Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes

I have always had a love of all things lemon when it comes to desserts!  I love tart lemon bars, lemon pound cake, lemon poppy seed muffins!  There is just something so delicious about the aroma of lemon zest and refreshing about the balance of tart sweet lemon.  I especially love to make lemon desserts in the springtime, and last weekend I decided to make some Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes!

I wanted lemon cake, but I thought cupcakes are a bit easier to manage, easier to share and plus I hadn't made any in a while.  I used my vanilla cake recipe as the base, because it is easy to make and it always comes out so good.  For the flour I used whole wheat pastry but if you wanted to use AP flour instead that would work as well or even a gluten free all purpose flour like Bob's Red Mill gluten free all purpose baking flour (which I can recommend because I have used it before).  I added plenty of lemon flavor in both zest and juice form plus a touch of lemon flavor to really make the lemon pop!

I added poppy seeds for that nice crunch they give, just a Tbsp which ended up being just the right amount. These are also scented with a touch of vanilla because it belongs in pretty much every dessert I make as far as I am concerned.  These baked up beautifully and deserved a just as delicious frosting! I made a simple buttercream flavored with lemon and vanilla just like the cake and it was sooo good!

The combination of the sweet, soft cake with little crunchy poppy seeds and luscious smooth sweet frosting all scented with lemon and vanilla was so heavenly!  I loved how these turned out and Eric even liked them even though he is not usually a big lemon fan.  If you are a lemon fan like me definitely give these Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes a try!

Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes

Makes 12 standard sized cupcakes



  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar or maple sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder (1/2 tsp plus 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp filtered water
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1/2 cup oat milk (I used Oatly) or other plant based milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds



  • 1 cup vegan butter, I used Earth Balance (at room temperature)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 Tbsp oat milk (I used Oatly, but you can use what you prefer), add 3 then if needed add another if frosting comes out too stiff
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract (optional
  • 2 1/2-3 cups powdered sugar
  • a few drops natural yellow food coloring


  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees, and line a 12 hole muffin tin with liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and sea salt and whisk to blend.
  3. Mix together the ground flax seed, lemon juice and zest, and water.
  4. Add the flax mixture, avocado oil, oat milk, and vanilla to the flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer for about a minute (or a little longer if doing it by hand with a whisk). Whisk in the poppy seeds.
  5. Pour the cake batter into the muffin tins dividing evenly between them.
  6. Place cupcakes in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until the cakes are done in the center (you are able to insert a toothpick into the center and it comes out almost clean with a few moist crumbs).
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  8. To make the frosting, beat the butter with the milk, lemon juice, and vanilla until fluffy.
  9. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, and beat until completely mixed and light and fluffy (if the frosting is too stiff add that other Tbsp of milk).  Beat in the yellow food coloring.
  10. Pipe the frosting on top of the cupcakes generously.  Enjoy!


*Cupcakes keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 1 week, or frozen for 3 months.


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