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Italian Lemon Cupcakes with Sweet Ricotta Cream by Modern Honey - www.modernhoney.comHave you ever bitten into a bakery cupcake, only to taste overly sweet frosting that sticks to the roof of your mouth? My kids and husband despise sickly sweet buttercream frosting so I was determined to create a frosting that they would swoon over.

When I was competing in recipe contests, there was nothing like the thrill of becoming a mad scientist and creating something unique in the kitchen. Bertolli Olive Oil was putting on a recipe contest for new and innovative recipes and the grand prize was a trip to Italy!  I was determined to create a beautiful dessert using olive oil and as a result, this Italian Lemon Cupcake with Sweet Ricotta Cream was born.

It’s always a rush when I experiment with a new recipe because I never have a clue if it’s going to turn out! When I pulled these lemon cupcakes out of the oven, my family waited with bated breath to frost them. The entire batch was literally devoured in 10 minutes, so I knew we had success! I had my brothers and parents over to be my taste testers and within minutes there were literally crumbs left. I was lucky to have been able to grab three lemon cupcakes just to snap a few photos! 🙂

I changed my original recipe by doubling the frosting because I quickly realized that this frosting is a game changer. The more frosting, the merrier.  I literally found my husband on the couch, licking the frosting bowl so I think Operation Frosting Overhaul was a success!

Italian Lemon Cupcakes with Sweet Ricotta Cream by Modern Honey -

This Italian Lemon Cupcake with Sweet Ricotta Cream Frosting is a light, moist cake, bursting with fresh squeezed lemon juice flavor, and topped with a sweet ricotta cream cheese frosting.  You can fill it with lemon curd for that extra burst of lemon. The key to the frosting is the use of both ricotta and cream cheese (or mascarpone, which is an Italian cream cheese) to offset the overly sweet powdered sugar.  When you bite into this lemon cupcake, you taste lemon instead of being bombarded with sugar.

Since lemon is the star ingredient in the cupcakes, the use of fresh lemon is essential for the success of these cupcakes. One of my favorite kitchen tools has to be my plane grater, otherwise known as a lemon zester. If you don’t have one, use a grater to get that fresh lemon zest. There’s nothing like fresh citrus in dishes!

Italian Lemon Cupcakes with Sweet Ricotta Cream by Modern Honey -

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4.80 from 10 votes

Italian Lemon Cupcakes with Sweet Ricotta Cream

By: Melissa Stadler, Modern Honey
Sweet Lemon Cupcake with fresh lemon juice and zest and topped with a creamy ricotta cream frosting.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes
Servings: 16 -24


  • Lemon Cupcake:
  • 1 cup Oil Olive Oil or Canola Oil
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup Whole Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Zest
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • Filling optional:
  • 1 cup Lemon Curd
  • Ricotta Cream Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 2 - 8 ounce pkgs. Cream Cheese or Mascarpone Cheese, softened
  • 4 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 2 teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Lemon Zest for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • In large mixing bowl, add oil, eggs, whole milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Cream for 2 minutes. In large bowl, add sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir into egg mixture and fold. Spray cupcake liners with nonstick cooking spray. Place batter into cupcake lined baking pan. Bake for 18-24 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool.
  • Optional: Once cupcakes cook, fill eat center with lemon curd.
  • For frosting:
  • In large bowl, cream together ricotta cheese and cream cheese for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping sides of bowl often. Add powdered sugar and lemon juice and cream together. Spread on top of cooled cupcakes and sprinkle lemon zest on top.

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Servings: 16 -24
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Italian Lemon Cupcakes with Sweet Ricotta Cream by Modern Honey -

Hopefully, your family will go crazy over these lemon cupcakes just like ours did. To this day, it’s one of the most requested desserts in our house. Thanks as always for your support. I have the greatest friends in the world! xoxo

Hi, I'm Melissa Stadler!

I am an Award-Winning Recipe Creator. Cover of Food Network Magazine. Two-Time Pillsbury Bake-Off Finalist. I am passionate about sharing the best recipes so you have success in the kitchen!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 4 stars
    Hi, I made these today they’re very tasty and moist, however, I do like lemon cakes to be a bit less sweet (and more tart). Can I reduce the sugar content, or will that affect the texture too much? Thanks

  2. These are delicious beyond your wildest dreams… and I’m not a lemon fan! Since I started handing these out, everybody is begging to be on my list! Before I frost them, I spread a little Trader Joe’s lemon curd on the top of the cupcake, and then the frosting on top of that.

  3. 5 stars
    This is the easiest and most foolproof cupcake recipe I’ve ever made! I made these for friends and family and they all LOVED IT. The olive oil makes it super moist and fluffy, and the cupcake itself is so light. I added a lot more lemon juice to my frosting just because I wanted it to be more lemon-y and tart. Next time I’ll be adding lemon curd.

  4. I made these marvelous cupcakes years ago, but without the lemon curd. How do you add it? Slice them in half? Scoop out the middles? Your Italian Olive Oil Lemon Cake with the curd was a big favorite with friends and relatives, so I want to try adding the curd to these.

    1. Hi Nancy! You could just spread a thin layer on top of the cupcake before adding the frosting. You could also scoop out a small amount of the cupcake and place lemon curd inside the cupcake. Let me know how it turns out! 🙂

  5. 4 stars
    Hi Linda, I made your recipe for lemon cupcakes and ricotta, mascarpone lemon frosting. Instead of cupcakes I made it into a square cake and added a little more lemon. Everyone loved it. I didn’t have any issues with runny frosting as I also added a little copra that I melted before then added it to my frosting. Regards from Pauline in South Australia. ????

  6. This sounds like a good recipe for me to bring to our Italian club luncheon. How long can they be left out of fridge before serving?
    I would like to make them in August and I don’t know if there will be a way to keep them cool They might be out about an hour and a half.
    Thanks for sharing this great sounding recipe.

  7. 5 stars
    These are amazing!!! I substituted avacodo oil for the olive oil and they turned out great. I’ll definitely make these again!