Baileys Irish Cream and coffee are a classic and delicious pairing, so I used both to produce an unforgettable cupcake flavor. These Baileys and coffee cupcakes are adapted from my vanilla cupcakes and are made with Baileys, strong black coffee, and a touch of espresso powder. If you enjoy the popular Irish cream liqueur, you’ll appreciate this fun dessert!
Ever since I published these Guinness cupcakes last year, readers have asked for a variation made with Baileys Irish Cream. It’s been a couple years since I picked up a bottle of Baileys, so I was excited to put the delicious Irish cream liqueur to use in my kitchen.
Baileys Original Irish Cream is made with Irish dairy cream and Irish whiskey. It has a smooth richness and sharp flavor and is often enjoyed on ice, with coffee, or even in Baileys chocolate martinis (those are so good!). These cupcakes would be fun for St. Patrick’s Day, but they really don’t require a special occasion. Give them a try whenever you want to make an irresistible cupcake for the Baileys lover in your life.
Tell Me About These Baileys & Coffee Cupcakes
- Flavor: These are sweet cupcakes. You’ll taste both Baileys Irish Cream and coffee flavors in the cupcakes, though both are light. The flavor of both really shines when you pair the cupcakes with the frosting. The buttercream is also made with Baileys and coffee. Anyone who enjoys their Baileys with a little coffee will adore these cupcakes.
- Texture: Adapted from my vanilla cupcakes, these Baileys and coffee cupcakes are bakery-style soft, fluffy, and moist. Using cake flour and only egg whites (no yolks) promises a soft crumb. Chocolate sprinkles add a pop of texture on the creamy frosting.
- Ease: Once you have all the right ingredients, it’s just a matter of bringing them together. Unlike other desserts I’ve made with alcohol like this champagne cake roll or these Guinness brownies and Guinness chocolate cake, you don’t have to reduce the alcohol on the stove before using. (It quickly overcooked and the flavor was lacking.) Baileys simply takes the place of milk in the cupcake batter.
- Time: Set aside 3 hours to complete this recipe, which includes cooling the cupcakes.
Use My Vanilla Cupcakes as the Base
These Baileys and coffee cupcakes are my vanilla cupcakes with the addition of Baileys, room temperature coffee, and espresso powder. I very slightly reduced the amount of sour cream and added a little more liquid. The vanilla cupcake recipe is proven successful time and time again. I use it as the base for chai latte cupcakes, white chocolate strawberry cupcakes, pistachio cupcakes, coconut cupcakes and more.
Do I Have to Use Both Espresso Powder AND Coffee?
Strong black coffee and Baileys are the liquids used in the cupcake batter. However, I found that the cupcakes benefited from an extra boost of coffee flavor. Add a little espresso powder either with the dry ingredients or stir into the black coffee before pouring in. Either way the cupcakes will have extra coffee flavor—something you won’t regret! (You use both espresso powder and coffee in this espresso chocolate chip cake, too.)
- What could also work is just using espresso instead of both coffee AND espresso powder. I don’t have a way of making delicious espresso at home, so that’s why I used strong black coffee and espresso powder.
Can I Skip the Alcohol?
Absolutely. If you want a plain coffee cupcake and coffee buttercream, feel free to replace the Baileys in both with more strong black coffee.
Baileys & Coffee Cupcakes Buttercream
This frosting is adapted from my vanilla buttercream, which we also use with added vanilla beans on our shamrock cookies. We loved this frosting, especially with a pinch a salt to offset the sweetness. To make Baileys buttercream, you need room temperature butter, confectioners’ sugar, Baileys, strong black coffee (with espresso powder added if desired, see bullet point below), and a little salt to taste. I usually use 3 Tablespoons of Baileys and 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons of coffee, but you can play with those amounts as long as you have about 4-5 Tablespoons of liquid in the frosting.
- If you want even more flavor in the buttercream, use brewed room temperature espresso instead of black coffee. Or whisk 1/2 teaspoon of espresso powder into the coffee to strengthen its flavor.
Since this recipe is made with alcohol, use your best judgement when serving it. Typically alcohol is cooked out of baked goods, but the buttercream frosting is not cooked.
PS: I used Ateco 808 piping tip for the pictured cupcakes, the same tip I love using for carrot cake cupcakes. You can see more of my favorite piping tips and a piping video tutorial over on my Piping Tips page.Print
Baileys & Coffee Cupcakes
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours (includes cooling)
- Yield: 14 cupcakes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
These Baileys and coffee cupcakes are adapted from my vanilla cupcakes and are made with Baileys, strong black coffee, and a touch of espresso powder. Review notes before beginning.
- 1 and 3/4 cups (207g) cake flour* (spooned & leveled)
- 2 teaspoons espresso powder*
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature*
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup (80g) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup (60ml) strong black coffee, cooled to room temperature*
- 1/3 cup (80ml) Baileys Irish Cream*
Baileys Coffee Buttercream
- 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 cups (480g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
- 3 Tablespoons (45ml) Baileys Irish Cream
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons strong black coffee, cooled to room temperature
- pinch of salt
- optional for garnish: chocolate sprinkles
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 2 liners—this recipe makes about 14 cupcakes. Set aside.
- For the cupcakes: Whisk the cake flour, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg whites and vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the sour cream. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the coffee then the Baileys. Beat just until combined. Do not over-mix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps in the bottom of the bowl.
- Pour/spoon the batter into the liners—fill only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 19-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For around 30-36 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
- Make the frosting: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, espresso powder (if using), Baileys, and coffee. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to medium-high speed and beat for 2 full minutes. Add up to 1/2 cup more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or another Tablespoon of Baileys if frosting is too thick. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. (I add and recommend 1/8 teaspoon salt.)
- Frost cooled cupcakes and top with sprinkles, if desired. I used Ateco 808 piping tip. Cover and store leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using. If frosting is too thick, beat in 1 Tablespoon of Baileys or room temperature black coffee to thin out. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Glass Mixing Bowls | Whisk | 12-Count Muffin Pan | Cupcake Liners | Piping Bag (Disposable or Reusable) | Ateco 808 Piping Tip | Cupcake Carrier (for storage)
- Cake Flour: Real cake flour is ideal in this recipe. However, in a pinch and if you can’t get cake flour, use this homemade cake flour substitute. I suggest doing this twice, mixing it all up in 1 bowl then removing 1/4 cup since you need 1 and 3/4 cups in this recipe.
- Espresso Powder & Coffee: I use both espresso powder and strong black coffee in the cupcake batter and buttercream. For the cupcake batter, you can add the espresso powder with the dry ingredients like I do (it dissolves just fine in the batter) or stir into the black coffee before pouring in. What would also work is just using 1/4 cup room temperature brewed espresso instead of both coffee AND espresso powder. The espresso powder is optional in the frosting, but I recommend it for more flavor. And in the frosting, you could also use 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons room temperature espresso instead of the coffee AND espresso powder.
- What to Do with Leftover Egg Yolks? Here are all of my recipes using only or extra egg yolks.
- Baileys: You can use regular Baileys or any flavors that this Irish cream comes in. I know there’s salted caramel and espresso flavors that would be great here!
- Alcohol Free: You can skip the alcohol completely for plain coffee cupcakes and coffee buttercream. To do so, replace the Baileys in the cupcake batter and buttercream with strong black coffee– 7 Tbsp of coffee total in the cupcakes and 4-5 Tbsp in the buttercream.
- Cake: This recipe would be a delicious cake. Use this batter and frosting and follow my 6 inch cake recipe instructions. For a 9 inch layer cake, I recommend using my white cake recipe. Reduce sugar down to 1 and 1/2 cups (300g). Add 1 Tablespoon espresso powder with the dry ingredients. Instead of 1 cup of milk, use 1/2 cup (120ml) Baileys, 1/4 cup (60ml) strong room temperature coffee, and 1/4 cup (60ml) whole milk. This amount of frosting should be plenty for the cake.
- Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!
Keywords: Baileys Irish Cream, coffee cupcakes
Reader Comments & Reviews
What brand/type of strong coffee did you use? What brand/type of espresso?
Hi Deb! Just a regular pot of coffee will do, any brand. We like to use King Arthur brand espresso powder.
They are simply delicious. Your vanilla base always works for me.
This is the first recipe that I do not think quite worked for me – but it could be the baker. The flavors were good, but the cupcake turned out denser than I hoped. I know you say to barely incorporate things (do not over mix) but I must mixed too much.
And I dusted the frosted cupcakes with Espresso power which was a nice addition.
Bailey’s flavor was nice ( I used all Bailey’s no milk)
This is the second time I make cupcakes using your vanilla base. I follow everything exact. They have good flavor but are very dense and dry. Not sure what is the issue. Any suggestions? I do use the cake flour. I try not to over mix.
Hi Melissa, how are you measuring your flour? Be sure to spoon and level it, or weigh it. It could be possible that you are packing too much flour into the measuring cup. Additionally, it could be helpful to add a splash extra liquid such as more Baileys or strong coffee.
Could I make a cream cheese frosting and add Bailey’s and/or coffee?
Hi Andrea, you could try swapping some of the butter in this frosting recipe for cream cheese. It may take a bit of tinkering with the ingredients to ensure the right consistency. Let us know what you try!
I love this recipe however I had way too much icing. I froze the leftovers and hope I can thaw it out when I make another batch.
Do you think i could sub in Kalhua for the baileys? Ive never baked with alcohol before and have no idea what to look out for
Hi Shruthi, We haven’t tested Kahlua as a substitute for Bailey’s but would love to hear how it goes if you do!
If I want to double the recipe do i double the ingredients or make two separate batches?
Hi Sandra, for best results (and to prevent over or under mixing), we recommend making two separate batches rather than doubling.