These delicate, fluffy, and easy Vegan Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes topped with homemade vegan vanilla buttercream are the best eggless & dairy-free lemon cupcakes!
*Recipe originally shared February 2019 and updated March 2022*
Here at SGTO, we love all things lemon. Just look at my Lemon Sugar Cookies or Lemon Lavender Cake for proof.
I also have a thing for olive oil cakes- an obsession that started after I made my favorite Vegan Grapefruit Cake. Since then, I've made a blood orange chocolate olive oil cake as well.
These vegan lemon cupcakes combine my two loves- lemon desserts & olive oil cake- into one! Olive oil gives these lemon cupcakes a super tender crumb while using real lemon juice and lemon zest gives them the perfect tart flavor.
- 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.
- Pastry/Cake Flour: This is truly key for the right cupcake texture. 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 2 cups of all-purpose flour plus 2 Tbsp of cornstarch.
- Vegan Shortening: The only shortening I use is Spectrum Organics because, to the best of my knowledge, they are sustainably farming the palm oil they use.
- Vanilla bean paste: I love using Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste.
How to make vegan lemon cupcakes
What I really love about making these dairy-free lemon cupcakes is just how easy they are. No whipping of butter and sugar is needed like in a traditional cupcake. No chilling of the dough is 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.
Make the lemon cupcake batter
First, whisk together the wet ingredients including the oat milk, freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, sugar, and vanilla.
Then, mix in the pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until you have a lemon batter. The batter will be super bubbly at first, but as you let it rest it will thicken slightly.
Add to muffin tin & bake
Once the batter is ready, preheat the oven and add the batter to the cupcake liners. I love using these standard cupcake liners. These are crucial for more delicate cupcakes baked with olive oil as they help them hold their structure. I also used this USA Cupcake Tin.
Then, add the cupcakes to the oven and bake at 350F for 20-22 minutes.
The cupcakes should be cooked through but still light in color and not browned on top. They also should be relatively flat and not puffy like my Vegan Lemon Poppyseed Muffins.
Vegan vanilla buttercream frosting
Once you've made your olive oil cupcakes, there's only one left to do- pile them high with lots of vegan vanilla buttercream frosting.
I found a whipped vegan buttercream went really well with these cupcakes, but if you want to make a lemon frosting check out the recipe in my Vegan Lemon Lavender Cake instead.
To make the frosting it's best to cream together the butter and shortening first to get rid of any large clumps. Then, add in the vanilla and powdered sugar and whip until you have a fluffy frosting.
My best tip? ALWAYS use sifted powdered sugar so you have a perfectly smooth frosting to top these vegan lemon cupcakes!
FAQ & Tips:
Definitely- as long as you use a gluten-free 1:1 all-purpose flour. Please note that gluten-free substitutes like almond flour and coconut flour will not work in this recipe.
Definitely! You could even top them with a lemon glaze as I did in my Vegan Lemon Muffins. They wouldn't be traditional cupcakes without the frosting, but the cupcakes themselves still taste amazing without it.
How do I store lemon cupcakes?
If unfrosted, cupcakes can be stored in a closed container at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
If frosted, cupcakes can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 month.
While cupcakes can be refrigerated, I don't recommend it because it tends to dry out the cupcakes. If you do decide to store them in the fridge they should keep in a closed container for around 1 week.
These Vegan Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting are sure to brighten up even the gloomiest of days. They are truly my favorite lemon cupcake recipe and probably one of my favorite vegan cupcakes I have made to date. Enjoy!
More Vegan Lemon Dessert Recipes you will love:
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Vegan Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting
Vegan Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes
- 2 ¼ cup pastry flour or cake flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ cup almond milk or oat milk
- ¾ cup organic sugar
- ½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extraxt
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
Vegan Vanilla Frosting
- ½ cup vegan butter
- ⅓ cup shortening
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 ¼- 1 ½ cups organic powdered sugar
Making the Olive Oil Cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.
- Add your almond/oat milk, sugar, lemon juice, olive oil, vanilla bean paste/extract, and lemon zest to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
- Then, add in the pastry flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda making sure to add the pastry flour first and the other ingredients on top. Whisk together until you have a lemon cupcake batter. The batter will be pretty bubbly at first, so let it rest for 5 minutes before adding to cupcake liners.
- Add the batter to cupcake liners until they are ¾ of the way full of lemon cupcake batter. Add to the oven and bake for 20-22 minutes until the cupcakes are cooked through, but not browning on top.
- 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, and vanilla bean paste to a large mixing bowl and whip to combine. Once whipped, slowly add in your powdered sugar ½ cup at a time and whip until a smooth frosting has formed.
- Add the frosting to a piping bag and pipe onto the cooled lemon cupcakes. Enjoy!
- Cupcakes are best enjoyed the day they are baked.
- Cupcakes can be stored unfrosted 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 for about 1 hour and then eat.
- I don't recommend storing cupcakes in the refrigerator as this tends to dry them out.
Hi there, wondering if you can shed some light on this. I don't have the cake flour, so I subbed the 1 3/4 cup AP + 2Tbs cornstarch. However, when weighing the ingredients I notice that the difference in flours is about 30 grams. I am wondering if the adaption for the cake flour was from your original grapefruit cake recipe that calls for 2 cups flour= 1 3/4c flour+2Tbs cornstarch and not adapting from 2 1/4 cups? Just want to make sure I am not missing something. Thanks 🙂
You're right- I just updated it in the notes to reflect it should be 2 cups AP flour+ 2 tbsp cornstarch. There still is a slight difference in weighted measurements but it does work out to be pretty similar. Hope that helps!
Great, thank you for clarifying and responding back :). They were slightly denser than expected, so that makes sense with less flour. I'll try the updated measurements!
I made your grapefruit olive cake (delicious!) and I wanted to make a lemon version of it. Comparing it to this recipe, I notice that the only major difference in the cake recipe is 2.25 cups of flour rather than 2 cup in the grapefruit cake. Is there a particular reason for this, perhaps the increased acidity of lemons? I really liked the texture of the grapefruit cake and hope to replicate that. Thanks in advance!
Megan Horowitch says
Hi! I added a bit more flour to the cupcakes as I found it helped them build a little more structure in the liners without affecting the texture, but you can cut it down to 2 cups if you want a more moist cupcake like the cake, it will still work 🙂
Thank you! I'll try it out 🙂
What a delicious recipe!! I would love to taste a cupcake right now! Lovely pictures!!
Thank you so much Camila! I would definitely trade for all of your delicious cupcakes 🙂