Baileys & Coffee Cupcakes

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!

Baileys Irish coffee cupcakes with Baileys flavored buttercream and chocolate sprinkles on top

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, 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.

close-up photo of Baileys and coffee cupcake cut in half

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 cupcakescoconut 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!

  • 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.

photos of Baileys Irish Cream in liquid measuring cup with a side by side photo of Baileys cupcake batter

two side by side photos of Baileys flavored cupcakes before and after baking

Baileys & Coffee Cupcakes Buttercream

This frosting is adapted from my vanilla buttercream. 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.

Baileys buttercream frosting in a glass mixing bowl

Baileys coffee cupcake with chocolate sprinkles on top

PS: I used Ateco 808 piping tip for the pictured cupcakes. You can see more of my favorite piping tips and a piping video tutorial over on my Piping Tips page.

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Baileys coffee cupcake with chocolate sprinkles on top

Baileys & Coffee Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours (includes cooling)
  • Yield: 14 cupcakes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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.


Ingredients

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (207gcake flour* (spoon & leveled)
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder*
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115gunsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200ggranulated sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature*
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (80gsour 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. For the cupcakes: Whisk the cake flour, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.)
  6. 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.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. You could also use 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons room temperature espresso instead of the coffee AND espresso powder.
  4. What to Do with Leftover Egg Yolks? Here are all of my recipes using only or extra egg yolks.
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: Baileys Irish Cream, coffee cupcakes

73 Comments

  1. Kimberly Ellis says:

    May I just make this into a cake instead of cupcakes?

    1. Absolutely! Use this batter and frosting and follow my 6 inch cake recipe instructions. See details in the notes for a larger 9 inch cake.

  2. Looks amazing, great job Sally!
    Do you think this would work as a cake as @Kimberly Ellis asked? Ans do you think this would taste good with chocolate buttercream on top instead of coffee?
    Thanks,
    Klailea

    1. Thank you Klailea! This is such a great question and I just added to my recipe notes. Use this batter and frosting and follow my 6 inch cake recipe instructions. See details in the notes for a larger 9 inch cake.

  3. Denise Henderson says:

    Oh girl!!! I can’t wait to make these!! Baileys is one of my favorite alchohol drinks and I am a coffee-a-holic!! This… a dream come true!!

  4. Can I use whole eggs instead of the whites?

    1. Hi Pascale, for best taste and texture, I strongly recommend using only egg whites as written.

  5. Kelly-Jane M says:

    Oh I love Baileys! These look great! Bookmarking this one.

    Mother’s Day in the Uk this weekend, thinking of making your flourless chocolate cake with the mocha cream and raspberries! Xx

  6. This is so timely! I was just trying to think of a way to incorporate some Bailey’s into a dessert:)

  7. Could these be made into a chocolate cupcake somehow?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Melissa, the Baileys Coffee Buttercream from this recipe would taste delicious on our Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes. Let us know if you give it a try!

      1. Can I double this recipe?

  8. Hello is it flat teaspoons, rounded or heaped for measuring. Don’t want to do it wrong. All the cupcake recipes look amazing. Many thanks

    1. Hi Loretta, flat Tablespoons.

  9. Hi! What strong coffee would you recommend?

    1. Hi Dee! Any brand of coffee is fine, but brew it strong. (Increase the amount of grounds but keep the same amount of water usually used– packages usually give best equivalents.)

  10. Sally, could you use Baileys coffee creamer to make it alcohol free

    1. Hi Joanne, coffee creamer is typically pretty sweet. If you use that, I recommend reducing the amount of sugar in the cupcake batter. For the frosting, you can’t really reduce the sugar without altering the consistency– so I recommend using all black coffee as the liquid there.

    2. Janet Olsen says:

      Hi Joanne….. look up the recipe for Baily’s online, and make it without aclohol.

  11. This recipe looks really nice! I can’t wait to try it. Do you also have any specific coffee cakes or cupcake desserts? Not the breakfast kind, but a rich coffee one by any chance? If you don’t, do these work fine with as a plain coffee dessert with a coffee flavored frosting? Thank you! 🙂

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Natania, you can skip the alcohol completely for plain coffee cupcakes and coffee buttercream — see recipe notes for details. Hope you enjoy these!

  12. I am planning on making these cupcakes for a dear friends birthday on Sunday. I did a test run with the recipe today. They smell amazing and the small lick of the batter was delicious. My only concern is that I added the espresso powder to the dry ingredients but when I mixed everything together it did not completely dissolve. I have specks in the cupcakes. When they cool and I can frost them and sample them I will see if they are noticeable. When I make them this weekend I will definitely add the espresso to the coffee before letting it cool so to dissolve the crystals completely.

    1. Update! Baked, frosted and devoured! My husband commented that these cupcakes were one of the best things I have ever baked and I bake alot! After considering the espresso specks in the cake, I think I will leave them. They are not crunchy and has visual appeal kind of like vanilla bean does. Great recipe!

  13. Update! Baked, frosted and devoured! My husband commented that these cupcakes were one of the best things I have ever baked and I bake alot! After considering the espresso specks in the cake, I think I will leave them. They are not crunchy and has visual appeal kind of like vanilla bean does. Great recipe!

  14. This recipe looks so good- I really want to make this but I’m under 21 so the alcohol is a no-go. Is there any good substitute I can use instead?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Anya! If you want a plain coffee cupcake and coffee buttercream, feel free to replace the Baileys in both with more strong black coffee. Enjoy!

  15. hello ! i am not a fan of coffee, but i love the idea of incorporating bailey’s into a cupcake. what do you suggest i do to the recipe so that the coffee flavor does not stand out as much ?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jen! You could use vanilla or chocolate cupcakes as the base and add more Baileys Irish cream or some milk to the buttercream to replace the coffee if you would like (though the tiny bit of coffee in the buttercream may be the perfect amount for you). Let us know what you try!

  16. Amanda Stapley says:

    I soooooo want to make these this weekend. I will have to hold off for now and try and be patient. Baby shower is this Saturday and while everyone showing up would appreciate them, I’m very over watching everyone else indulge! At least I’ll be free of those kinds of restrictions next St. Paddy’s day 🙂

  17. Hello!

    I can’t wait to try this recipe! I see you suggest 6 inch pans, but was wondering if 4 inch pans would work?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kriss! This will be too much batter for 3 four inch pans. You can reference this handy guide to find out how much batter you’ll need.

  18. Made these last night, brought them to work this morning… all gone before 9 AM! I’m glad I saved a couple at home to enjoy later. Everyone loved them!

  19. I don’t like “little” cupcakes. I prefer to make muffin size. What would the cooking time need to be for larger ones?

    1. Hi Carol, these are standard size cupcakes made in a 12-count muffin pan. Are you looking for something larger? I’m unsure of the bake time for jumbo cupcakes as we’ve only tested these as standard and mini.

      1. CAROL VAN ALPHEN says:

        Yes. I use large muffin pans, six per pan. I think I usually use a nine inch pan timing when I do them, checking at the shortest time. I’ll let you know how it works! Thank you.

  20. Denise Henderson says:

    I would give this cupcake 10 stars if I could! These are amazing!!

  21. Would I be able to use Khalua instead of the Baileys? Thanks!

    1. Hi Ashley, we haven’t tested the recipe with that swap but let us know if you try it!

  22. First, I love all of your recipes, I have made many. I made these cupcakes for a small get together and everyone loved them. I wish that I could taste them ( thank you covid for taking my sense of taste and smell away ). I’m going to freeze a few for myself for when I can taste again. Thank you.

  23. Can you make it into a loaf pan? What size?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Joanne! We haven’t tested this cupcake batter in a loaf pan but fear it would be too delicate. Here’s our handy cake pan sizes and conversions guide that may be helpful as well.

  24. so i’ve tried making these and when they are baking they deflate in the middle any tips for that not to happen?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cristal! Usually cupcakes deflate because they are under-baked or overfilled – simple fixes for next time!

  25. I follow a lot of your recipes and this one really stands out! It was easy to bake and put together, and the coffee and Bailey’s flavors both come through powerfully. Love it, thanks Sally!

  26. These are so delicious! I love the flavor combo! I made the recipe exactly as written. And, as always, easy to make and came out perfectly because it’s a Sally recipe. 😉

  27. Loved the flavor, but the cupcake was not as moist as expected. Any thoughts on what may have gone wrong. That did not stop my husband from sneaking back in the kitchen for “just one more”.

  28. Cathy Blodgett says:

    Hi Sally
    I have not made these yet as I was wondering if I could use 2 TBL kahlua and 1 TBL baileys? I love them mixed in my coffee but baileys alone is a tad sweet for me. Just wondering if the sweetness of the cupcake itself would be altered too much?

    1. Hi Cathy, while we haven’t tested the recipe like that, I’m sure that you could make that swap. (Some Kahlúa and some Baileys.)

  29. Hello! I’m curious why this recipe uses egg whites instead of whole egg?

    1. Hi Amanda, egg whites produce a fluffier cupcake. If you’d like to read more, this recipe is adapted from our vanilla cupcakes and I go into detail about it in that post.

  30. The Bakers Hands says:

    Hi Sally! Question for you, if I wanted to use this buttercream on top of your regular chocolate cupcakes, would you suggest brushing the tops of the chocolate cupcakes with the Bailey’s to infuse more of the flavor? I couldnt taste it that strongly in the buttercream but wanted the cupcakes to be non alcoholic so I could top some with regular buttercream for the kiddos without having to do 2 separate cupcake batches…. Thoughts?

    1. I’m sure that would be fine! What might work better, though, is replacing the coffee in the buttercream with more Baileys– that way you have close to 5 Tablespoons of Baileys in the frosting. And you can add a little more espresso powder to the buttercream for extra coffee flavor if desired.

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