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Brown Butter Cupcakes

These delicious brown butter cupcakes use brown butter to make both the cupcake batter and the frosting! This gives them a nutty, toasted flavor that is so incredible.

image of a brown butter cupcake that's been unwrapped

Let’s Make These Brown Butter Cupcakes Together!

Let’s walk through each step of this cupcake recipe to make sure it turns out as amazing as possible.

Step 1: Brown the Butter

The first step is to brown the butter! This can be done weeks in advance if needed.

We use brown butter in both the cupcake batter and the frosting. In total you need to melt down 1 1/4 cups or 2 1/2 sticks of butter. We need 3/4 cup for the cupcake batter and 1/2 cup for the frosting.

Even though it takes a little longer, I recommend browning the butter in two phases. That way you don’t have to measure the butter again when it’s hot and melted. It can get messy, trust me!

Add 3/4 cup of unsalted butter into a large skillet. It helps to cut the butter into Tbsp size pieces to help it melt down more quickly and evenly.

Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once the butter has fully melted, stir constantly to prevent the butter solids at the bottom of the pan from burning.

It should begin to bubble up a bit and look foamy on top. Let the butter continue to cook until it becomes an amber color and begins to smell nutty.

image of butter being browned in a white pan

Once it reaches this stage, remove from heat, and pour into a heat proof bowl. Set aside.

Wipe out the pan to prevent the prior butter solids from burning in the next batch, then add 1/2 cup of unsalted butter into the same skillet. Repeat steps 3 & 4, then pour the butter into a separate container to cool and set aside.

If you make the brown butter in advance, store it in an airtight container or cover it in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. When it’s time to make the cupcake batter, heat the butter in the microwave for 15 seconds to melt it and make it liquid.

Just make sure it doesn’t get too hot or else it can scramble the egg whites. Let the brown butter for the frosting come to room temperature by removing it from the fridge and letting it sit out for about an hour.

Step 2: Make the Brown Butter Cupcake Batter

Then it’s time to work on our cupcake batter! I love this recipe because it’s made by hand with a whisk, and it comes together so quickly.

Start by preheating the oven to 350°F/175°C and lining 2 muffin pans with a total of 16 cupcake liners (I usually do 8 liners per pan).

Then add the wet ingredients into a large bowl and whisk until they’re combined. It’s important that the brown butter is melted and liquid, but not hot!

It should be liquid enough to easily mix into the other wet ingredients, but not so hot that it scrambles the egg whites.

The last step is to sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until they’re combined, and the batter is smooth.

image of brown butter cupcake batter being mixed together with a whisk

If you don’t have a sifter, whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then add them in.

Step 3: Bake the Brown Butter Cupcakes

Divide the batter evenly between the liners and fill them about 2/3 way full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Rotate the pan halfway through to help the cupcakes bake more evenly.

image of spice cupcake batter that's been scooped into a muffin pan and is ready to go in the oven

Let the cupcakes cool for 10 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

If you’re in a rush, place the entire pan in the freezer for 30 minutes to accelerate the cooling process.

Step 4: Make the Brown Butter Buttercream

While the cupcakes bake and cool, make the brown butter frosting.

image of powdered sugar being mixed into butter and cream cheese to make homemade cream cheese frosting

If the frosting seems too thick, add in additional cream (1 Tablespoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (1/4 cup at a time).

Once the frosting is made, stir it by hand with a rubber spatula to get the frosting SUPER smooth.

image of brown butter frosting that's been stirred with rubber spatula to make it super smooth

Then place the frosting in a piping bag fitted with a large open star frosting tip. I used an Ateco 869.

Step 5: Frost the Cupcakes

The final step is to pipe large swirls onto the fully cooled cupcakes.

If you don’t have any frosting tips, you can also use a Freezer Ziplock bag and trim the corner to have a 2 cm opening.

No matter how you decorate them, they’re going to be incredibly moist and delicious!

Substitutions and Swaps – Brown Butter Cupcakes

Now that we’ve covered how to make these cupcakes, let’s talk about the ingredients.

This recipe uses quite a few ingredients and I know you might not have them all on hand.

Or if you have food allergies or restrictions, I’ve got you covered. Below are some swaps and substitutions that you can make.

  • Brown Butter – If you don’t have time to brown the butter you can use regular butter in its place. You can also make the cupcakes with regular, melted butter and just use brown butter in the frosting.
  • Sour Cream – Plain yogurt, whole milk or alternative milk can also be used in place of the sour cream if needed.
  • Egg Whites – I like to use egg whites from a carton to make this recipe to avoid wasting egg yolks. However, you can also use 3, large egg whites or 1 large, whole egg plus 1 egg white.
  • All Purpose Flour – This recipe turns out best with AP flour, but you can use a gluten free flour blend if needed.
  • Granulated Sugar – I do not recommend reducing the amount of sugar or changing the type of sugar as it will change the texture of these cupcakes.

Substitutions and Swaps – Brown Buttercream Frosting

  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand, you can use it in place of the unsalted butter. Just be sure to omit the salt that this frosting recipe calls for.
  • Heavy Cream – Whipping cream, coconut cream, or alternative milk (soy, almond, oat, coconut) will work fine in this frosting recipe if that’s what you have on hand.

How Many Cupcakes Does This Recipe Make?

This recipe makes 16, standard sized cupcakes. It can be doubled or halved as needed.

This recipe can also be used to make mini brown butter cupcakes! It makes about 50 mini cupcakes, which only need to bake for 9-10 minutes.

If you want to make a brown butter cake, I recommend using my browned butter cinnamon cake recipe and omitting the cinnamon.

Tips for Making the Best Brown Butter Cupcakes

  • As soon as the butter is done browning, pour it into a separate container. This will prevent the milk solids from settling to the bottom of the pan and burning.
  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better. Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Properly measure the flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Mix the cupcake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated once you’ve added in the flour. This will ensure your cupcakes are tender and fluffy.
  • Use a large cookie scoop to easily fill your cupcake liners. It also makes sure your cupcakes end up being the same height and bake evenly.
  • Seal off the top the piping bag with a rubber band to prevent any frosting from coming out the top of the bag and make the piping bags easier to use.
image of a brown butter cupcake that's been bitten into to show how tender and moist it is

Making This Cupcake Recipe in Advance

You can make these cupcakes in advance! Frosted cupcakes can sit at room temperature for a day or be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

They can also last up to a month in the freezer. If you plan to freeze them, I suggest waiting to frost them until they’re thawed.

You can also make the frosting ahead of time or save any leftovers. This buttercream frosting will last in the fridge for up to a month.

Be sure to give the frosting a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

You can also store buttercream in piping bags in the fridge. I find buttercream keeps its consistency well in piping bags and doesn’t require any mixing after it’s thawed.

image of a brown butter cupcake that's been unwrapped

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you make this brown butter cupcake recipe, I’d love to hear what you think of it! Please leave a rating below.

Don’t forget to tag me @chelsweets and #chelsweets so that I can see your delicious creations on social media.

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 16

Brown Butter Cupcakes

image of a brown butter cupcake that's been unwrapped

These delicious brown butter cupcakes use brown butter to make both the cupcake batter and the frosting! This gives them a nutty, toasted flavor that is so incredible.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 3 minutes

Ingredients

Brown Butter Cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup brown butter, melted - instructions below (170g)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature (125g)
  • 1/2 cup water, room temperature (120g)
  • 1/3 cup of pasteurized egg whites or 3 large egg whites, room temperature (90g)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract (15g)
  • 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour (205g)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (6g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (3g)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda (2g)

Brown Butter Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/2 cup brown butter, room temperature - instructions below (113g)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (113g)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract (12g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (3g)
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (454g or 1 lb.)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or whipping cream (60g)

Instructions

Make the Brown Butter

  1. The first step is to brown the butter! This can be done weeks in advance. We use it in both the cupcake batter and the frosting. In total you need to melt down 1 1/4 cups or 2 1/2 sticks of butter. We need 3/4 cup for the cupcake batter and 1/2 cup for the frosting. Even though it takes a little longer, I recommend browning the different amounts of butter separately. That way you don't have to measure the butter again when it's hot and melted. It can get messy, trust me!
  2. Add 3/4 cup of unsalted butter into a large skillet. Cut the butter into Tbsp size pieces to help it melt down more quickly and evenly.
  3. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once the butter has fully melted, stir constantly with a rubber spatula to prevent the butter solids at the bottom of the pan from sticking and burning. It should begin to bubble up a bit and look foamy on top. Let the butter continue to cook until it becomes an amber color and begins to smell nutty.
  4. Once it reaches this stage, remove from heat, and pour into a heat proof bowl. Set aside.
  5. Wipe out the pan to prevent the prior butter solids from burning in the next batch, then add 1/2 cup of unsalted butter into the same skillet. Repeat steps 3 & 4, then pour the butter into a separate container to cool and set aside.
  6. If you make the brown butter in advance, store it in an airtight container or cover it in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. When it's time to make the cupcake batter, heat the brown butter in the microwave for 15 seconds so that it's just melted and is in a liquid state. Make sure it doesn't get too hot or else it can scramble the egg whites. Let the brown butter for the frosting come to room temperature by removing it from the fridge and letting it sit out for about an hour.

Brown Butter Cupcake Batter

  1. Next, we work on the cupcake batter! Preheat your oven to 350 F / 175 C and lining 2 muffin pans with a total of 16 cupcake liners (I usually do 8 liners per pan). Set aside.
  2. Add 3/4 cup melted brown butter, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup water, 1/3 cup egg whites or 3 large egg whites, and 1 Tbsp vanilla extract into a large bowl. Whisk together until combined and smooth.
  3. Sift 1 2/3 cup all purpose flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp fine salt, and 1/4 tsp baking soda into the wet ingredients. If you don't have a sifter, add the dry ingredients into a large bowl and whisk them together before adding them into the wet ingredients.
  4. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Scoop the batter into the lined baking pans, filling each cupcake liner about 2/3 full.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcakes comes out with a few moist crumbs. Rotate the pan halfway through to help the cupcakes bake more evenly.
  6. Remove from the oven and let the cupcakes cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then place the cupcakes on a wire rack to finish cooling. If you're in a rush, place the entire pan in the freezer for 30 minutes to accelerate the cooling process.

Brown Butter Buttercream Frosting

  1. While the cupcakes bake and cool, make the buttercream. Place 1/2 cup room temperature butter and 1/2 cup room temperature brown butter in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment or hand mixer until smooth.
  2. Add in 1 Tbsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp salt and mix on a low speed until combined.
  3. Slowly mix in 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar and 1/4 cup heavy cream on a low speed.
  4. Beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached. Place the buttercream in a large piping bag fit with an open star tip.
  5. Pipe large swirls of buttercream onto the cooled cupcakes, then enjoy!

Notes

How Many Cupcakes Does This Recipe Make?

This recipe makes 16, standard sized cupcakes. It can be doubled or halved as needed.

This recipe can also be used to make mini brown butter cupcakes! It makes about 50 mini cupcakes, which only need to bake for 9-10 minutes.

If you want to make a brown butter cake, I recommend using my browned butter cinnamon layer cake recipe and omitting the cinnamon.

Making This Brown Butter Cupcake Recipe in Advance

Frosted cupcakes can sit out at room temperature for a day. If you frost these cupcakes further in advance, I recommend storing them in the fridge in an airtight container. Frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

If stored unfrosted in an airtight container, they can last for:

  • A day at room temperature
  • Up to 5 days in the fridge
  • Up to a month in the freezer

You can make your frosting ahead of time too or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

Nutrition Information

Yield

16

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 411Total Fat 24gSaturated Fat 15gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 64mgSodium 349mgCarbohydrates 47gFiber 0gSugar 37gProtein 3g

Jessica

Sunday 28th of January 2024

These cupcakes are so good! Honestly one of the best flavors I’ve ever had.

My cupcakes came out with a muffin texture. Did I do something wrong?

Chelsweets

Sunday 4th of February 2024

Hi Jessica,

So glad to hear you loved the flavor of these cupcakes! In general I do think cupcakes have a similar texture to muffins, so I'm not quite sure what you mean! Were they like denser than you'd think a cupcake should be? Hopefully we'll be able to figure it out together!

Megan Smith

Friday 24th of November 2023

Thank you for the awesome recipe! Wondering what you might be thinking for “alternative milk” if I can’t get out today for sour cream? ?

Chelsweets

Monday 27th of November 2023

Hi Megan,

Great question! My go-to dairy free /alternative milk for baking is almond milk, but most non-dairy milks should work!!

Brown Butter Sugar Cookies - Delicious Recipe from Scratch

Friday 20th of October 2023

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T'Andrea

Monday 16th of October 2023

Hello, I want to make a browned butter cake and recommend using your browned butter cinnamon cake recipe and omitting the cinnamon. When I click the link it says no post found. I also tried typing it in and I seen a recipe for a layered cinnamon coffee cake. Once I clicked that one I got the same message, No Post Found. Can you assist?

Chelsweets

Sunday 22nd of October 2023

Hi T'Andrea,

So sorry about that! I took the recipe down because I'm in the midst of revamping it and haven't had a chance to reshoot it. I'd recommend using my vanilla cake recipe, but browning the butter then letting it solidify before adding it into the recipe. If you pair that with my brown butter frosting, I think you should be good to go! Here's the link: https://chelsweets.com/best-vanilla-layer-cake-recipe/

Hope that helps in the meantime, happy baking!

Laura

Sunday 1st of October 2023

can i replace the 1/2 c unsalted butter with cream cheese in the frosting?

Chelsweets

Monday 9th of October 2023

Hi Laura,

Great question, that sounds like a delicious idea! You can swap out the butter for cream cheese in the frosting recipe, but you might want to add less heavy cream because the cream cheese will give the frosting a thinner consistency than butter. I'd recommend adding 1 or 2 Tbsp of heavy cream instead of the 1/4 cup the recipe calls for. Hope that helps, happy baking!

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