The Kentucky Derby is this Saturday and we hope you’re hosting or attending a viewing party. Life gives us a very limited number of opportunities to wear a gigantic hat and sip bourbon, so we must take advantage of these special moments when they arise.

Whether you’re participating in a Derby-themed shindig or just want an excuse to eat boozy cupcakes, this recipe will hit the spot. Inspired by the southern libation that’s become synonymous with Derby Day — the mint julep — these cupcakes are sweet, minty, and finish with a nice bourbon kick. They’re also gorgeous enough to display on a cake stand as your party centerpiece. Off to the races!

Mint Julep Cupcakes With Bourbon Simple Syrup Recipe (makes approximately 12 cupcakes):

For Cupcakes:

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 stick softened butter, plus a bit more for the pan
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Green food coloring

For Bourbon Simple Syrup

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp bourbon

For Mint Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 6 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mint extract
  • Fresh mint leaves (for garnish)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly coat cupcake pan with butter (you can also use cupcake liners, preferably in a festive floral pattern).
  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Slowly add eggs and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer until fully combined.
  1. Sift remaining dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) together and add half to creamed mixture, along with half the amount of buttermilk. Mix well, then add the remaining dry ingredients and remaining buttermilk, and finish mixing.
  1. Mix a few drops of green food coloring into the batter until desired shade of green is achieved. Pour batter into cupcake pan and bake for about 18 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  1. While cupcakes are baking, make a bourbon simple syrup by combining ½ cup water and ½ cup sugar in a sauce pan on the stove. Bring to a boil, then let cool. Once cool, add a tablespoon of bourbon (or more depending on how much you love bourbon).
  1. Once cupcakes are fully cooled, use a pastry brush to liberally coat the top of each cake with bourbon simple syrup. Apply enough that the syrup can really sink into the cupcake.
  1. For frosting, use an electric mixer to blend the cream cheese and butter until smooth, then mix in powdered sugar and mint extract. Frost each cupcake and garnish with a fresh mint leaf.
  1. Enjoy while wearing a comically large hat and sipping a mint julep, of course.

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