The BEST Gingerbread Cupcakes
Get in the holiday spirit with these festive gingerbread cupcakes! They are made with seasonal spices for the ultimate Christmas dessert. The cinnamon cream cheese frosting on top is the perfect complement. Serve these at your next holiday party!
Who here has a favorite dessert they bake every holiday season? I have quite a few, but these spiced gingerbread cupcakes always find a way to the top of the list. I’ve been using this recipe for close to a decade and my friends count on me to bake them for their holiday parties every year. Now I’m sharing the recipe with you!
Why this recipe works
Not only are these cupcakes quick and easy to make, but the texture and taste is absolutely perfect. Soft, fluffy and moist, each bite is absolutely delicious! The spices, molasses and brown sugar work together to make the best gingerbread flavor. It’s complemented by a rich cinnamon cream cheese frosting that is velvety smooth. If you like that flavor combo, try my gingerbread cookie bars or gingerbread whoopie pies.
- Molasses: Unsulphured molasses is best for baking. Do not use blackstrap (it’s too bitter).
- Brown sugar: Light or dark will work! It also adds moisture.
- Water: This balances out the heavy pour of molasses. If you prefer, you can also use milk.
- Spices: The blend of wintery spices really brings out the flavor! Make sure your spices are not expired for best results.
- Cream cheese: Block cream cheese will make the best frosting. Make sure it is softened, but still cool to the touch.
If you don’t like cream cheese, these cupcakes would also taste good with the cinnamon buttercream frosting I used on my apple spice cupcakes.
For garnish, I used store-bought mini gingerbread cookies, but you could also use mini gingerbread men (Pepperidge Farm sells some around the holidays). A dusting of cinnamon, a little orange zest or holiday sprinkles would work too!
To make mini gingerbread cupcakes, line a mini muffin tin with paper liners. Fill cups halfway with batter. and bake for 10 minutes. Yields approximately 32 mini cupcakes.
How to make gingerbread cupcakes
- Whisk together the dry ingredients. Flour, spices, baking soda, salt.
- Beat together the butter, molasses, brown sugar and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer until light in color. Scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl if necessary.
- Alternate adding dry ingredients and water to batter. Mix just until combined.
- Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes and your kitchen will smell like the holidays in no time.
- Make the frosting: Beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix just until combined.
- Frost the cupcakes and garnish with a mini gingerbread cookie or sprinkle of cinnamon.
Use a kitchen scale to measure your ingredients properly. Cakes can be finicky and proper measurement almost always ensures perfectly baked goods! If you don’t have a scale, fluff up the flour and spoon it into your measuring cup (never pack flour down). Level off with a knife.
Don’t over-mix when adding the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Otherwise your cupcakes will turn out dense instead of fluffy! Stir just until the flour pockets disappear.
For the frosting, use brick cream cheese and make sure it is soft, but still cool. Tub cream cheese is softer and has more air, which can cause your frosting to melt or get goopy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Avoid over-baking (mine always bake for exactly 18 minutes). If they are still dry, replace the water with milk.
There are a few different explanations. Either the cupcakes weren’t baked long enough or the oven was too hot causing the cupcakes to rise too quickly. Another reason could be that your baking soda is old/expired.
Yes, let the cupcakes cool completely. Place in an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months (you can also freeze the frosting). Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before bringing to room temperature and serving.
Yes, but double the recipe to make either a 9×13 sheet cake or a double layer 9-inch round cake. Baking times will vary between 25 and 35 minutes.
Here are some more holiday recipes I’m sure you will enjoy this season.
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Get the Recipe: Gingerbread Cupcakes
- 1 ¾ cups (210 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (113 g or 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup (100 g) packed dark brown sugar
- ½ cup (120 mL) unsulphured molasses
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- ½ cup (118 mL) water, room temperature
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- 6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup (226 g or 8 oz package) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup (120 g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1-2 teaspoons milk, as needed for consistency
- Mini gingerbread men or cookies for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, molasses, and egg on medium-high speed until light brown, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
- With the mixer on low, add one third of the flour mixture to the melted butter mixture, then 1/4 cup water. Repeat ending with the flour mixture. Stir just until no flour pockets remain, avoid over-mixing.
- Fill prepared muffin tin with batter until each cupcake liner is two-thirds full. Bake for 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Transfer them to a rack to cool completely.
- For the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter and cream cheese in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners' sugar and cinnamon, then mix until smooth. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. If frosting is not yet a spreadable consistency, add the milk starting with one teaspoon, adding more if necessary.
- Transfer frosting to a piping bag with desired tip. Pipe swirls on top of the cooled cupcakes. Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or gingerbread cookie decoration.
This post was previously sponsored by Watkins. It has since been updated to better suit my readers.