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. Ally @ The Cheery Baker says:

    First these look AMAZING as usual, I love all of the peppermint flavors in everything, you can never have too much of that! And second, I love how you have pictures to show what will happen if people don’t listen to you about correct temperatures for your ingredients, it took me a while to figure out that having them specific temperature actually works! I can’t pick what I love best about these! I must have this flavor A.D.D. you’re talking about 😉

    1. Thank you Ally! And yes, it’s important to use the correct temperature of ingredients the a recipe calls for. It has a HUGE effect on the outcome of the baked good.

  2. Where can I find peppermint extract?

    1. It’s available all over the US, but I’m unsure where to purchase it anywhere else in the world. You can try to search for it online.

  3. These look super delicious! I will be passing this link onto my sister – her husband is a huge mint chocolate fan 🙂 I think his fellow officers at the police station will be big fans too 🙂
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Rachel @the dessert chronicles says:

    Such a classic holiday combination, but I have to say a cupcake sounds way better than a latte! Great idea!

  5. Ari @ Ari's Menu says:

    Those crinkly tops, and the perfectly swirled frosting!!! Uuuggghh, Sally these are TOO perfect! I LOVE peppermint mocha, and I would totally devour these!

  6. Heather @ French Press says:

    Sally, you write the BEST baking instructions…by far,and they are so helpful. and the cupcakes…GORGE

    1. Thanks Heather, that’s so nice of you to say. I learn from detailed instructions and I love to teach, so I always write a lot (maybe too much!) but I know it’s helpful. HAve a wonderful Thanksgiving 🙂

  7. Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungry says:

    These cupcakes remind me of a Starbucks drink, I love them!

  8. Kevin and your guy sound exactly alike, Amy. Kevin “hates” pumpkin but loved the pumpkin bars I made him earlier this year. Head scratch.

  9. Jess @ On Sugar Mountain says:

    Sally, you have made some beautiful treats in the past, but my goodness this is by far my favorite! LOOK AT IT (which I am assuming you already have because, duh, you made it) but seriously. IT’S LIKE THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT JUST TOOK OVER MY LAPTOP SCREEN!

    1. Hahaha! Someone labeled these as “christmas in a cupcake.” – thought you would like that, Jess!

  10. Tina @ Tina's Chic Corner says:

    I love how you showed pics of what happens when you don’t use the right techniques! Shows the true importance of the steps and it’s also a reminder to me. 🙂
    Mint, chocolate and coffee are truly the perfect combo! These cupcakes are GORGEOUS (as always)!
    Hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving! 🙂

    1. Thanks Tina, I was a tad embarrassed to show that I messed up my OWN recipe! But it’s important to share how… important… following the directions is! Hope you have a wonderful thanksgiving too!

  11. Nora (Buttercream Fanatic) says:

    These beautiful, heavenly, minty-chocolately dream cupcakes just made me forget all about turkey and pies. Is forgetting about Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving morning some sort of foodie crime? Probably. 🙂

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  12. Michelle Brown says:

    LOVE your blog, photos, explanations, fabulous recipes – I want to make these to bring to a party next weekend, but would prefer to make mini instead of full size – have you experimented much with the mini cupcakes? I’m wondering how long I should bake them? Also – I’m in love with many of the King Arthur products and use the espresso powder often – can I use that or do I need instant coffee? Thanks for all of your fabulous posts – and Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Hi Michelle – the espresso powder is a great substitution for the instant coffee. I’ve never tried these as mini cupcakes but there is no reason why they wouldn’t work out in a smaller pan. I’m unsure of the baking time. Enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving.

  13. i just love how much you love minty flavoured baking! thank you for sharing, i need this recipe in my life! xxx

  14. Hi!
    I’ve been seeing recipes for Hot Chocolate Cupcakes around lately and I’m going to make some myself although I don’t love the exact recipes I’ve come across. So, do you think I could use your Death by Chocolate Cupcakes with these cupcake’s peppermint vanilla frosting? Would that be a good combo for hot chocolate cupcakes? I would love your input! 🙂 Thanks.

    1. Hi Anna – I’ve never made hot chocolate cupcakes before. But the death by chocolate cupcake recipe IS this recipe, just without the peppermint extract and instant coffee. You may leave those two out, yes. Enjoy!

      1. Oh awesome, thanks!

      2. Hey again! These cupcakes tasted awesome! I just wanted to show you a pic of my finished product 🙂 It’s the picture on the right. Here is the link:

      3. They look wonderful Anna! Thanks so much for sharing with me.

  15. So I just tried these and half of them turned out like your bad batch. Everything was a room temp but I suspect that I may not have allowed the butter/chocolate mix to cool long enough. How long roughly should it cool for? Either way the taste is still great….! And I’m determined to get it right for next time!

    1. Hi Erin – I usually let it cool for about 10 minutes. Sticking it in the refrigerator will help!

  16. These look amaazing! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  17. I thought I did everything right but I got the bad mushroom top batch too. Although bad is a stretch. They’re kind of good crispy little tops. I need to learn your skills Sal. 🙂 or have you come make these for me!! Even better!

    1. Oh no! Sorry Lindsay. Hey, at least they’re still tasty right? Maybe you overfilled the cupcake tins. I do that sometimes too.

      1. I made them while my computer was DYING. Literally, dead. It just up and died. Wah wahhh. So they were still the bright spot of my day! 🙂 Making again tonight. Your photos are great Sally. Xo

  18. Had a question, I am going to bring in a batch to share with my coworkers. I’m going to bake the cupcakes tonight, can I also frost and decorate them tonight (storing them covered in the refrigerator), or should I wake up early tomorrow to frost and decorate them the day of?

    1. Hi Nick! Make the cupcakes today, cover very tightly, and then frost/decorate tomorrow. The frosting is best fresh.

  19. Shikha la mode says:

    I love crinkly cupcakes – is that weird?!

    1. Not at all. 😉

  20. Hi!
    This is my first time visiting your blog and it is delightful!
    I made the cupcakes this evening and they turned out great. So delicious. However, the icing turned out absolutely awful 🙁 It was too buttery, etc. and seemed to melt. I am very new to baking and just wondering if you had any helpful tips for a successful icing? (I know, I’m such a rookie.)


    1. Hi Whitney! So glad you enjoyed these cupcakes. IF you find the frosting too buttery, always add a bit more powdered sugar. That will soak up the butter. You can add more cream as well. Also, beat the frosting for awhile. The longer you beat, the fluffier (and less greasy) it can get.

      1. Hi  i just made this delicius cup cakes to give away on Christmas !
        They tast spectacular ! 
        So so good and easy to make! 
        Just good compliments about it
        Thank you for share this recipe

  21. Hi Sally! I just made these cupcakes for a bake sale and they look wonderful! I can’t eat them (unfortunately no gluten for me) but they got rave reviews from my family, room temperature really does make a difference! I got perfect crinkly tops :). I am currently trying to make the chocolate to put on top and it keeps on coming out too thick. I used semi-sweet chocolate chips, and when it was too thick the first time I added butter, still a no-go. Any suggestions?

    1. Hey Maya! Butter shouldn’t be used to thin out melted chocolate chips. Use shortening instead. Though both dense fats, shortening will work wonders with chocolate chips. Or try pure chocolate as suggested.

  22. Oh. Em. GEE! I have been so bummed since my daughter started kindergarten about the “no home baked goods in school” rule. And my daughter signed me up to bring cupcakes to the winter party! I have compromised by planning to bring the kids Gigi’s cupcakes instead of the grocery store cardboard tasting fodder they’re used to. HOWEVER, I will be getting around the rule by baking THESE for all her teachers and staff! And our household of course 🙂 Cannot wait. YUM.

    1. I think the kids will enjoy those cupcakes and the staff and teachers (and your family!) will adore these. They are a current favorite 🙂 Thanks Jennifer! Let me know how they go.

  23. OMG I am loving that chocolate cake recipe!! A friend of mine did a peppermint mocha latte frosting that would be amazing with this!!

    1. That frosting sounds and looks amazing Meg!

  24. THESE ARE AMAZING!!! I’m not much of a baker, but thanks to the tips for dummies you included these came out absolutely perfect. I’m already obsessed. Thank you for posting this I cannot wait to share these with all of my family and friends!!

    1. Very happy these were a hit, Jillian! Thanks so much for reporting back. I appreciate it!

  25. Hi Sally!
    I’m a huge fan of your blog, you get so creative and fun with your recipes!
    I tried these gorgeous cupcakes out last night, and they turned out great! Except for one little problem… when I left them overnight, the crushed candy canes on top completely melted/bled into the icing. Not a big problem taste-wise, but it doesn’t make for the prettiest presentation. Does this ever happen to you? Any suggestions of how to possibly avoid this?

    1. Hey Amanda! I’m glad you love my blog – thank you! And I’m so happy you loved the taste of these cupcakes. I’ve never had the candy canes melt/bleed their color into the icing. I had these at room temperature overnight, too. To avoid it – possibly stick in the refrigerator before serving.

  26. Just finished making these on this cold, snowy day — they are AMAZING!! Your website is the best, thanks so much for sharing all of these great recipes! 🙂

    1. I love baking on snowy days. And then sipping hot cocoa or tea and eating said baked good looking out the window. I enjoy small things like that! So glad you love these, Rachele. Thanks for reporting back – appreciate it.

  27. I saw this recipe and fell in love with it immediately! I am currently making this for my husband’s work Christmas party, I can’t wait to try them! I absolutely LOVE Peppermint Mocha!

    1. Woohoo! I hope they are a hit at the party Carrie. And that you love them as well.

      1. The cupcakes were a hit at my husband’s party and I fell in love with them from first taste!!! I can’t wait to make them next week for Christmas!!!

  28. Great question Tina! Nope, the cream can be cold for the frosting.

  29. I made these tonight for my husband’s work party tomorrow. They are delicious, but I do think the cupcakes themselves could be moister. They are cooked perfectly–not overdone at all. With the frosting they taste fine, but if I were to eat just the cake, I would think it was a bit dry. Maybe I will add a bit of oil next time. Thanks for the recipe!

  30. Huge hit! These were the last thing I baked before going into labour 4 days ago. They were the best thing I ate in the hospital!

    1. Love it! And congratulations Pascale!

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