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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! (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.

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, 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.

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, 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.

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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 1x
  • 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 (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


  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.


  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. And in the frosting, 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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Epic! I wondered while mixing up the batter though, did you ever try these with dark brown sugar vs white? Or half and half? I feel like the molasses would really complement the caramel notes in the Baileys. I learned from you to always use dark brown sugar too 🙂 thank you for all you wonderful recipes!!

    1. Hi Amanda! We’ve only tried this recipe as written with white granulated sugar. I love baking with brown sugar (dark is great!), but it can weigh down the crumb. You can definitely test it (or half brown sugar and half white granulated sugar) if you’d like!

  2. Hi. I now own a giant cupcake mold. I would love to use this or your vanilla cake recipe for it. What should I do differently?

    1. Hi Elaine, We have never tested either recipe in a giant cupcake mold. The actual recipes shouldn’t change but I’m unsure of the quantity of batter or the bake time you would need. Let us know if you try it!

  3. These were so, so good!! A crowd pleaser for sure! Actually the first time I used cake flour, and loved the light and spongy texture of the cupcake, and the frosting was super yummy!

  4. I made these cupcakes exactly as the recipe stated. They were absolutely delicious. And the frosting was swoon-worthy! My mom enjoys a cupcake after her dinner and she went nuts over these. They freeze fabulously and taste like fresh baked when thawed. Thanks Sally for another fantastic recipe.

    1. Hi Janny, We haven’t tested Kahlua as a substitute for Bailey’s but would love to hear how it goes if you do!

      1. Hey Janny!
        I have Kahlua at home and was wondering if I could use that instead of Bailey’s. If you tried it, please share how did the cupcakes turn out? Did you make any adjustments in the sugar quantity?

  5. These sound amazing! Do you think it would work to pipe some of the frosting into the center of the cupcakes too?

    1. Hi Kat, we can’t see why not! We’d cut a small hole in the center to help hold the extra frosting. Enjoy!

  6. Hello Sally,
    I am a huge fan of yours and absolutely love all of your recipes!
    I wanted to know if you use a full fat sour cream for this recipe?

    1. Hi Jessica, yes, full-fat sour cream is best in this recipe!

      1. Thank you so much Lexi for your prompt response as well as for letting me know that this recipe does call for full fat sour cream it is greatly appreciated!

  7. Followed the recipe exactly as written and they were delicious! The cupcake itself was very light in flavor, the buttercream is what gave it the flavor – but the two together was a great combination. Could taste the baileys but didn’t quite taste a coffee flavor otherwise. Light and easy to eat. Made 35 mini cupcakes with 13 min in the oven

  8. Hi Sally,

    My frosting seemed to curdle after sitting on the cupcakes for about 20 minutes I noticed the separation. Do you know why this might have happened? I followed your recipe, minus the espresso powder, for the frosting, but did add 2 tablespoons extra of baileys and 1 of coffee as it was pretty thick and I wanted a little more coffee flavour in it.


    1. Hi Roxana, Buttercream can appear curdled if the butter you used was too cold. It sounds like this may have been the case if you said your frosting was too dense. But it’s an easy fix for next time!

  9. Hi Sally, what would you recommend other than using Baileys Irish Cream because it is not available in our country.

    1. You can search for homemade Baileys Irish Cream recipes online. It’s very easy to make your own (and delicious!)

  10. Hi Sally! If I wanted to double one of your cupcakes recipe, would you recommend doubling the ingredients and making one big batch, or would it be better to keep the batch size the same and just make two separate batches? Thanks!

    1. Hi Callie! For best texture, we recommend sticking with 2 separate batches. Enjoy!

  11. Will be trying your cup cakes in the future, is it ok to use egg whites from the carton for your baked goods. Hate to throw away egg yolks.

    1. Hi Linda! You can use carton egg whites in most cases. The carton should give instructions for replacement quantities.

      1. Hi, was would love to do these as chocolate cupcakes, is there anyway I can do that?

      2. Hi Sade, definitely! You can use our chocolate cupcakes recipe instead – they will taste incredible with this Bailey’s coffee buttercream.

  12. Hi Sally,

    I wanted to try this recipe but I couldn’t find any espresso powder in my stores or on line (Australia). It seems like I have to get it shipped from the US. Which is a bit pricey for me. Do you know what substitute I can use for the espresso powder?


    1. Hi KC, instant coffee would work as well – you will need to use a bit more to get the same flavor.

  13. How does the Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting pair with your chocolate cupcake? Should coffee be added to the chocolate cupcake recipe to keep from losing the coffee flavor?

    1. Hi C Scott, this frosting would taste delicious on our Chocolate Cupcakes! You can add 1 tsp espresso powder that recipe to deepen the chocolate flavor.

  14. Hi Sally, I tried this recipe today. And followed it exactly as is. Except that since I didn’t have Baileys I used Kaluha instead. The muffins turned out amazingly soft and moist. I tried quite a few of your recipes and they always turn out great. Thank you so much

  15. Hi,
    would I be able to make the frosting into a baileys cream cheese frosting following the same amount of brewed coffee and baileys?

    1. Hi Cat, that should work fine, yes! What we might recommend is making it as is with the coffee and espresso powder omitted, and taste to see if that is enough Baileys taste. Then you can add more Baileys to taste or heavy cream / milk if it needs thinning out but you don’t want more of the Baileys taste. Hope this helps!

  16. The cupcakes were dense and chewy instead of fluffy and spongy. I didn’t taste the flavour of either the Bailey’s or the coffee in either the cake or the top. And the buttercream was too sweet and the flavour of the butter was too overpowering. I don’t know what I did wrong, but I’m glad I baked them earlier so I can do something else.

    1. I had this same experience, cupcakes had no flavor and the texture was disappointing. The frosting had no flavor except the overpowering flavor of sugar.

  17. What is the best brand to use in this recipe? I have Starbucks ground coffee and instant.

    1. Hi Madeleine! For the strong brewed coffee, we recommend using a freshly brewed (not instant) coffee. Starbucks would work great!

  18. I made this recipe back to back Sunday and today, Monday. Yesterday the cup were dense, no flavor, sticking to cupcake paper. I redid this am, carefully sifting the flour & cornstarch twice. They look better. I grabbed one right now & they are sticking to paper. Is there a truck, should I have sprayed first? I think they’ll taste good once frosted. The frosting doesn’t look fluffy. Thank you for this website. I love it.

    1. Hi Mary! Are the cupcakes completely cool? They’ll stick of they’re still warm. Using high quality cupcake liners can make a big difference with cupcakes sticking – we’ve never had an issue with this recipe, but you can spray that liners next time!

  19. Good afternoon,
    I was wondering would these work okay with a chocolate cupcake recipe? or could i ask cocoa to these? what would be best?

  20. This is an incredible cake! I cut the recipe in half and made it into a 6 inch single layer cake. Took about 30 minutes to bake. It was perfect for a small birthday cake. The crumb is light and moist. I’m not a huge coffee drinker but the flavor was light and delicious. The frosting just puts this over the top for delicious! The whole thing was easy to prepare. You’re my go to for any baking recipes and you never disappoint!

  21. Oh my goodness this recipe was amazing! They came out so light and fluffy. The cake itself is delicious even without the frosting. The espresso powder to me was vital because I love that coffee flavor.

  22. My new go to cupcake recipe (for adults only!) A perfect balance of coffee and Baileys. I made only half the frosting quantity and it was plenty. Thank you for your well-tested recipes.

  23. Delicious! They had to bake for close to 30 minutes, but the texture is perfect. I used Baileys in the cake itself, but because I didn’t want any alcohol in the buttercream, I used 3/4 tsp espresso power, 2 tbsp black coffee, and 1 1/2 tbsp heavy cream, and it turned out good. This website is my favorite place to get cupcake recipes and I can’t wait to see what else yall publish!

  24. Would it be possible to make these with gluten free flour (cup4cup) and if yes, do you have any recommendations?

    1. Hi Nina, we haven’t tested this recipe with gluten free flour but please let us know how it goes if you do!

  25. I would like to make them for some friends but they would have to travel and not be refrigerated for several hours. Can I do that?

    1. Hi Terri, After decorating anything with buttercream or cream cheese frosting, it’s fine for 1 day at room temperature. After that, we would refrigerate it. But, use your best judgment and whatever you are comfortable with- we’ve never had any problems leaving frosted desserts at room temperature for a day.

  26. Delicious perfectly moist and packed full of flavor. I used a little bit less powdered sugar in my buttercream and I feel like it was just the right amount of sweet for me. I also high recommend using the espresso powder it elevated the flavor so much. My new favorite cupcakes seriously.

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