These gingerbread cupcakes that are moist and tender with a delicious gingerbread flavor. Then they’re frosted with tangy cinnamon cream cheese frosting that complements the gingerbread perfectly. The classic holiday flavor makes these the perfect Christmas cupcake!
**This post was updated December 17, 2022 with new photos, recipe tips and a slightly updated recipe**
If you’re looking for a Christmas dessert or treat that tastes like Christmas and looks adorable – then these gingerbread cupcakes may be the perfection option. The cupcakes are perfectly moist with a tender cupcake crumb. The delicious gingerbread flavor comes from warm spices, brown sugar and molasses for a warm and cozy flavor. Then they’re frosted with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. I like to decorate them with a mini gingerbread man cookie or sometimes I’ll use Christmas sprinkles.
These are adorable for potlucks, Christmas concerts or whenever you want an individual dessert without any need for plates and cutlery. Or because you love cupcakes – which is the most logical reason to make cupcakes 😉
Making Gingerbread Cupcakes
I’ve included step by step photos and recipe tips below to show you exactly what each step should look like.
- You’ll start by preheating the oven to 350F (180C) degrees and lining muffin tins with muffin paper. You’ll end up making about 16 cupcakes in total, so you’ll need 2 pans. You will need to line the pan as opposed to greasing, as the baked cupcakes will not release from the pan without liners.
- In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the molasses and hot water. This step is important because the water thins out the molasses which makes it easier to mix into the batter without leaving globs of molasses. Set aside for using later.
- Then in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt. This step is important to ensure that the spices, baking powder and baking soda are evenly distributed throughout the batter, without having to overmix the cupcake batter.
- Then in a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, oil, egg, egg yolk, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla. You should whisk the mixture until you no longer see pieces of egg or clumps of brown sugar. The combination of melted butter and oil adds both flavor from the butter and the oil keeps the cupcakes moist for longer. Note that you will need 2 eggs, but we’re only using 1 whole egg and then just the yolk from the second egg.
- From there, whisk the molasses and water mixture into the butter mixture. It should be quite thin.
- From there, you’ll whisk about ½ of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. I always do this by hand to avoid overmixing. You’ll notice that the mixture starts to have little air bubbles. This is normal.
- Then you’ll whisk in the buttermilk. This recipe uses buttermilk which you should ideally take out of the fridge about 15 minutes before getting started so that it can come to room temperature. I’ve included a recipe substitution in the notes below if needed.
- Lastly, you’ll whisk in the rest of the flour mixture. Adding in the flour in two additions, alternating with the buttermilk, gives the cupcake a better crumb and also minimizes the risk of over mixing.
- Then spoon the batter into your prepared cupcakes liners. Each liner should be about ⅔ full. The absolutely should not be more than ¾ full. If you fill the cupcake liners too full, ie try to fit all the batter into just 12 cupcakes, the cupcakes will overflow and then sink in the middle. You should end up with about 16 cupcakes in total.
- They’ll bake in the preheated oven for about 15-18 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and the top doesn’t look doughy.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
The frosting for this recipe is a deliciously thick, creamy and slightly tangy cream cheese frosting with a hint of cinnamon. When making cream cheese frosting, always remember:
- The butter should be slightly softened, but not starting to melt or get slimy. If you gently press your finger into the butter it should make an indent but should easily press the butter down.
- Always use full-fat, brick-style cream cheese. Anything that’s labeled light, low calorie, low fat, spreadable, or whipped is too thin for making frosting.
- Once you get the desired sweetness and thickness, stop mixing. Overmixing cream cheese frosting can lead to it becoming too soft.
- If you’d like to leave out the cinnamon, feel free. I personally love the addition in this recipe.
Note that this recipe makes enough frosting to pipe the cupcakes with a generous amount of frosting. If you plan to frost the cupcakes using a knife, you may want to divide the recipe in half (I’ve included instructions in the recipe notes).
These gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are such a delicious holiday treat. They taste like Christmas, look absolutely beautiful, and are just a little different than most of your Christmas baking. I love making them with a batch of eggnog cupcakes for holiday parties. Or if you’re looking for more gingerbread recipes, then be sure to try:
- Gingerbread Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Butterscotch Sauce
- Soft Gingerbread Cookies
- Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
- Gingerbread Brownies
Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 12-cavity muffin pan
- ½ cup molasses (120 ml) not blackstrap
- 3 tablespoons hot water (45 ml)
- 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour (208 grams)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter (75 grams) melted
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (30 ml) canola works too
- ½ cup brown sugar (105 grams) light or dark, I used dark
- ¼ cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk discard the white
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup buttermilk (120 ml) see notes for substitution
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (See Notes for Half Batch)
- 1 cup unsalted butter (226 grams) softened but not starting to melt
- 6 ounces brick-style cream cheese (170 grams) slightly softened
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 ½ - 4 ½ cups powdered sugar (385 grams - 495 grams) sifted
- 1-2 tbsp whipping cream as needed
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees. Line muffin pans with muffin papers. You'll end up with about 16 cupcakes, so you'll need 2 pans.
- In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the molasses and water. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl whisk together the melted butter, oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract.
- Then whisk the molasses and water mixture into the butter and sugar mixture.
- Whisk about ½ of the flour mixture into the butter and molasses mixture.
- Then whisk in the buttermilk.
- Lastly, whisk in the rest of the flour mixture.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake pans, filling each about ⅔ full. You should end up with about 16 cupcakes. Do not try to fit all the batter into just 12 cupcakes. They will end up overflowing and then sinking in the middle.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then carefully transfer to a cooling rack to continue cooling.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a large bowl beat the butter until smooth.
- Cut the cream cheese into cubes and beat into the butter until just combined.
- Add in 2 cups powdered sugar, the vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Start with the mixer on a low speed and gradually increase until combined.
- Beat in the rest of the powdered sugar about ½-1 cup at a time until the desired sweetness is reached. If the frosting seem too thick beat in 1-2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream.
- Before frosting, ensure that the cupcakes are completely cooled. They should not be warm to the touch. Either frost with a knife, or transfer the frosting to a piping bag and swirl on the frosting. I used a piping bag and a 1M tip.
- Molasses: I recommend using molasses labeled "Cooking Molasses", "Light Molasses" or "Fancy Molasses". Do not use blackstrap molasses - it is too bitter for baking.
- Buttermilk: Buttermilk can be substituted with vinegar and milk. Add 1 ½ teaspoons of distilled vinegar (or white vinegar) to ½ cup of milk (1% or 2% works well). Stir together and let sit for 5 minutes before using.
- Eggs: You will need 2 eggs in total for this recipe. You will use 1 full egg and just the egg yolk of the second egg. Do not use 2 full eggs.
- Room Temperature Ingredients: For best results, the egg and buttermilk should be at room temperature before getting started.
- Frosting: This recipe will make enough to pipe the cupcakes with a thick layer of frosting. If you plan to frost with a knife and/or only want a thin layer of frosting then you may want to make a half batch of frosting. You'll need:
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 3 ounces cream cheese
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1 ½ - 2 ¼ cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon whipping cream
- Make Ahead Tips & Storage: Make cupcakes 1 day before you plan to serve. Cool fully and store in an airtight container at room temperature. Then frost the day you plan to serve. Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge. Cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 8 hours as long as your kitchen isn't warm or in the sun. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days. Let the cupcakes sit on the counter and come to room temperature before enjoying.
- Nutrition: Details provided are an estimate only and based on 1 cupcake, assuming the recipe yields 16 uniform cupcakes.