Magdalenas: Spanish Lemon Cupcakes


 The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 18 servings
Yield: 18 cupcakes
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
147 Calories
6g Fat
20g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 18
Amount per serving
Calories 147
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 55mg 18%
Sodium 98mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 20g 7%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 56mg 4%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 31mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Magdalenas are sweet, lemony, and rich-tasting cupcakes with a light and fluffy texture. In Spanish, magdalenas simply means "cupcakes," but they are commonly enjoyed at breakfast with café con leche and would make a great addition to a Sunday Champagne brunch or teatime.

Traditionally, the cupcakes are made in the shape of a shell using a special magdalena oven tray, similar to a French madeleines pan. However, it is more common today for them to take on the basic cupcake form. Some authentic recipes call for olive oil as the fat component, but butter is used here for a finer mouthfeel.​

Although magdalenas are often purchased at bakeries and even prepackaged in grocery stores, they are simple to make at home—and there's nothing like a hot lemon cake right out of the oven.


  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 4 ounces (1/2 cupunsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

  • 1 tablespoon milk

  • 1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Magdalenas
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  2. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place 18 liners into the wells of cupcake pans and set aside.

    Put liners in tin
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  3. Place 1/4 cup of the sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

    Put sugar in bowl
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  4. In a medium-size mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the remaining 3/4 cup sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.

    Mix ingredients
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  5. In a small saucepan on the stovetop, melt the butter over medium heat. (Alternatively, you can melt it in the microwave.) Before adding it to the egg mixture, make sure the butter cools slightly and is not bubbling.

    Melt butter
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  6. While you continue to beat the egg mixture, slowly add the melted butter, making sure to mix thoroughly.

    Add butter
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  7. Stir in the lemon zest and milk.

    Stir in lemon
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  8. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder until thoroughly combined.

    Whisk flour and baking powder
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  9. While stirring the egg mixture, add the flour mixture with your other hand. Continue to stir until all the ingredients are mixed well. The batter will be very thick.

    Stir in flour to egg mixture
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  10. Using a large serving spoon or cookie scoop, place the batter into the pan, filling each cupcake liner halfway. (The batter will more than double in size when baked.)

    Place batter in pan
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  11. Use a teaspoon to sprinkle each magdalena with a bit of the reserved sugar.

    Sprinkle with sugar
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  12. Bake the magdalenas for 18 to 20 minutes, until they have turned a golden color and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (or with just a few crumbs attached).

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  13. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack before removing them from the pan to cool completely.

    Allow to cool
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  14. Serve and enjoy.


Make sure that your eggs, butter, and milk are at room temperature before beginning. When mixed together, these ingredients create an emulsion that traps air, and during baking, this air expands and results in a fluffy baked good. If the ingredients are cold, this cannot occur.

How to Store

Once cooled, the magdalenas can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days or frozen for up to two months.

The Origin of Magdalenas

Magdalenas are believed to have originated in France, the home of madeleines, very popular shell-shaped butter sponge cakes that resemble the Spanish cupcakes. However, there also is the story of a young Spanish girl named Magdalena who, it is said, served these little cakes to pilgrims making their journey to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. This may account for the spread of their popularity across Spain.

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