Front shot of a vanilla cupcake with lemon marshmallow frosting that's been toasted. More cupcakes and sliced lemons in the background.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Lemon Marshmallow Frosting

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Spring is finally approaching and today I have the perfect, easy Spring cupcake. These vanilla cupcakes with lemon marshmallow frosting are super easy to make and basically taste like lemon meringue pie without needing to make lemon curd!

These vanilla cupcakes are basically like a big bite of Spring and I’m so in love with them. Lemon meringue pie is one of my all time favourites as I love anything that’s citrusy and zingy. While lemon meringue pie requires you to make lemon curd, which can be tricky and finicky, these cupcakes only require an Italian meringue.

While I know Italian meringue can also seem intimidating, I promise it’s so easy! It intimidated me for ages until I actually tried it and now I make it all the time. I love that gooey marshmallow texture and taste but I also love that’s it’s so much less sugar than a traditional American buttercream. I based this lemon marshmallow frosting off my homemade marshmallow frosting, but tweaked it a little so it has a bright lemon flavour.

Front view of a vanilla cupcake topped with lemon marshmallow frosting. More cupcakes and sliced lemons in the background.

So if you did want to go all out and make a lemon meringue pie cupcake, which I do plan to get around to an actual full recipe for, you can definitely use the leftover egg yolks to whip up a lemon curd. Then using the large end of a piping nozzle, scoop out the inside of the cupcake and then pipe the curd in.

You could also fill these cupcakes with pretty much any jam and it would also be amazing! White chocolate ganache is also a great option.

I’ve used my easy vanilla cupcakes here but you could mix it up a little and use a chocolate cupcake as well. Chocolate and lemon is actually an amazing combo!

My lemon marshmallow frosting in this recipe is not like a traditional marshmallow frosting with corn syrup. Instead this is basically just a stiffer Italian meringue. Due to the extra sugar, it is very stable throughout the day but will still start to wilt the next day, especially in humid environments. Once it starts to wilt, it’s still completely edible but I do recommend eating these day of or the next day for best taste and texture.

If you’ve never made an Italian meringue before, please don’t be intimidated. I was incredibly intimidated at the thought of trying Italian meringue when seeing others make it on baking shows. However, after trying it once, I’ve been hooked! As you can see here, I’ve started experimenting with it to see what other flavours I can come with just cause I love making it and eating it so much. As long as you have a kitchen thermometer, you’ll have no troubles!

Front view of a vanilla cupcake topped with lemon marshmallow frosting. More cupcakes and sliced lemons in the background.
  • Make sure there’s no fat on any of your tools or equipment. Thoroughly wash everything or wipe it clean with vinegar. Fat or grease can prevent the egg whites from whipping up. Mind you, I’ve never had this recipe fail and I’m not super careful but I do make sure everything feels grease free.
  • Make sure you properly separate your eggs. If you get yolk in with the egg whites, they won’t whip up.
  • Make sure you bring the sugar mixture to the right temperature, 240℉ or or 115°C using a thermometer. This is what basically “cooks” your eggs so they’re safe to eat and gives you a beautiful fluffy meringue.

There are many ways to do this but I find the easiest way is to crack the shell off the counter in the middle and pour the egg into your hand. Let the whites run into the bowl through your fingers while gently passing the egg between your hands. It’s much harder to break the yolk this way.

Other methods include passing the yolk back and forth between the two halves of the shell while letting the egg whites drop into the bowl or using egg separator tools.

Another tips is eggs are easier to separate when cold. When recipes, not including this one, call for eggs to be at room temperature, separate the eggs first then let them come to room temperature.

Front view of vanilla cupcake with lemon marshmallow frosting that's been cut in half showing the gooey frosting.

When it comes to measuring flour, the most accurate and easiest way is to use a kitchen scale. I always use a scale and could never go back to measuring in cups. It’s such a hassle and way more dishes!

If you don’t own a scale, there are a couple steps to properly measure flour as it becomes compacted just sitting in the bag or container. I highly recommend you follow these as just scooping flour out of the bag can potentially lead to at least an additional 1/4 cup of flour. This equals dry and dense baked goods which is not what anybody is going for.

1. Fluff the flour by giving it a mix with a whisk or fork.

2. Spoon the flour into your measuring cup.

3. Level the excess flour off using a butter knife. (With the back of the knife level to the top of the measuring cup, run it over top, pushing the excess flour back into it’s container.)

4. Repeat until you’ve measured the amount the recipe calls for.

  • When making the frosting, ensure all of your tools and equipment are grease free, otherwise the egg whites won’t whip up
  • Ensure you heat the sugar syrup to 240 degrees on a kitchen thermometer. This is what “cooks” the eggs and kills any bacteria.
  • Don’t overmix the batter or your cupcakes will be dense, not light and fluffy. Whisk the batter until it’s just combined.
  • I recommend using natural vanilla extract if you can as this is the main flavour in the cupcake itself.
  • I create my recipes based off weights so I recommend measuring by weights if you own a scale. It’s actually so much easier and makes for much less cleanup. I wish I had baked by weight from the beginning, I could never go back now.
Overhead diagonal view of a vanilla cupcake with lemon marshmallow frosting that's been toasted. More cupcakes and sliced lemons in the background.

Today’s song is by an absolute icon and is impossible not to sing along too. Here’s I’m Goin Down by Mary J. Blige. Happy baking!! **Disclaimer: Liv’s Little Muffins owns no rights to this song.

Don’t forget to leave a STAR REVIEW if you try my recipe! Follow me on Facebook or tag me on instagram @livslittlemuffins. Find more ideas on my Pinterest or Whisk.

Front shot of a vanilla cupcake with lemon marshmallow frosting that's been toasted. More cupcakes and sliced lemons in the background.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Lemon Marshmallow Frosting

Olivia Daly
These vanilla cupcakes with lemon marshmallow frosting taste just like lemon meringue pie and are the ultimate Spring or Easter cupcake. Easy to make and full of bright flavours.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Assembly Time 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Dessert
Servings 12


Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 1 1/3 cup (160g) all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (90g) canola oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 1/2 cup (115g) whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (60g) sour cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Lemon Marshmallow Frosting

  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (fresh if possible)
  • 2 large egg whites (not from a carton)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


For the Cupcakes

  • Line or spray 12 muffin tins. Preheat your oven to 350℉.
  • In a small mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar. Whisk for about 30 seconds, until well combined. Add in the oil, milk, sour cream and vanilla extract and whisk for an additional 30 seconds.
  • Add the dry mixture into the wet and whisk until just combined. Fill each muffin tin 2/3 full and bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool for a couple minutes in the tray and then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool.

For the Marshmallow Frosting

  • While the cupcakes cool, start making your frosting. Add the granulated sugar, water and lemon juice to a small saucepan. Give it a gentle stir so all the sugar is in the liquid. Heat on the stove over medium-low heat until the mixture reaches 240℉ on a thermometer. (Make sure you're not touching the thermometer off the bottom of the pot when checking the temperature as this will effect the accuracy) Don't stir, just let it heat up.
  • While the sugar mixture heats up, add the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar to a clean, grease free bowl of a stand mixer. (*see notes) Whisk on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. At this stage the egg whites will just barely hold their shape. Stop whisking at this point until the sugar comes to temperature.
  • Once the sugar syrup reaches 240℉, carefully slowly pour it into the egg whites while whisking at low speed. Once all the syrup is in, add your vanilla extract and whisk the meringue at medium-high speed until it becomes fluffy and glossy, about 2-4 minutes. It should about double in size.
  • Once the frosting has cooled to room temperature, add it to a piping bag with a piping tip. I used a 1M tip in the pictures. Pipe the frosting on the cupcakes, once they're fully cooled, in a swirl pattern or however you like.
  • If you want to toast the frosting, gently run a blowtorch back and forth over the frosting on each cupcake. Be careful though, this is just like roasting a marshmallow so it can catch fire if you hold it in one place too long.
  • Serve immediately or same day for best taste and texture and store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.


*If there’s any fat in your bowl or on your tools, the egg whites won’t whip up. To prevent this, wipe down everything with white vinegar, rinse and fully dry.
Keyword Lemon Meringue Pie Cupcakes, Vanilla Cupcakes with Lemon Marshmallow Frosting
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size1cupcake
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate36g
Dietary Fiber0g
Total Fat9g
Saturated Fat1g
Trans Fat0.07g

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