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These bright and colorful M&M cupcakes are super soft and moist thanks to the cake flour, sour cream, and buttermilk. Topped with a homemade vanilla frosting or classic buttercream, these fun and festive cupcakes can be ready in just 30 minutes!

M&M cupcakes on marble counter.
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M&M Cupcake Recipe

I started making these cupcakes with M&M’s, which I adapted from my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, for my kids’ birthdays because I needed something super fun and festive but quick and easy too. 

I know everyone loves a soft fluffy cupcake topped with vanilla frosting, but the swirls of color and the bits of crunchy candy-coated chocolate inside make them even better.  

M&M cupcakes definitely draw a crowd with their youthful and cheery presentation. They’re playful and bright and I really don’t know who loves them more, the adults or the kids!

Why We Love M&M Cupcakes

  • Everyone loves them. They look like something straight out of Willy Wonka’s bakery (if he had one). They’re bright and beautiful and are quickly devoured by all! 
  • Versatile. M&M cupcakes are great for kids’ birthday parties, potlucks, any dessert table, St Patrick’s day, bake sales, you name it!
  • Homemade. There’s no comparing anything store-bought. Cupcakes made from scratch are always worth the extra bit of effort!
M&M cupcake ingredients on marble counter.

Ingredients Needed

  • Cake flour: A much lighter and softer flour than all-purpose flour which will give your cupcakes a tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture.
  • Granulated sugar: For sweetness!
  • Baking powder: A leavening agent that will help the cupcakes achieve maximum rise.
  • Sea salt: A flavor enhancer. 
  • Unsalted butter: I use unsalted so that I can control the amount of salt in these cupcakes. Be sure to bring the butter out to room temperature ahead of time so that it is soft enough to easily cream. Learn how to soften butter quickly.
  • Buttermilk & sour cream: For richness, tang, and added moisture in these cupcakes. The acidity in both reacts with the baking powder resulting in the perfect consistency. If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, learn how to make buttermilk from scratch with just milk and vinegar (or lemon juice).
  • Vanilla extract: A warm vanilla flavor needed for vanilla cupcakes!
  • Large eggs & egg white: We’re using whole eggs as well as egg whites. When I say these cupcakes are fluffy, I mean it!
  • M&M’s: For the batter and decoration on top. Use whatever colors you like. Make these M&M cupcakes your own!
Step by step collage making m&m cupcakes.

How to Make M&M Cupcakes

I use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, but you can also use an electric mixer and a large mixing bowl if preferred. Find the full printable recipe below.

  1. Mix dry ingredients. Stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in the bowl, then turn the mixer to low and beat in the butter for a minute. Turn it up to medium speed and continue to beat the butter into the flour mixture until it is combined into a coarse texture. 
  2. Add wet ingredients. Reduce the speed back down again to low and mix in the buttermilk, sour cream, and vanilla until combined. Turn it back up to medium again and beat for 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go. On low again, mix in whole 1 egg, followed by the egg white, and mix on medium until the batter is smooth. 
  3. Fold in M&M’s. Using a spatula, gently mix in the M&M’s being careful to ensure they’re evenly dispersed without overmixing the batter. You want to avoid releasing too much of the trapped air needed for light and fluffy cupcakes!
  4. Bake the cupcakes. Divide the cupcake batter evenly into the prepared muffin pan to about 3/4 full and bake for 18-22 minutes. When a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, they’re done. Remove and let them cool in the pan before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Decorate with Frosting

I like to use a piping bag with a 1M or 1A frosting tip for vanilla frosting.

Classic buttercream frosting and chocolate buttercream frosting are two others that pair well with this recipe, so sometimes I like to do some of each. 

Cupcakes need to be completely cooled beforehand, so the frosting doesn’t melt. 

Once frosted, top with a few more M&M’s!

An Easier Option

Use this easy vanilla cupcake recipe (made with cake mix) and add in mini M&M’s instead of white chocolate chips! It’s great for when you need something quick and still absolutely delicious.

How to Separate Egg Whites

Grab two small bowls and an egg. Gently tap the egg on the side of one of the bowls, being careful not to break the egg completely. Hold the egg upright, and break it apart over one of the bowls, leaving the bottom half with the egg yolk and remaining egg white. 

Then carefully transfer the egg yolk back and forth between the two halves of the shells. You’ll notice the egg whites naturally fall into the bowl, leaving behind just the yolk in one of the empty shell halves. Place that yolk in the other bowl. 

Recipe Tips

  • Measure ingredients correctly. My post on how to measure flour is really useful if you’re interested. Too much flour can make or break a baking recipe and one of the ways to avoid that is to use the spoon and level method.
  • Vanilla. Use a really good quality pure vanilla extract if you can. These cupcakes rely heavily on that delicious vanilla flavor and some lower-quality extracts have the overwhelming taste of alcohol. You can also use vanilla bean paste!
  • Room temperature ingredients. The butter, eggs, buttermilk, and sour cream all must start at the same temperature for even baking. 
  • Make ahead. Combine all of the dry ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and store it in a cool dry area for the mood strikes to bake a cake or a batch of cupcakes. You’ll be halfway there!
  • Gift-giving. Tie a bow around that jar, give it a cute little label with the recipe on it, and give it to family or friends as a gift!

FAQs

What is the secret to super moist cupcakes?

It’s no secret! You need to make sure your ratio of dry to wet ingredients is accurate. The right liquids and fat (i.e. sour cream, oil, buttermilk, yogurt, butter, etc.) are used in the proportion needed.

It’s also important not to overmix, not to overfill your cupcake liners, and to ensure all ingredients are starting at room temperature. 

Baking truly is a science!

Why are my cupcakes moist on top?

This is usually due to the condensation that happens when cupcakes have been stored before having been completely cooled. The heat gets trapped and has nowhere to go, but right back on top.

How do I make sure my cupcakes stay moist?

Once they have been completely cooled, it’s important to lock in the moisture by keeping them stored in an airtight container. Whatever moisture the cupcakes do contain (heat not included) will remain intact for a few days. You can also add a piece of bread in the container to help keep them moist.

Storing Tips

Keep leftover cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. They don’t need to be kept in the fridge. The powdered sugar in the frosting will stabilize it and preserve it while it stays on the counter.

If you’re planning to bake the cupcakes a few days before, feel free to store the frosting separately and assemble everything just before serving. This way the M&M’s won’t be discolored from the frosting by the time you serve them!

M&M cupcake with vanilla frosting.

More Fun M&M Desserts

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Check out these other easy and delicious desserts filled with M&M’s!

M&M cupcake with vanilla frosting.

M&M Cupcakes

5 from 4 votes
These bright and colorful M&M cupcakes are super soft and moist thanks to the cake flour, sour cream, and buttermilk. Topped with a homemade vanilla frosting or classic buttercream, these fun and festive cupcakes can be ready in just 30 minutes!
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 18 mins
Total Time: 33 mins
Servings: 12

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 cups (190 grams) cake flour
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter , at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (175 grams) buttermilk , at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 1 large egg , at room temperature
  • 1 large egg white , at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup M&M's , plus more for topping

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • Turn the mixer to low and beat in the butter for 1 minute. Turn speed to medium and beat 30 seconds, or until the butter is combined and the mixture is coarse in texture.
  • Reduce the speed to low, and mix in the buttermilk, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean paste for 1 minute, or until combined. Turn the mixer to medium and beat 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
  • Turn the mixer to low, and add egg. Pour in the egg white and mix on medium-high for 30 seconds, or until the batter is smooth. Fold in M&M's. Pour the batter evenly into the cupcake liners, about 3/4 full.
  • Bake 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes in the pan before transferring cupcakes to a rack to cool completely.
  • Frost cooled cupcakes using a 1M or 1A frosting tip. Top each cupcake with a few M&M's.

Notes

Make Ahead: Measure out all of the dry ingredients and keep them stored in a sealed jar as a great gift or to make a quick cake or cupcakes when the mood strikes. 
From Cake Mix: Follow this easy vanilla cupcake recipe to start with a cake mix. Then follow with adding the M&M’s and frosting after they’ve been baked and cooled.
Vanilla: Use a really good vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste, since these cupcakes rely heavily on its flavor. 
Frosting: Two of my favorites are classic buttercream frosting and chocolate buttercream frosting.

Serving: 1g | Calories: 497kcal | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 79mg | Sodium: 137mg | Potassium: 213mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 523IU | Calcium: 87mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Jamielyn Nye

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