Not your kid’s cupcakes

Bourbon Sweet Potato Cupcakes

Something sweet and just a little bit saucy. The recipe for these cupcakes comes from one of my fave cookbooks, Bundt Classics. While the recipes are geared toward baking in a bundt pan, I’ve made several of them into cupcakes and I haven’t been disappointed yet. It has TONS of easy recipes for enhanced cake mixes and baking from scratch. So, I’ve overlooked the fact that it doesn’t have any photos, which is usually a requirement before I buy a cookbook.

So here we go. Sweet potatoes and bourbon. Something I know very little about. Especially bourbon. I guess I bought the right kind. It says whisky, but in really small letters it also says bourbon… confusing. But, I liked the look of the bottle, so this was the winner. I bought one of the small bottles they have behind the counter since I didn’t need a whole lot. But still, $8.99 … yikes.

Bourbon… sweet!

Naked Cupcake

I was super happy with the way the cupcakes came out with such pretty rounded tops. Especially since I was going to dip them in a vanilla glaze. Note: Usually when my cupcakes bake up on the flat side, I’ll disguise it with a giant mound of buttercream frosting. Not necessary with these.

Vanilla Glaze

ooooooooh … that looks good!

Then, I made another syrup/glaze/frosting concoction to go on top of the vanilla glaze, because I thought the cupcakes needed a stronger bourbon taste. (Heck, I spent all that money on bourbon, so I want to taste it!) And, I say concoction because I started out making a syrup and then realized that wouldn’t work over the glaze, so I added some confectioner’s sugar to try and salvage it. I’ll give you the recipe as I made it. It was good, but if I made these over again, I would find a way to just add the bourbon to the vanilla glaze.

Candied Pecans

Then, I decided to top them off with some candied pecans because I didn’t want them to look so plain.

Here’s the recipe:

Bourbon Sweet Potato Cupcakes

Bourbon Sweet Potato Cupcakes


Bourbon Sweet Potato Cupcakes

  • 1-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup cooked sweet potatoes
  • 1/3 cup bourbon

Candied Pecans

  • sugar
  • water
  • pecan halves

Vanilla Glaze

  • 2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
  • 1 Tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3-4 Tbsps milk

Bourbon Syrup/Glaze/Frosting Concoction

  • 1-1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp bourbon


  1. Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake trays with 24 baking cups.
    Whisk together flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a large bowl.
  2. In another large mixing bowl, mix brown sugar, butter and eggs until fluffy. Add sweet potatoes and vanilla. Mix well.
  3. Add 1/3 of flour mixture to sugar mixture until combined. Add bourbon. Add second 1/3 of flour mixture. Add milk. Add final 1/3 flour mixture. Mix well with each addition.
  4. Fill baking cups. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until done. Cool completely.
  5. Candied Pecans: Add equal parts sugar and water to a pot. (I used 1 cup each.)
  6. Add pecans. Simmer for about six minutes. Drain syrup off pecans.
  7. In a deep fryer at about 375 degrees add pecans to oil. Heat for about 30 seconds to a minute or until frying noise stops. Be careful. The first attempt I made with these, I burned my pecans to a crisp. I guess my oil was too hot.
  8. Lay on parchment paper lined tray and cool slightly. Sprinkle some extra sugar on top to make them prettier. Allow to dry completely. Note: These rocked! They can be made by themselves and served as a sweet snack.
  9. Vanilla Glaze: In a medium bowl, mix sugar and butter. Add vanilla.
  10. Add milk 1 Tbsp at a time until you get the desired consistency. (Adding more milk will make it thinner.) Mix until smooth.
  11. Transfer glaze to a small bowl and dip the tops of your cupcakes in it. Let set.
  12. Bourbon Syrup Glaze: In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Boil for five minutes and add remaining ingredients. Cook until a syrupy consistency.
  13. Remove it from the stove and let it cool for a minute. Add 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar and 2 Tbsp milk to get it more like the consistency of the vanilla glaze. Spoon it on top so you can see the vanilla glaze underneath.
  14. Add one candied pecan to each cupcake if you don't eat them all first.


Cupcake and glaze recipes amended slightly from the cookbook, Bundt Classics.

Bourbon Sweet Potato Cupcakes


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107 comments on “Not your kid’s cupcakes”

  1. I just made them, and omg.. They are delicious!!!! Thank you for sharing this recipe

  2. Love this recipe i tried it but substituted the bourbon with Apple juice since Im not legally able to purchase alcohol. They taste great.

  3. Bourbon Sweet Potato cupcakes. They sound wonderful, I don’t
    Use bourbon but I still think they will be great.

  4. Couldn’t you just use both bourbon &milk as your liquids in the vanilla glaze recipe instead of making 2 glazes? Just a thought.

  5. i think its a great idea but im too young to handle or consume bourbon im only 12 but i absolutaly love your site and everything on it

  6. Hi – these look fabulous. Is there any way to candy the pecans without deep frying them?
    Thanks, & your blog looks fab as always.

  7. I just popped a batch in! Cannot wait to try them. I left out the Bourbon, mainly b/c I don’t have any on hand. They smell fantastic!

  8. Bakerella, you are a complete star for pulling this off. I’ve just attempted this recipe for the first time and the result was a flop!
    The cake was all dense and kind of rubbery. And, the centers of some of them seemed a little uncooked. ugh. I’m sorry, but it was the worst flop I’ve ever had. HELP ME. :(

  9. fyi…whiskey is a general term for fermented grain mash, including Scotch, Rye, and Irish Whiskey. Bourbon is a kind of whisky made in the U.S. The exact definition varies. For legal purposes, it has to be made in the U.S. from 51% corn and aged a certain way. By that definition, Jack Daniels is bourbon, (although they brand themselves as not being bourbon). Another definition is that it is made in Bourbon County.

    These cupcakes look delicious, and I’m making them for a party next week.

  10. Mine didn’t come out quite right, but I’m sure the fault is mine. I used buttermilk instead of whole. They were much heavier, not light and fluffy like your photos. Could you explain how that would affect the texture (I’m guessing fat content?)? Next time I’ll follow the recipe exactly- I’m just curious to know the “how” of what I did wrong. :)

  11. I made mine with sweet potato puree from the can, and Jameson instead of bourbon — perfect swap!! I was skeptical, but only had those things on hand. I found they took closer to 20 mins cooking, though. Great recipe!!

  12. I know I say this a lot but those look so professional.

  13. bourbon sweet potato cupcakes

  14. Tirzah – yeah they were boiled.

  15. This recipe intrigued me so much that I knew I had to make them. That and I had a whole bunch of leftover sweet potatoes and my mother loves bourbon.
    They turned out ah-maze-ing! I did what a couple of other people did and mixed 3 tbsp bourbon with 1/4 cup sugar. I poked holes in the warm cupcakes and brushed two layers of that on top before spooning the vanilla glaze on top. It added a nice little extra bourbon flavor right into the cupcake.
    I’ll definitely be making more of your recipes.

  16. The recipe calls for “cooked” sweet potatoes– is that boiled or baked? Is there a reason to cook them in one way vs the other? (They’re obviously boiling in your picture, but i just wanted to double check.)

    Can’t wait to try these!

  17. We tried these out just before Thanksgiving and then wrote a blog about just because they were soooooo good!

  18. I made these yesterday and they were a big hit. They actually looked almost exactly like the photos. My batch only yielded 22, though, so I may have filled them a bit too high.
    I used a top-shelf bourbon too, which gave a nice flavor. I baked my 2 sweet potatoes for 70 minutes at 350 because I think baking keeps more flavor than boiling them.
    I also only used the bourbon glaze, which turned out pretty nice. Cools of quickly, though so you should work fast and top with a pecan right away if you want it to stick.
    I also think warming a little right before serving them is the best way to go. Thanks for the recipe–huge success here!

  19. I just had a taste test of the cupcakes and WOWZA! So good. I believe this will be my new tailgating dessert and they are for sure to be a hit on Thanksgiving. Thanks!!!

  20. I’m working on these now; just waiting for the butter to soften. I’m a southern girl so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make something out of sweet potatoes, pecans, bourbon (good choice on the Maker’s Mark) and vanilla. I’m sure they’ll be a hit tomorrow for Thanksgiving!

  21. Cupcake:) – I’ve only made them the way here, so that’s what I’d recommend to start.

    Pam – See above

    farrah – sweet potatoes

    babydancer – sure. chocolate, vanilla, pumpkin etc.

  22. I love the frosting idea (both of them). I was wondering if I could use that for other cupcakes and if so, what you suggest?

  23. That looks so good! Sounds like a perfect thanksgiving cupcake.

  24. YUM! Gonna have to try them. One question…did you use sweet potatoes or yams? The one in the picture looks more like a yam, so I thought I’d better check.

  25. Love your sight! I also have the same question as #82?

  26. these look awsome!
    i was just wondering tho can i put the pecans in the oven with the sugar or do they have to go in the oil?
    i dont wanna leave the pecans out ..

  27. I just made these and yes, they are delicious. I used Jim Beam. I was afraid the bourbon taste would be too strong. It isn’t at all, its just right, you don’t taste the alcohol, just the flavor of the Beam. My cupcakes turned out exactly the way the pictures look. The candied pecans really are a snack on their own. Be sure to make extras. Don’t let your bourbon glaze cool too long or it will be a granulated sugary mess, requiring you to reheat it. Enjoy.

  28. PS – Excellent bourbon whiskey choice. I recently did a tour of the Maker’s Mark distillery. All of the packaging was thought up by Mrs. Samuels.

  29. My friend just sent me this post. I’m in love. I would totally cram a whole one of these in my mouth just so I wouldn’t have to share.

  30. im on this new found sweet potato kick so even though i saw these a year ago when they first were posted i didnt like sweet potatoes. because i clicked on this from your featured sweet and i like sweet potatoes now i think im going to have to try to these

  31. Hi, i am a grandmother and so enjoy your beautiful Pix & step by step instructions.I have an idea for you. why don’t you compile all the baking recepies you have thus published, and create your own cookbook. I’m sure your loyal subscribers would all purchase them. Please allow me to be the first !
    Happy Thanksgiving & Merry Christmas to you and your family, and all of out there enjoying your talents.

  32. I made these last year and they were YUM!! I plan on bringing them back for a 2nd appearance on Thanksgiving!

  33. Well, after having them on my to-make list for a while, I finally got these made this morning! I accidentally put in twice as much baking powder as called for and yet they didn’t rise as much as they should have – go figure – but they are yummy :)

    I made half with orange juice for non-drinking friends and half with some sort of whiskey-tea drink that was the only think I could find in the shop that said “whiskey” on it. Do you know if alcohol cooks off when BAKING (as opposed to stove-top use)? Of course, then there’s the glaze, but I left that off the OJ ones.

  34. Ooo could these make fabulous adult cake pop centers?? I might have to give it a try.

  35. I will make these. BTW, bourbon is only made in KY. It’s whiskey if it’s made anywhere else. In Tennessee, Jack Daniels makes a good whiskey. BY LAW, it can only be called bourbon if it’s made in Kentucky. I used makers mark to make Ree’s whiskey glazed carrots. They are yummy, a great thanksgiving dish.

  36. These were wonderful! I made a sugar syrup with Woodford Reserve Bourbon and sprayed it on the warm cupcakes. I poked a few holes in them so it soaked in. After they cooled I put on the glaze and the pecans. We warmed them for 15 seconds before eating. What a treat! The pecans were so good too! Thanks for the great recipe.

  37. i have to make these!

  38. Keyri – I’m guessing I used regular.

  39. Hey Bakerella, for the Bourbon Syrup/Glaze/Frosting Concoction is the 1st cup of sugar regular sugar or confectioner’s sugar??

  40. Tina – just leave it out and add a little bit more liquid (milk)

    Nancy – I think it would be fine.

  41. These look sooooo good!!! Yum, yum, yummy! And you make it look so easy :)

  42. Would it work with pumpkin instead? I am not a fan of sweet potatoes, but they really look and sound delish.

  43. i hate to be a killjoy, but can anything be substituted for the bourbon ?

  44. are you serious? you are going to be responsible for me having to buy bigger pants. your website is dangerous.

  45. I bet you could easily change out the vanilla in the vanilla icing with bourbon – vanilla is mostly alcohol, and bourbon would impart a distinct taste to the icing. Or maybe half a teaspoon of both to keep the vanilla taste intact… I dunno, you could go overboard and add (gasp) an extra teaspoon of bourbon with the vanilla. :P And it’s nearing the end of fall (squash season!!) so if you have any buttercup squash (NOT butterNUT) laying around (like I do) you can substitute that for sweet potato. They taste almost identical to sweet potatoes and they have the same moisture content/consistency. Both are very healthy for you. I think I’m going to make these with those adjustments. :D

  46. Ugh why do I come on this site? We’re suppose to be eating better..wait..healthier..not better :)

  47. Bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. Much like champagne, it gets it’s name from the region it comes from (in this case, Bourbon county Kentucky). It also must contain a certain amount of corn in the mash of grain but I forget the actual amount. I hope this helps clear up your confusion!

    The cupcakes look seriously delicious.

  48. Go for it pokeyjones!

  49. Its look delicious

  50. Thanks for the inspirational use with the Maker’s Mark. With the Kentucky Derby coming up soon, I am thinking “Mint Julep” version for a “not your kid’s cupcakes”.

  51. These sound incredible and I have to make them! One thing I will probably do though is use some Tullamore Dew. It’s an Irish whiskey so it has a somewhat milder flavor than bourbon (I love whiskey). I used it in a glaze over a pumpkin cheesecake and it was fabulous.

  52. Miriam – Thanks. I’m glad…Although I probably can’t tell the difference between good and bad bourbon.

  53. those look delicious! and you definitely bought the right kind of bourbon. maker’s is the best.

  54. Y_ME – I definitely think you can make it without the bourbon. However, you may want to increase the liquids (milk) a little to compensate.

  55. Hi there! first i loved all your creations. It is 12:32 after midnight over here and i so wanted to try all your recipes! anyway, I so want to try this one but we don’t consume alcohol nor use it in our food because of religion reasons, so can i just take it out of the cake or shall i use something else instead that isn’t alcoholic?

  56. melanie – I did mention that it was a concoction. Mine were a little on the crystallized side too. But the taste made up for it.

    Krystal – You can do them in the oven, too. Search candied pecans. I just didn’t have the time to let them bake for an hour.

  57. Is there a way you recommend making the pecans without a deep fryer?

  58. For some reason my bourbon glaze came out the consistency of sand… these are still good without it. Chopped pecans mixed in would probably be better then the pecan on top, in my opinion. The flavors go really well together.

  59. Hey Charlotte – hope you like them

  60. Yum, two of my favourite things together- Sweet Potato and Bourbon! I can’t wait to try these out! :)

  61. Victoria – Now I wish I had the bigger version!

    My First Kitchen – too funny

    Maryanne – thanks!

    Deirdre – YAY!!!

  62. Haha! Maker’s Mark is one of the best bourbons out there. Excellent choice!

  63. those look soooo good!

  64. For real? I think my husband might divorce me so he could ask me to marry him all over again if I made him these.

  65. Those sound great! Perhaps the alcohol was cheaper where I live, because I think I paid around 8.99 for a normal sized bottle! Or maybe it was a cheaper brand? But, I bought some to use last year to try out a spiced pumpkin cheesecake with caramel pecan bourbon sauce recipe. (Which is VERY delicious!) I ended up making three of those cheesecakes – and sauce – last year. And then we used some of it to make bourbon molasses barbeque sauce over the summer – also VERY delicious! I just used up the rest of the bourbon last week to make another one of those cheesecakes! (Well, the bourbon goes into just the sauce, but still….) Good stuff, and I’m glad I bought the regular sized bottle after all! I think they are a better deal than the smaller ones, for any liquer.. it doesn’t really go bad anytime soon and you can always look up a recipe for additional uses! :)

  66. Cindy B – I emailed you.

    Cakespy – You have a point. More cupcakes, kids?

  67. Oh, but they’d make the kids so docile… ;-)

  68. Hi-is there a way to print individual entries without printing all the comments. I’m new to the blog thing, but I’ve seen some that you can print just the entry and pics. E-mail me at Love your blog!!!

  69. gail – me too

    justJENN – thanks

    LaDue & Crew – homemade vanilla? you rock!

    flanthrower – Thanks

    Karen – thank you

    morgana – Yes. enjoy.

    Rox – or plain cream cheese frosting would be great with these too.

    Dream Cake – Yeah!

    Dana – I'm so glad to hear that. Send a pic.

    Candes – hope you like it.

    puglyfeet – thanks friend.

    Atticelf – don't eat too many.

    My Sweet & Saucy – yeah, I was so proud.

    The Cookie Girl – I didn't think the whisky was to strong.

  70. Now that just sounds like cupcake heaven! I love sweet potatoes and well….I am not a fan of whiskey but I am giving this one a try

  71. I am lovin these! The dome top is simply gorgeous!

  72. Oh wow…LOVE these! Heading off to my kitchen…

  73. Those look yummy!

  74. I love sweet potatoes! Can’t wait to try it.

  75. So many comments so fast!!! I love this idea! Can’t wait to make them! I made the turkey pops for Thanksgiving and what a hit!! People also love the Bakarella tshirt! i tell them to stop by your blog!

  76. Leave it to you bakerella! What’s not to love here sweet potatoes and bourbon. It just don’t get any better than that!!!!

  77. Oh these look delicious. I’ll have to see if we have any bourbon, and if not if I can find something to improvise.
    I might try to do a bit of syrup with wine (I did this once for a chicken recipe and it smeeled great while cooking, without having the wine taste in the end, just a bit of flavour) and use it instead of your concoction :)

  78. Mmmmmm. Very very original recipe. Lucky woman am I, there are no kids here… hehehehe.

  79. those look sooo good!

  80. Omg, you just combined two of my great food loves (bourbon + sweet potatoes) into one awesome baked good. I can’t wait to try this recipe. (And I would say for someone who doesn’t know much about bourbon, you definitely chose well.)

  81. Yeah, I have all the ingredients in my pantry- a first!! I am making these in the morning for company tomorrow night! I only have the bourbon from making homemade vanilla with it- Oh my is it ever good!

  82. I made sweet potato cupcakes for the long holiday too! Your glaze looks fab. YUM.

  83. Bourbon, sweet potatoes, vanilla, and pecans together in one delicious package? Amazing. I am so glad I stopped by :-D

  84. bakingblonde – those pecans rock!

    CookiePie – great excuse :)

    Alicia – definitely not average

    VeggieGirl – it’s that dripping glaze.

    Stacy – YAY!

    bon-bon-bun – good luck

    Panya – thanks and you know your stuff.

    Kelly – I’m hoping to get some up soon.

    KeL – keep checking :)

    Heather – They do seem kinda manly.

    Sandy – thank you

    Isa – you are welcome.

    kate – thanks!

    Gretchen Noelle – I’ve had pie before, but never in cake.

    apparentlyjessy – simple and sweet

    J.Danger – because you love it.

    Meaghan – what kind did you use? and if you added regular food color, that is your problem. You have to use candy color. it doesn’t contain water. Look for the brand chefmaster.

    Amy – that would work, but feel free to do an easier glaze approach.

    cakes_are_fun – I’ll get you a napkin.

    JillS – Good timing, then.

    Arya – good job.
    And I bet they were pretty and no one ever knew there was an imperfection.

  85. looks yummy! btw I tried the red velvet chocolate covered balls – messy but fun and because I drizzled a little white chocolate on them you couldn’t see the imperfections…soon I will post on a pic on my blog. Thank you for inspiring me to cook…next I will try your pumpkin chocolate cookies…

  86. only 3 of 10 in our family eat sweet potatoes so there were a bunch leftover… I see these in my mom and sister’s future!

    You have done it again girl…I am DROOLING on my keyboard…

  88. Sounds yummy…I have to make a cake this week for an event. If I make a bundt cake, so I just drizzle the vanilla glaze over the top, and then drizzle the other concoction on top of that?


  89. whoa!!! amazing! hey, my cake pops didn’t turn out so good-the bark was easy to dip in, but not the chocolate candy melts. is that normal? also, when i added food color to the bark it ruined it…normal?

  90. WHY?! Why do I do this to myself….

  91. mmmm strange combination, but they also look sooo yummy! I love the look of the white icing with a pecan on top too.

  92. I love sweet potato baked goods!!! These look and sound delicious!

  93. These sound devine!!!!Love pecans
    your blog is great
    please visit our new blog

  94. Those cupcakes look sooo delicious! And very pretty indeed with their rounded tops. And the vanilla glaze. And the pecan on top.
    Thanks for the recipe :)

  95. I know someone who would love those! Your pictures are so great.

  96. I agree with Stacy, Maker’s Mark is a good choice. I was watching a special on public broadcast about them. It was really interesting, it described how they make their barrels and stuff. I know my husband would love these cupcakes, I’ll have to give them a try!

  97. I would love some cake balls idea for Christmas also…Let me know also!!Thanks

  98. these look very good. Im sad to say im not sure ive ever tried sweet potatoes, but this will be a good way to try them!
    Have you done any of cakeballs for christmas? We are having a christmas party this coming weekend and I want to make some but cant seem to come up with any ideas for christmas! Thanks

  99. Oh, and Jack Daniel’s is a Tennessee whisky, which is the same as bourbon whisky [51% corn], but is filtered through maple charcoal before casking.

  100. FYI — Whisky is alcohol made from fermented grain mash, and bourbon whisky’s particular grain is corn. :-)

    I LOVE sweet potatoes in desserts, but I don’t cook with alcohol. They look good though!

  101. Wow, those cupcakes look really good :) My mum loves sweet potato, hmmm … maybe I should give it a shot!

  102. Yummy!

    Maker’s Mark is one of the most well known bourbons so you chose well. :) Jack Daniels, on the other hand, is a whisky but not a bourbon.

  103. SOOOOO enticing.

  104. these sound tasty! and nothing like your average cupcake. I love sweet potatoes! great idea!

  105. Those look fabulous! I do have some leftover mashed sweet potatoes in the fridge… I’ll have to try this recipe!

  106. I love the idea of baking using sweet potatoes, they are so underused! those cupcakes look great and I love the pecans on top!

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