Homemade Chocolate Reindeer Cupcakes


These chocolate reindeer cupcakes combine a tender, moist chocolate cupcake, rich buttercream frosting, and pretzels to create a cupcake that's as festive as it is delicious.

Closeup shot of homemade chocolate reindeer cupcakes.

When the holidays roll around, I love to make decorated treats. They're perfect for kids' holiday parties, potlucks and gatherings, and of course, family get-togethers! It's always so much fun to bring festive, delicious treats that make the holiday so much more joyous.

Growing up, one of my favorite desserts that my mom made was chocolate cupcakes. I couldn't get enough of them. When I decided to make reindeer cupcakes, I knew the flavor and color of chocolate were the way to go, and I was so right.

Delicious Chocolate Reindeer Cupcakes

Just like regular chocolate cake, these chocolate cupcakes combine simple ingredients to create deep, rich chocolate flavor. It's a recipe that is definitely greater than the sum of its parts when it comes to flavor.

The buttercream frosting added to the top has all the rich, sweet flavor that we love about buttercream frosting. I just color it to look like a reindeer with brown food coloring. After that, I just add some pretzels for antlers, and *poof* I have reindeer cupcakes.

Why You'll Love This Recipe

  • They're so festive. They're absolutely adorable and perfect for any holiday gathering.
  • They feature deep chocolate flavor and rich buttercream frosting.
  • Simple ingredients: They're made with simple ingredients that are probably in your kitchen right now.
Chocolate reindeer cupcakes in front of cake stand with more cupcakes


This recipe only uses simple ingredients that are easily found at your local grocery store. Most of them are baking staples, so you might not have to buy much at all.

  • Cocoa Powder: The only way to get real, true chocolate flavor in your baked goods.
  • Boiling Water: Makes your cupcakes moister and more tender.
  • Sour Cream: Adds extra flavor and moisture to the cupcakes.
  • Brown Food Coloring: To make your buttercream more "reindeer-y".
  • Pretzels, Red Frosting, and Black Frosting: To make the antlers, nose, and eyes.

The full ingredient list complete with quantities is in the recipe card at the end of the post.

How to Make Chocolate Reindeer Cupcakes

This is a very simple recipe that even beginners can make easily. We're covering the broad strokes here, but you can find the full instructions in the recipe card at the end of the post.

1. Cream the butter, sugar, and eggs. Then, add the cocoa powder and boiling water. Finally, add flour and baking soda, beat, and add sour cream, beating again.

2. Transfer batter into cupcake liners, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

3: Combine the buttercream frosting ingredients and beat until thick and creamy.

Step 4: Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes and add pretzels, and frosting to make the antlers and face.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Your Favorite Cake Recipe: Use your favorite flavor of cake for this recipe.
  • Your Favorite Frosting: Flavor your frosting or use your favorite kind of frosting.
  • Box Cake Mix: Use a box cake mix for an even easier recipe.
  • Premade Frosting: Use premade frosting if you like.

What to Serve with Chocolate Reindeer Cupcakes

These delicious cupcakes are perfect for bringing to any holiday gathering. Try pairing them up with other sweet treats like the German Christmas sugar cookies, this Christmas tree cake, or this easy Christmas punch.


  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing bowls
  • Whisk
  • Piping bag


Countertop: These cupcakes will last for a couple of days at room temperature in a covered container.

Refrigerator: Store these in an air-tight container for up to a week.

Freezer: These will last for up to 3 months in the freezer in an air-tight, freezer-safe container.

Defrosting: Place the cupcakes in the refrigerator overnight to defrost.

Closeup shot of chocolate reindeer cupcakes on table


  • Fully soften your butter or you'll end up with raw chunks of butter in the batter and frosting.
  • Don't overfill your cupcake tin. You want the cupcakes to rise just a bit, not look like muffins.
  • Always fully cool your cupcakes before frosting them or the frosting will slide off.


Why is boiling water used in some baked goods?

Boiling water allows the ingredients to blend more easily and makes for a more tender, moister finished product.

What does sour cream do in baked goods?

It makes them moister and richer.

How long will these cupcakes last?

They'll keep for a couple of days on the counter, up to a week in the refrigerator, or up to 3 months in the freezer.

More Chocolate Recipes You'll Love

Yield: 20 cupcakes

Homemade Chocolate Reindeer Cupcakes

Homemade Chocolate Reindeer Cupcakes

These chocolate reindeer cupcakes are as festive as they are delicious. They're also super easy to make and so much fun!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes


  • Cupcake Ingredients:
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Frosting Ingredients:
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • Brown food coloring gel
  • Decorations:
  • 48 twist pretzels
  • Red frosting
  • Black frosting


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream brown sugar, eggs, and butter together until fluffy.
  3. Add cocoa powder and boiling water.  Beat again.
  4. Add flour and baking soda.  Beat well until batter is smooth.
  5. Add sour cream.  Beat until batter is uniform throughout.
  6. Transfer batter into cupcake liners.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out cleanly.  Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
  8. To prepare frosting, in a medium mixing bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar together. 

  9. Add 2 tablespoons of milk and vanilla. Beat well.

  10. If it is too thick, add more milk. If it is too thin, add more powdered sugar.
  11. Add brown coloring gel to frosting and beat until desired color is reached.
  12. Transfer frosting to a ziplock bag and cut the corner off.
  13. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes. 
  14. Break pieces of pretzels off to create antlers.
  15. Add antlers, eyes, and noses to cupcakes to create reindeer.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 608Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 48mgSodium 1084mgCarbohydrates 111gFiber 3gSugar 46gProtein 10g

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