Peanut Butter Cupcakes - Moist & Flavorful!

Peanut Butter Cupcakes – Moist & Flavorful!

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These are my new & improved peanut butter cupcakes. Adapted from my original recipe, I use oil, brown sugar, sour cream, and extra milk to guarantee each cupcake is soft and moist. Very finely chopped peanuts add flavor. They’re tender, flavorful, and EASY, making this updated recipe the indisputable peanut butter cupcake champion!
Peanut butter cupcakes

Recipe disappointment solved.

I published a peanut butter cupcake recipe in 2013, a dessert I found both delicious and easy at the time. They’re still delicious and easy, but they’re far from perfect. The cupcakes are dense and dry out quickly. Many readers have commented with the same disappointing results. I knew I could do better. The cupcakes (and you!) deserve it. 🙂

And after a few cupcake experiments with many taste testers, I produced flavorful and soft peanut butter cupcakes. These laugh in the face of the old recipe and they’re even more wildly delicious than they look. So moist!!

Peanut butter cupcakes with chocolate frosting

Peanut butter cupcakes with chocolate frosting

Recipe Fix: Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Old Peanut Butter Cupcakes Recipe:

  • Creamed butter & brown sugar
  • Too many eggs weighed them down
  • Not enough milk
  • Not enough flavor

The original cupcake recipe calls for creamed butter and sugar. This is how I typically start vanilla cupcakes. But peanut butter is a special ingredient. Though it’s technically “wet,” it’s heavy, dense, and actually pretty drying. Peanut butter baked goods need extra insurance to remain moist. I replaced the butter with oil and added sour cream and extra milk. Because the cupcakes are peanut butter flavored, we won’t miss the butter.

As we taste-tested, my friend Gabe recommended very finely chopped peanuts to amp up the peanut flavor. This addition worked miracles! If you chop the peanuts fine enough, they won’t be crunchy or anything. Rather, they’ll melt right into the cupcake itself.

Chopped peanuts and peanut butter cupcake batter

Peanut butter cupcakes

As soon as they finished baking, I knew the new peanut butter cupcakes would be a huge success! They smell AWESOME. Here’s a list of everything I did differently.

New Peanut Butter Cupcakes Recipe:

  • Oil instead of butter
  • Keep the brown sugar for moisture & flavor
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • Sour cream for moisture
  • Add more milk for moisture
  • Finely chopped peanuts for flavor

And for even more flavor, I snuck some peanut butter into the chocolate frosting too!

Chocolate peanut butter frosting

Video Tutorial: Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

The chocolate peanut butter frosting is simple. Start with butter, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and milk or cream. Remember: proper room temperature butter! Beat it together, then add vanilla extract, a giant spoonful of creamy peanut butter, and a pinch of salt. Just when you thought chocolate buttercream couldn’t get any better…. now it literally tastes like a peanut butter cup.

  • Piping tip: I used the giant Ateco 849 piping tip for the frosting and you can watch me decorate the cupcakes in the video tutorial above. This is a VERY easy swirled frosting technique. Any large open or closed star piping tip will give you a similar swirl look. Though it’s a little smaller, I also love Wilton 1M.

Peanut butter cupcakes

Let me know what you think of the improved recipe!

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Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/4 cups (155g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canola or vegetable oil*
  • 1/2 cup (125g) creamy peanut butter*
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (45g) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) whole milk, at room temperature*
  • 1/3 cup (40g) very finely crushed or chopped peanuts*

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 and 1/2 cups (420g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup (45g) unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream or milk
  • 1/3 (80g) cup creamy peanut butter*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • optional for garnish: mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or chopped peanuts

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 2-3 liners because this recipe yields 14-15 cupcakes. Set aside.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld mixer, stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, or a whisk, mix the oil, peanut butter, brown sugar, egg, sour cream, and vanilla extract together in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients, milk, and peanuts and whisk or beat together until completely combined. Avoid overmixing. Batter will be slightly thick.
  4. Pour/spoon the batter into the liners, filling only 2/3 full to avoid baking over the sides. Bake for 21-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops of the cupcakes spring back when gently touched. For around 35 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
  5. Make the frosting: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and milk. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then add the peanut butter, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes until combined. Add 1/4 cup more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or another 1-2 Tablespoons of cream/milk if frosting is too thick. Taste. Add extra peanut butter or a pinch of salt if desired.
  6.  Frost cooled cupcakes. I piped a basic tall swirl using Ateco 849 piping tip. You can watch me decorate the cupcakes in the video in the blog post. Garnish with peanut butter cup, if desired.
  7. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Recipe Notes:

  1. Make Ahead / Freezing Instructions: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Whisk | Cupcake Pan | Cupcake Liners | Ateco #849 Piping Tip
  3. Oil: Melted coconut oil works too. Melted butter won’t add the same level of moisture needed for this recipe.
  4. Peanut Butter: For best texture in the cupcakes and frosting, I strongly suggest a processed creamy peanut butter such as Jif or Skippy creamy. I do not recommend oily or natural style peanut butter for this recipe.
  5. Milk: For best tasting cupcakes, I highly recommend whole milk or even buttermilk. 2% milk can be used as well. Nondairy milks work too.
  6. Peanuts: For exceptional peanut flavor, finely chopped peanuts are highly recommend. Chop them up very fine as shown in the video and photo above. The finer you chop them, the more they will blend into the baked cupcakes. You can’t taste the chunks, just the flavor. For a delicious salty/sweet flavor, use salted peanuts or, if you prefer, choose unsalted peanuts. I love salted peanuts for this recipe!
  7. Why is Everything at Room Temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information.