My daughter loves to watch Cupcake Wars. She is a blossoming little baker and dreams of one day opening her one bakery. I’ve selflessly volunteered to be her official taste tester – totally out of support for her. 😉 Cupcake Wars likes to have themes. Granted, their themes are typically gross and involve putting things like pickles and corned beef into cupcakes. No cupcake should be subject to that. Or any mouth.

However, I found myself inspired to create a fall-themed cupcake. Fall has so many fantastic flavors; pumpkin, apple, cinnamon…it’s just a delicious time of year. One of our favorite fall family traditions is apple picking, so I knew I wanted to create an apple cupcake. I had also just splurged on a jug of the “fancy” cider at the store, and wanted to use it in some way.

The cupcake is perfectly spiced, and the apples baked inside give it a nice bit of sweetness. I made my buttercream really punchy – and the cider flavor really compliments the spicy cake. I hope you enjoy it!





Apple Spice Cake:

1 Spice Cake mix

2 large apples, peeled and chopped (basically any kind except Red Delicious)

water, eggs, and oil as called for on particular boxed mix (this varies by brand)

1 small pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix

*optional – Exchange the water called for on box with “real” apple cider


Apple Cider Buttercream:

1 cup butter

6 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

3 T apple cider (I use the “fancy” thicker variety – not the kind that looks/tastes like normal apple juice.)

1 pkg. instant apple cider drink mix


To Prepare: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together the cake mix, oil, water or cider, eggs, and pudding mix. Mix on medium-low for 2 minutes.
  3. Fold in your peeled, chopped apples.
  4. Use a cookie scoop to fill your muffin tins, and bake for approximately 18 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  5. While your cupcakes are in the oven, start on your frosting. Add two sticks of butter to your mixing bowl, and beat until nearly smooth. Add in 4 cups of powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 pkg of the cider drink mix. Mix. Add in the apple cider. Add the remaining powdered sugar. TASTE. Frosting is a master of taste, and it’s important to taste as you go. I really wanted a stiffer frosting with a PUNCH of cider flavor, but you may prefer a less bold taste.
  6. If you want to amp up the flavor, add in an additional 1/2 tsp cinnamon and the rest of the cider drink mix.
  7. I like a little sprinkle of cinnamon on top of my cupcake!

*It should be noted that the cider drink mix does leave a hint of a grainy texture. This didn’t bother us, but you should expect just a bit of grain.

*Sometimes frostings end up needing more/less powdered sugar. I tell people to start with a smaller amount, and add more as needed, based on what consistency YOU like. Know that you need to taste and adjust flavors every time you add more powdered sugar!

*The pudding and apples inside the cake make these very soft and moist. I would not put a cover on these, as they may get too soggy. I left mine on my counter overnight and they were still SUPER soft and moist the next afternoon/evening.