Easy Turkey Cupcakes
Have some fun with your creative side and decorate turkey cupcakes this Thanksgiving! These easy cupcakes can be made from scratch or using boxed cake mix. Use Reese’s mini cups and Reese’s Pieces to decorate and create a delicious dessert!
Step aside pies, these turkey cupcakes are coming for the Thanksgiving dessert table! But seriously, how cute are they? All you need are chocolate cupcakes, chocolate frosting and some candy to decorate. This is a dessert that is fun for all ages!
Why this recipe works
You can make your cupcakes and frosting from scratch or use store-bought cake mix and frosting. This is great considering not all of us have the time and energy for from scratch recipes during the holidays. There is room for creativity to decorate the cupcakes, which is always fun to do with kids!
- Chocolate cupcakes: You can make them from scratch using my recipe or use a store-bought cake mix and follow the box instructions.
- Chocolate frosting: Again, make your own or use store-bought!
- Decorations: I used mini Reese’s cups, Reese’s pieces, candy eyes and gummy worms to make these cupcakes look like turkeys!
I used chocolate cupcakes and chocolate frosting, but you could certainly use different flavors if that’s your preference! Chocolate is the go-to since turkeys have a brown body.
As for the decorations, instead of Reese’s Pieces, you can use M&M’s or candy corn for the feathers. I’ve also seen people use pretzels for the feathers! The turkey head could also be a mini Oreo cookie or Nutter Butter. Be creative here!
How to make turkey cupcakes
- Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake at 350 F for 18 to 20 minutes. Cool completely.
- Make frosting: Whip butter until soft and creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder, then mix until combined. Add vanilla and milk, then mix until combined. Frost the cupcakes.
- Decorate cupcakes: Place mini Reese’s cup slightly forward of center. Use chocolate frosting to adhere half an orange Reese’s Pieces for the beak, half a gummy worm for the gobble and two candy eyes. Stick Reese’s Pieces behind the head in three rows to look like feathers. Serve immediately.
Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting. If the cupcakes are still warm, the frosting will melt and the decorations won’t stay in place.
Make sure you have enough candy for the decorations. Remember to set aside from orange Reese’s pieces to cut in half for the beaks. Use a toothpick to add frosting behind the candy eyes and beak. This will make it easier (and cleaner) to decorate the face.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can make the cupcakes ahead of time. I suggest storing them in the refrigerator so the decorations stay in place.
Yes, but I suggest doing it without the decorations. It unlikely the candy pieces will stay intact after wrapping the cupcakes in plastic wrap and placing them in an airtight container. They will keep for 2 months in the freezer.
Measure your ingredients correctly and don’t over-bake the cupcakes. Weigh your flour and cocoa powder (or use the spoon and level method).
If you liked this festive treat, try these recipes next!
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- 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 cups (240 g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
- ½ cup (48 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons milk, room temperature
- ½ cup Reese's Pieces
- 20 mini Reese's cups
- 40 candy eyes
- 10 red gummy worms, cut in half
- 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.
Chocolate 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 and cocoa powder until completely incorporated. With the mixer on medium speed, add the vanilla and mix for 30 seconds. Add milk until desired consistency is reached.
- For the turkey head, gently press a mini Reese’s cup slightly forward of center.
- Cut some of the orange Reese’s pieces in half for the beak. Use chocolate frosting to adhere the beak, candy eyes and wattle.
- Arrange remaining Reese’s pieces on the back half of the cupcake to look like feathers. Orange in the back, brown in the middle and yellow in the front.