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The Contents of This Cupcake Will Alarm, Surprise & Delight You

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You might be thinking Zucchini Cupcakes with Dill Frosting is too weird. Stay with me—at least read the story!

Zucchini Cupcakes with Lemon-Dill Frosting
Zucchini Cupcakes with Lemon-Dill Frosting

People are forever asking where the inspiration for new recipes comes from. Among other things, I always mention happenstance, mistakes, and dumb luck—and The Universe.


I was never planning on making zucchini cupcakes with dill, much less a vibrantly beautiful dilly-lemon frosting. I was thinking of a nice lemon-basil zucchini cupcake with basil frosting.

Photo by James Ransom

Unfortunately, nothing I did could make the cupcakes taste good with basil in them, so then I thought I’d just put the basil in the frosting. My first crack at basil frosting was almost delicious but sooo ugly. My second was not much better. I had one more trick up my sleeve, but no more basil on hand or bush—and no desire to run to the grocery store. But I happened to have fresh dill sprigs in the fridge leftover from recent tzatziki-making and passing thoughts about making gravlax again for the first time in decades.

I decided to use the dill—as a stand-in for the basil—just to test my frosting method. The results were gorgeously bright green and so unusual AND delicious! Who needs basil frosting, anyway? Circling back, I found that dill was also lovely in the tender little cupcakes (which, did I mention, are gluten-free? Not that anyone would guess from eating them). Come on, give these a try.

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Zucchini Cupcakes with Lemon-Dill Frosting

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Makes 12 cupcakes


  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (175 grams) sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium-large lemon
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (132 grams) white rice flour
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (40 grams) oat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 ground cinnamon
  • Rounded 1/4 teaspoons lightly packed, freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups (170 grams) lightly packed, coarsely grated zucchini (I use large holes on my box grater)
  • 3 tablespoons (9 grams) finely chopped fresh dill leaves including only the thinnest tender bits of stem
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (80 grams) extra-virgin olive oil


  • 1/2 cup (15 grams) lightly packed fresh dill leaves with very thinnest tender bits of stem
  • 4 cups (225 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 stick (113 grams/4 ounces) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 medium-large lemon
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (see note)
  • Equipment:
  • Cupcake pan with 12 cavities
  • Stand mixer with paddle attachment

Alice Medrich is a Berkeley, California-based pastry chef, chocolatier, and cookbook author. You can read more about what she's up to here.

How else do you use herbs—especially unexpected ones—in baking? Tell us about your trials in the comments!