Ultimate Marble Cupcakes

For when you can’t decide if you want a chocolate cupcake or a vanilla cupcake!

marble cupcakes topped with chocolate vanilla swirl frosting

marble cupcakes topped with chocolate vanilla swirl frosting on a white plate

I have a few kitchen-tested, reader-approved, very trusty cupcake recipes on my website. Two favorites? These vanilla funfetti cupcakes and these chocolate cupcakes. I knew I wanted to make one of them, but was having trouble deciding which. Kevin told me to just make both, but that sounded like too much work– even for bakeaholic me.

So I decided to jazz things up. Throw a curveball and surprise everyone with an irresistible medley of both chocolate AND vanilla. Ladies and gents, I bring you…

Ultimate Marble Cupcakes.

marble cupcakes topped with chocolate vanilla swirl frosting

Lucky for both you and me, these cupcakes are a snap to make.

What You’re Gonna Do:

First, you do NOT have to make a vanilla cupcake batter and a chocolate cupcake batter. Thank goodness! Rather, you’ll simply make my trusted vanilla cupcake recipe and add cocoa powder to part of its batter. Less dishes, less time, less headache!

The vanilla batter is all mixed together by hand in under 5 minutes. Once mixed, measure 3/4 cup of the batter and add to a medium mixing bowl with cocoa powder and a touch of milk. Since you’re adding more dry ingredients to this portion of the cupcake batter (the cocoa powder), you’ll need a touch of milk to thin it out.

The marbling part is not tricky at all. You’ll simply spoon some vanilla batter into your cupcake liners, then some chocolate batter, then some more vanilla batter on top. Take a toothpick and gently swirl it all together a couple times. I only swirled a few of my cupcakes because I wanted to see how each (swirling vs no swirling) turned out. The swirling looked the prettiest when baked up! Here are some visuals:

collage of 5 images showing how to make marble cupcakes topped with chocolate vanilla swirl frosting

Now, let’s talk frosting. No cupcake is complete without it. If you’re anything like me, you like a little cupcake with a lot of frosting.

You’re going to make two frostings. My favorite vanilla frosting and my favorite chocolate frosting. There are a few options for frosting these cupcakes:

  • Make both frostings and spread them each on your cupcakes however you’d like.
  • Make either the vanilla frosting or the chocolate frosting (double the frosting recipes below to make sure there is enough for all 12 cupcakes) and frost the cupcakes with a knife or piping tip.
  • Make swirled frosting using my How to Make Swirled Frosting page as a guide.

You’ll need a Wilton 1M piping tip and a piping bag if you choose the third option. All you do is spoon some vanilla frosting into one side of your piping bag and chocolate frosting into the other side. Then, pipe onto cupcakes in a swirl pattern:

filled piping bag to make swirled frosting

Again, here’s a page with more visuals to help guide you with the swirl frosting. I also include how I use the Wilton 1M swirl piping tip. If you’re ever curious about how I frost my cupcakes, that’s a handy page to read!

marble cupcakes topped with chocolate vanilla swirl frosting on a white plate

So there you have it. A simple one-batter marble cupcake with velvety rich chocolate and vanilla frostings on top. Buttery vanilla paired with swirls of chocolate throughout every super-moist bite. Does it really get any better than this? Oh yes, it does.

Top with a sparkly pink candle and celebrate your ultimate awesomeness.

marble cupcakes topped with chocolate vanilla swirl frosting with a pink candle

I can hardly wait for the birthday girls to taste their marbled treats!

*Don’t be overwhelmed by the ingredient list! A lot of the ingredients are just repeated for each part of the cupcake/frostings.

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 

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marble cupcakes topped with chocolate vanilla swirl frosting

Ultimate Marble Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 14 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Chocolate and vanilla marble cupcakes with chocolate and vanilla swirl frosting on top! These cupcakes are perfect for when you can’t decide between a chocolate or vanilla treat!


Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 1 and 2/3 cups (209g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60g) yogurt*
  • 3/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon (195ml) milk, divided*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons (10g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder

Milk Chocolate Frosting

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (210g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup (21g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) heavy cream or half-and-half*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste

Vanilla Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (210g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) heavy cream or half-and-half*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners and an additional pan with 2 liners. This recipe makes about 14 cupcakes. Set them aside.
  2. Make the cupcakes: in a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Whisk in sugar – mixture will be gritty. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 minute. Stir in egg, yogurt, 3/4 cup milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Slowly mix in dry ingredients until no lumps remain. Batter will be thick. Transfer 3/4 cup of batter to another medium bowl. Mix in cocoa powder and 1 Tablespoon milk until combined. Chocolate batter will be thick.
  3. Spoon 1 Tablespoon of vanilla batter into each cupcake liner. Top with a spoonful of chocolate batter, then more vanilla batter on top until all batters have been used up. At this point you may swirl the batters together very lightly using a toothpick or leave them as is, as I explained in the post. Bake the cupcakes for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
  4. For the chocolate frosting: sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder to assure there are no lumps. Set aside. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy – about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sifted sugar/cocoa powder alternately with the heavy cream and vanilla. Beat on low speed after each addition. Once all added, beat on high speed until creamy and combined for at least 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
  5. For the vanilla frosting: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy – about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, cream, and vanilla extract with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Add more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if frosting is too thick. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
  6. Frost cooled cupcakes with a knife or with a piping bag/tip. If you’d like to just make 1 kind of frosting and not both, make sure you double the frosting recipe of your choice to make sure there is enough for all cupcakes. To swirl the two frostings like I did, here is how I made the swirl frosting. There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cupcake.
  7. Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days and in the refrigerator up to 5.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare cupcakes and frostings 1 day in advance. Keep cupcakes covered tightly at room temperature and the frosting covered tightly in the refrigerator. Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before frosting and serving.
  2. Yogurt & Milk: Use any kind of yogurt you like – Greek, regular, vanilla, plain, nonfat or low fat. You can use any milk you like too – buttermilk, skim, 1%, 2%, almond, soy, etc.
  3. Cream: For the frosting, heavy cream or half-and-half will give your frostings the creamiest texture. You can use milk instead, keeping in mind the frostings won’t be as creamy.
  4. Single Layer Cake: Simply layer the chocolate and vanilla batters into a 9×2 inch cake pan or 9 inch springform pan. Fill the pan 2/3 of the way full. There will be leftover batter for an additional cupcake or two. Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes.
  5. Mini Cupcakes: For 28 mini cupcakes, bake at 350°F (177°C) for 9-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: marble cupcakes

Still can’t decide? Here are a few more chocolate and vanilla cupcake recipes you’ll love:

84 Comments

  1. Really delicious, worked perfectly and icing wasn’t too sweet.

  2. nicole gracia says:

    Also wondering as a couple others have asked….can I use sour cream instead of yogurt? Thank you! Looking forward to making these for my son’s giraffe cupcake cake!

    1. Sour cream is a great sub for yogurt, yes.

  3. Dear Sally,
    You are my inspiration when it comes to home baking. You’re instructions are simple and easy to be followed even in U.K. I have got a question.
    Which nozzle should I use to get this finishing on the frosting?

    1. Hi Gaya! I used the Wilton 1M swirl piping tip. Here’s a page with more visuals to help guide you with the swirl frosting. I also include how I use the Wilton 1M swirl piping tip.

  4. I love this recipe. It’s super easy. I’ve been baking for years and never took the time to sift the flour, but these were a special request by my daughter for her 13th Birthday party. So I decided to sift my flour into the weight bowl and oh my heavens it made a huge difference. They went over great and I was asked for the recipe several times.

  5. These were great! Very easy to make, although I had trouble getting the swirl in my cupcake. My only complaint is that there was way way way too much icing! Butter isn’t cheap, so I would cut the icing recipes in half next time. I don’t have a frosting bag/frosting tips, so I used two plastic baggies to each fill half of a gallon sized plastic baggie, and it came out pretty well. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Absolutely delicious! I’ve made these three times in the last month for different functions, and each time I’ve changed the colour of the vanilla mix. (Bright orange for Halloween!) Thank you for introducing me to a frosting (in that milk chocolate one) that isn’t actually either boring plain icing sugar or too buttery like a regular buttercream. I can’t believe what an improvement the double cream makes to how much I enjoy it, and at least six people have asked me for the recipe. I’ve pointed them all here. Thank you!

    1. So fun with orange batter and chocolate swirl! Thank you so much for reporting back. Glad you enjoy the cream in frosting and the marble cupcakes!

  7. Hello Sally!
    I had saved this recipe for quite some time now, and I always meant to make it. I decided to try a new recipe for this V-day’s to take to my workplace and share with my colleagues. I made this recipe, exactly as it is. My colleagues loved the m SO much, they wanted more cupcakes. They kept asking if I made themmyself, cause they tasted so good like from a good pastry store! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, from now on this will be my go-to recipe for cupcakes and frosting. Simply delicious!!

  8. Susie Rees says:

    While I appreciated the idea of not making two separate batters, the Chocolate batter was so thick that it made swirling it quite difficult. I ended up with just a blob of chocolate cake in the middle of the vanilla rather than the traditional marble look.

  9. VERY good!!!! I loved the marble throughout this entire cupcake. I had to go dairy free so I used Earth Balance vegan butter sticks for the butter, full fat coconut milk w/ a teas. of lemon juice mixed in for the heavy cream, and cashew milk for the milk and no one noticed a difference in taste. The only slight different was the frosting was a little looser.. but it’s also 97 degrees here today so that could of been part of it. These were a HIT! THANK YOU!

  10. Just made these. They taste amazing. But they stuck to the paper and weren’t that moist. What did I do wrong?

  11. This recipe is amazing! I made it as cupcakes for my sons birthday and he loved it. I then used the batter to make a 3D choo choo train. I had to quadruple the recipe and used a 3D cake pan and then two bunt cakes to make the caboose. Thanks for the recipe!

  12. This has to be the most delicious cake I have ever made!! The steps to make were different for me but came out beautifully. I used 2% liberte plain Greek yogurt. My hubby loved it! He called me at work to tell me how much he loved it! Thank you Sally for sharing this recipe! I just love it ❤️❤️❤️

  13. Hi sally

    Can I use buttermilk instead of yogurt and milk?. If yes means what will be the measurement.

    I have 8×3 round pan. Can I use tht for this recipe and bake one time.. and if for white cake 6inch. Can I use the same size pan to bake one time.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Kiru, you can use buttermilk to replace both the yogurt and milk. There is too much batter for an 8-inch cake pan. My Cake Pan Sizes & Conversions post may help you determine the best size, though!

  14. This was absolutely the BEST. I did it a bit differently: with the spearate chocolate batter, I only added 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and some red food coloring- it was a red velvetvanilla swirl! Delicious! I’m gonna be making these again tomorrow!

  15. Tami Helmers says:

    I am embarrassed to admit THat this is my first scratch cake, and I bake all the time. Due to COVID I decided to try your recipe. It was absolutely amazing and the frosting is wonderful, Beautiful to work with. Thank you for creating your blog and sharing all your recipes and helpful suggestions. I am hooked! I will be taking the marble cupcakes to my grandsons 3rd birthday. I can’t wait to hear the comments.

  16. Hi Sally!
    I am a novice baker and i find your recipes very easy to follow. I made these tonight to bring to my stepmother for her bday tomorrow but found the milk chocolate frosting too sweet. Im not sure what I did wrong or if maybe my scale was off as I measured by the grams. I tried to add more heavy cream but didn’t want to make it too runny. Next time if I cut the sugar down, how can I make the frosting not too runny. Thanks

    1. I find that adding some salt cuts the sweetness.

  17. My son requested marble cupcakes for his birthday, so I chose this recipe. The batter was very easy to make, but the chocolate batter needs some changes for our family next time. The ratio of cocoa powder when added to make chocolate batter was way too concentrated for our family and extremely bitter. If I make this again, instead of using 1/4 cup cocoa to 3/4 cup of vanilla batter, I’d modify–maybe adding only 1Tbsp of cocoa powder instead to 3/4 cup of vanilla batter. Unfortunately, I won’t be serving these for our event after all.

  18. Great recipe, and I didn’t even make changes for my high altitude (over 6,000 feet). Hadn’t made marbled cake/cupcakes in decades! Tasty! Can always count on you, Sally!

  19. Just wondering if this can be made into a loaf pan? Or if you have a marble loaf cake recipe?

  20. Kyle E Smith says:

    Would this recipe work for 3 6 in cake pans?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      It will! Just about any cupcake batter that produces about 12-15 cupcakes is the perfect amount for a 3 layer 6 inch cake.

  21. Happy Cupcake Girl! says:

    Awesome recipe! Chocolate a little bit bitter, but other than that great!

  22. Rena Parsons says:

    Can you use Sour cream instead of yogurt?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rena, sure can — same amount.

  23. Just wondering why this recipe is so different from your marble cake recipe? Trying to decide which recipe to use. Also wondering about using cake flour instead of all purpose? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Bethany, The recipes are different! For the cake we replaced the yogurt and milk with buttermilk and also used cake flour to keep the overall texture lighter since we are working with more batter at once for a cake vs cupcakes. The other change is using the pure melted chocolate makes instead of cocoa powder which makes chocolate swirl extra rich!

  24. Kelli Huffman says:

    I find that the vanilla frosting is not as stiff as the chocolate icing, due to the cocoa powder added. Should I add an additional 1/4 cup of powdered sugar to the vanilla recipe?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kelli, absolutely! Add enough powdered sugar to reach the consistency that works for you. Enjoy!

  25. Hi! This recipe is my all time favorite!!! I’ve tried a lot of different marbles and this one is best!

    Now, oddly enough, I’m wondering if using cake flour would change it much or not? I’m making wedding cupcakes and I just love this recipe and will probably use it-but cake flour does do something special though…idk! What do you think?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Vanessa! You can use cake flour in these cupcakes if desired – same amount.

  26. Wonderful recipe!

  27. Really tasty! The one thing I would change is the density. Personally, I feel like cupcakes should be a bit lighter, so I just added a little bit more milk to the batters and that made them much fluffier.

  28. Sangeeta Palta says:

    Hi Sally,

    Thanks for this recipe. They tasted great and it was a hit among the kids. Just that the base stuck to the cupcake liner and they had to peel them off to have them all. Any reason why that happened?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sangeeta, we highly recommend getting high quality grease proof cupcake liners, we’ve never had a problem with muffins or cupcakes sticking once we began using them!

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