What's the difference between a muffin and a cupcake? For me, it's the frosting. And muffins are "healthier" and more acceptable for breakfast. Since zucchini makes everything healthy, they should be muffins, right? Well, these little cakes are topped with pistachio buttercream, so they're Lemon Zucchini Cupcakes! But since they have lemon, zucchini, AND pistachio in them, they can still be considered healthier and definitely an acceptable breakfast food…maybe? 😅
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What You Need to Make This Recipe
- Granulated and light brown sugars: gives the cupcakes their sweetness.
- Canola oil: adds to the moisture and fluffiness. You can also use vegetable oil instead.
- Lemon zest: gives them their citrusy flavor.
- Egg: helps give the cupcakes their fluffy texture.
- Sour cream: adds moisture and softness.
- Flour, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom, salt, vanilla extract: provide structure and flavor enhancements.
- Zucchini: you can't really taste it, but it adds color, nutrients, and moisture!
- Pistachio butter: gives the frosting a subtle nutty flavor.
- Unsalted butter & powdered sugar: the main components of the buttercream.
- Heavy whipping cream: helps loosen up the frosting.
- Cupcake pan: the recipe should make exactly 12 cupcakes! Be sure to only fill the wells half full.
- Cupcake liners: if you don't have paper liners, you can just grease the cupcake pan wells instead.
- Scoop: a large scoop makes filling the liners with batter much easier, but a spoon or measuring cup will also do the trick.
- Zester: works super well to peel off the outer layers of the lemon
- Grater: you'll need this to shred the zucchini.
- Sifter: use it to sift the dry ingredients into the wet ones
- Piping bags & tips: optional for frosting the cupcakes. I used the closed star tip from this set.
I am a huge fan of zucchini cakes & breads! My favorite chocolate chip zucchini bread recipe that I make every year is from Sally's Baking Addiction. They are amazing!! These Lemon Zucchini Cupcakes have a unique citrusy flavor that tastes almost like Froot Loops! I absolutely love it, especially paired with the subtle pistachio flavor in the frosting.
To make these cupcakes, just whisk the sugars and oil together followed by the lemon zest, egg, vanilla, and sour cream. Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature beforehand so they incorporate well with each other! Then, sift in the dry ingredients and gently whisk them all together. Finally, fold in the zucchini! The batter should distribute evenly between 12 cupcake liners. Make the frosting while they bake, let them cool completely, and then frost & enjoy!
Tips & Storage
Absolutely! I recommend trying the lemon cream cheese frosting from my Lavender Berry Sweet Rolls recipe, or any other frosting you'd like!
Nope! (I can't, at least)
You can store frosted cupcakes at room temperature for 1 day, in the refrigerator for 1 week, or the freezer for 1 month. If you leave them unfrosted, they can be stored at room temperature for about a week. The frosting should stay refrigerated but can be used to frost the cupcakes after letting it thaw for a bit.
I haven't tested them with gluten free ingredients so I'm not sure but please let me know if you try it!
Did you try this recipe?
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Lemon Zucchini Cupcakes
- Cupcake pan
- Cupcake liners
- Measuring spoons
- Scale or measuring cups
- Mixing bowls
- Cooling rack
- Hand mixer (recommended)
- Piping bag & tip (for frosting - optional)
Lemon Zucchini Cupcakes
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar packed
- ½ cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest lightly packed
- 1 large egg room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup sour cream room temperature
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup (slightly less than 1 medium) zucchini shredded
- ¼ cup pistachio butter
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- ~2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream or milk
Lemon Zucchini Cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350°F and fill a cupcake pan with liners.
- Shred the zucchini and pat out some of the moisture with paper towels.
- Whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, and canola oil. Then, stir in the lemon zest, egg, vanilla and sour cream.
- Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom and salt into the wet ingredients and gently whisk to combine until a few flour streaks remain.
- Fold in the zucchini until everything in the batter is evenly combined.
- Scoop batter into each liner so they're ½ full. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let the cupcakes sit in the pan until they're cool enough to transfer to a wire cooling rack.
- Mix the pistachio butter, butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl with a hand mixer. Add heavy whipping cream as needed to get your desired frosting texture.
- Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a piping tip and frost the cooled cupcakes.