Lemon poppy seed cupcakes- light and fluffy cupcakes with lemon whipped cream frosting. These lemon cupcakes are made in one bowl in less than one hour and are bursting with fresh citrus flavor!
Join me in the kitchen as I reveal all of my bakery tricks and tips for baking the perfect lemon poppy seed cupcakes!
Lemon desserts are always well-loved and for good reasons! They are bright, citrusy, and bursting with lemon flavor, just like my lemon poppy seed cake. With just one bowl and a handful of simple ingredients, you'll love these fresh-flavored cupcakes for spring, summer, and beyond!
Why We Love Lemon Poppy Cupcakes
- Made with real lemon! These lemon cupcakes are made with no artificial flavors for a fresh lemon flavor.
- Simple ingredients: Nothing fancy is needed, and you can make them in one bowl, just like my lemon raspberry muffins!
- Perfect for any occasion: If you love lemon desserts, you will love these cupcakes for birthday parties, bridal showers, baby showers, wedding dessert tables, or weekend brunch.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
Egg whites: This is the key ingredient to the light and fluffy texture of the cupcakes. I recommend separating them from fresh eggs and avoiding boxed egg whites, which may not thicken properly.
Cake flour: Cake flour has a lower protein content compared to all-purpose flour. If you want your cupcakes to be light, fluffy, and tender, using cake flour is always my professional choice!
Fresh lemons: For super fresh lemon flavor like in my strawberry lemon blondies, use fresh zest and juice. Don't be tempted to buy bottled lemon juice, because it has a different flavor and acidity!
Poppy seeds: Poppy seeds have a mild, nutty flavor. While they don't have a strong taste on their own, they add a pleasant crunch and subtle nuttiness to the cupcakes. Feel free to leave them out to make regular lemon cupcakes!
Heavy cream: This high-fat whipping cream is used as the base of our frosting. Because lemon has such a light and subtle flavor, we are making homemade whipped cream instead of buttercream, which I found is too heavy and has a buttery flavor that overpowers the lemon flavor.
Full ingredient measurements and instructions can be found in the recipe card below!
Step 3: Whisk in the sugar. With the mixer running, slowly sprinkle the sugar into the egg whites. Once all of it has been added, increase the speed and continue mixing until soft peaks form.
Step 4: Fold in the dry ingredients. Sift the flour mixture into the bowl of egg whites in 3 additions, gently folding each one into the batter with a rubber spatula.
Step 5: Bake! Scoop the batter into the lined cupcake pan about ⅔ full. Do not fill the liners to the top or the batter will overflow!
Bake the poppyseed cupcakes until the top edges are lightly golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Step 6: Decorate the lemon poppy seed cupcakes. Fill a piping bag with the whipped cream and pipe it on the top of the cupcakes (I used a star tip).
Garnish with a wedge of thinly sliced lemon and extra poppy seeds if desired.
Tips for Fluffy Cupcakes
- Use a kitchen scale. Baking with a scale is much more accurate than cup measurements. To convert this recipe, click the "metric" button next to the ingredients title on the recipe card. If you do not have a scale, use a spoon to fluff the flour first, then spoon it into your measuring cup.
- Use a cookie scoop for measuring. For accuracy, use a cookie scoop to scoop the cupcake batter into the liners. It's quicker and easier than with a measuring cup!
- Don't overfill the liners or the cupcake batter will spill over the top onto the pan.
- Do not overmix the cupcake batter or the cupcakes will end up dense and not fluffy.
- Use room-temperature ingredients! Ensure that the eggs are at room temperature. This allows for better incorporation and a smooth, fluff cupcake batter.
Storage and Freezing
Storage: Store leftover lemon poppy seed cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge.
Make-ahead: Lemon poppy cupcakes can be baked ahead of time and stored in the fridge with or without the frosting.
Freezer: Freeze the frosted or unfrosted cupcakes in a freezer-safe container for up to 1 month!
Yes! Frost the tops of the cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting, lemon buttercream, or vanilla buttercream. You can also drizzle them with my favorite easy lemon curd!
Yes! These pans are the same and can be used interchangeably.
I found when testing this cupcake recipe that the all-purpose flour makes them more dense instead of fluffy.
Yes! The bake time will be closer to 10-12 minutes.
Use a cake tester or toothpick and insert it into the center. If it comes out clean they are done.
More Citrusy Lemon Recipes
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Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes
Lemon Poppy Cupcake Batter
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ½ cup cake flour *see notes below for measuring*
- 1 ½ teaspoon poppy seeds
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 large egg whites room temperature
- 2 teaspoon lemon juice
Whipped Cream Frosting
- 2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream cold
- ⅔ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest cold
- Line one cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners and a second pan with 3 liners. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
- Process the sugar in a food processor or blender until fine and powdery. Then pulse in the lemon zest. Set aside.¾ cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Sift the flour into a bowl. Then whisk in ¼ cup of the processed lemon sugar, poppy seeds, and salt. Set aside.½ cup cake flour, ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt, 1 ½ teaspoon poppy seeds
- In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites and lemon juice together on medium-low until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium-high and slowly sprinkle in the remaining ½ cup of sugar. Keep mixing until soft peaks form, about 5-6 minutes.6 large egg whites, 2 teaspoon lemon juice
- Sift ⅓ of the flour mixture into the bowl of egg whites and use a rubber spatula to gently fold it in. Continue this same process with the rest of the flour mixture.
- Spoon or use a cookie scoop to fill the cupcake liners ⅔-3/4 full with the batter.
- Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes or until very lightly browned around the edges and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then remove them and place them directly on the rack to cool completely before frosting.
For the Whipped Cream
- In a small bowl, combine the gelatin and lemon juice. Set aside for 5 minutes. Melt the gelatin in the microwave until it dissolves and becomes liquid, about 10-15 seconds. It should be liquid but not hot, check and stir it frequently, then set it aside.2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin, 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- In a mixing bowl, whisk the cream and powdered sugar on high speed until it has started to thicken but isn’t at a soft peak yet.⅔ cup powdered sugar, 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- With the mixer running, slowly stream the gelatin into the mixing bowl and mix until combined. If the gelatin has hardened, gently warm it again before using it.
- Mix in the zest, then keep mixing until stiff peaks form. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip with the whipped cream and pipe it on top of each cupcake. Garnish with a wedge of fresh lemon and extra poppy seeds if desired.
- Store the cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
The calorie information provided for the recipe is an estimate. The accuracy of the calories listed is not guaranteed.