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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

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.

If you love baking cupcakes, here are more tested & loved recipes:

Lemon Blueberry CupcakesCarrot Cake Cupcakes, & Sprinkle Cupcakes

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

Try my chocolate peanut butter cake next!

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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 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 14 cupcakes 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


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!


  • 1 and 1/4 cups (156g) 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 (125gcreamy peanut butter*
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (80gsour 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 (41g) 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


  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.


  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 more about why room temperature ingredients are important.
  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: peanut butter cupcakes

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. 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. 🙂

  2. 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 🙂

  3. 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!

  4. 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?

    1. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. Hi Sally,

    Do you think it would be okay if I used 1 cup buttermilk instead of the sour cream and milk? Sour cream is not available where I stay! These cupcakes look yummmm by the way 🙂

    1. Hi Niths, You can use buttermilk in place of sour cream AND milk- use it to replace both the sour cream and milk. (1 cup total.)

  8. Hi Sally,
    First off, I’m a big fan of yours. They are my go-to when I don’t have the patience to try out different versions for an occasion, because I know it’s fail-proof! Hehe
    Was wondering if I could replace the chocolate PB frosting with plain peanut butter frosting? Do you think it would be a good combo? Maybe I can add choco chips if you think it adds an oomph!

  9. This is just the best peanut butter sponge. It’s so so tender and moist!! The first time I baked using this recipe, I used homemade peanut butter, but Sally was right.. It wouldn’t give the same texture. It tasted good but the cupcake seemed dense. This time I tried it with the creamy peanut butter and omg!! It’s so soo soft and yummm!! Love it! Thanks Sally

  10. I have made this recipe as a 6 inch cake for my father’s birthday (he loves peanut butter) and it is amazing. I was wanting to make a pecan pie cupcake and thought about using this recipe, but replacing the peanut butter with homemade pecan butter and chopped pecans as the cake base. I know that you said you do not recommend natural peanut butter, but if I were to try this, would you suggest reducing the amount of oil to a third cup instead of a half? (I supposed the oily consistency was the reason for the recommendation)

    1. Hi Drew, this is a great question– and my apologies for the delay answering it. Somehow I missed it last week. Try the pecan butter and reduce the oil to 1/3 cup. This is exactly how I would test the recipe. Add finely chopped pecans (just as you do peanuts). Please let me know how it turns out.

      1. I made them and they turned out great! Before I made them, I did put the pecan butter in a coffee filter and let some of the excess oil drain off. However, even when I did this, I still had to cut down on the amount of oil. They turned out just as good as the peanut butter cupcakes! The chopped pecans really enhanced the pecan flavor too. Thank you so much for the response and the fantastic recipe!

  11. Hi Sally, I love all of your recipes! I was wondering, in the absence of sour cream, can I use Greek yoghurt? Or should I attempt to make my own sour cream?! Or would you recommend the buttermilk idea above all else as a substitution?

    1. Hi Sarah, Yes! Plain Greek yogurt works in place of the sour cream.

  12. Outstanding texture and moisture in this cupcake. It was more dense than unexpected and I loved it. While I liked the PB in the frosting I would try dark chocolate frosting or ganache next time. Thanks again, Sally, for a successful day at baking!

  13. These were really lovely! I had made the dark chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting for a friend’s birthday and they had been absolutely amazing (unfortunately couldn’t leave a comment as they were closed). So I thought I’d give these a try. I cut the sugar in half and added some chocolate chips as I didn’t make the frosting and we had them as muffins instead. My children really liked them too and next time I’ll definitely try them with the frosting.

  14. Hi Sally,
    I am looking to make this recipe for my Mom’s birthday this weekend and was wondering if I could leave out the peanuts? I don’t like nuts in cake, but don’t want to mess with the flavor or make the cupcakes bland. You thoughts?

    1. Hi Mary! The recipe as written will be just 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.

  15. The texture was spot on! The peanut butter flavor really shines through.

  16. I doubled the recipe with no problems for two 9” rounds. Came out moist and perfect after 33 minutes. (My oven is undersized/cool however.) Single frosting recipe easily covered the cake with a thin (but not lacking) layer between. Next time I would do 1.5 frosting recipe for a better ratio, but this first attempt was still very very good!

  17. I plan on using this recipe for my friend’s birthday this weekend, but she can be picky. Will the absence of the peanuts have a big effect on the flavor?

    1. Hi Samantha, for exceptional peanut flavor, finely chopped peanuts are highly recommend. The finer you chop them, the more they will blend into the baked cupcakes. You can’t taste the chunks, just the flavor! That said, you can certainly omit them (with no other changes) if you wish.

      1. This recipe came out great. My friends loved them! I was wondering how to make the cupcakes chocolate peanut butter instead of just peanut butter? Do I just add a certain amount of cocoa powder?

  18. Hi! I would like to make a double flavoured swirled cupcake with this delicious peanut butter batter and a chocolate cupcake batter, could you recommend a recipe that will take about the same amount of time to cook and rise a similar amount?
    Or perhaps the peanut butter in this recipe could be replaced with a chocolate spread? Really appreciate your thoughts and thank you for continuing to perfect so many amazing baked treats!
    And of course I plan to make a swirled peanut butter and chocolate frosting!
    Thank you ❤️

    1. Hi Aime-Marie, that sounds like a delicious cupcake. Our chocolate cupcakes recipe has a very thin batter and likely won’t hold up to this thicker peanut butter batter. Perhaps you can try this triple chocolate muffins batter. We haven’t tested this recipe with a chocolate spread.

  19. Hi Sally,

    I’d like to do a plain chocolate frosting with these, is there any way to make this frosting recipe with just chocolate or do you have another recommendation? 🙂 Thanks so much!

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

  20. How do you get the frosting so dark? I use Dutch Process cocoa powder. Should I try something different?

    1. Hi Tara, It could be the lighting in the photos. Or you could be mixing the frosting longer. The longer you whip chocolate frosting the lighter in color it becomes.

  21. Can I add some sort of chocolate to make this a chocolate peanut butter cupcakes? Is so what and how much

    1. Hi Sophie, We have not tested this recipe with cocoa powder to make chocolate peanut butter cupcakes 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!

  22. My husband loves Reeses peanut butter cups, so I just made these cupcakes for him for his birthday. I cut an X in each one as soon as they came out of the oven to insert a Lindt truffle into each. I’m about to make the frosting now, and will top each with a peanut butter cup. I’m hoping it’s not way too rich for anyone to enjoy. They certainly smelled delicious coming out of the oven!

  23. I made these last summer for a friend’s birthday and I plan to make them again in a couple of weeks. Peanut butter cake is tricky, but you absolutely nailed it! They are so delicious! I followed your recipe to a T and the cupcakes and frosting came out perfect! Thank you so much for such and amazing recipe!

    1. Hi Breanna! See step 4 for mini cupcake baking instructions. Enjoy!

  24. I was wondering if I could switch out flour for cup to cup measure of gluten free ? I’m making a cake and the bride is gluten free and your recipes always work for me

    1. Hi Cassandra, we haven’t tested it ourselves, but many readers have had success using 1:1 gluten free flours in our recipes. Let us know if you give it a try!

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