If you haven't noticed, cupcakes have grown far beyond the chocolate, vanilla, and sometimes funfetti (if you were really fancy) options you knew as a kid. These days, you can find cupcakes everywhere from weddings to gourmet restaurants and twee bakeries that decorate them as beautifully as full-size cakes. Their built-in portion control, portability, and of course, adorable looks, make cupcakes perfect for just about any occasion that calls for dessert.
But why buy cupcakes from an expensive bakery when you can make these single-serving treats right at home with little work and a whole lot less money? Try these cupcake recipes for bakery-level sweets right at home, including options for vegan and gluten-free tiny cakes.
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Plain vanilla tastes anything but if you use the right recipe. These vanilla cupcakes have a wonderfully light and tender crumb that makes the perfect base for just about any frosting or mix-in. Try these for the simplest starter.
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One of the things that makes these chocolate cupcakes really special is the combination of regular granulated sugar and brown sugar, which adds just a hint of background richness. Malted milk powder in the frosting gives it an extra soda-shop twist, but you can frost these tender and delicious cakes however you like.
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Both lemon zest and extract give these lemon cupcakes a light, citrusy flavor that perfectly complements buttercream or cream cheese frosting, but we've included a recipe for a lemony frosting too. Try these light and fresh cupcakes for spring celebrations like Easter, Mother's Day or graduation parties.
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Red Velvet Cupcakes
True Southerners know red velvet cake goes perfectly with a crisp white boiled frosting. But the rest of us have come around to cream cheese frosting with these vivid, cheerful cupcakes. The original red velvet cake recipe used beet juice for that signature color, but most bakers prefer red food coloring these days.Continue to 5 of 18 below.
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Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Use the smallest holes on your box grater to shred carrots for these decadent carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. These sweet, moist mini carrot cakes also have no gluten, so they're perfect for those with dietary restrictions who still want a luscious dessert. You can omit the chopped nuts if you don't care for them, too.
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These football cupcakes are a lot of fun. Underneath the frosting, you'll find a delicious chocolate cupcake that's no different than any other. The football shape relies entirely on your piping skills, but it's easy. Simply make chocolate and white frostings, put each into a piping bag, then add zigzags and laces, and you have a fun little treat for sports fans.
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For special occasions, Champagne cupcakes are the showstopping dessert you need. This fun recipe includes sparkling wine in both the batter and the frosting, creating a light, brilliantly flavored treat. Add elegance and glamour by practicing your piping skills and topping them with shiny edible decorations.
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Christmas Tree Cupcakes
Fun, festive, and delicious, Christmas tree cupcakes are perfect for the holidays. Underneath the bright green frosting and colorful sprinkles lies luscious chocolate and coffee-flavored cake made with sour cream and buttermilk. Don't reserve them for winter, though! These tasty treats can be dressed up for any occasion.Continue to 9 of 18 below.
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Transform a classic vanilla cupcake into an impressive mythical unicorn cupcake with just a couple of marshmallows, a dash of sprinkles, and a perfectly placed candle. These make a great substitute for a birthday cake when the party includes a picnic.
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Black Bottom Cupcakes
Black bottom cupcakes may not look like your traditional cupcake, but these bite-sized cheesecakes will still be a hit. They have a chocolate cakey base and a chocolate-chip studded cheesecake topping that serves as a self-made frosting. Use high-quality cocoa for an even better flavor.
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Strawberry Cupcakes with Fresh Strawberries
Fresh strawberries flavor both the cupcakes and the frosting of this incredible fresh strawberry cupcake recipe. They taste best when strawberries are in season, so try these for an early summer or late spring party when the little gems are sweet and bright red.
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Dairy-Free Vegan Lemon Cupcakes
Try these vegan, dairy-free cupcakes when you want a fresh-tasting dessert that can serve those with dietary restrictions. They taste similar to Italian olive oil cake, because the recipe uses that oil to keep it moist, with a hint of sour citrus from freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Frost them with a simple white boiled frosting for a simple, delicious sweet.Continue to 13 of 18 below.
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Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes
The addition of sour cream gives these rich chocolate cupcakes an extra moist texture and an ever-so-slight tang. They work wonderfully with a caramel or white frosting, a basic chocolate frosting, or even your favorite ganache. Chocoholics: add this one to your favorites list, stat.
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Apple Butter Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Fans of apple cake will love these apple butter cupcakes, which have a lovely fall-forward flavor. Ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg give the batter warming spiced notes, too. Either store-bought or homemade apple butter tastes great in this recipe, which also includes a lovely cream cheese frosting.
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Pancake Batter Cupcakes with Maple Frosting
These pancake batter cupcakes aren't nearly as sweet as most, but the maple frosting more than makes up for that. Enjoy breakfast for dessert with this recipe, no matter what time of day you dig in. Sprinkle some maple flakes or crumbled maple candy over the frosted cupcakes for a pretty presentation.
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Lavender and Vanilla Cupcake
Basic vanilla makes a lovely base for these pretty, floral-scented cupcakes. The addition of edible lavender gives them a beautiful aroma, but don't add too much or it can quickly become overpowering. A little purple food coloring in the icing will tip off your guests to the taste treat inside.Continue to 17 of 18 below.
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Flourless Orange Chocolate Cupcakes
For those who avoid gluten, these decadent orange chocolate cupcakes are just what the doctor ordered. They come out so indulgently fudgey, you will never miss the flour. We've included a basic frosting recipe, but these would taste great with any chocolate, vanilla, or even ganache topper.
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Vegan Peppermint Hot Cocoa Cupcakes
These vegan chocolate cupcakes taste just like a mug of peppermint hot cocoa, perfect for a cozy afternoon. They use chickpea flour that also acts as a leavener, so you don't need any eggs. Buckwheat flour gives it a rich note that they wouldn't have otherwise, so don't raise an eyebrow at its inclusion.