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Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes

I first made these ice cream sundae cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday, and they were a MASSIVE hit.

Ice cream in cupcake form? Who could say no to that?

The base is a chocolate cupcake, which is filled with rich chocolate ganache, topped with smooth vanilla buttercream, and then drizzled with more chocolate ganache. 

To finish it off, I decorated the cupcakes with colorful sprinkles and maraschino cherries. YUM.

Why I love this recipe

And why you will too…

  • They’re super moist and fluffy and stay that way for days.
  • They have a surprise filling you don’t need to tell anyone about.
  • They look as good as they taste (which is REALLY good).
  • They’ll transport you straight back to childhood Sundays spent on the beach.


  • Sugar: The key ingredient for sweetness in both the cupcakes and frosting.
  • All-purpose flour: I think all purpose flour makes the best cupcakes, with the softest, fluffiest texture. You can also use cake flour if it’s what you have.
  • Cocoa powder: Adds a rich, chocolatey flavor to the cake. If you don’t have cocoa powder, I did an experiment to find the best substitutes!
  • Baking powder and baking soda: These are leavening agents that help the cupcakes rise and gives them an airy texture.
  • Eggs and milk: make sure these are at room temperature before adding them to the batter.
  • Vanilla extract: Every baker’s right-hand man!
  • Semisweet chocolate: The chocolate is used for the ganache filling and glaze, it’s sweet but not overwhelmingly so.
  • Heavy cream: To give the ganache a smooth and velvety texture.
  • Unsalted butter: Go for unsalted butter if you have a choice, then you can control the amount of salt in the recipe.
  • Light corn syrup: I used this in the ganache glaze to give it a glossy finish and a touch of sweetness.
  • Sprinkles: To add a pop of color and fun to the ice cream sundae-inspired decorations. I used colored sprinkles, but you can go for chocolate ones too.
  • Maraschino cherries: The cherry on top (literally), I thought this completed the cupcakes and gave them an authentic ice cream sundae look.


Step 1: Prepare the cupcake batter

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt). Sift them first to ensure a lump-free batter.

Add eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract, and beat with an electric whisk on medium speed for around 2 minutes.

Stir in boiling water to help the cocoa powder ‘bloom’ and develop its flavor.

Hint: I like using a hand mixer instead of a stand mixer for smaller batches of cupcakes because you get more control!

Step 2: Bake the cupcakes

Line a muffin tin with paper baking cups and fill each cup 3/4 full with the batter. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 3: Make the ganache filling and fill the cupcakes

While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the chocolate ganache filling by heating the heavy cream, then slowly pouring it over the chopped semisweet chocolate.

The cream will melt the chocolate. Add some butter and then let the mixture chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes until slightly thickened but still pourable.

Use a knife to make a small cone shape in the cupcakes, and pour in the ganache.

Hint: To keep things neat while filling the cupcakes, use a piping bag with a small tip.

Step 4: Prepare the vanilla buttercream

Beat softened butter until it takes on a pale and creamy color, then gradually add sugar while continuing to beat.

Add vanilla extract and mix until the buttercream is smooth and spreadable.

Hint: For extra-fluffy buttercream, use the paddle attachment on your mixer.

Step 5: Make the ganache glaze

For the ganache glaze, heat heavy cream and light corn syrup in a small saucepan until it simmers.

Pour the mixture over chopped semisweet chocolate and let it sit for a minute before stirring gently until completely combined and glossy.

Step 6: Decorate the cupcakes

Frost the filled cupcakes with the vanilla buttercream using a round piping tip (or a ziploc bag with the corner cut off).

Spoon the ganache glaze on top of the buttercream, then immediately add the sprinkles. Finish by pushing a maraschino cherry into the top of each mound of frosting.

Hint: To create a professional-looking finish, consider using a piping bag fitted with a round tip for the buttercream frosting and a small spoon for the ganache glaze.

Tips to perfect your cupcakes

Cupcakes look simple to make, but there are a few things that can go wrong! Here are my top tips to get perfect cupcakes every time.

  1. Room temperature ingredients: Use room temperature eggs, milk, and butter for the best results. This helps create a smoother, more evenly mixed batter. And room temperature eggs aerate better than cold ones.
  2. Don’t overmix the batter: Mix the batter just until the ingredients are combined to avoid overworking the gluten in the flour, which can result in tougher cupcakes. Stop as soon as there are no flour streaks left.
  3. Toothpick test: The toothpick test is a great way of telling when your cupcakes are done. Stick one into the thickest part of the cupcakes and it should come out clean, or with a few dry crumbs attached.
  4. Piping techniques: Practice your piping skills on a plate or parchment paper before decorating the cupcakes if you’re a bit rusty!
  5. Baking in batches: If you don’t have enough muffin tins or space to bake all the cupcakes at once, bake them in batches.


If you’re looking to switch things up and add a personal touch to these delightful ice cream sundae cupcakes, here are some variations to inspire you:

  1. Different cake flavors: Swap out the chocolate cupcake base for vanilla, red velvet, or even a funfetti cupcake (kids would love funfetti!)
  2. Swap the filling: Instead of chocolate ganache, try filling the cupcakes with lemon curd, cream, or dulce de leche. How about trying coconut cream or its alternatives?
  3. Alternate frostings: Experiment with other frosting flavors, such as strawberry or caramel buttercream, to add another flavor level to your cupcakes.
  4. Toppings galore: Get creative with the toppings by using crushed cookies, chopped nuts, mini chocolate chips, or even edible glitter to give the cupcakes more of a wow factor.
  5. Boozy cupcakes: For an adult spin on the recipe, add a splash of your favorite liqueur to the ganache filling or buttercream frosting, such as Kahlúa, Bailey’s Irish Cream, or Grand Marnier. You could keep the alcohol flavor subtle and use something like rum extract or a similar substitute like brandy extract.

Storage Instructions

Storing leftover cupcakes: Store any unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Keep them in a cool, dry place.

Refrigerating cupcakes: If you need to store the cupcakes for longer, or you’ve frosted them, place them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Always leave time for the cupcakes to come back to room temperature before serving.

Freezing cupcakes: You can also freeze unfrosted cupcakes for up to 3 months. To freeze, wrap each cupcake individually in plastic wrap and place them in an airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bag. When you’re ready to enjoy them, defrost the cupcakes in the refrigerator overnight.

Make ahead tips

You can bake the cupcakes and make the ganache filling, buttercream frosting, and ganache glaze up to 2 days ahead.

Store the baked cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature, and keep the ganache filling, buttercream frosting, and ganache glaze in the fridge in separate containers.

Allow the ganache and buttercream to come to room temperature before using, and gently reheat the ganache glaze to make it pourable. Fill, frost, and decorate the cupcakes just before you want to serve them.

Ice Cream Sundae Cupcake on a small serving plate

Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes

Chocolate cupcakes with ganache filling and vanilla buttercream frosting, drizzled with ganache glaze. Topped with sprinkles and a cherry.
5 from 1 vote
Print Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 12 cupcakes


  • For the cupcakes:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • Sprinkles for decoration
  • Maraschino cherries for decoration
  • For the ganache filling:
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter room temperature
  • For the vanilla buttercream:
  • 6 ounces 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces confectioners’ sugar sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the ganache glaze:
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon light corn syrup


  • For the cupcakes: Heat oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper baking cups.
  • Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
  • Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
  • Using the cone method, fill cupcakes with chocolate ganache (recipe follows). Frost with buttercream (recipe follows) using a round piping tip, then spoon chocolate ganache glaze (recipe follows) on top of buttercream. Put sprinkles on as soon as you finish putting the ganache on each cupcake, just in case the ganache hardens too much for the sprinkles to stick. Push a maraschino cherry into the top of each mound of frosting (the ones with stems make a better presentation!).
  • For the ganache filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and stir until combined.
  • I put the ganache in the refrigerator to firm it up just a little teeny bit, about 15-20 minutes I think it was. It was still pourable, but it wasn’t dripping everywhere, either.
  • For the vanilla buttercream: Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • Reduce speed to medium. Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes. (After every 2 additions, increase speed to high, and beat for 10 seconds, then reduce speed to medium-high). Add vanilla, and beat until buttercream is smooth.
  • For the ganache glaze: Place chocolate in a medium-size heatproof bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup just to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; pour mixture over chocolate. Let stand, without stirring, until chocolate begins to melt.
  • Gently stir chocolate and cream until totally combined; begin near the center of the bowl and gradually work your way toward the edge, pulling in as much chocolate as possible, until the mixture is smooth and glossy.

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