Grinch Cupcakes are the perfect treats for any Grinch movie night, Christmas Party, Dr. Seuss birthday Party, or just any old day! Easy pistachio cupcakes are frosted with homemade French vanilla buttercream that's been dyed green and topped with the Grinch's little red heart. These cute Grinch Heart Cupcakes will be a hit for any holiday season!
I have a lifelong infatuation with the Grinch. I've had a Grinch hoodie since I was in college, and I've had a Max stuffed animal with the antler on his head for my whole life. I watch the original animated Grinch movie a few times a year, and I have so much fun with the whole Grinch Stole Christmas theme.
BUT! These Grinch cupcakes are just as awesome for Dr. Seuss's birthday and Read Across America day on March 2. They're fun and festive any time of the year, but I think they're especially appropriate for these special days.
What you'll need to make Grinch pistachio cupcakes
- Electric mixer - I prefer to use an electric hand mixer, but only because mine is easy to use and sits out on the counter. If my stand mixer was easier to access in my kitchen, I'd probably use it instead.
- Stand mixer - See above.
- Scoop set - I always use a scoop to fill cupcake liners. It ensures the cupcakes are all the same size which means they'll all be done at the same time. If they aren't all the same size, some will be overcooked and dry while others may not be done inside.
- Muffin tin - Also known as a cupcake pan.
- Colored cupcake liners - You'll only need the green ones.
- Piping bags - If you want your cupcakes to have a pretty design in the frosting, you'll also need a piping tip.
Grinch Cupcake Ingredients
See printable recipe card below for amounts.
- White cake mix - This makes the cupcakes super easy. If you prefer, you could use a from scratch recipe instead and just add the pistachio pudding below.
- Vegetable oil - or an equal amount of butter
- Large eggs - You'll need to beat these before adding them to the cake batter.
- Instant pistachio pudding - This is what makes the cupcakes green, and it's also a very nice flavor to add to a white cupcake.
- Gel food color (yellow and green) - I only use gel food color. It is more concentrated, and you need less of it to achieve a nice, bright color. If you use liquid food color in frosting or cake batter, you risk adding too much liquid and diluting the consistency.
French Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Ingredients
- Salted butter - You can use unsalted butter in a pinch, because you're also adding a bit of salt to the recipe.
- Clear vanilla extract - I prefer to use vanilla bean paste in uncooked recipes, but in this particular recipe, the paste will darken the frosting. It's best to use clear vanilla extract to get the vanilla flavor without changing the color of the frosting.
- Powdered sugar - Buttercream frosting is softened butter creamed with powdered sugar. It's the only way to make it.
- French vanilla coffee creamer or half and half or whole milk - I like the French vanilla because it gives a unique flavor to the frosting which pairs nicely with the pistachio cupcakes.
- Gel food color (yellow and green) - I only use gel food color. It is more concentrated, and you need less of it to achieve a nice, bright neon color. If you use liquid food color in frosting or cake batter, you risk adding too much liquid and diluting the consistency.
- Red candy hearts - These are optional but really make the Grinch theme pop. If you prefer a bunch of hearts, you could use heart sprinkles on top of each cupcake.
How to make cute Grinch cupcakes
Directions for the Grinch Pistachio Cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a standard muffin tin with green liners.
- Add the cake mix to a large mixing bowl. Using an electric hand or stand mixer on medium speed, mix in the water, oil, and eggs until well incorporated.
- Add in the pistachio pudding and green food coloring, if you're using it (see note below), and continue to stir until incorporated.
- Use a large scoop to fill each cupcake well ⅔ full.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool in the muffin pan for 15 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Directions for the French Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- Using an electric hand or stand mixer, cream the butter and beat until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).
- Mix in the clear vanilla extract.
- Slowly mix in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, while adding a bit of the flavored creamer in between each cup. Continue to mix for 1 minute or until creamy.
- Add the green gel food coloring until desired color is achieved. For the Grinch green, I just used a light green gel food coloring I had. You can also mix a smidge of yellow and about half as much green.
- Prepare piping bag with a fancy tip and fill the bag with frosting. Pipe a swirl of frosting onto the cupcakes.
- Add a red heart sprinkle to each cupcake.
Tips and tricks for the best Grinch cupcakes
The best way to get the true neon grinchy green is to use a dab of yellow food color with green food color.
If you want a really grinchy cupcake, feel free to add food color to the cupcake in addition to the frosting.
How to store Grinch pistachio cupcakes
Frosted Grinch cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container on the counter for three or four days. To make them last longer, you can put the airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, although baked goods tend to dry out when refrigerated.
Can you freeze Grinch cupcakes?
Yes, you can. You can freeze frosted or unfrosted cupcakes.
To freeze unfrosted cupcakes, cool them completely on a wire rack, and then place in a single layer inside a large zippered freezer bag. Store in the freezer for up to three months.
To freeze frosted cupcakes, move the cooled cupcakes to the refrigerator for two hours to harden the frosting. Remove them and wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap before adding to a zippered freezer bag. As the unfrosted cupcakes, these can be frozen for up to three months.
All frozen cupcakes can be thawed at room temperature for two hours. After they've thawed completely, you can serve and enjoy!
Try these other delicious cupcake recipes
- Watermelon Cupcakes
- Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies (AKA PB Cream Cheese Brownie Bars)
- Rice Krispie Nests
- Cheesecake Stuffed French Toast Muffin Cups