These fun Elf cupcakes start with a moist pound cake cupcake that’s topped with a simple buttercream then all four of Buddy the Elf’s favorite food groups – candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup! These would be a great treat for a Christmas movie night or any holiday party!
One of my all-time favorite Christmas movies is Elf. I’ve written movie trivia games with questions about Elf, included the movie in my Christmas emoji game, it has its own space in our Christmas movie bingo, and it’s even an answer to one of my Christmas Jeopardy questions!
But before now, I’d never done an Elf inspired recipe, and I have no idea why. It’s such a fun movie with all sorts of talk about sweets and treats!
So today that changes with these fun Elf cupcakes!
If you’ve seen the movie, you probably remember that Buddy talks about his four favorite food groups on a regular basis – candy, candy corn, candy canes, and maple syrup.
So these cupcakes are topped with all of those! The actual cupcakes themselves are a vanilla pound cake recipe (made similar to my eggnog pound cake) that’s actually surprisingly light and fluffy!
Top it all with buttercream frosting and all the treats you can imagine and you have cupcakes that are perfect for Buddy and all the other Elf lovers out there!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Fun and festive – while these cupcakes are delicious, the reason I love them so much is simply because they’re such a fun recipe! And people who know the movie will recognize what they are immediately!
- Simple – just like any homemade cupcakes, these are really simple to make. It’s just tossing some ingredients in a bowl, mixing, and baking!
- Make ahead recipe – if you need something to make ahead of time, these are great! Bake the cupcakes then just store or freeze them until you’re ready to frost and decorate!
- Butter – you’ll want to use salted butter that’s soft for both the cupcakes and the buttercream frosting since this recipe doesn’t use additional salt.
- Milk – I recommend whole milk in all of my baking recipes.
- Toppings – since these are Elf cupcakes, I recommend using candy canes (or peppermint pieces like on these peppermint sugar cookies), candy corn, and some sort of Christmas candy like the gumdrops I used!
How to Make Elf Cupcakes
This recipe is not going to be your typical vanilla cupcake recipe since it’s a pound cake cupcake, but don’t worry – it’s still delicious and with the buttercream on top, the cupcakes stay nice and moist!
1 – Make the cupcakes
Start out by NOT preheating your oven but rather making sure it’s turned off and cold. You do need to line cupcake pans with 24 liners. I love using colorful cupcake liners to add some fun to the cupcakes!
Start by creaming together the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy.
Once it’s creamy, add eggs one at a time and beat until well mixed. Don’t add all six eggs at once, you really want to beat them each individually.
Next with the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour and milk to the creamed mixture, alternating between the two. Start with one cup of the flour, 1/3 cup of the milk, and so on until you get through all of the flour and milk.
Once those are well mixed, add in the vanilla to finish the cupcake batter.
Pour the batter evenly between the 24 cupcake liners. I like to use a large cookie scoop but you could also use a 1/4 or 1/3 cup measuring cup – just try to keep them as even as possible.
Place cupcake pans into the still COLD oven, then turn oven on at 325°F and bake for one hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. I start checking them around 50 minutes and remove them as soon as the toothpick comes out clean.
The cupcakes will also bounce back to the touch when they’re done.
Remove from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack until completely cool.
2 – make the buttercream frosting
While cupcakes are cooling, make the buttercream frosting by whipping the butter by itself until it’s fluffy.
Once the butter is fluffy, slowly add the powdered sugar and continue mixing until it is all mixed in
Add the vanilla extract and mix in. Then add one tablespoon of milk and mix and see if you get the consistency you want for piping. If it’s still too thick to pipe, add one more teaspoon of milk and mix again.
You want the frosting to be a thick, but easily piped, consistency, similar to the buttercream I used for my reindeer cake.
3 – Decorate the Elf cupcakes
Place your frosting in a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off with a round tip (or any tip you want really).
Pipe buttercream on each cupcake, then sprinkle with holiday sprinkles.
Then it’s time for the fun part – decorating! I split my cupcakes and topped four each with gumdrops, four with candy corn, four with mini candy canes, and four with maple syrup, and you can do that or any combination of those four toppings on one cupcake!
Even better if you set out bowls of all of those ingredients and let people top their own! Kids will love decorating their very own Elf cupcakes, just beware that the candy bowls will probably be empty quick!
Jus’t don’t forget the maple syrup drizzle on top! Or if you don’t want straight maple syrup, you could also combine maple syrup with some powdered sugar to do a maple drizzle on top!
Store cupcakes at room temperature in an airtight container for up to five days.
Freeze cupcakes before frosting in a freezer safe airtight container. I recommend wrapping the cupcakes in plastic wrap then placing a freezer bag and sealing. Freeze for up to three months and just thaw to room temperature when you’re ready to decorate and enjoy.
The milk in this recipe should keep these Elf cupcakes nice and moist. You want to make sure to use whole milk to also give the cupcakes a nice richness with the additional cream content of the milk.
More Easy Cupcake Recipes
If you like these Elf cupcakes, you have to try these other yummy cupcake recipes!
- Grinch cupcakes – these adorable Grinch cupcakes look just like the Grinch with his Santa hat on and taste delicious too!
- Santa cupcakes – red velvet cupcakes topped with an easy to make edible Santa hat will have kids smiling from hat to toe!
- Pumpkin cupcakes – these easy pumpkin cupcakes start with a doctored cake mix then get topped with a delicious cheesecake frosting!
- Lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting – bright and delicious lemon flavored cupcakes topped with a simple cream cheese frosting!
- Hot chocolate cupcakes – a super simple and super delicious recipe that’s adorable and it is tasty!
- 1 1/2 cups salted butter (softened)
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 TBS vanilla extract
- 2 pounds powdered sugar
- 3 cups salted butter (softened)
- 1/2 TBS vanilla extract
- 1 TBS milk (more as needed)
- holiday sprinkles
- mini candy canes
- holiday candy corn
- maple syrup
- Do NOT preheat the oven. Line cupcake pan with 24 liners.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy.1 1/2 cups salted butter, 2 1/2 cups sugar
- Add eggs one at a time and beat until well mixed.6 large eggs
- Next with the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour and milk to the creamed mixture, alternating between the two. Start with one cup of the flour, 1/3 cup of the milk, and so on until you get through all of the flour and milk.1 cup milk, 3 cups all purpose flour
- Once those are well mixed, add in the vanilla to finish the cupcake batter.1 TBS vanilla extract
- Pour batter evenly between the 24 cupcake liners.
- Place cupcake pans into COLD oven, then turn oven on at 325°F and bake for one hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack until completely cool.
- Place frosting in a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and pipe buttercream on each cupcake, then sprinkle with holiday sprinkles.
- Add gumdrops, candy corn, and mini candy canes to 6 cupcakes each, then drizzle the remaining 6 cupcakes with maple syrup.holiday sprinkles, gumdrops, mini candy canes, holiday candy corn, maple syrup
- While cupcakes are cooling start making the buttercream frosting by whipping the butter until it is fluffy.3 cups salted butter
- Once the butter is fluffy, slowly add the powdered sugar and continue mixing until it is all mixed in.2 pounds powdered sugar
- Add the vanilla extract and mix in.1/2 TBS vanilla extract
- Then add one tablespoon of milk and mix and see if you get the consistency you want for piping. If it’s still too thick to pipe, add one more teaspoon of milk and mix again.1 TBS milk