Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
These Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes are my absolute favorite cupcake recipe. They’re rich, dark, and incredibly moist. The Peanut Butter Buttercream on top is the perfect pairing for the dark chocolate flavor. They only take about 30 minutes to make!
Even though I’m not solely a baker, I would totally go to that Cupcake Wars show with these Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes. They’ve become my go-to when I need cupcakes for something, whether it’s for a party, to give to a neighbor, or to satisfy a chocolate cupcake craving. They are outrageously good.
What I love about this recipe is that it’s easy to make, but more importantly, you can use all-purpose flour here instead of cake flour. I get that sometimes you need specialty flours to make certain desserts, but I don’t usually have cake flour on hand, so it’s nice when you can use regular flour and still get an incredibly soft and moist texture.
The peanut butter buttercream is also excellent, and only requires 4 ingredients. Ordinarily I’m somewhat of a buttercream snob and prefer to make buttercream without confectioner’s sugar so I can avoid the subtle grittiness that comes with it. But because the peanut butter is such a big component of the buttercream, it’s much less noticeable, and the buttercream is plenty luscious, light, and smooth. I admit to having found myself piping little tastes onto my finger, and thinking momentarily about how acceptable it might be to instead pipe some frosting directly into my mouth (real talk here, haha).
Tips for Best Results
Use real buttermilk – The flavor of real buttermilk is unmatched. I know people often substitute milk with a little vinegar, but it’s not the same in terms of flavor or texture. Get the real stuff, and if you need to use up the leftovers, try these Blueberry Muffins with Crumb Topping, Lemon Buttermilk Pie or Buttermilk Pancakes.
Don’t overmix – One of the biggest secrets for great baked goods is to make sure you don’t overmix the dry and wet ingredients together. You want to stir until you no longer see bits of dry flour, but it’s okay if there are a few lumps here and there.
Use a quality cocoa powder – I know it’s cheap and widely available, but the standard Hershey’s cocoa is not the best choice here. I recommend higher quality options. Guittard is my favorite, but Scharffen Berger, Valrhona, and Ghirardelli are also good choices.
Step by Step Overview:
To get started on your Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes, begin with the cupcake batter. Whisk together the dry ingredients, which are all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt:
Recommended Cocoa Powders
Dutch-process or natural: Either should work here.
Recommended brands: Guittard Cocoa Rouge is my absolute favorite, but other recommended brands are Scharffen Berger, Vahlrona, and Ghirardelli. If you only have something like Hershey’s, it will still work here, I just think the flavor is better with higher quality brands.
In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, a neutral oil, one egg, and vanilla extract.
Try to use real buttermilk
I have successfully made this with a substitute of milk or almond milk with a small amount of vinegar, and it works out in terms of the chemistry. But milk with vinegar or lemon juice certainly does not taste like real buttermilk, so if possible, please try to use the real thing. True buttermilk really does taste better.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients:
When the flour is almost incorporated, pause for a moment:
Add coffee to the mixture, then finish mixing until the flour streaks disappear. The batter will be very thin:
Coffee in the batter?
Coffee is a flavor that’s known to enhance the flavor of chocolate (and it’s great in this recipe). It’s not enough here to be noticeable to most people. However, if you absolutely don’t want to include it, you may substitute water.
Divide the chocolate cupcake batter evenly into 12 cupcake liners placed in a muffin pan:
Bake for 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean:
They will be so dark and chocolatey!
Let the cupcakes cool, then make the peanut butter buttercream by whipping together butter, confectioner’s sugar, peanut butter, and a little vanilla extract:
Pipe the buttercream onto the cooled cupcakes.
How to Serve
While optional, I like to drizzle a little bit of chocolate syrup on top and add chopped peanuts for garnish. It looks beautifully visually and adds a little bit of extra texture. You could also sprinkle over some chopped mini peanut butter cups!
Look at the interior texture of the cupcakes. Everything is so soft and tender, and the buttercream is OH so smooth:
For more rich and decadent desserts, next try Irish Cream Cupcakes with Caramelized White Chocolate Buttercream, Coconut Oil Brownies, or Salted Caramel Chocolate Ganache Tart. Enjoy!
This recipe can be made entirely and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day, in the fridge for up to 7 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. You may also refrigerate or freeze the components separately, then assemble them right before serving.
Recipe Tips and FAQ
Keep in the fridge for up to 7 days, ideally stored in an airtight container so the buttercream doesn’t absorb off-flavors from the fridge.
Yes, these freeze beautifully! Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Make sure they are sealed tightly so they don’t get freezer burned or absorb off-flavors from the freezer.
According to the USDA, butter is safe at room temperature for two days. I personally do not recommend leaving these out for more than 1 day though. It’s better to store them in the fridge, then let them come back to room temperature by leaving on the counter for about an hour before enjoying again.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
For the cupcakes::
- 3.75 oz all purpose flour, by weight (3/4 cup, measured)
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup whole buttermilk*
- 1/4 cup oil**
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup coffee***
- chocolate syrup for drizzling, optional
- chopped peanuts for garnish, optional
For the peanut butter buttercream::
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 5 oz confectioner’s sugar, by weight (1 cup, measured)
- 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
- Whisk to combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk to combine the buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry while stirring, and before the flour has disappeared into the batter, stir in the coffee. It will make the batter quite thin. Evenly divide the batter into the 12 muffin cups, but make sure they are no more than 3/4 full.
- Bake for 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool on a wire rack completely.
- To make the buttercream, beat all buttercream ingredients in a bowl until smooth and blended, about 3 minutes on high speed.
- Pipe on the buttercream as desired. Optional: drizzle with chocolate syrup, and sprinkle on some chopped peanuts. Enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.