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!

lemon poppy seed cupcakes with lemon frosting and fresh lemon wedge.

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!

If you love lemon desserts, my lemon berry cake and lemon poppy seed cookies are fan favorites!

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

ingredients needed to make lemon cupcakes in bowls with labels.

Egg whites are the key ingredient to cupcakes’ light and fluffy texture. 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!

Variations

For extra flavor, fill the center or drizzle homemade lemon curd over the top, like my lemon curd cookies!

Recipe Instructions

lemon sugar in a white bowl.

Step 1: Make the lemon sugar. Pulse the granulated sugar in a food processor or blender until the sugar is light and powdery. Then, rub in the fresh lemon zest. Set aside.

whisked egg whites in a mixing bowl.

Step 2: Whisk the egg whites. In a stand mixing bowl or with a hand mixer, whisk the egg whites and lemon juice until foamy. 

egg white meringue in a bowl with an electric mixer nearby.

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.

a spatula folding dry ingredients into the meringue

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.

scooping cupcake batter into a lined cupcake tin.

Step 5: Bake! Scoop the batter into the lined cupcake pan about 2/3 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.

a hand holding a cupcake after it has been frosted

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). 

If desired, garnish with a wedge of thinly sliced lemon and extra poppy seeds.

Tips for Fluffy Cupcakes

  • Use a kitchen scaleBaking with a scale is my #1 baking tip. 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. Use a cookie scoop to scoop the cupcake batter into the liners for accuracy. It’s quicker and easier than with a measuring cup!
  • Don’t overfill the liners, or the cupcake batter will spill over the top of the pan.
  • Do not overmix the cupcake batter, or the cupcakes will become dense and 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!

FAQs

Can I top the cupcakes with regular buttercream instead of whipped cream?

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!

Can I use a muffin pan if I don’t have a cupcake pan?

Yes! These pans are the same and can be used interchangeably.

I don’t have cake flour; can I use all-purpose flour instead?

When testing this cupcake recipe, I found that the all-purpose flour makes them more dense instead of fluffy.

Can I make mini lemon poppy cupcakes instead?

Yes! The bake time will be closer to 10-12 minutes.

How do I know when lemon poppy seed cupcakes are done baking?

Use a cake tester or toothpick and insert it into the center. If it comes out clean, they are done.

overhead shot of lemon poppy cupcakes on brown parchment paper.

More Citrusy Lemon Recipes

If you tried this or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how it went in the comments below, I love hearing from you! Also, please leave a star rating while you’re there! You can also tag me on Instagram or Facebook so I can check it out!

lemon poppy seed cupcakes on a white marble plate.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes

5 from 4 votes
– by Cambrea Gordon

Lemon poppy seed cupcakes– light and fluffy angel food lemon cupcakes with whipped cream. These lemon poppy cupcakes are made in one bowl in less than one hour and are bursting with fresh citrus flavor!
Print Recipe Save Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time: 42 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 15 servings

Equipment

Need Metric Measurements?Use the button options below to toggle between US cups and Metric grams!

Ingredients 
 

Lemon Poppy Cupcake Batter

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup cake flour , *see notes below for measuring*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice

Whipped Cream Frosting

  • 2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, cold

Instructions

  • 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.
    3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Sift the flour into a bowl. Then whisk in 1/4 cup of the processed lemon sugar, poppy seeds, and salt. Set aside.
    1/2 cup (60 g) cake flour, 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt, 1 1/2 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 1/2 cup of sugar. Keep mixing until soft peaks form, about 5-6 minutes.
    6 (200 g) large egg whites, 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Sift 1/3 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 2/3-3/4 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 tbsp 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.
    2/3 cup (65 g) powdered sugar, 1 1/2 cups (300 g) 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.

Notes

*Measure your flour properly. This is my #1 baking tip! Do not ever scoop a measuring cup into your flour as this always leads to using too much flour. Instead, use the spoon-level method. This means fluffing the flour first, then spooning it into your measuring cup/spoon. For the BEST results, use a kitchen scale!*
Use a cookie scoop for measuring. For accuracy, use a cookie scoop to scoop the batter into the liners. It’s quicker and easier!
Serving: 1serving | Calories: 164kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 46mg | Potassium: 52mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 350IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 0.1mg

The calorie information provided for the recipe is an estimate. The accuracy of the calories listed is not guaranteed.

The calorie information provided for the recipe is an estimate. The accuracy of the calories listed is not guaranteed.

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Recipe Rating




6 Comments

  1. The lemon flavor was perfect and not too strong. I made this as a sheet cake instead and it was phenomenal!5 stars

    1. Hi Mandy! I love that you turned it into a sheet cake, I will be trying that! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review! Best, Cambrea

  2. The lemon flavor was perfect and not too strong. I made this as a sheet cake instead and it was phenomenal!5 stars

    1. Hi Mandy! I love that you turned it into a sheet cake, I will be trying that! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review! Best, Cambrea

  3. This recipe is my new go-to for spring baking! The cake is light, fluffy, lemony perfection — and don’t even get me started on the whipped cream. I could easily eat a whole bowl of that by itself! 10/10, I would give it a million stars if I could.5 stars

  4. This recipe is my new go-to for spring baking! The cake is light, fluffy, lemony perfection — and don’t even get me started on the whipped cream. I could easily eat a whole bowl of that by itself! 10/10, I would give it a million stars if I could.5 stars