Halloween Cupcakes don’t have to be hard! Grab a box mix and a piping bag, and you’re well on your way to these spooky and delicious zombie brain cupcakes.

Halloween cupcakes piped with frosting to look like bloody zombie brains, on a white platter.

When I was pregnant, my daughter’s due date was early November. My husband and I hoped for a Halloween baby!

We dreamed of a homemade haunted house birthday party with Halloween deviled eggs and other Halloween food, and spooky cupcakes to take to school.

Well, she arrived only a few days early, a week after Halloween, and of course the most important thing was that she was happy and healthy.

So maybe these Halloween cupcakes won’t be for any of her birthday parties, but we can always have a Halloween party as well!

Save the Halloween jello shots and Halloween charcuterie board for the adults, but these zombie brain cupcakes can be enjoyed by all ages!

A Halloween cupcake piped with frosting to look like a bloody zombie brain, on a white plate, with a bite taken out of it.
The ingredients needed for strawberry buttercream frosting laid out on a dark surface, including powdered sugar, sticks of butter, strawberry jam, and vanilla extract.

What you’ll need to make Halloween cupcakes:

  • cupcakes – It’s funny to say you need cupcakes to make cupcakes, but you do. This Halloween cupcake idea is really all about the frosting decoration, so I start by using a box of strawberry cake mix to make 24 cupcakes. You can also make homemade strawberry cupcakes, or use any other flavor of cupcake you want.
  • butter – you will need 2 sticks of unsalted butter for the base of your strawberry buttercream frosting.
  • powdered sugar – the traditional sweetener for buttercream frosting.
  • strawberry jam – this adds strawberry flavor and a brain-like pink hue to the frosting for these Halloween cupcakes.
  • vanilla extract – this enhances the sweetness of the frosting for these zombie cupcakes. For a less sweet frosting, you can omit the extract if you’d like.
  • salt – my frostings always include a pinch of salt for balance.
  • strawberry syrup – you’ll be using this as the “blood” to drizzle over the decorated cupcakes. I used Hershey’s brand strawberry syrup, which is found with the chocolate syrup at the store, usually near the ice cream! Drizzle any extra over lemon pancakes!
A mixing bowl full of homemade strawberry frosting, with unfrosted cupcakes and a piping bag nearby.

How to make the frosting for zombie brain cupcakes:

The frosting for this Halloween cupcake idea is a traditional buttercream, with strawberry jam added for flavor and color (also my flavor of choice for my favorite easy Valentine dessert).

First, in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if you have a hand mixer), you’ll want to cream the butter on medium speed until it is smooth and fluffy.

Add the strawberry jam and mix until it’s fully blended with the butter.

Then, you’ll be adding the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until all of the sugar is incorporated.

Finish the zombie brain frosting by adding the vanilla and salt and mixing until smooth.

A cupcake on a plate, frosted with light pink frosting, with the start of a zombie brain design being piped on top.
A cupcake on a plate, frosted with light pink frosting, with a zombie brain design piped on top.

How to decorate Halloween cupcakes:

It’s easier than it looks to decorate Halloween cupcakes, trust me!

Using an offset spatula, frost the top of each cupcake thinly with the prepared strawberry buttercream.

Unlike Cinnamon Toast Crunch cupcakes, this does NOT have to be perfect since this is just the base for the zombie brain frosting work you will do for this Halloween cupcake idea.

Prepare your piping bag (more on this just below) and place the remaining buttercream in the piping bag.

Down the center of each cupcake, pipe a line with a curve on the end (almost like an L shape). Then pipe swirls and squiggles connecting from the end of that curve until you have covered the entire cupcake half. Repeat on the other side.

Place the zombie cupcakes on a rimmed serving tray. Then, drizzle a bit of strawberry syrup on each cupcake to resemble zombie blood.

A Halloween cupcake piped with frosting to look like a bloody zombie brain, on a white plate.

How to prepare your piping bag:

You will need a trusty piping bag for this Halloween cupcake idea. Personally, I HATE washing piping bags, so I use disposable piping bags, but this is up to you.

When preparing your piping bag, trim about 1/2 inch of the tip of the piping bag off, then place your small round piping tip into the bag. It will fall into the hole you trimmed.

To make scooping the buttercream easier, place your piping bag into a tall cup, with the edges folded over. Then scoop your buttercream in with a spatula.

Once all the buttercream is in the piping bag, remove the bag from the cup, fold up the sides and twist until the frosting comes out of the piping tip. This reduces the mess and makes it easier for you!

A dozen brain cupcakes on a rectangular white platter.

Can zombie cupcakes be made in advance?:

The frosted Halloween cupcakes will keep for 3 days in an airtight container. I recommend drizzling the strawberry syrup / “blood” on the zombie cupcakes just before serving.

My Halloween salad is another creepy recipe that you can mostly prepare in advance!

Halloween cupcakes piped with frosting to look like bloody zombie brains, on a white platter.

More spooky and sweet Halloween treats:

It’s hard to decide between Halloween candy and these sweet treats, but maybe you can enjoy a little bit of both.

Halloween cupcakes piped with frosting to look like bloody zombie brains, on a white platter.

Halloween Cupcakes

Yield: 24 cupcakes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Halloween Cupcakes don't have to be hard! Grab a box mix and a piping bag, and you're well on your way to these spooky and delicious zombie brain cupcakes.

Ingredients

  • 1 box (15.25 ounces) strawberry cake mix, plus oil, water and eggs necessary to prepare the cupcakes
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Strawberry syrup, for drizzling

Instructions

  1. Use cake mix to prepare 24 cupcakes according to package instructions. Let cool completely before decorating.
  2. Meanwhile, in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter on medium speed until fluffy and smooth. Add strawberry jam and mix on medium speed until fully incorporated.
  3. While beating on medium-low speed, add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until all powdered sugar is incorporated.
  4. Add vanilla and salt and mix on medium speed until incorporated and smooth. 
  5. Using offset spatula, frost top of each cupcake thinly with prepared strawberry buttercream. This does not have to be perfect since this is just the base for the zombie brain frosting work you will do next. 
  6. Place remaining buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a small round frosting tip. 
  7. Pipe a line with a curve on the end (almost like an L shape) down the center of each cupcake. Then, pipe swirls and squiggles connecting from the end of that curve until you have covered the entire cupcake half. Repeat on the other side. 
  8. Place cupcakes on rimmed serving tray and drizzle lightly with strawberry syrup.
  9. The frosted cupcakes will keep for 3 days in an airtight container. I recommend drizzling the strawberry syrup / "blood" on just before serving.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 275Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 53mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 0gSugar: 30gProtein: 2g

This website provides estimated nutrition information as a courtesy only. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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