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Adapted from my chocolate cupcakes, these moist Guinness chocolate cupcakes are made with reduced Guinness beer for deep flavor. They’re flecked with real espresso powder and topped with ultra creamy and flavorful mocha Guinness buttercream. Consider these your perfect St. Patrick’s Day dessert!

Guinness chocolate cupcakes

Even if you aren’t particularly into beer, I’m confident you’ll appreciate these Guinness chocolate cupcakes. Guinness stout, with its roast coffee and caramel undertones, is often used in baking and almost always paired with chocolate. The two are a natural pairing because Guinness, like coffee, intensifies chocolate’s natural flavor. The desserts don’t usually taste like beer, just an accentuated chocolate with a malty background.

But, this is baking. And, as I’ve drilled into your head, baking is a science. You can’t add a bunch of ingredients to batter without facing some consequences. So how can we pack Guinness flavor into chocolate cupcakes while maintaining a pleasant texture?

Call it a stroke of Irish luck! Because I cracked the code to infuse real Guinness flavor into soft and moist chocolate cupcakes. You’ve come to the right place today.

These Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes Are:

  • Extra chocolate-y
  • Not overly sweet
  • Lightly flavored with real Guinness stout
  • Hinted with caramel, coffee, and malty undertones
  • Soft and super moist
  • Piled high with mocha Guinness buttercream
  • Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!

Guinness cupcakes

Guinness chocolate cupcakes

Video Tutorial: How to Make Guinness Cupcakes

Best Way to Make Guinness Cupcakes: Reduce the Beer

Have you tried my Guinness brownies before? Because I took what I learned from that recipe and applied it here. To impart enough flavor into the Guinness cupcakes AND frosting, we’d have to use a crazy amount of beer which would ruin the batter. So let’s reduce the beer down on the stovetop first. The heat evaporates the liquid, but leaves the flavor. We also do this with champagne in my mimosa cupcakes and champagne frosting. And with strawberries in my strawberry cake, too.

  • This step is really easy. Pour an entire 12 oz bottle of Guinness into a saucepan. (Nothing to waste!) Leave it alone to simmer for about 20 minutes until it’s reduced to just 2/3 cup. This is less than half the liquid we started with, but triple the flavor.

We’ll use 1/2 cup of reduced Guinness in the cupcake batter and the remaining 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons in the mocha Guinness frosting.

Guinness beer for cupcakes

Other Ingredients in Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

These Guinness chocolate cupcakes required a lot of recipe testing, but I’m so happy with the results and know you’ll be too! Let’s quickly review the other ingredients and why each are very crucial to your results.

  • All-Purpose Flour: Flour is the base of this recipe. Use all-purpose, not cake flour. When paired with cocoa powder, cake flour is too light.
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: Make sure you use natural cocoa powder.
  • Espresso Powder: Espresso powder complements the chocolate and Guinness flavors. Without it, the cupcakes definitely taste like they are lacking something. Espresso powder is sold in the coffee aisle of most grocery stores.
  • Baking Soda: When paired with the acidic ingredients in this cupcake recipe (cocoa, brown sugar, beer, sour cream), the baking soda adds lift. I tried adding baking powder, but it created too much rise and dried out the final cupcakes.
  • Salt & Vanilla Extract: Flavor and more flavor!
  • Vegetable Oil: Most Guinness cupcake recipes I’ve tried in the past several years call for softened butter as the fat and I’ve always been disappointed with how dry the cupcakes taste. Oil is a guaranteed moist-maker in cakes and cupcakes. And after testing this recipe, I concluded the perfect amount is 1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon. An odd amount, but that 1 extra Tablespoon adds necessary moisture.
  • Brown Sugar: Why use unflavored white sugar when we can add molasses-moistened brown sugar?!
  • Eggs: Eggs add structure, lift, and binding.
  • Sour Cream: My crowning glory in vanilla cupcakes makes its appearance here, too. Sour cream is an unbeatable ingredient in baking, adding moisture, softness, and unparalleled tenderness.

ingredients for guinness cupcakes

Guinness chocolate cupcake batter

Overview: How to Make Guinness Cupcakes

After the reduced Guinness beer has cooled for 10-15 minutes, you can begin to make the cupcake batter. This is a very straightforward recipe, one I adapted from my regular chocolate cupcakes. (Truly… if you know how to whisk, you can make these cupcakes.) Whisk the dry ingredients together in one bowl, the wet ingredients together in another bowl, combine the two, pour in the beer, and whisk until everything is combined. Could this batter BE any easier? 😉

Remember when I drilled “no more than 1/2 full” into your head when filling the cupcake pans for my regular chocolate cupcakes? (Too much batter ruins them since the batter is so thin.) Today’s cupcake batter is slightly thicker, so we don’t have to be quite as particular.

In general, it’s best to fill your cupcake liners 2/3 full.

Guinness chocolate cupcakes without frosting

mocha Guinness buttercream

Mocha Guinness Buttercream

We’ll have some leftover reduced Guinness from the cupcakes, so why not add it to our frosting?! This buttercream is impeccably flavored with hints of cocoa, espresso, and vanilla– all of which pair perfectly with the malty flavor of Guinness. Not only this, it’s extra buttery and has a pinch of salt to balance out all the flavors.

  • I used my favorite Ateco 849 tip to swirl the frosting on top. It’s a bit larger than the tip I use for shamrock cookies. I love this particular piping tip for cupcakes and used it for my peanut butter cupcakes too. Start in the center of the cupcake and swirl upward.

I love that the cupcakes themselves aren’t overly sweet, so adding frosting isn’t overdoing it! Truly a cupcake where the flavors (not necessarily the sugar) shine.

Guinness chocolate cupcakes

Other St. Patrick’s Day Recipes

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Guinness chocolate cupcakes

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Mocha Guinness Buttercream

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 35 minutes (includes cooling)
  • Yield: 16 cupcakes 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

The BEST way to impart real Guinness flavor into chocolate cupcakes is to reduce it down on the stove first. This packs in flavor without altering the cupcake’s texture. Read the recipe in full before beginning.


Ingredients

Scale
  • one 12-ounce bottle Guinness Extra Stout
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 cup (41gunsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon (135ml) vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature*
  • 3/4 cup (180g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Mocha Guinness Buttercream

  • 2 Tablespoons reduced Guinness from step 1
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder (used in step 1)
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (2.5 sticks; 290g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 and 1/2 cups (550g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon (5g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the Guinness to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce to medium heat and allow to simmer until reduced down to 2/3 cup, about 20 minutes. Set 1/2 cup aside to cool for 10-15 minutes before using in the cupcake batter. While it’s warm, mix the rest of the reduced Guinness (about 2-2.5 Tablespoons) with the 2 teaspoons of espresso powder used in the frosting. Set this mixture aside for step 5. You can do this step 1 day ahead of time if needed. Refrigerate overnight. Bring reduced beer to room temperature before using in both the cupcake batter and frosting.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 4 liners – this recipe makes about 16 cupcakes. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, brown sugar, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla together until completely smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the 1/2 cup (120ml) reduced Guinness, then whisk until *just* combined. Do not over-mix. The batter will be on the thinner side.
  4. Pour or spoon the batter into the liners. Fill each 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides or sinking. Bake for 19-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don’t over-bake, which will dry out the cupcakes. Begin checking for doneness at 19 minutes. For around 36 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
  5. Make the frosting: Have the Guinness/espresso powder mixture from step 1 handy. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, milk, reduced Guinness/espresso powder mixture, milk, and vanilla extract. Beat on low for 30 seconds then increase to high speed and beat until combined and creamy. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if desired. (I always add 1/8 teaspoon.) If you want the frosting a little thicker, add 1/4 cup (30g) of confectioners’ sugar.
  6. Frost cooled cupcakes. I piped a basic tall swirl using Ateco 849 piping tip.
  7. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Freeze frosted or unfrosted cupcakes for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Espresso Powder: I highly recommend this addition to deepen the chocolate and stout flavors, though you can leave it out in the cupcakes and frosting if necessary. Espresso powder is like instant espresso, found in the coffee aisle. You can also use instant coffee granules. (Not ground coffee.) Read through the recipe before beginning because you will actually use the espresso powder needed for the frosting in step 1.
  3. Sour Cream: Sour cream is strongly recommended for the best taste and texture. A full fat plain yogurt would work instead, though the cupcakes may not be as light.
  4. Milk in frosting: You can use any milk, dairy or nondairy. You could also use heavy cream or half-and-half, too.
  5. Why is everything at room temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information.
  6. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: Guinness beer, beer cupcakes, chocolate, cupcakes

Reader Questions and Reviews

    1. Hi Jess, absolutely. A little milk or heavy cream in its place works!

      1. I didn’t get a chance to try the entire recipe with frosting because the cupcakes disappeared while they were cooling! I will be making another batch for work this week but while I am home alone! Very delicious cake recipe, though!

  1. So happy I tried it!!! ☺️ They are so moist and just so right your recipes are awwsome!

  2. Hi Sally!
    If it wanted to make this recipe as 2 9 inch round cakes, should I still set the oven at 350?
    Thank you so much!

      1. Hi, is there anyway to speed up the refrigerate overnight step of the Guinness with espresso?

      2. Hi Dia, Making it the day before is optional. You can simply let it cool for 10-15 minutes before using in the cupcake batter. Enjoy!

      3. Wow! These cupcakes turned out amazing! I messed up the frosting a little bit. I made it too thin, otherwise the flavor is incredible.

  3. Hey Sally!

    I have a friend that I wanted to make these cupcakes for, except he is allergic to eggs, do you have any substitutions you recommend?

    1. Hi Tamara, we haven’t tested any egg substitutes in this recipe. If you give any a try, we’d love to know how it goes for you.

    2. Hi, Tamara!
      My mom is allergic to eggs, and I’ve used a combination of Red Mill’s egg replacer (1tbsp egg replacer + 2tbsp warm water), and 1tsp baking soda + 1tbsp white vinegar as a substitute in a number of Sally’s recipes that require two eggs. I tried this substitute on these cupcakes and it worked beautifully! There’s no discernible difference between eggless and regular cupcakes made this way, in my experience. Hope this helps! 🙂

  4. Is there a way to turn the buttercream into a cream cheese frosting instead? I like the idea, but I’m not a big butter cream icing fan.

    1. Hi Amber, You can try replacing half of the butter with full fat blocked cream cheese. It will be a little softer but delicious!

      1. I tried your suggestion and the frosting turned out great! Thanks for the help!

  5. Hi Sally, I have baked these twice before and they are certainly my most favorite cupcakes! I am baking them again this week but did not find Guinness Extra Stout in the store; only Guinness Foreign Extra Stout (FES). I understand that the FES is stronger in flavor, more bitter, higher ABV, and hoppier. Do you think it will be okay if I use the FES instead? I don’t want the cupcakes to turn out bitter! Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Aishwarya! It should still be fine with that beer, though we haven’t tested it ourselves. Let us know how it goes!

  6. Made these today, they were soooo delicious!!

  7. Hi Sally, I’m really looking forward to trying this recipe! Would I be able to substitute buttermilk for the sour cream? Thanks so much!!

    1. Hi Cece, we don’t recommend replacing the sour cream with liquid buttermilk. The same amount of plain yogurt is the best substitution.

  8. Love the recipe. The cupcakes were so moist and they had a nice little kick of Guinness.

  9. Hi sally, I made the cupcakes with plain yogurt but it seems not enough baking soda or should I use baking powder, how much will be good?

    1. Hi Lily, plain yogurt works in place of the sour cream in a pinch, but the resulting cupcakes may not be as light. We recommend using the 3/4 teaspoon baking soda as written for best results. Make sure it is not expired — we find it starts to lose its effectiveness after about three months.

  10. Sally,

    Is it possible to turn this into a cake instead of a cupcake? I was thinking of using your Triple Chocolate Layer cake as my base. Possibly substituting half of the coffee with Guinness?

    1. Hi Aaron! This cupcake batter would fit perfectly into three 6 inch cake pans. Otherwise you could try those modifications to our triple chocolate cake recipe, but we haven’t tested that. Let us know if you give it a try!

  11. Hi Sally!
    This might be a weird question but, I was wondering if there is a way I cannot use Guinness in them. These cupcakes sound amazing, and I would love to make these!

  12. How do you recommended adapting this recipe for a 2-layer cake? Would doubling it and then using 2- 9in pans work? How long to bake?

  13. Could you substitute a different alcohol such as Baileys or Amaretto? Or does this recipe only work with reduced beer? Thank you!

  14. Delicious cupcakes and really moist. However, I think the name is misleading. They really taste like coffee to me. I love coffee, so that’s fine for me. But you can’t taste the Guinness. I had hoped to taste both. So, while they are great I think the name is misleading.

  15. These were amazing! The Guinness adds an interesting note that lies separate from the rest of the flavors (no, it’s not supposed to take like actual Guinness). Best icing I’ve made yet, although I think part of that might have been because I actually left the butter out overnight this time (and will do so from now on). I added fine chocolate shavings on top to disguise my amateur pipesmanship. Thanks!!!

  16. I made this as mini cupcakes and got 54 in total! I boiled my Guinness too long though so didn’t have the extra for the frosting. I wasn’t bothered by this though. I just dissolved the espresso powder in a little left over coffee I had. I did my frosting with half butter and half cream cheese and it was delicious. I thought the frosting was way too sweet at first but after trying a finished cupcake it was a good balance as the cake isn’t overly sweet. The cake recipe itself is probably the best I’ve ever made. I may just use this now for all my chocolate cupcakes and full size cakes.

  17. Hi Sally! Love your work, your cupcake recipes are top-notch. I already have Guinness Draught on hand from a beef stew recipe (which, side note, is a wonderful stew recipe from Cook’s Country). Would it be okay to use that instead of the Extra Stout for these cupcakes?

  18. Sally, you’re recipes are always so reliable and come out perfect EVERY TIME! The Guinness was very bubbly while reducing but otherwise everything went according to plan. Thanks for another great recipe

  19. I finally tried this after wanting to forever. My husband can not quit telling me how wonderful these cakes are. I bake quite a bit and he, IMO, is easy to please. But he will not quit talking about how much he loves them. He took a bunch to work and they all agree they are amazing.

  20. I made these and they were a hit. Loved the flavour and how the frosting wasn’t too sweet. Thank you for another great recipe!! Will be making the recipe again but as a birthday cake for my Dad

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