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Ginger Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream

Ginger cupcakes with lemon buttercream are a sweet and simple treat. Fluffy lemon buttercream piped onto cupcakes brushed with ginger simple syrup are perfect for any occasion. For extra zing, top with thinly sliced pieces of candied ginger.

Ginger cupcake frosted with lemon buttercream, garnished with candied ginger. Small hand of ginger and one lemon in the background.

I am a big fan of cupcakes, I’ve always loved them. They remind me of celebrations. From class parties as a kid to the more elaborate and fancy versions of adulthood, like caramel apple cupcakes.

These cupcakes are the perfect option for those who love lemon and ginger treats. The lemon buttercream is sweet and tart, and pairs perfectly with the subtle flavor of the cake.

Ginger cupcakes with lemon frosting

Candied ginger cupcakes are a unique and delicious treat. Light and fluffy, full of sweet/tart flavor, these little fairy cakes will become a new favorite for parties.

Ginger cupcake with lemon buttercream and candied ginger garnish on white background.

The ingredients for these cakes are common pantry ingredients. I can almost guarantee that you already have everything you need.

Ingredients for ginger cupcakes on white marble background.
Ingredients for ginger cupcakes
  • Sugar – regular, granulated white sugar
  • Eggs – large
  • Salt – fine sea salt
  • Vanilla
  • Baking powder
  • All-purpose flour – I used King Arthur, because it’s what I have. Use whatever brand you have.
  • Unsalted butter – always unsalted butter so you can control the amount of salt.
  • Whole milk – 2% also works here, as does almond milk.
  • Ground ginger

Lemon ginger cupcakes

This ginger cupcake recipe does take a little longer than a simple batch of cupcakes, but not much. The simple syrup can simmer on the stove while you make the batter.

The syrup cools while the cupcakes are baking. You can also make the buttercream while the little cakes are in the oven.

Use a six inch wooden skewer to poke 5 or 6 holes in the cakes. This allows the syrup to soak down into the cupcakes.

Use a small pastry brush to coat the tops with a ginger simple syrup gives them another hit of ginger flavor without being overwhelming. You want to brush enough onto the cupcakes, but don’t overdo it. No one likes a mushy cupcake.

Lemon ginger cupcakes lined up in two rows on marble background.

Then crown them with a swirl of buttercream to finish them off. I garnished them with very finely sliced strips of candied ginger for extra zing. I found the candied ginger at Trader Joe’s – 8 ounces for $1.99, just FYI.

How to make ginger cupcakes

Ginger fairy cakes are really easy to make. The batter is a simple cake batter. Cream butter and sugar together, then add in dry and wet ingredients.

I use a two ounce scoop to portion the batter into the liners to ensure that they are all the same size.

Uniform size matters because you want them to bake at the same rate. If you have cupcakes that are bigger or smaller, they won’t all be done at the same time.

If your oven tends to run hot (or cool), you may need to adjust the time by a minute or two. Keep an eye on them after about 16 minutes. Once they are ready to come out of the oven, let them cool for a few minutes in the tin before moving them to a cooling rack.

Lemon buttercream

Ginger cupcakes with lemon icing remind me of the lemon ginger cookies that we have around the holidays. This lemon buttercream is very lemony. It gets it’s zing from both the juice and the zest.

Ingredients for lemon buttercream on white marble background.

American buttercream is as simple as it gets. Add all of the ingredients to a mixing bowl, then whip until fluffy with an electric hand mixer.

Ingredients for lemon buttercream are powdered sugar, also called confectioner’s sugar or icing sugar, lemon juice and zest, milk and unsalted butter. Simple pantry ingredients mixed together to make a delicious, fluffy frosting.

Lemon buttercream on ginger cupcakes with a lemon on the side.

To make pretty swirls of frosting, I use a 16 inch pastry bag fitted with an open star tip.

Cupcake recipes

If you’re a fellow cupcake lover, here are a few more scrumptious recipes for you to try:

If you are attending (or hosting) a BBQ this summer, these would make a great finale. They are light and not overly sweet. A bonus is the cake can be made ahead and frozen, then thawed and frosted the day of your party.

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Image for Pinterest of ginger cupcakes.

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Ginger Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream

Cheryl Bennett
Ginger cupcakes topped with fluffy lemon buttercream are a delicious treat, perfect for any occasion.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 43 minutes
Course Desserts
Cuisine American
Servings 12 cupcakes
Calories 378 kcal


Ginger simple syrup

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger peeled and sliced into coins

Ginger cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon candied ginger finely sliced, optional

Lemon buttercream

  • 4 cups powdered sugar icing sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter 1/2 cup, 1 stick, softened
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 lemon


  • Ginger simple syrup
  • In a small sauce pot, combine sugar, water and sliced ginger.
  • Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally until sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Remove from heat, cool completely, then strain. Set aside.
  • Lemon buttercream
  • In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.
  • Beat on low speed until combined, then on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 – 4 minutes.
    Lemon buttercream in mixing bowl with electric mixer.
  • Make ginger cupcakes
  • Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C / Gas mark 4.
  • Line muffin tins with 12 cupcake liners.
  • In a medium bowl, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 – 4 minutes.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until fully incorporated.
  • Add half of the flour mixture and beat, then add vanilla, milk and water, then mix until fully incorporated.
    Adding flour to cupcake batter in mixing bowl.
  • Add remaining flour and mix thoroughly to combine, about 2 minutes.
  • Scoop batter into cupcake liners, 2/3 full.
  • Bake for approximately 18 minutes, or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
  • Remove from cupcake tin and place on cooling rack. Cool slightly.
  • Using a wooden skewer, poke 5 – 6 holes into cupcakes.
    Poking holes into ginger cupcakes.
  • Lightly brush tops of cupcakes with ginger syrup.
    Brushing simple syrup onto ginger cupcakes.
  • When completely cooled, frost with lemon buttercream and garnish with finely sliced candied ginger, if desired.
    Piping lemon buttercream onto ginger cupcakes.



The remaining ginger simple syrup is delicious in cocktails. I also like to boil it down until thick and syrupy, then drizzle over vanilla ice cream.


Serving: 1cupcakeCalories: 378kcalCarbohydrates: 76gProtein: 3gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 173mgFiber: 1gSugar: 62g
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Originally published 5/25/12, most recent update 6/25/21.

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