Strawberry Cupcakes with Lemon Zest Cream Cheese Icing


This was an experiment gone amazing! My seven-year-old and I baked these and agree that they are the best cupcakes. It's a simple strawberry cake mix with a little extra zest.

Prep Time:
25 mins
Cook Time:
20 mins
Additional Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
14 cupcakes


Strawberry Puree:

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 1 teaspoon honey

  • ½ teaspoon fresh lemon zest

  • 1 tablespoon white sugar

Cupcake Batter:

  • 1 box strawberry cake mix (such as Betty Crocker®)

  • 1 cup water

  • 3 eggs

  • ½ cup vegetable oil

  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest

Lemon Zest Cream Cheese Icing:

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter at room temperature

  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  • ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Line 14 cupcake cups with paper liners.

  2. To make strawberry puree, pulse frozen strawberries in blender or food processor until evenly chopped. Add 2 tablespoons water, honey, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, and sugar. Blend until smooth.

  3. Beat cake mix, 1 cup water, eggs, and vegetable oil in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until moistened; increase mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Beat lemon zest into batter. Fill prepared cupcake cups 2/3 full. Drop a spoonful of strawberry puree into the center of each portion of cupcake batter.

  4. Bake cupcakes in preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 18 to 22 minutes. A toothpick inserted near the center should come out clean. Let cupcakes cool for at least 30 minutes.

  5. To make icing, place cream cheese and butter in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Mix in confectioners' sugar; blend in vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Refrigerate icing until cupcakes are cool enough to frost. Frost cooled cupcakes with icing.

Cook's Notes:

I put the icing in a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag and refrigerated it. When the cupcakes were cool, I cut a corner off the bag and funneled the icing onto the cupcakes. My son loved this part.

When we plated the cupcakes, we used the leftover puree to top them off. It made the most delicious strawberry shortcake cupcakes I have ever tasted. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

392 Calories
20g Fat
51g Carbs
3g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 14
Calories 392
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 8g 42%
Cholesterol 61mg 20%
Sodium 291mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 51g 19%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 37g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 7mg 35%
Calcium 73mg 6%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 75mg 2%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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