Spiced vegan gingerbread cupcakes with a vegan cinnamon buttercream are the perfect treat over the holidays. Made with simple ingredients, you’ll love how soft and flavourful these cupcakes are!
One of my favourite things about this time of year is the abundance of spiced baked goods. You know I’m getting ready for Christmas when my shopping trolley is filled with dark brown sugar, golden syrup, ground ginger and cinnamon.
These are some of my favourite flavours to play with and these cupcakes are the ultimate way to enjoy these holiday flavours.
The smell of them baking fills the house and along with that delicious scent seems to be a little bit of festive joy. I know it’s cheesy but it’s honestly my favourite time of the year.
Now about these gingerbread cupcakes. My husband is my official taste tester of all my recipes with a particular interest in the sweets and he can be brutally honest sometimes (which is why I trust his opinion), but on his first try of these cupcakes he promptly declared that they are the best cupcakes I’d ever made. And yes I make A LOT of cupcakes.
Now if that review doesn’t get you excited to try this recipe then I don’t know what will!
These cupcakes are perfectly light and moist with each bite filled with all the warming spices of gingerbread, balanced with a swirl of deliciously creamy cinnamon buttercream. And of course I couldn’t resist topping each cupcake with a mini gingerbread star cookie (because look how cute they look!), made using my vegan gingerbread men recipe.
If you’re looking for something fun and delicious to make these holidays to get into the festive spirit, then you seriously cannot go wrong with these cupcakes.
I’ve mentioned they’re vegan but you would truly never know. They’re not healthy, they don’t contain any weird substitute ingredients like egg-replacer, they are just a standard delicious sweet cupcake that happens to not have any eggs or dairy.
Ingredients for vegan gingerbread cupcakes
To make these gingerbread cupcakes you’ll need a few ingredients but they are all pretty standard pantry staples – no weird vegan alternatives here.
- Dairy-free milk – I use oat milk generally in my baking but I’ve also used soy and almond milk interchangeably and they work just fine.
- White vinegar – You’re going to use this to create a vegan ‘buttermilk’ which is going to cause a chemical reaction when baking that helps ensure these cupcakes are super soft and have that perfect texture. This becomes really important when making recipes without eggs.
- Plain flour – Keeping things pretty standard. I’ve not tested a gluten-free alternative.
- Bicarbonate of soda AND baking powder – again really important for the #bakingscience that’s happening in this recipe. The bicarbonate of soda or baking soda as it’s called in the US is going to react with the vinegar and give our cupcakes that quick lift which makes them soft and tender, while the baking powder ensures a steady even rise while the cakes bake. Both are essential to this recipe as are the quantities.
- Spices – ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves give us that classic gingerbread spiced flavour. And I know cloves are intense, but trust me on this one.
- Canola oil – any flavourless oil would do the trick here, but the oil again helps ensure the texture of the finished cupcake is really soft and moist.
- Dark brown sugar – I’m inclined to tell you that it’s an absolute non negotiable to use dark brown sugar in this recipe as that’s how important I think this ingredient is to the flavour. Yes you can technically use regular light brown sugar and not ruin the cupcakes, but to really maximise the rich molasses flavour and super soft texture you’re going to want to stick with dark brown sugar.
- Golden syrup – another essential ingredient in my eyes to ensure the flavour of the cupcakes. This is a common ingredient in Australia and the UK, but in the US if you can’t find it, you can replace it with molasses.
- Vanilla extract – really enhances the flavours in these cupcakes.
How to make gingerbread cupcakes
To make the cupcakes, you’ll need a couple of mixing bowls, a whisk and a muffin pan. That’s right, no electric mixer needed for these cupcakes! Although full disclosure you’ll need one to make the buttercream frosting.
Start by making your ‘buttermilk’ by combining the dairy-free milk and the vinegar in a small bowl and setting aside. Next, sift all the ingredients into a bowl and again set aside. I often do this by just whisking them together until they’re combined and aerated.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together the canola oil, dark brown sugar, golden syrup and vanilla until combined. It will separate a little bit as the oil and golden syrup resist each other so add a little bit of the milk mixture to the bowl and continue whisking until it’s smooth and all combined.
My hot tip? When measuring your golden syrup, lightly spray your measuring cup with canola oil. The golden syrup will slip right out and you wont end up with a sticky mess. Simple but really effective.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, alternating with the milk mixing until the cupcake batter comes together. You want to only mix until everything is just combined as overmixing will result in a dense cupcake.
Scoop the batter into your muffin pan that’s been lined with cupcake liners, ensuring you’re only filling them up half way.
Bake in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. As all oven temperatures and baking times are different I always rely on the touch test to make sure the cakes are cooked rather than the timer.
Decorate your cupcakes!
For these cupcakes, my vegan cinnamon buttercream is the ultimate accompaniment. It’s sweet, spicy and basically just smells like a cinnamon doughnut – it’s so good.
This buttercream is really smooth and creamy and pipes perfectly making it really easy to work with. It also balances the spiced cupcake flavour really well. Honestly, I can’t get enough!
Make the buttercream (full instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post) and add to a piping bag with your favourite piping tip attached. I love any large open star tip as I find they just give the prettiest results. The one I used here is a #8CS.
The final flourish that is totally optional is to decorate these cupcakes with a mini gingerbread cookie.
I made a half batch of my vegan gingerbread men and used a small star cookie cutter to make these tiny cookies. They just look so cute I couldn’t help it! If you don’t feel like making your own cookies you can definitely decorate them with store bought cookies or just serve them as is.
How to store gingerbread cupcakes
These cupcakes are of course best eaten within the first 2-3 days of making them and taste best at room temperature.
If the temperatures are a bit hot in your home however, I’d recommend keeping them in the fridge but letting them come to room temperature again before eating.
You can freeze unfrosted cupcakes for 3 months, wrapped well with plastic wrap and in an airtight container. Let them defrost in the fridge overnight or on the kitchen counter for a few hours. Make a fresh batch of buttercream and I guarantee they’ll taste just like fresh ones!
More gingerbread recipes:
Vegan Gingerbread Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
- 1 cup dairy-free milk
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 ¾ cups plain flour
- ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup golden syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cinnamon buttercream:
- ½ cup (125 grams) dairy-free butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3-4 cups icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon dairy-free milk
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a muffin tin with 12 patty cases.
- In a small bowl combine white vinegar and dairy-free milk. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and spices.
- In a large bowl, whisk together canola oil, brown sugar, golden syrup and vanilla until combined. Add a bit of the milk mixture to loosen it up and whisk until combined.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients to the oil and sugar mixture, alternating with the rest of the milk until cupcake batter comes together, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Be careful to mix only until just combined to avoid overworking the batter.
- Spoon mixture into patty cases ensuring they are only ½ full before placing them in the oven for 18-20 minutes or until lightly springy to touch. Let cool completely before frosting.
- Make the buttercream frosting. Using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment fitted, beat dairy-free butter and vanilla for 1-2 minutes until creamy. Add in 3 cups of icing sugar and beat on medium until combined. As mixture thickens, add in the dairy-free milk a little at a time until the mixture is smooth and creamy but still thick enough to stand up on its own. If it’s a bit thin, add the additional cup of icing sugar until the desired consistency is reached. Finally, add in the ground cinnamon and salt to taste and mix through.
- Decorate the cupcakes. Add the frosting to the piping bag with a large open star tip attached and pipe swirls of frosting on each cupcake. Finish with a vegan gingerbread cookie if desired.
Nutritional information is provided as a guide only and is calculated using automated online tools, therefore we cannot guarantee the accuracy. We encourage you to make your own calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe.