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Spiced gingerbread cupcake recipe with tangy, sweet cream cheese frosting. Moist and flavorful, these homemade cupcakes are the perfect treat during the holidays!

gingerbread cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting and a decorative gingerbread man candy

gingerbread cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting and a decorative gingerbread man candy

What may look like your typical gingerbread cupcake is anything but average.

Deep inside each super-moist crumb you’ll taste cinnamon, ginger, and other warming winter spices. The taste of molasses is pungent, yet not overpowering in the slightest. Buttery and rich, these easy cupcakes are Christmas in a wrapper. There are no flavors I associate more with the holidays than cinnamon, ginger, and molasses.

gingerbread cupcakes in a cupcake pan after baking

It took me a few tries to perfect this gingerbread cupcake recipe. I used some trusty trial-and-error techniques to find the perfect ratio of ingredients. The cupcake batter starts with creamed butter. Batch #1 was made with oil instead of butter. Oh my gosh. The batter separated and the cupcakes were so oily, they were impossible to pick up and eat! Batch #2 was made with less oil. Dry. Dry as a bone! Batch #3 was made with melted butter and more flour. Again, oily.

(About to give up at this point, but my gingerbread perseverance pushed me through.)

Batch #4 won. Creamed butter! Brown sugar and molasses are the sweetening (and flavoring) agents in this cupcake recipe. Not only that, brown sugar brings moisture to the baked cupcake. Since you’re not using oil (which is more moisture-rich than butter), brown sugar is a simple way to not only sweeten the cupcake, but to leave a moist texture as well.

The rest of the cupcake ingredients are quite standard: flour, spices, milk, leaveners, egg. Use room temperature egg for this cupcake batter. Surely you saw what happened when I didn’t use room temperature egg in these peppermint mocha cupcakes, right? Though not necessary for all cupcake and cake recipes, I prefer to use room temperature egg(s) when the rest of my ingredients are room temperature. This allows the egg to incorporate easier into the batter.

cream cheese frosting in a pink bowl with a hand mixer

I top the flavorful gingerbread cupcakes with my favorite cream cheese frosting. The frosting is quite similar to the cream cheese frosting I slather on my Chocolate Gingerbread Bundt Cake. I simply increased the cream cheese for a thicker consistency. If you love cream cheese frosting, this is a recipe you need.

Frost the gingerbread cupcakes – I used my Wilton #12 tip for piping, though you could simply frost them with a knife or your favorite piping tip.

I know you’re wondering about the adorable little gingerbread men decor, right? They kind of steal the show. Found them for super cheap at Michael’s craft store. You can buy similar ones here or even some adorable candy canes right here! Are you making sugar cookies or gingerbread cookies this season? A small cutout cookie from either recipe would make for a wonderful topper, too. Two treats in one!

gingerbread man decorations

You could also decorate the cupcakes with festive holiday sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, or even flavor the cream cheese frosting with maple extract or a sprinkle of cinnamon. You could even do a simple whipped cream topping as well. I’m pretty certain gingerbread goes with everything.

If you’re a gingerbread lover, you have to try these holiday cupcakes. Crowned with tangy cream cheese frosting, each bite is super moist and high in gingery flavor. Sugar and spice at its finest!

PS: See how to make them mini size in my recipe notes below!

gingerbread cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting and a decorative gingerbread man candy

Ok, enough reading – start baking!

Print
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gingerbread cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting and a decorative gingerbread man candy

Gingerbread Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes 1x
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Spiced gingerbread cupcake recipe with tangy, sweet cream cheese frosting. Moist and flavorful, these homemade cupcakes are the perfect treat during the holidays!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) milk, at room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup (156g) molasses
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/3 cups (166g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • cream cheese frosting for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed until creamy. Beat in the egg until combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat in the milk, molasses, and vanilla on medium speed. Mixture will be piecey and not fully combined. That’s ok.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice together until combined. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  4. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full, no more. Bake for 19-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  5. Prepare cream cheese frosting. Frost cooled cupcakes immediately before serving. Unfrosted cupcakes remain fresh covered tightly at room temperature for 2 days. Store frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days and allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare cupcakes and frosting 1 day in advance. Keep cupcakes covered tightly at room temperature and the frosting covered tightly in the refrigerator. Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before frosting and serving.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Hand Mixer, 5-qt Tilt-Head Glass Measuring Bowl, Flex Edge Beater, KitchenAid Stand Mixer, Cupcake Pan, Wilton #12 Round Frosting Tip, and Frosting Bags (Reusable or Disposable)
  3. Mini Cupcakes: To make about 30 mini cupcakes, make the cupcake batter as directed and bake in mini muffin pans for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Cake: Here is my gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting recipe.
  5. Room Temperature Ingredients: Egg and milk should be at room temperature. I used skim milk, though any milk would be fine. Buttermilk would be great!
  6. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: gingerbread cupcakes

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Hi Sally.
    It has gotten cold here in Elkins, WV.
    I came acrossed these cupcakes the other day
    and pinned them. They look cute.
    Can I use a Wilton cupcake pan for
    instead of calphalon brand?

  2. Sally,
    How do these gingerbread cupcakes differ from your cupcake muffins with the lemon glaze? I want to make something “gingerbread”flavor to add to my holiday baking gifting baskets

    Thanks much

  3. These are amazing! I punched up the ginger with a little ginger paste, then used a star tip and vanilla buttercream (I forgot to buy cream cheese), and garnished with a big cube of crystallized ginger. So tender and delicious! They did come out very flat though, no dome at all. I just covered it with frosting, no big deal.

    1. mine too. totally flat tops. sunken actually. only change i made was buttermilk. did the acid cause too much rise in the batter itself before baking? i work pretty quick, it didn’t sit around. all my ingredients are fresh, measured by grams.
      not sure.

    1. Hi Lisa! You can, however, with cakes and cupcake recipes– and for best taste and texture– it’s best to make two separate batches instead of doubling.

  4. Oh. My. Gosh! These are so delicious! I made these for my class as I had a bit of molasses leftover from making gingerbread and the soft molasses cookies earlier this week, and I’m so pleased with how they turned out! I subbed in soya milk and made then smaller – got 23 medium sized cupcakes, which baked perfectly in 15 minutes. Thank you so much for these delicious cupcakes! Can’t wait to share them with my class and see what happens! They loved the gingerbread cookies and kept saying how good they were!

  5. I’ve tried three other gingerbread cupcake recipes in the last week. Your recipe is the best one by far!!!
    Thank you for sharing it!

  6. These cupcakes are divine! I made them for Christmas dessert and they were gobbled up immediately. My cupcakes came out of the oven with flat tops which was the perfect canvas for the delectable cream cheese frosting. The frosting was stiff enough to pipe with a large star tip and very easy to work with. Thanks for a moist and perfectly spiced gingerbread cupcake recipe!

  7. OH MY WORD! These are good and I almost finished the whole batch… the spices were evident and perfectly balanced but not too spicy like a lot of recipes. My family couldn’t get enough and neither could I! Thanks so much Sally!

  8. I found these to be a bit dry. How can I increase the moisture without changing the flavor profile?

    1. Hi Amanda, We use unsulphured molasses – Grandma’s brand is what we have in the kitchen!

  9. Hello Sally im about to try this recipe, it looks delicious I was wondering Can i use fresh Ginger in these that happens to be all I have? Thank you so much

    1. Hi Jamie, You could but I’m unsure of the exact amount you would need. Let us know if you try it!

      1. Hi Sally, first off thank you again for all the beautiful recipes! I just did your Tuxedo Cake last Sunday, wow! a lot of work but so so worth it! As far as the cupcakes are concerned they were absolutely delicious! I went ahead and added 1/2 tsp of fresh grated ginger and the cupcakes were a 10 out of 10 for my family! thanks again everything I’ve tried of your recipes was successful and they were all stunning in their own way.

  10. Can I use cake flour instead? I like the lighter texture cake flour provides. Would I need to adjust anything else?

    1. Hi Stephanie, cake flour may produce cupcakes that are too light and flimsy. Adjusting other ingredients would require some testing, so let me know if you try anything! I recommend sticking with the recipe.

  11. We have been a family favourite during the festive season for a while, but now we have a 7 year old celiac and I hate to see her miss out. Do you think it would work with GF plain flour and some added xanthum gum..?

    1. Hi Ket, we haven’t tested that substitution ourselves and are unsure of the results, but let us know if you do!

    1. Hi Patti! After the cupcakes are baked, you could cut out the centers and add the cream cheese frosting as a filling if desired. Enjoy!

      1. Thanks for the tip. I will definitely try that.

  12. Sally devotee here. Therefore, sad to report that I’ve made these twice — once as cupcakes & once as mini-cupcakes — and they just don’t work great. The taste is AMAZING (hence the 2 stars), but they are super fragile & fall apart as you try to take them out of the cupcake pans or liners; basically end up with some (delicious) crumbles. Also, even when using a brand new baking soda & baking powder (literally opened today), they didn’t rise that well. Sort of rise to a flat surface & stop. Less important; but I’m guessing related to the general very delicate cupcake structure. Might try the gingerbread snack cake recipe as a base next time… I’ve made the gingerbread muffins; they are tasty, but much more dense. Looking for that Goldilocks “just right” recipe!

    1. My experience mirrors yours. I was so disappointed, because they taste SO good, and Sally’s recipes are normally pretty reliable.

  13. These were the best Gingerbread cupcakes! Moist and flavorful and super easy to make with these great directions. A big hit!

  14. I am a big fan of yours! I would like to make this, but we are not cream cheese frosting lovers. What frosting can I make instead that will compliment this gingerbread cupcakes?

  15. These fell flat, literally . Which was a shame since the taste is there. But they sank in and didn’t rise properly. Needed more than the baking time, which caused them to be drier on the outside. And yes, I have an oven thermometer and fresh ingredients. So it’s the recipe for sure.

  16. These are great and I make them every year during the fall season – one question though, is there a way to make this gluten free and nut free for some guests I was hoping to create this for? Thanks!

  17. I made these for Thanksgiving and they were delicious. I want to make some as mini-cupcakes in a mini muffin tin. How long do you suggest I bake them? Thanks!

    1. Hi Lia, see recipe notes for mini cupcake instructions. So glad you enjoyed these cupcakes!

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