Lemony Vegan Cupcakes with "Cream Cheese" Frosting

Lemon Cupcakes, vegan recipe
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.
Lime Cupcakes
Lemony Vegan Cupcakes


1 1/3 cups cake flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup turbinado sugar (you can use regular)

1 cup almond milk + 1 tsp vinegar, mixed and set aside to curdle for a few minutes

1/2 cup vegan butter like Earth Balance at room temperature

1 tsp pure lemon extract

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and mix well. Set aside.

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.

Add the two extracts.

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.

Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Divide the batter equally among the cups, filling each cup about 2/3rds.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven about 22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Set aside on a rack to cool completely before frosting.

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.

1/4 cup sugar, powdered

1/2 tsp powdered cardamom (optional)

A couple of drops of yellow food coloring

1/2 tsp pure lemon extract

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 the abstract art, as you can see!


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38 thoughts on “Lemony Vegan Cupcakes with "Cream Cheese" Frosting

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Happy cook

    September 14, 2008 at 9:13am

    I have never made a vegan cake. These cup cakes looks really delicious. Love the frostinf too

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    Tami (Vegan Appetite)

    September 14, 2008 at 2:50pm

    Those look like heaven! What’s not to love about lemony goodness topped with cream cheese frosting?

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 14, 2008 at 3:24pm

    Looks beautiful… so how was it? Dense or fluffy?

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 14, 2008 at 4:33pm

    Hey! My son heard the title and has bookmarked this cake for next week as a tribute to his favourite author – Lemony snicket!!

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 14, 2008 at 11:22pm

    OOhhhh! The cupcake looks so moist and lovely icing.

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 15, 2008 at 2:54am

    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.

  7. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 15, 2008 at 5:15am

    Yummy cup cakes… Looks yummy and love the frosting.

  8. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 15, 2008 at 5:43am

    have to try your vegan versions when baking next time..looks really delicious..amazing ingredients..

  9. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 15, 2008 at 11:55am

    Sounds delicious Vaishali…do you get almond milk or do you have to extract it?…

  10. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 15, 2008 at 3:47pm

    I love especially the topping , the vegan version sounds perfect :)

  11. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 15, 2008 at 4:08pm

    nice colorful cupcakes…..look delicious….

  12. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 16, 2008 at 5:10am

    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.:(

  13. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 16, 2008 at 6:56pm

    Yummy cupcakes, nice recipe and looks/sounds awesome!!!!

  14. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Curry Leaf

    September 17, 2008 at 2:41am

    Yummy,can we use soy milk +vinegar to obtain soy yoghurt /replace eggs ;tofu is giving me pblms,

  15. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 17, 2008 at 11:03pm

    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 :)

  16. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 18, 2008 at 6:53am

    OMG! They look awesome. I wish I could just pick one. Beautiful click!

  17. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 18, 2008 at 12:52pm

    who can say no to this moist and light delights. i have had pretty bad experince with baking cupcakes. but i am not giving up so soon :)

  18. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 18, 2008 at 10:15pm

    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.

  19. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 19, 2008 at 10:50pm

    beautiful cupcakes. Looks soooooo mouth-watering. Love the cream cheese frosting. Gorgeous.

  20. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 22, 2008 at 12:37pm

    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.

  21. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    May 13, 2009 at 5:34pm

    If you make these, and you REALLY should, do yourself a favor and DEFINITELY ADD CARDAMOM.

    My god, these are delicious.

  22. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Laura Galbraith

    August 15, 2009 at 2:21am

    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! :)

  23. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    April 11, 2011 at 8:57pm

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

  24. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Michelle Woo

    July 21, 2011 at 4:09am

    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. :)

  25. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    December 25, 2011 at 4:50pm

    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?

  26. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    December 11, 2012 at 5:20pm

    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!

  27. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    December 17, 2012 at 10:46pm

    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?

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