12 of the Best Cupcake Recipes for National Cupcake Day

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National Cupcake Day—not to be confused with Chocolate Cupcake Day on October 18th—is an unofficial holiday that celebrates the beloved and oh-so-popular cupcake. Likely related to English fairy cakes, which are basically sponge cakes with a light glaze, the history of the cupcake can be dated back to 1796 when the word first appeared in an American cookbook.

The word ‘cupcake’ comes from how these little cakes were first made. Using a standard size measuring cup, bakers would use the 1-2-3-4 method: 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour, and 4 eggs! The resulting cake was usually more like a pound cake than the super moist and crumbly cupcakes people crave today.

Tip: When making cupcakes, let all your ingredients come to room temperature. When all the ingredients are the same temperature, they combine better, which means no powdery lumps in your finished product.


Since it’s officially Cupcake Day, why not try out the old 1-2-3-4 method? Or maybe even try your hand at making English fairy cakes? If neither of those options speaks to your inner baker, maybe one of our delightful recipes will spark your creativity so you can enjoy yummy cupcakes on this tasty holiday.

NOTE – All pictures, videos, and recipes used here belong to the talented chefs who thought (and baked) them up. Click the links to get all the yummy details!!

Traditional Cupcakes

Classic Yellow Cupcakes

There’s nothing like moist yellow cake topped with sweet buttercream frosting, and this recipe from Sweetapolita will induce nostalgic feelings for anyone whose birthday traditions involved homemade cake. The recipe here makes 24 cupcakes total, but you can easily half it for a dozen super tasty treats.

Tip: Got an ice cream scoop or a larger melon baller? Use it to frost your cupcakes! Simply scoop up a dollop of frosting, place it on top of your cupcake, and use a knife to make it look less scoopy.

Marble Cupcakes

Marble cake is definitely one of our favorites because it combines crumbly yellow cake with denser, richer chocolate cake. Sally took her marble cupcakes a step further by topping them with marbled frosting, which not only looks great, but tastes great, too.

If you prefer your frosting creamier, you can swap out the butter for cream cheese. A lot of cream cheese frosting recipes call for using butter as well, but using just cream cheese will give you a tangy, cheesecake-like taste with a super smooth texture.

Funfetti Cupcakes

Funfetti wasn’t always considered a traditional type of cupcake, but it’s become so popular over the last few years, you can pretty much find funfetti recipes for anything (pancakes, muffins, French toast—anything that’s bread-like and a little sweet).

Tip: Making homemade sprinkles is as easy as combining 1.5 cups powdered sugar, 2 TBSP water, 1 TBSP corn syrup, and ¼ TSP vanilla in a bowl until it’s sticky like glue. Divide mixture into several bowls and add desired colors if making rainbow sprinkles. Put mixture in a pastry bag with a very thin pipping tip and pipe out thin, short lines onto parchment paper. Let sit overnight for homemade sprinkles tomorrow.

This recipe from Brown Eyed Baker is easy to make, and the options for sprinkles are endless! She used the traditional rainbow Jimmies, which are best for the batter, but nonpareils, pearlized, or edible confetti sprinkles can be used for decoration and add a nice crunchy texture to the finished product.

Unique Cupcakes

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

We’re still a long way off from summer, but if you’ve never made cupcakes in ice cream cones, you definitely need to give it a try! The video below is for making Neapolitan cupcakes, but you don’t have to be that fancy about it.


Tip: Are your cones falling over? If so, try this instead: Put cupcake liners in your cupcake pan and add batter until 1/3 to 1/2 full. Then place your cones, top side down, into the batter. When they’re finished baking, simply pull the cones out and remove the liners.

PB Fudge Coffee Ice Cream Cupcakes

Peanut butter, chocolate, and coffee all together? Sounds decadent! You may want to wait until the weather warms up to make these, but this recipe is a unique spin on both cupcakes and ice cream cake. Following her guide, you can easily substitute your favorite cupcake flavor and ice cream. Why not try funfetti cupcakes with birthday cake ice cream?

ButterBeer Cupcakes

Do we even need to convince you to make these Harry Potter inspired cupcakes? If you’ve ever been to World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, you know just how amazingly good butterbeer is (especially in the hot Florida sun!). But since it’s winter, why not give these butterscotch flavored cupcakes a try instead?

Tip: Regardless of the type of cupcake you’re making, be sure not to overmix the batter as overmixed batter results in denser cake. The best method is to mix your batter just until everything is combined, then scrape down the sides with a spatula to ensure no lumps are present.

Filled Cupcakes: Four Ways

Red velvet cheesecake. Chocolate-dipped strawberry. Cookie dough. Chocolate and peanut butter cup. What do all of these tasty things have in common? They’re all cupcakes, of course! Making filled cupcakes, as the video below will show, is as easy as dropping a spoonful of your favorite topping right into each half-filled well of cupcake batter.


There are other ways to fill cupcakes, of course, like using an injector tool to inject your favorite filling. If you’re more of a cream- or frosting-filled lover, the injection tool is the best way to fill up your cupcakes!

Tip: Let the cupcakes cool completely before you fill them. If you do it before, the cupcakes will become soggy and the filling may melt.

Alternatively, you can always pop a piece of the cupcake top out and spoon in your favorite filling. If you’re working with a delicate cake and a dense filling, use this method to avoid splitting the cupcake open.

Cupcakes Without Frosting

Black Bottom Cupcakes

A cupcake without frosting may sound suspiciously like a muffin, but it’s not! And our favorite frosting-less cupcakes are black bottom ones. We made these in our kitchen and they are mouth-wateringly decadent (a sure-to-please breakfast nosh to display at your Christmas celebration).

Tip: Do your cupcakes stick to their liners? To avoid this, remove the cupcakes from the pan within a few minutes after they’re finished baking.

The chocolate cake is more light and rich than sweet, and the cream cheese part is actually cheesecake (not just sweetened cream cheese, which is what a lot of recipes usually call for). These are also called “ugly cupcakes” because the denser cheesecake part sometimes falls to the bottom, which pulls in the entire top part of the cupcake. They may not look as pretty, but they’re definitely tasty.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Does chocolate need to be paired with anything to taste good? We don’t think so, which is why our second frosting-less cupcake recipe is a rich, dark chocolate one. Making these cupcakes larger than your average size is a good idea to make up for the lack of frosting.

If you have a mini Bundt or fluted pan, you can take your no-frosting cupcakes to a whole new level. Split them in half to share over breakfast with a dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt or after dinner with coffee. Sprinkle them with powdered sugar, as shown in the photo, or whip up a simple glaze (warm water and powdered sugar) to drizzle over the top. We also think chocolate ganache would make a delicious frosting substitute!

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