Vegan Lemon Cupcakes with Vegan Lemon Buttercream Frosting

I’m not vegan, but my favorite cupcake recipe is. “You can’t even tell they’re vegan!” is the response I most often get when I make them. I feel like it’s meant as a great compliment (though it feels slightly insulting to vegan treats).

Mini vegan lemon cupcakes with buttercream rosettes on top.

Thanks to Loving It Vegan for this delicious recipe! I’ve made it multiple times in a variety of sizes: 12 regular-sized cupcakes, a two-layer cake (with blackberry coulis inside), and recently, mini cupcakes for my good friend’s bridal shower. I love the versatility this recipe allows and that they always turn out delicious!

I’ve been working on my cake decorating skills this year, and once I nailed down the ability to pipe buttercream rosettes, it really took these cupcakes to the next level. On top of that, I died my leftover frosting light green (be sure to use a gel food coloring rather than a liquid so it doesn’t change the consistency!) and piped buttercream leaves for my “roses.” I love how they turned out! I was so impressed with myself (especially given that I tried leaves for the first time on a whim just hours before the shower started — and they worked!)

Round vegan lemon cake with lemon buttercream frosting in shape of flowers on top.

Vegan Lemon Cupcakes Recipe

For the Cupcakes:
1 and 3/4 cups (220g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (240ml) unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil (or other vegetable oil)
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp lemon extract
1 Tbsp lemon zest

For the Lemon Buttercream Frosting:
3 cups (360g) powdered (confectioners’) sugar
1/3 cup (75g) vegan butter or margarine
2 Tbsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
1 tsp lemon extract

6 full-size cupcakes in cupcake tin decorated with piped frosting and lemon zest


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the sugar, baking soda and salt. Sifting the flour helps combine the ingredients and seems to keep the cupcakes from getting too dense. Don’t skip this step!
  3. Add the almond milk, vegetable oil, vinegar, vanilla, lemon extract and lemon zest. The original recipe says to whisk briefly with a hand whisk to combine properly and remove any lumps, but I toss it all into my stand mixer. Just don’t mix it for too long – I mix just until combined.
  4. Line a cupcake tray with cupcake liners and divide the batter between them (or pour into 2 oiled cake pans to make a 2-tier cake).
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. When baked, transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
  7. Prepare your frosting by adding the powdered sugar, vegan butter, lemon juice, and lemon extract to an electric mixing bowl. Start at slow speed and gradually increase speed until smooth and thick. If it’s too thick, add a little more lemon juice (a couple of drops at a time) until you reach the right consistency and flavor.
  8. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes and then decorate with lemon zest, sprinkles, or just some pretty piping.

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