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

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 (45gunsweetened 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 (6g) 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

82 Comments

  1. I don’t even like Guinness, and these were very good and moist. I brought them to a party for St. Patrick’s day this year, and they were a hit.

  2. The flavor is delicious. The Guinness buttercream might be our favorite though. Thanks for the great recipe sally.

  3. I do not have access to sour scream or yogurt, can i use buttermilk instead?, if yes, should I use the same amount?

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

  4. naomi Douglas-Najem says:

    Hey Sally, can I use a larger amount of instant coffee as an espresso substitute? Thanks.

  5. Could you make this into a cake? And if so.. what would you use for filling?

    1. Hi Jessica, I haven’t tested this as a cake but but an 11×7 inch or anything slightly smaller than a 9×13 pan should be great! Or 2 9-inch pans for 2 thin round cakes. You can use this frosting between the layers if making a layer cake.

  6. Hi Sally,
    Would this mix be thick enough to hold up chocolate chips?
    Also would it be possible to replace the Guinness with coffee?

    1. Hi Lucy, the same amount of coffee should work instead of Guinness. You can add chocolate chips to the batter– I recommend 1 cup.

  7. Hi Sally! Loved this recipe! I’ve made quite a few of your recipes and this one has taken place as my favorite cupcake recipe I’ve made yet. It was so good that my mom wants it as a birthday cake. I wanted to double the recipe and split it into 3 or 4 layers using 8 inch pans. I was wondering if doubling the recipe would be ok or if I should make this recipe twice. I was also wondering the same about the frosting (if I should double it or make it twice). Thanks for all your amazing recipes! I get so many compliments on my baking and it’s all thanks to you. 🙂

  8. Hi Sally! Any chance I could just half the recipe to make just 8 cupcakes?

    1. I can’t see why not!

  9. Hi Sally! Would you say this is your go-to mocha cupcake recipe? I’m currently looking for a *simple* mocha cupcake recipe that doesn’t actually require bells and whistles (like Nutella or Guinness beer), but I’m scared of trying recipes that ARE NOT from you. Hehe. With my one year of baking, I’ve only mostly trusted your recipes since you haven’t failed me yet. Haha. So now, I’m looking for a simple mocha cupcake recipe, but if you really *really* suggest using Guinness on this, then I would try to look for it. But if you could also suggest any substitutions or any recipe variation that does not use this nor Nutella, I would love to hear it. 😀

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Bobbie, I recommend our mocha cupcakes. No beer or Nutella required (though the Nutella frosting they’re topped with is quite delicious)!

  10. Thank you for this amazing delicious recipe. Everybody loved them.

  11. Sally, I have so much enjoyed eating my way through your recipe collection! Thank you for being you. These cupcakes sound delicious. Can I make a 1 1/2 recipe for two 9 inch pans? How long would they bake? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mary, We haven’t tested this as a cake but but an 11×7 inch or anything slightly smaller than a 9×13 pan should be great! Or make as written for two 9-inch pans for two thin round cakes. I’m unsure of the exact bake time needed but use a toothpick to test for doneness.

    2. Hi Mary, I tested with 1.5 receipe in two 8 inch cake pans. Can slice into 4 layers (each layers 1.3inch). Baking time around 40-45 mins. Hope tis helps!

  12. LOVE this recipe. Tested these to make for an Irish weekend with our neighbors and they came out so good. We added a tad bit more expresso powder to the frosting bc we wanted a stronger mocha flavor. So delicious. Made the 32 minis for easier sharing. thank you!

  13. Hi, do you think peanut butter could be worked into the frosting? It’s tradition for my husband to have peanut butter frosting on his birthday cakes!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kendra, You can follow this recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting. If you wish to add the mocha flavor you can add the espresso powder without making any other changes. If you also wish to add the reduced Guinness you can decrease the milk. Let us know if you try it!

      1. Cream cheese frosting works really well!

  14. Hi sally! I just want to say this cake is heaven! I made 1.5 times the qty and baked in 2 8” cake tins for 40 mins. Perfectly moist, soft, velvety and melt in mouth. I have baked Guinness cake before using butter, it’s indeed very dry. This is by far the best Guinness cake I have baked. Or better than chocolate cake! Just wondering if I were to replace Guinness with just water or milk. Is that possible to have the same result? Would love to replace my fav chocolate cake recipe with this.

    1. Hi Kendall! Though I haven’t tested it, I’m sure you could simply replace the reduced Guinness with whole milk. I wouldn’t use water. I’m so glad you enjoy these!

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