Pistachio and Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Buttercream

Last week I saw a random recipe for Lemon Cake (Ina Garten’s) come through my Facebook feed.  It not only looked and sounded delicious, but it inspired me to add to it.  You can find her original one here and then see how I modified it below.   I took her traditional lemon cake, lowered some of the calories and then also added in pistachios and a blackberry butter cream frosting.

Lemon pistachio cupcakes with blackberry buttercream recipe

Pistachio and Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Buttercream

The combination of flavors is incredible and you're going to love this one for summer. The recipe is broken out into two parts below.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 18 cupcakes


Lemon & Pistachio Cupcakes

  • 1/2 lb unsalted butter
  • 2 and 1/2 cups sugar separated (you can substitute with a calorie free sweetener like Splenda if you prefer)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 6-8 large lemons zested
  • 3 cups all-purpose white flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (fine grain)
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (you can substitute with a low fat option if you prefer)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used 1 tbsp because I really love vanilla)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped pistachio nuts (save half for sprinkling over the frosting)

Blackberry Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 5 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 cups blackberries separated into 2 bowls
  • 1/3 cup milk (you can use cream, skim or whatever you prefer)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Lemon & Pistachio Cupcakes

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and either grease or line your cupcake pan with cupcake liners. 

    lemon cake ingredients
  2. Now put the butter and 2 cups of regular sugar in your stand mixer and beat it until it's light and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium (I always beat on medium high) and start adding the large eggs 1 at a time. As you're adding them, you want to add lemon zest too.

  3. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.

  4. Mix your wet ingredients in a second bowl including 1/4 cup of lemon juice buttermilk and vanilla.

    lemon pistachio cake batter
  5. Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients to your stand mixer while it's still mixing on medium. I use a 1/2 cup or 1 cup measuring cup for this. Ina's recipe says to make sure you start and end with the dry mixture so I'm going to stick with that.

  6. Now pour the batter into the cupcake pan evenly (about an ice cream scoop or 1/4 or 1/3 cup depending on the size you want). Now you can sprinkle some of the pistachio pieces into the batter or you can let them start to cook and quickly add them. Now let the cupcakes bake for about 10 minutes and check them. Chances are they'll need another 2 - 5 minutes. The way to tell is when they start to crisp around the edges. Take them out and stick a skewer or small knife in the middle. If it comes out clean, your cupcakes are done.

  7. Set aside to cool.

    how to make lemon pistachio cupcakes

Blackberry Buttercream Frosting

  1. Place the sticks of butter in your stand mixer and let it whip for about 10 minutes. You'll want to scrape down the sides every couple of minutes. While it's half way done, add in the vanilla extract.

  2. Now turn down the beater and add in 1/4 cup of blackberries and start pouring in the sifted powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time. Now pour in a splash of cream and them more powdered sugar. Keep doing this until it gets the color, texture and consistency you want. Ideally you'll have a large Ziploc bag full once you finish.

    WARNING: Make sure you don't let it get too thin. Unless you have more powdered sugar, don't over add blackberries and cream/milk. This will destroy the frosting.

    how to make blackberry frosting
  3. Now place the frosting in a Ziploc bag and cut off the corner. Once the cupcakes are cool, pipe it onto the lemon and pistachio cupcakes and then decorate however you'd like.

Recipe Notes

These cupcakes taste amazing with sweet champagnes like a spumante or a moscato grape.  You could also match them to a Riesling, Vidal, ice wine or late harvest.  Because they aren't too sweet, you can easily enjoy it with any other dessert styled beverage.

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