These cherry cupcakes feature a soft pink cupcake filled with maraschino cherries and covered with creamy maraschino cherry buttercream. They’re delicious and they’re even easy to make!
Maraschino cherry cupcakes are basically my 5-year-old self’s dream dessert.
I mean come on! They’re pink! And full of cherries, and topped with pink frosting, and really what’s not to love?
And for a cupcake made totally from scratch, they’re reasonably easy to make too—no special equipment or tricky techniques required.
Why you’ll love these cherry cupcakes:
- No stand mixer necessary!
- The ingredients are all staples you probably have on hand already
How to make cherry cupcakes
- Beat room temperature butter with granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl until it’s very light
- Beat in egg whites, vanilla, and almond extract
- Beat in the food coloring (optional but it makes the cupcakes really pretty)
- Fold in the dry ingredients and some whole milk
- Stir in chopped cherries
- Divide between paper-lined muffin cups and bake!
Be sure to cool your cupcakes completely before you frost them or the frosting will melt.
If you don’t like almond extract you can substitute vanilla instead but almond and cherry go together beautifully.
I like to use clear vanilla in my cherry cupcakes so I can get a true pink color but feel free to use regular vanilla if that’s what you have.
I also use Wilton pink gel food coloring; a little bit goes a long way. You can use whatever food coloring you prefer.
How to make maraschino cherry frosting
- Beat room temperature butter until very smooth and creamy
- Add powdered sugar and a few other ingredient
- Mix until smooth and creamy
I used this closed star pastry tip to frost my cupcakes but you can definitely just spread the frosting on top.
What are maraschino cherries?
Originally they were Marasca cherries pickled in seawater, then preserved in maraschino liqueur, a liqueur made from distilling Marasca cherries.
Marasca cherries are a sour black cherry that grew wild in the Dalmatia region of Croatia. Preserving them in maraschino liqueur was popular there for a long time.
In the 19th century their popularity spread to the rest of Europe but because they were very expensive they were seen as a delicacy that only the very wealthy could afford.
They came to the US in the 19th century as well and due to their popularity and expense many people began creating imitations.
The maraschino cherry as we know it today is the creation of Professor Ernest Wiegand of Oregon State University. (Excuse me while I take a moment to be a proud Oregonian.)
In the early 1900s Oregon was growing a whole lot of cherries. But cherry growers lacked a method to preserve the cherries without making them mushy. Therefore, from 1925 to 1931, Wiegand researched and perfected a technique that is used by maraschino cherry producers to this day.
And no, that method doesn’t include formaldehyde, which is apparently a common misconception.
For a more in-depth history see this article. If you’re a history nerd like me then you’ll love it.
Can I use fresh cherries in these cupcakes?
You can certainly use fresh cherries in your cupcakes rather than maraschino cherries, however the cupcakes won’t be quite as moist.
If you do use fresh cherries, just omit the maraschino cherry juice in the frosting.The frosting won’t have any maraschino cherry flavor (of course) but it will still be delicious.
Did you make these cherry cupcakes? Yay! Let me know what you think with a comment and a rating below. And post a pic on Insta–tag @theitsybitsykitchen so I can see your gorgeous creations!
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract clear vanilla if you have it
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract*
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- Pink food coloring
- 3/4 cup maraschino cherries patted dry and chopped
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups powdered sugar
- 3 to 6 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract clear if you have it
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- pink food coloring optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 10 to 12 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
Beat the butter in a large mixing bowl until it’s smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar, mixing until fluffy and pale in color—3 to 4 minutes.
Beat in the egg whites 1 at a time, followed by the vanilla and almond extract. Beat in the food coloring, if using.
With mixer on low, beat in 1/3 of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the milk.
Set the mixer aside and switch to mixing with a spatula. Add another third of the dry ingredients, the remaining milk, then the last of the dry ingredients. Stir until the flour is just incorporated.
Fold in the chopped cherries.
Divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until very smooth.
Add 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons of milk, the cherry juice, vanilla, almond extract, and salt and beat to combine. Mix in food coloring (if using).
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then turn mixer to medium and beat until smooth. Add additional powdered sugar if frosting is too thin and additional milk if frosting is too thick.
Frost and decorate cooled cupcakes as desired.
- *You can substitute vanilla for the almond extract if you prefer.
- I use clear vanilla in my cherry cupcakes and frosting because that lets me get a true pink color but you can use regular if that’s what you have.
- Uneaten cupcakes can be stored, covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the freezer, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 months.
Adapted from How to Bake Everything