Hot Cocoa Cupcakes

published Dec 5, 2023
Hot Cocoa Cupcakes Recipe

Make hot cocoa cupcakes with a rich, chocolatey cake and easy marshmallow fluff frosting.


Prep40 minutes

Cook20 minutes to 22 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Close up shot of one hot cocoa cupcake, with the wrapper coming off,  on a white surface, dusted with powdered hot cocoa and topped with mini marshmallows.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

I love a nostalgic dessert, and these hot cocoa cupcakes are right up my alley. They remind me of a cozy cup of hot chocolate with those tiny little marshmallows. 

In this recipe, I add prepared store-bought hot cocoa mix to the cupcake batter, which gives it that special something. To take things up a notch, an easy frosting made with marshmallow fluff brings it all together. You can add extra mini marshmallows on top, but I prefer marshmallow bits — those teeny-tiny dehydrated marshmallows have a delightful crunch and look so cute sprinkled over the cupcakes.

What Type of Frosting Is Best for Hot Cocoa Cupcakes?

The best frosting for hot cocoa cupcakes involves fluffy marshmallows. Here, I skip the time-consuming Swiss meringue, and opt for making an easy American buttercream with marshmallow fluff instead. Finish with a sprinkle of extra hot cocoa mix and your choice of marshmallow bits or mini marshmallows.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

How to Make Hot Cocoa Cupcakes

  • Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk together all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt.
  • Bloom the hot cocoa mix. Whisk hot water into cocoa mix until smooth. Then, add buttermilk, canola oil, vanilla, and eggs. 
  • Mix the batter. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Divide the batter between the lined cups of a muffin tin.
  • Bake the cupcakes. Bake at 350ºF until a tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  • Make the frosting. Beat softened butter and powdered sugar together until smooth. Add marshmallow fluff and beat until smooth.
  • Assemble the cupcakes. Frost the cupcakes, then sprinkle with hot cocoa mix and marshmallow bits.

Tips for Baking Moist Hot Cocoa Cupcakes

  • Bring your ingredients to room temperature before you begin. Room temperature ingredients blend together more easily, so you can achieve a smooth batter without overmixing.
  • Add buttermilk to the batter. The acidity activates baking soda, yielding a light, springy crumb.
  • For a tender crumb, mix the batter until just combined. Overmixing will produce tough cupcakes and cause tunneling.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

Hot Cocoa Cupcakes Recipe

Make hot cocoa cupcakes with a rich, chocolatey cake and easy marshmallow fluff frosting.

Prep time 40 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes to 22 minutes

Makes 12

Nutritional Info


For the cupcakes:

  • 1/2 cup


  • 2

    large eggs

  • 12

    paper cupcake liners

  • 1 1/4 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1/3 cup

    unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup

    hot chocolate mix without marshmallows (one 1.38-ounce packet)

  • 1/2 cup

    hot water

  • 1/3 cup

    canola or vegetable oil

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

For the frosting and assembly:

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 3 cups

    powdered sugar

  • 7 ounces

    marshmallow fluff (about 2 cups)

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • Hot chocolate mix without marshmallows (optional)

  • Marshmallow bits or mini marshmallows (optional)


Make the cupcakes:

  1. Measure out 1/2 cup buttermilk. Place 2 large eggs on the counter. Let both sit out until room temperature.

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Line a standard 12-well muffin tin with paper liners.

  3. Place 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

  4. Place 1/4 cup hot chocolate mix without marshmallows in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup hot water and whisk until smooth. Add the buttermilk, 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and whisk until combined. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition, until combined.

  5. Add half of the flour mixture and fold together with a flexible spatula until just combined. Repeat folding in the remaining flour mixture.

  6. Divide the batter evenly between the wells of the muffin pan, filling each one almost to the top (heaping 1/4 cup each).

  7. Bake until a tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Use a butter knife or mini offset spatula to help to remove cupcakes from the pan. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, make the frosting.

Make the frosting and assemble:

  1. Place 1 stick unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or medium bowl if using an electric hand mixer), and let sit at room temperature until softened. Add 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Beat with the paddle attachment on high speed until smooth and just combined, about 30 seconds.

  2. With the mixer on low speed, beat in 3 cups powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add 7 ounces marshmallow fluff (about 2 cups) and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Beat on medium-low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.

  3. Spoon the frosting onto the cupcakes, or transfer to a piping bag fitted with a tip and pipe onto the cupcakes. Dust with more hot chocolate mix if desired. Garnish with marshmallow bits or mini marshmallows if desired.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The cupcakes and frosting can be made up to 1 day in advance and stored separately. Store the cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature. Refrigerate the frosting in an airtight container. Let the frosting sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before frosting the cupcakes.

Alternatively, the unfrosted cupcakes can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 months. Let thaw at room temperature before frosting.

Storage: The frosted cupcakes can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.