Espresso Cupcakes – All of your favorite espresso flavors in a cupcake! Light and fluffy espresso cupcakes topped with a vanilla espresso buttercream frosting.
I LOVE espresso. I make homemade espresso on a regular basis and use it in everything from iced lattes to mocha cookies to whipped coffee cocktails. My new obsession has been making espresso cupcakes that are loaded with that same espresso flavor in every bite. To make them, I used my basic vanilla cupcake recipe and just added instant espresso powder to it. For the frosting, I made a buttercream frosting that has brewed espresso in it.
Common Questions About Making Espresso Cupcakes
What are espresso cupcakes?
Espresso Cupcakes are simple cupcakes made with espresso in the batter that are then topped with a homemade espresso buttercream frosting.
How many servings does this recipe make?
This recipe makes 12 cupcakes.
How long do these cupcakes last?
Store any leftover cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days.
Can I make espresso without an espresso machine?
Yes! Either you can use instant espresso or you can use my homemade espresso recipe. If you go the route of making homemade espresso, just use it in the frosting, not the cupcakes because the cupcakes call for instant espresso and it’s treated like a dry ingredient.
What can I garnish these cupcakes with?
I used a coffee bean (that I suggest you remove before eating) but you could also use chocolate covered espresso beans. A dusting of cocoa powder or drizzle of caramel sauce (try my salted caramel sauce or for a boozy spin, my bourbon salted caramel sauce) is always a great addition too!
How can I make the perfect cupcakes?
- Follow the recipe – While I totally understand dietary restrictions, if you plan on making changes to the ingredients, I cannot guarantee the recipe will work. If you are facing this problem, I will gently suggest that you may want to consider finding a cupcake recipe on a site that specifically develops for the diet you are on such as a keto baking website or vegan baking website. Too many times have I seen recipes for wrong for people because they started to adjust the recipe too much.
- Don’t over-mix the cupcakes – If you want to keep cupcakes light and airy, avoiding over-mixing is key. Mix until just barely combined.
- Let the cupcakes completely cool before frosting – This is a classic mistake that people constantly make (including me). Your cupcakes are done baking, you are ready to sit down and eat one so you touch the cupcake and say “this is most definitely cool” even though it’s only been out of the oven for like, 5 minutes. Wrong. Your frosting will just slide off the cupcake and it’ll be really sad. To be safe, I’d say give them 1-2 hours before frosting.
- Don’t over fill the cupcake liners – If you overfill the cupcake liners, you will definitely have some overflow which isn’t pretty and elegant. Stick to filling each liner about 3/4 full.
- Spin the cupcake tin halfway through cooking – An oven’s heat is generally not terribly even so a simple way to make sure all of the cupcakes cook all the way through is to spin the pan about 1/2 way through baking 180 degrees.
Ingredient Notes –
- Milk adds moisture to the cupcakes so they aren’t too dry. Whole milk is my preference but you could also use 2%, skim, almond, or soy.
- Vegetable oil adds richness to the cupcakes and helps keep them from drying out.
- Eggs bind the cake batter together and provide additional richness.
- Vanilla enhances the sweetness in the cupcakes (and frosting) and the flavor of the espresso.
- Sugar sweetens the cupcakes.
- Four gives the cupcakes structure. Make sure to measure using the scoop and level method.
- Instant espresso powder provides a deep, rich coffee flavor to the cupcakes.
- Baking powder helps the cupcakes rise so they become light and fluffy.
- Butter is the base of the frosting– make sure it is fully softened or you’ll end up with lumps in your frosting.
- Powdered sugar gives the frosting structure. Make sure to add it slowly or you’ll end up with a mess!
- Fresh espresso helps thin the buttercream so it’s light and smooth. It also adds more espresso flavor. Just make sure the espresso is room temperature– if it’s hot, it will melt the butter. If you don’t have fresh espresso, strongly brewed coffee will work too.
Looking for more cupcake recipes? Check these out!
For the Cupcakes
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
For the Espresso Buttercream
- 1/2 cup butter (softened)
- 3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 shot (1 ounce) espresso (cooled to room temperature)
For the Cupcakes
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla.
- Add the sugar and whisk to combine.
- Next, add the flour, instant espresso powder, and baking powder. Mix just until no large lumps remain.
- Divide the cake batter between the muffin tins, filling each one with about 1/4 cup of batter.
- Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.
For the Espresso Buttercream
- Add the softened butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until the butter is smooth - about 30 seconds.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the powdered sugar.
- Once all of the powdered sugar has been incorporated, slowly add the espresso and vanilla extract.
- Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for 1-2 minutes, or until the frosting light and fluffy.
- Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag and frost the cooled cupcakes as desired.
- Store any leftover cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days.
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