Rich, moist cupcakes topped with a fluffy chocolate frosting, these Spider Cupcakes are not only cute but also easy to make. Perfect for Halloween parties.
How cute are these spider cupcakes?! They’re made with a moist homemade chocolate cupcake base that’s loaded with bittersweet chocolate for a rich flavor.
The frosting is a chocolate buttercream made with just a few ingredients and to create the spider appearance, I added pretzels for the legs and then some candy eyeballs.
These are always a hit at Halloween parties. Almost everyone loves chocolate cupcakes and the cute spider design is too cute to resist.
Why You’ll Love These Halloween Cupcakes
These spider cupcakes are always a hit at parties and an overall favorite Halloween treat. Here are a few reasons why.
- They’re kid-friendly. Kids love these fun Halloween cupcakes, especially the candy eyeballs.
- Easy to make. These cupcakes are made from scratch and still come together in under an hour.
- Rich and chocolatey. Both the cupcakes and the frosting are made with cocoa powder and the cupcakes also have bittersweet chocolate, which gives them an irresistible chocolate flavor.
What You’ll Need
Both the chocolate cupcakes and chocolate frosting require just a few ingredients to make, including some of the same ingredients. Scroll down to the recipe card to see the exact measurements.
For the Cupcakes
- All purpose flour
- Unsweetened cocoa powder – Avoid any type of sweetened cocoa powder for this recipe.
- Baking soda & baking powder – Help the cupcakes rise.
- Unsalted butter – Allow it to come to room temperature before beginning the recipe.
- Granulated sugar
- Bittersweet chocolate baking bar – Use a quality chocolate for the best flavor.
- Buttermilk – I don’t recommend substituting this but if you don’t have any, you can make your own. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a measuring cup, then fill it to the one-cup mark with whole milk. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Hot tap water
For the Chocolate Frosting
- Unsalted butter – Using room temperature butter allows it to whip up into a smooth, creamy texture.
- Natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- Powdered sugar
- Heavy whipping cream – Makes the frosting extra creamy.
- Vanilla extract
- Brown jimmie sprinkles – I used these ones.
- Pretzels – I like to use Thin Twists because they are larger than normal pretzels.
Thin twist pretzels
I used “thin twist” pretzels. They are basically a larger version of regular pretzels. I liked using the larger version because the pretzels were long enough that the spider legs came to the bottom of the liners.
Can I Use Box Cake Mix for the Cupcakes?
Yes, absolutely. In a pinch, you can make these Halloween cupcakes using a box of cake mix for the cupcakes. If you want a semi-homemade box cake recipe, this one is our go-to!
How to Make Spider Cupcakes
Even though these Halloween cupcakes are made from scratch, they’re still very quick and easy to make with just a few steps involved in each part of the recipe.
Make the Cupcakes
Prepare the muffin pan. Add cupcake liners to the muffin pan. Preheat the oven to 350F.
Melt the chocolate. Roughly chop the chocolate into pieces. Microwave for 2 minutes on 50% power, stir, and repeat until melted. Set aside to cool.
Mix the dry ingredients. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Beat the butter. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Add in the eggs and chocolate. Beat for 30 seconds.
Add the remaining ingredients. Alternate adding in half for the buttermilk and half of the dry ingredients, beating for 20 seconds between each addition. Add the hot water with the second half of the buttermilk. Beat until everything is combined.
Bake. Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, filling each one 1/2 way. Bake for 17 to 19 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.
Make the Chocolate Frosting
Beat the butter. Beat the butter on high for 3 minutes.
Add the dry ingredients. Sift in the cocoa powder and 3 cups of the powdered sugar. Beat on low until combined and thick.
Add the remaining ingredients. Mix in the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt.
Add the remaining powdered sugar. Mix in the remaining powdered sugar on low speed.
Assemble the Spider Cupcakes
Add the frosting. Smooth a dollop of frosting on each cookie with a spatula.
Add the sprinkles. Dump the sprinkles in a bowl. Turn the cupcake upside down and lightly press into the bowl of sprinkles.
Add the legs. Break the pretzels apart and press 4 legs into each side of the cupcake.
Add the eyes. Use frosting to attach the candy eyeballs to the cupcake.
For perfectly moist cupcakes and fluffy frosting, keep the following tips in mind.
How do I know when the cupcakes are done? The best way to tell when the chocolate cupcakes are done is to insert a toothpick into the center. When you pull it out, just a few moist crumbs should remain on the toothpick. If there are no crumbs, they are likely a bit over-baked.
Sift the sugar and cocoa powder. Instead of just dumping the powdered sugar and cocoa powder into the frosting, I like to sift them in. It breaks up any clumps which in turn creates a light and fluffy frosting.
What do I do if my frosting is too thick? If the amount of powdered sugar makes the frosting too thick, you can add an additional tablespoon of heavy cream. Likewise, if it’s not thick enough, you can add in some more powdered sugar.
Use licorice for the spider legs. Pieces of black licorice can be used to make the spider legs instead of pretzels if desired. If you buy black shoestring licorice, you can also make our oreo spiders!
How to Store Spider Cupcakes
Due to the frosting, these Halloween cupcakes are best enjoyed the day they are made. However, if necessary, they can be stored in a covered container on the counter for up to 2 days.
If you want to make them in advance, I recommend baking the cupcakes a day or two ahead and just adding the frosting soon before serving.
More Halloween Desserts
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- ⅓ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, 1/2 cup
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 3 oz bittersweet chocolate baking bar, melted & cooled
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ cup hot tap water
- 4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, 2 cups
- 1 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4-5 cups powdered sugar
- 3-4 tbsp heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- Brown jimmie sprinkles
- Pretzels, I used Thin Twists, they are larger than normal pretzels
- Candy eye balls
- Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners.
- Roughly chop the bittersweet chocolate baking bar into smaller pieces, place in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 2 minutes on 50% power. Stir and repeat until melted. Set aside to cool.
- In a mixing bowl combine the all purpose flour, unsweetened natural cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate mixing bowl beat the butter and granulated sugar with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Add in the eggs and cooled chocolate, beat again for 30 seconds.
- Add in half of the buttermilk, beat for about 20 seconds. Add in half of the dry ingredients, beat. Add the remaining buttermilk plus the hot water, beat just until the liquid is mixed in then add the remaining dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined.
- Fill the muffin liners 1/2 full. Bake for 17-19 minutes at 350º F or until a few moist crumbs remain on a toothpick when inserted into the center. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before adding the frosting.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the butter on high for 3 minutes.
- Sift in the cocoa powder and 3 cups of powdered sugar. I like to sift these in because it helps break up clumps, creating a light and fluffy frosting. Beat the frosting on low speed until combined and thick.
- Mix in 3 tbsp of heavy cream, vanilla extract and salt.
- Add in the additional powdered sugar (1-2 cups), mix on low. If the frosting is too thick, beat in an additional tablespoon of heavy cream.
Assemble the Cupcakes
- Spread a dollop of frosting on each cupcake, smooth with a spatula.
- Dump the brown jimmie sprinkles in a bowl. Turn the cupcake upside down in the bowl and lightly press the frosting into the sprinkles to get them to stick.
- Break pretzels apart and press 4 legs into each side of the cupcake, adding 8 legs total.
- Use a small amount of frosting to attach the candy eye balls to the cupcake.