These gorgeous 4th of July cupcakes are tender, moist, and full of cocoa-rich swirls. One simple batter is transformed into white, red velvet and blue velvet batters, and they’re marbled together for swirly color in every bite. These patriotic cupcakes will get more attention than the fireworks!
Not only are these red, white and blue cupcakes gorgeous to look at and delicious to eat, they’re also easy to make.
Don’t worry-- we’re not making three batters from scratch. I make a really good cupcake batter and pull out about 1 cup. Then I mix in cocoa powder and a splash of buttermilk. Divide it in half, color with red and blue, and voila-- 3 bowls of batter, ready to go.
All that’s left is a simple marbling in the cupcake liners. And of course, I hope you go all in with the rich vanilla buttercream (read on for tips). It takes these Fourth of July cupcakes to the next level of delicious.
what makes these the best 4th of July cupcakes?
Butter: I love the flavor and delicate texture that butter gives to cupcakes. It also helps them stay light and fluffy, thanks to the air incorporated during the creaming stage. Oil-based cupcakes also tend to leave a filmy, coating texture in my mouth which isn’t my favorite. The downside to all-butter cupcakes is dryness, which can get more noticeable the day after baking. But don’t worry! I address that next.
Sour cream: Full-fat sour cream is a great way to add moisture to cupcakes. It’s thick, so it doesn’t make the batter too watery and thin. The acidity adds a delicate tang to the batter, and the fat gives the cupcakes a tender, rich texture. Full-fat Greek yogurt can be used as a substitute-- the batter will be thicker and trickier to marble, but the cupcakes will be a bit fluffier.
Buttermilk: The acidity in buttermilk activates the baking soda in the recipe to give the cupcakes extra lift. It also keeps the crumb tender.
Cocoa powder: The cocoa powder in the red and blue swirls adds a touch of chocolate flavor to these 4th of July cupcakes. It also deepens the colors, so they look more dramatic and eye-catching.
how to make 4th of July cupcakes:
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside
- Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
- Beat in eggs, one at a time
- Beat in sour cream and vanilla
- Alternate mixing in dry ingredients and buttermilk
- Pull off 1 cup of batter, mix in cocoa powder and buttermilk
- Divide cocoa batter in half, color red and blue
- Spoon white, red and blue batters into cupcake liners until ⅔ full
- Gently marble with a toothpick
- Bake about 20 minutes
- Cool completely
- Decorate with buttercream and sprinkles!
how to decorate 4th of july cupcakes:
For these 4th of July cupcakes, I kept the decorating elegant and relatively simple (if you’re into buttercream piping, that is). I love the look of mixed rosettes and just a touch of color. There’s plenty going on under the frosting in these red, white and blue cupcakes, so I tried to keep the top a little bit more restrained.
- Make a stiff buttercream frosting
- Color about ½ cup red and ½ cup blue (I used Wilton Red-Red and Wilton Royal Blue)
- Pipe a white rosette on the tops of each cupcake, using a variety of extra large tips (1M and some other random star shapes)
- Use Wilton tips 199 and 4B to make red and blue “fireworks” on top of the rosette
- Finish the cupcakes with a tiny sprinkle of silvery sprinkles (I love Fancy Sprinkles).
Of course, if you want to go even more minimal with the decorating, stick to a plain white rosette or even just spread the buttercream and go to town with sprinkles. They'll be delicious and beautiful, no matter what you decide.
more 4th of July desserts you'll love:Print
4th of July cupcakes
These gorgeous 4th of July cupcakes are tender, moist, and full of cocoa-rich swirls. Marbled with red velvet and blue velvet swirls and topped with vanilla buttercream.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 12
- Category: Cupcakes
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
4th of July cupcakes
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tbsp sour cream, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup buttermilk plus 2 tbsp, divided, at room temperature
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 ½ cups (350 g) salted butter, cubed and softened
- 6 cups (700 g) powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp boiling water
4th of July cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk to combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
- Use a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or a handheld mixer, to cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating until well mixed. Scrape down bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add sour cream and vanilla and beat until combined. Alternate adding dry ingredients and ⅔ cup buttermilk in 3 batches, starting and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
- Scoop out 1 cup of batter and combine it with cocoa powder and remaining 2 tablespoons buttermilk. Divide that mixture in half and color with red and blue food coloring. Fill the cupcake liners with a teaspoon of red and blue batters. Top with 1 tablespoon of white batter. Repeat with red, blue and white batters until liners are ⅔ full (this should use almost all of the batter).
- Tap the batter down to even out the surface. Use a toothpick to gently marble the cupcakes. Bake 18- 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed to soften, about 30 seconds. Add all of the sifted powdered sugar, attach splash guard, and mix on low speed until it just comes together, about 3 minutes. Mixture will look very powdery at first. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl, and mix again to incorporate any loose powdered sugar.
- Turn mixer on high, immediately add vanilla extract and hot water, and mix until just combined, about 20 seconds. If desired, Transfer to a piping bag and decorate cupcakes as desired.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
- Serving Size: 1 cupcake with 1 tbsp frosting
- Calories: 352
- Sugar: 26g
- Sodium: 392mg
- Fat: 21g
- Saturated Fat: 13g
- Unsaturated Fat: 6.6g
- Trans Fat: 0.5g
- Carbohydrates: 39g
- Fiber: 0.7g
- Protein: 3.6g
- Cholesterol: 84mg
Keywords: 4th of July cupcakes