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Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

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These lemon meringue cupcakes pair a light, moist lemon cake with a rich lemon curd filling and fluffy meringue topping. They’re perfect for summer get-togethers!

Closeup of lemon meringue cupcakes on plate

When you bring these lemon meringue cupcakes to a party, everyone will assume you bought them from a bakery because they look so perfect. But spoiler alert: they’re actually super easy to make, even if your cupcake decorating skills are pretty much non-existent. 

Yes, these are cupcakes for the rest of us—the people who can watch a dozen YouTube tutorials on how to pipe perfect rosettes and still mess it up.

Instead of frosting, lemon meringue cupcakes are topped with, well, meringue. It might look fancy, but it’s actually pretty easy to make. The meringue can be piped into a simple swirl on top, or even just spooned on. Either way, it looks impressive.

The key to these cupcakes, though, is in the filling. Instead of using a whipped cream filling, each cupcake has a tart and tangy lemon curd center. It’s so good, you might just want to eat it by the spoonful!

(If you love lemony desserts, try my Lemon Sheet Cake or Lemon Tart recipes next!)

Bitten lemon meringue cupcake, showing lemon curd filling

What You’ll Need

Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

Lemon cupcakes:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Butter – Unsalted butter is best.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs – Let these come to room temperature; it will help you get a light, fluffy cake texture.
  • Vegetable oil – Canola oil will work here too.
  • Lemon juice
  • Milk – I recommend whole milk for baking.
  • Lemon zest – Zest the lemons before you juice them.

Lemon curd:

  • Eggs
  • Egg yolks – Don’t worry, you’ll use the whites for the meringue. No waste!
  • Lemon juice
  • Lemon zest
  • Granulated sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • Butter – Again, unsalted butter is best.
  • Vanilla extract

Meringue frosting:

  • Egg whites
  • Cream of tartar
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla extract

What Is the Best Way to Separate Egg Yolks and Whites?

The best way to separate egg yolks and whites is with an egg separator tool. They make it easy and mess-free. But, if you don’t have one of those, the best way is to use your hands. Crack the egg into your hand, then let the white fall through your fingers into a bowl. The yolk will stay in your hand.

I know this sounds strange, but passing the egg yolk back-and-forth between the two shell halves leaves the yolk prone to breaking. You won’t have this problem if you use your hands!

Lemon meringue cupcakes with lemon curd, lemons, and eggs in background

How to Make Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

If you don’t have a solid block of time for making these cupcakes, you can easily break it into a few days. Whip up the lemon curd first, then bake the cupcakes the next day, and on the third day, you can fill and top them before serving.

Make the cupcakes:

Prepare. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and fill a muffin pan with liners, then spray them with nonstick spray.  

Mix the dry ingredients. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until they’re light and creamy. 

Add the wet ingredients. Beat the eggs in one at a time until the mixture is smooth, followed by the vegetable oil, fresh lemon juice, milk, and lemon zest.  

Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredient mixture and stir until just combined.

Bake. Divide the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them just over half way. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top bounces back when gently poked. Set the cupcakes on a rack to cool.

Make the lemon curd:

Combine the ingredients. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks in a small saucepan. Once smooth, whisk in the lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, and cornstarch.

Cook the lemon curd. Set the saucepan over medium-low heat and whisk the curd constantly. It should thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon, or reach 170ºF. At this point, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, followed by the vanilla.

Cool. Let the lemon curd cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Finish:

Make the meringue. Use a hand or stand mixer to beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until you have stiff peaks. Slowly add the sugar.

Assemble the cupcakes. Use a cupcake scoop or spoon to remove the center of each cupcake. Spoon or pipe in the lemon curd. Next, pipe the meringue onto the tops and use a kitchen torch to toast it, if desired.

(Note that you’ll have lemon curd leftover; this can be used on ice cream, toast, waffles, pancakes, etc.)

Soft Peaks vs. Stiff Peaks

When you need soft peaks for a recipe, it means that when you lift the beaters out of the egg whites, they will form peaks that droop over slightly at the tips. If you need stiff peaks, it means that when you lift the beaters out of the egg whites, the peaks will stand up straight and not fall over at the tips.

Plate of 3 lemon meringue cupcakes

Tips for Success

Here are some simple tips for perfect lemon meringue cupcakes:

  • Juicing the lemons. You can get the most juice from your lemons by microwaving them for about 20 seconds, then rolling them on the countertop until they’re soft before juicing.  
  • Perfecting the lemon curd. If the lemon curd is runny, you can cook it a bit longer, or turn up the heat. If it’s still not thickening, add cornstarch slurry (cornstarch mixed with water). If the lemon curd is not completely smooth, you can strain it through a fine mesh sieve. Add more sugar for a sweeter curd, or more lemon zest for tartness.
  • Troubleshooting the meringue. If you are in a humid environment, you may need to add 1 teaspoon of cornstarch to the meringue to get stiff peaks to form; otherwise, just continue beating at the highest speed.

How to Store

These lemon meringue cupcakes are best eaten the day they are made, but they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you want to make them ahead of time for a party, I would recommend storing the cupcakes without the meringue topping.

Can I Freeze This Recipe?

Unfrosted cupcakes can be wrapped and frozen for up to 2 months. Leftover lemon curd will freeze well for up to a year. Both should be thawed in the refrigerator before serving.

Bitten lemon meringue cupcake on wrapper
Closeup of lemon meringue cupcakes on plate

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

These lemon meringue cupcakes pair a light, moist lemon cake with a rich lemon curd filling and fluffy meringue topping. 
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Cooling Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 4 hours
Servings: 15 cupcakes
Author: Julie Chiou
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Ingredients 

Lemon Cupcakes:

  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup milk
  • Zest of 2 lemons, about 2 Tablespoons

Meringue Frosting:

  • 4 egg whites
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Prepare a muffin pan with liners and spray with nonstick spray.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
  • In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. It should be light and creamy.
  • Beat the eggs in one at a time, until the mixture is smooth.
  • Mix in the vegetable oil, fresh lemon juice, milk and lemon zest.
  • Gradually mix in the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and baking soda mixture). Stir only until just combined, do not over mix.
  • Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling just over half way.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top bounces back when pressed. Remove the cupcakes to a cooling rack.
  • When you are ready to assemble the cupcakes, prepare the meringue frosting. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until you have stiff peaks. (about 5 minutes all together) Then slowly incorporate the sugar.
  • To assemble the cupcakes, use a cupcake scoop or spoon to remove a chunk from the middle of the cupcake. Spoon or pipe in some of the lemon curd. Then pipe on some of the meringue filling and toast it with a kitchen torch if you like.

Recipe Notes

  • You may want to make the curd the night before, as it does need time to chill.

NUTRITION FACTS

Serving: 1 cupcake | Calories: 263 kcal | Carbohydrates: 41 g | Protein: 5 g | Fat: 9 g | Saturated Fat: 5 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3 g | Trans Fat: 0.3 g | Cholesterol: 124 mg | Sodium: 149 mg | Potassium: 102 mg | Fiber: 0.4 g | Sugar: 32 g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Course: Cupcakes, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: filled cupcakes, lemon cupcakes, stuffed cupcakes
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