Graduation Cupcakes

Total Time

Prep: 45 min. Bake: 15 min. + cooling


2 dozen

Updated: Nov. 28, 2023
Graduation day will be a lot more festive with these graduation cupcakes. Choose decorating icing and M&M's to match the graduate's school colors. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Graduation Cupcakes Recipe photo by Taste of Home


  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/4 cups 2% milk
  • 1-1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons 2% milk
  • 24 miniature peanut butter cups
  • 1 tube (4-1/4 ounces) decorating icing in color of your choice
  • 24 After Eight thin mints
  • 24 milk chocolate M&M's in color of your choice or 24 semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Beat in vanilla and eggs, 1 at a time. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well.
  3. Fill prepared cups two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 15-20 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
  4. For frosting, beat butter and vanilla until blended; gradually beat in confectioners' sugar and enough milk to reach spreading consistency. Spread [or pipe] over cupcakes.
  5. To decorate, remove paper liners from peanut butter cups; place one upside down on top of each frosted cupcake. Place a small amount of decorating frosting on each peanut butter cup; center a mint on each. Using decorating frosting, make a loop for each cap's tassel. Place an M&M on top of each loop.
Graduation Cupcakes Tips

How can you make graduation cupcakes your own?

Adjust the colors to match the school colors of the graduate! You can add food coloring to the cake batter or the frosting, and pick matching M&M's for the "button" on top of the graduation cap. Color-coordinated cupcake liners would be super cute, too. Of course, you can also choose to make a different kind of batter or flavored frosting, if the flavor matters more to you than the colors. Just make sure you leave the graduation cap on top, with the tassel on the left (vs. the right) to show that they've graduated!

How should you store graduation cupcakes?

Since both the cake and the frosting have dairy, it's necessary to keep leftover frosted graduation cupcakes in the fridge. However, the graduation caps are better stored at room temperature, so consider removing those beforehand. You can always put them back on top of each cupcake before you serve leftovers. Try to eat them in 3 to 4 days, if they're not all gone before the end of the party.

Can you make graduation cupcakes in advance?

If you want to work ahead, you can bake the cupcakes and freeze them, unfrosted, for up to 2 months. Pull them out of the freezer and thaw the cupcakes at room temperature before you frost them. (Check out our guide to how to freeze cake for more tips.) Otherwise, you can fully bake and frost the cupcakes the day before, and keep them in the fridge until it's time for the party. Add the graduation caps right before serving. Your graduate might find these cute cupcakes to be one of the best graduation gifts they'll receive.

Lauren Pahmeier, Taste of Home Associate Editor

Nutrition Facts

1 cupcake: 480 calories, 22g fat (13g saturated fat), 62mg cholesterol, 283mg sodium, 70g carbohydrate (58g sugars, 1g fiber), 4g protein.