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Lemon Sherbet Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting (Pam's Citrus Cupcakes)

Photo: Hector Sanchez Styling: Heather Chadduck

Hands-on time 30 mins
Total time 1 hr, 10 mins

Makes about 30 cupcakes (serving size: 1 cupcake)

Spring has officially sprung with gorgeous Lemon Sherbert Cupcakes. Throwing a baby shower? What great (gender neutral) dessert to surprise the mom-to-be! 


  • 1 cup (8 oz.) salted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups (12 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 30 paper baking cups
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) salted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 (32-oz.) pkg. powdered sugar
  • 8 to 9 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 drops yellow liquid food coloring

How to Make It

  1. Prepare Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat 1 cup softened butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty stand mixer until creamy; gradually add granulated sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

  2. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in 1 tablespoon zest, 1 tablespoon juice, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Place 30 paper baking cups in three 12-cup standard-size muffin pans; spoon 1/4 cup batter into each baking cup.

  3. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 to 23 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely, about 20 minutes.

  4. Prepare Frosting: Beat 8 ounces softened butter and 3 tablespoons lemon zest at medium speed until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add powdered sugar alternately with 8 tablespoons lemon juice, beating at low speed until blended after each addition. Add up to 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, beating until desired consistency is reached. Add food coloring, and beat at high speed until well blended and frosting is light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

  5. Spoon frosting into a ziplock plastic freezer bag. Snip 1 corner of bag to make a small hole. Pipe about 1 1/2 tablespoons frosting onto each cupcake.

  6. Lime Sherbet Cupcakes: Substitute lime zest for lemon zest and fresh lime juice for lemon juice. For frosting, substitute fresh lime juice for lemon juice, and 1 to 2 drops green liquid food coloring for yellow.

  7. Orange Sherbet Cupcakes: Substitute orange zest for lemon zest and fresh orange juice for lemon juice. For frosting, substitute orange zest for lemon zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 7 to 8 tablespoons fresh orange juice in place of 8 to 9 tablespoons lemon juice. Substitute 1 drop red liquid food coloring for yellow.