Easy Reindeer Cupcakes

These cute reindeer cupcakes are perfect for Christmas, and it’s never too early to start planning what you’re going to make. They’re made with chocolate cake mix, so the prep work is straightforward, and the cakes are then finished off with chocolate frosting and your preferred toppings. Add these cupcakes to your Christmas baking list this year and you’ll be glad you did.

Christmas cupcakes decorated like reindeer, featuring chocolate and pretzels.

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These delicious chocolate cupcakes are both cute and easy to prepare. Leave a couple out for Santa, maybe give a few to friends and family, and savor the rest. They’re nearly too cute to eat, but not quite!

Rudolph cupcakes with pretzels on top.

Why You’ll Love Them

Simple to make:  There’s nothing difficult about making these Christmas reindeer cupcakes, especially since the cupcake batter can be made with chocolate cake mix. The creamy frosting is easy to prepare as well.
So cute for Christmas: There are all sorts of sweet treat recipes to choose from but these festive cupcakes are especially cute and will appeal to absolutely everyone who loves the holidays.
A fun festive activity: You might like to make these as a Christmas activity if you have family coming over or you could get the kids to decorate them. Just ensure you’re making extra since these tend to “disappear” mysteriously quickly!

Ingredients for Adorable

Chocolate cake mix is the main ingredient in the cupcake batter, and then you will also need eggs, milk, melted butter, and sour cream for the batter.

A festive Christmas cupcake, decorated like a reindeer, sits on a rustic wooden table.

The frosting is a combination of butter, Dutch process cocoa powder, vanilla extract, cream, and powdered sugar. And then you have the toppings, such as pretzels, candy eyes and red M&Ms.

Christmas reindeer cupcakes with pretzels on a wooden table.

How to Make Christmas

For more detailed instructions with weights and measurements, jump to the printable recipe card.

Prepare the cupcake batter:  Mix the chocolate cake mix with the eggs, milk, butter, and sour cream.
Bake the cupcakes: Pour the mixture into cupcake liners in a pair of muffin pans and bake for about 16 minutes, then let them cool completely.
Make the chocolate frosting: Mix the butter, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, cream, salt, and powdered sugar to make the frosting, adding more powdered sugar bit by bit until you get stiff peaks.
Decorate the reindeer cupcakes: Frost the cupcakes with the prepared frosting and add candy eyes, pretzel antlers and a red candy for the nose.

A reindeer cupcake being frosted with chocolate frosting.
Christmas cupcakes resembling reindeer, decorated with pretzels.

Substitutions and Variations

Any chocolate cake mix is good here, so you might like to use devil’s food, dark chocolate or any other type. In fact, since the chocolate frosting on top is reindeer-like brown, you could even use a different cake altogether, like spice cake or vanilla cake, as you don’t see what’s underneath the frosting.

Reindeer cupcakes with pretzels on top.

Feel free to sub another type of milk, even non-dairy, for the regular milk. Use any red candies you want for the reindeer noses, such as small gumballs, Skittles, red gobstoppers or similar, and if you can’t find candy eyes (here) you can make your own using white frosting and a dot of melted chocolate.

Reindeer cupcakes with chocolate decorations on a wooden table.
Rudolph cupcakes decorated with pretzel antlers and chocolate milk.

How to Serve

These are perfect as part of a Christmas platter and they’d pair well with any other Christmas themed appetizers such as an antipasto Christmas tree, reindeer cookies, Santa cupcakes or Grinch sugar cookies.

Reindeer cupcakes with chocolate decorations on a wooden table.

Don’t forget the festive beverages to wash them down! Fun Christmas drinks include Santa’s hat cocktails and Christmas chocolate cake martinis.

Christmas cupcakes decorated like reindeer with pretzels on top.

How to Store These Chocolate Cupcakes

Store: Keep the cupcakes covered or in an airtight container for up to 24 hours at room temperature or up to 3 days in the fridge.
Freeze: You can freeze the unfrosted cupcakes for up to 3 months.
Thaw: Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator and then proceed to frost and decorate them as you like.

Christmas cupcakes decorated like reindeer with pretzel antlers and sticks.

Reindeer Christmas Cupcake FAQs

How do you make sure the reindeer cupcakes don’t stick to the muffin tin or liners?

First of all, make sure you’re using paper liners (here), and then spray inside each liner with a little nonstick cooking spray before adding the batter. This means they shouldn’t stick.

How do you make the frosting look professional?

Frosting cupcakes to look as good as the ones in the bakery takes some practice. When you’re ready to frost each chocolate cupcake, you might like to use a 1M tip (here) and piping bag (here), starting off in the middle, working your way out and then piping it upwards. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look professional – that’s part of the charm of these Rudolph cupcakes! And you can eat your mistakes! You can even use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off or else just spread the frosting using a palette knife instead.

Chocolate reindeer cupcakes decorated with pretzels and pretzel sticks.

Easy Reindeer Cupcake Recipe

Reindeer cupcakes with pretzels on top.

Easy Reindeer Cupcakes

5 from 36 votes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Christmas, Cupcakes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Total Time: 47 minutes
Servings: 24
Calories: 289kcal
Author: Bella Bucchiotti
Add these easy reindeer cupcakes to your Christmas baking list this year. It's never too early to start planning the Christmas goodies!
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  • 1 chocolate cake mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 Cup milk
  • 1/2 Cup unsalted butter melted
  • 1/3 Cup sour cream


  • 1 Cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ Cup heavy cream
  • 4 Cups powder sugar


  • pretzels
  • red M&M’s
  • candy eyes


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin pan with paper cupcake liners and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix the cake mix, eggs, milk, melted butter, and sour cream until well combine (it’s okay if there are some small lumps. The batter tends to be thick) Pour mixture into each cup of the prepared pan (about 3/4 full each) and baked for 15 to 17 minutes, or until cupcakes are firm enough to bounce back when you gently press it with your finger. Remove cupcakes and set aside on cooling rack.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, add the softened butter, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, heavy cream, salt, and 2 cups of powdered sugar. Using a hand mixer, mix on a medium high setting until creamy. Mix in the rest of the powder sugar one ½ cup to 1 cup at a time until stiff peaks form.
  • Scoop frosting into a piping bag with a 1M tip. Pipe the frosting on each cooled cupcake (I like to start in the middle of the cupcake and work my way out, then work my way up). Place two candy eyes and an M&M in the frosting, then add two pretzels for the antlers.


Calories: 289kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 165mg | Potassium: 115mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 459IU | Vitamin C: 0.04mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 1mg
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The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.

These are the cutest Christmas cupcakes and they’re pretty easy to make, even for a baking newbie. Along with a chocolate cake mix, you just need a few other things to make them, along with ingredients for your chocolate buttercream frosting. Christmas is on the way and it’s never too early to start planning your festive feasts and tasty treats!

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Bella Bucchiotti

Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for recipes, dogs, sustainability, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.

Bella Bucchiotti is a freelance food, travel, and lifestyle writer for MSN and the Associated Press Wire.

Welcome to xoxoBella! I am Bella Bucchiotti and I am a recipe developer, content creator and writer. Here you will find delicious recipes, travel inspiration, crafts, pet tips and more.

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