Lemon Drop Cupcakes

Lemon Drop Cupcakes

You just can't beat a good cupcake...

...or a good cocktail! One of my most-requested cake flavors when I was taking cake orders (and still one of my personal favorites) was my Lemon Drop Cake! But it wasn’t until I found Wilton Cakes 'Shot Top' pipettes that the cupcake idea struck. Once I finished the cupcakes I wished I'd had the idea sooner.  These were easy to make, so fun, and SO good! Recipe below! 


"Can I leave out the vodka?"
  • Absolutely if you'd rather! You'll lose that classic 'lemon drop martini' flavor a bit. But it's not a bad idea to leave it out if serving to any crowd that might not all be over 21. Replace the vodka in the cupcakes with sour cream, the vodka in the frosting with milk, and just leave it out of the pipette filling (or don't use the pipettes)! 

"Can I make the cupcakes / frosting ahead of time?"
  • You can! Wrap the cupcakes well (or use freezer zip-lock bags) and refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze up to 4 months. Transfer the frosting to a zip-lock bag and squeeze out the extra air, and again - refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze up to 4 months. Thaw in the refrigerator. 
    On a related note – cover any remaining cupcakes well after serving to keep them from drying out. I haven't road-tested the pipette filling over more than 24 hours, but the cupcakes themselves will keep 1-2 days at room temperature and 3-5 days in the fridge. 

"Do I have to make the cake / frosting from scratch?"
  • Not if you don't want to! You can substitute your favorite lemon cake mix; replace the oil with butter and the water with 3/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup vodka. Add 1 Tablespoon lemon extract (not lemon juice; it will react with the rising agents in the cake mix), 2 Tablespoons lemon zest, and a small package of lemon instant pudding mix (just the mix). Keep the baking pans the same! 
    Store bought frosting is usually a little thinner than my recipe; 1 Tablespoon lemon extract, 2 Tablespoons vodka, and then add a 1/4 cup of extra powdered sugar at a time until you reach a consistency that pipes and stays in place on the cupcakes well. 

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Lemon Drop Cupcakes
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5 from 1 vote

Lemon Drop Cupcakes

Adorable and delicious Lemon Drop cupcakes with a tiny cocktail (in a cute pipette) on top!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Decorating time25 minutes
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Lemon Drop Cupcakes, Lemon Drop Martini Cupcakes
Servings: 24 cupcakes
Calories: 505kcal
Author: Sarah H



Lemon Drop Cupcakes:

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese (one package, softened)
  • 1 cup butter (16 tablespoons or two sticks, softened)
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons vodka
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter

Lemon Drop pipette filling


Lemon Drop Cupcakes

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (180C), and prepare 24 muffin tins with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  • (Melt and cool butter; you don’t want it to cook your eggs!)
  • Combine all dry ingredients except pudding mix in a large bowl, then combine cooled butter, eggs, lemon extract & zest, pudding mix, milk, sour cream, and vodka in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 full. (Thick batter is normal! Using a large cookie scoop makes this an easy process.)
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until set in the centers and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool completely before decorating. (This is a great time to make your frosting and pipette filling!)

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with vodka and lemon extract until frosting reaches a pipeable consistency. (I recommend making the frosting on the thick side, so that the swirls hold their shape and the pipettes stay put.) Add salt if needed and beat until well combined.

‘Shot Top’ pipette filling

  • Combine 2 Tablespoons lemon juice with 3 ounces vodka and 3 ounces of simple syrup in a small glass, and stir to mix well.

Noooow – onto the fun part!! Decorating!

  • Transfer frosting to a large piping bag fitted with a star tip (I used a closed star similar to the wilton jumbo 1B). Pipe frosting in large swirls onto your cupcakes, and add a dusting of white sugar sprinkles.
  • Squeeze the air out of your pipettes, then submerge the open end into the pipette mix and allow them to fill. Press a pipette into the frosting on each cupcake.
  • Slice 24 lemon wedges and press a lemon wedge into the frosting on top of each cupcake.
  • Step back, give yourself a high-five, and admire your amazing cupcakes! When they’re ready to be eaten, squeeze the pipette to infuse the cupcake with your Lemon drop mix!



Please note nutrition information is an estimate and may not be exactly accurate. 
Note - a bit of recipe credit! I've modified significantly, but Two Sugar Bugs’ ‘Simply Vanilla Cupcakes’ was the inspiration for this cupcake base! Do yourself a favor and check out Tasia’s site; she is an amazing lady with a beautiful blog!


Serving: 1cupcake | Calories: 505kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 24g

Did you make these Lemon Drop Cupcakes?

Let me know how it went - or find me on Pinterest or on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo! 

You can also add a comment or a recipe rating at the bottom of the page! 🙂 


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10 thoughts on “Lemon Drop Cupcakes

  1. I have a question so I’m hoping you get this email and respond asap. My question. Are you mixing all my hand with spoon?.?.? Or hand mixer.. and then stir in flour mixture?

    Frosting part understand but please explain cake part. Thank you for your time. Excited to make these.

    1. Replied to your email, but in case anyone else has the same question – I mixed the cupcake batter by hand, but you could use a hand mixer for the wet ingredients if you wanted! Not a requirement though. 🙂

  2. First thank you for your message… I do have one more question making these for my BF birthday it’s next Friday. Can I make cupcakes ahead of time like Tuesday and finish frosting Thursday night?.. need your opinion one more time thank you sooo much. Appreciate it

    1. Full disclosure – I’ve not tried it with this particular cupcake recipe. But I’ve kept other cupcake batches in the refrigerator for a couple days and they’ve been fine! If they’re completely cooled before going into the refrigerator and are well-wrapped and protected from drying out I think making them ahead of time should work fine 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    Theae cupcakes were moist and scrumptious. The frosting was Devine and the lemon droppers made them extra special. They will be in my rotation for special occasions for sure.

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