25 Most Popular Cupcake Flavors Ranked

Chowing down on cupcakes is as much of an American pastime as watching baseball or lighting fireworks on the fourth of July. No matter where you are in the United States, there's bound to be a cupcake shop within a few miles of you with a delicious display of flavors ranging from the familiar to the fantastic. Choosing the perfect treat for your palate can be a daunting task, which is why we've ranked the top 25 cupcake flavors you'll find across the country.

Our selection of cupcakes includes standard (albeit delicious) fare, like strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate. There are a few unconventional nods too: salty and sweet maple bacon, whimsical unicorn, and satisfying s'mores. The flavors certainly run the gamut of tastes, and there's sure to be one that hits your sweet spot. Of course, you can let yourself be inspired to stir up a batch of decadent cupcakes right from your kitchen, tailoring the flavors to fit your current desires.

25. Coffee

A steaming cup of coffee with milk and sugar in the morning is everything, but as a dessert, it's not quite the same experience. Although coffee cupcakes are often topped with cute espresso beans and a luxe buttercream frosting, they're a poor alternative to some of the other varieties on our list for one simple reason: coffee-flavored foods just aren't that great (The Comeback).

Coffee desserts are deeply polarizing, and while some people love to consume their caffeine in any form they can get, others shun the bitter beverage unless it's served hot and liquid in their "Rise and Grind" coffee mug. If you're on team coffee no matter what shape it comes in, you can make your coffee cupcakes look extra appealing and delicious by topping them with a sweet swirl of buttercream frosting and a few chocolate-covered espresso beans to garnish. Or, you could simply opt for another flavor.

24. Banana

Banana cupcakes give you a light and mellow taste of the tropics with a flavor that straddles the line between banana muffins and rich yellow-cake cupcakes. These treats have a more subdued flavor that might not appeal to folks looking for a bold, punchy bite. On the other hand, if you pair the cupcake base itself with a cream cheese frosting that has some added spice, you'll discover a nuanced taste that's a break from standard favorites like strawberry and vanilla.

You can customize them to your heart's content; if you want to go for more of a banana-bread vibe, you can always add chopped nuts for textural interest, crunch, and a touch more flavor. The real issue with banana cupcakes is that they tend to be pretty dull. Bananas are a milder fruit that doesn't stand out in a world of bolder flavors; plus, we can all agree that artificial banana flavor is disgusting (via Food & Wine).

23. Coconut

Coconut is one of those foods destined to divide us (via HuffPost). The haters bemoan the sticky dried strands of coconut that seem to invade every dessert, while the lovers celebrate it for bringing a fun taste of the tropics to their kitchens. The truth is somewhere in the middle, and if your recipe hits those coconut notes right, you'll have a dynamite dessert that's not overly sweet. However, if you miss the mark, expect an artificial-tasting cake that invokes more of a vacation in purgatory than a blissed-out weekend in Bali.

Top your coconut cupcake with rich buttercream frosting, and sprinkle it with a little bit of dried coconut for texture. Going overboard with the toppings quickly renders the treat inedible, so there's undoubtedly a fine line to straddle. Coconut is a potent ingredient, and with such power comes great responsibility. Tread with a light hand and you might just hit that island sweet spot.

22. Salted Caramel

Our lust for the sweet and salty combination of salted caramel has veered slightly into ridiculousness depending on who you ask (via BBC). Salted caramel cupcakes are yet another echo of this weird fixation. On the other hand, salted caramel cupcakes taste pretty good precisely because they balance rich buttery sweet flavors with flaky salt for the ideal yin and yang of tastes.

If you don't mind gimmicks or riding the wave of the latest fad until it crashes on the shore of obscurity, then dig in. Ultimately, they're a solid combo of buttercream frosting laced with salted caramel hints that complement a fluffy cupcake base. Some salted caramel cupcakes come with huge chunks of candy or a sweet drizzle of caramel across the top. Paired with a liberal dose of sea salt, they're a tasty sweet and salty treat that nails the flavor in a successful, if not boring way.

21. Pumpkin Spice

The American obsession with pumpkin spice is undoubtedly well documented and even scientific, according to researchers at John Hopkins University. The rich, clove and cinnamon-scented spice blend automatically conjures images of fall and nostalgia. So it shouldn't come as any surprise that in a world where pumpkin spice SPAM exists (via USA Today), pumpkin spice cupcakes are abundant (albeit synonymous with sweater weather).

These cupcakes are good with all elements working in sync, but they trend a tiny bit basic between the cream cheese frosting and the pumpkin spice base. Although you can beautify your cupcakes with orange and yellow sprinkles, these cupcakes are the "live, laugh, love" of confectionary desserts. They're serviceable and utterly non-offensive, but you won't find anything too unique or exciting about them. Still, if you're looking for familiar flavors that are as cozy as your worn-out Uggs, reach for the pumpkin spice cupcakes.

20. Red Velvet

Red velvet cake is an undisputed American classic (via New York Times). This ruby-hued treat comes with a swirl of cream cheese icing on top that creates a fantastic contrast of color and tons of flavor. Whether red velvet cake originally got its signature hue from beet juice or food dye is up for debate, yet ultimately not that important. Thanks to a strong undertone of cocoa, buttermilk, and a satiny smooth creamy frosting, red velvet cake is both moderately sweet and extremely rich. Unfortunately, it can often skew a touch dry, making ordering one fairly unpredictable.

Red velvet cupcakes are a logical leap from full-sized cakes, and while these tiny treats certainly deliver big on the flavor, you could end up with a crumbly, Saharan desert-style dessert in the hands of the wrong baker. To make moist cupcakes at home, try out our red velvet cake recipe and simply tweak the baking time for cupcakes (via King Arthur Baking).

19. Devil's Food

Although many people innocently confuse chocolate cake and devil's food cake, the two are quite different. Devil's food cake has a robust, intense cocoa flavor and a much deeper color than your typical chocolate variety. According to the South Florida Reporter, devil's food is closer to a dense and rich red velvet cake than to an ordinary chocolate treat. Devil's food cupcakes are meant for you if you like desserts that aren't overly sweet yet still packed with cocoa and tons of flavor, although depending on the recipe, they can skew slightly bitter.

The main beef with devil's food cupcakes is their texture and heavy consistency. If you're looking for a light and airy chocolate cake with ribbons of sweetness running through, devil's food certainly isn't it. Also, like their red velvet counterparts, devil's food cupcakes can become very dry in the wrong hands. It's a hit or miss with these cupcakes; you could wind up with something devilishly delicious or downright demonic.

18. Funfetti

Funfetti is America's sweetheart of cake flavors, a rainbow-studded golden treat that invokes childhood memories and tastes incredible. According to The New York Times, Funfetti first hit the baking scene in 1989 with Pillsbury's now-iconic Funfetti mix. It has since transformed from a '90s birthday party favorite to a colorful star splashed across social media. It seems like people can't get enough of sprinkle-laden cakes and cupcakes, both on and off the 'gram.

The issue with Funfetti isn't its taste necessarily, although those little bursts of color in the cupcake don't contribute much flavor-wise. It's more the juvenile nature of the cake itself, prompting Twitter users to question whether it's too childish to have a Funfetti wedding cake. To Funfetti or not to Funfetti is a personal choice, but if you order one of these rainbow-speckled treats at a bakery, you may just get a pack of crayons and some coloring sheets to go along with it.

17. Carrot Cake

Carrot cake is a previously obscure treat that made its way into American kitchens across the country in the latter part of the 20th century (via Naples News). The satisfying sweetness of shredded carrot, spices, and velvety cream cheese frosting is generally a winning combination. You can almost justify calling it healthy thanks to the copious amount of carrots you'll find in every bite, although other people might find the errant orange strands that weave through this cake a bit distracting.

On the other hand, carrot cake cupcakes aren't great for cupcake purists because they miss the delicious trifecta of chocolate, a gooey filling, and tons of sugar. They can also be a little dry and are often perceived as a boring healthy treat, invoking the ire of internet denizens who claim that carrot cake is a sneaky way to introduce veggies into dessert (via Good Men Project). Carrot cake is serviceable and secretly hides your five a day under a swirl of cream cheese frosting.

16. Chocolate

When done right, chocolate cupcakes can be multifaceted, deeply-flavored works of culinary art. To do them justice, you need to start with premium ingredients and balance a rich cocoa cake with a creamy frosting for a textural symphony in every bite — extra points for chocolate chips on top. The true key to making your chocolate cupcakes sing is nailing the base because nothing is worse than biting into a dry cupcake. 

One note sugar bombs don't have much to contribute to the culinary scene, and that's all too often the issue here. However, when they do hit the mark, these cocoa treats are tremendously tasty. If you don't want to roll the dice at your closest bakery, you can always try our recipe for moist chocolate cupcakes at home. Follow it to the letter and you're guaranteed the kind of cupcake that makes you dream about rich chocolatey flavors.

15. Nutella

According to the BBC, Nutella is a worldwide hit, embraced in every corner of the world for its delightfully creamy fusion of hazelnuts and chocolate. So it's only natural that this heavenly spread would pair well with cupcakes, taking center stage in both the cake batter and frosting. If you want to properly celebrate this star ingredient, pipe Nutella frosting into a cupcake and add an extra layer over top. You'll want to still be mindful of the amount of frosting you use — too much, and you could wind up with a sticky blob of Nutella rather than a nicely-balanced cake.

Recreate the best Nutella cupcake recipe at home, with our step-by-step rundown. Keep in mind that Nutella is super sweet, so be careful with the other ingredients to avoid accidentally going overkill with it. There is something to be said for "too much of a good thing," so avoid the temptation to over-frost or add a chocolate drizzle on top. While a few well-placed hazelnuts add crunch and interest, too much sugar could be your downfall.

14. Chocolate Raspberry

Chocolate raspberry cupcakes are an inspired combination of two classic flavors: raspberry and chocolate. The chocolate lends a rich, decadent note while the raspberry brightens it up with a slightly tart yet sweet flavor that pairs amazingly with the rest of the cupcake. The best chocolate raspberry cupcake recipes start with a luxuriously rich chocolate base made with premium cocoa powder and plenty of sugar, but you can personalize them any way you like.

While this combination is a time-tested taste favorite, it's also very expected. There's nothing genuinely expectational or unique about raspberry paired with chocolate, so you might want to pick a different option if you're going for the wow factor. Still, chocolate raspberry cupcakes are a classic for a reason, and the delicate pairing of chocolate cake, airy raspberry whip, dark chocolate ganache, and a single fresh berry on top should please virtually every palate.

13. Lemon

Bright zingy lemon cupcakes are the ultimate fusion of crisp citrus and sugar thanks to a flavorful light base topped with lemon zest heavy frosting. Lemon cupcakes might not be the first flavor that comes to mind when you picture popular cupcake varieties. Still, people love these little slices of sun so much that the Hostess brand even added lemon cupcakes to its roster of commercially-available treats (via Business Wire).

The flavor is simple and predictable, which might be the only downside since lemon cupcakes are in fact delicious. They can come off as a little one-note, but if you're willing to settle for solidly good yet slightly dull, get in line. If you're looking for a refreshing shift from more decadent cupcake varieties, lemon has got you covered. In case you need to come up with a bake sale treat quickly, simply whip up a batch of these beautiful golden cakes. They'll be gone in seconds.

12. Unicorn

While unicorn cupcakes come in all flavors and styles, there is some commonality between the variations: the whimsical decorations and cuteness overload. This makes them an easy win at any dessert table. Unicorn cupcakes might look professional, but you can make them right in your kitchen with a few pastry bags and plenty of patience. For example, you can try out fondant horns, ears, or other decorative elements to get super fancy.

Since unicorn cupcakes are all about the frosting, it's essential to avoid tampering with your cakes when they're warm. Frosting warm cakes can cause the topping to melt, leaving you with a mushy mess. Additionally, steal a pro-tip from top bakers and let your cakes cool upside down with a smidge of frosting already on top. Doing this will give you a level frosting field and help you create next-level designs on your unicorn cupcakes, including glittery sprinkles, roses, swirls, and even horns. You'll wind up with a great result if you nail the decorating, but nothing is less magical than a poorly constructed unicorn cupcake.

11. Baileys Irish Cream

Boozy cupcakes are a winning combination of sweet liqueur and a decadent cake base, and Baileys Irish Cream cupcakes are no exception. The treats are an excellent way to pair rich creamy Baileys and its delicious chocolate flavors with a hint of vanilla. The sweet liqueur can stand on its own but morphed into cupcake form, it becomes a surprisingly layered dessert. Plus, there is an assortment of Baileys flavor options to keep you experimenting.

With silky ganache and a swirl of buttercream, you'll taste multiple tiers of flavor, which occasionally get muddled together. As a result, you'll find a pleasantly sweet combination that references chocolate, vanilla, and liqueur flavors. Although most people won't be able to identify the individual nuances of taste, they still tend to be in favor of boozy desserts. Serve up these little cakes of cheer if you're looking for a true crowd-pleaser.

10. Dulce de Leche

If a better version of caramel exists, then it may very well be dulce de leche. This milky, sugary, gooey concoction is satiny smooth and slightly nutty, lending a richly deep flavor to your cupcakes. Straddling the line between toffee and butterscotch, dulce de leche is a sophisticated ingredient with international flair, thanks to its South American roots (via The Culture Trip).

The only issue is that this decadently sweet spread tends to have a strong presence, making it important to balance out the flavors of the cupcake with more neutral-tasting elements. Failing to do so will leave you with an overly sweet cake and an intense sugar rush instead of a chic dessert. Vanilla cupcakes topped and filled with different forms of dulce de leche can strike the right sweet spot and are very easy to make from home. Sprinkle a little sea salt over the top, and you're good to go.

9. Chocolate and Peanut Butter

Peanut butter and chocolate is a dream team pairing that science backs up as a "dynamic sensory contrast," according to food science professor Gregory Ziegler (via Mic). The nerdy reason why our lizard brains pine for the combination of creamy peanut butter and rich chocolate is less important than how good this duo tastes. In a cupcake format, the match is one of the undisputed stars of the culinary world that easily cracks the top ten of our best cupcakes list.

Although you can personalize them to your heart's content, the heady combo of peanut butter and chocolate can be overwhelming and have a one-note consistency if you're not careful. Make sure that you add in texturally-interesting elements like chocolate chips or peanuts to break up the layers of peanut butter and chocolate. And if you're bringing these treats to a get-together, always specify that they contain nuts. Try our cupcake recipe as a great jumping-off point for your journey to peanut butter and chocolate heaven.

8. Vanilla

At first glance, vanilla cupcakes might seem too simple to be sumptuous, but their straightforward flavor profile makes them perennially popular. Not only do they hit all the right sweet flavor notes, but they're also the cupcake of choice of "Sex and the City's" Carrie Bradshaw. Her visit to Magnolia Bakery in New York City launched the cupcake craze of the early aughts (via Business Insider). With it, the simple and sweet vanilla cupcake was elevated to epic proportions.

You need high-quality ingredients, rich buttercream, and pure vanilla extract to make the perfect vanilla cupcake; otherwise, it's standard gas station fare. If you want to nail the robust and earthy flavor of true vanilla, imitation extract certainly won't do. Magnolia Bakery's iconic cupcake base calls for sour cream, which adds another layer of velvety richness to the cake. You can mimic the trademark pink buttercream with a few ingredients and delicate sugar daisy decorations. Nail it and you have a cupcake that is out of this world. Miss a step or two, and it's basic and boring.

7. Chocolate Chip

Chocolate chip cupcakes don't usually get the love that they deserve. Unfortunately, these chocolate-studded beauties are often overshadowed by heavier hitters like chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry. However, these phenomenal cupcakes get a prominent spot on our list because they're so versatile. Chocolate chips can play perfectly well with decadent strawberry, vanilla, and caramel buttercream or simply add a textural spot of interest to standard chocolate frosting. They can even elevate other flavors when you use them properly (via CNN).

You can also add as few or as many as you'd like to kick your cupcakes up a chocolate notch or two. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of the cakes or weave them throughout the batter itself for molten treasures in every bite. You can make a classic chocolate chip cupcake recipe or add some sweet chips to your favorite cupcake recipe to amp up the flavor. With additional yumminess and texture, chocolate chip cupcakes are a total win.

6. Hummingbird

Although Hummingbird cake is popular in the American South, its roots are actually Jamaican (via Southern Living). The light, tropical cake first popped up to promote Jamaican vacations. Yet, it rapidly became a household staple in kitchens all over the American South thanks to its delicate fusion of popular flavors: a bright hit of pineapple, creamy coconut, and delicious banana. Throw in some crushed nuts and you have a texturally diverse, intensely flavored cake that's both novel and familiar — the perfect treat to serve at any event.

Hummingbird cupcakes follow the same formula, deriving their glorious moistness from crushed pineapple and pureed banana with a richly-spiced cinnamon edge that makes them taste a bit like banana bread. Topped with a simple swirl of cream cheese frosting and some roughly-chopped pecans, Hummingbird cupcakes are an excellent option for people who don't like their desserts too sweet but still want to treat themselves.

5. Maple Bacon

According to Modern Farmer, bacon's moment-in-the-sun is all but over. We are no longer scooping up bacon-flavored lip balm and toothpaste for office gag gifts, a merciful shift from the bacon mania of a decade ago. Still, it's hard to argue that bacon isn't a near-perfect food. It's crispy, salty, toothsome, and goes with just about everything, salty or sweet. In fact, bacon and maple are a match made in breakfast heaven, but that doesn't mean that they have to stay on the savory morning menu.

Maple bacon cupcakes take the nuanced flavor of maple and add a bacony crunch for a sweet-and-salty duo whose flavor is anything but gimmicky. These cupcakes are decadent from the rich cupcake base to the cream cheese frosting piled on top. Plus, the presentation is on-point, with candied bits of bacon clashing beautifully with the neutral frosting. Go traditional maple and bacon, or get a chocolate fix with this recipe.

4. Strawberry

Sink your teeth into a masterfully executed strawberry cupcake and you're in for an authentic taste of summer. Classic strawberry cupcakes don't have to rely on shortcuts and gimmicks like red food coloring to give them their satisfying salmon hue. Instead, fresh fruit is entirely responsible, livening up both the frosting and the cupcake base with rosy tones that make these cupcakes pop with sophistication and simplicity.

As with most great cupcakes, the secret to strawberry success lies in the quality of the ingredients. Not to mention, fresh strawberry puree lends layers upon layers of bright berry flavor to the dessert, which is further enhanced by the sugar in the cupcake batter and buttercream frosting. Crown each cupcake with a halved strawberry and perhaps a liberal dusting of edible gold flakes or rainbow sprinkles for a fabulous dessert that is perfect for your next summertime barbecue or fourth of July bash.

3. Black Forest

Black Forest cupcakes are the fairytale marriage of decadent chocolate and rich cherry flavor, with a slight liqueur bite to add sophistication and depth. The cake itself might be named after Germany's Black Forest or perhaps its inhabitants' clothing. No matter how it got its name, it's hard to deny the never-waning appeal of decadent, slightly tart cherries, deep chocolate cake, and plenty of whipped cream. So it's not surprising that this cake has been a classic for centuries (via What's Cooking America).

Black Forest cupcakes give you all the incredible taste of the cake in a convenient bite-sized format. With cherry kirsch flavoring the cake's base, plenty of light and luscious whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and a deep-red cherry on top, they are not only cute but undeniably tasty. If you make them yourself, don't forget to fold some cherry filling into the center of each cupcake for a sweet and unexpected surprise. Just be careful; you can wind up with dry cakes if you're not watching the clock.

2. Apple Pie

Combining apple pie and cupcakes is the most genius idea since the apple fritter. The gooey marriage of caramel, chunks of apple, and a delicious cupcake base is so decadent that Dayton's Twist Cupcakery's recipe was listed as Ohio's best cupcake by Eat This, Not That!. Although you could travel to Dayton to sample the famous treat, you can also whip up some cupcake magic in your kitchen.

The MVP of any apple pie cupcake is the filling, which gives the yellow cake a creamy rich texture and flavor. Standard whipped cream with walnuts tops things off, and a drizzle of caramel sends it all to the next level. The best part of the topping is that you can customize it to taste. Add a little bit more vanilla for a sweeter flavor, or load up on that caramel for a sticky-sweet cupcake that you have to eat with a knife and fork.

1. S'mores

Aside from that signature outdoor smell of fire on your clothes and seeing millions of stars in a clear night sky, s'mores are the best part of camping. In fact, there's even a national day celebrating these beloved treats. S'mores cupcakes nail the flavor profile of your favorite scouting snack with gooey marshmallows, plenty of chocolate ganache, and a buttery sweet cupcake base.

Although s'mores cupcakes have a lot going on, they avoid being too showy by pulling on all the right nostalgia strings. They're the ideal example of how to perfectly pair plenty of contrasting flavors, so they've snagged our coveted number one spot. Plus, perfectly-portioned cupcakes mean you'll get an excellent ratio of frosting and marshmallow to cupcake without giving you too much of a sugar rush or overindulging on one ingredient. A lightly toasted marshmallow on top transforms s'mores cupcakes from excellent to extraordinary, thanks to that decadent charred fireside taste.