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Orange Cupcakes

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Prep Time: 10 minutes     Cook Time: 13 minutes

5 from 4 votes

These delicious orange cupcakes offer hints of orange and vanilla in every bite. The orange frosting gives even more citrus appeal. If you're a fan of all things orange you'll love these!

Orange cupcakes with a slice of orange on top.
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Cupcakes are a versatile treat. They're great for nearly any occasion and there are so many kinds to choose from like strawberry filled cupcakes or cinnamon cupcakes just to name a couple of my favorites!

I especially love these orange cupcakes because they are so easy to make. You don't have to be a seasoned baker to make them and you're going to be bowled over by how incredible they taste!

Main Ingredients

The ingredients used to make orange cupcakes spread out on a table.

These orange cupcakes are so good and they're easy to make as well. Let's take a look at some of the main ingredients you're going to need:

  • Orange extract: Gives a zesty taste. Orange is of course the main flavor in these orange cupcakes, so use a good quality extract. This ingredient is used in the frosting as well, where it is supported with fresh orange zest.
  • Vanilla extract: Always good with citrus. Orange and vanilla pair together beautifully. Don't use synthetic vanilla essence here.
  • Cream cheese: For the perfect frosting consistency. Cream cheese is rich and creamy and it's great for making this cupcake frosting. The tang of cream cheese contrasts beautifully with the sweet taste of the orange. Use room temperature cream cheese so it blends more easily.
  • Sugar: For sweetness. You will need granulated white sugar for the cupcakes and confectioners' sugar, also known as powdered sugar or icing sugar, for the frosting.
  • Baking soda: For lightness. This ingredient helps ensure your orange cupcakes rise during baking and achieve the right texture.
  • Sour cream: A multipurpose ingredient. Not only does the acidity of sour cream activate the baking soda, but it also adds moisture without thinning the batter down.
  • Butter: Adds richness to the frosting. Use room temperature butter so it blends better with the other frosting ingredients.

Instructions Overview

First, beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy, and then mix in the eggs gradually. Now you can beat in the milk, sour cream, orange, and vanilla.

Mix the flour with the salt and baking soda in another bowl and then add this to the egg mixture.

Line a muffin tin with paper liners then fill each one about ¾ full with the batter. Bake until done, lowering the oven temperature partway through cooking.

You can now let the orange cupcakes cool while you prepare the frosting. Beat the cream cheese with the butter until fluffy then mix in the confectioners' sugar, orange extract, orange zest, and some orange food coloring too.

Then pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes and add a fresh orange slice or some orange zest as a garnish if you like.

A cupcake with a bite taken out of it.

Common Questions

Can you use a Ziploc bag as a piping bag?

Don't worry if you don't have a piping bag because a gallon-sized Ziploc bag will work just as well. What you need to do is fold a bottom corner up to the opposite top corner and secure it with tape. Spoon all the frosting into the bag and squeeze out any excess air. Snip the tip of the bag off and pipe it onto the cakes!

Is orange extract the same as orange juice?

If you don't have orange extract you can substitute orange juice instead. The flavor won't be quite as intense, but your orange cupcakes will still have a nice orange flavor.

How do you fix lopsided cupcakes?

We’ve all had our share of baking mishaps, or at least I certainly have! Something that can go wrong is when they come out higher on one side than the other. Although you could simply trim off the higher part and disguise it with frosting, it's best to understand why this can happen. When baking with 2 cake or muffin pans, it's best to rotate the trays during cooking to keep the heat even.

A cupcake with orange frosting.

Chopnotch Tips

  • For a change of pace, you could use lime rather than orange for an equally citrusy but still delicious result. Or mix and match some of each.
  • It's extremely important to make sure they are cool before piping on the frosting, or else it will melt and run.
  • Not confident with a piping bag? You can always use a small spatula to frost the cupcakes instead.
Cupcakes on a stand topped with orange wedges.

These orange cupcakes are moist, light, and delicious. They're easy to make and the fresh orange flavor is just incredible.

Let us know what you think! Give this recipe a rating in the comments section below.


How to Make

Orange Cupcakes

Light and fluffy, this heavenly orange dessert bursts with hints of orange and vanilla. They're also a breeze to make.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 13 minutes
Total Time: 23 minutes
Servings: 12 cupcakes


For the cupcakes:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar, +2 tablespoons
  • 2 egg whites
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • teaspoons orange extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, +2 tablespoons
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

For the frosting:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • teaspoons orange extract
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Orange food coloring
💡TIP: Save it on Pinterest so you can always come back when you need to! 👇


To make the cupcakes:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and set it aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and granulated sugar until well combined, and then add the egg whites one at a time while beating slowly for 30 seconds after each addition.
  • Add in the sour cream, milk, vanilla, and orange extracts, and beat until well combined.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, and then gradually add this dry mixture to the wet ingredients while beating until well the batter is well combined and smooth.
  • Fill the lined muffin cavities ¾ of the way full with the batter. Bake for 5 minutes at 400°F and then reduce the heat to 350°F and continue to bake for another 8 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean from the center.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Then remove the cupcakes from the muffin tin and let them cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the frosting:

  • In a large mixing bowl, blend the butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Then stir in the orange extract, zest, confectioners’ sugar, and a few drops of orange food coloring and continue to stir until smooth.
  • Transfer the frosting into a piping bag and frost the cooled cupcakes. Optionally, garnish with an orange wedge or zest. Serve and enjoy!
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  • For a change of pace, you could use lime rather than orange for an equally citrusy but still delicious result. Or mix and match some of each.
  • It's extremely important to make sure they are cool before piping on the frosting, or else it will melt and run.
  • Not confident with a piping bag? You can always use a small spatula to frost the cupcakes instead.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 256kcal (13%), Carbohydrates: 53g (18%), Protein: 3g (6%), Fat: 18g (28%), Saturated Fat: 11g (69%), Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 49mg (16%), Sodium: 148mg (6%), Potassium: 64mg (2%), Fiber: 1g (4%), Sugar: 14g (16%), Vitamin A: 581IU (12%), Vitamin C: 1mg (1%), Calcium: 37mg (4%), Iron: 1mg (6%)
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Comments & Ratings

  1. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe for orange cupcakes

    • Thanks so much for the feedback! I’m happy to hear how much you like the recipe!