Cherry cupcakes: spring into sweetness


I cannot tell a lie… I really love cherries. Sweet cherries, tart cherries, candied or covered in chocolate. OH yum!

When our beloved Andréa, test kitchen baker and wunderkind, was testing this recipe for Cherry Cupcakes, I fully admit to cruising through the kitchen more often than I normally do. I’d be hoping there was a batch coming out of the oven, or headed for the tasting plate. Let’s be frank, I was not above licking the occasional spoonful of batter, either.

What do I love so much about this particular recipe? It’s sweet enough, but not cloyingly sweet. The cherry flavor is pronounced, and there are actual bits of dried cherries in the batter, along with cherry concentrate. Talk about a big bang of flavor for your buck!

I adore the way that the sugar crust on the top of the cupcake gets a tiny bit crusty and a tiny bit chewy under the icing. Please sir, I want some more.

Bring on the Cherry Cupcakes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spritz a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray, add cupcake papers, and spritz the papers. This double-spritz will ensure that your cupcake papers pull away smoothly.

In a food processor, process 1/4 cup dried cherries with 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Pulse until the cherries are finely chopped.

In the bowl of your mixer, combine 1/4 cup unsalted butter and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Beat for about 90 seconds, until lightened in texture; then add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Beat for another minute, until well combined.

To the butter/sugar/oil add:

all of the sugar/cherry mixture

2 tablespoons Cake Enhancer, optional

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

3 tablespoons cherry concentrate

Blend for about 1 minute.

OK, let’s talk substitutes for a moment. If you don’t have the cake enhancer, you can leave it out. You know from reading our blogs and recipes that we love the lift it gives our baked goods, and how well it keeps them moist and fresh; but it’s not a deal breaker here.

If you have almond oil instead of extract, stick with half of the amount.

And now the biggie, cherry concentrate. Cherry concentrate is to cherries what maple syrup is to maple sap. The very essence of hundreds of cherries has been compressed into a syrup you can pour into any number of sweet or savory dishes. If you don’t have the concentrate, search out the best cherry juice you can find and use an equal amount. You’ll miss out on flavor, but your cupcakes will still be quite good.

Check out the funky pink batter.

Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, blending well after each.

To finish the batter, you’ll add 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend and 2/3 cup room-temperature milk. Alternate half of each, beginning with flour. Flour, milk, flour, milk. Blend for about 30 to 60 seconds between each addition.

Don’t beat the batter too hard at this point; you don’t want to get tunneling in your cupcakes. Tunneling is when you get holes in your cakes, making it look like little miners have been hard at work making Swiss cheese out of your lovely cupcake. Stick to a medium speed and you should be just fine.

No Cake Flour Blend? You can use all purpose flour, just expect the cupcakes to be a bit less tender and fluffy.

Fill your muffin cups about 2/3 full of batter. This will allow the cupcakes to dome slightly, but not overflow onto the top of the muffin tin and stick.

Bake the cupcakes at 350°F for 15 to 18 minutes, until the tops begin to brown slightly and a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting. For a pretty pink icing like in the photo, make our Quick Buttercream Frosting, using 2 tablespoons of cherry concentrate for 2 tablespoons of the milk in the recipe.

For me, this cupcake recipe is one I know I’ll return to again and again. Variations are already forming a line in my mind, fighting to see who’ll get made first. Here’s just some of what I’ve been thinking about:

Cherry Vanilla Cupcakes w/ vanilla buttercream icing

Chocolate-Covered Cherry w/ mini chocolate chips and fudge icing

Cherry-Blueberry with cherry-berry icing

How about you? Let us know your favorite cherry combo – it might become the next cupcake sensation!

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Cherry Cupcakes.

Print just the recipe.

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. juthurst

    Hmmm, my favorite cherry combo… Chocolate Covered Cherry cupcakes.
    Grate some Dove milk chocolate and add to batter along with your dried cherries.
    Also, make Italian meringue buttercream and use vanilla crush and a tsp of your cherry concentrate. Mix in drained, quartered maraschino cherries and a bunch of grated Dove milk chocolate.

    I made the layer cake version of that for my dad’s 70th birthday a few years back, covered sides of cake with chocolate curls… so yummy!
    Thank you so much for sharing your idea with us. It sounds wonderful! ~Amy

  2. Kristin

    What about refrigerating the cupcakes till the icing is firm, then dipping in chocolate ganache?
    I was totally thinking of making these into Hi-Hats for the chocolate cherry goodness. Great minds think alike, eh? ~ MaryJane

  3. jswc

    I may be the only person in the country who hasn’t fallen under the spell of the cupcake craze, but the flavors and texture of this sound phenomenal! How would I translate this quantity of batter into a regular cake – layer, sheet, or otherwise? And how long to bake?
    Thanks, Jeanne from NJ
    Hi Jeanne,
    This recipe will make one 9″ layer, round or square. Baking time will be about 20-25 minutes.
    p.s. It’s OK not to like cupcakes. Shhh, don’t tell anyone I just don’t like coffee, not even latte! ;) ~ MaryJane

  4. johnhutch1

    I follow about 20 different food blogs (you are high on the list) & save lots of post for reference. They can take up lots of room & if not organized well can be a pain to search. The best designed blogs have a photo & a paragraph on the recipe & then a link (for ex. (more) ) to bring up the entire recipe. This saves lots of time when scrolling down the “starred items” on Google Reader. It”s a real pain to scroll down 20 pages to get to the next recipe.

    Cherry cupcakes. Mmmmmmm…

    Not sure what you’re referring to, John. If you access the blogs via, then it’s exactly as you describe – photo/paragraph, then a link (“more”), then the next recipe with photo/paragraph… and so on. What am I missing? PJH

  5. anne_meanders

    These sound wonderful!!! And I just started Weight Watchers today. Argh. (Please don’t tell me I can have just one and record the points … I have never been able to “have just one”. Maybe these will be for my 30 pound loss celebration!)
    HI Anne,
    Welcome to WW! Several KAF employees are on program at this time including me and Susan Reid. I’m down 18.8# on week 11.
    Seriously, you can work sweets and treats into your plan. My way is to earn activity points beforehand, then have some goodies towards then end of the week when I have 10 or 12 to spend. You can also use your 49 extra points to work in treats too.
    It is really hard to make a full batch and only have one cupcake. That’s where co-workers and friends come in.
    So, just plan ahead for your treats and you’ll be rockin’ the program in no time. Keep us posted! ~ MaryJane

  6. johnhutch1

    I use Google Reader & activate a gold star to save recipes via Google. When I’m searching my Stared items I have to go thru 7 pages (or more) to get to the next recipe with your system. With others I have to go thru maybe 1or 2 pages. Maybe its just Google?

    Thanks, John – I’ll check this out with our tech folks, see if we can figure something out… PJH

    John, this is what our tech person says: “By default Google Reader displays all of the items in an ‘Expanded’ view which shows the entire post. If the user were to toggle this to the ‘List’ view then they would simply see the title of the blog and wouldn’t have to scroll through 7 pages (or more) to get to the next one. Unfortunately they will not see the images in this view, but they can click on any of the items in this view to expand/collapse one at a time. I know this is probably not what they’re looking for, but it is an alternative.” Hope this helps a bit- PJH

  7. kdmorgan77

    This looks great! How can I get the frosting to look like your photo? Was that done with a piping thingy? Sorry, don’t know much about decorating cakes…
    You are exactly right, this frosting was applied done with a straight pastry tip and piping bag.

  8. Anton

    I want to make these and top them with a cola flavored frosting. Cherry Cokes are one of those things that remind me of summer.
    ooohhh, what a cool idea! Thanks for sharing! ~ MaryJane

  9. mdb

    These look wonderful! I’ve been wanting to use the cherry concentrate, so now I have a good reason! How many cupcake liners do you use? I bought some really pretty ones, but once the cupcakes were baked, you couldn’t see the design. All you could see was the cupcake color. Any suggestions?
    If you really want the cupcake liner colors to show through, bake your cupcakes in plain liners, then place the baked cupcakes in the fresh, colorful ones. If you look at our cupcake photos online, you’ll often see two sets of liners used. At home, for family only, I just use one. :) ~ MaryJane

  10. S & S

    I think there is a problem in the substitutions:
    “If you have almond oil instead of extract, stick with 1/4 teaspoon.”
    This would be TWICE as much as the 1/8 tsp. of extract in the recipe.
    Yes, thanks to you and another commenter for giving us the heads up. I’ve corrected the blog now to read “stick with half of the amount”. Thanks again! ~ MaryJane

  11. baronesss

    There is a problem in the substitutions area: “If you have almond oil instead of extract, stick with 1/4 teaspoon.”
    That’s twice as much as the almond extract.
    Jinkies, you’re right! None of us caught that in all of our proofs. It should read, stick with half that amount”. I’m going in right now to fix it. Thanks for the help, Eagle Eyes :) ~ MaryJane

  12. "John VN"

    I was recently given a Chicago Metallic Giant 2.5 x 2 in Muffin Pan. It makes 6 Giant muffins vs 12 standard. Would I have to double the cooking time for these to work? or increase the temperature?

    Here is the general guideline I was taught when I was an apprentice. “When things get bigger, bake them lower and slower.” What this means is that as the item gets thicker than the original, you want to bake them at a lower temperature to prevent over browning of the crust and for a longer amount of time. In this situation, I’d reduce the temperature by 25 degrees and plan on about 5-15 minutes additional baking time. Give it a try. Frank @ KAF.

  13. andrea

    I’m going to bake this in my maryann pan and fill the well with softened Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, then drizzle something chocolate on top for a yummy ice cream cake.


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