Today we are making lemon basil cupcakes! The balance of tangy lemon and refreshing basil is a unique combination that works surprisingly well baked up together.
These Lemon Basil Cupcakes are a delicious blend of tangy lemon and fragrant basil, creating a refreshing cupcakes perfect for any occasion.
The cupcakes are a light and fluffy texture with a hint of herby-ness from the fresh basil, while the lemon frosting adds a zesty sweetness that balances the flavors beautifully. Perfect for summer gatherings, afternoon tea, or simply indulging in a flavorful dessert.
Lemon desserts are perfect for a yummy spring dessert or summer treat. If you are looking for more lemon flavored delights, be sure to check out our lavender lemon cheesecake bars. Or cool off with our lemonade slushie recipe.
What You'll Love About This Recipe
- The perfect balance of tangy lemon and aromatic basil
- Moist and fluffy cupcakes with a tender crumb
- Creamy and zesty lemon frosting that complements the flavors
- Versatile for various occasions, from brunches to celebrations
- Simple yet impressive dessert option that's sure to please any palate
For the lemon cupcakes you'll need:
- Egg Whites: Use fresh, high-quality egg whites for the best results.
- Lemon Zest: Opt for organic lemons for vibrant flavor and avoid the bitter white pith.
- Vegetable Oil: Choose a neutral-flavored oil like canola or sunflower oil.
- Buttermilk: Full-fat buttermilk will yield the best texture and flavor.
- Lemon Extract: Look for pure lemon extract for a concentrated flavor.
- Fresh Lemon Juice: Use freshly squeezed lemon juice for the brightest flavor.
- Cake Flour: Cake flour results in a lighter texture compared to all-purpose flour.
- Baking Powder: Ensure your baking powder is fresh for optimal leavening.
- Salt: Use fine sea salt to evenly distribute throughout the batter.
- Fresh Basil: Select fragrant basil leaves and finely chop just before adding to the batter.
For the frosting:
- Butter: Use unsalted butter and let it soften at room temperature before use.
- Powdered Sugar: Sift the powdered sugar for a smoother frosting.
- Vanilla Extract: Choose pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.
- Lemon Extract: For an extra burst of lemon flavor in the frosting.
- Fresh Basil: Finely chop the basil just before adding to the frosting for optimal freshness.
A note on lemon zest: Lemon zest is a fantastic ingredient that adds a burst of citrus flavor to your baked goods, including these Lemon Basil Cupcakes. To make lemon zest, select firm, bright yellow lemons and wash them thoroughly before zesting. You can use a microplane, citrus zester, or the fine side of a box grater to zest the lemons, being careful to collect only the yellow outer layer of the lemon peel and avoid the bitter white pith.
- Electric mixer or stand mixer: This will make whipping up the batter and icing a breeze, but you can do it with a whisk and a bit of elbow grease as well.
- Piping bag and frosting tip (optional): To make your frosting look dreamy on your cupcakes.
Preheat the oven: Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cupcake tin with liners. Set your prepared cupcake pan aside.
Prepare the batter: In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg whites and lemon zest. Add the buttermilk, vegetable oil, lemon extract, and lemon juice, and whisk vigorously until well combined.
Combine dry ingredients: In a separate bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients: Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, whisking gently until just combined. Be careful not to overmix, you want fluffy cupcakes.
Fold in basil: Add the finely chopped fresh basil to the batter and gently fold it in until evenly distributed.
Bake the cupcakes: Fill each cupcake liner about ¾ full with batter. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack.
Make the frosting: While your cupcakes are cooling, start on the frosting. First you'll need to cream butter in a large bowl. To do this, just beat the softened butter with an electric mixer until creamy.
Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla extract, lemon extract, and finely chopped basil, and beat until well combined and fluffy.
Frost the cupcakes: Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, use a piping bag fitted with a frosting tip to pipe the frosting onto each cupcake. Or you can just spread the frosting on top of each cupcake with a spatula.
Optional garnish: Garnish each cupcake with lemon slices and fresh basil leaves for an extra pop of color and flavor.
To achieve the perfect consistency for the frosting, add powdered sugar gradually and adjust the amount as needed until you reach your desired texture. This will ensure a smooth and creamy frosting that's easy to pipe or spread onto the cupcakes.
- Instead of buttermilk, you can use a mixture of regular milk and lemon juice or vinegar to sour it.
- If you don't have cake flour, you can make a substitute by measuring out all-purpose flour and removing 2 tablespoons of flour for every cup used, then replacing it with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
- Lemon Basil Mini Cupcakes: Bake the batter in mini cupcake tins for bite-sized treats perfect for parties or snacking.
- Lemon Basil Cake: Double the recipe and bake the batter in cake pans to create a layered lemon basil cake. Spread the frosting between layers and on top for a stunning dessert centerpiece.
Have leftover cupcakes you want to store?
Fridge Storage: If you need to store the cupcakes in the fridge, place them in an airtight container to prevent them from drying out. Bring them to room temperature before serving for the best texture and flavor.
Freezer Storage: To freeze the cupcakes, wrap them individually in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer-safe container or resealable bag. Thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before serving, then bring them to room temperature before frosting.
Lemon Basil Cupcakes
Lemon Basil Cupcakes
- 3 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ⅔ cup vegetable oil
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 ½ cups cake flour
- 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil
Lemon Basil Frosting
- 2 cups butter softened
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake tin with liners.
- In a large bowl, combine egg whites and lemon zest. Add buttermilk, oil, lemon extract, and lemon juice. Whisk until well combined.
- In another bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add to wet mixture, whisking gently until just combined. Fold in chopped basil.
- Fill cupcake liners ¾ full with batter. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack.
- For the frosting, beat softened butter until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar until smooth. Mix in vanilla extract, lemon extract, and chopped basil.
- Frost cooled cupcakes with frosting. Garnish with lemon slices and basil leaves if desired.
While fresh basil provides the best flavor and aroma, you can substitute dried basil in a pinch. Use 1 teaspoon of dried basil for every tablespoon of fresh basil called for in the recipe.
Yes, you can bake the cupcakes in advance and store them unfrosted in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Frost them just before serving for the best taste and texture.
While cake flour yields the best texture, you can use all-purpose flour as a substitute. Keep in mind that the texture may be slightly different.
Insert a toothpick into the center of a cupcake, and if it comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, they're done.