Halloween Cupcakes to Unleash Your Inner Monster
These easy Halloween cupcakes start with a cake mix. Just add a quick and delicious homemade frosting, then follow our Halloween cupcake decorating ideas for deliciously spooky results.
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I’ve always preferred to celebrate the fun and playful side of Halloween, instead of the super scary or gruesome. Fewer tricks and more treats for me, please!
These monster cupcakes are a little bit spooky and a whole lot of fun, not to mention easy to make and deliciously irresistible. If you’re looking for an easy Halloween cupcake idea to make with your kids or to serve at a Halloween party, this is it!
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Halloween cupcake decorations
Photo by Annalise Sandberg
These cute Halloween cupcakes are all about the decor. To get the spooky look, be sure to plan ahead and have decorating supplies on hand. You’ll need about 3 piping bags if you want to create multiple colors, and 3 grass piping tips for the monster fur (#233 or #234, or both; or use 1 tip and wash it between colors). You’ll also need cupcake liners, candy eyes and other candies (such as M&Ms and Sour Punch Straws), and gel food coloring. You can get supplies online or pick them up at a craft store.
How to make Halloween cupcakes
My monster cupcakes start with a boxed cake mix and a quick and delicious homemade vanilla frosting.
Make a boxed cake mix even better
Starting off this chocolate cupcake recipe with a boxed cake mix keeps things easy and ensures they’ll be perfect when you pull them out of the oven. But did you know you can alter the recipe on the back of the box to make it even better?
With my cupcake recipe you start with any devil’s food chocolate cake mix, but you add an extra egg for richness, and you use milk instead of water for additional flavor. You’ll keep the usual vegetable oil so the cupcakes stay moist and tender. Once baked, the cupcakes are wonderfully chocolaty, soft, and delicious.
Don’t overfill the cupcake liners
Have you ever had cupcakes spill over the edges as they bake and leave you with flat tops? This is the most common cupcake mistake I see home bakers make, and it’s really easy to avoid. Fill cupcake liners only two-thirds full (about 3 Tbsp.) and the cupcakes will have enough room to rise high.
Bake in the center of the oven
This recipe makes about two dozen cupcakes, and you should bake them in the center of the oven to ensure they rise evenly. Depending on your oven, you might be able to fit two 12-cup muffin pans on one shelf, or you might need to bake the cupcakes in two batches.
Know when the cupcakes are done
Always use the recipe as a guide, and don’t open the oven door too soon or you’ll risk collapsing the cupcakes. Once the cupcake tops look dry and set, gently press one with your finger. If it bounces back, they’re done! If your finger leaves an indent, they need more time.
Let cupcakes cool completely
Don’t try to frost cupcakes when they are warm, or the frosting will melt. Let the cupcakes cool a few minutes in the pan to finish setting up, and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
How to make cupcakes ahead and store them
Unfrosted cupcakes are easy to make ahead and store really well. They’ll keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days, or you can wrap and freeze them for 1 month. Since candy decorations can bleed into the frosting if the cupcakes are held overnight, for best results you should frost and decorate the cupcakes the day you plan to serve them.
Make an easy homemade frosting
Since we used a boxed cake mix for the cupcakes, we’re going to make an easy homemade buttercream frosting to give these Halloween treats more of a from-scratch feel. Use an electric mixer to beat powdered sugar, butter, milk, vanilla, and salt until very creamy and smooth.
Making this frosting from scratch takes just a few extra minutes and dirties a dish or two, but the frosting has the best, light and fluffy texture, excellent buttery flavor with a hint of vanilla, and is better than any store-bought frosting you can find.
How to decorate Halloween cupcakes
Photo by Annalise Sandberg
Now that the cupcakes are baked and frosting is ready, without a doubt, the most fun thing about this recipe is the Halloween monster decorations! You can make these cupcakes look like monsters as shown here, or let your creativity run wild to decorate them however you like.
1. Tint the frosting with bright colors
To make monster cupcakes, start by dividing the frosting into separate bowls and tinting them with food coloring. Using gel food coloring (instead of liquid food coloring) creates more vibrant colors and doesn’t change the frosting consistency, and many well-stocked grocery stores now carry it.
2. Pipe frosting “fur” on top of the cupcakes
Add each colored frosting to a piping bag fitted with a grass piping tip (#233 for finer fur or #234 for thicker fur). Hold the piping tip up to the edge of a chocolate cupcake, give a quick pulse of pressure as you pull the tip away, and then release. Keep doing this around the cupcake, working from the edges inward. Once you’ve completely covered the top, it should look shaggy like monster fur or hair.
Don’t stress about this part too much, as the shagginess of the frosting hides any imperfections really well. And with each cupcake you decorate, you’ll get more confident. Have fun with it!
Note: If you don’t have piping bags or tips, you can top cupcakes with a spoonful of frosting and run a fork through it to give it a shaggy appearance.
3. Add candy eyes and other decorations
Candy eyeballs are easy to find in most stores around Halloween, and complete the monster look for these cupcakes. Use other candies like regular or mini M&Ms and sliced sour straws to make a “mouth." Or use your imagination to create something different and fun.
Other decorating ideas include sprinkles for more color and texture, store-bought frosting gel to draw eyebrows or other features, or treats like Oreos or peanut butter cups for the mouth.
I had a lot of fun walking down the candy aisle of the store to see what inspired me, and perhaps you’ll find more Halloween cupcake ideas there too. There’s really no wrong way to decorate these treats!
Get the Halloween cupcake recipe
Fun and slightly spooky Halloween cupcakes made up of chocolate cupcakes, colorful vanilla buttercream frosting, edible candy eyes, and other candy decorations are the perfect treat for your next party or celebration.
More tricks and treats
On Yummly we have loads more Halloween desserts to choose from, including plenty of cute cakes: ghost cupcakes, pumpkin cupcakes, mummy cupcakes, spiderweb cupcakes, bat cupcakes, witch hat cupcakes, and Frankenstein cupcakes. You’ll also find plenty of ideas for Halloween decorations, using candy corn and other Halloween candy for toppers. Explore more sweet and savory treats in these next articles.