Here is a spooky treat that is easy to make for Halloween! These chocolate cupcakes are decorated to look like ghosts, skeletons and spider webs. You can use boxed cake mix or make your Halloween cupcakes from scratch. They are so fun and will definitely be a hit at your party!

halloween cupcake decorated like a ghost with vanilla frosting and chocolate chip eyes.

When it comes to Halloween desserts, I like something super simple and fun; a touch of spooky, but not gory. These easy Halloween cupcakes are right up my alley and you will love them too! You don’t need anything fancy, just some patience to decorate and touch of creativity. These cupcakes will definitely be a hit at your Halloween party.

Why this recipe works

You can make the cupcakes and frosting from scratch or use store-bought mix. I like to keep it simple and not use food dyes or complicated frosting techniques, but there is still plenty of room for creativity here too. Try my easy decorating tips or think outside the box and try your own!

Ingredient notes

halloween cupcakes ingredients.
  • Cupcakes: I used my chocolate cupcake recipe, which yields about 20 cupcakes, but you can also use boxed cake mix if you are more comfortable with that!
  • Frosting: I like making my own frosting (buttercream is my favorite!), but you can use store-bought here as well.
  • Chocolate: Melted chocolate is used to decorate the cupcakes. I suggest reading my tips for melting chocolate to guarantee success!

Recipe variations

You can use whatever kind of cupcake flavor you like! I think red velvet cupcakes would add a creepy vibe here and you could use cream cheese frosting if you prefer.

As far as decorations go—get creative! Use a flat frosting tip to make mummy wraps on top of the cupcakes. If you have orange food dye, try a jack-o-lantern face instead of a skeleton. It’s a super easy swap!

How to make easy Halloween cupcakes

photo collage demonstrating how to make chocolate cupcakes.
  1. Make the chocolate cupcakes: Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the cocoa powder and espresso, then pour boiling hot water over it. Stir the mixture and allow it to cool. Mix in sour cream and vanilla.
  3. Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs and mix again. Alternate adding the flour mixture and chocolate mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  4. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake at 350 F for 18 to 20 minutes. Cool completely.
photo collage demonstrating how to decorate halloween cupcakes.
  1. Make the frosting: Beat butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and pinch of salt. Mix until well combined. Add milk until desired frosting consistency is reached. Transfer to a piping bag.
  3. Decorate cupcakes: Melt chocolate on 50% power level in the microwave until smooth. Let is cool slightly.
  4. Frost the cupcakes either using an offset spatula or frosting bag with a tip. Pipe melted chocolate on the cupcakes for decoration.

How to decorate cupcakes for Halloween

  • To make ghost cupcakes, use a large round frosting tip to pipe a tall cone of frosting. For the eyes, use mini chocolate chips with the pointed side pressed into the frosting. If you prefer, less sweet frosting or more stable frosting, try a Swiss meringue buttercream instead.
  • Spider web cupcakes are easy to make with melted chocolate. First create a smooth flat layer of frosting using an offset spatula. Pipe melted chocolate in circles on top and a dot in the center (like a target). Using a toothpick, pull the melted chocolate from the center outwards. Repeat six to eight times.
  • Skeleton cupcakes are super fun if you like The Nightmare Before Christmas. The faces look like Jack Skellington! Create a smooth layer of frosting on top using an offset spatula. Pipe melted chocolate (or black icing) on top. Create two eyes, to dots for the nose and a stitched smile.
chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting and decorated to look like skeleton face.

Expert tips

Allow the cupcakes cool completely before adding the frosting otherwise it will melt. You want the frosting to be thick in order to hold its shape. This means the butter should be room temperature, not super soft and greasy (which may happen in warm climates). If your frosting is too soft, place the bowl in the refrigerator for 15 minutes and mix again before frosting.

Use the right frosting tools for the decorating. You need a large round tip for the ghosts and an offset spatula to make a smooth surface for the skeleton faces and spider webs. A small round tip will work best for piping the melted chocolate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my frosting melting?

It’s too warm or too thin. Try putting the frosting in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes, then beat for 5 seconds. It should be thick enough to frost now! Remember: the cupcakes have to be completely cooled before frosting.

Can I make these cupcakes ahead of time?

Yes, you can make them up to 48 hours in advance. To keep them fresh, store them in the refrigerator in an airtight cupcake container. You can also freeze the cupcakes for up to 1 month.

How to thicken melted chocolate for decorating

You can whisk in some cornstarch, however, most likely you need to let the melted chocolate cool a bit. For more troubleshooting, read my tips for melting chocolate.

spiderweb cupcake with vanilla frosting and melted chocolate design on top.

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halloween cupcakes with vanilla frosting and decorations to look like skulls, spiderwebs and ghosts.

Get the Recipe: Easy Halloween Cupcakes

Ghosts, skeletons and spiderwebs make the perfect decoration for these easy Halloween cupcakes. This is such a fun and spooky treat!
4.88 (8 ratings)


Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 ¼ cup (156 g) all purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (96 g) unsweetened cocoa powder, (nonalkalized)
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder, (or coffee powder)
  • 1 cup (240 mL) boiling water
  • ½ cup (120 g) sour cream or plain greek yogurt, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (226 g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup (226 g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 ½ cups (300 g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk, room temperature


  • 2 Tablespoons mini chocolate chips
  • ½ cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped


Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two standard muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In a separate medium bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and espresso powder. Add the boiling water and whisk until smooth. Allow mixture to sit until room temperature, then whisk in sour cream and vanilla. Set aside.
  • In a the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), combine butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time beating until combined after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  • Add one-third of the flour mixture to the large mixing bowl and mix on low speed just until combined. Add half the chocolate mixture and mix until combined. Repeat process, then end with remaining third flour mixture. Use a silicone spatula to scrape the bottoms and sides of the bowl. Mix once more for 10 seconds to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
  • Transfer batter to prepared muffin tins and fill each cup two-thirds full (I like to use an ice cream scoop for this step). Bake cupcakes 18 to 22 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out with little to no crumbs. Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the confectioners' sugar until completely incorporated. With the mixer on medium speed, add the vanilla and salt, and beat for a minute, until fluffy. Add milk until desired consistency is reached.


  • For ghost cupcakes: use a large round frosting tip to pipe a cone shape on top of a cupcakes. Decorate with mini chocolate chips for the eyes.
  • Melt the chocolate in the microwave on 50% power level, stopping to stir every 20 seconds until smooth. Transfer to a zip-top bag and set aside to cool slightly.
  • For spider web cupcakes: Use an off-set spatula to spread frosting in an even layer over the cupcake. Snip a small hole in the corner of the baggie with melted chocolate. Place a dot in the center of the cupcake, then three circles around the dot (like a target). Use a toothpick to pull the chocolate from the center out to the edge. Repeat about 5 to 7 times to create a spider web.
  • For skull cupcakes: Use an off-set spatula to spread frosting in an even layer over the cupcake. Snip a small hole in the corner of the baggie with melted chocolate. Pipe two large eyes and two small dots for the nose. Pipe a large “stitched” smile for the mouth (like Jack Skellington).


Cupcakes: If you prefer, you can use store-bought cupcake mix and follow the instructions on the box.
Frosting: If the frosting is too soft, put it in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes, then mix for 5 seconds. You can also use store-bought frosting if you prefer.
Decoration: I suggest reading my tips for melting chocolate if you need guidance.
Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 
Freeze cupcakes for up to 1 month. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
Serving: 1cupcake, Calories: 411kcal, Carbohydrates: 47g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 16g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 77mg, Sodium: 131mg, Potassium: 140mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 36g, Vitamin A: 702IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 42mg, Iron: 1mg

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