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Orange Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Orange cupcakes Recipe By: Cece Kirkwood This post may contain affiliate links.

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These Orange Cupcakes are light in texture and will leave the taste buds dancing thanks to the complimentary, sweet tangy lemon buttercream frosting.

Orange Cupcakes

I came up with this recipe a little over two years ago for my husband’s birthday. He isn’t a big cake person, but we were having a few friends over and we still wanted to do cupcakes to celebrate. He loves the flavor orange, so off I went searching for an orange cupcake recipe.

To my surprise, orange is not the most common flavor of cupcake, so there really wasn’t a recipe I was impressed with. So instead, I got out my notebook and began developing my own. 

I wanted the orange to be subtle at first, but leave behind a nice sweet citrus flavor to excite the senses for that next bite. There are no artificial flavors or food coloring in these cupcakes – thanks to the fresh orange juice, zest and a couple eggs, you’ll end up with a beautifully orange cupcake – both in flavor and color. 

I’m all about a simple recipe, so other than the bowls to pre-measure your ingredients, this batter only takes two bowls – one for the liquids and one for the dry. And bonus – for the actual cupcakes, you don’t even need a standing mixer. A simple whisk and rubber spatula will do the trick. 

Shall we dig in?

The Process 

As this recipe has two separate pieces (cupcakes and frosting), let’s take this process breakdown one item at a time. 

First things first though…

Prepare your work station:

Begin by preheating the oven to 350ºF, convection. Convection will help circulate the hot air in the oven evenly, allowing for a fast, even bake for the cupcakes. 

Next, Prepare the baking pans by either lightly greasing or adding in cupcake liners. Then, pre-measure out all the ingredients for the orange cupcakes. 


In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Place to the side and grab a large bowl for the wet ingredients. 

In that large bowl, combine the melted butter and superfine sugar. When fully combined, this mixture will look almost like apple sauce. Add in the whole milk and eggs, whisk to combine.

Then, add in your zest and combine. And finally, the orange juice and vanilla – stir to combine.

Now, grab the dry ingredients and gradually add them into the liquid mixture. Combine well using a rubber spatula. 

Using a cookie scoop, scoop the batter into the cupcake pans, filling each up about ⅔ of the way. Bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes or until you can stick a toothpick in the center and they come out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool for a few minutes in tins before moving to a drying rack to cool completely. While the cupcakes cool, prepare your lemon buttercream frosting.


After pre-measuring all the ingredients, grab a large bowl and your standing or hand mixer fit with a paddle attachment. Cream the room temperature butter until it is light and fluffy. Your mixer should be on medium-to-high speed. It usually takes 3 minutes to properly whip the butter. It is important to get the butter properly creamed here, so set a timer for 3 minutes and walk away. 

Gradually add in the powdered sugar, beating between additions. Then, slowly add in the zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Finally, add in the milk and beat for another 3 minutes. 

Spread onto each fully cooled cupcake or use a piping bag to decorate the cupcakes. Dig in and enjoy! 

The Tips 

Can I bake these cupcakes ahead of time?

Yes, absolutely! You can bake these cupcakes a day before you plan to serve them. After they cool, wrap them tightly and place in the fridge so they will stay fresh. I would wait to whip up the buttercream frosting until the day of so that it is as fresh as possible. 

How can I store these cupcakes?

If you have any leftovers, place the cupcakes in an airtight container. They will keep for 3 days on the counter or up to 5 days in the fridge. 

Can I use orange extract instead of fresh orange?

No, not for this recipe. Orange extract is very strong and will not create the same light flavor if you tried to replace 1:1. It is simpler (and cheaper) to just run out to the store and grab one fresh orange. 

What is superfine sugar?

Superfine sugar, or caster sugar, is nothing more than a granulated sugar ground “super” finely. You can find it in most grocery stores near the rest of the sugars in the baking aisle. We use it in this recipe as it dissolves quicker than regular granulated sugar which is perfect for this recipe since we are not creaming the butter and sugar together for the cupcakes.  

Why is this recipe in grams?

Baking is a science and in science you want things to be exact and precise. The best way to do this is by weighing out your ingredients using a simple scale. Ever baked a cookie using the same recipe, yet somehow it turns out slightly different each time? That is because when measuring by volume, you can’t be as precise. It is vital that your ingredient ratios are accurate for a reliable bake every time. 

The Orange Cupcakes and Lemon Buttercream Frosting Recipe


Orange Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Orange Cupcakes

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  • Author: Cece
  • Prep Time: 30 min
  • Cook Time: 20 min
  • Total Time: 50 min
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes 1x
  • Category: Desserts



Orange Cupcakes: 

  • 190g flour
  • 33g cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp Morton’s Kosher Salt 
  • 115g unsalted butter, melted 
  • 150g superfine sugar
  • 60g whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 5 tbsp of orange juice (about the juice of 1 orange) 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 

Lemon Buttercream: 

  • 260g of powdered sugar
  • Zest from 1 medium lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 113g of butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp whole milk



  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF, convection.
  • Prepare your baking pan by either lightly greasing or adding in cupcake liners.
  • Prepare your work space by measuring out all the ingredients.



  • Cream the butter until it is light and fluffy – usually takes 3 minutes.
  • Gradually add in the powdered sugar, beating between additions.
  • Then, slowly add in the lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract.
  • Finally, add in the milk and beat for another 3 minutes. 
  • Spread onto each cupcake or use a piping bag to decorate the cupcakes. 
  • Dig in and enjoy!

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Baking By Cece is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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