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Espresso Cupcakes with Espresso Frosting

These espresso cupcakes are a dream to make and even better to eat! Rich, moist dark chocolate espresso cupcakes topped with a generous layer of perfectly smooth espresso buttercream. Unlike most recipes you see out there, both elements of this recipe have been made with freshly brewed espresso.

The result is an elevated espresso flavor that you can taste in every bite. The rich depth of flavor will have you questioning whether you are drinking a freshly made espresso or eating a cupcake!

Espresso cupcakes with espresso buttercream being piped on top.

You may have seen elements of this recipe from us in our Dark Chocolate Espresso Cake and our Espresso Buttercream. Both are so delicious, we knew we had to marry them together for the perfect espresso cupcakes!

We got our Breville Barista Express Impress espresso machine this year and knew it would be perfect for recipe development. And it has been great for all of our espresso desserts, like the ones listed above plus our espresso brownies and espresso whipped cream.

While making cupcakes and buttercream from scratch may seem like an ordeal, I promise you that it is worth the extra effort! The espresso cupcake batter comes together very easily and the buttercream can be whipped up in the stand mixer in less than 10 minutes.

And you can trust us when we say these espresso cupcakes are fairly easy to make. After all, we know a thing or two about cupcake recipes after all the ones we’ve posted on this blog. If you’re curious I’ll list our other recipes down below:

Check out the recipe card below and let us know what you think of these espresso cupcakes down in the comments below! What cupcake recipe would you like to see from us next?

Espresso cupcakes with one cupcake's liner pulled down.

Espresso Cupcakes

Yield: 18 cupcakes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Cooling Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Dark chocolate espresso cupcakes topped with espresso buttercream, both layers made with freshly brewed espresso.


For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 sticks (170) Unsalted Butter
  • 3 double shots (6 oz) Espresso*
  • 1/2 C (40g) Cocoa Powder, dutch processed
  • 1 (3.5 oz) Ghirardelli 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate Bar, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/4 C (240g) Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp Bourbon Vanilla Extract*
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt*
  • 3 Large Eggs, room temperature
  • 2 Egg Yolks, room temperature
  • 1 C (120g) All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp Baking Soda

For the Buttercream

  • 1 1/2 C (3 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1.5 oz (40g) Espresso, freshly brewed
  • 2 Tbsp (10g) Finely Ground Espresso Beans*
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 6 C (720g) Powdered Sugar, divided
  • 3/4 tsp Kosher Salt*


Making the Cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In a small saucepan over low-medium heat, melt unsalted butter and espresso together. Once the butter is completely melted, remove from the heat.
  3. Immediately add the cocoa powder and chopped chocolate to the saucepan. The residual heat will melt the chopped chocolate. Stir together until the chocolate is completely melted. There may be small lumps of cocoa powder still, but they will mix into the batter at the next stage.
  4. In a large bowl, add the light brown sugar, salt, and vanilla.
  5. Add the chocolate mixture to the large mixing bowl and whisk everything together until a smooth batter forms.
  6. Add the eggs and egg yolks and whisk until the batter is glossy and smooth.
  7. Add the flour and baking soda. Whisk until smooth.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake pan. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  9. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

Making the Buttercream

  1. In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the softened butter for 1-3 minutes on high speed, or until the butter is creamy and slightly pale.
  2. While the espresso shot is still hot, add the finely ground espresso beans and mix together.
  3. In a small bowl, add the espresso mix, vanilla, and 1 1/2 cups (180g) of powdered sugar. Whisk everything together until a thick mixture forms.
  4. Add the espresso mixture to the butter and mix together.
  5. Add the kosher salt and the remaining 4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until fully combined.
  6. Frost the cooled cupcakes and enjoy!
  7. Adjustments: If the buttercream is too sweet you can add a pinch of kosher salt to reduce the sweetness. If the buttercream is too thin, you can add more powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time. If the buttercream is too thick, you can add heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time.


  • If you don't have an espresso machine, you can use 6oz of freshly brewed coffee instead.
  • Regular vanilla extract can be used in place of the bourbon vanilla extract.
  • If you are using table salt instead of kosher salt, use half of the amount stated in the recipe.
  • You will want the espresso beans to be ground as finely as possible to avoid any gritty texture in the buttercream, so we suggest using the finest setting on your grinder.
  • If you are using table salt, use half the amount of kosher salt listed.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 18 cupcakes Serving Size: 1 cupcake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 479Total Fat: 26gCarbohydrates: 62gProtein: 3g

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