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Mint Julep Cupcakes

Mint Julep Cupcakes
Checka Ciammaichelli

Chef notes

The arrival of spring brings lots of events and celebrations, with the Kentucky Derby being arguably one of the most fun. This prestigious horse race falls on the first Saturday in May every year and draws a huge crowd to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. While you might not be able to make it there this year, that doesn’t mean you can’t take part in the festivities elsewhere. These mint julep cupcakes are just the thing to enjoy in honor of the big race.

These cupcakes are inspired by the cocktail of the same name, which is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. A mint julep cocktail is a refreshing concoction of bourbon, fresh mint, sugar and water that’s served over crushed ice. This recipe incorporates all of those elements but in the  dessert form. The cupcakes are made with a few generous splashes of honey bourbon to give them a boozy kick and their flavor is softened with a little ground cinnamon and vanilla extract. A teaspoon of peppermint extract is blended into a simple buttercream frosting for the necessary mint flavor, while a bit of green food coloring lends a pretty pastel hue. Sprinkle each cupcake with green sprinkles and silver pearls. Or really lean into the Kentucky Derby theme by garnishing each cupcake with a red sugar rose — after all, a garland comprised of over 400 red roses is draped over the winning horse every year.

Get Ingredients: If you don’t have everything you need on hand, you can easily purchase all of the ingredients (just click the orange button below that says ‘Get Ingredients’). You can pick and choose exactly what ingredients you need based on what’s in your pantry and they’ll be on your doorstep before you know it. 


  • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons honey bourbon, such as Jim Beam
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 4 drops green food coloring
  • fresh mint leaves, for decoration
  • green sprinkles, for decoration
  • silver pearls, for decoration
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For the cupcakes:


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare a muffin tin with silver cupcake liners.


In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Whisk to get rid of any lumps. Set aside.


In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Beat in vanilla, bourbon and sour cream until combined.


With a wooden spoon, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients a little at a time until everything is combined. The batter will be thick. Fill the cupcake liners a little more than half full of batter.


Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let them cool.

For the frosting:


In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until combined and creamy. Add the vanilla, peppermint and food coloring and beat until combined.


Use an offset spatula to spread the icing onto the cooled cupcakes, or put the icing in a pastry bag fitted with a large piping tip and pipe the icing onto the cupcakes.


Use green sprinkles, silver pearls and a mint leaf to decorate the cupcakes.