Mini Sweet Lemon Cakes

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Perfectly light and refreshing Mini Sweet Lemon Cakes – This small batch recipe makes 5 mini cakes that are moist, sweet, and highlighted with fresh lemon. Top the cakes with your favorite frosting, or a light and airy Marshmallow Meringue!

Single mini lemon cake with whipped frosting

Lemon Mini Cakes

There is just something about a lemon dessert that makes me smile.  I’m sure there is some psychology behind the bright yellow color that evokes happiness (i.e. sunshine), and cheer (i.e. smile emoji).  But, the reason may be too deep of a subject for this baking blog.  

I have had an abundance of fresh lemons lately.  We subscribe to Hello Fresh (and no, I’m not being compensated for the plug …), and almost every recipe has a fresh lemon.  And it seems ironic that I need my savory meals delivered when my career is home-baking.  We won’t get into the psychology of that either … 

Needless to say, with so many lemons around, I don’t want to just make lemonade.  (Pause for hysterical laughter).  Mini Cakes are the perfect vehicle to deliver the bright citrus flavor in a dessert.  There is something about the tart lemon pairing with the sweetness of the cake that makes for a delightful little bite.  And one that will keep you coming back for more!

Small Batch Cake

Wait – these are already mini cakes – and they are a small batch too?  Of course.  This recipe can technically make a single layer 6-inch cake if you would prefer.  But, during quarantine time, portion control is necessary for this house, so I opted for mini cakes.  With a rule that there is only 1 allowed per day.  Funny how nobody followed my rule.  

Baking Mini Lemon Cakes in a brownie pan

Is it still a cake if it is made in a brownie pan?  Yes.  But one could also argue that it is also a cupcake.  So, what is the difference?  Nothing.  It is all purely aesthetic, and who doesn’t love a cute little frosted mini cake?!

This is the brownie pan I used for this recipe.  Even though the pan is a non-stick pan, I don’t like to test my odds, so I still grease and flour the cups.  And to take it one guaranteed step further, I like to line the cups with a strip of parchment paper.  The strip works like a sling so you can easily lift the cakes out of the pan.

Two frosted lemon cakes

Keeping cakes moist

Every baker likely has their tips and tricks for keeping cakes moist.  My trick is fat – i.e. the butter, milk, and sour cream. 

  • The butter is key, and using real butter is always best.  Both for flavor and texture. 
  • I like to add sour cream because of the fat content and acidity.  The acids in the cream tenderize the gluten in the flour for, you guessed it, a tender cake.
  • Milk brings in more fat and moisture and keeps the cake soft.

Of course, there are many, many more tips for a moist cake:  sugar, don’t over-mix the batter, don’t over-bake it … maybe I could write a post on how to assure a perfectly moist cake.  Until then, if you want to read some expert advice, here is some I follow.  

More Cake for Two Recipes

Tray of sweet lemon cakes
Frosted lemon cakes on a cake stand
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5 from 1 review

Mini Sweet Lemon Cakes

Yield: 5 Mini Cakes
Perfectly light and refreshing Mini Sweet Lemon Cakes – This recipe makes 5 mini cakes that are moist, sweet, and highlighted with fresh lemon. Top the cakes with your favorite frosting, or a light and airy Marshmallow Meringue!
Prep10 minutes
Cook15 minutes
Total25 minutes


  • Square Brownie Bar Pan (or) Muffin/Cupcake Pan
  • Hand Held Mixer with Beater Attachements


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup milk, room temperature (any kind)
  • 2 tablespoons full fat sour cream, room temperature


  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Lightly grease and flour 5 cups of the brownie pan or muffin pan. Cut 1-inch strips of parchment paper – long enough to overhang the cups – and place in the middle of the cups.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, add the milk and sour cream and mix until combined.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar. Use a hand-held mixer on medium speed to beat together until creamy. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract and egg. Beat until combined.
  • In a small mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add 1/3 of the dry mix to the wet ingredients and beat on low speed until combined. Add 1/2 of the milk mix, and beat until just combined. Add another 1/3 of the dry mix, beat until just combined. Then the remaining milk mix, beat, followed by the last of the dry mix. I like to fold in the last of the dry mix with a spatula, until no flour streaks remain.
  • Pour the batter evenly into the prepared baking pan cups. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean.
  • Cool the mini cakes in the baking pan for 5 minutes, then gently lift out of the cups using the parchment paper strips. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting and serving.
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  • You can also make the lemon cakes into a single layer 6-inch cake, or cupcakes.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich
Nutrition information is calculated by a third-party and should only be considered an estimate and not a guarantee.
Three mini lemon cakes in a row
About the author photo.

about the author ...

I'm Erin and I'm all about desserts - and a little bit of butter!

I've tested, written, and photographed hundreds of recipes on my website. Here you'll find the tastiest small batch gluten free and traditional desserts - all homemade, all simple, and all for you!

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