These Lemon Cupcakes with Strawberry Filling are like the bright summer sunshine in a bite! This flavor combination always reminds me of hosting my lemonade stands in the summertime. Our neighbors couldn't walk by without buying a cup, and if there was strawberry lemonade, they were very happy customers! These strawberry lemon cupcakes are an ode to the sweet flavors of summer.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- With lemon and strawberry used in multiple ways, these cupcakes are bursting with flavor in every bite!
- It's a super simple recipe with only 6 steps to delicious strawberry filled and frosted cupcakes.
- Lifeway organic kefir is used in this recipe and it's full of healthy probiotics, protein and calcium. It's also lactose intolerance friendly!
- It's a great recipe to take advantage of fresh summer produce, like my Lemon Zucchini Cupcakes!
- You can make these tasty cupcakes from scratch in about an hour!
- With a bright lemon flavor, fresh strawberry filling, and strawberry lemon buttercream, this cupcake recipe is fruity, zesty, and has the perfect balance of flavors!
- Lemon zest - used in both the cake batter and the buttercream frosting, this is the key ingredient to get the citrusy flavor throughout these lemon cupcakes. Make sure to wash your lemons before zesting, and use a microplane for the finest zest.
- Whole milk kefir - this is a cultured, fermented milk product similar to thin yogurt. It will help keep your cupcakes moist and fluffy. Lifeway kefir is my favorite brand, which has plain and lemon flavors that are perfect for this recipe. It can be found in the dairy section of most grocery stores.
- Strawberries - fresh, in-season strawberries are preferable here but you can substitute frozen, thawed strawberries as well if it's not strawberry season.
See recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
Substitutions & Variations
- Substitute fresh raspberries for strawberries to make a tart lemon raspberry version of this easy lemon cupcake recipe.
- Swap out lime for the lemon for a virgin strawberry margarita version of these cupcakes.
- If you can't find kefir, substitute buttermilk, whole milk yogurt, or slightly watered down Greek yogurt instead.
- For a simplified version, swap your favorite strawberry jam for the fresh strawberry filling.
This recipe has not been tested with other substitutions or variations. If you replace or add any ingredients, please let us know how it turned out in the comments below!
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: In a medium bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.
Step 2: In a large bowl, cream softened butter, granulated sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add in the whole egg, egg white, and vanilla extract and mix for 1 to 2 minutes.
Step 3: Alternating between the dry ingredients and kefir, stir them into the wet ingredients until just combined.
Step 4: Fill 12 cupcake liners ⅔ of the way full with cupcake batter. Bake in a 350°F preheated oven until an inserted toothpick comes out of the center clean (about 18-20 minutes). Let them cool in the cupcake pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Step 5: To make the strawberry filling, add strawberries and granulated sugar in a food processor and pulse for 1-2 quick bursts. Or, you can chop the strawberries into very small pieces and mix them with the sugar. Set aside a tablespoon for the frosting. Then, cut out the centers of the cooled cupcakes (about ⅔ of the way down), and fill with the strawberry filling. Place the top of the cupcake cut-out on the filling (optional).
Tip #1: Alternating the dry and wet ingredients allows everything to incorporate evenly without over mixing the batter which can result in a dense, bready cupcake. This method along with the whole milk kefir helps ensure a fluffy, tender crumb in your moist lemon cupcakes.
Tip #2: If you are using frozen strawberries, allow them to thaw completely, and then strain the strawberries to remove as much residual juice as possible. This will help create a similar consistency to using fresh strawberries and will keep your cupcakes from getting soggy.
Tip #3: Wait until the cupcakes have cooled completely before cutting out the centers and frosting them! Warm cupcakes will be too crumbly to cut into and melt the frosting.
Tip #4: To frost your strawberry filled cupcakes without a piping bag, you can fill a gallon Ziploc bag with the frosting and snip a hole in the corner to pipe the frosting or use a butter knife to frost each lemon strawberry cupcake.
Once they've cooled completely, take a corer or small knife and carefully cut a small hole in the center of each cupcake. Be careful not to cut all the way through the bottom of the cupcake!
No, this filling uses fresh strawberries and should be added to cupcakes once baked and cooled.
No. Lemon juice alters the consistency because it is a liquid and also carries less lemon flavor than the lemon zest.
Be sure to use whole milk kefir rather than low fat, use a scale to accurately measure the flour, and don't over-bake them.
I don't recommend leaving these out on a hot day because the frosting may get melty and slip off the tops. If you're serving these where it's above 80°F, they're best stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Store the frosted lemon cupcakes with strawberry filling in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Store the cooled, unfilled, unfrosted cupcakes wrapped in a freezer bag or airtight container for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before filling, frosting, and serving.
Did you try this recipe?
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Lemon Cupcakes with Strawberry Filling
- Cupcake pan and liners
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring spoons
- Food Processor
- Piping bag and tip pictured: large star tip
- 1⅔ cups all-purpose flour weighed in grams or spooned and leveled
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 large egg white room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup Lifeway whole milk kefir room temperature
- 1 heaping cup strawberries washed and dried
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Strawberry Lemon Frosting
- ¾ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon strawberry filling
- 3 cups powdered sugar sifted if clumpy
- Preheat oven to 350°F and fill a cupcake pan with liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
- In a large bowl using a mixer on medium speed, cream together the softened butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add the egg, egg white and vanilla extract and mix for another 1-2 minutes.
- On low speed, alternately mix the dry ingredients and kefir into the wet ingredients just until combined. Be careful not to over-mix.
- Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners (about ⅔-3/4 full) and bake on the middle rack until a toothpick comes out clean (about 16-20 minutes). Let them cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.
- Pulse the strawberries and sugar in a food processor for 1-2 rapid bursts. Or, finely chop the strawberries and mix them well with the sugar.
Lemon Strawberry Buttercream
- In a medium bowl, mix together the softened butter, lemon zest, strawberry filling and powdered sugar until smooth.
- Cut the center out of each completely cooled cupcake (about ⅔ deep; save the cut-out tops without the fluffy insides).Spoon strawberry filling inside but leave a tiny space to put the cupcake top (without the insides) back in place.Pipe frosting on the cupcakes and enjoy!