Grinch Cupcakes with Candy Filling

Grinch Cupcakes with Candy Filling start with your favorite cupcake and top them with a vanilla buttercream swirl filled with M&M’s. A fun surprise any kid, or kid at heart, will love!

Grinch Cupcake with Candy Filling

Years ago for a Grinch-themed Girl Scout holiday party at my coleader’s house, I made these Grinch Cupcakes as a favor for the girls to take home.

Grinch cupcake favors set on a table

When I was piping on the vanilla buttercream, I realized that in order to get the Grinch face to have enough height and not use a ridiculous amount of buttercream, I would end up with a hollow tunnel inside the buttercream that would surely collapse!

My quick solution after searching around my kitchen was to fill the inside of the tunnel with M&M’s. This ended up being serendipitous! Imagine biting into your cupcake and finding candy inside the frosting. My daughter thought this was the coolest thing ever!

mini M&Ms inside buttercream of cupcakes

Recipe Details

Make the Cupcakes

I chose to use a white boxed cake mix for these cupcakes. You could use your favorite homemade white cake recipe if you prefer. The boxed cake mix makes about 24 cupcakes.

The first step is to prepare the cake batter. Do this by following the package or recipe instructions. Then, add green food gel to achieve a vibrant green batter. Transfer the batter to cupcake pans lined with green cupcake liners, and bake the cupcakes. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before decorating.

Make and Tint the Buttercream

My favorite quick buttercream is this Easy Vanilla Buttercream. It doesn’t require any heating like a Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream, so it’s fast to make. This is especially helpful when decorating cakes and cupcakes, where it’s common to run out of buttercream and need to make more.

One batch of Easy Vanilla Buttercream will frost 12 cupcakes, but not with fancy piping, which takes more buttercream. I would guess 1 batch would frost about 8 cupcakes when a large star tip is used to swirl a mound of icing on each cupcake. Because the Grinch Cupcakes require a considerable amount of buttercream per cupcake, I recommend at least 4 batches of Easy Vanilla Buttercream. It’s better to have a little extra, especially when working with colors so that you don’t run out and risk not matching the color exactly the second time around.

Once you have your buttercream, place a small amount in each of two small bowls, and divide the rest between two large bowls (4 bowls total). One small bowl will be left untinted for the white/off-white parts of the Santa hat. The other small bowl will be tinted yellow for the Grinch’s eyes. One large bowl will be tinted green for the Grinch’s face, while the other will be tinted red for the Grinch’s Santa hat. Tint each bowl as indicated.

Frost, Fill and Decorate the Cupcakes

Transfer the yellow buttercream and the black store-bought black frosting into piping bags fitted with small round tips. Then transfer the untinted buttercream to a piping bag with a small star tip. Lastly, transfer the green and red frosting to piping bags with large round tips (or the tip cut off the piping bag to create a large round opening approximately 1/2-inch in diameter).

To begin, use the green buttercream and pipe a circle around the edges of a cupcake and continue to pipe circles on top (slightly smaller each time until you have 3 or 4 circles high) to create the Grinch’s face with an empty hole down the center. Fill this cavity with M&Ms to prevent the buttercream from caving in.

green frosted cupcakes filled with M&Ms

After adding the candy, pipe circles of red buttercream for the Santa hat. Then pipe the untinted buttercream with the star tip around the base of the hat and one large dot on top of the hat. Pipe two round eyes on the Grinch’s face with the yellow buttercream. Lastly, use the black frosting to pipe eyebrows above the eyes and pupils in the center of the eyes.

Grinch cupcakes in a container

Optional Packaging the Cupcakes

If you’re planning on gifting the cupcakes as a party favor, consider packaging them up. The way I did this was to use two clear plastic cocktail cups per cupcake. I placed the cupcake inside one of the cups, then turned the other cup over on top and sealed it on each side with clear packaging tape.

cupcakes packaged in clear cocktail cups

For the cute labels on top, I printed them out on white printable sticker paper and cut around the red border. You could also use a round circular punch to cut them out if the size is right. After the stickers are cut, just peel off the backing and attach them to the top (which is actually the bottom of the inverted cocktail cup). I also used these labels on paper cups to coordinate with the party plates.

Grinch place settings for a Grinch themed holiday party
Grinch cupcakes packaged as favors

Gluten Free Grinch Cupcakes with Candy Filling

Use a gluten free white cake mix for an entirely gluten free dessert.

Grinch Cupcakes with candy filling pin

Looking for More Holiday Desserts?

Check out these other holiday-themed dessert ideas:
Christmas Butter Cookies
Cranberry Christmas Cake
Santa’s Whiskers Cookies
Nut Free Linzer Cookies
Coconut Macaroons
Snowflake Gingerbread Cookies
Brown Sugar and Spice Winter Mitten Cookies
Pastel Christmas Sugar Cookies
Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies
Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies
Triple Chocolate Biscotti

Grinch Cupcakes with Candy Filling

Grinch Cupcakes with Candy Filling

Grinch Cupcakes with Candy Filling take your favorite cupcake and top them with a vanilla buttercream swirl filled with M&M's. A fun surprise any kid, or kid at heart, will love!
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24


  • 2 12-cup cupcake pans
  • 24 green cupcake liners
  • piping bags, tips and couplers


  • 1 box white cake mix (plus water, eggs, oil)
  • 4 batches Easy Vanilla Buttercream (see note)
  • food coloring gels (red, yellow, green)
  • black frosting (store bought is easiest)
  • M&M's


Make the Cupcakes:

  • Prepare the batter for your white cake cupcakes according to your recipe or package directions. Add green food coloring until the batter is a vibrant green and transfer batter into cupcake pans lined with green liners.
  • Bake and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Decorate the Cupcakes:

  • Prepare buttercream according to recipe.
  • Set aside a small amount of uncolored frosting in each of two bowls. One will be left untinted for the white on the Santa hat; one will be tinted yellow for the Grinch eyes.
  • Divide the remaining buttercream evenly between two large bowls. One will be tinted green for the Grinch face; one will be tinted red for the Santa hat.
  • Add food coloring gel to the bowls as described above. Fill piping bags fitted with tips as follows: the yellow and black (store bought frosting) should have small round tips, the white should have a small star tip, and the green and red should have large round tips (or just snip off the piping bag to make an opening approximately 1/2-inch in diameter.)
  • Pipe a ring of green frosting on the cupcake around the edges of the cupcake and going straight up, each ring slightly smaller, about 3 or 4 rings to create the face of the Grinch, leaving a hole inside the tunnel of frosting.
  • Fill the frosting tunnel with M&M's.
  • Pipe the red frosting in circles on top of the green frosting/candy to create the Santa hat.
  • Add a small white mound of frosting on the top of each Santa hat and small stars around the base of the hat for the white fluff.
  • Pipe on the yellow eyes to the front of the Grinch face. Add the black eyebrows and pupils.
  • Store cupcakes in an airtight container until ready to serve.


Easy Vanilla Buttercream recipe or Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe
Cupcakes can be store at room temperature in an airtight container for a day or two. If you prefer to refrigerate, make sure the container is sealed well and allow the cupcakes to reach room temperature before serving or the buttercream will be not be soft.
Keyword cupcakes, dessert, holiday

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