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Lemon Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting- You’ll never recognize this boxed cake mix after adding hints of lemon and homemade frosting for a refreshing spring treat.

May 15, 2023 by Nicole Collins

Happy first day of spring!

That’s how this post was supposed to start anyway.

But because…life…we’re halfway through May and almost two months past my target posting date.

It is what it is!

I’m working on being better about giving myself grace. I’m only one person and there are only so many hours in the day/week/month/year. And, better late than never. Isn’t that what they say?

Though today’s dessert screams spring, it’s totally the perfect fruity treat to indulge in any time of year.

Today, we’re making Lemon Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting!

Let me tell you…these are as absolutely delicious as they are beautiful. Seriously I took these into work a few weeks ago, and my coworkers are still talking about them. I mean not to brag or anything, but they’re kind of EPIC. And soooooooo easy too!

You guys know the drill by now. If you’re seeing baked goods on this page, you can pretty much guarantee there’s a cheat code involved. For cakes and cupcakes, I almost always start with a boxed mix. And, that’s what we’re doing today.

We’ll start with a box of yellow cake mix as well as the eggs, water, and oil called for on the box. But to make the cupcakes extra special, we’re going to jazz them up with all the lemony goodness. To our cake batter, we’re going to add both lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix it in, fill the cupcake liners, and bake those babies until they’re soft and fluffy.

After the cupcakes cool, it’s time for the real magic…the frosting. We’ll start with a basic cream cheese frosting which simply uses cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and a little cream. But to take this frosting to a special level of epic, we’ll add in some strawberry magic: freeze dried strawberries.

What I didn’t realize until just recently is that not everyone knows what freeze dried strawberries are. The amount of people that asked me if they were frozen, where I got them, and a plethora of other questions made me stop and think that I better take a moment to explain. Freeze dried strawberries are simply fresh strawberries that have had the water content removed. When you look at a package of freeze dried strawberries, the only ingredient you’ll see is “strawberry”. It kind of reminds me of space food because it’s dry and crisp. I typically find these in the same aisle as the dried fruit and nuts, and I actually get mine from Aldi. It’s not to be confused with dried strawberries/fruit which is kind of gummy with all kinds of extra added sugars and preservatives. That’s definitely not what we want here. Then of course, frozen berries are what you find in the freezer section of that store. That’s not what we want here either.

Because freeze dried strawberries are crispy crunchy, it’s extremely easy to grind them into dust. I like to pop mine in a personal rocket blender, and let it process for a few seconds until it’s powder. Add that right into the frosting mix, blend it up, and finish your cupcakes with that sweet and fruity goodness. That’s all there is to it! We get all the flavor of fresh fruit without all the liquid that can ruin our frosting. It’s the best of both worlds.

These gorgeous little cupcakes are the definition of spring. They’re light. They’re fluffy. They’re fruity. They’re bright. And, they’re just the perfect level of sweetness that doesn’t make you feel like you’re thrust into a sugar coma. The balance of sweet and tangy is unbeatable. So darn good!

Ok, everyone! I’ve been filling my coworkers up with all the sweet treats the past few weeks as we try to boost morale in the office. So, let me know what we should try out on them next. They’re great guinea pigs!

I hope you guys enjoy. And, let’s eat!


Lemon Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Serves: 24 Print


For the Cake:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix, plus ingredients called for to prepare mix

  • 2 tbsp lemon zest (grated lemon peel)

  • 2 ½ tbsp lemon juice

For the Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature

  • 1 stick (½ cup) butter, softened at room temperature

  • 1 pack (1.2oz) freeze dried strawberries

  • 1 lb (16 oz or about 4 cups) powdered sugar

  • 2 tbsp heavy cream

  • 1 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cupcake pans with cupcake liners. Add ingredients called for on cake mix box plus lemon juice and lemon zest to the cake mix. Stir by hand until completely combined and mostly smooth. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter. Bake according to package directions. Cool cake completely.

  2. Make the Cream Cheese Frosting: Add softened cream cheese and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix together on medium high speed for 1 minute until everything is mixed together and looking creamy. In a personal rocket blender or small food processor, grind the freeze dried strawberries into a powder. Add the strawberry powder, powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla to the mixing bowl. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds until the sugar starts to incorporate into the butter mixture. Turn up to medium high speed, and finish mixing for about 1-2 minutes until the frosting is smooth and creamy.

  3. Finish the cupcakes: Use a piping bag fitted with a large star tip to decorate the cupcakes, if desired. Alternately, use a small offset spatula to top cupcakes with frosting. Enjoy!

Recipe notes:

*Store leftover cupcakes in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.

*I've always mixed box cake mixes by hand. This isn't an official ruling, but I believe that mixing by hand prevents over mixing which in turn leads to a fluffier cake. The batter is thin enough that it's not a struggle to do. That's what I tell myself anyway!

*Freeze dried strawberries are strawberries that have had all of the water content removed. They are dry and crispy. You can typically find these in the same aisle as the nuts and dried fruit. I get mine at Aldi for a great price!


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