20 Creative Thanksgiving Cupcake Ideas



Last Updated: Nov 2, 2021

There’s no denying Thanksgiving has a focus on eating and being indulgent, so if your guests still have room after feasting on roast turkey and all the trimmings, these Thanksgiving cupcake ideas are a perfect apres-dinner dessert.

Basic Cucpcake Recipe for Thanksgiving

Use the following recipe as guidance for the Thanksgiving cupcake ideas and decoration tips listed below:

Simple Thanksgiving Cupcake Recipe

Recipe by InstacartCourse: HolidaysCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



These fluffy holiday cupcakes are the perfect base for your Thanksgiving decorations!


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder

  • (optional: for chocolate cupcakes) 1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder


  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with liners.
  • Mix flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
  • In another bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until fluffy (approximately 6 minutes).
  • Add eggs, and scrape sides of the bowl to mix well.
  • Add vanilla extract and reduce mixer speed.
  • Add flour and buttermilk, a little at a time, alternating.
  • Fill cupcake liners 2/3 per cupcake.
  • Add cupcake pan to oven and bake for 20 minutes. Then check with a toothpick. If the toothpick does not come out clean, bake for an additional 4 minutes.
  • Let cool in pan, then begin decorating.


  • Decorate cupcakes to your seasonal preference!

Cute Thanksgiving cupcake ideas 

These Thanksgiving cupcake ideas are sure to win your guests over, and if you’re lucky enough to have any of these sweet treats leftover, most of these cupcakes can be stored and eaten past turkey day. So, for a mouthwatering dessert that will have your guests skipping the pumpkin pie, get inspired with these Thanksgiving cupcake recipes:

1. Sweet potato pie cupcakes

  1. Mix boxed cupcake mix with canned sweet potato, cinnamon, and nutmeg until combined.
  2. Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, and salt for the crust and press a tablespoon into each cupcake liner, fill with batter and bake until golden.
  3. For marshmallow frosting: beat butter and marshmallow crème, add powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and beat until creamy. Pipe or spoon frosting onto cupcakes and top with pecans.

2. Thanksgiving pumpkin pie cupcakes 

  1. Whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Mix pumpkin purée, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla and add to dry ingredients.
  3. Pour batter into liners and bake, then let cool.
  4. Top with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.

3. Candy apple cupcakes 

  1. Combine flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and salt, then beat applesauce, sugars, butter, sour cream, and eggs with a mixer. Add flour mixture and mix well.
  2. Bake and allow to cool.
  3. Over low heat, melt one pack of caramel candies, then add heavy cream and combine. Whilst still warm, spread each cupcake with caramel glaze. 
  4. Top with sprinkles, insert an ice cream stick in the middle of each cupcake, then place in the freezer for 5 minutes.

4. Carrot cake cupcakes 

  1. Mix boxed cupcake mix. Then beat together butter and sugars until smooth, add eggs, then add vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Add milk, mix until combined, and fold in carrots and pecans.
  2. Fill cupcake liners with batter, bake, then let cool. 
  3. Frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter with powdered sugar until smooth, then add vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Finish with toasted pecans. 

5. Baileys cupcakes

  1. Cupcakes: Combine boxed cake mix with vegetable oil, eggs, and ¾ cup of Baileys. Bake and let cool completely before adding frosting.
  2. Frosting: Combine butter, half the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup of Baileys, cocoa powder, vanilla, and a pinch of salt and beat until smooth. Add the remaining powdered sugar and beat until fluffy.
  3. Finish with chocolate sauce and chocolate curls. 

 6.  RumChata boozy vanilla cupcakes

  1. Mix cupcake mix, oil, eggs, and 1 cup Rumchata until creamy. Bake and let cool.
  2. Frosting: Combine butter, 2 cups powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and ¼ cup of Rumchata and beat until smooth. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat until light and silky.
  3. Pipe RumChata frosting onto cupcakes and finish with more cinnamon.

 7. Reese’s stuffed cupcakes 

two chocolate cupcakes filled chocolate cream with chocolate icing in colorful paper case.
  1. Prepare cupcake mix, fill each cupcake liner with the batter. Place 1 Reese’s into the center of each one. Bake and then let cool.
  2. Peanut butter frosting: Cream together peanut butter and butter, add powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt, and beat well. Add heavy cream and beat until creamy.
  3. Frost your cupcakes and top with another Reese’s, drizzle with melted chocolate. 

8. Pumpkin spice cupcakes

  • Whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  • Beat butter and sugars together until fluffy, beat in eggs, add vanilla and pumpkin purée, and beat until combined. Add to dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Pour batter into liners, bake and let cool completely.
  • Frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter until creamy, add powdered sugar, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, salt, and beat until smooth. 

9. Cornbread cupcakes with honey buttercream frosting

  • Make boxed cake mix, then beat the butter, honey, and sugar together until creamy. Beat the eggs in one at a time, then add this to half of the dry mixture and combine. Add the remaining dry mixture and mix well.
  • Fill tins with batter, bake, then cool. 
  • Frosting: Whisk together milk, cream, and flour, and cook over medium-high heat. Once thickened, place it in the freezer for 20 minutes (or in the fridge for a few hours). Remove when the mixture is cooled.
  • Meanwhile, beat butter, add honey and powdered sugar, and mix until fluffy. Add the cooled mixture in gradually and beat until combined. 
  • Pipe on honey buttercream frosting when cooled.

10.  Ferrero Rocher stuffed cupcakes

  1. Prepare cake mix. Fill cupcake tins with batter and place a Ferrero Rocher chocolate on the batter. Top with more batter, so the tins are 3/4 full. Bake until no longer wet.
  2. Buttercream: Beat butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Next, beat in Nutella, vanilla, and salt until smooth. 
  3. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Garnish with chopped Ferrero Rocher pieces.

Easy thanksgiving cupcake decorating ideas

You can turn regular cupcakes into anything you desire by getting creative with your baking and candy supplies. Try adorable turkey cupcake ideas or owl cupcakes:

11. Pretzel turkey cupcakes 

  1. Fill a piping bag with frosting and make one large dollop for the turkey body and one small one on top for the face.
  2. Place two pretzels on the back of the cupcake to make the tail, then arrange candy corn pieces to finish the tail. Use candy corn for the beak and three brown M&Ms for the wings.
  3. Place two candy eyes above the beak to finish the turkey cupcake.

12. Nutter butter turkey cupcakes

  1. For the turkey’s head, use candy eyeballs, M&M’s, and licorice arranged on Nutter Butter cookies.
  2. Use chocolate wafers coated in sprinkles—using glaze as glue—for the wings.
  3. Stick candy corn around the edge of gingersnap cookies to create the tail.
  4. Take orange slices and create fanlike shapes for the feet.
  5. Place a Nutter Butter cookie into the front of each cupcake, press the wings in behind the head, and stick the tail into the back to complete your turkey cupcake.

13. Simple turkey cupcakes

Chocolate turkey cupcakes, the perfect Thanksgiving dinner dessert.
  1. Arrange candy corn around the top edge of the frosted cupcake as the turkeys tail and one as the beak.
  2. Then add candy-coated chocolate pieces (such as M&M’s) as the turkey’s eyes.

14. Owl cupcakes

  1. Frost your cupcakes with chocolate frosting, creating two ears by making swirls on the top.
  2. For the owl’s eyes, use a split in half Oreo, icing side up, then place mini M&Ms on top of Oreo halves for eyeballs, using frosting to stick.
  3. Use an orange mini M&M for the owl’s beak.

15. Pilgrim hat cupcake decorating 

  1. Pipe buttercream onto cooled cupcakes and add sprinkles.
  2. Next, place a miniature Reese’s peanut butter cup upside down on the chocolate side of each of the fudge cookies. Use the frosting around the base of the peanut butter cup to stick it to the cookie and use it to draw a buckle on the peanut butter cup.
  3. Place one chocolate pilgrim hat on top of each frosted cupcake.

16. Tree cupcake decoration 

  1. Cut chocolate-flavored licorice (Chocolate Twizzlers work) into 3-3 1/2in pieces. Cut one end into several thin strips to make branches—place licorice on the baking sheet.
  2. Microwave 1/2 a cup chocolate chips and stir until melted. Spoon into a small ziptop bag and snip tip off one corner.
  3. Pipe chocolate on top of licorice; sprinkle with chocolate-covered sunflower seeds. Let stand at room temperature until set.
  4. Frost cupcakes, insert a tree into each cupcake and sprinkle with additional sunflower seeds.

17. Pumpkin pull-apart 

  1. Tint 4 cups of vanilla frosting orange. Tint 1⁄2 a cup of vanilla frosting green. 
  2. Arrange cupcakes into a pumpkin shape. Frost the body of pumpkin orange. Pipe face and stem with chocolate frosting. Pipe leaves and vines with green frosting.

18. Tail feather cupcake decoration

  1. For cookies: Prepare sugar dough and cut out turkey head shapes, then bake. Use orange & black royal icing for wattles and eyes.
  2. For the feathers: Melt candy melts in microwave on 50% power in 30-second intervals—stir until melted. Drop spoonfuls onto baking paper and use a brush to shape them into feathers. Let cool completely and decorate cupcakes.

19. Apple doughnut cupcake decoration

  1. Use red-tinted buttercream to “glue” a doughnut to the top of each cupcake. Frost the whole doughnut, then coat in red sanding sugar.
  2. For the stem, use a pretzel stick and use a green sour candy as the leaf.

20. Pumpkin patch decoration

Autumn pumpkin cupcakes on a wooden serving platter over rustic wood
  1. Frost the tops with orange-tinted buttercream  
  2. For the pumpkin leaves and vines, use green-tinted buttercream. 
  3. Turn the cupcakes on their sides, and tuck in a pretzel stick on the top—near the green leaves—to look like a stem.

Start planning your Thanksgiving cupcakes

With so many Thanksgiving cupcake ideas, you could bake and create delicious cupcakes to delight all types of dinner guests. Start planning your cupcake recipes by making sure your pantry is stocked full with baking supplies. Shop your groceries with Instacart and get all your Thanksgiving food delivered to you to prepare for turkey day festivities!



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