Vegan peppermint chocolate cupcakes with vegan peppermint chocolate buttercream (no margarine)

These delectable frosted peppermint chocolate cupcakes are completely vegan! No one will know unless you tell them. The thick and rich buttercream contains no margarine or shortening, and you won’t believe it’s vegan!

For the second year in a row, we spent New Year’s Eve with some friends. Their son and Addie have been friends since pre-school, and now that they attend different elementary schools, we don’t get to see them as much. We got a babysitter to watch the kids while the grown-ups went out for dinner, drinks and dessert.

The pre-fixe menu offered an appetizer, entree and dessert. Unfortunately, my friend is currently dairy-free and the chef wasn’t able to customize a special dessert for her. Thankfully, I had planned ahead and made some vegan cupcakes for her to eat once we returned to their house after dinner. I made sure to bake plenty for the kids too.

The cupcakes were soft and fluffy with a touch of peppermint. I made these slightly healthier by substituting oil for applesauce. And I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical with the buttercream. I didn’t want to use a butter substitute like shortening or margarine, and the method for this buttercream seemed a bit crazy. But you know what – it totally worked.

The resulting dessert was really amazing, and my non-vegan husband gushed about how wonderful they were. I couldn’t tell that these were vegan, and the buttercream was even better than expected. Just make sure to let the buttercream come up to room temperature before you frost or else it will be very difficult to pipe. It’s a bit on the stiff side but you can add a bit more liquid to soften it up if needed.

My dairy-free friend was thankful for these cupcakes, and I was incredibly happy to have made her evening. Plus, now I have another vegan dessert to add to the blog!

Vegan peppermint chocolate cupcakes with vegan peppermint chocolate buttercream (no margarine)

These delectable frosted peppermint chocolate cupcakes are completely vegan! 
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cake, Cupcakes
Servings: 12
Author: Eva Bakes



  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup water


  • 1 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup do not use the imitation kind
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil melted


Make the cupcakes

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add the applesauce, vanilla and peppermint extracts, vinegar and water until well combined.
  • Evenly distribute the batter into your prepared cupcake pan, filling each liner about 3/4 full. Bake in your preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting

  • In a high speed blender or food processor, blend everything except the coconut oil together until well-mixed. Then add the melted coconut oil and blend until smooth. Transfer to a medium sized bowl and place in the refrigerator. It will keep there for about a week. When ready to use, let the frosting come up to room temperature before adding to your cupcakes.


Note: The frosting may be difficult to pipe at first. I found that once I transferred the frosting to a piping bag and held it in my hands, the heat from my hands softened the frosting enough to pipe it.
Keep the cupcakes stored in an airtight container at room temperature. It will keep for several days.
Sources: Cupcakes slightly adapted from; Frosting slightly adapted from Ferminartzi Bakes a Cake

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