These moist and fluffy Gingerbread Cupcakes are carefully designed to have beautiful domed tops. My recipe is quick (less than an hour) and includes a cinnamon and brown sugar frosting. Includes a how to video!
Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Can you think of a more festive and tasty way to welcome December than with soft and fluffy gingerbread cupcakes? These are outrageously moist and tender cupcakes packed full of seasonal spices and flavor. We’ll be topping them with a brown sugar and cinnamon spiced variation of my cream cheese frosting, and it complements the cozy, classic gingerbread flavor so well!
If this gingerbread cupcake recipe looks a bit familiar that’s because this is actually an update of an older recipe. While the original was one I was proud of, over the years I felt I could improve upon it. Some people struggled with cupcakes that dipped in on themselves as they cooled, so I wanted a slightly sturdier cupcake that would yield a domed top and could hold its own under a mountain of frosting. ✅✅
And, speaking of frosting, this recipe really does make a mountain. As written, this recipe will make more than enough to cover every cupcake as is shown in photos. If you don’t like a lot of frosting you can cut the recipe in half (or double the cupcakes!).
What You Need
There are quite a few ingredients in the photos above, so let me highlight some important ones:
- Molasses. This is a critical gingerbread ingredient! Molasses adds sweetness, but also acidity; a humble but distinct bite that will permeate the cupcakes (and your kitchen! Gingerbread cupcakes smell amazing as they bake!). Use an unsulphered molasses and do NOT use blackstrap molasses, which has a bitter flavor.
- Brown sugar. We’ve already spoken about the importance of molasses and the cupcakes contain more than a drizzle in their batter, but we’re going to up the ante a bit by also using dark brown sugar, which is made with more molasses than its light brown and granulated counterparts. For the frosting, we want to keep things from being too rich or too sweet and will use just light brown sugar there.
- Very hot water. Boiling would be even better, just be careful not to splash yourself! We’re adding just a small amount to help bloom the spices and molasses (similar to blooming cocoa powder). This helps infuse a rich, pronounced gingerbread flavor.
- Sour cream. This is a new favorite cake ingredient of mine, recently debuted in my yellow cake recipe. It makes the crumb soft, moist, and tender (and no, not sour). You could also substitute plain, full-fat Greek yogurt.
- Cream cheese. Use brick-style, full-fat cream cheese in the frosting. Do NOT using the kind sold in tubs (your frosting won’t set up properly if you do).
SAM’S TIP: Your batter will be quite stiff and dry after you add the butter and oil–this is normal. It will start to thin out once you add the molasses (I switch to a mixer for this part, but with a little elbow grease you could make this entirely by hand).
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Gingerbread Cupcakes
- Combine the dry ingredients and sugar in a large bowl, then stir in the melted butter and oil.
- Add the molasses and stir in the eggs and vanilla until combined.
- Carefully stir in the hot water (yes, HOT! This will help bloom the spices and makes for soft, moist cupcakes) before adding the sour cream and stirring until the batter is uniform.
- Divide the batter into a paper-lined cupcake tin and bake for 18 minutes.
- Let the cupcakes cool in their pans for 10-15 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Beat the cream cheese, butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth.
- Gradually add the sugar until the frosting is creamy.
- Pipe generously over cooled gingerbread cupcakes.
SAM’S TIP: I love using an ice cream scoop to portion the batter into cupcake liners. It makes the process super easy, quick, and clean!
Frequently Asked Questions
You can follow the recipe as written, but you will want to fill your mini liners about halfway full. Your mini gingerbread cupcakes will likely bake for just a few minutes less than the full-size version, maybe 14-15 minutes.
I haven’t tried this recipe with a gluten free flour, so I can’t say how it would turn out; however, a 1:1 gluten-free flour should work fine. If you try this, please let me know how it goes for you!
I would recommend you use my gingerbread layer cake recipe instead; it’s similar, but has been carefully tested and perfected to be baked as a layer cake, and it’s slightly more moist and dense than this one. If you love these gingerbread cupcakes, you will love my gingerbread cake!
Can’t get enough gingerbread? Try my gingerbread cookies or gingerbread cookie bars!
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
- 1 ⅓ cup (167 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (100 g) dark brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoons baking soda
- ¾ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅓ cup (78 ml) vegetable or canola oil
- ⅓ cup (76 g) melted butter
- ⅓ cup (78 ml) molasses use an “unsulphured” molasses, I like Brer Rabbit and Grandma’s brand
- 1 egg + 1 large egg yolk room temperature preferred
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (60 ml) very hot or boiling water
- ⅓ cup (75 g) sour cream
Frosting (see note)
- 8 oz (226 g) cream cheese softened
- ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter softened
- 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar firmly packed
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste or substitute 1 ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 ½ cups (440 g) powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt about scant ⅛ teaspoon
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and line a 12-count muffin tin with paper liners.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves).1 ⅓ cup (167 g) all-purpose flour, ½ cup (100 g) dark brown sugar, ¼ teaspoons baking soda, ¾ teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoons salt, 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger, 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon ground allspice, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- Add melted butter and oil and stir well. Batter may be a bit dry, but make sure all of the flour is moistened.⅓ cup (76 g) melted butter, ⅓ cup (78 ml) vegetable or canola oil
- Add molasses and stir well.⅓ cup (78 ml) molasses
- Stir in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.1 egg + 1 large egg yolk, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Add hot water and stir again until batter is completely combined, then stir in sour cream until batter is uniform (make sure to scrape sides and bottom of the bowl).¼ cup (60 ml) very hot or boiling water, ⅓ cup (75 g) sour cream
- Divide batter evenly into prepared cupcake pan (filling liners approximately ¾ full) and bake in center rack of 350F (175C) oven for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Allow cupcakes to cool in pan for 10-15 minutes before carefully removing to a cooling rack and allowing to cool completely before frosting.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, brown sugar, vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract), cinnamon, and salt. Use an electric mixer to stir together until smooth, creamy, and well-combined,8 oz (226 g) cream cheese, ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste, Pinch of salt, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- With mixer on low-speed, gradually add powdered sugar until completely incorporated and frosting is smooth and creamy.3 ½ cups (440 g) powdered sugar
- Spread or pipe over cooled cupcakes. I like to use an Ateco 848 or Ateco 846 tip. This frosting makes enough to generously cover each cupcake (as shown in the photos).
FrostingThis recipe makes a generous amount of frosting. It will cover all of your cupcakes generously (as shown in photos) or will modestly cover 24 cupcakes. If you want only a modest amount of frosting, feel free to cut the frosting in half (or double the cupcake recipe!).
StoringStore in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Using this recipe for cakeI recommend using my gingerbread cake recipe instead, it is closely related to this one, but designed to be a perfect cake.
Original RecipeI originally published this recipe in 2016. In 2022, I’ve improved the recipe to be a bit sturdier, softer, and slightly more domed (since some people with the original recipe had mentioned problems with the cupcakes sinking in on themselves). If you’re looking for the original recipe, you can find it here, but note that I am no longer accepting comments on the original recipe.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
(Mostly copied and pasted from YouTube) I made these for my Christmas Gifts last year! I trebled the recipe (which is never a great start for a review, but hear me out!)… And somehow ended up accidentally making 62 cupcakes? So I guess cupcakes are smaller in New Zealand than they are in America? I’m fairly adept at baking, so was able to adjust the cooking times. ☺ The flavour is absolutely top notch! Even the ones I accidentally overbaked were super-moist.
I doubled the frosting recipe, and had the perfect for a single “rose style” pipe on each of my 62 cupcakes.
…I also added cranberries. Was looking to mimic Pepparkakor Muffins with Cream Cheese Glaze and Cranberries I had in Sweden 10 years ago…
100% entering my annual Christmas Baking rotation. And also my “I Miss Sweden” rotation. And possibly my “It’s A Day-Ending-In-Y” rotation… Thank you! 💜
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We’re so happy you enjoyed the cupcakes, Kat! Thanks for trying our recipe 😊
DELICIOUS! Followed cupcake part of recipe exactly (I did use fresh, ground nutmeg b/c had some on hand) and they came out WONDERFUL! They don’t even need frosting….they’re that yummy! I actually went with a different, yogurt-based frosting just to try something different (it came out OK). I have no doubt the frosting noted in this recipe would be great with these (will make next time)! But seriously, the cupcakes themselves come out so tasty and pillowy-soft, I enjoyed a couple of them w/out any frosting! Thank you for this excellent recipe, Sam!
I’m so glad you enjoyed them so much, Deana! 🙂
I didn’t want to waste the egg white from the “plus one yolk”, so I added it to a halved-batch of frosting-I mixed the egg white first with 1.5 c powdered sugar then whisked on high speed-then added the softened butter and cream cheese a little bit at a time. It turned out great and more than enough to cover-about a half inch really nice frosting! I did this as a single layer 9 inch springform pan) cake. Thank you, as always. So good.
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We’re glad you enjoyed it, Andy! 🙂
What can I substitute for the molasses? Chestnut honey?
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
Hi Patrizia! Molasses is a key gingerbread ingredient, so we don’t recommend substituting it 🙁
Your recipes are always solid and a hit whenever I make them! Question about the molasses–should blackstrap not be used with these cupcakes? I only use regular unsulphured with cookies, but wasn’t sure about cake or cupcakes. Thanks!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
Hi Leah! We don’t recommend using blackstrap molasses. Unsulphured molasses is the way to go here. Hope that helps!