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Frosted lemon curd cupcake half on a white plate. White and beige background, grey surface.

Lemon Curd Cupcakes

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Wonderfully lemony, these gorgeous cupcakes are sweet and soft, with a lemon curd center and a lemon cream cheese frosting. All components can be made ahead. They're perfect for spring celebrations, small weddings, Mother's Day and Easter. 

  • Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes



For the cake:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose or cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the lemon curd:

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • A few drops of vanilla extract

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 to 4 cups confectioners' sugar


For the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF /180ºC.
  2. Line 12 muffin or cupcake pans with paper liners.
  3. In a large bowl beat butter while adding sugar gradually until creamy, 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add zest and eggs, one at a time, beating well each time to combine.
  5. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt (I do it directly over the butter mix) and add it in 3 parts to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk, lemon juice, and vanilla in 2 parts.
  6. Mix well but don’t overbeat.
  7. Divide cake batter evenly among the 12 paper cups.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. 
  9. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

For the lemon curd:

  1. In a medium-heavy saucepan, heat lemon juice and butter just below the boiling point.
  2. In a large bowl, mix eggs, yolks and sugar to blend.
  3. Gradually add hot lemon mixture, mixing well.
  4. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and stir constantly over medium heat until it thickens and leaves a path in the back of the spoon. Be careful not to burn the bottom.
  5. Remove from heat, add salt and vanilla and mix.
  6. Place a piece of plastic wrap or freezer sheets directly over the curd, covering it completely. This will prevent a layer from forming as it cools down. 
  7. Refrigerate once it's cold. It keeps for 5 days in the refrigerator.

For the cream cheese frosting:

  1. In a large bowl, mix butter, cream cheese, lemon juice, and zest. Beat until very smooth.
  2. Add 1 cup sugar and beat well. Keep adding confectioners' sugar, ½ cup at a time, until the frosting is thick enough to pipe.
  3. Transfer to a large piping bag with a star tip and refrigerate for 1 hour before using.

To assemble cupcakes:

  1. With a small spoon or melon ball scoop, take out a piece of cake from the center of the cupcake. Discard.
  2. Pipe or spoon some of the cold lemon curd, filling the hole completely.
  3. Using a piping bag with a wide, star or plain tip, pipe the frosting on top of the cupcakes.
  4. Sprinkle some lemon zest on top of the frosting before serving.


  • Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperature, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier.
  • Baking time: consider that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer(like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust. 
  • Storage: the cupcakes, frosting, and lemon curd can all be made ahead. Keep the cupcakes for 2 days at room temperature, wrapped or in an airtight container to prevent dryness, or frozen for a month. Use airtight containers or jars for the filling and frosting and keep them in the fridge or frozen. 
  • Piping bag: I use disposable large piping bags because they're fuss-free, and regular ones can be a pain in the b**t to wash. I sometimes reuse disposable ones twice. You can keep the bag in the fridge for weeks if you have leftover frosting.
  • Piping tips: there are two that I reach for constantly that are great for beginners, the round tip and the star tip. You can buy a decorating piping tip set that includes the most common ones.


  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cooling time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking + stovetop
  • Cuisine: American