These lemon raspberry cupcakes are fluffy, moist, and bursting with fresh flavors. They start with lemon cupcakes that have a soft crumb and a bright lemon flavor. Then they’re topped with creamy raspberry frosting that’s made with real berries. The flavor combination makes these a showstopper!
**This post was updated March 30, 2022 with new photos & recipe tips**
Lemon and raspberry are such a delicious combo – which is exactly why you’re going to love these lemon raspberry cupcakes. The sweet, juicy berries really compliment the bright lemon flavor. The recipe starts with lemon cupcakes that are soft and fluffy with a moist crumb. The lemon flavor is tart and bright, without being sour or too strong. The raspberry frosting then takes these cupcakes to the next level. It’s made with fresh or frozen berries for a real berry flavor.
For the Lemon Cupcakes
These cupcakes are made entirely from scratch. Here are the key ingredients for the perfect flavor and texture:
- Start with real butter. Butter gives TONS of flavor and ensures that the cupcakes never taste oily.
- Lemon zest and freshly squeezed lemon juice for a fresh, sunny day, slightly tangy lemon flavor that isn’t sour.
- Milk and sour cream for moisture. I found this combo makes the lemon cupcakes extra moist thanks to the sour cream, but not too dense thanks to the milk.
For the Raspberry Frosting
The raspberry frosting is made with real berries for an incredible flavor that tastes of fresh berries instead of anything artificial. However, using real berries does mean it takes a bit of extra effort. First, you’ll puree the berries in a food processor or blender. Then the puree gets pushed through a metal sieve to remove the seeds. At this point, the puree will be a liquid. It gets boiled down to remove all the excess water and liquid until it’s thick like jam. This step is absolutely imperative, otherwise the frosting will be too watery and can separate. You can see what the puree looks like before and after it’s boiled down below.
After the puree is boiled down and very thick, it need to cool fully. You can speed up this process by putting it in the fridge or freezer. Then once it’s fully cooled, making the frosting is just like any American buttercream. You’ll beat the butter until fluffy, then mix in the powdered sugar, reduced raspberry puree, and a little cream as needed.
Baking Tips & Tricks
- For the cupcakes be sure that the butter, eggs, milk and sour cream are all at room temperature before getting started. This ensures that everything mixes together well, without having to overmix the batter. Overmixing will make the cupcakes tough.
- You’ll need about 2 to 3 lemons for this recipe. Make sure to zest the lemons first then juice them. Do not use lemon juice from a bottle, as it can be too sour for baking.
- If you don’t want as much frosting as is pictured on top of each cupcakes (ie you plan to frost your cupcakes with a knife), divide the frosting recipe in half.
- Really boil down the puree – it should be less than ¼ of the original volume. If you don’t boil it down enough, the frosting will be thin and watery.
- Make sure to cool the reduced puree fully. Warm puree will melt the butter, which will make your frosting thin and watery.
- You can easily boil down the puree the day before baking the cupcakes to save time. Boil it down, cool, then place in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 48 hours.
Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour AKA plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon zest*
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup sour cream room temperature
- ¼ cup milk room temperature
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice*
- 6 oz raspberries fresh or frozen
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tbsp heavy cream as needed
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and line a muffin tin with muffin papers. You will end up with about 12-14 cupcakes in total.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a separate large bowl beat together the butter, sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl until fluffy.
- Add in the vanilla extract and beat in the eggs 1 at a time.
- In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl gently whisk together the milk and sour cream with a fork.
- Beat about ½ of the flour mixture into the butter mixture, followed by about ½ of the milk and sour cream. Repeat with the rest of the flour & sour cream mixture.
- Turn off the mixer and gently fold in the lemon juice.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan filling each about ⅔ to ¾ full. You will end up with 12-14 cupcakes in total.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 16-18 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Puree the raspberries in a blender or food processor.
- Push the puree through a sieve to remove the seeds. (I use a rubber spatula for this).
- Add the puree without seeds to a medium saucepan over low-medium heat and bring to a boil while stirring.
- Boil for 15-20 minutes or until the mixture is about ¼ of the original volume and thick like jam.
- Remove from the heat and place in the freezer or fridge to cool fully.
- In a large bowl beat the butter until fluffy. Starting with mixer on a low speed, beat in 2 cups powdered sugar.
- Mix in 2-3 tablespoons of the cold raspberry sauce. (It must be cold, otherwise the frosting can separate). Add in the salt.
- Mix in the rest of the powdered sugar about ½ cup at a time until the desired sweetness and thickness is reached. Mix in a little cream if needed.
- Frost the cupcakes with a piping bag and tip (I used a 1M tip) or a knife.
- Lemons: You'll need 2 large lemons or 3 smaller lemons for this recipe. I recommend zesting the lemons first, then squeezing the juice.
- Frosting: This recipe makes enough to frost the cupcakes with a lot of frosting using a piping bag (as pictured). If you'd like a thin layer with knife, divide the recipe in half.
- Make Ahead Tips: The cupcakes can be baked 1 day in advance. Cool fully, then store overnight in an airtight container at room temperature. You can puree the berries and boil down the puree the day before you plan to serve. Cool fully and store in the fridge in an airtight container until you're ready to make the frosting. I recommend making the frosting the day you plan to serve the cupcakes.
- Storage: Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 12 hours (as long as your kitchen isn't warm). Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Nutrition: Nutrition details provided are an estimate only and based on 1 cupcake with frosting, assuming that the recipe yields 12 cupcakes and all the frosting is used.
If you love these lemon raspberry cupcakes, make sure to try these other favorites: