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up close of lemon cupcake with lemon curd in the middle with a whip of buttercream and poppyseeds

Lemon PoppySeed Cupcakes (Gluten-free + Vegan)


Gluten-Free and Vegan Lemon PoppySeed Cupcakes with Swiss meringue buttercream. These light, fluffy and zesty lemon cupcakes are perfect for any special occasion!


Units Scale

Ingredients for the cupcakes

  • 160g of gluten-free plain flour
  • 125g of caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/3 teaspoon of Xanthan gum
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 60ml of sunflower oil
  • 240ml of dairy-free milk
  • 1 + 1/2 tablespoon of poppy seeds

Ingredients for the lemon curd

  • 3 tablespoons of corn flour + 2 tablespoons of water
  • 100g of dairy-free butter/margarine
  • 100g of caster sugar
  • 170ml of lemon juice
  • 3 small unwaxed lemons (zest)
  • 100g of vegan condensed milk*
  • Pinch of turmeric (used to enhance the colour – optional)

Ingredients or the buttercream

  • 150g of dairy-free block butter*
  • 300g of icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste / vanilla extract
  • 30ml of aquafaba (chickpea brine)*
  • 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds


Method (cupcakes)

  1. Preheat your oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan) and line two cupcake tins with cupcake cases.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the gluten-free free flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, Xanthan gum and lemon zest. Stir to combine and set aside.
  3. Add the oil and dairy-free milk into a jug, whisk to combine then pour into the dry ingredients.
  4. Fold in the poppy seeds. Mix until the batter is smooth and there are no lumps of dry mixture showing. Be careful not to over-mix. 
  5. Fill the cases 3/4 full with the batter. Make sure to tap the tins on the worktop to remove any air bubbles.
  6. Pop the cakes into the centre of the preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. You will know they are done when you put a knife or skewer down the centre of the cakes and it comes out clean and they are springy to the touch.
  7. Once baked, place the cupcakes on a cooling rack and allow to cool fully before filling and frosting.

Method (lemon curd)

  1. In a small bowl, add in the corn flour and water. Stir together to make a thick paste.
  2. Add the cornflour paste, dairy-free butter, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, condensed milk and a pinch of turmeric into a medium sized saucepan.
  3. Place the saucepan on the hob and heat over low to medium, stirring constantly, preferably with a whisk. After around 5-8 minutes the lemon curd will thicken. If the curd isn’t thickening, turn up the heat and constantly whisk.
  4. Pour the curd into a heat proof jar or bowl, cover and place aside to cool down.
  5. You can either put it in the fridge or keep it at room temperature to cool. Before you use it, give it a good stir as it will thicken. Any left over curd can be stored in the fridge, perfect for snacking on toast or on other desserts.

Method (buttercream)

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add in the dairy-free butter and whip until creamy. I use a stand mixer with a balloon whisk attachment, a hand mixer will work great too.
  2. Sift in the icing sugar and vanilla, whip on high speed for a couple of minutes to incorporate it.
  3. Pour in the aquafaba and whip for 5-8 minutes on high speed until it turns light and creamy. Don’t over whip it or it can become too soft. If it does, just add in more icing sugar until it’s thick and creamy.
  4. Whip in the poppyseeds to combine.
  5. Your Swiss meringue buttercream should be thick, very creamy, smooth and airy.
  6. Transfer the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a star tip nozzle.
  7. Core the cupcakes with an apple corer, knife or spoon and fill a piping bag with the lemon curd.
  8. Pipe some of the curd down the middle of the cupcakes, then pipe a swirl of buttercream on top.
  9. Decorate the cupcakes with an extra sprinkling of poppyseeds and a lemon slice for decoration (optional).


Storing: Store un-iced gluten-free cupcakes in a sealed container at room temperature for 1 day.  Decorated and filled cupcakes can be stored in the fridge, but allow them to come to room temperature before enjoying.

What dairy-free butter to use? My favourite vegan butters are Naturli Block and Flora’s Vegan Block Butter Alternative. 

What gluten-free flour to use? If you’re using plain flour, make sure to add in the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and Xanthan gum. If your’e able to find gluten-free self raising flour which already has the raising agents in, only add in the baking powder and Xanthan gum

What is aquafaba? Aquafaba is the water from a can/tin of chickpeas. The chickpea water or brine as it’s called, acts as an amazing egg substitute for cakes, cupcakes and delicious meringue buttercream. You can also get aquafaba in a carton for easy use.

What vegan condensed milk to use? My favourite vegan condensed milk is Natures Charm Vegan Condensed Coconut Milk and Carnation condensed Oat Milk. 

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Gluten free cupcakes, lemon poppyseed cupcakes, vegan lemon cupcakes, gluten free vegan cupcakes