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. Also, my peppermints looked all wet this morning. I kept them in the fridge overnight so I’m not sure why that happened. So others trying this may want to add them right before serving.

  2. These are yummy! The first time I made them I didn’t listen and over mixed them but the still tasted great! So even if you do over mix them like I did, you can still eat them. They might not look as nice but they still taste good.

  3. Sally! This calls for natural cocoa powder. We dont get those kinds here. Im using cadbury and as far as I know its Dutch Process. Any tips?


    1. Unfortunately, you can’t use dutch process cocoa in this recipe. Must be natural. I’m unsure how to adapt the recipe since I’ve never tried it myself. PErhaps you can search for a chocolate cupcake recipe using dutched?

    2. You can get natural cocoa online from Penzey’s. I get all of my spices and extracts from them.

  4. Thank you for being honest in your post about messing up with room temperature ingredients. It is refreshing to see a blogger that doesn’t hide behind a curtain! Plus it was the answer I was looking for as to why my cupcakes for my daughter’s party turned out hideous. You are right about scratch baking being a science and I was racking my brain trying to figure out what happened and almost gave up on my recipe. Giving it another go today.

    1. Thanks Lisa. I learn in the kitchen through trial and error and am not afraid to admit it! Hey, we’re all human right? I make mistakes too! Happy you learned from this. I appreciate your comment so much!

  5. If i were to emmit the peppermint extract would it make these…just mocha cupcakes? Could i replace it with more vanilla extract?


    1. Yes that would be fine. Enjoy!

  6. Oooh these look amazing! 🙂

  7. Hi Sally! Thanks for a great recipe! Can’t wait to surprise my boss with some birthday cupcakes in her favorite flavor! If I want to bring these to work the NEXT day, any tips on how to prepare/store for serving 12 hours later?

    1. Hi Jaquielyn! You may certainly make these cupcakes the night before. Frost, cover, and let sit at room temperature overnight. Hope your boss enjoys!

  8. What can I substitute the coffee for? (I don’t drink coffee.)

    1. I wouldn’t make these mocha cupcakes if you do not like coffee. Or you may leave it out for a peppermint chocolate flavored cupcake.

  9. I was wondering what changes would be necessary if I wanted to make this as a cake versus cupcakes. I was thinking more as a sheet cake.

  10. We had enough batter to make almost 18 cupcakes. We over filled the first time.

  11. Can I use a different chocolate recipe without melting chocolate?

  12. These cupcakes were amazing. Especially the mint taste. I didn’t do the icing and it was still good.

  13. Samantha Elsworth says:

    hi could you make this with out the peppermint extract so you just have a chocolate cupcake I no you have other recipes but I loved this so much with the peppermint in but was hoping I could use it again but with just the vanilla extract in. Thank you

  14. Hi Sally! I’m planning to make these cupcakes this weekend for a friend’s birthday who loves peppermint. I wanted to know if it’s okay to make the cupcake batter on Thursday and leave it in the fridge until Saturday morning. On Saturday morning, I would bake them. Is that too much time to leave cupcake batter in the fridge? Will it affect the cupcakes moisture, texture etc? Thank You!

    1. The batter must be baked right away as the baking powder is activated once liquid is added. You can always bake them on Friday and cover tightly and keep at room temperature until Saturday.

      1. Thanks Sally for responding so quickly! Another question I have is could I make the frosting ahead of time and store in the fridge overnight? Or would it get hard? Thank you!

  15. Hi, thank you very much for sharing this recipe. I just wanted to ask if the Dr Oetker fine dark chocolate powder is fine to use. thank you

  16. hi sally,
    i really would like to know if i can leave out the peppermint totally so i will be left with mocha cupcakes. would this work?
    thanks 🙂

    1. Yes, you can leave out the peppermint extract.

  17. My 11 year old daughter made these this evening and she did an awesome job on them! They are incredibly delishious! They melt in your mouth 🙂

  18. Hi Sally!

    My name is Joanna and my sorority, alpha Kappa Delta Phi really loves this recipe. My sorority is having a bake sale using your recipe and we were wondering if we could use your photos to help promote our event!

    It would really mean a lot for us! We will leave your watermark on the photos!

    Please get back to me at your earliest convenience. Thank you so much!!


    1. Hi Joanna! Please email me if you’d like to use my photography: sallysbakingaddiction (at)

  19. Can these be stored at room temperature? Hope so…!

    1. For a few hours or even overnight. After that, they are best stored in the refrigerator.

      1. Thanks Sally! I made these today, they’re delicious. I was wondering if you could answer this question, too. When weighing your dry ingredients, do you first weigh the measuring cup empty, and subtract that from the weight W/ the ingredient? My cupcakes came out with a muffin top because I believe I messed up with the flour.

      2. Glad you love them! My food scale zeros out the weight of the measuring cup.

  20. First of all I just have to say that I love your recipes!!! I’m so glad we found your website!  Now it’s ALWAYS the first place I look for recipes and I hardly ever end up going anywhere else. XD I also have your cookbook Sally’s Baking Addiction and use it like every week! So anyway, about these cupcakes…I made them today, and I haven’t had one all put together yet but obviously I’ve tasted the batter and the frosting. LOL. So I KNOW they’re going to be good!!!! It all tasted really good just by itself! And you know what adds to it? I accidentally added double the amount of chocolate in the cupcakes. And didn’t notice it till I was almost done decorating them. Haha…that’s what I call a “happy accident.” 😉 Anyway, this comment is getting super long so I’d better end it soon! I just wanted to say that I made these cupcakes today and I love your recipes. 🙂 

    1. Thanks so much Alanna! I hope you enjoy all the extra chocolate in these. 🙂

  21. Stephanie, thank you so much for the incredibly kind comment! I loved reading it this morning. Overfilling could definitely be the culprit. Try to use less batter and see how the cupcakes look. I promise they’ll be better.

  22. Hi Sally, these look fantastic!  Could the instant coffee be substituted for coffee extract?

    1. You can use coffee extract– though I’m unsure of the perfect amount for these.

  23. Hi Sally,
    I love the taste of peppermint combined with chocolate. But here in my country, peppermint extract is hard to find. Can i use peppermint essence as per my taste ? Thanks in advance.

  24. This might be a stupid question, I didn’t see anyone else ask…do I make the instant coffee and use that or I’m using the instant coffee grounds? 

    1. The instant coffee granules.

  25. Hi Sally, I love all of your recipes! I have a holiday party every year and I think these will make an appearance this year. How long should I bake if I make them mini cupcakes? Thanks!

    1. I’ve never made them mini before, but I’d say 12ish minutes. 🙂

  26. Maria Ebersol says:

    always come to your site for new ideas. all the recipes i’ve tried of yours are simply AMAZING! can’t wait to try this one 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Maria!

  27. Hi Sally, I love your blog! I know I can always trust your recipes to come out perfectly and I love that you include the science behind the baking in your posts. 🙂 I’d like to make something special for an upcoming holiday party and was thinking about doing a boozy cupcake. I would LOVE to try this recipe for Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes with maybe some peppermint schnapps or crème de cacao….do you have any suggestions on how or what would be best to add?

    1. Hi Jen! Thanks for the kind comment. 🙂 What a great idea for cupcakes! I wonder if you made these cupcakes but used the delicious sounding filling and frosting from this recipe? I just found it online through a google search. Sounds great!

  28. How would the recipe differ if I made a 9 in circle layer cake instead of the cupcakes? 

  29. Sally! I love peppermint so much!!! Can’t wait for your new posts regarding peppermints this coming December! TBH, I am hoping that your December baking challenge would have something to do with peppermint! haha

    Can I make this recipe into a brownie? Instead of pouring them in a cup cake liner, I pour them over a rectangular pan. If so, how’s the baking time and degree going to change? Thanks a lot!!!

    1. Hi Kate! They won’t particularly taste like brownies. They’ll be like cake. I’m unsure of the bake time, but the temperature remains 350. Enjoy them!

  30. Thanks for the suggestion!

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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