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!

Print
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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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153 Comments

  1. 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. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      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.)

  2. 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!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Keerthi, Yes you can definitely use peanut butter frosting if you really love peanut butter!

  3. 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

  4. It tastes amazing with the peanut butter frosting too!!

  5. 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!

  6. 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. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

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