11 Best Cupcake Recipes

There's an argument to be made that cupcakes just might be the perfect dessert. They clearly have all the best parts of a full-sized cake — mounds of frosting and moist and delicious cake — but they also come in a perfectly single-sized package, often with individual garnishes that don't leave you debating which piece is "best" (or has the most frosting or other topping) a corner, edge, or interior slice. And because they're individually wrapped, you can grab one from a bakery to enjoy with your afternoon coffee without thinking about making (or buying) a whole cake.

The only thing that's better than cupcakes as a whole is the novelty of cupcakes on an individual level. The flavors, toppings, and even the fillings can be as fun, creative, and beautiful as you want, or as simple and classic as can be. So if you're looking for a few great ideas to up your cupcake game and start turning dessert hour into your day's main event, check out these fantastic cupcake recipes.

1. Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot cake is one of those classic cakes that is perfect for an Easter gathering (carrots and bunnies go together, after all), or as a pumpkin spice alternative to pair with a coffee on a chilly fall day. And these cute carrot cake cupcakes sprinkled with chopped walnuts are the perfect "healthier" option when you're looking to indulge in a slightly more nutritious sweet.

Of course, nutrition is relative — the carrots and nuts in this recipe help add vitamins and minerals to the treat, but this is still your classic carrot cake recipe topped with rich cream cheese frosting. Delicious? Yes. Nutritious? Somewhat. The perfect way to indulge? You bet.

Recipe: Carrot Cake Cupcakes

2. St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes

Every special holiday deserves a special, themed cupcake, and if you're going for something particularly cute on St. Patrick's Day, try out these green and gold pistachio-flavored and Rolo-topped treats. They're surprisingly easy to make, especially since the green frosting is a pre-made Funfetti version, and the "pot of gold" is the wrapped Rolo candy on top.

The pistachio flavor comes from a box of pistachio pudding, which lends a very subtle green to the cupcakes themselves. This means you end up with a very on-theme and festive cupcake from the inside out, and you can have 20 of them ready to frost and serve in just about 30 minutes.

Recipe: St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes

3. Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Cookie lovers, cake lovers, cookie dough ice cream lovers, and cookie cake lovers can rejoice — these cookie dough cupcakes hit all the high points from all your favorite cookie-forward desserts. The cupcake and icing are both flavored with brown sugar, a critical ingredient in most chocolate chip cookies, but that's not the real surprise. Tucked inside each cupcake? Is a hidden piece of edible chocolate chip cookie dough that offers a delicious surprise at first bite.

Of course, these cupcakes don't stop there — the icing and garnish include mini chocolate chips and more balls of edible cookie dough. Truly, you can't expect a batch of these to last long. It's a good thing they only take about 30 minutes to make.

Recipe: Cookie Dough Cupcakes

4. Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red velvet cake is a classic Valentine's Day dessert, with its deep red color and light chocolate and vanilla flavors. And the only thing (arguably) better than a red velvet cake? Individually wrapped red velvet cupcakes, of course.

These are the perfect treat to send with your child to school or to take with you to the office, and the cream cheese frosting is the ideal accompaniment to provide a sweet and rich topping to the morsels of cake. Sprinkles are a classic garnish, but strawberries, raspberries, or even heart-shaped candies would also be perfectly on theme.

Recipe: Red Velvet Cupcakes

5. Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes

Switching to an animal product-free diet may seem overwhelming, especially if you're a sucker for baked goods, but becoming a vegan (or even just following the diet occasionally) doesn't mean you have to give up classic vanilla cupcakes. These cupcakes feature applesauce in place of eggs, coconut milk in place of regular milk, and vegan butter in the frosting. Granted, the flavor profile may not be exactly the same as the vanilla cupcakes your mom made you as a kid, but you may decide you like them even more.

Recipe: Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes

6. Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

Chocolate and raspberry go together like peanut butter and jelly — it's a pairing that just works. And in this recipe for chocolate raspberry cupcakes, you're actually using jelly (preserves, that is), to provide the raspberry flavor that complements the chocolate.

The result is a rich and fruity dessert that's perfect for practically any occasion (even something romantic, paired with a glass of Champagne). The beauty of the recipe is you can get creative — just sub out the raspberry preserves for any other flavor (blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, or cherry) to offer a twist or to personalize the recipe for a particular person or event.

Recipe: Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

7. Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Vegans shouldn't be limited to just enjoying vanilla cupcakes — they deserve classic chocolate cupcakes, too. And like the vegan vanilla cupcakes, these substitute fruit (mashed bananas) for eggs, along with non-dairy milk (choose between coconut or almond), and vegan butter.

With the rich cocoa flavor, you may not even be able to tell these are animal product-free. You can even use the base recipe to sub for other chocolate cupcakes (like the chocolate raspberry version listed here).

Recipe: Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

8. Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

When the first cold front of the season blows through, there's no better sweet to whip up than these pumpkin spice cupcakes. Whether you decide to eat them alongside a black coffee, a cup of spicy tea, or you decide to double down on the fall favorite and have them with a pumpkin spice latte, they're the perfect autumn treat to help warm you up in the middle of the afternoon.

And to top off all the spicy, sweet, pumpkin flavors? The cream cheese frosting features a little maple syrup to give it that extra somethin' somethin'.

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

9. Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Where chocolate and vanilla cupcakes tend to be the go-to choices when it comes to these handheld sweets, there's something to be said for the sweet and tangy flavors of lemon meringue cupcakes. A close cousin to lemon meringue pie, these petite cakes feature a lemon curd filling (an extra special surprise), and a toasted meringue frosting. And don't worry if you don't own a kitchen blowtorch — you can get that toasted taste and look by popping the finished cupcakes under a preheated grill (or oven broiler) for a minute or two.

Recipe: Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

10. Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes

When you're looking for a spring or summertime treat, consider whipping up a batch of these strawberry lemon cupcakes. Inspired by the sweet and tangy flavors of strawberry lemonade (with the ability to decorate them to match), the cupcakes are extra moist thanks to the addition of instant lemon pudding mix.

The lemon flavor in the cupcakes is heightened with fresh lemon zest, and the strawberry flavor is added to the frosting with a homemade strawberry purée. Ultimately, the result is a fresh and tangy cupcake that's so good it'll be hard to eat just one.

Recipe: Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes

11. Cannoli Cupcakes

You may not think of cupcakes when you hear the words "Italian dessert," but these creative cupcakes are about as close to a real cannoli as you can get. The cupcake itself has a little extra flavor thanks to the addition of cinnamon and buttermilk, but the real cannoli surprise comes from the use of a true cannoli cream filling.

After making the cupcakes you scoop out part of the center and squeeze the cannoli cream inside. The whole thing is then topped with a ricotta buttercream frosting and garnished with mini chocolate chips. After just one bite you'll be convinced — this cupcake definitely qualifies as an Italian dessert.

Recipe: Cannoli Cupcakes