Orange Cupcakes With Fresh Orange Buttercream (Vegan)

Lemons are great, but they’re not the only citrus that makes delicious desserts!
These cupcakes get their orange zing from fresh juice and zest in the batter and in the buttercream.

When you think of fruity desserts, what fruits come to mind? Apples, bananas… maybe berries? I’d be willing to bet that lemon is somewhere on that list. From lemon bars to lemon meringue pie, the classic yellow citrus has come to be very popular, and for good reason! It provides a tart freshness that just can’t be matched by chocolate or vanilla. I myself am a fan of lemon desserts. Just last week, I visited a specialty donut shop in Cleveland, and lemon poppy was the best donut I tried! It was even better than the massive one filled with vegan chocolate cream and topped with sprinkles. And that’s saying something!

Vegan lemon poppy donut from Brewnuts in Cleveland!

Though I agree that lemon is a fantastic flavor, I also believe that it gets too much attention. There are other citrus fruits that are just as good: lime, grapefruit, and – best of all – orange! Though often overlooked, oranges provided the same tang as lemon with a bit of added sweetness. They’re great for more than just juice!

These vegan orange cupcakes make good use of the underdog citrus, both in the frosting and in the cake itself. Fresh juice and zest are especially prominent in the sweet, fluffy buttercream that sits atop these mini masterpieces. I found myself taking more than a few licks from the bowl of extra frosting! It was just too good to resist. That being said, if you bake anything during this quarantine, I encourage you to make it these orange cupcakes!

Looking for other cupcake ideas? You can find all my cupcake recipes here.

Vegan Orange Cupcakes With Fresh Orange Buttercream

Lemon desserts are all the rage, but there's another citrus that's often overlooked. Fresh oranges are the star in these vegan cupcakes!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Dairy Free, Vegan
Keyword best vegan desserts, best vegan recipes, citrus cupcake recipes, citrus cupcakes, citrus dessert recipes, citrus desserts, citrus recipes, cupcake flavors, cupcake recipes, cupcakes, dairy free buttercream, dairy free cupcakes, dairy free desserts, dairy free frosting, egg free cupcakes, fresh fruit cupcakes, fresh orange cake, fruit dessert recipes, orange buttercream, orange cake, orange cupcakes, orange dessert recipes, orange desserts, orange recipes, spring dessert recipes, spring desserts, spring recipes, summer dessert recipes, summer desserts, summer recipes, vegan buttercream, vegan cupcakes, vegan dessert, vegan dessert ideas, vegan dessert recipes, vegan frosting, vegan fruit desserts, vegan summer desserts, vegan sweets, winter desserts
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Frosting Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 9 cupcakes
Calories 362.9 kcal


For the Cupcakes

  • 2 tbsp ground flax mixed with 6 tbsp water
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup canned coconut milk full fat
  • 1/2 medium orange (zested and juiced) see notes*
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp orange extract optional for more orange flavor

For the Frosting

  • 1/2 cup vegan butter room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 medium orange (zested and juiced) see notes*


For the Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9 cups of a standard muffin pan with cupcake liners.

  2. Combine ground flax and water in a small bowl. Stir and set aside to thicken.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
  4. In a larger bowl, whisk together oil and sugar. Add prepared flax mixture, coconut milk, orange juice and zest, vanilla, and orange extract (if using). Whisk thoroughly until well combined.
  5. Gently stir dry ingredients into wet using a rubber spatula, just until incorporated.
  6. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full with batter. Bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into cupcakes comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and transfer cupcakes to wire cooling rack while preparing frosting.

For the Frosting

  1. Add the room temperature butter to the bowl of an electric stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until creamy.
  2. Scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add 1 cup powdered sugar. Mix slowly at first, increasing speed as sugar is incorporated. Add 1 tbsp orange juice and beat for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again, then add remaining sugar and orange juice along with orange zest. Beat on high speed until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Transfer buttercream to a piping bag and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Recipe Notes

  • 1/2 medium orange should yield approx. 1/2 tbsp zest + 3 tbsp juice

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