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

86 Comments

  1. OMG, I’ve died and gone to heaven! I will be making these this weekend along with the Guinness brownies for sure!
    Hopefully not a dumb question but, can I reduce the Guinness in advance and store it in the refrigerator?

    1. Yes, of course! See step 1. 🙂

      1. Oh jeez, I’m so sorry. I read through the recipe and didn’t even see that! Thank you so much 🙂

  2. Can I turn this into a 9 x 13 cake? I have a beautiful pink glass dish that’s so pretty to use for making one layer birthday cakes.

    1. Hi Brenda! I haven’t tried it. I expect you’d need 1.5x this amount of batter to fit that size cake pan.

  3. Can you tell me a few of your favorite backdrops you use? I really love the light pink one from you wedding cake recipe!

    1. Thanks Zoe! This black one is a black poster board. The pink one from the wedding cake is from Erickson Surfaces! https://ericksonsurfaces.com/

  4. Just made Guinness brownies (a second batch) yesterday…so if I want to give them some cupcake company, I better stock up on more Guinness lol! Between these recipes and your grandma’s Irish Soda Bread I’m planning to make, it’s going to be one tasty St. Patrick’s Day 🙂

    1. Such a delicious St. Patrick’s Day!! If you make these cupcakes, I’d love to know what you think!

  5. Ooooohmygoodness, I can’t wait to make these! Your Guinness brownies are one of my hubby’s favorite desserts, and I’ve made them in cupcake form several times bc it bakes and cools for frosting faster that way, and then no cutting required—when I’m on a time crunch. They are such a crowd-pleaser in either form! I’m so excited to see the same thing as an actual cupcake instead of a “brupcake”!

    1. I’m so happy he loves those brownies- they’re one of my favorites, too 🙂 Happy baking, Elizabeth!

  6. Lol Sally I always get a kick out of your friends references. These look absolutely amazing for St Patrick’s day. We typically don’t do anything to celebrate it (except wear green) but maybe this year I’ll make cupcakes for it 😉 though I have kind of a silly question, as one pregnant momma with a toddler – can we eat these beer cupcakes? Like we won’t get drunk if I get carried away and eat 5 cupcakes? Lol – but seriously. Are these ok to eat while pregnant/can a toddler eat one? (Or more accurately, lick all the frosting off the top?)

    1. Hi Stephanie, The alcohol does cook out of the beer when we reduce it on the stove, but obviously you need to do what you and your doctor are comfortable with!

  7. I’ve definitely gotta try this recipe! I already made your Guinness Brownies for my beer group, and they were… OMG… sooooooo goooooood!!!!

    1. I hope you love these cupcakes, Julie!

  8. Hi.
    In your Guinness Brownie recipe can I substitute bittersweet or unsweetened Chocolate? I don’t have semi-sweet on hand.
    Mary

    1. Bittersweet chocolate will work! The brownies will have a darker chocolate flavor.

  9. Hi. Love your recipe. My husband is an Irish, your Guinness brownie is his favorite one!! I want to bake this for St. Patrick’s day party this weekend.
    If I bake this cake with round spring pan, which size to use? And baking time would be how long? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Maki! I’m not entirely sure, 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.

  10. Sally, these sound awesome and look so gorgeous! Beautifully pictured!

    1. Thank you so much, Sina!

  11. Hi Sally, these look so easy and delicious to create!
    Looking to make these and bring them to work to share on St. Patty’s day! Would it be possible to add food coloring to the buttercreme? Looking to stain it green to match the holiday!

    1. Hi Mary, The frosting is pretty brown so I fear if you add green food coloring it would just be a dark muddy color. You can absolutely add green sprinkles on top though!

      1. That didn’t even cross my mind! Sprinkles it is! I’m so excited that I want to make them today!

  12. Hello Sally. Can I use chocolate stout for this recipe if I don’t have Guinness?

  13. Hi Sally,
    I can’t seem to find Guiness extra stout where I live (Vancouver, Canada). I’m hoping the recipe will work with Guiness draught. Any thoughts?

  14. Lisa Gennarini says:

    Hi Sally!

    Have you ever done this with a Baileys buttercream frosting? If so can you share the recipe?

    THank you,
    Lisa

    1. I haven’t tried it! Should be delicious though. 🙂

  15. I couldn’t find any 12 oz bottles of the Guinness extra stout at my shop today. I Googled for more info and it looks like the bottle size has been changed to 11.2 oz. Here’s the info Guinness posted:

    “We did change the size of to 11.2 oz bottles. Since the Foreign Extra Stout is now being enjoyed in over 100 countries, we needed to keep up with demands, which meant only one bottle size. We chose 11.2 oz. because that’s the standard for Europe and much of the world. Though we have a slight change in the size of our bottle, the taste and quality of a great pint of Guinness will never change. Sláinte!”

    So, bought a couple bottles of the 11.2 size provided on the shelf. My husband can just drink the rest of one bottle. He’s a fan.

  16. This sounds like such a treat! Totally going to try it for St. Patrick’s Day!

    1. I hope you love them, Amy!

  17. Wow!!!! A winner; a fabulous chocolate cupcake and an equally fabulous frosting! You can clearly taste the wonderful mix of espresso in the frosting and the cupcake has a marvelous texture and flavor. So good!!

    1. Love reading this, Paula! Thank you so much for your positive feedback 🙂

  18. I had friends over last night for a corned beef dinner and made these for dessert. The cupcakes are all gone. So good, really really good!! Reducing the Guinness is brilliant. The cupcakes were a great balance of Guinness, coffee, and chocolate.
    The recipe made ~ 14 cupcakes.
    I halved the frosting recipe and it made exactly enough to frost the cakes with none left over.
    The only thing I would do different next time is to be sure to sift the dry ingredients together first (flour, cocoa, etc) to get the lumps out of the cocoa so I don’t have to risk over-stirring.
    No doubt that I will be making these again, thank you!

    1. What a delicious recipe to pair with your corned beef dinner! Thrilled these cupcakes were a hit- thanks for your positive feedback, Cissy 🙂

  19. Hi! I made this recipe in 3 6 inch cake pans. I am topping the frosted cake with marshmallows from Lucky Charms…don’t tell my daughter.

    1. That sounds amazing! I hope she loves it 🙂

  20. I made this today 3/17/2020. This recipe is excellent! I’ve never had a Guinness Chocolate cake before and wow, it’s delicious!!! I didn’t have cupcake liners so I baked it in an 8 inch square cake pan. Turned out beautifully. I halved the frosting (which I could eat by the spoonful) and it was the perfect amount. Yum, yum. Just a lovely recipe. St. Patrick would love this I’m sure!!

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe, Valerie! Thanks for your positive feedback 🙂

  21. The combination of the delicate moist crumb and the butter cream frosting is a marriage made in heaven. Thank you Sally for another incredible recipe.

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed these cupcakes, Ellen!

  22. AMAZING. I brought these to work (with my boss’s blessing of course) and they were a huge hit! One coworker is convinced I actually used magic. I had never baked with Guinness before, and I was blown away by the depth of flavor in these. The frosting was just perfection; you can taste each of the flavors without any of them being too overpowering. I will absolutely be making these again.

    1. Love reading this, Valerie! What a delicious treat to share with your coworkers- thrilled they were a hit 🙂

  23. Hi Sally,

    Do you think i’d be able to make this as a cream cheese frosting rather than buttercream?

    1. Absolutely, but it would be rather thin with the addition of the liquid (reduced Guinness). I recommend following my cream cheese frosting recipe and adding the reduced Guinness/espresso powder. You can add more confectioners’ sugar to thicken and a pinch of salt (to offset the sweetness).

  24. Well we didn’t have much of a St Patricks Day celebration this year but still we made a festive dessert recipe, even though a week late! These were delicious cupcakes and the frosting was unbelievable! We can always count on you Sally. Thanks for all these recipes especially when the world is in chaos!

  25. Hi Sally.
    I made these today. The cupcakes rose beautifully in the oven but sank when they cooled down. So disappointed as they tasted amazing. Any idea why this happened?
    Regards
    Antoinet

    1. Hi Antoinet, I’m glad you enjoyed the taste! If your cupcakes sink they are either not 100% baked through and need another minute in the oven or the cupcake liners were filled too high.

  26. Thank you for your prompt reply Sally. The cupcakes were definitely cooked through. My family and friends devoured them. The appearance did not bother them one bit. I will definitely give this recipe another try as the taste is truly divine.
    Regards,
    Antoinet

  27. Hi Sally,
    Made these today, however they came out quite moist in the middle rather than fluffy, as I had hoped. The mixture going in was quite thin, but I followed recipe exactly. Any suggestions why?
    They are still very tasty, and buttercream is delicious.
    FYI I’m putting them into a fan oven. Maybe it’s to do with temp.
    I want to make them again, only get them perfect!

    1. Hi Theresa! Thank you so much for trying these Guinness cupcakes. I wonder if they weren’t finished baking in the oven and that’s why they tasted too moist? These aren’t particularly fluffy cupcakes though– they should be rather moist!

  28. These are AMAZING ! Perfectly moist with an intense flavor! Thanks so much! Will they freeze well btw?

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed them, Yan. You can freeze frosted or unfrosted cupcakes for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

  29. Im looking forward to making these!
    If I wanted to omit the Guiness (insert gasp) in the frosting, would you make any other changes to keep a good consistency?

    1. A little milk or heavy cream in its place works!

  30. Kerry Balthazor says:

    I made these cupcakes and they are ridiculously good! What a great recipe! Thank you so much for sharing!

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