Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Mocha Guinness Buttercream

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. I love this piping tip 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
  • 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

  • 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

163 Comments

  1. Hi– I just reduced my beer, but it was on a little too long and measures at just under 1/2 cup now. Can I add water to get the desired quantity? Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Claire, you can add a little water to get back up the necessary measurement.

  2. Hi Sally,
    Could this be made into three 6 inch cakes? I have loved your recipes for the three layer 6 inch cakes. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful recipes!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Definitely!

    2. Hi what is expresso powder, I cant seem to find it in my groceries or is it just regular coffee, if not what can be used in its place?

      1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Simone! See recipe notes for details on the espresso powder. Hope you love these cupcakes!

  3. Oh my – these were amazing!! Made them for my husband’s birthday/St. Patrick’s Day and can’t wait for another occasion to make them again! It was my first time making a buttercream frosting, I added an extra splash of coffee for added coffee flavor. Thank you for such a great recipe!

  4. Can you use cold guinness or should it be room temperature bottle? I could only find the refrigerated bottles.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Francesca, cold will be fine. Hope you love these cupcakes!

      1. thank you for the quick response! Much appreciated. I am so excited to try them!

  5. The cupcakes are so moist and the Mocha Guinness icing is *chefs kiss* Very highly recommend!!

    1. Hi Sally.For frosting can I use salted butter instead?

  6. This is the best chocolate cupcake recipe I’ve ever made! They came out absolutely perfect! Moist but not dense and just enough structure so they don’t fall apart when the cupcake liners come off. The hints of coffee and Guinness are in perfect balance with the chocolate.

  7. Cupcakes were good, but after following the directions and simmering the beer for 20 minutes I was only left with 1/3 cup of liquid. This resulted in the cupcakes not having much of a Guinness flavor.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jen! You can try simmering the beer for less time or at a lower temperature next time. Thank you for giving them a try!

  8. Hey there! do you think this recipe could be made into a bundt cake?

    1. We haven’t tested this batter as a bundt cake. Let us know if you do!

  9. I have a stupid question – does reducing the Guinness also remove the alcohol? Are these safe for children to enjoy? Thanks! These look delicious!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Danielle! The alcohol does cook out of the beer when we reduce it on the stove, but obviously you can do what you’re comfortable with!

  10. Hi Sally,
    I have made this recipe and it is delicious I was wondering if I can use it to also make a cake roll out of it? If so what would you do for timing and temperature?.

    1. Hi Karen, we haven’t tested this recipe as a cake roll so we can’t say. I fear there won’t be enough batter and that the cake will easily crack. Let us know if you try it though.

  11. Hi sally! I usually use lactose free milk and butter in your recipes, but I was wondering if lactose free sour cream would also work? The brand name is green valley in case you need to look it up.

    1. Hi Alix, that swap should be fine in this recipe.

  12. I was thinking of doing this cupcake with your Bailey’s butter cream… do you think those flavors would work together?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Dana! That combination sounds incredible, let us know if you give it a try!

  13. Sally you have really outdone yourself with these cupcakes. I made them for St Patrick’s Day and they were absolutely spectacular. I think they are the best cupcakes I have ever tasted. They are super easy to make and look great with the piped frosting.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We’re so glad you loved these cupcakes, Sherry!

  14. These are some of the best cupcakes I have ever eaten. I absolutely love the flavors and they smell incredible. I don’t usually like to eat frosting on its own but I was licking the spatula with this one.

  15. Just made these the other day and they are totally awesome!!! The frosting is soft and flavorful and the cupcakes are moist and a great compliment to the not too sweet frosting. Everyone at my house loved them. I posted a pic on my Instagram and tagged you. Fearless Caking is my Instagram. Wondering; what other chocolate cupcake would you recommend for a same structure, flavor, but without the beer?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Paula, thank you so much for this kind review. We LOVE these Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes!

  16. Hi Sally I LOVE these cupcakes. I made them and everyone Loved it. I’m going to make them again but I would like to taste more of the Guinness. Is there a way I can use the Guinness as is without reducing it?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Christelle, We are so happy you enjoyed this recipe! We don’t recommend skipping reducing the Guinness. It would be too much liquid making the batter much too thin. Definitely use the reduced Guinness in the frosting also for extra flavor!

  17. Mine turned out like puddings?! What did I do wrong? They’re tasty but they are not cupcakes! I thought I followed the instructions properly?!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Katie! Did you make any ingredient substitutions or omit any ingredients? The cupcakes shouldn’t be the consistency of pudding after baking.

      1. I used butter instead of oil?!

  18. Hello! Can I use any strong stout that I like? Or would you recommend sticking with Guinness? Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Another strong stout should work perfectly – enjoy!

  19. Opinion: thinking about making this into a 3 tier 6 inch cake ( will this recipe be enough batter?- if so… think It would be enough for two layer 8 inch?) and filling it with a lighter tiramisu marscapone frosting then having the Guinness butter cream on the outside. Do you think that would be a good combination? Thanks!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kendall! That flavor combination sounds delicious! This will be the perfect amount of batter for a 3 layer 6 inch cake. Hope it’s a hit!

  20. I’ve made these cupcakes for 4 sets of friends, and they have all raves about them. The cake is so light and moist and delicious on its own! The buttercream was super coffee forward on my first try (but I might have doubled the espresso powder by accident) and all the coffee lovers LOVED it!

  21. Also this Guiness cupcake recipe was delicious !!!!

  22. gina caputo says:

    HI Sally ,Can the cupcake part of this recipe be halved without compromising the texture?Any suggestions would be appreciated!! Thanks

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Gina, it should be no problem to halve this recipe by simply halving the ingredients. Let us know how it goes!

  23. Can I make the buttercream without the Guinness?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

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

  25. 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. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, same temperature!

  26. 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. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      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.

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