Gingerbread Cupcakes

DessertFavorite WinterBakingGingerbread

Holiday spiced molasses gingerbread cupcakes with tangy lemon icing.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Please welcome guest author Garrett McCord of Vanilla Garlic as he kicks off our holiday baking season with gingerbread cupcakes. ~Elise

As much as I love gingerbread, it’s a pain to make. The last time I made it I was attempting to put together a gingerbread Christmas manger scene.

My mom’s old Kitchen-Aid from 1970 (bought second-hand, and still works!) was having a heck of a time turning the dough and I swear I could smell it overheating.

After making who knows how many shapes and 2 hours struggling to put it together I lost patience. My decorating job was jaw-dropping in its sheer ugliness as I was never any good at arts and crafts. By the end, I was pretty well ready to bite the head off of little gingerbread baby Jesus out of frustration and call it a day.

The whole experience pretty much put me off making gingerbread, which is a shame since I love the taste of it so much. Thankfully, there is an alternative to the pains and rigors of gingerbread making (house or otherwise). Gingerbread cake.

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Or in this case, gingerbread cupcakes. Lighter and easier than regular dense and flat gingerbread, it still possesses the sweet flavors of brown sugar and molasses, and the fragrant spices, and the snappy bite that comes from plenty of ginger.

Drizzled with a bit of lemon icing, the citrus aggressively compliments the rich ginger-n-spice flavors of the dark gingerbread.

Feel free to add some dried cranberries or orange zest to the cupcake batter if you want to add a few other layers of flavor but personally I like mine simple with little to distract me from the gingerbread.

Gingerbread Cupcakes Recipe



  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick of unsalted butter)
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of unsulphured molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup of grated ginger

Lemon Icing

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice

Combine the sugar and lemon juice together in a bowl and stir until smooth. Allow to stiffen up a bit for 4 minutes. Spoon over the cooled cupcakes and allow to harden.


1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, melt the butter and water together in the microwave, covering the top with plastic wrap.

2 Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and dry spices in a bowl.

3 Beat together the molasses and brown sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds between each.

4 Beat in the flour mixture slowly until just incorporated. Add the butter mixture and the grated ginger and beat until smooth. Batter will be runny.

5 Spoon into cupcake papers, about 3/4 full. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for a minute to set before moving to a wire rack to fully cool.

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Garrett McCord

Garrett McCord is a professional writer and recipe developer whose work has appeared in many print and online publications such as Gourmet Live, Saveur, Huffington Post, Smithsonian, and NPR. Past clients also include numerous food companies, wineries, and distilleries. Garrett writes about cocktails on his website, Coupe de Grace.

More from Garrett

28 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Lindsey Jones

    This is my favorite gingerbread recipe to date – I have made it the past five Christmases in a row and it’s still going strong. I usually make it as mini-muffins (unfrosted), about a week before Christmas, and then dump them into a gallon freezer bag and freeze until Christmas Eve. Then, I pull them out Christmas Eve and let them thaw on the counter (still sealed) overnight. It gives them a nice moist, dense, sticky consistency, perfect to go with the crockpot egg casserole and coffee on Christmas morning.

    This year, I’m 7.5 months pregnant and there’s no way I’m making all kinds of pies, monkey bread, and other usual Christmas desserts. I’ve been having signs of preterm labor and decided to keep it simple, so I opted to make these full-sized cupcakes, with a lemon-cream-cheese frosting. The initial intention was for them to be dessert, but I may just eat them all before my brother-in-law and his wife come over tomorrow. :P

    Thanks for a wonderful recipe!

  • Vienna

    Hi, could I use syrup instead of molasses?

    Nope, then it’s not gingerbread. ~Garrett

  • Dawid

    They are brilliant for Christmas, I’ve made them yesterday.

    By the way I want to wish you, Elise, and all cooks over the world Happy Holiday and a very Happy New Year.

  • Anju

    Made these today and my 2-year-old gobbled three down before I could stop him. (He then went on a sugar high but that’s another story.) They are delicious. I used 5 tablespoons of butter and substituted applesauce for the rest, and used perhaps 1/6 cup of freshly grated ginger because that’s all I had in the kitchen, but the cupcakes still turned out absolutely scrumptious! Amazingly soft and moist. Eating one now with coffee as I type this. Thank you, Garrett!!

  • Kathy

    I made these little gems and gave them to an uncle who I know loves gingerbread and he heated them in the microwave and had vanilla icecream with them for dessert. Yum!

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