Perfect Filled Lemon Cupcakes

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Cheerful lemon cupcakes filled with silky smooth lemon curd and finished off with a sweet layer of cream cheese poppy seed frosting – the ultimate delicious sunny treat!

Perfect filled lemon cupcakes cut open to reveal lemon curd and a dome of cream cheese poppy seed frosting.

As I mentioned last week, I have developed a little habit of smearing this incredible homemade lemon curd on everything and anything in my kitchen. But of all the things I’ve used it for, these cupcakes are without a doubt my favorite. I mean, just look at them!

Perfect lemon cake gets its flavor and gorgeous color from the real mccoy – a generous helping of fresh lemon juice and zest. That would be good on its own, no doubt, but a healthy layer of the best cream cheese frosting takes it up a notch for sure. (I mean, it’s dessert we’re talking about. Let’s not be austere.)

And then, when you bite into the cupcake and find a dollop of sinfully smooth and creamy lemon curd hiding in the middle? Yes please! 

perfect filled lemon cupcakes

perfect filled lemon cupcakes

Here comes the sun! Cheerful lemon cupcakes filled w/ silky lemon curd. HELLO, SPRING! Click To Tweet

I’m pretty confident you’ll be the hero of any gathering to which you might bring a plate of these beauties. Brunch, baby shower, BBQ, neighborhood block party, hump day survival party at the office, you get the idea.

Best of all, for an overall creation that is so sure to impress, the component parts and assembly are pretty darn straightforward:

  • A simple cake batter using pantry staples, that just so happens to be more reliable and way better tasting than several far more complicated lemon cake recipes I’ve tried. (No falling-apart cake, barely-there color, or acidly artificial lemon flavor here.)
  • The lemon curd really will blow your mind at how simple it is to make at home, but store bought would also be so delicious. Filling the cupcakes is done so simply with a paring knife and small spoon.
  • Uh, cream cheese frosting. With butter. And powdered sugar. And poppy seeds to make it all incredibly pretty. Pipe it or just spread it on top of the cupcakes with a knife or spatula. It’s going to be delicious and beautiful aand scream springtime pretty much no matter what.

I rest my case!

perfect filled lemon cupcakes

perfect lemon cupcakes

6 votes


Perfect Filled Lemon Cupcakes




Yield 12 cupcakes

Cheerful lemon cupcakes filled with silky smooth lemon curd and finished off with a sweet layer of cream cheese poppy seed frosting - perfect for a sunny sweet treat! 


For the cupcakes: 

  • 1 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) white sugar 
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk 
  • zest and juice of two medium lemons

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup lemon curd (homemade or store-bought) 

For the frosting: 

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, chilled
  • 5 tbsp. (72g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted  
  • 3 tsp. clear vanilla extract 
  • 1 tbsp. poppy seeds


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Prepare a 12-count muffin pan with paper liners and set aside. 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until creamed, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat again on medium-high speed until mixture is well-combined. 
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture in three batches, beating on low speed after each addition. Mix in the milk, lemon zest, and juice, and beat again on low speed just until combined. Do not overmix.
  5. Divide batter evenly between 12 cupcake liners, and bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of cupcakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven, allow to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before filling and frosting. 
  6. To fill the cupcakes, use a small paring knife to cut a small cone out of the center of each cupcake, making a well about 1-1 1/2 inches deep. Spoon a small amount of lemon curd into the well. If you like, you can slice each cone you removed and replace just the top edge, so the top of the cupcake still has a smooth surface of cake with the curd underneath. (This is definitely not necessary, but is pretty quick and easy and can make the cupcakes slightly easier to frost.) 
  7. To make the frosting, using a handheld or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add in the powdered sugar and mix on low speed just until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat 3-4 minutes, until mixture is smooth and light. Add the vanilla and poppy seeds, and beat again 1-2 minutes. Frost cupcakes as desired.


Regular vanilla extract may certainly be used in the frosting, but oddly enough, clear imitation vanilla works even better with cream cheese frosting, both to keep it bright white (duh) but also to help the frosting hold its shape. 

This makes enough frosting to decorate at least 1 dozen cupcakes. Depending on how generously you frost your batch, you may have extra. (What a shame!)

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 cupcake

Amount Per Serving

Calories 441

% Daily Value

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Cake adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction; filling adapted from Williams-Sonoma; frosting adapted from Annie’s Eats

Pin This Recipe to Save for Later:

Perfect filled lemon cupcakes - a moist, light cupcake filled with sweet, creamy lemon curd and topped with poppyseed cream cheese frosting. Your perfect citrus dessert for spring and summer!

More Cupcake Ideas:


Cheerful lemon cupcakes filled with silky smooth lemon curd and finished off with a sweet layer of cream cheese poppy seed frosting - perfect for a sunny sweet treat!


  • Reply
    Anne|Craving Something Healthy
    June 5, 2018 at 5:22 pm

    I could literally eat the computer screen right now – these look SO delicious!

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish and Fete
      June 5, 2018 at 8:23 pm

      Thank you so much, Anne! I admit I often feel that way about my computer and phone, haha – an occupational hazard of food blogging, maybe? 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply
    February 27, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    I beat the egg whites separately, until soft peaks formed and folded them in last. Moist, fluffy, and just what I was going for! Thanks!

    • Reply
      February 27, 2018 at 8:29 pm

      Terrific – so glad to hear you enjoyed them! And that’s a great idea about the egg whites – I may try that next time myself!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2018 at 3:09 am

    I just made these and they were a hit with both the young and old. Yummy!

    • Reply
      February 25, 2018 at 9:37 am

      Hooray, that’s wonderful to hear, Mary! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this feedback!

  • Reply
    Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
    February 17, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    Oh they look so beautiful! I have a soft spot for cupcakes and would love one of these right now 🙂

    • Reply
      February 17, 2018 at 11:22 pm

      Thank you so much, Thanh! I definitely share your cupcake affinity. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jenni LeBaron
    February 17, 2018 at 10:29 pm

    Lemon and poppyseed are two of my favorite things! Yum!

    • Reply
      February 17, 2018 at 11:23 pm

      They are such a classic combo – great individually, even better together! Thank you, Jenni!

  • Reply
    Andrea @ Cooking with Mamma C
    February 17, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    Squeal! I’m dying over these! I’ve never made lemon curd, but that needs to change. Great recipe!

    • Reply
      February 17, 2018 at 11:23 pm

      Thanks so much, Andrea – it’s so much easier than I used to think, and SO delicious in/on cupcakes and pretty much anything else!

  • Reply
    Marisa Franca @ All Our Way
    February 17, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    I am so glad you left a link to homemade lemon curd. We love it and I was wanting to make a special recipe. Italians have an affinity to lemon and these cupcakes would certainly fit the bill.

    • Reply
      February 17, 2018 at 11:24 pm

      Thank you so much, Marisa! The homemade lemon curd truly is my favorite part, as well. 🙂

  • Reply
    February 17, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    These are getting me in the mood for spring! They look so light and fresh!

    • Reply
      February 17, 2018 at 11:26 pm

      Totally agreed – I think nearly everyone in the northern hemisphere is in the mood to make it spring-like in our kitchens, at least, until the actual weather report starts to cooperate more consistently! 🙂

  • Reply
    Ashlee Raymond
    July 11, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    Sounds delicious! Can I make them ahead of time?

  • Reply
    Ashlee Raymond
    July 11, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    This sounds great! Can they be made the day before serving?

    • Reply
      July 11, 2017 at 7:57 pm

      Hi Ashlee – definitely! You might want to keep them in the fridge overnight, owing to the cream cheese frosting, and then let them sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen
    April 9, 2017 at 5:04 am

    Ooooh – lemon curd is SO good – it looks perfect in these cupcakes!!

    • Reply
      April 9, 2017 at 6:46 am

      Thank you! It really put them over the top. 🙂

  • Reply
    Everyday Sarah Jane
    April 4, 2017 at 12:09 am

    Oh, I love any and every lemon treat this time of the year! …and that filling in the cupcakes? Be still my heart!

  • Reply
    April 3, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    Oh, that lemon center! Great spring time treat!

  • Reply
    April 3, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    These look amazing! I love lemon cupcakes and just pinned these to make soon, can’t wait!

    • Reply
      April 4, 2017 at 4:39 am

      Thanks, Emily! I’d love to hear how they turn out for you!

  • Reply
    April 3, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    You would definitely be the hero if you brought these. Loving that lemon filling! Yumm.

    • Reply
      April 3, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      Thanks, Stephanie! Yes – walking in with a plate of these tends to make one pretty popular. 😉

  • Reply
    Garlic + Zest
    April 3, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    The problem with lemon curd is that I’ll eat it before I ever make the cupcakes. Literally. By the spoonful. I’m not lying. These are gorgeous — and I love that poppyseed frosting!

    • Reply
      April 3, 2017 at 9:56 pm

      Haha, I hear you there – sounds like it’s time for a triple batch in both of our households! 😉 And thank you! The poppy seeds are such an easy add and give the finished product such a festive look, I think.

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