Churro cupcakes are made with a vanilla cake mix and topped with a rich cinnamon cream cheese frosting that is becoming a new favorite around here! They are so easy to make and use simple ingredients. Such a fun twist on classic churros. The gooey caramel drizzle and crunchy churro on top is the best part or is it because they are ready in less than 1 hour?
These fluffy cinnamon cupcakes literally taste like a churro in cupcake form! I know that may sound a little crazy, but it’s true. It would be a perfect dessert to serve at your next Cinco De Mayo party or the best treat when the sweet tooth hits and you are craving your favorites from the theme parks. Many people have their churro experience for the first time at fairs or Disney. Sometimes you can find authentic churros at grocery stores, but when I found out how easy they were to make…let’s just say that I bid goodbye to store-bought!
Can’t get enough of this delicious Mexican dessert? Be sure to try your hand at homemade churros (so easy), churro toffee, or Mexican hot chocolate cupcakes. As for savory, go with Mexican lasagna or taco casserole. Both of these can be served with homemade salsa or guac.
What do I Need for this Recipe?
- vanilla cake mix – we are using a box cake mix to keep the recipe simple.
- vegetable oil – makes for moist cupcakes
- buttermilk – if you don’t have buttermilk you can make your own by mixing regular milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice or a tablespoon of vinegar. Let it sit for a couple of minutes before adding the wet ingredients.
- eggs – acts as a binder
- ground cinnamon – adds the churro flavor we are all looking for.
- Frosting Ingredients:
- cinnamon sugar – this is a blend of white sugar and cinnamon – see the tips section for how to make.
- cream cheese and unsalted butter – allow these ingredients to soften at room temperature to they are easier to mix to make a creamy frosting
- pure vanilla extract – rounds out the flavors.
- ground cinnamon – more spice so it tastes like a churro
- powdered sugar – adds texture and sweetness to the frosting
- whole milk or heavy cream – gives a creamy consistency and thins it out so it’s pipeable.
- Caramel sauce and churros – for a garnish
Top with caramel sauce (or dulce de leche) and a piece of a homemade churro.
- Electric mixer – use a hand mixer or stand mixer (with paddle attachment) to make the process go faster.
- Scooper – spoon batter into the cupcake liners without making a mess.
- Piping bag/ pastry bag and tip – to pipe the frosting on top of the cupcakes
- Cupcake pan
Variations and Substitutions:
- Dry ingredients – if you have a favorite yellow or white cake mix recipe that calls for cake flour or all-purpose flour, that can be used instead. However, you will just need to add 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to the batter. Cake flour makes for an airy cake, while all-purpose is a little dense.
- Churros – we topped our cupcakes with homemade churros, but store-bought can be used as well.
- Filling – if desired, scoop the centers out of the cooled cupcakes using a piping tip or apple corer. Add the dulce de leche filling to a piping bag, and fill. Then frost as usual.
- Chocolate – use this chocolate cupcake recipe for the base if you don’t want vanilla or yellow.
- No frosting – you could also brush the tops of the cupcakes with melted butter and then dip them in the cinnamon sugar for a more pronounced cinnamon sugar crust.
PREP: Line a muffin tin with liners and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Step 1: In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the cake mix, oil, buttermilk, eggs, and cinnamon on medium speed for 2-3 minutes.
Step 2: Scoop the cupcake batter into the muffin tins, filling ⅔ of the way full.
Step 3: Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack.
Step 4: While the cupcakes are still warm, dip the tops in a small bowl of cinnamon sugar, then allow them to finish cooling.
Step 5: Cream butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
Pro Tip: Make sure the cupcakes are cooled completely before frosting, or else they will melt off.
Step 6: Beat the powdered sugar into the cinnamon buttercream. Add a tablespoon of milk or cream at a time. Continue mixing until the icing is thick but pipeable.
Step 7: Transfer the frosting to a piping bag and decorate.
GARNISH: Drizzle with caramel sauce and add a churro to the top of the frosting.
- We substituted buttermilk for the water in the cake mix instructions to achieve a richer, moister cupcake.
- The frosting is going to be a bit stiffer than traditional cream cheese frosting. This is so it’s pipeable and will stay on top of the cupcakes.
- To make the cinnamon sugar mixture for the cupcake tops, combine 1 cup of granulated sugar with 1-2 tablespoons of cinnamon.
Churros were originally created as a breakfast food for Spanish shepherds, who needed a portable and easy-to-make snack that could be fried over an open fire.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Cupcakes and frosting can be frozen for up to 1 month. Churros will not freeze well.
Churros are a type of fried dough pastry that originated in Spain and Portugal. They are believed to have been inspired by Chinese youtiao, which were introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by Portuguese sailors in the 16th century. The Spanish and Portuguese adapted the recipe and created their own version of the pastry, which they called churros. Churros have since become a popular dessert in many countries, including those in Latin America and the United States.
- 1 package vanilla cake mix
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup cinnamon sugar
- 4 oz. cream cheese softened
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 3-4 tablespoons milk or cream
- Caramel sauce for drizzling
- 18 1- inch pieces of churro
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, beat together cake mix, oil, buttermilk, eggs, and cinnamon. Beat for 2-3 minutes until well combined.
- Scoop cake batter into prepared muffin tins, filling about ⅔ of the way full. Bake cupcakes for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack.
- While the cupcakes are still warm, dip the tops into a shallow dish with the cinnamon sugar. Allow to cool the rest of the way.
- While the cupcakes are cooling, beat together cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and ground cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the powdered sugar and begin beating it into the cream cheese mixture – frosting will be very thick. Add a tablespoon of milk/cream at a time, beating the frosting until a thick pipeable consistency is achieved.
- Transfer frosting to a piping bag and pipe swirls on top of the cooled cupcakes.
- Drizzle with caramel sauce and top with a piece of churro.
The frosting recipe will produce a bit of a stiffer consistency than a traditional cream cheese frosting, making it durable for piping and staying on top of the cupcake. Before adding the frosting (or instead of), you could also brush the tops of the cupcakes with melted butter and then dip them in the cinnamon sugar for a more pronounced cinnamon sugar crust.