With cosy, festive spices like cinnamon and ginger in every bite, you’ll adore these little Gingerbread Cupcakes. They scream ‘it’s Christmas time’ and you’ll love the incredibly creamy cinnamon buttercream.

Love ginger? Try one of these ginger treats Gingerbread Snowball Cookies, Gingerbread Cheesecake Balls or Ginger Loaf Cake.

A batch of gingerbread cupcakes - some frosted, some not.

This is absolutely my favourite time of year. It starts late November, setting up the tree, and is a month of baking (always these cookies and my mums sausage rolls), watching Christmas movies and menu planning for the big day.

To create these cutie cupcakes, I started with my cinnamon cupcakes – the same used for these Chocolate Doughnut Cupcakes and my Salted Caramel Cinnamon Cupcakes.

I increased the spices to make more festive and swapped the light brown sugar to dark brown sugar. This adds both flavour and moisture to these festive cakes. To get that classic gingerbread flavour, I replaced some of that sugar with treacle.

The result is just like your favourite gingerbread cookies but in a perfectly tender and fluffy cupcake. Just from the batter, you can immediately smell Christmas and the aroma that fills the kitchen as these bake is unmistakable and absolutely amazing.

A gingerbread cupcake with a star shaped gingerbread cookie on top.

Ingredients for gingerbread cupcakes

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  • Flour: I use a combination of plain flour (all-purpose flour) and cornflour (cornstarch). This combination is the equivalent to cake flour so feel free to use that if you have it, in place of both.
  • Baking powder: Baking powder gives these cupcakes their lift and fluffiness.
  • Brown sugar: I use dark brown sugar in these cupcakes. Regular brown sugar will also work, as will muscovado sugar.
  • White sugar: I use white sugar in my buttercream and caster sugar (aka superfine) is best.
  • Spices: This recipe uses a combination of ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and all spice for a perfectly festive flavour.
  • Salt: A little salt intensifies all the wonderful flavours.
  • Butter: Use unsalted butter so you can control the salt level.
  • Eggs: I use large eggs in all my recipes. Support the chooks and use free-range if you can.
  • Treacle: This gives these gingerbread cupcakes that classic flavour. Don’t skip it, but you can substitute with molasses (regular, not blackstrap).
  • Vanilla: Please use pure vanilla extract, instead of essence. The latter is a synthetic flavouring and not nearly as good as the natural version.
  • Milk: Just regular milk is fine but whole milk will give a better flavour and texture.

What is treacle?

Treacle is a dark, sweet syrup created during the process of refining sugar and is actually an umbrella term for a few different syrups ranging from golden syrup (at the lighter and thinner end) through to molasses (at it’s darkest and thickest).

It has a flavour all it’s own and is an absolute must when making any gingerbread flavoured treat. It’s just fine to substitute the treacle with molasses here if that is more common where you live.

How to make gingerbread cupcakes

Now that we know all about the ingredients, lets get to the fun bit.

A collage of 4 images showing how to mix together the cupcake batter.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  1. You’ll start by combining the dry ingredients (photo 1), whisking them so everything is well combined and aerated.
  2. Next, cream together softened butter and that gorgeous brown sugar then add eggs (photo 2), vanilla and treacle.
  3. Now add the flour mixture (photo 3) and milk in parts until all the ingredients are combined and you have a thick, luscious, holiday smelling batter.
  4. Use a medium ice cream scoop or large cookie scoop to help portion out the batter into your lined muffin tray (photo 4).

How about that cinnamon buttercream

The buttercream frosting itself is my favourite type – none other than Ermine frosting. This stuff is other-wordly. It’s not as sickly sweet as a traditional buttercream (hence, I pile it up high and eat more) it’s incredibly creamy, smooth and luxurious and I could eat it by the spoonful.

My regular readers will have heard me bang on about ermine before but the major differences between this and a regular buttercream, aside from less sweetness, is the fact that it uses caster / superfine sugar (instead of the regular icing / powdered sugar) and it has an interesting addition of a cooked milk and flour paste.

Sound weird? Maybe but it tastes anything but weird. This stuff is amazing. You don’t taste any flour in it but this milk and flour paste helps to create body in the frosting that would normally be created by loads of icing sugar.

Ermine frosting is also perfectly smooth. No graininess whatsoever giving it a silky texture.

I’ve used this buttercream many times in everything from my Chocolate Mint Cupcakes to these Raspberry Chocolate Cupcakes and everyone always remarks how lovely it is.

How to make the Ermine cinnamon buttercream

A collage of 4 images showing how to make the buttercream.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  1. The first step is making the milk and flour paste. Yes it’s an extra step but I promise it is more than worth it. It takes just a few minutes to cook together milk and flour in a saucepan over low heat until it’s super thick (photo 5).
  2. Place the paste in a dish, cover with plastic wrap pressed right to the paste (photo 6) and cool to room temperature before using.
  3. In a large bowl with a handheld electric beater or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together softened butter and caster sugar (superfine sugar). Do this for a few minutes so it’s lightened and creamy, then add cinnamon and a touch of salt.
  4. Now add the milk and flour paste a spoonful at a time (photo 7), mixing really well between each addition. Beat this for a good 5-6 minutes until you have a creamy, smooth buttercream with no sugar granules left (photo 8).
  5. Once the gingerbread cupcakes are completely cooled, transfer the cinnamon buttercream to a piping bag with a star shaped piping tip and pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes.

I promise, the sugar granules totally dissolve and the buttercream will be completely smooth.

On top of that perfect cloud of frosting, I add a little gingerbread cookie that I make using my Gingerbread Snowball Cookies dough (minus the almonds).

A gingerbread cupcake with a bite taken out showing the inside.

Tips and Tricks

  • Important here is making sure you take the time to really cream that butter and sugar for the cupcake batter until it lightens quite a bit – a good few minutes.
  • Use room temperature eggs and beat them in one at a time.
  • Once you start adding flour to anything, mixing will begin to form gluten which can create a tough finished product. This is great when making bread (kneading over and over develops the gluten creating an elastic dough), but not so great when trying to create tender cakes. Only mix the batter long enough to just mix the flour in.  
  • When making the paste for the frosting, make sure to keep stirring / whisking so you don’t get a lumpy paste. A spatula or whisk will work just make sure to keep stirring and get right into the corners of the pan. If you’re worried you have lumps, just strain the paste before cooling.
  • Speed up cooling the paste for the cinnamon buttercream by placing it in the fridge until it’s roughly room temperature (not cold).

Substitutions and Variations

  • Treacle: Can’t get treacle? No worries, use regular molasses instead.
  • Gingerbread cookies: You don’t have to make your own gingerbread cookies to top these, you can use store-bought or use some cute Christmas sugar decorations that you’re bound to find in every store at this time of year.

How to store Gingerbread Cupcakes

  • These will keep well overnight in a cool place as long as your home is cool. If your home is warm, best to keep them in the fridge in an airtight container then bring them to room temperature about 1 hour before you want to serve them.
  • Cupcakes are always best as fresh as possible but made up to 2 days before, they will still taste amazing.
  • The cupcakes (without the frosting) can also be made and frozen but I suggest no more than a month before. Make sure they are wrapped well and in an airtight container as well to protect them from frost and freezer smells.
  • The frosting should be used immediately once made. It won’t re-beat like a regular buttercream. Once piped onto the cupcakes it will hold it’s shape and texture fine but you can’t make this the day before then re-whip it.

We’re less than one month out from Christmas now, so hopefully, you’ve started your gift shopping and have your menu planned but do make sure to add these gingerbread cupcakes with their ultra-creamy cinnamon buttercream?

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A gingerbread cupcake with a man shaped gingerbread cookie on top.

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A gingerbread cupcake in the centre with more behind it.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

5 from 5 votes
Homemade Gingerbread Cupcakes topped with a super creamy cinnamon buttercream are full of festive cheer! Moist, soft and fluffy and filled with these will be a hit among your Christmas desserts this year.

Ingredients

FOR THE GINGERBREAD CUPCAKES

  • 195 g plain (all-purp) flour (1 ½ cups / 6.9oz)
  • 25 g cornflour (cornstarch) (1oz)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon all spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed (100g / 3.5oz)
  • 115 g unsalted butter, softened (½ cup / 1 stick / 4oz)
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • cup treacle (or molasses) (80ml)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cup whole milk, room temp (80ml)

FOR THE CINNAMON BUTTERCREAM

  • 1 cup milk (250ml)
  • 3 tablespoons plain (all-purp) flour (notes 1)
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla (notes 1)
  • 225 g unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks / 1 cup / 8oz)
  • 1 cup caster (superfine) sugar (200g / 7oz)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Decorations of your choice – sprinkles, mini cookies, cachous

Equipment

Instructions
 

FOR THE GINGERBREAD CUPCAKES

  • Preheat oven to 180C / 320F (160C fan). Line a 12 hole muffin tray with large cupcake cases.
  • Sift together the flour, cornflour, baking powder, spices and salt and mix them well. Set aside.
  • Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each. Add the vanilla and treacle and beat well until all completely mixed.
  • Add half of the flour and beat on very low until almost combined. Add the milk and mix until just combined then add the remaining flour mix and mix with a spatula until just combined (make sure not to overmix)
  • Divide the batter between the 12 cupcake cases to roughly ⅔ full (an ice cream scoop or large cookie scoop makes this easy) and bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out with a crumb or two (they will continue to cook with residual heat once removed from the oven) – notes.
  • Place the cupcakes on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

FOR THE CINNAMON BUTTERCREAM

  • While the cupcakes are in the oven, you can begin the cinnamon buttercream. In a small saucepan whisk together the milk, flour and vanilla until smooth. Heat over low heat for a few minutes until it thickens to a very thick paste.
  • Pour the paste into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap making sure the plastic wrap is touching the paste (this will stop the top from forming a skin), then allow to cool to room temperature. You can speed this up by putting it in the fridge but make sure it's room temp, not cold, when you use it.
  • Once the paste is completely cool, beat together the butter and sugar until really creamy (about 5 minutes). Make sure to regularly scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Add the cinnamon and salt and beat together.
  • Now add the paste, 1 large spoonful at a time and beating to combine between each. Finally, beat for 5-7 minutes. If it looks like it separates at the start, don't worry, keep on beating and it will beat up into an almost whipped cream consistency. Scrape down the sides from time to time.
  • Transfer your cinnamon buttercream to a piping bag with a star piping tip attached. Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes and decorate with gingerbread cookies or sprinkles.

Notes

  1. I use an Australian standard 20ml tablespoon (= 4 teaspoons worldwide)
  2. For best results you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).
  3. All ovens vary. What takes 22 minutes in my oven may take 20 or 24 in yours. Always check your cupcakes for doneness 2-3 minutes before the recipe suggests.
  4. I use cornstarch a lot in my baking. The combination of cornflour (cornstarch) and plain flour (all purpose) is equivalent to cake flour, so fee free to use that in place of both if you prefer.
  5. I use cupcake liners that are roughly ½ cup volume. If you use smaller liners, the recipe will make more cupcakes. The important part is to fill them no more than full.
  6. Baking time will depend on the type of muffin tin you use (I find my silicone trays take longer to bake than a regular metal muffin tin) and also the size of your cupcake cases, so just check regularly from the 18 minute mark.
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