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Polar Bear Cupcakes

I usually make a mini cake of each cake in my animal cake series, but this week I’m mixing things up and making cupcakes! These polar bear cupcakes are inspired by my polar bear cake.

image of adorable polar bear cupcakes made with buttercream frosting and black sprinkles

They’re made with my almond cupcake recipe, which is one of my favorites!

It uses the perfect amount of almond extract and sour cream to create well-balanced, absolutely delicious white almond cupcakes.

How to Make these Adorable Polar Bear Cupcakes

Let’s walk through each step that goes into decorating these polar bear cupcakes!

Step 1: Cover the Top of Each Cupcake with Frosting

It’s important that you cover to the top of each cupcake with a thin layer of buttercream before piping on the fur!

This base of frosting will give you full coverage and prevent any plain bits of cupcake from peaking through the buttercream fur you’ll pipe in step 3.

image of a cupcake covered in a thin layer of buttercream to make a polar bear cupcake

Step 2: Pipe on the Muzzle

Use a round piping tip to to pipe a small oval on the bottom of third or each cupcake. Smooth any lines with a small offset spatula or butter knife.

image of a cupcake with a mound piped on the bottom of it to look like a polar bear's snout

Step 3: Add the Polar Bear’s Fur

Switch to a small grass piping tip and and pipe buttercream fur around the mound, fully covering the top of the cupcake.

image of a white cupcake piped with buttercream fur to make a polar bear cupcake

Step 4: Use Black Sprinkles to Make the Polar Bear’s Face

Place a large black sprinkle at the top of the mound to be the polar bear’s nose, and two smaller round sprinkles above the mound to look like the eyes. Use a long, thin sprinkle to make the polar bear’s mouth.

If you don’t have black sprinkles like this, I suggest rolling out small balls with black fondant to create the polar bear’s face.

image of a polar bear cupcake being made with buttercream and black sprinkles for the face

Step 5: Add on the Ears

Pipe two small dollops of white buttercream along the top edge of the cupcake with the round piping tip to be the polar bears ears.

image of a polar bear cupcake being made with buttercream and black sprinkles for the face

Substitutions and Swaps in these Polar Bear Cupcakes

While I love this recipe just the way it is, I know some of you might not have all of these ingredients on hand!

Below are some swaps and substitutions that can be made in this recipe:

  • All Purpose Flour – This recipe turns out best with AP flour! However you can use a gluten free flour blend or cake flour if needed.
  • Granulated Sugar – I do not recommend reducing the amount of sugar or changing the type of sugar- it will change the texture of the cupcakes.
  • Sour Cream – You can also use full fat yogurt, buttermilk, whole milk, or an alternative yogurt or milk (almond, soy, oat) if you’re dairy free.
  • 1 Large Egg – If you don’t have eggs on hand or have an egg allergy, use an egg replacer like this or 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce.
  • Vegetable Oil – You can use any flavorless oil in this recipe, so canola or even sunflower oil would work great! I advise against olive oil, as it doesn’t taste great with the almond extract.
  • Almond Extract – Other extracts can also be used in place of the almond extract like coconut, hazelnut, or even pistachio.
  • Unsalted Butter – You can use salted butter in place of the unsalted butter in this recipe if needed. Just be sure to omit the salt that this frosting recipe calls for. You can also use vegan butter in its place!
  • Heavy Cream – Whole milk or alternative milk (soy, almond, oat) will work in this frosting if that’s what you have on hand.
image of vanilla almond cupcakes

Tips for Making The Best Polar Bear Cupcakes:

  • Use a cookie scoop to easily fill your cupcake liners.
  • Be sure to use high quality almond extract in this recipe, since it is the main flavoring.
  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better. Set your cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Bang your cupcake pan on the counter before putting it in the oven. This brings any air bubbles that are trapped in the batter to the surface.
  • This is an American buttercream frosting, so it will crust as it sits out and is exposed to air! Either cover the frosting with plastic wrap if it’s made in advance, or immediately place it into your piping bags.
image of an easy polar bear cupcakes made with buttercream frosting and black sprinkles

Making These Polar Bear Cupcakes In Advance & Storage Tips:

Make your cupcakes in advance! If stored unfrosted in an airtight container, they can last for 2 days at room temp, up to a week in the fridge, or up to 3 months in the freezer.

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

Frosted cupcakes can sit at room temperature overnight or in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container. However, I find frosting them right before serving is best.

image of a polar bear photo that's been bitten into to show it's tender and soft texture

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you make these polar bear cupcakes, I’d love to hear what think! Please leave a rating below.

Also tag me @chelsweets, and use the #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations on social media!

Other Posts You Might Like:

Yield: 12

Polar Bear Cupcakes

image of adorable polar bear cupcakes made with buttercream frosting and black sprinkles

These polar bear cupcakes are decorated with buttercream to look just like little polar bears! They're just as cute as they are tasty!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 58 minutes

Ingredients

White Almond Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (150 grams)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (6 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3 grams)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature (128 grams)
  • 1/2 cup water (118 grams)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature (57 grams)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (56 grams)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4 grams)
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract (6 grams)

Vanilla Almond Buttercream:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (113 grams)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (1 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (2 grams)
  • 3/4 tsp almond extract (3 grams)
  • 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar (220 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream or whipping cream, or milk (15 grams)

Additional Tools / Equipment

Instructions

White Almond Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C), and place cupcake liners in muffin pans.
  2. Sift 1 ¼ cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 ½ tsp baking powder and ½ tsp salt together into a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
  3. Pour in the ½ cup sour cream, ½ cup water, 1 large egg, ¼ cup vegetable oil, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 ½ tsp almond extract into a separate, large bowl and whisk together until combined.
  4. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a rubber spatula. Mix until the ingredients are just combined and you can’t see any streaks of flour.
  5. Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack to finish cooling. If you want to accelerate the cooling process, pop the pans into your freezer for about 30 minutes.

Almond Vanilla Buttercream:

  1. Beat 1/2 cup of unsalted butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with stand mixer or hand mixer until smooth.
  2. Add in 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 3/4 tsp almond extract and beat on low until the ingredients are incorporated. 
  3. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with the 1 Tbsp of heavy cream of milk.
  4. Once fully mixed, if the frosting seems too thick, add in additional cream or milk (1 tsp at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
  5. Mix on a low speed for a few minutes to make the frosting super smooth.
  6. Place half the buttercream in a piping bag fit with a small grass tip, and the other half in a separate bag fit with a round piping tip. NOTE: If you have a couple that fits both piping tips you can place all the frosting in one large piping bag.

Decorating these Polar Bear Cupcakes:

  1. Use the piping bag fit with a round piping tip to cover the entire top of the cupcake with a thin layer of buttercream.
  2. Use the same piping piping to to pipe a small oval on the bottom of third or each cupcake. Smooth any lines with a small offset spatula.
  3. Switch to a small grass piping tip and and pipe buttercream fur around the mound, fully covering the rest of the cupcake.
  4. Place a large black sprinkle at the top of the mound to be the polar bear's nose, and two smaller round sprinkles above the mound to look like the eyes. Use a long, thin sprinkle to make the polar bear's mouth. If you don't have black sprinkles like this, I suggest rolling out small balls with black fondant to create the polar bear's face.
  5. Pipe two small dollops of white buttercream along the top edge of the cupcake with the round piping tip to be the polar bears ears.
  6. Repeat with remaining cupcakes! Feel free to get creative with each polar bear's facial expression to give them a little variety.
  7. Then enjoy! These cupcakes taste best fresh, but frosted cupcakes can sit out at room temperature overnight in an airtight container or be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Notes

Tips for Making the Best Polar Bear Cupcakes:

  • Use a cookie scoop to easily fill your cupcake liners.
  • Be sure to use high quality almond extract in this recipe, since it is the main flavoring!
  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better! Set your cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Bang your cupcake pan on the counter before putting it in the oven. This brings any air bubbles that are trapped in the batter to the surface.
  • This is an American buttercream frosting, so it will crust as it sits out and is exposed to air! Be sure to either cover the frosting with plastic wrap if it's made in advance, or immediately place it into your piping bags.

Polar Bear Cupcake Variations:

  • You can also get creative with the type of extract you use! This recipe would also be great with coconut extract, hazelnut extract, or even pistachio extract! Use the same quantity of any of these extracts in place of the almond extract in this recipe.
  • To make eggless, dairy free polar bear cupcakes, use an alternative dairy milk to replace the heavy cream (almond, oat, or soy), dairy free yogurt (almond, oat, or soy) in place of the sour cream, vegan butter sticks to replace the butter, and an egg replacer like this.
  • To make gluten free polar bear cupcakes, swap in your favorite gluten free flour blend for the AP flour this recipe calls for, and be sure to overmix your batter and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before baking for best results.

Making These Polar Bear Cupcakes In Advance & Storage Tips:

Make your cupcakes in advance! If stored unfrosted in an airtight container, they can last for 2 days at room temp, up to a week in the fridge, or up to 3 months in the freezer

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.

Frosted cupcakes can sit out at room temperature overnight or be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container, but I find frosting them right before serving is best.

Nutrition Information

Yield

12

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 372Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 47mgSodium 229mgCarbohydrates 52gFiber 1gSugar 33gProtein 4g

Kylie Moore

Wednesday 25th of August 2021

Looks amazing! Which size piping tip did you use for the 'small grass piping tip'? The link returns an error. I tried these with a Wilton 233 but they definitely didn't look like yours! So I'm just wondering if its user error, or you had a different tip?

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