Pinata Cupcakes are super fun to make and can be customized to fit any celebration. Vanilla cupcakes are filled with Christmas sprinkles and topped with a pastel green mint buttercream to get these Christmas Cupcakes ready for the holiday!
I’ve always wanted to make a pinata cake for some sort of celebration. So this recipe is purely self-indulgent! I took my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, spruced it up with some Christmas sprinkles and a minty Swiss buttercream.
Are you ready to take a quick break from all your holiday cookies and join me for some fun Christmas cupcakes baking today? Let’s get to it, these cupcakes are a lot easier to make than you might think.
How to make Christmas Pinata Cupcakes
The easy vanilla cupcake batter
Like with most cupcake recipes you’ll find on my blog, the batter can be whipped up quickly with just a mixing bowl, and a whisk. This particular vanilla cupcake batter is made with:
- A whole tablespoon of pure vanilla extract for flavor. Don’t skimp and use imitation vanilla flavoring. You can use one whole vanilla bean or one tablespoon of vanilla bean paste as substitute, but NEVER the fake stuff.
- Vegetable oil, buttermilk, and an extra egg yolk for maximum tenderness.
- All-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt, all sifted together. If you use kosher salt, like I do, just stir it in at the end because the grains might be too large for the sifter mesh.
Bake the cupcakes and let them cool completely before filling them with sprinkles and adding frosting on top.
The mint buttercream
While I love a tangy cream cheese frosting, I thought the peppermint flavor would go much better with a base of creamy and silky Swiss Meringue buttercream frosting. I’ve made this frosting recipe many times and it never failed!
- Beat the egg whites, sugar and vinegar to form a stiff meringue.
- Slowly add softened cubed butter and extracts, and continue beating until the frosting is formed. This process could take anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes (according to some readers), so be patient with it.
- Dip a toothpick into a bottle of green gel food color, you only need a little bit to create a pastel green. Add more or less to your liking.
- Continue beating the frosting until fluffy and the food color has incorporated.
Heating egg white for frosting
My recipe does not call for heating the egg whites but if you don’t like to use raw egg in frosting, you can heat the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water.
You want low and gentle heat from the steam and not direct heat or you’ll get egg curds; definitely not delicious. Whisk the mixture until all the sugar dissolves and the egg whites reach 160°F.
Can I use liquid food coloring?
I did not use liquid food coloring for fear that it would make the frosting runny. With gel food color, you only need a very small amount to get to this pastel green.
If you only have liquid food color, use between ½ teaspoon and up to 1 teaspoon to see if you get the desired color. But any more than that could risk making the frosting runny.
Assembling pinata cupcakes
- Start assembling when the cupcakes have cooled completely, you don’t want to melt the sprinkles or the frosting with warm cupcakes.
- Cut a hole in the middle of the cupcake using the bottom of a piping tip. You could also use a paring knife or a corer. Don’t throw away the cake plug.
- Fill each cupcake with 1 teaspoon of sprinkles.
- Add the plugs of cake back on top of the sprinkles.
- With the added filling inside the cupcake, the plugs of cake will stick out a little. Don’t try to force it back in.
- Cover the top with frosting and they’re ready for more sprinkles if desired.
Customize pinata cupcakes for other occasions
These fun Pinata Cupcakes can be easily customized for other holidays and celebrations by changing the color of the sprinkles, or the flavor and color of the frosting.
- Use all green sprinkles for St. Patrick’s Day. The cool mint frosting would be perfect as is.
- Use pink or red sprinkles to turn them into Valentine’s day desserts. Skip the mint extract in the frosting and color it pink with some red gel food color instead.
- Go with red, white and blue sprinkles for July 4th. Keep the frosting white and use just the vanilla extract.
- And of course, for birthday celebrations, use colorful birthday sprinkles or unicorn sprinkles. Vanilla or chocolate frosting will both be perfect for this.
More fun cakes you’ll love!
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, send me a photo, rate it and don’t forget to tag me @wildwildwhisk on Instagram. I’d love to see what’s cooking up in your kitchen. Cheers!
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour (197 g)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (135 g)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup buttermilk (170 g, room temperature)
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil (67 g)
- 1 large egg (room temperature)
- 1 large egg yolk (room temperature)
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (13 g)
- 12 teaspoon Christmas sprinkles (for filling, 48 g)
- More sprinkles for decoration
- 4 oz egg white (115 g)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (135 g)
- ¾ teaspoon vinegar
- 10 oz unsalted butter (283 g, room temperature, cubed)
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
- Green gel food color
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Add kosher salt and mix with a whisk to distribute evenly. Set aside.
- Add buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract to a medium bowl. Beat together with a whisk until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredient mixture and fold until just combined.
- Use a large ice cream scoop to divide batter into the previously prepared muffin pan. One flat scoop of batter for each cupcake cavity, or about ¼ cup of batter each.
- Bake in the middle oven rack for 16-17 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to the touch, remove cupcakes from the pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Mint buttercream frosting
- Add egg white to the stand mixer bowl and beat with a wire whisk attachment on medium low speed until frothy. Increase speed to medium and slowly add sugar, one tablespoon at a time to allow it to incorporate into the egg white. Half way through adding the sugar, stream in the vinegar. Then continue to add the sugar until all gone.
- Increase speed to medium high speed and beat until stiff peak forms and the meringue is shiny and smooth.
- Reduce speed to medium low and slowly add the room temperature cubed butter, one cube at a time and allow it to incorporate into the meringue. When all the butter is added it will look chunky, like cottage cheese.
- Add vanilla and mint extract, increase mixer to high speed and beat for 4-5 mins until buttercream is formed and smooth.
- Dip a toothpick into a bottle of green gel food coloring and wipe it on the frosting, beat the frosting until fluffy and the color has incorporated.
Assemble the cupcakes
- Use the bottom of a piping tip to cut out holes on top of a cupcake, push down and twist. Use a chopstick to push out the plug inside the frosting tip. Repeat one more time to create a deeper hole so the filling goes right in the middle of the cupcake.
- Fill with 1 teaspoon of Christmas sprinkles and put the plugs of cake back on top to cover the hole. Frost the cupcakes using a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.
- If you don’t want to use raw egg in the frosting, you could heat the egg white and sugar over a pot of simmering water until the egg white reaches 160°F and all the sugar has dissolved. Then beat the mixture to stiff peak, adding the vinegar halfway through mixing.
- Make sure your mixing bowl is dry and free of grease before making the frosting.
- Use different sprinkles to customize your cupcakes, as well as flavor and color of the frosting.
- The buttercream may take longer than 5 minutes to form after you have added all the butter and extract. Be patient and continue beating, some have reported that it takes 20 - 30 minutes of beating.
- Liquid food color can be used but only in small amounts to avoid making the frosting runny. If a darker color frosting is desired, gel food color is recommended.