These gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are an ideal treat for any festive gathering! Soft and moist sponge, flavoured with aromatic spices, topped with delicious, sweet, rich and tangy cream cheese frosting, gingerbread biscuits, and your favourite festive sprinkles!
Thanks to the addition of Greek yogurt and black treacle, the cupcakes stay moist for days, so they will be great to make ahead. Combination of dark muscovado and black treacle or molasses also gives them that distinctive, dark appearance and deep flavour. Quick, easy and utterly delicious recipe that will become your go-to for holidays!
This easy gingerbread cupcakes recipe is one of my favourite recipes to bake during December. They smell, taste and look like Christmas! All these wonderful and aromatic spices are just perfect to get you into the festive spirit and make you feel cosy and warm. They would make a lovely, delicious centrepiece for your festive table too!
Just like my Chocolate Orange Cupcakes, these festive cakes are topped with smooth cream cheese frosting, which makes them just that extra bit special.
The ingredients for these easy gingerbread cupcakes can be split into two groups. One for the sponge, and another one for the frosting. Let's look at the sponge ingredients first:
- Dry ingredients - You will need plain/ all-purpose flour, dark muscovado sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg (I recommend using fresh, but you can also use ground nutmeg), some mixed spice and small pinch of salt.
- Wet ingredients - These will consist of unsalted butter, Greek yogurt, black treacle or molasses, eggs, and vanilla.
To make the classic cream cheese frosting you will need the following ingredients:
- Unsalted butter, cream cheese, icing/ powdered sugar and vanilla extract.
You will also need some festive sprinkles for decoration, but they are totally optional. I used some buttery feuilletine on the cupcakes you see in these photos. I also like to decorate mine with some mini gingerbread cookies, for which, I'm using my Soft Gingerbread Cookies recipe.
Start by mixing all of the dry ingredients apart from the muscovado sugar in a large bowl and set them aside.
Use a small jug or a small bowl to combine together the Greek yogurt (make sure it is at room temperature) and black treacle, until smooth.
Hint: When working with treacle or molasses, lightly cover the spoon or the ramekin in some olive oil or vegetable oil. This way, it won't stick to it and will be much easier to remove.
Cream the sugar and butter together, using an electric mixer, then add eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla. Don't worry if the mixture curdles a bit, it will all come together later.
With the mixer running on low speed, add half of the dry ingredients into the egg and butter mixture, followed by half of the treacle and yogurt mixture. Repeat, by adding the remaining dry and wet ingredients. Stir until all the ingredients are combined and divide the batter between cupcake cases.
Bake the cupcakes for 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
While the cakes are baking, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Mix the icing sugar and softened butter on low speed, until no larger butter lumps remain. Add the cream cheese and vanilla and mix for a couple of minutes, until you have smooth, thick buttercream.
Hint: Bring the cream cheese and butter to room temperature at least an hour before starting the recipe. It's the crucial step to ensure the silky-smooth, lump-free frosting!
Allow the cupcakes to cool down completely before topping them with the frosting. Add some sprinkles and gingerbread cookies for decorations, if you'd like.
- Gluten free - I haven't tested this recipe with gluten-free flour, but I believe it will work just fine. Make sure that baking powder and baking soda are also gluten-free, or use the alternatives, like xanthan gum. You can also check out this recipe for Gluten Free Gingerbread Cupcakes from Gluten Free Cup Of Tea blog.
- Dark muscovado sugar - This type of sugar contributes to the dark appearance of the sponge, along with the treacle. You could also use light muscovado or just soft light brown sugar, the only difference is that they will be lighter in colour.
- Black treacle - This ingredient adds moisture, sweetness and dark colour to the bake. You can also use molasses or dark corn syrup instead.
- Greek yogurt - You can swap it for buttercream instead.
- Gingerbread cookies - If you don't want to make your own, use a store-bought version.
- Vegan and dairy free - To make vegan version, check out the Banana Diaries recipe for Vegan Gingerbread Cupcakes
If you would like, check out the below suggestions for some different versions of this recipe:
- Mini cupcakes - This recipe can be used to make about 30 mini cupcakes. Prepare the recipe as per the instructions in the recipe card, then bake them in the mini muffin tin, reducing the baking time to 10 minutes (or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean).
- Cake - You can also turn this recipe into one gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting on top. Follow the recipe as per the instructions below, but use 20 -23 cm round baking tin instead of muffin/ cupcake pan.
- Cinnamon cream cheese frosting - Try adding half teaspoon ground cinnamon to the frosting ingredients to intensify the flavour.
- Stuffed cupcakes - Why not take it even a step further and stuff the cupcakes with some more cream cheese frosting, a citrus curd or some apricot jam?
Here's what you will need to make these easy gingerbread cupcakes:
- An electric mixer - handheld or freestanding mixer with a paddle attachment.
- 12-hole cupcake/ muffin tin
- Cupcake liners - I get asked a lot about the cupcake liners I've used in these photos. They're called 'wave' liners and I bought mine from Wilton few years ago.
- An ice cream scoop - optional, but I always recommend it. It's just super-handy with dividing the batter.
- Piping bag - disposable or reusable piping bag for the frosting
- Large piping nozzle - I used large open star piping nozzle, but you can use any of your favourite nozzles.
- Festive mini cookie cutters - if you want to decorate your gingerbread cupcake with mini gingerbread men (or any shape), you will need the small cutters. They are widely available online.
Store any leftover cupcakes in the airtight container in the fridge. They will last up to 4-5 days.
Unfrosted cupcakes can also be frozen for up to two months. Thaw them in the fridge overnight, then bring to room temperature before frosting and serving.
Cream cheese frosting can be frozen in the airtight container for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, then bring to room temperature. You may have to re-whip the frosting before using it.
Make sure to use digital kitchen scales, if possible, to measure the ingredients. It's the most accurate method of measuring and weighing the ingredients and ensuring this recipe turns out perfect.
Remember to bring the Greek yogurt, butter and cream cheese to room temperature before starting this recipe. Skipping this step will result in split or curdled frosting and cake batter.
Do I have to use black treacle in this cupcake recipe?
Treacle or molasses is what gives the cupcakes that darker appearance, but it is also responsible for moist texture and extra flavour. You don't have to use it, but this recipe will simply be not the same without it.
Can this recipe be made ahead?
Yes. You can bake the cupcakes a day ahead and store them wrapped tightly at room temperature. Prepare the frosting a day ahead and store it in the fridge overnight.
Help, my cream cheese frosting is runny?!
If the frosting turns thin and runny, simply place it in the fridge for 30min - 1 hour. This will allow the butter and cream cheese to firm up again and hold its shape better.
Why did my cream cheese frosting split?
This is more likely due to the ingredients not being brought to room temperature prior to using them. I recommend bringing the cream cheese and the butter to room temperature at least an hour before making the frosting.
Do I have to use full-fat cream cheese?
Yes. This is also non-negotiable. Full-fat cream cheese ensures the right consistency and is crucial to the right texture of the frosting.
Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- hand-held electric mixer or freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment
- 12 hole muffin tin
- cupcake cases
- Piping bag
- large open star piping nozzle (or any nozzle)
For the gingerbread cupcakes:
- 185 g plain flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon mixed spice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 110 ml Greek yogurt room temperature
- 110 ml black treacle or molasses
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 115 g unsalted butter softened
- 85 g dark muscovado sugar
For the cream cheese frosting
- 225 g full-fat cream cheese room temperature
- 115 g unsalted butter softened
- 560 g icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoon festive sprinkles
- 12 mini gingerbread cookies optional
- Preheat the oven to 180° C (160° C fan). Line the 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, all the spices and salt. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together the black treacle and Greek yogurt. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla.
- With the mixer running on low speed, add half of the flour mixture, followed by half of the treacle and yogurt mixture. Repeat again, add the remaining flour mixture followed by remaining treacle and yogurt mix. Stir until all the ingredients are incorporated.
- Divide the batter between the cupcake cases, but don't over fill them. Fill only up to ¾ of each cupcake case. Bake for 15 minutes, until the toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before topping with frosting.
Cream cheese frosting
- Using an electric mixer, beat together the softened butter and icing sugar on low speed, until no large butter lumps are remaining. Add the cream cheese and vanilla and mix on medium speed until well combined and you have smooth, thick buttercream.
- Fill the piping bag fitted with the nozzle with the cream cheese frosting and pipe it on top of the cooled cupcakes. Add festive sprinkles on top of the frosting. Decorate the cupcakes with mini gingerbread cookies and enjoy!
Please note that all my recipes are developed and tested in metric grams. I recommend that you use digital scales for a more accurate results. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
- If possible, make sure to use digital kitchen scales for the best accuracy and most precise measuring method.
- Bring the ingredients to room temperature at least an hour before starting the recipe.
- Store any leftover cupcakes in the airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen for up to two months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, and bring to room temperature before frosting and serving.
- To make ahead: Bake the cupcakes a day before, then store in the airtight container or wrapped tightly at room temperature. Store the frosting in the airtight container or sealed bag in the fridge overnight.
This post was originally published in December 2019. It has been updated with the new photos, tips and revised recipe in November 2021.