★★★★★

Boston Cream Cupcakes

Boston Cream Cupcakes are a picture-perfect dessert with an extra dose of decadence. Moist cupcakes are filled with vanilla cream and topped with milk chocolate frosting in this easy recipe!

Love all things boston cream? Try my recipes for Boston Cream Pie and Boston Cream Donuts next!

Boston cream cupcake with a bite taken out revealing vanilla custard filling.

Why These Cupcakes are Best

I love these Boston Cream Cupcakes because at first glance they look like ordinary yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting.

Since yellow cake with fudge frosting is one of my favorite simple nostalgic desserts, that would be enough of a reason to rush to the dessert table!

Then you take a big bite of that perfect frosted cupcake and discover a glorious surprise: the perfect dollop of vanilla cream at the center.

  • This recipe starts with the tastiest homemade vanilla cupcakes.
  • Cupcakes are filled with an easy pudding-based pastry cream.
  • No pastry bag required to fill these cupcakes!
  • Finished with a silky layer of milk chocolate frosting.

Most Boston Cream Pie recipes require making a traditional custard filling from scratch with egg yolks. I found that you can get results that are just as delicious with a box of instant pudding mix and Cool Whip, with even less work!

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients needed to make boston cream cupcakes.
  • Whole milk and apple cider vinegar – The vinegar curdles the milk producing a product that works just like buttermilk, resulting in moist and fluffy cupcakes.
  • Baking soda and baking powder – We use both of these leaving agents to help the cupcakes rise to perfect heights when they bake.
  • Light brown sugar – Sweetens the cupcakes while adding more moisture and a golden color.
  • Vanilla extract – I always use a pure vanilla extract in my baking for best flavor. Our homemade vanilla extract recipe works perfectly.
  • Instant vanilla pudding mix – Whisked with milk to provide the base and flavor of the Boston cream cupcake filling. Use French Vanilla pudding mix for an even richer custard-like flavor!
  • Cool Whip – The stabilizers give the cream filling some structure so it stays soft but doesn’t ooze out of the cupcakes when you take a bite. If you like you can use my homemade stabilized whipped cream instead of the stuff that comes frozen in a tub.
  • Milk chocolate frosting – You can use any brand of canned frosting for topping these Boston Cream Cupcakes. Or make our chocolate ganache frosting instead.

How to Assemble

Step by step photos showing how to make boston cream cupcakes.

Boston Cream Cupcakes look and taste impressive, but making them is easier than you think. The trickiest part is the assembly!

  1. Start with baked, cooled cupcakes.
  2. Use a knife to scoop out a dome from the top of each cupcake.
  3. Spoon the vanilla cream into the cavity of the cupcake.
  4. Spread frosting over the filled Boston Cream Cupcakes. Serve and enjoy!

Tips and Tricks

  • Make sure the cupcakes are completely cooled before adding the cream filling!
  • Chill the cream filling for several minutes before using. I usually make the filling while the cupcakes are in the oven, then let it chill until the cupcakes have cooled completely.
  • Use a clean, dry knife for scooping out the tops of the cupcakes. Wipe off any crumbs on the knife before cutting into each cupcake for a smoother, cleaner cut.
  • Keep chilled. Homemade Boston Cream Donuts should be stored covered in the refrigerator and enjoyed within 3 days for best taste.
Chocolate frosted cupcakes on a wire cooling rack.

Recipe FAQs

Can I just use buttermilk instead of milk and vinegar?

Yes, buttermilk from a carton will work just as well! If using buttermilk instead of whole milk, no need to add the apple cider vinegar.

Why is it called Boston Cream?

Boston cream recipes like this one are named for the Boston Cream Pie—a vanilla cake with a custard filling and chocolate frosting first sold in Boston! These cupcakes are like a mini version of that classic dessert.

Can Boston Cream Cupcakes be frozen?

You can freeze the vanilla cupcakes before adding the filling, but I don’t recommend freezing the assembled cupcakes.
If you do bake and freeze the cupcakes in advance, make sure to store them in a freezer safe container and let them thaw on the countertop before adding the pastry cream.

Can I use homemade frosting instead of canned?

You are welcome to use your favorite homemade chocolate frosting on these cupcakes! My chocolate ganache frosting, chocolate cream cheese frosting and chocolate buttercream frosting would all taste good here, although I really love the flavor and ease of store bought milk chocolate frosting too.

Yellow cupcake with a swirl of chocolate frosting.

More Easy Dessert Recipes

Yield: 15 cupcakes

Boston Cream Cupcakes

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 33 minutes

Boston Cream Cupcakes are a picture-perfect dessert with an extra dose of decadence. Moist cupcakes are filled with vanilla cream and topped with milk chocolate frosting in this easy recipe!

Ingredients

For the Cupcakes

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil

For the Filling & Frosting

  • 1 package (3.4 ounce) Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 ounce Cool Whip, thawed
  • 1 can (16 ounce) Milk Chocolate frosting

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the whole milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Add in the milk mixture with vanilla and oil, mixing just until combined.
  4. Spoon the cake batter into the cupcake liners about ⅔ way up.
  5. Bake for 18 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.
  6. While the cupcakes cool, combine the pudding mix with milk using a whisk. Once the pudding thickens slightly (about 2-3 minutes whisking), fold in Cool Whip. Refrigerate until cupcakes are cool.
  7. Using a sharp knife, scoop out a dome on the top of each cupcake. Spoon pudding mixture into hole.
  8. Frost cupcakes with chocolate frosting and enjoy.

Notes

  • Buttermilk can be substituted in place of the whole milk and vinegar.
  • Swap out the Instant Vanilla Pudding mix for Instant French Vanilla Pudding. Gives a deeper vanilla flavor similar to custard.
  • Store cupcakes in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • See blog post for more recipe tips and tricks.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

15

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 229Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 313mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 0gSugar: 23gProtein: 3g

*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

Did you make this recipe?

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About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

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Posted on January 23, 2023

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