Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

Deep chocolate cupcakes flavored with peppermint and coffee, topped with peppermint vanilla frosting, candy canes, and a chocolate drizzle.

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes on Deep chocolate cupcakes flavored with peppermint and coffee, topped with peppermint vanilla frosting, candy canes, and a chocolate drizzle.

I’ve had this cupcake idea up my sleeve for months. And I was going to wait until after Thanksgiving to make them. After our belies are filled with turkey and when Christmas music is “allowed” to be played.

But I couldn’t hold myself back anymore. I wanted a deep, dark chocolate cupcake with peppermint candies, swirls of mocha and chocolate drizzles. How can one honestly resist? Just look at all of this chocolate! Peppermint mochas are a seasonal favorite, but the combination of chocolate, mint, and coffee is on my mind all year long.

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes on Deep chocolate cupcakes flavored with peppermint and coffee, topped with peppermint vanilla frosting, candy canes, and a chocolate drizzle.

However, there is just something about this delectable combination of flavors when the snow is falling, family is gathered, and presents are under the tree. Nothing compares to sipping on a warm peppermint mocha during Christmas time. Unless, of course, you’re eating peppermint mocha in the form of a cupcake. NOTHING compares to that.

What we have here is a homemade chocolate cupcake (Death by Chocolate Cupcakes), enhanced with a touch of instant coffee and peppermint extract. The cupcakes are intensely chocolate flavored. The peppermint extract hiding inside the cupcakes is faint and is a complimentary background flavor to the light taste of coffee and powerful taste of chocolate.

Piled on top of that super-moist cupcake is a mountain of peppermint vanilla frosting. Just my simple vanilla frosting recipe flavored with a drop of peppermint extract. I finish them off with a simple chocolate drizzle (just pure melted chocolate) and sprinkles of crushed candy canes. And my, my, my. Aren’t they just fabulous? Better than I had hoped!

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes on Deep chocolate cupcakes flavored with peppermint and coffee, topped with peppermint vanilla frosting, candy canes, and a chocolate drizzle.

Let’s talk about how I messed up the first batch of these cupcakes. I was in a rush and I cheated. Something you should never do when you’re baking from scratch, especially chocolate cupcakes.

Baking science alert:

If you read my Death by Chocolate Cupcake recipe, you will notice that a lot of the ingredients must be at room temperature. Ingredients incorporate into batter much more easily if they’re at similar temperatures. Furthermore, using varied temperature ingredients (warm melted butter, cold buttermilk) may have a negative effect on the way your ingredients bond and trap air inside the baked good – this will, in turn, produce dense cookies, cakes, muffins, etc. When a recipe calls for a particular temperature of your ingredient, make sure you listen.

I also ask that you use a light hand when mixing the cupcake batter. Overmixing will over-develop the gluten in your batter. Apparently I was quite angry with my first cupcake batter and mixed with force. As a result, the right cupcake is what we have! (By the way, that mushroom top was crispy.)

How to make perfect cupcakes and mistakes to avoid.

Or we can have the soft, beautifully crinkled cupcakes on the left. Bringing ingredients to room temperature does take extra time. Just try to plan ahead. I typically put out my buttermilk, eggs, and butter (for the frosting) one hour before I begin.

Let’s discuss the frosting. Because what’s a cupcake without frosting? It’s called a muffin. And this is not breakfast, it’s dessert. The frosting is my favorite vanilla frosting recipe. You’ll need butter, powdered (confectioners’) sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and a dash of salt. Beat it all until it’s fabulously creamy and smooth. To this creamy mixture, I add a touch of peppermint extract. Not too much – I don’t want the frosting to taste like mint. I want it to taste like buttery rich vanilla frosting with a hint of mint.

Mint is a very powerful flavor, so be a little cautious when adding it. A little goes a long way.

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes on Deep chocolate cupcakes flavored with peppermint and coffee, topped with peppermint vanilla frosting, candy canes, and a chocolate drizzle.

I’m not sure if I can pick a favorite part of today’s festive dessert. The fudgy mocha mint cupcakes? The peppermint scented vanilla frosting? The extra chocolate on top? The crunchy candy canes? Please don’t make me choose, I want need it all. It’s the perfect cupcake for those who have flavor A.D.D. 😉

This is the cupcake to wow all of your holiday guests this year. It’s the show-stopping cupcake to bring to holiday parties. The decadent cupcake to fuel your shopping, decorating, and gift wrapping. And it’s most certainly the perfect cupcake to share with your loves.  Kevin enjoyed every single bite. No crumb left behind. And the guy doesn’t even like coffee!

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Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 18 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Bakig
  • Cuisine: American


Deep chocolate cupcakes flavored with peppermint and coffee, topped with peppermint vanilla frosting, candy canes, and a chocolate drizzle.



  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon instant coffee*
  • 1/2 cup (64g) unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
  • 3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour* (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk*

Peppermint Vanilla Frosting

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 34 cups (360-480g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • salt, to taste
  • optional for garnish: 4 ounces melted semi-sweet baking chocolate and crushed candy canes


  1. Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each time. You may also melt the butter and chocolate over low heat on the stovetop. Stir until combined, then mix in the instant coffee. Set aside to slightly cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together until thoroughly combined. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract together until smooth. Add the cooled butter/chocolate and whisk until smooth. Add half of the flour mixture, then half of the buttermilk. Repeat until everything is added. Stir until *just* combined; do not overmix. The batter will be very thick like pudding.
  4. Divide the batter between 12 liners in your cupcake pan. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  5. Make the frosting: beat softened butter on medium speed with an electric or stand mixer. Beat for about 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract with the mixer running. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes (the longer you beat, the creamier the frosting!). Add more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if frosting is too thick. Add salt if frosting is too sweet (I add about 1/8 teaspoon).
  6. Decorate the cupcakes: Frost cooled cupcakes. There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cupcake. Drizzle with melted chocolate. Top with crushed candy canes right before serving.
  7. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare cupcakes 1 day in advance. Keep cupcakes covered tightly at room temperature and frost the day of serving. Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before frosting and serving.
  2. Coffee: Use dry instant coffee, not coffee grounds.
  3. Buttermilk: Buttermilk is required for this recipe. You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk if needed. Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Then add enough whole milk to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1/2 cup. (In a pinch, lower fat or nondairy milks work for this soured milk, but the cupcakes won’t taste as moist or rich.) Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in the recipe.
  4. Cream: Using milk or half-and-half instead of heavy cream for the frosting is OK. However, your frosting won’t be as creamy. I strongly recommend heavy cream for the best texture.
  5. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: peppermint mocha cupcakes

See more cupcake recipes.


  1. Julie @ Table for Two says:

    This looks AMAZING! I really love reading your scientific baking notes. It really helps me when I’m developing my own baked goods ’cause I’ll remember little tidbits of what you have said in the past. I also really love that you showed pictures of what happens if people don’t listen to you – that right there is such great proof! Peppermint mocha is my fav holiday drink and having it in cupcake form is even better 🙂

    1. Thanks Julie! I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I messed up batch #1 of my own recipe, but it’s important to know why room temperature and light mixing is important for a cupcake’s taste, texture, and appearance!! So happy you learn from my posts. That makes me glad! You’d love these cupcakes.

  2. Abbie @ Needs Salt says:

    Oh my goodness, Sally! I can’t get over these cupcakes! They’re just gorgeous. Love everything about them.

    1. Thank you for pinning, Abbie!

  3. I definitely hate when I get a little aggressive when I’m baking breads or cakes… You end up with rocks. Oy! And I’m so, SO impatient when it comes to waiting for things to come to room temperature. I barely can let things cool down for five minutes coming out of the oven let alone hours just to start making them! Haha!

  4. wow these look positively amazing! i will def. try to make these this winter! thanks for the great tips!

  5. Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) says:

    Gorgeous but what else can I expect from you!!!

    1. Thanks Jocelyn. That’s so nice of you!

  6. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious says:

    Oh Sally – you have me so excited for Christmas now!

  7. Mary Frances @ The Sweet {Tooth} Life says:

    Wow, these are gorgeous! I cannot wait for the holiday colors (red, green, silver!) to take over and these cupcakes are getting me all excited. That frosting, mmm, can I just have a spoon? I promise I’ll have the skinny mint milkshake afterwards;) These would be a hit at parties! Thanks for sharing!

    1. HAving one of these cupcakes and then your favorite skinny minty milkshake would totally balance it out. 😉

  8. Yes yes yes yes yes. Just yes. These look unreal. And gorgeous photography!

    1. Thanks Erin!

  9. Norma | Allspice and Nutmeg says:

    Insane! I love peppermint and chocolate. This is going on my list for sure!

  10. Zainab @ Blahnik Baker says:

    Ahhhh these are amazing and perfect! I love peppermint mocha and I have been consuming peppermint mocha at Starbucks since the red cups came out. So delicious! Like these cupcakes I imagine.

    1. seeing the red cups for the first time every november makes me incredibly happy. =)

  11. Laura @ Lauras Baking Talent says:

    These look great! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. I cannot wait to make these! Thanks for the recipe 🙂 One question – for the picky eaters (and little ones), can I leave out the coffee altogether?

    1. You sure can!

  13. Jocelyn @BruCrew Life says:

    These are gorgeous looking girl!!!! Gotta love chocolate, coffee, and peppermint in one glorious treat! I also have a cupcake similar up my sleeves 🙂

    1. I’m excited to see your version, Jocelyn!

  14. Gorgeous, Sally! I’m totally ready for Christmas music, and peppermint mocha cupcakes sound perfect to start out this awesome season! 🙂 I agree with you about frosting…it’s the best part of cake!

    1. I’m glad you feel the same way about frosting as I do. I’ll take my frosting with a side of cupcake. 😉

  15. Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) says:

    These are beautiful Sally! I love the extra chocolate drizzle and candy cane crunch–makes me so excited for the holidays. And you’re so right about having everything at the same temperature. Such an important baking step.

  16. Elizabeth @ says:

    Gorgeous cupcakes! I’m with you–why wait until after Thanskgiving to enjoy chocolatey, minty bliss??

    1. I could hardly stand it anymore! I had to share these. 🙂 I’m glad you support that Elizabeth!

  17. Julianne @ Beyond Frosting says:

    Absolutely gorgeous cupcakes Sally!!

  18. Averie @ Averie Cooks says:

    Sally they’re beautiful! Things that caught my eye – the room temp ingredients, the side by side pic of the 2 cupcakes (domed top and mushroom top) – wow so much variance! That is a key pic to show ppl what can happen if they don’t listen 🙂

    And yes, mint, the listerine factor, I’ve been there. It’s powerful. And the fact that you got these liners to stay so RED. Did you swap out after baking? Or use some of those pricier non-fading types?

    Beautiful & pinned!

    1. I was a tad embarrassed to show how I messed up my own recipe, but it’s important to know why these things are important in recipes. Especially for cakes and cupcakes! Averie, I use grease-free liners ℅ Sweets & Treats Boutique. They’re actually quite affordable:

  19. Alexe @ Keys to the Cucina says:

    Wow these look amazing. I actually just had my first Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks and it was delish, so I imagine I would love these!

    1. Yeah! You should give them a try, Alexe.

  20. They are so gorgeous, Sally! They remind me of a cupcake I have had in my brain for weeks, which is finally going to be happening soon! So excited for Christmas baking!

    Anyway, these are picture perfect and I will be using room temperature ingredients from now on for my chocolate cakes/cupcakes. I kind of always thought that was just and extra step, but after reading your post I have changed my mind! Now if only you could solve all my high elevation problems (which by the way, you and Kevin need to visit soon!). Ugh.

    Also, I need to get on this peppermint band wagon. I have to buy some at the store tomorrow and just try it with chocolate again. I think my taste buds have changed, so I am pretty sure I will love it! I mean, I need to gorgeous cupcakes in the my life.

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words Tieghan. And yes, Kevin and I need to visit CO. He loves it there and misses it so much! I can’t wait to see your cupcakes coming soon. You have a way of making cupcakes completely gorgeous. I love baking them – they’re as much fun to decorate as they are to eat. Well, sort of…

  21. Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl says:

    I can smell these gorgeous cupcakes from here! Fresh and minty – I love it!

  22. My oh my, Sally, you’ve truly outdone yourself this time! My jaw almost dropped to the floor when I saw the picture of these! They look positively SCRUMPTIOUS! Your photos are so gorgeous in this post that I want to smash my face against the screen and inhale that cupcake through cyberspace. LOL. Seriously, I need these NOW.

    1. Thank you for the very kind compliment on my photos, Ikhlas! I laughed reading “inhale that cupcake through cyberspace” haha 😉

  23. Sally these look divine! I am definitely without a doubt making these for my family’s Xmas eve party!! And I’m pretty sure I’ll be making those apple cider donuts for our thanksgiving breakfast this week!! Thanks again 🙂

    1. Love those cider donuts. 🙂 And let me know if/when you try these!

  24. Oh my.. these are just all kinds of wonderful!!

  25. Becca @ Crumbs says:

    The crushed candy cane on the top is such a sweet way to finish these. Look very festive and delicious

  26. my husband hates coffee flavored anything. is it okay to leave out the 1 TBSP of instant coffee or do i need to add in something (flour or other)? thanks!

    1. You may leave it out altogether, Dot. No need to add anything into the batter as a replacement.

  27. Annie @ Annie's Noms says:

    Yummy! Your pictures are just beautiful (as always!) and these cupcakes have me wishing I could reach through my computer screen! What a perfect combination 🙂

  28. Hello Christmas in a paper cup! These look adorably delicious and so festive! Falalalala!

    1. I see that you’re in the Christmas spirit as much as I am 😉 Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Mercedes!

  29. These look amazing, as do all your posts…can’t wait for your cookbook! Quick question…do you think this recipe would adapt well to a cake rather than cupcakes? If so, what size pan, oven temp and time do you think would work best?

    1. Hi Kristy, without trying it myself I can’t be 100% sure. I do know that this batter would fit into a 9x9x2inch round cake pan. Same oven temperature, but I’m unsure of the bake time.

      1. Thank you so much!! I will probably try it as a cake – I needed a good Christmas cake for my kiddos (we celebrate with a “Happy Birthday, Jesus” cake each year!), and this will be perfect!

  30. Kate from Scratch says:

    Those cupcakes are very festive and just adorable! Lovely colors and very fun for the holidays.

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally