Why you’ll love them

Like your favourite latte in cupcake form, these coffee and walnut cupcakes have it all. Rich coffee flavour, a fluffy, nutty cupcake and the creamiest luscious coffee buttercream.

  • They’re loaded with coffee flavour
  • The coffee cupcake is moist and fluffy
  • Very easy to make
  • Rich and creamy coffee buttercream

The cupcake itself is quite a subtle coffee flavour as baking tends to reduce it’s punch but it’s still there. The coffee buttercream though is on another level. It’s lusciously smooth and creamy, has a good punch of coffee and compliments the cake perfectly.

Studded with those walnuts, this combination is a classic for a good reason.

Love coffee desserts? Try this chocolate coffee bundt cake or these delicious coffee cake muffins.

Closeup of a coffee cupcake on a small plate.

Tools you’ll need

While the cupcakes can be made in a mixing bowl by hand, I do find a stand mixer easier for the buttercream, since you want to get that sugar and butter creamed together really well.

Ingredients for coffee and walnut cupcakes

While you may be thinking of using your favourite brewed espresso for these, the best flavour will actually come from using instant coffee. That way you can get a good portion of coffee in without watering down the batter.

Ingredients for coffee cupcakes on a white marble benchtop.

Detailed quantities and directions in the recipe card below.

  • Instant coffee granules: I use instant coffee granules dissolved in just a little boiling water. This gives much more flavour than freshly brewed coffee.
  • Walnuts: Grab yourself some fresh walnut halves if the ones in your pantry have been there a while. It makes a big difference.
  • Flour: I use a combination of plain (all purpose) flour and cornflour (cornstarch). This combination creates cake flour, I just prefer not to have yet another tub of flour in my pantry. Long story short, you can use my combination or use cake flour in place of both.
  • Baking powder and baking soda: I use a little of both baking powder and baking soda (bicarb) in this recipe. I’ve found this combo works so well for the perfect rise.
  • Sugar: I use both brown sugar and white sugar in these coffee and walnut cupcakes. The brown adds a little moisture.
  • Eggs: Make sure to use large eggs.
  • Buttermilk: Buttermilk is part of what makes these cupcakes so tender and moist.
  • Vanilla: A little vanilla is great for balancing flavours in desserts.
  • Butter: Stick to unsalted butter so you can control the salt level.
  • Walnuts: The walnuts with coffee are such a classic flavour combo and they add a nice crunch but feel free to use other nuts if you prefer. Almonds would actually work lovely with the coffee too.
  • Salt: You just need a pinch of salt to balance and intensify the flavours.

How to make coffee cupcakes

You just need mixing bowls, a sieve, a whisk and silicone spatula for these cupcakes – the cupcake batter is just so simple to make.

A collage of 6 images showing how to make coffee cupcakes.

See the recipe card below for the full recipe details.

  1. The coffee: Combine the instant coffee and boiling water and set aside.
  2. Dry ingredients: Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl (photo 1), then whisk them together to combine properly.
  3. Wet ingredients: In a separate large mixing bowl, mix together the melted butter and sugars, then add the eggs one at a time (photo 2). Now add a third of the flour mixture (photo 3) and fold in, followed by ½ the buttermilk and all the coffee (photo 4) and fold that through. Repeat this process – flour, buttermilk, flour – until it’s all incorporated … just. Careful not to overmix.
  4. Walnuts: Add the walnuts (photo 5) and fold those through.
  5. Bake: Divide the batter between your cupcake liners (photo 6) and bake for 18-20 minutes.

Let the cupcakes cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack.

Ingredients for coffee buttercream

With just 4 ingredients, this coffee buttercream is super simple.

Ingredients for coffee buttercream on a white marble worktop.

Detailed quantities and directions in the recipe card below.

  • Icing sugar: Icing sugar (aka powdered or confectioners sugar) is all you need.
  • Butter: Being a buttercream the base is of course butter. Unsalted butter is the best way to be able to control the salt level.
  • Instant coffee granules: Just like in the cupcakes, we use instant coffee granules in the buttercream. Make sure to use a good quality brand for the best flavour.
  • Vanilla: Just a touch of vanilla rounds out the flavour.

How to make coffee buttercream

Making the luscious coffee buttercream is just a 3 step process.

A collage of 3 images showing how to make coffee buttercream.

See the recipe card below for the full recipe details.

  1. The coffee: Dissolve the coffee granules in boiling water and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar: Add the butter and a little of the sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment and beat until light and fluffy (photo 7). If you don’t have a stand mixer, an electric handheld beater will do the trick but may take longer.
  3. Combine everything and beat: Now add the remaining sugar, coffee and vanilla, beating until it’s super creamy and whipped looking (photo 8).
  4. Pipe the frosting: Once the cupcakes are cool, you can pipe the frosting onto the top of each one (photo 9).

The walnut praline

Once the coffee buttercream is piped onto the coffee and walnut cupcakes, they’re ready to eat. Feel free to top them with crumbled walnuts, a walnut half or even this lovely crunchy walnut praline, like I have here, to take them to the next level.

Closeup of a coffee cupcake that's been cut open to show the fluffy inside.

Tips and tricks

  • Please always weigh your flour. Baking is a science and a little too much flour, or not enough, will change the way they turn out. Kitchen scales are cheap and the bonus is you don’t need to wash all your cup measures if you’re just weighing everything directly into your mixing bowl.
  • As always with cupcakes or cakes, make sure not to overmix the batter or your cupcakes can end up dry or tough.
  • I love using a large cookie scoop to fill my cupcake liners. It makes the job almost effortless.
  • The baking time will depend on the type of muffin tin you’re using. A metal one will cook them quicker than the silicone style muffin trays.
  • Also, keep in mind, all ovens vary. Mine might bake them in 18 minutes but yours might take 17 or 20. This is because many oven thermostats are actually not spot on. It’s always a good idea to keep an oven thermometer inside your oven so you can keep an eye on it and adjust as necessary.

How to store them

These cupcakes will be fine in an airtight container, at room temperature, for a day but after that keep them fridge. They should last 2-3 days. Bring them to room temperature before serving.

Top down view of a batch of coffee and walnut cupcakes.

If you try this coffee and walnut cupcakes recipe, please take a moment to leave a rating and comment below.

Hungry for more? Subscribe to the newsletter for free recipes straight to your inbox. Also, follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Top down view of 9 coffee and walnut cupcakes.
4 from 6 ratings
These coffee and walnut cupcakes are a classic cake inminiature form. With the most creamy coffee buttercream frosting, these are theperfect afternoon pick me up.



  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules (note 1)
  • 195 g plain (all purp) flour (1 ½ cups / 7oz)
  • ¼ cup cornflour (cornstarch)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted (113g / 1 stick / 4oz)
  • 100 g white granulated sugar (½ cup / 3.5oz)
  • 100g g light brown sugar, packed (½ cup / 3.5oz)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup whole buttermilk (180ml)
  • ½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped


  • 226 g unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened (1 cup / 2 sticks / 8oz)
  • 390 g icing (powdered) sugar, sifted (3 cups / 13.8oz)
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules (note 1)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided




  • Preheat your oven to 180C / 350F / 160C fan forced. Line your muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
  • Boil the kettle and add 2 tablespoons (note 1) of boiling water to the coffee granules. Mix to dissolve, then set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cornflour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well to combine.
  • In a separate large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the melted butter and both sugars until combined.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beat with a whisk until completely combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  • Add the vanilla and beat to combine.
  • Add one third of the flour mixture. Stir through gently until just combined. Now add half of the buttermilk and the dissolved coffee mixture. Mix gently again. Continue like this until all the flour and buttermilk is combined… just.
  • Add the walnuts and gently mix them through (just a couple of turns). It is important not to overmix or be too heavy-handed otherwise your cupcakes will turn out dry and tough.
  • Divide the mixture among the cupcake cases to about two-thirds full.
  • Bake for around 18-20 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through to make sure they bake evenly. When a toothpick inserted comes out with just a crumb or two, they are done.
  • Cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack


  • Combine the coffee granules with 1 tablespoon (note 1) of boiling water. Stir to dissolve, then set aside
  • Beat together the butter and ½ a cup of the icing sugar until light and fluffy. Now, with the mixer on low, gradually add in the rest of the icing sugar.
  • Once it is all combined, add the coffee and vanilla, and beat for 5 minutes on medium-high. If the buttercream seems too loose to pipe, just add a little more icing sugar as necessary to thicken it.
  • Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, pipe the buttercream on top. Serve as they are or decorate with crushed walnuts or walnut praline.


  1. I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 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 – the cupcakes are done when a toothpick comes out with a crumb or two attached. As oven thermostats are often out of whack, I recommend keeping an oven thermometer inside your oven so you can check and adjust the heat as necessary.
  4. The coffee buttercream makes enough to pipe 12 cupcakes generously as shown in these pictures. To cover all 14 cupcakes, you will need to pipe a little lighter.
Have you tried this recipe?Don’t forget to leave a rating and comment below and let me know how it was! I love hearing from you. Nutrition information is approximate and derived from an online calculator. The brands you use may cause variations.