Coffee cupcakes recipe

(1971 ratings)

Our coffee cupcakes will help you overcome any afternoon slump. They are easy to make and take less than an hour to prepare and bake.

coffee cupcakes topped with a walnut next to a latte
(Image credit: Getty)
Preparation Time20 mins
Cooking Time20 mins plus cooling
Total Time40 mins
Cost RangeCheap
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories423 Kcal21%
Sugar35.9 g40%
Fat25.3 g36%
Saturated Fat11 g55%
Salt0.15 gRow 4 - Cell 2
Protein4.4 g9%
Carbohydrates44.5 g17%
Salt0.15 gRow 7 - Cell 2

These easy coffee cupcakes are prepped in 20 minutes and each cake is under 450 calories. 

This caffeinated take on our classic cupcake recipe is perfect for those who love coffee-flavoured treats. The fluffy sponge is studded with walnut pieces and topped with a rich, coffee icing. If you’d like to make them mocha flavour, swap 40g flour with cocoa powder instead. 


  • 25ml espresso strength instant coffee
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 75g walnuts, finely chopped

For the frosting:

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 10ml espresso strength instant coffee
  • 12 whole walnuts




  1. Heat the oven to 170C (150C fan, Gas 3). Line a cupcake or muffin tin with paper cases.
  2. Make up the instant coffee according to packet instructions, and leave to cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fully creamed together. The mixture should be pale and fluffy.
  4. Beat the eggs with the vanilla and pour them bit by bit into the butter and sugar, mixing thoroughly until everything is combined.
  5. Add 25ml cooled coffee and mix until combined. The batter will be very loose but don’t worry.
  6. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl. Add the chopped walnuts and fold everything together until fully mixed in.
  7. Divide the mixture equally into the cupcake cases and bake in the centre of the oven for around 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. To make the frosting, beat the butter with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Slowly add 10ml coffee with the mixer on low, and then gradually sift in the icing sugar until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.
  9. When the frosting is complete, spoon or pipe it onto the surface of each cake and top with a whole walnut for decoration.

Top tips for making coffee cupcakes 

If you need to make the recipe nut free you can swap the walnuts for chocolate chips. Milk or dark chocolate works particularly well. You could also use light brown sugar instead of caster sugar for a rich, caramel flavour profile. For more helpful tips and tricks, continue reading below. 

Can you freeze coffee cupcakes?

Once the cakes are baked and cooled you can wrap them in clingfilm to freeze. Wrapping them tight is important as it protects them from freezer burn.

They will store in the freezer for up to three months and should be defrosted before eating. Once defrosted you can decorate as directed by the recipe or however you like.

What to decorate coffee cupcakes with?

We like to decorate our coffee cupcakes with a whole walnut halve as it indicates there are walnuts in the sponge too. If you would like to continue the coffee theme though you could top the cupcakes with coffee beans or even better, a chocolate coated coffee bean.

Alternatively, the cupcakes look very chic with a simple dusting of cocoa powder over the buttercream.

Does coffee cake have caffeine in?

If you use a shot of espresso or instant coffee there will be a small amount of caffeine in the cupcakes. Use decaffeinated coffee powder if you prefer.

In step two of this recipe you need a large mixing bowl to combine the cupcake ingredients. We like this old school design by Mason Cash and think it would look chic in most kitchens. 

Mason Cash Ceramic Mixing Bowl, 4L, Green - View at John Lewis 

Mason Cash Ceramic Mixing Bowl, 4L, Green - View at John Lewis 

The bowl has a nice wide, shallow shape which is perfect for baking as it makes it easy to mix ingredients. It is made from a chip resistant material and is heavy enough to not wobble around too much when using an electric hand mixer. The pattern on the exterior is also useful for helping you grip the bowl.

For those who don’t like coffee flavoured things you should try our vanilla cupcake recipe instead. Alternatively, this chocolate cupcakes recipe is one of our most popular recipes. If you prefer your cakes bitesize, bake a batch of mini cupcakes for your next party or afternoon treat. 

Jessica Ransom
Senior Food Writer

Jessica is a freelance food writer, stylist and recipe tester. She previously worked as Senior Food Writer at Future. While at Future Jessica wrote food and drink-related news stories and features, curated product pages, reviewed equipment, and developed recipes that she then styled on food shoots. She is an enthusiastic, self-taught cook who adores eating out and sharing great food and drink with friends and family. She has completed the Level 1 Associate course at the Academy of Cheese and is continually building on her knowledge of beers, wines, and spirits.