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Cherry Sunshine Cupcakes


Makes 20 Cupcakes

This recipe was inspired by a famous Southern cola. We used a popular lemon-lime soda and lemon zest to make the fluffy cake, but then incorporated fresh cherries in the icing.

Tip: When zesting lemons—or any fruit—only zest the colorful rind. The white "pith" underneath can make your recipe taste bitter.

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  • Cupcakes:
  • 1 (16.25-oz) box super-moist white cake mix
  • 1 (12-oz) can lemon-lime soda
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • Frosting:
  • 1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup cherry jam or preserves
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cherries, pitted


Adapted from


Step 1

To prepare the cupcakes, position an oven rack in the middle-lower level and preheat to 350°F. Line a 24-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Fit a stand mixer with the wire whip attachment. Beat the cake mix, soda, and zest until creamy and the mixture has no lumps. Spoon the cake mixture into the muffin cups, filling no more than 2/3 of the way. Bake for 17–19 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let them cool completely before icing.

To prepare the frosting, fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and mix until evenly combined and the mixture has no lumps. Add the preserves and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the cherries until evenly distributed. Pipe or spread a thin layer of frosting on top of each cupcake, dividing evenly among the cupcakes. If desired, garnish each cupcake with a fresh cherry and a lemon twist.

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