and poppy seeds into the batter for maximum flavor.
For the lemon buttercream frosting:
- Unsalted butter: I always recommend using unsalted butter vs. salted butter so you can control the amount of salt.
- Powdered sugar: Or confectioners sugar (or icing sugar). I don’t sift mine in as I find that as long as I mix it long enough I don’t have lumps.
- Heavy cream: This helps thin out the frosting, and add some richness, but milk would also work.
- Vanilla: Pure vanilla is best since the frosting isn’t a baked item and this will give your frosting the best flavor.
- Lemons: I added in fresh lemon juice and lemon zest to the buttercream frosting.
How To Make Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes
Start with combining your sugar and zest in a food processor. This helps to release the lemon oils.
This cupcake starts with whisking your dry ingredients- cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
If you don’t have cake flour on hand, here is a step by step tutorial on how to make your own! Cake flour has a lower protein content than all purpose flour so it results in less gluten being formed which means a lighter more tender cupcake!
In a second mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients in a second mixing bowl. Easy peasy right? Make sure your ingredients are room temperature so the butter doesn’t seize up in the bowl.
And then just pour the wet into the dry and mix JUST until combined. And don’t forget those poppy seeds! Stir those in at the end. But be sure to not overmix.
Then go ahead and scoop your batter into your pans. You want to make sure to not overfill your cupcake liners. I aim for about 3/4 full. If you overfill the cupcake pans, your cupcakes are likely to sink in the middle at the end.
Heather’s Baking Tips:
- Be sure to measure your flour correctly. If measuring by volume, then make sure to spoon and level the flour in. You can read my post here on how to measure your flour correctly. Or for best accuracy I recommend weighing your ingredients. You can read my post on how to measure ingredients here <– there’s a video too!
- Make sure your ingredients are room temperature. You want your butter to be softened, and especially your eggs. To bring your eggs to room temperature quickly, simply place the eggs into a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes.
- Use an large cookie scoop for even scooping. I use an ice-cream scoop like this one from OXO to scoop my cupcake batter. It makes quick work of scooping the batter and ensures all my cupcakes are the same size and bake evenly.
- Do not overfill your cupcake liners when scooping the batter. You want your liners about 3/4 full. Overfilled cupcakes can result in the cupcakes sinking after you baking them. Read this post for 6 reasons why your cupcakes sink in the middle.
- Double check that your baking powder is still fresh. Because this recipe uses melted butter there is no creaming step to incorporate air, so you need to make sure the baking powder is fresh so your cupcakes rise properly. To check the freshness, add a teaspoon of baking powder to some hot water. If it bubbles, it’s still fresh. If it doesn’t throw it out. And don’t mix it up with baking soda, they don’t react the same. You can read more here about Baking Powder vs. Baking Soda
- Use an oven thermometer. Make sure that your oven is heated correctly so these bake properly. For more oven 101, read this post.
Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes FAQ’s:
You can use all-purpose flour but your cupcakes won’t be quite as light and fluffy. Or you can make your own Cake Flour. Again, it won’t be quite the same as store-bought will be a close second.
Absolutely you can! These cupcakes can be made and filled, without buttercream, one day in advance, and kept covered at room temperature. Buttercream can be made 3 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. Bring cupcakes, and frosting to room temperature before frosting. Nobody wants to eat a cold stick of butter and that’s what the frosting will taste like unless it’s softened again. Or store leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator for 3 days.
You can also freeze frosted or unfrosted cupcakes up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before enjoying. Before serving I let them sit at room temperature to let the buttercream soften again before enjoying. Click here for a full tutorial on how to freeze cupcakes.
This might be because you underbaked them, or overfilled them. I fill mine about 2/3 to 3/4 full to allow them to expand. You can read more here about Why Do Cupcakes Sink?
I do recommend using whole milk for the best taste and texture, but you can use a low fat milk if that’s all you have. I haven’t tested it with plant-based milk such as almond or soy, but I think they would also work. I just would make sure to use a plain, unsweetened plant-based milk.
Baking Tools To Make These Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes:
- Cupcake Pans – My favorite cupcake pans are these ones from Wilton and these ones from Chicago Metallic.
- Large Piping Tips – To get those professional looking cupcakes you need large cupcake tips. You could get a set like this one, or individual cupcake tips from Ateco (which are the ones I own).
- Greaseproof Cupcake Liners– I love the greaseproof ones so they still look nice after baking.
- Piping bags – You can use reusable piping bags or disposable piping bags (which is my preference). I prefer to use the 18-inch bags so I do not have to refill as often!
More Recipes To Try
Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1 ½ Tablespoons lemon zest zest of 2 lemons
- 1 ⅔ cup (200 g) cake flour
- 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 3/4 Cup (12 Tbs.) unsalted butter melted
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoons. vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (120 mL) whole milk
- ½ cup (113 g) sour cream
- ¼ cup lemon juice about 4 lemons
- 2 Tablespoons poppyseeds
Lemon Buttercream Frosting
- 283 g (2 ½ sticks, 1 ¼ cups) unsalted butter softened
- 2 Tablespoons lemon zest
- 452 g (4 cups) confectioner sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons heavy cream or milk
- Preheat oven to 375F. Line the cupcake tin with paper liners.
- Add the sugar and lemon zest to the bowl of a food processor then pulse until zest is broken up and the sugar is pale yellow In color.
- Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl then whisk together and set aside.
- Add the eggs, milk, melted butter, vanilla, sour cream, and sugar to a medium bowl and whisk together.
- Add the wet to the dry mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the poppy seeds and lemon juice. Fill cupcake papers about 3/4 the way up. Bake for 5 min at 375F then reduce temperature to 350F and bake another 10-12 or until the springy to the touch.
- Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream. (The frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before finishing.)
For the buttercream
- With a mixer, cream the butter and zest together. Add the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time.
- Add in your vanilla extract, heavy cream, lemon juice. The frosting may curdle at this point, but keep mixing it will smooth it out.
- Mix on medium-high for about 8 minutes until light and fluffy. Frost your cupcakes with a spatula or piping bag fit with a star tip. Top with a few additional poppy seeds.
- Make ahead: Cupcakes can be made without buttercream, one day in advance, and kept covered at room temperature. Buttercream can be made 3 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. I keep frosted cupcakes in the fridge, and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.
- Storage: Store leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator for 3 days. You can also freeze frosted or unfrosted cupcakes up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before enjoying. Before serving I let them sit at room temperature to let the buttercream soften again before enjoying.
- Lemon: You can substitute the lemon for another citrus like orange or lime.
- Milk: You can swap out the whole milk for low-fat milk or plant-based milk if need be.