Get ready for a spooktacular treat with these Zombie Halloween Cupcakes!
These delicious cupcakes are filled with pumpkin buttercream and then topped with a simple chocolate buttercream, crushed Oreos, and eerie decorations.
They’re PERFECT for your next Halloween party.
Follow along as I guide you step by step through this fun and easy recipe that’s sure to impress all the ghosts and goblins in your life.
Why I love these cupcakes
- They’re super moist and fluffy and will stay that way for days!
- They have a surprise filling you don’t need to tell anyone about… and everyone loves surprises.
- They look as good as they taste (which is very good).
- The cupcakes are sweet, but not too sweet because of the ginger. So you can have more than one (maybe even three…)
For the cupcakes
- All-purpose flour: This versatile flour serves as the foundation of my cupcake batter, providing structure and a tender crumb that everyone will enjoy. You can also use cake flour, but don’t swap it for self raising flour or gluten-free flour.
- Cocoa powder: A key ingredient that adds a deep, rich chocolate flavor to the cupcakes, perfect for satisfying any chocolate lovers’ cravings.
- Pumpkin puree: A smooth and flavorful addition that brings a touch of fall to both the cupcakes and the buttercream filling. It’s what makes the cupcakes so moist!
- Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger): This warm and aromatic blend of spices adds depth and complexity to the cupcakes, and the ginger adds a bit of spice to counteract all the sweetness.
- Buttermilk: My favorite ingredient because it brings a touch of tanginess that balances the sweetness. You can make your own buttermilk by mixing a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar into regular milk and letting it rest for 10 minutes.
For the decorations
- Oreo cookies two ways: Crushed for a delightful crunchy topping that contrasts with the soft cupcake, and used whole as “tombstones” for added Halloween flair.
- Zombie hand cupcake toppers: A spooky and fun decoration that takes these Halloween cupcakes to the next level, making them the perfect centerpiece for your celebration.
- Buttercream: I use American buttercream in this recipe and use two different flavors (chocolate and pumpkin). If you only want to make one of the flavors that’s okay too! Make sure you use unsalted butter in the buttercream.
Step 1: Make the cupcake batter
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sifting ensures a smooth and well-combined dry mixture.
In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract until well combined.
Using an electric mixer, beat the softened unsalted butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition until the mixture is smooth and light in color.
Gradually (in 3 batches) fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing just until combined. Avoid over-mixing, use a gentle touch here.
Pro tip: I like using a hand mixer for small batches of cupcakes because I think it’s easier to keep the batter from going up the side of the bowl. We don’t want any waste!
Step 2: Bake the cupcakes
Fill the cupcake liners about two-thirds full with the batter.
Psst… use an ice cream scoop for uniform size and even baking.
Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack before moving on to the next step.
Step 3: Make the pumpkin and chocolate buttercreams
For the pumpkin buttercream, cream room temperature butter and pumpkin puree together with an electric mixer.
Add cinnamon, ginger, salt, and vanilla, and then gradually mix in confectioners’ sugar until creamy and well combined.
For the chocolate buttercream, beat softened butter and cocoa powder until smooth.
Add confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add milk and vanilla extract, and beat for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
Step 4: Fill and decorate the cupcakes
Once cooled, use the cone method to fill the cupcakes with pumpkin buttercream. To do this, cut a small cone shape out of the center of each cupcake, fill the cavity with about a teaspoon of buttercream, then replace the top part of the cone.
Now onto the fun bit!
Frost each cupcake with a generous amount of chocolate buttercream, creating a round and even top.
Dip the frosted tops into the finely crushed Oreos, ensuring they are completely coated.
Then, stick an Oreo Fudgee “tombstone” into the top of each cupcake and place a zombie hand cupcake topper in front of it for the perfect spooky touch.
To make the best zombie halloween cupcakes you’ll ever taste, follow these helpful hints and tricks:
- Use room temperature ingredients: Bring your butter, eggs, and buttermilk up to room temperature before starting. This helps create a smoother and lighter batter. It’s especially important for the eggs!
- Don’t overmix: When you combine the wet and dry ingredients, stop mixing as soon as there are no flour streaks left. Overmixing can cause the cupcakes to become dense and tough, which we definitely want to avoid.
- Test for doneness: To check if the cupcakes are baked, insert a toothpick into the center of a cupcake. If it comes out clean or with just a few crumbs, your cupcakes are ready. Start testing a few minutes before the end of the baking time.
- Allow cupcakes to cool completely: Before you start filling and frosting them. Otherwise the buttercream will melt and the decorations wont stay in place.
- Piping the buttercream: For a professional finish, use a piping bag and tip to apply the chocolate buttercream to the cupcakes. You can also use a ziploc bag with a small corner cut off.
Other decoration ideas
If you’re looking to add more variety to your Halloween cupcakes, there are plenty of other decoration ideas you can try.
Let your creativity run wild and put your own spooky spin on these cupcakes!
- Edible Candy Eyes: Add edible candy eyes to your cupcakes to give them an eerie, animated look. I get mine from my nearest craft shop, but I also see them in supermarkets.
- Spiderwebs: Use melted chocolate to create spiderweb designs on the top of your cupcakes. Simply pipe circles and then drag a toothpick through them to create the web effect. This ones great if you’ve got kids helping.
- Ghosts: Pipe mounds of white buttercream or whipped cream on top of your cupcakes, and then use a small round piping tip to create ghost faces with black icing or mini chocolate chips.
- Pumpkins: Create small pumpkins using orange-colored fondant or marzipan. Shape them into tiny spheres and use a toothpick to make indentations for the pumpkin grooves. Top each pumpkin with a small green fondant stem and place them on the cupcakes.
- Gummy Worms: Put a few gummy worms on top of the crushed Oreo “dirt” to give your cupcakes a creepy-crawly touch. Psst. If your leftover sweets are stale from Halloween, try my article on softening gummy sweets. It’ll revive them back to their original soft selves.
- Blood Splatter: Drizzle red-tinted corn syrup or piping gel over the cupcakes for a gruesome blood splatter effect. You can also use red food coloring mixed with a bit of water.
The key is to have fun and create something that will delight your family and friends during the Halloween season.
Looking for more Halloween treats? Check out my Dulce De Leche Pumpkin Cupcakes recipe!
Unfrosted Cupcakes: If you have unfrosted cupcakes, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Avoid storing them in the refrigerator, as this can dry them out.
Frosted Cupcakes: For frosted cupcakes, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Allow them to come to room temperature before serving for the best taste and texture.
Freezing: Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen for up to 3 months. For best results, wrap each cupcake individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and then place them in a resealable plastic freezer bag.
When you’re ready to enjoy them, let the cupcakes thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
You can also freeze the buttercream in a separate airtight container for up to 3 months.
If you want to make these cupcakes ahead of time, here are some suggestions to ensure they’re fresh and delicious when you’re ready to serve them.
You can bake the cupcakes and prepare the buttercream a few days in advance. But keep them separate until you want to serve.
You can also prepare the crushed Oreos and get any other decorations ready that you want to use.
Then all you need to do on the day is assemble.
Here’s a video that shows some similar zombie cupcakes – albeit with a different filling! Still delicious, nonetheless.
Zombie Halloween Cupcakes
- 1 cup + 2 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup + 3 3/4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup + 2 1/2 teaspoons buttermilk
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin puree
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2.25 ounces unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 3/4 teaspoons dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 3/4 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- Oreo decorations:
- 7 finely crushed Oreo sandwich cookies
- 6 Oreo Fudgees sandwich cookies pulled apart and filling removed
- 12 zombie hand cupcake toppers from Bake It Pretty
- Pumpkin buttercream:
- 1/2 cup + 2 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 tablespoons + 1 1/8 teaspoons pumpkin puree
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces confectioners’ sugar
- Chocolate buttercream:
- 1 stick unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 cup milk plus a few tablespoons to adjust consistency
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350F; line a cupcake tin with paper liners.
- Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl; set aside.
- Combine buttermilk, pumpkin and vanilla in a bowl; set aside.
- Beat butter and sugars together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until the mixture is smooth and light. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, blending well after each addition.
- Divide batter evenly among cupcake liners. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Cool cupcakes completely, then using the cone method, fill cupcakes with pumpkin buttercream (recipe follows).
- Frost each cupcake with chocolate frosting (recipe follows), then dip the frosted tops into the finely crushed Oreos to evenly coat. Stick an Oreo Fudgee “tombstone” into the top of each cupcake, and place a zombie hand in front of it.
- For the pumpkin buttercream: With electric mixer, cream butter and pumpkin (mixture will look grainy). Turn mixer to low and add cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla. Slowly add 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar at a time until the buttercream is creamy and no longer separating (the mixture will look grainy if there isn’t enough sugar mixed in).
- For the chocolate buttercream: Beat butter and cocoa until smooth, then add sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until smooth with each addition . Add milk and vanilla and beat for about 3 minutes.