These lemon poppy seed cupcakes have a moist lemony cupcake base filled with poppy seeds and topped with tangy cream cheese frosting! They're the perfect springtime treat!
You might also like these lemon poppy seed muffins or these lemon curd cookies!
You just need a few simple ingredients to make these tangy lemon poppy seed cupcakes!
Cake flour - I always use cake flour in my cupcakes because it makes them super soft and tender, but all purpose flour also works great!
Sour cream - The sour cream keep the cupcakes super moist while also adding a bit of tang! You always want to use full fat sour cream in baking for the best results! You could also use plain full fat yogurt or buttermilk!
Lemon juice & zest - I highly recommend using fresh lemons for the best flavor! But you can always substitute with a little bottled lemon juice if necessary.
Poppy seeds - You can't have lemon poppy seed cupcakes without poppy seeds! Sometimes they can be super expensive at the regular grocery store, but I've found they can be more affordable online or at your local international grocery store!
The complete list of ingredients and amounts is located in the recipe card below.
How to Make Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 12 cup pan with cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter, sugar, and lemon zest. Add in the eggs and vanilla and whisk until fully combined.
Stir in sour cream and lemon juice until combined.
Fold in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until fully incorporated.
Then gently fold in the poppy seeds.
Pour about ¼ cup of batter into each cupcake liner (they should be about halfway full).
Bake at 350°F for 18-22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack. Let the lemon poppy seed cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
Frost cooled cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting, then garnish with lemon zest and fresh lemon slices if desired!
Tips for the Best Baked Goods
Use room temperature ingredients! Always make sure ingredients like butter, eggs, milk, yogurt, etc. are at room temperature before baking (unless the recipe indicates otherwise)! This ensures they'll incorporate into the batter more easily and leads to overall better texture. Remove all ingredients from the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before baking for best results.
Measure your flour correctly! It's most accurate to use a kitchen scale, but if you're measuring by volume you want to spoon and level! Fluff up the flour a bit with a spoon, and then spoon flour into the measuring cup. Once it's overflowing, use the back of a knife to level it off. Don't ever pack flour into the measuring cup or you'll end up with way too much! Improperly measured flour can lead to dry, dense baked goods. [Measure cocoa powder the same way!]
Use an oven thermometer! Just because your oven says it's 350, doesn't mean it is! If you oven hasn't been calibrated recently, it can be as much as 30 degrees off, which will negatively affect all baked goods from cakes to macarons! An oven thermometer is the easiest/cheapest way to ensure your oven is always at the proper temperature.
Make sure you baking powder is fresh! Baking powder is important for helping baked goods rise properly, but it has a relatively short shelf life once opened, so it's one of the few items I never buy in bulk! To test if your baking powder is still fresh, add a small amount to boiling water. If it bubbles it's still good to use, but if not it's time to toss it!
Cupcake Decorating Tips
- Make sure you let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting!!
- For these big beautiful frosting swirls on these lemon poppy seed cupcakes, I use the 9FT tip from this decorating kit. The tips are much larger than standard sizes and so fun for decorating cupcakes!
- After frosting, garnish with lemon zest and fresh lemon slices!
The cupcakes are best the same day, but will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days! However, they taste best when served at room temperature! I like to let them sit at room temperature for about an hour before serving.
Tips for Success!
For best results I always recommend using weight measurements (especially when baking) because it's the most accurate. Kitchen scales are super affordable and also reduce the number of dishes you have to do! However, all my recipes also include US customary measurements for convince. Use this chart to convert measurements for common ingredients!
Substitutions: In all my recipes, I've included substitutions that I know will work, but I cannot guarantee results if you substitute ingredients that I have not recommended. [For example, granulated sugar and honey are indeed both sweeteners but they have very different properties so they can not always be swapped 1:1. Using honey in a cookie recipe that calls for granulated sugar will yield a giant mess.] In the recipe card you'll find links to the specific ingredients/brands that I use.
A note on salt: I almost exclusively use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt because it's the best all-purpose salt for cooking and baking. If you're not using kosher salt, consult this handy guide for a conversion chart! When in doubt, if you're using table salt just reduce the amount by half for baked goods. When cooking, I prefer to under-salt because you can always add more! If you've over-salted, adding a little bit of acid (like lemon juice) can help.
More Recipes You Might Like!
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Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup sour cream, substitute plain yogurt or buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 ½ cups cake flour, substitute all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, optional
- lemon slices
- lemon zest
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 12 cup pan with cupcake liners.
- In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter, sugar, and lemon zest. Add in the eggs and vanilla and whisk until fully combined.
- Stir in sour cream and lemon juice until combined.
- Fold in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until fully incorporated.
- Then gently fold in the poppy seeds.
- Pour about ¼ cup of batter into each cupcake liner (they should be about halfway full).
- Bake at 350°F for 18-22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack. Let the lemon poppy seed cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the softened butter and cream cheese until completely smooth.
- Then add in the powdered sugar and beat on slow until combined.
- Add in the lemon juice and then beat the frosting for 3-4 minutes on high speed until light and fluffy.
- If desired, gently stir in the poppy seeds.
- Frost cooled cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting, then garnish with lemon zest and fresh lemon slices if desired!
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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