Thanksgiving Turkey Cupcakes Recipe

Thanksgiving Cupcakes

The Spruce / Leah Maroney

Prep: 40 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 55 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
574 Calories
23g Fat
89g Carbs
6g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 574
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 29%
Saturated Fat 10g 49%
Cholesterol 68mg 23%
Sodium 524mg 23%
Total Carbohydrate 89g 32%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 58g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 2mg 12%
Calcium 106mg 8%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 300mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Thanksgiving cupcakes are an adorable addition to your holiday dessert table. Simply top pumpkin spice cupcakes with chocolate frosting, candy corn, and vanilla wafers to create cute little birds that kids and adults will love.

Making these cupcakes with the kids are a fun Thanksgiving activity. They’re super easy to put together and don’t require a lot of tools or skills. You can find the candy eyes at craft stores or online and everything else is available at your local grocery store.

You can easily make the cupcake base ahead of time and freeze them. Decorate the day before Thanksgiving for an easy dessert that won’t take up oven space on the big day.

We love the pumpkin spice base for these festive cupcakes, but you can substitute with chocolate cupcakes, vanilla cupcakes, or any store-bought option if you're short on time.

To continue the Thanksgiving theme with cookies, try these Oreo Turkeys.


For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed

  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) salted butter, melted

  • 3 large eggs

  • 2 tablespoons molasses

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree

  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 cup whole milk

For the Decoration:

  • 1 cup chocolate frosting

  • 12 vanilla wafers

  • 60 pieces candy corn

  • 24 candy eyes

  • 1 small fruit roll up, cut into small strips

  • 6 pieces M&M's candy, optional

Steps to Make It

Make the Cupcakes

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

    Thanksgiving cupcakes ingredients
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney
  2. Beat together the brown sugar, melted butter, eggs, molasses, and vanilla extract in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix well until all the ingredients are combined. 

    Mix ingredients for thanksgiving cupcakes
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney
  3. Add in the pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice and mix again. 

    Add pumpkin puree to batter
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

    Mix dry ingredients
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney
  5. Add 1/2 the dry ingredients and then 1/2 of the milk to the pumpkin puree mixture and mix. Add the remaining dry ingredients and then the remaining milk. Mix until no lumps remain. 

    Mix together cupcake batter
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney
  6. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Fill each liner about 2/3 full. Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until when you insert a toothpick into the center it comes out clean. 

    Bake Thanksgiving cupcakes
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney
  7. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely before decorating. 

    Cool Thanksgiving cupcakes
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

Decorate the Cupcakes

  1. Gather the decorating ingredients. 

    Decorating ingredients
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney
  2. Frost each cupcake with the chocolate frosting. 

    Frost Thanksgiving cupcakes
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney
  3. Place a vanilla wafer on the bottom half of the cupcake. 

    Place vanilla wafer on top of cupcake
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney
  4. Add the candy corn above the vanilla wafer, white side touching the wafer, to create the feathers. 

    Add candy corn to cupcake
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney
  5. Add a tiny bit of frosting to the back of each candy eye and place them on the upper section of the vanilla wafer. 

    If you are using M&Ms, you can cut them in half and dip them in the frosting and make them into the nose. You can also cut the orange part off of the candy corn and use that as the beak. 

    Add beak and eyes to cupcake
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney
  6. Add a strip of the fruit roll up next to the beak to create the waddle. 

    Decorate Thanksgiving cupcakes
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney
  7. Serve and enjoy.


  • Use the cupcakes as place cards. Add a toothpick with a name attached or simply place it just under the cupcake on the plate. It's an adorable way for people to find their seat.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to two days or serve right away.

Recipe Variation

  • You can replace the vanilla wafers with round Nutter Butter cookies. You can use any round, tan-colored cookie you wish, just make sure they are about the same size as a vanilla wafer.