Cute and easy grinch cupcakes recipe and tutorial for Christmas, homemade with simple ingredients. Decorated with green buttercream icing, sprinkles and candies. No fondant required for these DIY holiday cupcake toppers.
Even thought the Grinch can often be looked at as a negative symbol during Christmas time, we all seem to love him just the same. I know I do! Maybe it is because we remember that in the end he had a bigger heart that any Who around! Speaking of bigger, you may want to try out the larger version of these cupcakes by making a Grinch Cake. And if you are looking for more fun ways to kick off the holidays, try my Christmas Tree Cake and Christmas Donuts, or check out all these great Christmas Food Ideas for Kids.
Table of contents
Key ingredients for Christmas cupcakes
- Chocolate cupcakes- This recipe is for 24 of them, so plan accordingly.
- Buttercream icing- With green coloring to use as the fur.
- Truffle balls- Like unwrapped Lindt or Ferrero Rocher balls.
- M&Ms- Get the regular sized kind and pick out the yellow ones to use as the eyes.
- Black icing- Store bought or homemade will work.
- Sprinkles- You will need long black jimmies and red hearts.
- Toppers- You can add a Santa hat topper, if desired.
Give a fun surprise in each bite- By making this Red Velvet Cake and cut out small heart shapes. Put them inside the green cupcake batter and bake.
Add a filling- Check out my post on How to Fill Cupcakes, and then try using different fillings like Strawberry Jam, Crockpot Apple butter, Raspberry Pie Filling, Whipped Cream, Chocolate Whipped Cream, or even Vanilla Pudding.
Ice cream cone version- You can follow the same decorating tutorial for Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes and make some with a festive spin.
Pull apart cupcakes- You want to make a defined shape with the cupcakes similar to this Football Cupcakes Cake or Watermelon Cupcakes. In this case you want to arrange the cupcakes in a wide diamond form. Then, pipe the top with icing for all the facial details and add candies and sprinkles where necessary to make it look like a Grinch face.
Abstract Grinch- Just pipe the green shaggy icing fur on the cupcakes. Don't add any face details. Instead, stick a single red sugar heart or fondant heart on top. It's an abstract interpretation of the Grinch.
Hat topper- You can pipe the hat with red icing or you can use store-bought cardboard or plastic hat cupcake toppers like I did. You can omit the hat altogether, too.
Use gel coloring- Rather than liquid food coloring.
Instead of using sprinkles or candy- Simply use fondant or pipe the grinch eyebrows, eyes, and heart onto the cupcake.
Make a festive flavored cupcake- Such as Gingerbread Cupcakes or add peppermint extract to one of your favorite cupcake recipes.
How to make easy grinch cupcakes recipe from scratch?
- Bake cupcakes- And allow them to cool while you prepare the frosting.
- Spread a thin layer of icing- On top of the cupcake. (1)
- Place a truffle in the center- And press gently to secure it in place. (2)
- Prepare piping bag- With green icing and a grass tip.
- Start piping from the bottom of the cupcake- And work your way upwards until sides and top are fully covered in "fur." (3,4, 5)
- Draw black eyeballs- On all the m&m candies with an edible marker and stick them near the top for eyes. (6)
- Place black sprinkles- Above the eyes to look like eyebrows and a heart sprinkle on the side (7)
- Use black icing- To pipe a dot for the nose in the middle and a wide mouth near the bottom. (8)
Tips and techniques
You want a medium consistency icing- If it's too firm, it won't push through the piping bag. If it's too runny, it won't hold its "shaggy fur" shape.
To achieve the fur look- Start piping from the bottom of the cupcake and work your way upwards. You want to hold your piping bag at a 45 degree angle and then squeeze the bag until icing comes out. Then, pull away gently and let the "shags" fall. For another example of this, check out my Cookie Monster Cupcakes or Cookie Monster Cake.
Allow cupcakes to cool completely- Before decorating them with frosting, because otherwise it will be a melted, gooey mess.
Don't skip on the truffle ball- You may be tempted, but remember this is what gives it height to create the best elongated Grinch face.
Keep frosting cool- The heat from your hands can warm the icing and make it runny and harder to pipe. Just chill the icing in the refrigerator for 20 minutes and it will be good to use again.
Use tweezers for easier handling- These are the kind that you only use for handling food, of course. They make it easier to place the small sprinkles on the cupcakes.
You can use yellow m&m candies and use a black edible marker to make eyeballs. This is what I did. You can also buy pre-made scary yellow eyes. Stock up on those during Halloween! Another option is to cut small yellow fondant circles and draw black eyeballs on them.
Use green buttercream icing and a grass tip to pipe shaggy "fur." Use yellow m&m candies for the eyes. Use black icing and a small round tip to pipe the mouth, nose and eyebrows.
It's probably gotten too warm. Just chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes and it will become firm and easier to handle.
Make ahead- The frosting and the cupcakes can be made up separately up to 3 days before if kept in sealed containers in the fridge.
Room temperature- These are stay good for 1-2 days when left on the counter in a container.
Refrigerate- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Freeze- Unfrosted cupcakes and frosting can be stored in sealed containers for up to 1 month. When ready to serve, thaw to room temperature, decorate, and enjoy.
More easy Christmas desserts
- Christmas Fruit Cake
- Christmas Tree Cupcakes
- Poinsettia Cupcakes
- Snowflake Cupcakes
- Reindeer Cupcakes
Easy Grinch Cupcakes (Buttercream Icing)
- Bake cupcakes and allow them to cool completely.
- While the cupcakes are baking and cooling, prepare the frosting.
- Spread a thin layer icing on top of the cupcake.
- Place a truffle in the center and press gently to secure it in place.
- Fill a piping bag with green icing and attach the grass tip (Wilton Tip # 233).
- Start piping from the bottom of the cupcake and work your way upwards until sides and top are fully covered in "fur." The general motion is to hold your piping bag at a 45 degree angle and then squeeze the bag until icing comes out. Then, pull away gently and let the "shags" fall.
- Draw black eyeballs on all the yellow m&m candies with an edible marker.
- Stick two m&m candies near the top of the cupcake for the eyes.
- Stick long black sprinkles on top of the eyes. These will be the eyebrows. Use tweezers (that you only use for handling food) to make this easier. Instead of sprinkles, you can pipe lines to create an angry furrow.
- Stick a single red heart sprinkle on the side of the cupcake.
- Use black icing and a small round tip to pipe a dot for the nose in the middle and a wide mouth near the bottom.
- Stick a Santa hat topper on top, if you like. Enjoy.
- The heat from your hands can warm the icing and make it runny and harder to pipe. Just chill the icing in the refrigerator for 20 minutes and it will be good to use again.
- I used chocolate cupcakes but some other festive choices would be gingerbread, red velvet or green vanilla cupcakes.
- Don't skip on the truffle ball. That gives it height to create the best elongated Grinch face.
- Santa hats are optional. You can either pipe them with red icing or stick a pre-made hat topper.
- Read additional tips and variations above.
- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.