Gingerbread Cupcakes

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 this cupcake post, 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 them here or even some adorable candy canes right here!

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!

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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
  • 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

  • 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, Frosting Bags, and Decorations
  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

63 Comments

  1. Sally, what type/brand of molasses is your favorite for recipes such as this? Love your site. Thanks!

    1. I prefer Grandma’s molasses or Brer Rabbit full flavor molasses.

  2. Yum! Would blackstrap molasses be okay to use in this recipe? Thanks!

    1. Hi Justine – yes, blackstrap would be OK. Keep in mind blackstrap’s very intense, dark flavor.

  3. Sally…Another WINNER of a recipe from SBA!. Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. Hi Sally! I made these a couple days ago and they were amazing! Do you think coconut oil would work in place of butter?

    1. Though I have never tried it before and cannot speak from experience, I’m sure you could cream solid coconut oil instead of butter. Let me know if you try it Tiffany!

  5. Made these yesterday…they were delicious!! So light and fluffy! I think next time I’d like to try them with the cinnamon frosting 🙂 Thanks for another great recipe!

  6. Thanks for sharing – I made these for my co-workers and they loved them! I had to substitute some maple syrup for sugar (ran out!) but no biggie, just turned down the temp a bit and they turned out smelling lovely and delicious. I used your icing recipe but used eggnog instead of milk and upped the cinnamon and nutmeg for an ‘eggnog icing’. Yum!

  7. Hi, i made these last night and they came out perfect! I think they taste even better the next day – still lovely and moist. I wondered if you’d ever tried the batter in a loaf tin and if so, how you would advise adjusting the baking temp/time.
    Thanks, Nanette.

    1. Hi Nanette – I love their flavor the next day too. Sort of how banana bread or carrot cake tastes better on day 2. The flavor intensifies! Anyway, you may certainly use this batter in a loaf pan. However, I am unsure of the exact bake time. At least 45+ minutes. Rotate it in the oven, cover loosely with foil halfway through to prevent browning. Same oven temp.

  8. Made these yesterday for a girls night out and they were a big hit!! So moist and yummy!! Cream cheese frosting isn’t my favorite, but it worked with the cupcake and balanced out the ginger/molasses taste well. I have a few friends who don’t eat eggs and these cupcakes worked great with the Ener-G Egg Replacer.

    Thanks so much for such DELICIOUS recipes and for always making the directions so easy to follow =)

  9. These were a huge hit at my family Christmas although the cream cheese frosting was a bit too thin. I tried to thicken up with a little more powdered sugar. I would suggest not putting any milk or cream in at first and then only add it if needed.

  10. Hi Sally, can molasses be replaced with anything else? I have everything except for molasses and i wanna bake these so badly now haha.. 🙂

    p/s: I’m in love with your lemon cupcakes, those are the first that Ive tried to make from your site (and the first few cupcakes that I ever tried baking; I’m new at this) and I received many compliments from family and friends and they repeatedly wanted me to make them again. Some even wanted to buy those from me heh. Thank you for your great recipes Sally. Much love 🙂

    1. Hey Farah! I’m so happy the lemon cupcakes were a hit for you! Aren’t they fantastic? Love them. Happy you want to make these gingerbread cupcakes next. However, you will lose a lot of the gingerbread flavor by leaving out the molasses. You may substitute with maple syrup I suppose, but the cupcakes won’t be as flavorful.

  11. These were a delicious addition to my Christmas baking (and my first SBA recipe!). Although the flavor was amazeballs, mine turned out quite dense. Any ideas what I was doing wrong?

    1. Hey Sarah! These cupcakes are supposed to be a little dense. But try to avoid overmixing the batter. That lends to a denser baked good.

  12. Vanessa Mancini says:

    I made these cupcakes with a white chocolate cream cheese frosting and they were amazing!!! Everyone loved them. I will definitely be making these again. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

    1. You white chocolate cream cheese frosting sounds amazing Vanessa! Especially paired with gingerbread.

  13. Hi! I made these cupcakes for my sisters birthday a few days ago ago, and she (and my family) absolutely loved these! Thank you so much! The only thing is the cream cheese frosting was very thin….do you know why that could be? I used full fat cream cheese. It tasted great, it was just very thin.

    1. Happy you all loved them! Perhaps try cutting out the cream/milk in the frosting recipe. That should help.

  14. These are great! followed the recipe exactly. Taste just like gingerbread. Might up the spices or molasses just a tad next time!

  15. Roberta Still says:

    OH MY GOSH. These cupcakes are awesome. It is the first time I have made cupcakes from scratch, My mother-in-law used to make gingerbread but this puts it to shame. I am going to ice them with a lemon glaze. I am giving them as gifts to my doctors office and pharmacy and they don’t have a place to refrigerate the cream cheese iced cupcakes. Thank you Sally for a successful cupcake. I am kinda proud of myself.

  16. Hi. 
    I made this yesterday and they are gorgeous. I live in Ireland and could not get hold of molasses so I used Maple syrup instead. Gorgeous. Thanks.

  17. I am struggling to get molasses – what is the closest replacement? Also what is all-purpose flour? We have plain flour and self raising flour.  Thank you very much

    1. From Australia?  🙂 it’s plain flour. I think i saw molasses in coles!

    2. Black Treacle is the equivalent of molasses 🙂  

  18. Susan McDonald/Maryland says:

    I made two batches of these to take to separate holiday parties this holiday season. They were a big hit and I have shared the recipe a number of times with friends.  They are moist, flavorful and delicious!  Thanks for sharing your recipes!  (I even found the little gingerbread men!)  Merry Christmas!!!

  19. Oh my goodness! I made these and got fantastic reviews!!! People loved them-just the perfect combination of spices. I made them with caramel molasses cream cheese frosting which paired well with the cake. Thanks for another great recipe! 

  20. Danielle Chavez says:

    What technique did you use to pipe the frosting on top. They are gorgeous!

    Thanks!

    1. I used the Wilton #12 round tip and squeezed it out in the center of the cupcake while lifting straight up.

      1. Danielle Chavez says:

        I have the Wilton 2A, do you think that will do about the same job? 

      2. It should, yes.

  21. Made these for Christmas gifts and they turned out great! Mine didn’t rise as much as yours- they were kind of flat on top- but they also turned out a little crunchy on top too, like a gingerbread cookie- score! Two treats in one! And yes, the wet ingredients looked all kinds of wrong- but once you add the dry it looks like normal batter. Thanks for the great recipe again!

  22. Just made these for christmas and they were absolutely delicious. Sadly the frosting didn’t work out so well as it was all runny, therefore I just made a basic buttercream. But all in all, absolutely lovely! 😀

    1. Meena, do you live in the US? Readers outside of the US experience that problem with the frosting because (as I understand it) cream cheese here is super super thick.

  23. Lindsay Shelden says:

    WHOA! Just made these last night and they are perfection in cupcake form! They turned out sooo moist and spicy, and the icing was super thick and creamy–delicious! The tops of mine also turned just a little bit chewy, which I quite liked. Made it like a moist cupcake topped with a ginger cookie topped with icing 🙂

  24. These were delicious! The cupcake was very moist and I also got a slightly chewy top, which I love. The cream cheese frosting is perfection, I’m trying not to eat the leftovers by the spoonful. One issue I had was that after cooling, the cupcakes seemed pretty oily (or buttery, I suppose) on the bottoms of the liner. The cupcake itself was fine, but I set them all on some paper towels overnight before I took them to a potluck and they seemed fine in the morning.

  25. Hi Sally, 

    I have made these twice and both times they have sun in the middle….any suggestions?

  26. Hi Sally. Like Valerie my cupcakes have sunk in the middle! Any suggestions?

  27. Samantha Klapp says:

    I made these cupcakes for a holiday party with my girlfriends.  What s huge hit! So delicious!! I sprinkled candied ginger around the edges of the frosting which just added to the gingery goodness! Thank you much for the recipe! Best cupcakes I’ve ever made! And the frosting was absolutely lucious!

  28. I made these in small mason jars as part of a buffet. So delicious and festive! Thanks!

  29. Tested these out yesterday before making them next week for Christmas as a substitute for my standard gingerbread men/house. They were quite good, however a bit heavy on the molasses given that we’re not used to that taste in Australia. 

    When I make them next week, I’ll halve the amount of molasses to suit my family’s taste. Otherwise the recipe was easy to follow and worked out perfectly. 

  30. Just baked the gingerbread cupcakes. Oh my goodness these are fantastic!  Thank you for sharing

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