I would say I’m going through a lemon phase right now, but let’s be honest, I am in a COMMITTED relationship with lemons at this point. This olive oil cupcake recipe is adjusted from one of my favorite recipes on the blog, my Vegan Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake. I took that recipe, replaced the grapefruit with lemon, and made them mini too. Get ready for the lightest, most delicate, fluffy, and easy Vegan Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes topped with a homemade vegan vanilla buttercream. YUM!
Tools & ingredients for fluffy lemon olive oil cupcakes
What I really love about making olive oil cupcakes is just how easy they are. No whipping of butter and sugar needed like in a traditional cupcake. No chilling the dough needed like in a cookie recipe. Not to mention that the time you need to bake these is a quarter of the time needed to bake a cake.
All that being said, there are some staples you will want on hand to make lemon cupcakes from scratch:
- 12 cup Cupcake/Muffin Tin
- Standard Cupcake Liners. These are crucial for more delicate cupcakes baked with olive oil as they help them hold their structure.
- Pastry/Cake Flour. Remember how I mentioned that’s a key part of making a cupcake a cupcake? Well, it does truly make a difference! I don’t recommend substituting all-purpose flour in this recipe. However, I realize sometimes this is all you have on hand. If that’s the case simply sub the recipe with 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 Tbsp of cornstarch
- Quality Olive Oil. Lighter olive oils work best, but it’s most important to choose an olive oil that tastes good to you as the flavor will definitely come through to complement the lemon.
What Makes a Cupcake Different Than a Muffin?
I can’t believe I made it a whole year without a single cupcake recipe on the blog, but I am making up for lost time with these beauties. While I have made a few muffin recipes (hello Vegan Raspberry Jam & Orange Muffins), making cupcakes is actually a bit different. So, I did some research to tell you all a bit more about what actually makes this recipe a CUPCAKE vs. a MUFFIN. Here’s what I found:
- Cupcakes have frosting! Muffins do not. They may have a glaze, but definitely not swirls of frosting.
- Muffins are usually denser and made with oil, cupcakes are usually made by whipping butter with sugar to incorporate air into the batter. (though these cupcakes break this rule!)
- Cupcakes are usually made with pastry/cake flour and are basically mini cakes. Muffins are usually made with all-purpose flour and resemble more of quick bread.
However, as you can see with these vegan lemon cupcakes, sometimes good things happen when you break the rules. There is no butter needed to make these the most perfect tender, fluffy, vegan olive oil cupcakes you have ever had! P.S- if you are looking for lemon muffins, check out my Vegan Lemon Poppyseed Muffins for a slightly less sweet but just as delicious recipe next.
The best vegan vanilla buttercream frosting
Once you’ve made your olive oil cupcakes, there’s only one this left to do- pile them high with lots and lots of vegan vanilla buttercream frosting. I found a whipped vegan buttercream went really well with these cupcakes as it lends the perfect sweet topping to a semi-tart cupcake. Making vegan frosting at home is super easy. All you need is the ingredients below:
I love Earth Balance or Miyokos!
The only shortening I use is Spectrum Organics because, to the best of my knowledge, they are sustainably farming the palm oil they use. Palm oil farming has unfortunately led to a lot of rainforest destruction. It’s definitely good to be mindful of the source of vegan shortening you are using as most contain palm oil. If for any reason you can’t find palm oil or do not want to use it, it can also be subbed 1:1 for vegan butter. Just keep in mind the frosting will be thicker and not as fluffy if you make this switch!
This is totally optional, but adding in just a bit of coconut cream (really just 1/2-1 Tbsp) makes for the fluffiest frosting. Coconut cream mimics how whipping cream acts in a traditional buttercream.
Organic Powdered Sugar
I know I’ve said it before, but just make sure it’s organic or it’s likely not vegan.
High-quality vanilla extra or vanilla bean paste
The best part! I love using Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste.
Whip all these together and you will have the best topping for these Vegan Lemon Cupcakes!
These Vegan Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting are sure to brighten up even the gloomiest of days. They are personally my favorite vegan lemon dessert to combat some of this dreary rainy weather and even snow we have been getting in Seattle. Enjoy this easy vegan lemon dessert!
Just in case you’re looking for more ways to use lemons, check out these awesome Vegan Lemon Dessert Recipes:
Vegan Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes
- 2 1/4 cup pastry/cake flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 cup almond milk
- 3/4 cup organic sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste/extract
- 2 tsp lemon zest
Vegan Vanilla Frosting
- 1/2 cup vegan butter
- 1/3 cup shortening
- 1/2 Tbsp coconut cream (optional- just the cream, not milk)
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste/ vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup organic powdered sugar
Making the Olive Oil Cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.
- Begin by sifting your dry ingredients into a mixing bowl including your flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
- Add your almond milk, sugar, lemon juice, olive oil, vanilla bean paste/extract, and lemon zest to a separate mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Then, add in your sifted dry ingredients and whisk together just until a smooth batter is formed
- Fill the muffin liners with batter until they are 3/4 cup full of the lemon cupcake batter. Add to the oven and bake for 20-24 minutes until the cupcakes are cooked through.
- Let the muffins cool in the muffin pans for at least 5-10 minutes and then remove. Let cool completely on a cooling rack before frosting.
Making the frosting
- Begin by adding your vegan butter, shortening, vanilla bean paste/extract, and coconut cream to a large mixing bowl and whip to combine. Once whipped, slowly add in your powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and whip until a smooth frosting has formed.
- Next, add the frosting to a piping bag and pipe onto the cooled lemon cupcakes. Enjoy!
- Cupcakes best enjoyed day of baking.
- Cupcakes can be stored on the counter up to 3 days or they can be stored in the freezer up to 3 weeks (frosted or unfrosted). To enjoy out of the freezer, let defrost at room temperature and then eat.
- I don't recommend refrigerating as they will dry out the cupcakes.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 cupcake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 280Total Fat: 17.1gCarbohydrates: 32 gramsgSugar: 25.4gProtein: 1.2g