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 cupcake with chocolate frosting cut in half

Peanut butter cupcakes with chocolate frosting on white cake pedestal

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.

2 images of chopped peanuts on a cutting board and peanut butter cupcake batter in a glass bowl

2 images of peanut butter cupcake batter in cupcake pan and baked 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!

Overhead image of cupcakes topped with 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 cupcake with swirl of chocolate peanut butter frosting and a peanut butter cup on top

Let me know what you think of the improved recipe!

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Peanut butter cupcake with swirl of chocolate peanut butter frosting and a peanut butter cup on top

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 (spoon & leveled)
  • 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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142 Comments

  1. This recipe is wonderful, as always, Sally. I made it as a cake for a friend’s birthday this week. I know you said to make the batter twice instead of doubling it but I did double it and baked it in two 8-inch rounds. The cakes were thick so baking time was long but they turned out beautifully. All my friends raved about it. I put strawberry jam in between the layers and made a Nutella buttercream. The greatest PB+J ever. The chopped peanuts really add flavour. I used unsalted peanuts.

    1. So glad the cake was a hit, Jami! Love strawberry jam in the middle and a nutella buttercream with those flavors sounds AWESOME!

  2. I made this for my husband’s 60th – you really did a nice job with this recipe! I made mini-cupcakes, which was a good choice for us. The cupcake is so moist and flavorful – I really enjoyed the peanut chucks cut up (I food processed mine for a finer chop) – it surprised me that this texture was such a good compliment to the super soft cupcake. The peanut butter really comes out in the frosting. I’ve kept them refrigerated, which surprisingly didn’t sap any of the moisture from the cupcake but really firmed up the frosting for a chilled texture punch. Just A+ all the way around. It made about 42 minis. Thanks so much for this updated recipe!

  3. These were absolutely amazing and a huge hit with my husbands employee. The cake itself had a great peanut butter flavor and was so moist and delicious. The frosting was so good and reminded me of fudge. My 2 year old and I were eating the extras from a spoon! Another delicious recipe of yours I will add to my collection. Thank you!

  4. Wow! I made this for my nieces birthday and everybody loved it! So moist and a great mix of flavors, icing was a great consistency too. I made 1 1/2 recipes for a 9 x 13 and worked out great.

  5. Can cake flour be used instead?

    1. I don’t recommend cake flour– it’s too light for the peanut butter and this amount of wet ingredients.

  6. This is BY FAR the best Peanut Butter cake recipe I’ve come across and the frosting is DELICIOUS!! Look no further – try these cupcakes. I bake for the Chicago Bears and they were a HUGE hit with the team and staff! Thank you, Sally!!!

  7. Hi, can i use creamy peanut butter containing chopped peanut already?

    1. I don’t recommend it. Chunky peanut butter is usually thicker and drier than creamy peanut butter. Plus, you get a lot more peanut flavor adding the extra fine chopped peanuts.

  8. I just baked these for Valentine’s Day. They are sooo good! The cake is perfectly light and moist with a nice peanut butter flavor. The frosting is not too sweet and has a lovely texture and just enough peanut butter. I will definitely make these again

  9. ColleenGardner says:

    I made these for my Daughter’s 27th birthday, and I used your Dark Chocolate Frosting. Everyone loved them!

  10. Can I use heavy whipping cream Instead of heavy cream for the frosting? Thank you, Sally.

    1. Yes, that will work. Enjoy!

      1. I made the cup cakes today, DELICIOUS!!! I started baking using your recipes and I plan to try to make more. Thank you very much, Sally❤️

  11. I usually head straight to your chocolate recipes, but WOW these are amazing! I made them for my mom-in-law’s birthday last year, going to make them again for her 70th this year! So good , Sally!

  12. Made these as mini cupcakes. Overall, a big hit; really delicious and cute. My only critique was that the buttercream really carried the weight of the flavor for this cupcake, and the cake itself was kind of lacking. In the future, I might try a chocolate base with a peanut butter buttercream and see how those pair.

  13. These were delicious! I left out the peanuts because i didn’t have any and halved the recipe. Turned out perfect. So flavorful and moist. And the frosting is to die for. These are a keeper!

  14. I made these once for my dad’s birthday because he’s a big Reese’s cup lover, and they were such a hit that I’m making them as a surprise for my parents 22nd anniversary. This is the best peanut butter cupcake recipe I’ve ever tasted.

  15. I have made PB cupcakes many times over the past 30 years & they have been extremely popular. But they have been a bit dry so I can’t wait to try this revised recipe!
    Could I use a combination of oil & butter?
    Suggestion: Try these with caramel frosting. Divine!

    1. Hi Gigi! No, I don’t recommend using melted butter or softened butter (even as a combo!) in this recipe. Follow as written to avoid dry cupcakes.

  16. Oh, Sally … You hit it out of the ballpark with these!! The cupcakes are so light and airy in texture and the frosting complements them beautifully!! Thank you for perfecting your recipe! These are definitely going on my top ten list.

  17. These are legit!! Delicious! I wish that I could post a picture of how wonderful they turned out! I even had to use natural peanut butter against advice. They were fantastic!

  18. Do I have to use sour cream? Are there any substitutes for it?

    1. Hi Mallory, plain yogurt would be the best substitution.

  19. Hi, will these peanut butter cupcakes taste well with your Nutella frosting? Bit unsure so I thought I’ll ask here.
    so excited to bake these over the weekend! Please let me know!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, that would be delicious!

  20. Hello Sally, would I be able to substitute the peanut butter with Biscoff spread and make biscoff cupcakes? I have done that with your Nutella frosting recipe and it was delicious

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kwaevyonn, We haven’t tested this recipe that way but let us know if you do!

      1. I did try it and it came out pretty good! Could use a bit more Biscoff flavour though

  21. O. M. g. This is the best cupcake recipe ever. I made these for my husband’s birthday (he LOVES chocolate and peanut butter) and he swooned over them! My daughters adore them! The peanut butter in the frosting is pure genius. We are playing with the recipe to see how we can do this non-dairy (we believe one of my daughters has an allergy). Thank you!!

  22. Hi Sally, these cupcakes were delicious, the buttercream was absolutely amazing! My cupcakes came out a bit crunchy on top and I know it was an error of mine but I was just wondering whether you would maybe know what I did wrong? They were still lovely anyways.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lauren, We are so glad you enjoyed these cupcakes! If the tops were crunchy it’s likely that your oven runs hot or that the top of your oven is hotter. If you try them again try moving your oven rack down a bit lower and checking them a minute earlier. I hope this helps!

  23. Hi Sally! I’m baking these for my sons first birthday but I know my picky eating kids will not like it if they feel anything crunchy in the cupcakes. Can I just omit the chopped peanuts? Will I need to change anything in the recipe if I do?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ana, If you chop the peanuts fine enough, they won’t be crunchy or anything. Rather, they’ll melt right into the cupcake itself. However you can skip them without making any other changes is you wish 🙂

  24. Such a great, well balanced recipe! It makes a lot of icing so I had some left over but better too much than not enough!

  25. My mom (many years ago…as I’m a fifties baby ;p) used to make a great peanut butter cupcake with delicious peanut butter frosting…so I used Sally’s peanut butter cupcake recipe to make “Disney-style” Jumbo cupcakes(the resort makes fabulous jumbo cupcakes!). But I did a total portion of 1/3 C. of finely ground peanuts AND Reese’s Pieces(since I do love peanut butter)…so proportions for the recipe didn’t change that input. And then I made Sally’s peanut butter cream frosting to top. Didn’t want a chocolate and didn’t want a sickenly sweet frosting…so this recipe is great with it only using 1C. confectioners sugar. Then I topped with finely ground semi-sweet chocolate chips, as a dusting to the big piped swirled frosting tops. Easily visually look as fab as a Disney cupcake…and with a little extension time for the jumbo size………it was the best!!!
    It’s a keeper to the many recipes in my collection. 🙂

  26. I made these cupcakes today and they were a hit. I added a piece of white chocolate fudge for a gooey center and it was delish! However, I did not need to use 90ml milk as suggested, added only about 40ml and it was runny enough. For the frosting, I also added a little bit of cream cheese which kinda took away the peanut flavor giving it a tangy taste that overpowers the complete taste. Howeve5r, please know that I looooooovvvveeee your page, you have the best recipes and tips to share! 🙂 Gonna be doing a lot more trials before I bake this for my brother’s wedding! Do share tips of any other frosting that can work with these cupcakes! Thanks a lot 🙂

  27. I made Peanut Butter cupcakes as a 6″, 3-layer cake. There was plenty of frosting for the whole shebang and it was superb! I was especially pleased with the amazing “Reese’s” p. b. cup flavor in the frosting. Usually I don’t mess with anything as important as straight chocolate, but I took a deep breath and trusted, and your recipe came through! Very special!

  28. Hi! I was wondering if I could turn this into a chocolate peanut butter flavor cupcake! Do you know if I could just add cocoa powder or how I could make it chocolate peanut butter flavor?
    Thanks!!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We have not tested this recipe with cocoa powder and it would take some additional recipe testing for us to give you a confident answer. But definitely let us know if you try anything!

  29. This recipe is amazing. I made these cupcakes last week and I am trying it out as a cake topper with crushed Snickers this week! I have just added the frosting but I have heaps left over. How long will it keep in the fridge? Or is the frosting freeze-able?
    Thanks so much for this recipe, I love it!

  30. Hi Sally. I made these into 6 in cakes and two of them collapsed a bit in the center. Would that mean underbaking? Thank you

    1. Hi Bridget, cakes can collapse in the center for a variety of reasons. The most common is under-baking, which is an easy fix for next time. Other reasons include not enough (or too much) leavener or the wrong size pan. The leaveners shouldn’t be an issue– I’ve made this exact recipe in 3 6-inch cake pans before. I recommend a couple extra minutes of bake time.

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