Lemony Vegan Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Cupcakes
Baking cupcakes that are moist, light, eggless and dairyless seemed like an almost insurmountable challenge to me when I first went vegan. Brainwashed as I had been through years of baking about the importance of butter and eggs to the process of cakemaking, I believed that a good cake was impossible to make without these ingredients.I admit I lived through a few mistakes: cupcakes that weren’t fluffy, cupcakes that were too tough, and cupcakes that just weren’t, well, what cupcakes ought to be. Until, inspired by some cake veganizing tricks from the fabulous book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, I improvised this recipe. And then, I felt like a Cake Einstein.

My Lemony Vegan Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting are, to me, a small triumph for veganism. They taste so good, I bet they’d convert any sceptic. Desi is a regular cupcake gourmet and even he agrees these are among the best he’s tasted.

So go on, I dare you. Put on your baking gloves and take a stab at these. I know you’ll be back for more!

I am sending on this recipe to Fanny at Foodbeam who is hosting the September edition of Sugar High Fridays.
Lemony Vegan Cupcakes

Lemony Vegan Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Lemony Vegan Cupcakes
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12 cupcakes
  • For lemon cupcakes:
  • 1⅓ cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ cup turbinado sugar (you can use regular)
  • 1 cup almond milk + 1 tsp vinegar, mixed and set aside to curdle for a few minutes
  • ½ cup vegan butter like Earth Balance at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure lemon extract
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • For Faux Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 1 8-oz package of vegan cream cheese like Tofutti, left out of the refrigerator for at least an hour to soften.
  • ¼ cup sugar, powdered
  • ½ tsp powdered cardamom (optional)
  • A couple of drops of yellow food coloring
  • ½ tsp pure lemon extract
  1. Make cupcakes:
  2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and mix well. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, with a hand mixer or a stand mixer set to medium speed, cream the vegan butter and the sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the two extracts.
  5. Add the flour mixture in three batches alternating with the almond milk, beating in well after each addition so there are no lumps. Scrape down the bowl after each addition.
  6. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Divide the batter equally among the cups, filling each cup about ⅔rds.
  7. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven about 22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Set aside on a rack to cool completely before frosting.
  9. Make cream cheese frosting:
  10. Put all ingredients in a bowl and beat with a hand mixer for a minute or two until light and fluffy. Using a spatula or, if you have one, a pastry bag, decorate each cupcake any way you wish. I go for abstract art, as you can see!
  11. Enjoy!
(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    Destiny, Kitchen Flavors, Happy Cook, Tami, Thanks!

    Divya: Thanks. They were really light and fluffy…not dense at all.

    Sunshinemom: :) that’s lovely. I think you have a very smart son!

    Sagari, Anjali, Usha, Madhuram: Thanks, ladies.

  2. says

    These look so great. They look like the regular thing.
    I really liked your frosting. Looks extremely good. Only I can’t find the vegan alternatives here.:(

  3. says

    Jayasree, Sowmya, Thanks ladies!

    Miri, I buy the almond milk I use in baked goods. Whole Foods carries it. For curries, etc, I grind my own.

    Cham, Raaji, Madhavi, Aparna, Liberal Vegan, Sireesha: Thanks, dears.

    Curry Leaf, I don’t think you can make soy yogurt with vinegar and soy milk. There are some recipes out there for making soy yogurt, using dairy-free yogurt culture that you can order online. You might also be able to try it using soy milk and a few tablespoons of store-bought soy yogurt that contains active cultures. I also recently saw a soy yogurt recipe posted by Priya of Live2Cook. Hope that helps :)

  4. says

    These look great, although I would probably use real cream cheese. I always feel that lemon cake is underrated – my favorites are those little madelines.

  5. says

    Lemon and cream cheese, what a dreamy and tangy combo.

    I only recently got down to really sitting with my copy of this cookbook. It’s a lot of fun. I’m getting inspired to make my very first vegan baked goods.

  6. says

    i just thought i’d let you know, that this is the 8th time i’ve used your recipe for cupcakes, and it’s turned out AMAZING every single time!! thank you so much for creating such a wonderful cooking resource!!! I love your blog! :)

  7. Jeanette says

    I made these for my daughter’s first birthday party this weekend. LOVED the recipe! Thank you for sharing :)

  8. Michelle Woo says

    I love this recipe~! It’s quite simple to make and the result is a mouth-watering, delicious, moist lemon cake.

    The difference that i made was to substitute the lemon extract with a real African lemon (rind and zest); and used some soy milk instead of almond milk and vinegar (as its difficult to find almond milk in my area).

    The result was heavenly~ every bite exploded with lemony flavour~
    Thanks for sharing this simple recipe. :)

  9. says

    This recipe sound delish! I will be trying this today. I’ve also been wanting to make a key lime cake/cupcake…Do you think that I could just sub the lemon for lime?

  10. says

    Just made these this morning – yum! I substituted about three tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice for extract, but added a bit more vanilla extract, to still have a cup of liquid. We made frosting with fresh lemon juice, confectioner’s sugar, Earth Balance and vanilla extract. Everything was delicious. Thanks, Vaishali!

  11. Anonymous says

    Is powder sugar same as confectioner sugar? Do we get vegan confectioner sugar in the stores? If yes, what is the name of brown brand?

  12. Marlene Arnold says

    Just found your site a few days ago and I’m very impressed! I got the stuff to make the almond biscotti (mandelbrot to me) and will be making it later this week. I have looked for a simple ingredient vegan recipe for that for a long time. Thank you for all you do.

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