These delicious vegan gingerbread cupcakes are the perfect holiday treat! A soft, fluffy gingerbread-flavored sponge is topped with the most amazing cinnamon-spiced buttercream icing, all topped off with a gorgeous toffee drizzle. This is a must-make Christmas cupcake recipe!
This vegan gingerbread cupcakes recipe is loosely based on my vegan ginger cake recipe, which remains one of the most popular reader favorites on this entire site (and mine, too!). The sponge is spiced with ground ginger, cinnamon, and mixed spice, and has a lovely fluffy texture – it’s not too dense, unlike some ginger cakes, thankfully!
These Christmas cupcakes are lavishly decorated (if you can’t go big during Christmas, when can you?!). They’re topped with a beautifully light, creamy cinnamon and vanilla buttercream and then drizzled with an easy 5-minute toffee sauce. Even better, you’ll have loads of toffee sauce left over for your other Christmas creations – like this vegan sticky toffee pudding recipe!
How to Make These Gingerbread Cupcakes
For the full instructions and ingredients for this recipe, please scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of this page. Here, I’ll break down what you need to know about making this recipe.
- Plain flour: All-purpose plain flour is used in this recipe. If you can’t find it, you may be able to use self-raising flour and omit the baking powder/baking soda, but I haven’t tried this version yet.
- Baking powder
- Bicarbonate of soda
- Mixed spice: Typically consists of ground allspice, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, ground coriander, and ground ginger.
- Oil: I used olive oil for this recipe, but you could also use coconut oil or vegetable oil.
- Plant-based milk: I used oat milk for this recipe because that’s what I had in the fridge! You could also use soy milk.
- Black treacle: This is more commonly referred to as molasses or blackstrap molasses in the US.
- Golden treacle: You may also see this referred to as golden syrup or light/golden molasses.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Vanilla essence
- Vegan butter: A block of butter is a must here, or your buttercream with be too watery. I use the plant-based Flora (unsalted)block.
- Icing sugar!
- Dark brown sugar: This gives your cupcakes that wonderful gingerbread flavor, but you could use light brown sugar if you prefer.
- Vegan single cream: I use the Oatly single cream for this recipe
Tools You’ll Need
This recipe is quite straightforward, so shouldn’t mean too much washing up for you! You’ll need:
- A large mixing bowl
- A scale
- A cupcake tin
- Cupcake liners
- A wooden spoon
- An icing bag with a nozzle
- A saucepan to make your toffee in
Making Your Cupcakes
To make this recipe, first combine your black treacle, golden treacle, and sugar in your saucepan until the sugar has just dissolved. Take care not to let the mix boil.
Meanwhile, combine your dry ingredients (the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda/ baking soda, and spices) in your mixing bowl. Next, add in the oil, milk, vanilla essence, and your treacle mixture. Gently combine everything, and then stir in the apple cider vinegar. The ACV makes the batter really lovely and airy, avoiding the dense texture a ginger cake can sometimes have.
Pour your batter into a lined cupcake tray and then bake for 18 – 25 minutes. Once you have removed your cupcakes from the oven (check they are cooked first by inserting a skewer, if it comes out clean then your cakes are ready), allow them to cool for 10 minutes or so in the tray before removing and allowing to cool completely to room temperature on a wire rack.
Icing Your Gingerbread Cupcakes
Once your cupcakes are completely cooled, they’re ready for icing! This recipe uses vanilla and cinnamon to flavor the buttercream.
Start off by creaming the butter at a low speed with an electric mixer. You could just use a wooden spoon if that’s all you have, but it will take a while! Next, add the vanilla essence, cinnamon, and about a third of your icing sugar.
Beat together, then add the remainder of the icing sugar and continue to beat until the buttercream is thick and creamy. If you add the icing sugar and the mix turns into a crumbly texture, don’t panic! Just keep beating and eventually it will all come together!
Making The Toffee Drizzle
This toffee drizzle is a little additional effort, but it really takes these vegan gingerbread cupcakes to the next level. Plus, it literally takes five minutes.
I would recommend making the sauce while your cupcakes are cooking, and then allowing the sauce to cool completely before using it. If you refrigerate the toffee sauce, it will thicken up – perfect for drizzling over your cakes.
Don’t use the toffee sauce over the buttercream while it’s still warm or it will melt the buttercream and turn into one big mess!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use this recipe to make gingerbread cookies?
This recipe is not suitable for making gingerbread cookies, as it’s a much lighter sponge for a cake and won’t hold together as a cookie. Try my vegan gingerbread cookies recipe instead!
Can I make this recipe gluten-free?
I haven’t tried making this recipe gluten-free, but you might be able to substitute the plain flour for a gluten-free blend instead.
Do I have to use black treacle/molasses?
Yes, the black treacle is an important element to give the recipe that classic gingerbread taste, so I wouldn’t recommend removing it!
Can I freeze these vegan gingerbread cupcakes?
If you are looking to get ahead on your Christmas baking by making your cupcakes in advance, I’d recommend freezing the cupcakes without the icing. Then, defrost completely before making your buttercream fresh and icing them.
- 200g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 75g black treacle
- 75g dark brown sugar
- 80ml oil
- 120ml plant based milk
- 75g golden treacle
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp Vanilla essence
- 150g vegan butter
- 350g icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp vegan butter
- 100g dark brown sugar
- 100ml vegan single cream or coconut cream
To make the gingerbread cupcakes:
- Place the sugar and treacles into a saucepan and heat over low until the sugar has dissolved
- Meanwhile, combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl
- Add the oil, vanilla Essence, and milk to the sugar mix and then combine with the dry ingredients.
- Add the apple cider vinegar and stir - this will froth the mixture and make it airy.
- Scoop the mixture evenly into 9 cupcake liners
- Bake for 18 - 25 minutes, removing the cupcakes when a skewer comes out clean once inserted.
To make the buttercream:
1. Beat your room-temperature butter in a large mixing bowl, then add the vanilla, cinnamon, and a third of the icing sugar.
2. Beat the mix on low until the icing sugar is incorporated, then beat in the rest of the icing sugar.
3. Use an icing bag to either pipe the icing onto the cakes, or use a pallet knife for a more 'snowy' texture
To make the toffee drizzle:
- Melt all the toffee ingredients together in a saucepan and allow to bubble for 5 minutes, whisking constantly.
- Remove the toffee from the heat and allow it to cool completely, then chill in the fridge for at least an hour (this allows the toffee to thicken to perfect drizzle consistency!)
- Drizzle the toffee sauce over the iced cupcakes, then top with a rice paper snowflake.
I recommend freezing the cupcakes un-iced if you want to store them away for a later date. The icing will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week, but allow it to come to room temperature before icing your cakes.