Orange Cupcakes are the dreamiest dessert! Fluffy orange cupcakes are filled with luscious orange curd and frosted in a silky orange cream cheese frosting. Each bite tastes just like an orange creamsicle, in the best way! Oranges, it’s your time to shine in this unexpected & delightful dessert.
Winter can be beautiful, and it can also be a dreary time of year for many. Thankfully, peak citrus season and winter collide to bring us bright, delicious recipes like these cupcakes. Let’s dive in to this sunshiney bake!
Why you’ll love this Orange Cupcake recipe:
- Luscious Orange Curd Filling – A rich and silky orange curd bursts with bright orange flavor from freshly squeezed orange juice and fresh orange zest.
- Fluffy Cupcakes – Ultra fluffy & moist vanilla cupcakes are flavored with fresh orange juice and zest.
- Silky Orange Frosting – A silky orange cream cheese frosting tops these cupcakes. It has vanilla, orange juice, and orange zest.
- Fresh Orange Flavor – We’re using fresh orange juice & zest to bring the flavor instead of relying on anything artificial like orange extract. It makes for the best cupcakes!
As always, the full recipe with measurements & directions can be found at the bottom of this post.
- Orange Juice – Use freshly squeezed orange juice.
- Butter – I prefer salted, but you can use unsalted butter if that’s your preference.
- Vegetable Oil – Using a combination of oil and butter gives this cake the best of both worlds – oil keeps the cake tender and moist, while butter adds flavor.
- Egg – Use a large egg, at room temperature.
- Milk – I used 2% milk (lactose-free, in fact!).
- Sour Cream – Use full-fat sour cream at room temperature for best results.
- Cake Flour– Cake flour produces a more tender crumb in a cake and I highly recommend using it! Spoon & level your flour for best results, or use a scale. Scooping the measuring cup directly in will lead to too much flour, giving you a dry cake. 1 cup of cake flour is 110 grams, whereas 1 cup of all-purpose flour is 130 grams.
- Vanilla Extract – Since the flavor in this cake comes from simple quality ingredients, be sure to use real vanilla instead of imitation for the best flavor.
- Sour Cream – Full fat greek yogurt will work in place of the sour cream.
- Dairy-free – Use your favorite, trusted, dairy-free products in this recipe.
- Gluten-free – I have not tested a gluten-free version of this recipe.
How to Make this Recipe Step-by-Step:
Step 1: Make the Orange Curd. Heat together eggs, egg yolks, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook until thickened, then strain and stir in the butter and vanilla. Let cool and refrigerate until ready to use.
Step 2: Mix the Wet Ingredients. In a medium or large bowl, beat together the butter and vegetable oil. Add the granulated sugar and orange zest to the butter mixture, and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add the egg and mix until combined and fluffy. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla on medium speed until smooth.
Step 3: Add the Dry Ingredients. Mix in half of the dry ingredients on low speed, then the milk, then the remaining half of the flour mixture.
Step 4: Bake the Cupcakes. Fill cupcake tins with paper liners, and fill these about 2/3 full. Bake as directed in the recipe card below.
Step 5: Core & Fill the Cupcakes. Once the cupcakes have baked and cooled, use a cupcake corer, sharp knife, or a teaspoon to remove the center. Fill with 1-2 tsp of orange curd, then place the top back on. Frost the top of each cupcake and enjoy!
Serving + Storing this Recipe:
Once the cupcakes are frosted, dig in! You can also pop the frosted cupcakes in the fridge to chill for 10-30 minutes if your frosting is a bit soft from being out. Store filled & frosted cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Expert Success Tips:
- Oven Thermometer – An oven thermometer will tell you if your oven is actually running at the temperature you set it to. Your oven may not be accurate. Accurate oven temperature is crucial for most bakes, so I leave an oven thermometer in at all times to keep an eye on my oven’s calibration.
- Kitchen Scale – A food scale is the best way to make sure your flour is at the proper weight, since amounts will vary SO widely based on how you measure it, as well as the measuring cup you use, as they are not standardized.
- Weepy Frosting – Beating the cream cheese into the frosting last helps prevent weepy or runny frosting, but if it still gets runny, you can pop the frosting in the fridge or freezer at any time to help stiffen it back up. (The warmer it gets, the runnier it can get.)
Yes, you can. If you need to measure half of an egg, beat the whole egg in a small bowl and measure out 2 tablespoons, or weigh out half using your kitchen scale.
The frosting can be made 1-2 days ahead and stored, covered, in the fridge. Let come back to room temperature for 10-30 minutes or so before using. Re-mix with your electric mixer to get it spreadable or pipe-able again. The cupcakes can be baked, cooled, and stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 1 day before filling & frosting. The orange filling can be made 2-3 days in advance.
- Lime Cupcakes – Substitute my lime curd for the orange curd, and substitute lime juice and zest for orange in the frosting and cupcakes to make lime cupcakes.
- Oranges – I used navel oranges in this recipe, but you could use blood oranges instead.
- Piping Tip – I used a Wilton 1A piping tip to frost these cupcakes.
- Piping Bags – I like large piping bags best!
- Cupcake Corer – A cupcake corer makes filling cupcakes a breeze!
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More Citrus Recipes to Love:
- Luscious Orange Curd
- Blood Orange Upside Down Cake
- Ultra Plush Lemon Loaf
- Lime Curd
- Key Lime Cheesecake
More Cupcake Recipes to Love:
- Maple Bacon Cupcakes
- Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
- Nutella Cupcakes
- Yellow Birthday Cupcakes with Malted Chocolate Frosting
Did you make this recipe? Snap a photo and leave a comment!
Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes
For the Orange Curd
- 2 and 1/2 large oranges, zested
- 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp orange juice, freshly squeezed About 3 large oranges
- 2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar 140 grams
- 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 2 large whole eggs, at room temperature
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 tbsp salted butter, at room temperature & cubed 85 grams
For the Cupcakes:
- 1 and 3/4 cups cake flour, spooned & leveled 193 grams
- 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 + 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp salted butter, at room temperature 71 grams
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil 54 mL
- 1 and 1/3 cups granulated sugar 280 grams
- 2 large oranges, zested
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 large egg white, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp full fat sour cream, at room temperature 90 grams
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature I used 2%
For the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1 and 1/2 cups salted butter, at room temperature 340 grams
- 5 and 3/4 cups powdered sugar 644 grams
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 tsp orange zest
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 8 ounces cream cheese, cubed (straight from the fridge) 226 grams
- additional orange zest
- Make the Orange Curd: Make the orange curd according to my orange curd recipe found here. Let it cool completely, then refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use. I like to make it a day ahead.
- Prep: Preheat your oven to 350℉. Line 2 cupcake pans with cupcake liners. Add the granulated sugar for the cupcakes to a small bowl with the orange zest, and rub the orange zest into the sugar with clean hands, until the mixture resembles wet sand (just like in the orange curd!)
- Make the Cupcakes: In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened butter for about 30 seconds, until creamy. Add the vegetable oil and beat together for 1 minute. Add the orange zested sugar and beat on high speed for 2 full minutes. The mixture will be fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl throughout, to ensure everything is combined. Add the egg white & whole egg, and beat on medium high for 45 seconds. The mixture will be very fluffy. Add the sour cream and vanilla and mix on medium speed until just combined.Add half of the dry ingredients with the mixer running on low speed. Add the milk and orange juice with a few streaks of flour remaining, then when the milk is almost mixed in, add the remaining dry ingredients. When just a few streaks of flour remain, turn off the mixer and use a spatula to gently fold in any stray bits of dry mixture. Don't over mix!
- Bake: Dollop cupcake batter in to the lined pans, filling about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 14-16 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center will pull out moist crumbs. The cupcakes won't have domed up a ton. Let cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack, then after 5-10 minutes, use a butter knife to pop them out and continue allowing them to cool on a cooling rack.
- Make Frosting: While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting. Beat the butter in a large mixing bowl until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar, using the orange juice to help it come together. (You can add a splash of milk too, as needed.) Beat in the orange zest and vanilla, then beat in the cream cheese last. (This helps prevent a weepy frosting.)
- Fill & Frost Cupcakes: Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, use a cupcake corer or a teaspoon to remove the centers. Add 1-2 tsp of orange curd to each cupcake, then place the cored bit back on top. Fit a large piping bag with a Wilton 1A piping tip and fill with frosting. Hold the piping tip over the center of the cupcake, letting the tip touch the top of the cupcake and apply pressure, wiggling the piping bag slightly and moving upward as the mound of frosting begins to fill out. This is how I created the frosting look pictured.
- Serve & Store: Top frosted cupcakes with a little bit of orange zest and enjoy! If the frosting is a bit soft, pop the cupcakes in the fridge for 10-30 minutes to stiffen it a bit before eating, if desired. Store frosted cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.