These lemon meringue cupcakes are like spring in a bite. They are so refreshing and delicious - they have a lemon vanilla cake, homemade lemon curd filling and a toasted meringue frosting. These are my absolute favorite spring cupcakes, and I think you guys will love them too!
Lemon meringue cupcakes
Lemon meringue cupcakes are one of the most delicious and refreshing cupcakes on the blog. There are three main components of these cupcakes:
- Lemon vanilla cake: the base of these cupcakes is a lemon vanilla cake. It is SO moist and literally melts in your mouth. It has a sweet lemony, vanilla flavor and is the perfect apparatus to eat lemon curd and meringue frosting.
- Homemade lemon curd: this is my FAVORITE part of the cupcake. If you guys have never had homemade lemon curd, you are missing out. I used to be intimidated by it, but it is SO easy to make. So don't let the lemon curd steer you away from trying these cupcakes!
- Meringue frosting: the meringue frosting is the perfect addition to these cupcakes. It is smooth and is the best compliment to the lemon curd filling. If you have a kitchen torch, I HIGHLY suggest torching the meringue - it literally tastes like a fireside marshmallow.
Ingredients for lemon meringue cupcakes
If you need to run to the grocery store, here is your shopping list:
- All purpose flour: all purpose flour is the flour of choice for these cupcakes. It provides the perfect texture!
- Baking soda: baking soda is what helps the cupcakes rise.
- Unsalted butter: unsalted butter is my favorite to use in baked goods because you can control exactly how much salt goes into your recipe. We also use unsalted butter in the lemon curd.
- Vegetable oil: I love using vegetable oil in cakes because it makes them SUPER moist (sorry) and not dry and crumbly.
- Granulated sugar: granulated sugar is the sweetener of choice for the cupcakes, lemon curd and meringue frosting.
- Eggs: eggs add moisture and bind all of the ingredients together for the cupcakes. We also need egg yolks for the lemon curd and egg whites for the meringue.
- Vanilla extract: vanilla extract is used in both the cupcakes and the meringue - it just adds a little flavor!
- Lemon extract: lemon extract is used to strengthen the lemon flavor in the cupcakes. It is not a necessary ingredient but it is totally recommended! We use lemon extract instead of lemon juice because lemon juice is very acidic and would affect the rise of the cupcakes. If we used lemon juice, we would need to adjust the amount of the leavening agent.
- Lemons: the star ingredient! We need lemon zest for the cupcakes and the lemon curd, and we need lemon juice for the lemon curd.
- Whole milk: whole milk is used to thin out and add some moisture to the cupcake batter.
- Cream of tartar: cream of tartar is used in the meringue. Cream of tartar stabilizes the bubbles in the egg whites and stops the egg proteins from sticking together. This speeds up the egg white whipping process and contributes to a stable, glossy meringue.
How to zest a lemon
Zesting a lemon is super easy. Make sure to wash your lemon and then, well, zest! If you don't have a zester, you can use a fine cheese grater or microplane.
Scrape the lemon against your zester (CAREFULLY - I have cut my hands many, many times) until you see the white part of the lemon. Rotate the lemon while repeating this until you have gone all the way around.
Make sure not to zest any of the lemon pith. The lemon pith is that white layer in between the peel and the fruit. It has a very bitter flavor, so try not to get any of that while you are zesting!
- Make the lemon curd and let cool.
- Prepare the cupcake batter and bake the cupcakes for 16-18 minutes. Let cool.
- Make the meringue.
- Once the lemon curd and cupcakes are completely cool, fill the cupcakes with curd, then top with the meringue frosting.
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Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons lemon zest about 2 large lemons
- ¼ cup (60 mL) fresh lemon juice about 2-3 large lemons
- ¼ cup (57 grams) unsalted butter cold and cubed
- 1 ¼ cups (157 grams) all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup (57 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- ¼ cup (50 mL) vegetable oil
- ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 eggs room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon lemon extract optional
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ½ cup (120 mL) whole milk room temperature
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a medium sauce pan, combine the granulated sugar and egg yolks. Whisk them together until smooth and combined. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and whisk until combined.
- Place the pan over the stove on low-medium heat and stir constantly while it heats up. The mixture will begin to thicken and bubble. Once it begins to bubble, it should be done. If you have a thermometer, it should be about 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove from the heat and add the cubed butter. Stir until the butter has completely melted and the mixture is combined.
- Strain the lemon curd into a bowl and get rid of the lemon zest. Cover it with cling wrap/tin foil that is placed directly onto the curd. This will prevent a film on the top of the lemon curd from forming. Let it cool for about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and oil together on medium-high speed until completely combined. About 2-3 minutes.
- With the mixer on low speed, stream in the granulated sugar then beat on medium speed until combined and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well on low speed in between each addition, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl if necessary.
- Add the vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon zest and mix on low-medium speed until combined. With the mixer on low, add half of the dry ingredients. Once almost fully incorporated, add half of the milk and mix until almost combined. Repeat this with the other halves of the dry ingredients and the milk. Do not over mix.
- Divide the batter evenly amongst the cupcakes. The batter should be the perfect amount for 12 regular-sized cupcakes. Fill the liners until they are ½-3/4 of the way full.
- Bake the cupcakes for 16-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Fill a sauce pan with about two inches of water and bring it to a gentle simmer. Separate the yolks from the egg whites and make sure NONE of the yolk gets into your egg white mixture.
- In a heat proof bowl, place the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and vanilla extract. Place the bowl on the sauce pan over the simmering water but do NOT let the bottom of the bowl touch the simmering water. You can also use a double boiler if you have one.
- Continuously whisk while the mixture heats up. It will start out thick but will thin out as you keep on whisking. Whisk for about 4-5 minutes until the mixture is thin and frothy on top - if you have a thermometer, it should be around 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove from the heat. Using a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on high speed for 5-6 minutes until luscious, puffy, stiff peaks form.
Assembling the Cupcakes
- Once the cupcakes are completely cool, poke the tip of a piping bag filled with lemon curd and squeeze some of the filling inside the cupcake. If you do not have a piping bag, carefully cut a small hole in the top of the cupcake with a knife and spread the filling inside. Frost with the meringue. If you have a kitchen torch, lightly (and carefully) torch the meringue. Enjoy!
Tried this recipe? Make sure to rate and review and tag @sturbridgebakery on Instagram!