Mint julep cupcakes are the perfect dessert for the Kentucky Derby. Make the recipe using Kentucky Bourbon and crème de menthe liquor for a kick of flavor. The cupcakes taste just like the cocktail! 

mint julep cupcake with a bite on an open paper liner on wire cooling rack with more cupcakes and mint leaves
 

Place your bets on the best dessert for the Kentucky Derby! I have my money on mint julep cupcakes. They’re spiked with bourbon and crème de menthe for a boozy treat. Alcohol adds a shot of flavor into every bite, not to mention puts you in the mood for a cocktail.

Why this recipe works: The Derby’s specialty cocktail, the mint julep, consists of bourbon, simple syrup, ice, and fresh mint. I took those flavors and put them into a cupcake. Crème de menthe isn’t in the original cocktail, but it adds more flavor and booze to the cupcake!

mint julep cupcake ingredients in bowls labeled with text

How to make mint julep cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. Beat butter and sugar together, then add eggs and extracts.
  4. Alternate adding dry ingredients (flour mixture) and wet ingredients (alcohol and milk). Mix just until combined. Transfer batter to prepared muffin tin.
  5. Bake cupcakes at 350 for 18 to 20 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.
  6. Make the frosting by creaming the butter, then add half the powdered sugar. Mix in bourbon and creme de menthe. Add remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  7. Frost the cupcakes and garnish with a fresh mint leaf.
photo collage demonstrating how to make mint julep cupcakes in a mixing bowl and cupcake tin

Helpful recipe tips

Use room temperature ingredients to ensure a smooth and evenly mixed batter and frosting. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh your ingredients for accurate measuring. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, fluff up the flour with a fork, spoon it into a measuring cup and level it off (don’t pack it in). Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

For authenticity, use Kentucky bourbon. If you want more bourbon flavor, you can brush the cupcakes with bourbon (similar to what I do with tequila in my margarita cupcakes). For a professional appearance, I also suggest using a piping bag fitted with a large star tip (I used Wilton #1M) to frost the cupcakes. Fresh mint leaves for garnish are a must!

mint julep frosting ingredients in bowls labeled with text
photo collage demonstrating how to make mint julep frosting in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my batter look curdled?

This tends to happen when alcohol is added to cake batter. Don’t worry! Once all the flour is added, the batter will smooth out.

Can I make these cupcakes nonalcoholic?

Yes, omit the bourbon and creme de menthe. Increase milk to 2/3 cup. Increase mint extract to 1/2 teaspoon and add 1 teaspoon bourbon extract.

Can I make these cupcakes ahead of time?

Yes, the cupcakes may be baked and stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. You can also wrap the unfrosted cupcakes in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature and frosting.

What kind of alcohol is in a mint julep

A classic mint julep has Kentucky bourbon. My cupcake recipe adds créme de menthe for more boozy flavor and mint taste.

mint julep cupcakes and mint leaves on round rose gold wire rack and one cupcake on its side with a bite

Related recipes

Are you throwing a party for the Kentucky Derby? Here are some recipes I encourage you to try. First off, definitely make homemade mint juleps to sip one while watching the races. These mini derby pies are the perfect bite-sized dessert to serve guests. Pimento cheese dip is an easy and popular snack to enjoy. The Kentucky Derby is also known as “Run for the Roses” so it’s only fitting to make rose cookies with frosting.

mint julep cupcake with frosting and mint leave garnish in front of silver mint julep cup and more cupcakes

If you’re throwing a derby party, or simply in the mood for a boozy dessert, bake some mint julep cupcakes. I’ll bet you will love this recipe! Remember to leave review and tag @ifyougiveablondeakitchen on social media when you bake!

mint julep cupcake with frosting and mint leaf garnish for kentucky derby

Mint Julep Cupcakes

Mint julep cupcakes uses Kentucky Bourbon and crème de menthe liquor just like the Kentucky Derby cocktail!
5 (9 ratings)

Ingredients

Cupcakes:

  • ½ cup (113 g or 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon mint extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 ⅓ cups (170 g) all-purpose flour, separated
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (120 mL) whole or low-fat milk, room temperature
  • cup (80 mL) Kentucky bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons (45 mL) crème de menthe

Bourbon and Mint Frosting:

  • ½ cup (113 g or 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (350 g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) bourbon, or whiskey
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) crème de menthe
  • dash of salt

Instructions 

Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Place 12 liners in a cupcake pan and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. With the mixer running, add eggs one at a time, then add extracts. Beat until creamy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary.
  • Turn mixer speed to low and gradually beat in half the flour mixture. Add the milk and liquors to the batter, then add the rest of the flour. Mix just until combined, until the batter comes together.
  • Fill each cupcake liner with batter, about two-thirds full (I like to use an ice cream scoop). Bake at 350° F for 18 to 20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans. Place on wire rack and cool completely before frosting.

Bourbon and Mint Frosting

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter on medium speed butter until smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Turn mixer speed to low and add the salt and half the powdered sugar (about 1 cup). Beat in until smooth.
  • Add bourbon and crème de menthe, then add remaining powdered sugar (1 cup).² Add one drop of green food dye and mix until you reach a light green hue.
  • Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with desired frosting tip. Frost cupcakes and garnish with a mint leaf.

Notes

Nonalcoholic cupcakes: Omit creme de menthe and bourbon. Increase milk to 2/3 cup. Increase mint extract to 1/2 teaspoon. Add 1 teaspoon bourbon extract. 
Nonalcoholic frosting: Omit creme de menthe and bourbon. Use 1/4 teaspoon mint extract and 1 teaspoon bourbon extract. Add 1 to 2 Tablespoons milk for desired frosting consistency.
Frosting: Feel free to adjust the amount of powdered sugar for desired piping consistency.
Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Serving: 1cupcake, Calories: 386kcal, Carbohydrates: 50g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 69mg, Sodium: 115mg, Potassium: 97mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 39g, Vitamin A: 529IU, Calcium: 45mg, Iron: 1mg

Inspired by Bake Space on Cupcake Wars.

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