Peanut Butter Cupcakes – Recipe Solved

These are my new & improved peanut butter cupcakes. Adapted from my original recipe, I use oil, brown sugar, sour cream, and extra milk to guarantee each cupcake is soft and moist. Very finely chopped peanuts add flavor. They’re tender, flavorful, and EASY, making this updated recipe the indisputable peanut butter cupcake champion!
Peanut butter cupcakes

Recipe disappointment solved.

I published a peanut butter cupcake recipe in 2013, a dessert I found both delicious and easy at the time. They’re still delicious and easy, but they’re far from perfect. The cupcakes are dense and dry out quickly. Many readers have commented with the same disappointing results. I knew I could do better. The cupcakes (and you!) deserve it. 🙂

And after a few cupcake experiments with many taste testers, I produced flavorful and soft peanut butter cupcakes. These laugh in the face of the old recipe and they’re even more wildly delicious than they look. So moist!!

Peanut butter cupcakes with chocolate frosting

Peanut butter cupcakes with chocolate frosting

Recipe Fix: Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Old Peanut Butter Cupcakes Recipe:

  • Creamed butter & brown sugar
  • Too many eggs weighed them down
  • Not enough milk
  • Not enough flavor

The original cupcake recipe calls for creamed butter and sugar. This is how I typically start vanilla cupcakes. But peanut butter is a special ingredient. Though it’s technically “wet,” it’s heavy, dense, and actually pretty drying. Peanut butter baked goods need extra insurance to remain moist. I replaced the butter with oil and added sour cream and extra milk. Because the cupcakes are peanut butter flavored, we won’t miss the butter.

As we taste-tested, my friend Gabe recommended very finely chopped peanuts to amp up the peanut flavor. This addition worked miracles! If you chop the peanuts fine enough, they won’t be crunchy or anything. Rather, they’ll melt right into the cupcake itself.

Chopped peanuts and peanut butter cupcake batter

Peanut butter cupcakes

As soon as they finished baking, I knew the new peanut butter cupcakes would be a huge success! They smell AWESOME. Here’s a list of everything I did differently.

New Peanut Butter Cupcakes Recipe:

  • Oil instead of butter
  • Keep the brown sugar for moisture & flavor
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • Sour cream for moisture
  • Add more milk for moisture
  • Finely chopped peanuts for flavor

And for even more flavor, I snuck some peanut butter into the chocolate frosting too!

Chocolate peanut butter frosting

Video Tutorial: Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

The chocolate peanut butter frosting is simple. Start with butter, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and milk or cream. Remember: proper room temperature butter! Beat it together, then add vanilla extract, a giant spoonful of creamy peanut butter, and a pinch of salt. Just when you thought chocolate buttercream couldn’t get any better…. now it literally tastes like a peanut butter cup.

  • Piping tip: I used the giant Ateco 849 piping tip for the frosting and you can watch me decorate the cupcakes in the video tutorial above. This is a VERY easy swirled frosting technique. Any large open or closed star piping tip will give you a similar swirl look. Though it’s a little smaller, I also love Wilton 1M.

Peanut butter cupcakes

Let me know what you think of the improved recipe!

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Peanut butter cupcakes

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 mintues
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 14-15 cupcakes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These are my new & improved peanut butter cupcakes. Adapted from my original recipe, I use oil, brown sugar, sour cream, and extra milk to guarantee each cupcake is soft and moist. Finely chopped peanuts add flavor. They’re tender, flavorful, and EASY, making this updated recipe the indisputable peanut butter cupcake champion!


Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/4 cups (155g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canola or vegetable oil*
  • 1/2 cup (125g) creamy peanut butter*
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (80g) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) whole milk, at room temperature*
  • 1/3 cup (40g) very finely crushed or chopped peanuts*

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 and 1/2 cups (420g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup (45g) unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream or milk
  • 1/3 (80g) cup creamy peanut butter*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • optional for garnish: mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or chopped peanuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 2-3 liners because this recipe yields 14-15 cupcakes. Set aside.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld mixer, stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, or a whisk, mix the oil, peanut butter, brown sugar, egg, sour cream, and vanilla extract together in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients, milk, and peanuts and whisk or beat together until completely combined. Avoid overmixing. Batter will be slightly thick.
  4. Pour/spoon the batter into the liners, filling only 2/3 full to avoid baking over the sides. Bake for 21-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops of the cupcakes spring back when gently touched. For around 35 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
  5. Make the frosting: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and milk. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then add the peanut butter, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes until combined. Add 1/4 cup more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or another 1-2 Tablespoons of cream/milk if frosting is too thick. Taste. Add extra peanut butter or a pinch of salt if desired.
  6.  Frost cooled cupcakes. I piped a basic tall swirl using Ateco 849 piping tip. You can watch me decorate the cupcakes in the video in the blog post. Garnish with peanut butter cup, if desired.
  7. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead / Freezing Instructions: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Whisk | Cupcake Pan | Cupcake Liners | Ateco #849 Piping Tip
  3. Oil: Melted coconut oil works too. Melted butter won’t add the same level of moisture needed for this recipe.
  4. Peanut Butter: For best texture in the cupcakes and frosting, I strongly suggest a processed creamy peanut butter such as Jif or Skippy creamy. I do not recommend oily or natural style peanut butter for this recipe.
  5. Milk: For best tasting cupcakes, I highly recommend whole milk or even buttermilk. 2% milk can be used as well. Nondairy milks work too.
  6. Peanuts: For exceptional peanut flavor, finely chopped peanuts are highly recommend. Chop them up very fine as shown in the video and photo above. The finer you chop them, the more they will blend into the baked cupcakes. You can’t taste the chunks, just the flavor. For a delicious salty/sweet flavor, use salted peanuts or, if you prefer, choose unsalted peanuts. I love salted peanuts for this recipe!
  7. 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.
  8. Cake: Feel free to use this batter as a cake. As written, you’ll have enough batter for an 11×7 inch cake. Perhaps even enough for a small 2 layer cake. Feel free to make the batter twice (for best results, do not double– make twice) and use it for a larger cake or layer cake.

Keywords: cupcakes, peanut butter

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100 Comments

  1. What a GREAT post, taking us all along your thought process! Thank you for teaching us so much and for always bringing us the tastiest recipes ☺️

  2. Talk about timing!!! I’ve just been looking at all your other PB recipes and you release a new one! =D These look amazing (especially with all that frosting!!) and I can’t wait to try them. And also, thank you so much for explaining all your recipes!!! I started out knowing nothing about the hows and whys of baking when I started following your blog several years ago, and you have taught me and (continue to teach me) so much….so I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  3. Could you use peanut butter powder in place of the finely chopped peanuts without drying it out? If you can how much would you recommend? Thanks.

    1. Hi Joyce! I’m sure you could, but I haven’t tested it. I really fear even replacing some PB powder with flour would still dry out the cupcakes. I recommend the crushed peanuts.

  4. Love this post Sally, the cupcakes look incredible! Thank you for always taking the time to explain what you do and why you do it, it’s taught me so much! Can’t wait to try these 🙂

  5. Chocolate peanut butter is my all time favorite flavor combination! These cupcakes look gorgeous and using finally chopped peanuts is such a creative idea!

  6. Sally these sounds amazing!
    I can’t wait to run outta my job & go home to bake. BTW I just added a Kitchen Aid stand up mixer to my collection and I can’t wait to go home and try it with these cupcakes! 🙂

    Yay, to peanut butter lovers!!

  7. Sally,

    Thanks for posting this recipe and your dedication to constantly improving your recipes! Do you think using peanut flour would work the same as crushed peanuts?

    1. See my video tutorial! The piping technique is so easy, just a swirl, and I use the piping tips noted in the recipe (the giant Ateco 849). Wilton 1M is a great alternative piping tip too!

  8. These look amazing! Is the photo of mini cupcakes, Sally? And I can’t seem to find the video tutorial (link) on your piping. I believe I have that tip and want to give the whole thing a try. Thanks so much…I always turn to you first for great recipes, replies, and excellent instructions. 🙂

    1. Hi Paula! The video is under the Video Tutorial: Peanut Butter Cupcakes heading right above where I talk about the frosting. If you can’t see it, you may have ad blocker in place which blocks my videos. If you temporarily pause it, the video will show up. 🙂

  9. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one that does recipe re-dos because they could be better! You are a gem, and I read every singe one of your posts!

    1. Hi Nancy, crunchy peanut butter is usually a little thicker than creamy and the cupcakes may taste overly dense. Let me know if you try it. I really recommend creamy!

  10. Sally, I always get super excited when you post a peanut butter recipe!! You are the Queen of Peanut Butter! I love the idea of very finely chopping peanuts so that they melt right into the cupcakes… and if you’re sneaking peanut butter into the frosting—-I’m ALL for it! Thank you for your always-super-thorough posts, beyond gorgeous photos (love that the crinkles on the mini PB cup match the crinkles on the cupcake liners) and always giving your wonderful blog 110%. You’re always an inspiration to me. ❤️ Demeter

  11. That frosting looks INSANE!! Weekend baking goals right here. Also- every time you post a video I am always looking behind you at your cabinets and counter tops. I’m so in love with what you did to your kitchen!!! Sorry not related to the recipe at all lol but I’m sure it is fabulous! PB + Chocolate = the greatest love story ever told.

    1. Thanks Angela! I second guessed every decision with this kitchen, but I’m so happy how it turned out! Thank you for the compliment!

  12. Sally! I have to tell you how much I appreciate your honesty. When I set out to bake something from your site, I KNOW I can count on the descriptions you give to be true so thank you for your hard work!! And thanks for taking the time to explain the reasoning for using certain ingredients

  13. I think I believe in fate now – I was searching for a peanut butter cupcake recipe to make this weekend, and lo and behold one appeared in my inbox!! To everyone wondering whether they can use peanut powder instead of crushed peanuts, I did and the cupcakes are delicious and moist! I used 32 grams which the container said was 1/4 cup. The ingredients were peanuts, coconut palm oil, and salt. Sally, I wonder if the gram measurement for the sour cream is incorrect? I use my kitchen scale whenever possible because it saves on dishes. Using the conversion on my sour cream container, 1/3 cup would be 80g. I also then measured out 1/3 cup to check and it was about 80g. Thanks for a wonderful recipe! I had tried 2 peanut butter cupcake recipes awhile back and just got so frustrated by the dryness. This recipe blew them away!!

  14. Hi Sally, I’m just writing a fan note here. I’m on your site for my(err, your) pie crust. recipe and wanted to take a minute to tell you how many of your recipes are my staples. I have no idea how anyone could beat that pie crust. I’m thinking i should have made 4 recipes instead of two because Your POP TARTS! Sally my family will not let them leave the house. I have to sneak a couple in to co workers. Last time I made minis so everyone could have one. Oatmeal cream pies! I tried two other recipes just to see if I could get a thinner flatter cookie. Forget it! Your recipe ticks all the boxes . Your cookie dough fudge! I make them, pb & ganache, scoop onto colorful plastic spoons, chill then dip in chocolate and decorate for every single occasion. Last, not least! Your chocolate chunk cookies with the melted butter. I always use chocolate chips and cover the top with m& ms. My sons favorite. No, your snickerdoodles are his favorite. Thank you so much for all your hard work. I go to your site first when looking for a recipe. Even if I change a little here and there I know you are a perfect starting point. Congrats on your little family!

  15. As soon as I saw these, I knew I had to make them. Luckily I had everything on hand the day the recipe was posted on Instagram 🙂 I used Skippy Naturals PB, which although labeled a “natural”, is still plenty thick enough to work beautifully here. I also left the peanuts a little more coarsely chopped because, I like that texture contrast!

    As soon as these came out of the oven, I had to try one. WOW! I have tried a lot of pb cake/cupcake recipes and this is one of the best I’ve tried. I was afraid they wouldn’t make it to the frosting lol. Very soft and flavorful, held up wonderfully to the frosting! I will be making these regularly!! I did pipe some Lindt chocolate ganache into the centers of a few of the cupcakes for extra wow factor and really, can you ever have too much chocolate?! Thanks for a great recipe!!

  16. These were amazing and gone approximately 30 seconds after the first person ate one and raved about it.
    The cupcake is fluffy and soft but not too peanut-buttery. The icing ties the peanut butter flavor together with just a hint of chocolate to top it off. My father in law stated that this was probably his favorite of all the cupcakes I’ve ever brought over!

  17. WOW, these are amazing! The cupcake is extremely fluffy and moist (sorry if you hate that word). I didn’t think I was going to like the chopped peanuts in it, but I loved them. They gave it a nice texture and a little extra flavor. Finally, chocolate peanut butter frosting….what could be better than that?! Thank you Sally for working so hard to make these wonderful recipes for us to enjoy!!

  18. The are peanut butter winners! After many tries at various PB cake recipes, and a lot of dry cake later, here is Sally saving the day again! There is nothing better than PB and chocolate, and this recipe delivers. Be careful not to overbake. Mine were done at about 18 minutes. LOVE the frosting! Five stars for sure! Thanks Sally!

  19. These are amazing. I love the little bit of texture from the finely chopped peanuts in the cupcakes (I used a mini food processor) and that frosting is DIVINE!! Another winning recipe, Sally!

  20. I just finished a double batch of these and they are absolutely incredible! The cupcakes are very soft and have delicious peanut flavor. I added extra cocoa and peanut butter to the frosting and it is perfect!

    Thanks, Sally!

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