Apple Cider Cupcakes have got to be on your dessert baking list this fall! They’re bursting with apple and cinnamon flavors and topped off with an absolutely indulgent and creamy Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting (make it a Cider Cream Cheese frosting as a delish alternative!).
This post was originally published in October 2018. The photos, text, and recipe were updated in October 2020.
I know, I know, take it all in.
Apple Cider Cupcakes with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting are THE ultimate fall dessert.
Apple cider, check. Cinnamon, check. Bourbon, check.
Can you handle it? Like, really handle all the excitement coming your way with this decadent, perfectly-fall, apple recipe?
Yes, yes, of course you can handle it. I have complete faith in you. You are here, after all, the best place to find a just-over-the-top enough recipe to wow your friends, neighbors, or hey, yourself, this season.
Where are we at this fall? Have you consumed an endless supply of pumpkin recipes? In the form of breakfast with pumpkin spice muffins or the mini pumpkin coconut muffins? What about all the mouth-watering, fan favorite pumpkin bars?
While pumpkin spice definitely has it’s time and place this fall, I’m equally (ok, maybe if not more?) obsessed with apple and cinnamon.
I mean, give me all the warm apple crisp, apple muffins with streusel, apple fritters, and of course, ALL the Apple Cider Cupcakes. WITH BOURBON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING!
You know I have to make a double batch if I plan on sharing.
So come, my fall dessert recipe lovers, Let’s dive into these babies.
Apple Cider Cupcakes
Let’s start talking about the cupcake part of this equation. When I say OBSESSED, I mean OBSESSED.
Like, can’t stop thinking about the cupcakes day or night obsessed.
These beautiful cupcakes were inspired by my Salted Caramel Apple Cake. When the moist, tender crumb cake with real apple pieces entered my life, I knew I needed to have those flavors – the cinnamon, the apple, the indulgence – in every form.
These cupcakes are no different on the texture spectrum: they’re most, tender, and melt-in-your-mouth.
The flavor is sweet and warm from the cinnamon, balanced out with the subtle tang from the apple cider. Hellllloooo, perfect fall cupcakes.
Other than those key players, this recipe uses basic cupcake ingredients (as always, see the full recipe card below):
- all-purpose flour
- baking soda and baking powder
- granulated and brown sugars
- unsalted butter + salt (we want to control the amount that goes in so we add our own vs. letting the butter do it)
- vanilla extract
- tiny bit of oil to keep things moist
When baking, it’s important to remember that the temperature of your ingredients matters. Room temperature ingredients will combine much more easily and keep the batter uniform.
So remember to set your eggs and butter out ahead of time, and your apple cider, too!
Simply combine the ingredients using an electric mixer (you can absolutely use a stand or hand mixer!), being sure to not overmix once the final dry ingredient portion is combined.
Portion them out into 12 cupcake tins and bake away. Oh, and while they bake, don’t forget to take out the frosting ingredients so they can come to room temperature too. Speaking of…
Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting
You’re going to want to sit down for this.
Obviously, cream cheese frosting is the frostings of frostings, and just when you didn’t think it could get better, we’re adding bourbon to the mix.
Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting is a game changer.
Yes, you read that right. A trifecta of cream cheese and bourbon and apple cider cupcakes.
There’s just enough bourbon in the frosting to give it a hint of that deep, spicy, woody, maybe slightly sweet complex flavor that bourbon delivers. It’s not overpowering, it’s subtle yet adds a delicious element to the cupcake.
And I know, because friends, I’m not one to just sit by and drink bourbon (well, ok, now unless it’s in this Hot Apple Cider Vanilla Bean Cocktail).
Now, now, I hear some of you wondering: what if I don’t drink? What if I don’t like bourbon? What if I want my kids to eat them?
I’m so happy to say that this answer is really quite simple.
If you don’t want to use bourbon in the frosting, simply replace it with apple cider.
The apple cider most definitely (and quite obviously) compliments the cupcakes, amplifying that tangy apple cider flavor, keeping it just as delicious and unique.
Apple Cider or Apple Juice?
You may be wondering, can I substitute apple juice for apple cider? What’s the difference? Does it matter?
I myself just recently learned the official difference between the two, so let’s chat about it.
Apple cider is raw and as no filtration, which means it’s often a little more tart than its juice counterpart.
Apple juice, on the other hand, has been pasteurized and is shelf-stable, and it’s generally sweeter.
So can you swap them? Sure, I’m all for using what you have on hand, especially when these two ingredients truly are so similar.
However, if you do plan to use apple juice instead of cider, I highly recommend replacing 1-2 teaspoons of the juice with fresh lemon juice to add in the slightly tart component that cider would deliver.
Fall Dessert, Delivered.
The combination of everything though? The apple cider, the cinnamon, the cream cheese, and the bourbon…fall desserts have never looked so good!
Whether it’s for a spooky Halloween filled with sweet treats, or a grab-and-go Thanksgiving dessert, these Apple Cider Cupcakes are 100% going to hit the spot.
P.S. Why not deliver a batch to your friends this season? What an excellent way to spread a little cheer, even when we can’t be all that close.
P.S.S. These are also amazing with a little Bourbon Caramel drizzled on top. You’re welcome.
More Fall Apple Desserts to Love:Print
Bake these Apple Cider Cupcakes for a fun fall treat, with their moist, tender crumb and cream cheese frosting – you cannot go wrong! No bourbon? No problem, just use apple cider in the frosting, too.
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 2 TBSP vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons apple cider
- 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 TBSP Bourbon (or sub apple cider)
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups powdered sugar
- Optional: 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin tins with liners.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, use a hand or stand mixer, with a paddle attachment, to cream together sugars and butter for about 2-3 minutes. Once light and fluffy, add vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition, and scraping the sides as needed.
- Combine oil and apple cider. Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients together, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients (3 dry additions, 2 wet additions). Mix together the batter until just combined between each addition.
- Divide evenly between each muffin tin , filling approximately 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 14-17 minutes until the internal temperature reaches approximately 200°F. Be careful to not overbake. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, add softened cream cheese and butter; beat until fully combined and smooth. Add bourbon, and vanilla extract if using, stirring to combine. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing to combine between each addition. Continue mixing until smooth, adding an additional 1/2 cup of powdered sugar for a thicker texture. Spread on top of cupcakes and sprinkle with additional cinnamon as desired.
Make the frosting alcohol-free by substituting apple cider in place of the bourbon.
Apple cider or apple juice? You can use them interchangeably, however, if using juice I’d recommend replacing 1-2 teaspoons of it with lemon juice to add the tart flavor you get with apple cider.
When updated in October 2020, the flour increased from 1 1/4 cups to 1 1/2 cups, and the oil was added. The butter amount in the frosting was reduced from 1/4 cup to 2 TBSP to thicken the consistency, and additional apple cider was removed.
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: fall, Halloween, baking, autumn, cream cheese frosting, apple