Lemon-Limoncello Cupcakes


These cupcakes have almost rendered me speechless. Trying to come up with the words to describe the incredible flavor experience that these provide is no small task. These lemon beauties topped off an Italian-themed meal (one that had begun with the Fontina-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates as an appetizer) and was the perfect clean-flavored dessert that I was looking for. There are three levels of lemon flavor in the cupcakes that combine to deliver the perfect balance of tart and sweet, and had people fighting over the last cupcake (seriously). The batter is flavored with lemon zest, lemon juice and a punch of limoncello; a tart lemon curd fills the inside of the cupcakes, and on top sits a sweet cream cheese frosting with the subtle tang of limoncello. These are simple and classy, a perfect dessert for a summer meal.


Although comprised of three separate steps, these cupcakes are simple to put together and not very time consuming. While the cupcakes are in the oven baking, the lemon curd can be made in less than 10 minutes. While the cupcakes and curd cool, make the frosting and then you are ready to assemble and serve! I tasted a spoonful of lemon curd before assembling the cupcakes and thought it might be a bit too tart, but was pleasantly surprised when I tasted the entire cupcake. The curd didn’t appear too tart at all, and was perfectly balanced by the cake and frosting. As you can see, I popped the finished cupcakes into an additional liner – Wilton Nut & Party Cups – for a prettier presentation.

If you want to make homemade limoncello, you can certainly do so, but plan ahead! Homemade recipes require 7 to 10 days of the lemon steeping in vodka before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. If you want to give it a go, you can find recipes here and here.


These cupcakes have been entered into Bake at 350’s Flavor of the Month event for August: PUCKER UP! Lemon, Lime or a combination. Head on over to check out the event, see what everyone baked up, and find out next month’s theme.

Bake at 350

1 year ago: Strawberry Pretzel Jello Squares
2 years ago: Black Bean Burgers

Lemon-Limoncello Cupcakes

Yield: 1 dozen

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes


For the cupcakes:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons limoncello
½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup lemon juice
Zest of one lemon

For the lemon curd:
Zest of 2 lemons
½ cup lemon juice
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk

For the cream cheese limoncello frosting:
2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon limoncello
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted


1. Prepare the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the center. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until light and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the limoncello and beat an additional minute. On low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternatively, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the lemon juice and zest and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter between 12 muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely.

2. Prepare the lemon curd. In a heavy medium saucepan, stir together the lemon zest, juice and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolk. Whisk the lemon mixture into the eggs to temper them. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat, whisking constantly until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and let cool completely.

3. Prepare the cream cheese limoncello frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until light and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the limoncello and beat for an additional minute. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat until fully incorporated and smooth.

4. Assemble the cupcakes. Cut a hole into each cupcake with the large end of a melon baller or the back end of a large pastry tip. Fill each cavity with the lemon curd. Fill a pastry bag with a star tip (I used Wilton 1M) with the cream cheese limoncello frosting and pipe onto each cupcake. Decorate with lemon and berries, if desired.

(Adapted from Tartelette)


315 Responses to “Lemon-Limoncello Cupcakes”

Comment Pages 1 2 3 6
  1. Katie on August 30, 2009 at 6:54 am

    Ack! I wish you posted these yesterday! Just made some lemon cupcakes yesterday and frankly, they turned out a little dull. Next time I’ll be trying this one out!

    Your presentation is amazing!

    Katie xox


  2. anncoo on August 30, 2009 at 6:55 am

    This is a beautiful cupcakes that I definitely like to try it out one day :)


  3. shelly (cookies and cups) on August 30, 2009 at 8:27 am

    AWESOME!!! And gorgeous pictures too!!


  4. BAKING is my ZeN on August 30, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Lemon…an absolute fav of mine. Great photos. A recipe keeper without a doubt.


  5. BigSis on August 30, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Those cupcakes look fabulous! Oh darn, an excuse to buy a bottle of limoncello!


  6. Theresa on August 30, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Fabulous. Now that’s a cupcake!!!!


  7. Heidi on August 30, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Wow!! They look too good to eat!


  8. Jade on August 30, 2009 at 11:59 am

    These look divine! I like that they are a clean flavored dessert. I will definelty try these.


  9. Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes) on August 30, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Yum yum! I love lemony desserts! The lemon curd and limoncello combination sounds threatening to my diet!! How I would love to have one of these right now!!!


  10. Danielle on August 30, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Those look fantastic!


  11. Heidi on August 30, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    My family loves anything lemon. In fact, yesterday my 12 year old daughter and 10 year old son came to separately and requested a batch of lemon scones. I’m off to the kitchen to make them now, but next weekend I’ll wow them with your cupcakes!


  12. Katie on August 30, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Those are SOO pretty!! And look so delicious!! :)


  13. Lindsey on August 30, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    You have done it once again, these look absolutely amazing!


  14. Beth on August 30, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    I tasted these on our visit to the Baker’s house, and she totally outdid herself. These were AMAZING to say the least!!


  15. bridget {bake at 350} on August 30, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow, oh wow!!! Stunning photos and the cupcakes sound beyond amazing! Thank you for linking these to Flavor-of-the-Month! They are gorgeous!


  16. Divina on August 31, 2009 at 4:21 am

    I wish I can have a bite.


  17. Brianemone on August 31, 2009 at 8:02 am

    Those look fantastic.


  18. Pam on August 31, 2009 at 8:12 am

    mmmm! So Pretty!


  19. Alta on August 31, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Wow, so lovely!


  20. michelle on August 31, 2009 at 8:52 am

    I love your presentation- they look so wonderful! I’m bookmarking this to try next time I want lemon cupcakes.


  21. Andrea@WellnessNotes on August 31, 2009 at 8:57 am

    I love the picture! These cupcakes are beautiful! And the flavors sound amazing.


  22. Maria on August 31, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Fabulous cupcakes! Gorgeous photos as well!


  23. Krystle on August 31, 2009 at 9:42 am

    These look and sound delicious! I love all the different lemon flavors you got in one cupcake!


  24. Tracy @ Sugarcrafter on August 31, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Yum, these look absolutely amazing!!


  25. BethieofVA on August 31, 2009 at 10:30 am

    They are simply gorgeous. I adore lemon.


  26. Donna @ WayMoreHomemade on August 31, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Gorgeous. Beautiful. Fabulous.

    And the raspberry garnish is the perfect pop of color.

    I can’t wait to try them out.



  27. Lori @ RecipeGirl on August 31, 2009 at 10:46 am

    YUMMMMM!! Nothing much more to say, there but yum.


  28. Ann on August 31, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Ooooh. These look scrumpcious. Wish I had a bite right now. Love lemon. Definitely going to try this recipe.


  29. Tartelette on August 31, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    So happy to see your adaptation turned out so well. I just love the combo curd-cake-limoncello :) Beauties!


  30. Michelle on August 31, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks so much Tartelette!!


  31. Dorothy on August 31, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Wow! Definitey drool-worthy. Beautiful photos and garnish. Thanks for the tip on putting the cupcake into a party nut cup. I love the look, but am too afraid to bake in them after an overflow incident (and now because they changed the cups, adding a shiny plasticy coating in them.). Thanks for the ideas!


  32. Deanna on August 31, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    These are beautiful! I’ve been looking for a lemon cupcake recipe and for sure I’ll be trying this one soon. The raspberry on top is the perfect touch!


  33. food librarian on August 31, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    Beautiful and delicious!!


  34. Miranda on September 1, 2009 at 7:14 am

    This looks incredible. You always have the best recipes.
    Congrats on being top 9. I have never seen a 99 buzz. Congrats on that too!!


  35. jo on September 1, 2009 at 8:53 am

    I got attracted to the photos but after looking at the recipe, I have to say it takes precedence and gets the thumbs up. Delicious cupcakes.


  36. Jenn on September 1, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Absolutely gorgeous! One question – would you use a regular lemon slice on top or a candied lemon slice? Just wondering if the acidity of raw lemon would affect the frosting at all over the course of a day or two…


  37. Michelle on September 1, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Hi Jenn – I used a regular lemon slice, but candied lemon sounds great as well! As far as it affecting the frosting – I would recommend topping them with any garnishments soon before serving. I did mine about an hour before serving and they were just fine.


  38. Ashley on September 1, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Wow these are gorgeous and sound amazing! Love that there’s a filling and love the sound of the limoncello cream cheese frosting!


  39. disneypal on September 1, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Oh my heavens ! These look good and right up my alley. I love, love, love lemon. I must try these !!


  40. Dina on September 1, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    interesting use of limoncello…they look lovely!


  41. Sheliza on September 1, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    I am wiping the drool off my chin! I am tweeting this!!


  42. Kathy on September 2, 2009 at 9:11 am

    These look fabulous– I can’t wait to try this out. But, I really, really have to forego using alcoholic beverages in my cooking/baking. Would you have any tips for replacing the limoncello?


  43. ChoreToPassion on September 2, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    These look amazing!! I received a bottle of Limoncello as a gift… what a great way to use a little up!


  44. Michelle on September 2, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    Hi Kathy – I would recommend using a lemon-flavored syrup to replace the limoncello in the recipe. Torani is a brand found in most grocery stores and they make a lemon syrup:



  45. Chris on September 3, 2009 at 6:20 am

    These look great to eat and display. Cupcake art should be a fine art.


  46. Cindy on September 3, 2009 at 9:38 am

    These are beautiful! They look tasty, too.


  47. Tracey on September 8, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Gorgeous!! These look so fancy! I’m not a huge fan of limoncello so I’ll substitute for that, but I am definitely trying these.


  48. Emily @ Party Cupcake Ideas on September 10, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    I love lemon cake and these look amazing! Can’t wait to try out your recipe.


  49. Tara on October 20, 2009 at 4:35 am

    made these today with some alterations and they were quite good:

    didnt have limoncello so i substituted more zest and a bit of lemon curd for both frosting and cupcakes. didnt use lemon curd as filling, instead glazed with raspberry jam before putting on frosting — as it was it was a little overwhelmingly lemony. next time i will just make these delicious cup cakes and then use even more raspberry jam and vanilla frosting..
    overall, a wonderful idea


  50. Danni on November 4, 2009 at 8:11 am

    I made these for my birthday and took them into the office. Never in my life have I heard so much ooing and aahing, they went down a storm.

    Am making them again this weekend! Thanks for a fab recipe!


Comment Pages 1 2 3 6

Leave a Comment

(Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for your patience! If it is your first time commenting you may want to review the Comment Guidelines.)