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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!

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 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 14 cupcakes 1x
  • 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

Scale
  • 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

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 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. I doubled the recipe exactly without any changes before I saw your note about not doing that. It made 31 cupcakes filling each muffin cup with liner, 3/4 full. 350° oven for 20 minutes. They were perfect. Although I did not use your frosting recipe as we like only chocolate frosting on peanut butter cupcakes. Thank you so much for this delicious moist cupcake recipe.

    1. Hi sally! I was wondering what the baking time would be if I’m making this as a small 6 inch 4 layer cake.

  2. Wow! I just made these for the first time and even though I omitted the chopped peanuts (I’m lazy), they were very flavorful and so delicious! That frosting is sinful goodness.. and these definitely were not dry! Great recip !!

  3. Sally THANK YOU for this recipe! My nephew requested these for his wedding last weekend and I was in a panic because, in all of my years of baking, I’ve never made peanut butter cupcakes. I followed the recipe to a T and frosted with a whipped milk chocolate ganache, and topped with Reece’s thins and a few honey roasted peanuts so those with nut allergies would know to avoid. I’m not lying…these cupcakes got more praise than the actual wedding cake! Way to go, Sally!

    1. We’re so thrilled these cupcakes were a hit at your nephew’s wedding, Paula! Thank you so much for trusting our recipe.

    2. This review sold me! Can’t wait to make this recipe for a wedding I have Wednesday. I have not made pb cakes only frosting.. So glad to hear these rave reviews, especially at a wedding! I Never want to disappoint a Bride! 🙂
      I can’t wait to leave my review of the cakes! I will be making extra for taste samples of course. 😉

    1. Hi Jenna! This should be just about the right amount of batter for a three layer 6 inch cake. You can reference our post on 6 inch cakes for details!

      1. okay thanks!
        have you tried this with buttermilk and coconut oil?
        Planning on a coconut layer/ peanut layer cake with dark chocolate buttercream wrapped in the mellowfluff icing.
        Do you think the chocolate should not include the peanut butter to keep the sweetness down? Do you have a recipe for mellowfluff icing that wont drip?
        Thanks!

  4. Hi. I really need a pnb cake recipe. Can these be baked as a cake instead if cupcakes? Thanks.

    1. Hi Julia, 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.

  5. Hi sally,

    I’ve made this cupcakes before and they were lovely but now when I’ve tried to make them again they don’t rise very well and just won’t cook in the middle. They just still look really moist and a bit gooey even after being in for nearly 30 mins. I doubled checked over the whole recipe and I can’t think of anything that I did wrong. Any advice?

    1. Hi Linzi, You may just need a few extra minutes of bake time. When they are done, a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.

    1. Hi Samantha, We haven’t tried this, but you could try adding real melted (and cooled!) white chocolate to this frosting. It would require a little extra confectioners’ sugar and/or less cream to ensure the frosting holds its shape. Let us know if you try anything!

  6. I love this recipe! I need to make a 1/2 sheet cake. Would you make 3 or 4 recipes?

    1. Hi Lucinda, So glad you love this recipe! As written, you’ll have enough batter for an 11×7 inch cake.

    1. Thanks so much! We used the giant Ateco 849 piping tip for the frosting and you can watch Sally decorate the cupcakes in the video tutorial above!

  7. I want to try these but only have Greek yogurt available, in place of the sour cream. Would this still work?

    1. Hi Clare, yes! Plain Greek yogurt works in place of the sour cream.

  8. I made these this weekend in response to my husband daring to bring in boxed peanut butter cupcakes. Man…when I tell you these are good, I mean it. The addition of the peanuts really puts in over the top in my opinion. They were so good, that in all honesty, it didn’t need the frosting. I mean of course I made it and ate it, I’m not insane, but they were so good on their own. It did take a bit longer to bake than listed, but that could be due to my oven, or I overfilled the cups. 10/10 would recommend!!

  9. Hi! What do you think of using unsweetened applesauce instead of oil? I often exchange these (with decent results) to keep the calories lower.

    1. Hi Joyce, We often that when we remove all of the fat/oil in a recipe we are left with a rubbery texture. You can try it (or try replacing only half of the oil) but expect the results to be different than intended.

      1. Than you for the thoughtful response! I think I’ll stick with the oil for this one!!

  10. Could you just use crunchy peanut butter instead of adding chopped peanuts? Also, did you toast them first?

    1. Hi Tonya, crunchy peanut butter is usually a little thicker than creamy and the cupcakes may taste overly dense. Let us know if you try it. We really recommend creamy! No need to toast the peanuts.

  11. Hey Sally,
    Can I make this in a loaf pan with choc chips added to the mixture? If so, could you please tell me the baking time.
    Can’t wait to try!
    Thank you in advance

    1. Hi Meera, my team and I have not tested that so I can’t be certain. It should be enough batter. Let me know if you try it!

  12. Holy moly. These cupcakes are AMAZING. They came out PERFECTLY. So moist, so full of flavor. What an amazing recipe!! Any tips on how to get a smooth frosting? Mine piped with lots of air bubbles.

    1. Hi Erin! Careful not to over-whip which can lead to air bubbles. To get them out, you can use a wooden spoon to beat the frosting by hand to help burst air bubbles.

  13. I just want to make sure that chocolate peanut butter frosting recipe makes 14 to 15 cupcakes ,using same tips #849 ? The tip is larger and Sally pipes the generous amount which looks great. I just don’t want to end up with not enough to pipe cupcakes. Thanks

    1. Hi Kake! Our chocolate peanut butter frosting recipe yields 3 cups, or enough to frost 12-16 cupcakes (closer to 12 with the generous amount pictured). You can definitely make 1.5x the recipe in order to ensure you have enough!

  14. hello, i had a peanut butter cupcake in chicago and the top of it was almost crunchy like a cookie and was very good. do you have any suggestions on how i could get things

    1. Hi Cece, We fear baking them for longer to get the top crunchy would dry them out, but you can certainly sprinkle the tops of each cupcake with coarse sugar before baking. We do this for muffins when we want a sparkly crunchy top!

  15. I wish this recipe had turned out. I should have made it yesterday instead of before the event I was making them for. Turned out very crumbly, tops were like peanut butter cookies and inside not fully cooked. Usually I have no issues with recipes from this site. No idea what went so wrong.

  16. Hi Sally,What kind of salted peanuts should I use ?I bought salted dry roasted will those work?

  17. My partner’s favorite dessert is a peanut butter malt, so I’m trying to make him pb malt cupcakes. Thinking of using these with a malted milk frosting, but do you think it’d be possible to add malted milk powder to these cupcakes? Any ideas on the best way/amount to adapt it? Thank you!

    1. Hi Frank! Malted milk powder sounds like a delicious addition, but it would take some tinkering with the other ingredients to ensure the cupcakes don’t come out too dry with the added dry ingredient. We would mix it in with the other dry ingredients. If you decide to do any experimenting, we’d love to know how it goes!

  18. These are the hit of the neighborhood. This time I did not have the ingredients to make frosting. So I took Sallys Crumb-Topping and added 60 grams of peanut butter and took 60 grams whole peanuts ground them in a food processor. and topped the cupcakse. I’m a peanut butter addict and this soothed my cravings.

  19. As a peanut butter fanatic, like absolutely love peanut butter anything.. I’ve never tried a peanut butter cupcakes! I had a request for a tester for a wedding im baking for and came across this! Wow, wow, wow. I cannot believe the absolute heaven that i just baked thank you so so so much for this recipe!!!

  20. I have been baking your recipes for a few years now and this recipe along with your Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars are my two favorite recipes because they taste so good, are easy and foolproof and relatively healthy. To fit our lifestyle better, I bake this in a 9×9 cake pan for 36 to 40 minutes. I also found that I can substitute 50g egg substitute and 3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk and it is just as moist and rich enough for us. Our favorite “frosting” is just to cover it with a melted, 4oz semi-sweet chocolate bar or for something richer your peanut butter frosting or chocolate ganache. Thank you for all the great recipes.

  21. My cupcakes after 28 minutes could have cooked longer yet. Besides that the taste is wonderful

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