Negroni Grapefruit Cupcakes

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Sweet and spiced Grapefruit Cupcakes are made with cardamom and peppercorns then are topped with a Grapefruit Buttercream frosting.

A blue platter with three pink grapefruit cupcakes on it. I was perusing one of my cooking magazines when I came across a cupcake with this gorgeous, deep pink frosting.  It was called a Negroni Cupcake and I was totally intrigued.

I knew that Negroni was a cocktail but I wasn’t exactly sure what what in it.  The recipe for the cupcakes had grapefruit zest, cardamom, and pink peppercorns which I found very interesting. 

I thought the tartness of the grapefruit along with the spices would be a nice combination when paired with a sugary cupcake.  I was excited to give it a try.


  • flour
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • ground cardamom
  • ground peppercorns
  • butter
  • sugar
  • grapefruit
  • milk
  • egg
  • powdered sugar

To Make the Cupcakes:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and pepper in a bowl.  In a large bowl beat the butter, sugar, and grapefruit zest.  Add in the egg and grapefruit just and mix well. Add half the flour mixture, then the milk, then the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Divide between 12 cupcake liners and bake 22-24 minutes.

Five grapefruit cupcakes.

Making the cupcakes I did make a few alterations. I didn’t have pink peppercorns so I just went with regular ones.  I also opted to go with one whole egg instead of 2 egg whites.

The cupcakes smelled really good as they were baking in the oven.  I could smell the grapefruit and the spices and couldn’t wait to give them a try.

What is a Negroni?

A Negroni is an Italian cocktail with three ingredients.  It consists of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth.  It’s a gorgeous red orange color. It is most often garnished with an orange slice.

What is Campari?

Campari is an alcoholic Italian liqueur.  It is considered an apéritif.  It’s a combination of herbs and fruits in alcohol and has a bitter flavor.  It is dark reddish orange in color. 

Do I have to use grapefruit juice?

In the recipe you can use Campari or grapefruit juice.  If you don’t have either and are in a pinch you can use orange zest and juice in place of the others.

Can I use regular peppercorns or black pepper?

You can use regular black peppercorns.  Just freshly grind them to get the most flavor out of them.  In a pinch you can use regular old black pepper but try to find fresh ground peppercorns.

Pin Image:   A blue platter with three pink grapefruit cupcakes on it, text title, a cutting board with eggs, butter, sugar, spice mixture, vanilla, grapefruit, and flour on it.

After they came out of the oven I put them on a wire rack to cool.  Then I got started on the frosting.

You can make the frosting two different ways.  If you want it “boozy” then use Campari.  If you want a non-alcoholic version (which is what I used) then go for grapefruit juice.

The Campari will give a better color to the frosting but I ended up just adding a bit of food coloring. Both the Campari and the grapefruit just are very tart so adjust the amount of powdered sugar in the frosting as needed.

More Cupcake Recipes:

I ended up putting a bit of sanding sugar and a slice of grapefruit on top of my cupcakes but you can decorate them however you’d like.  Add sprinkles, sugar, or candied grapefruit for a twist.

I really enjoyed the flavor of these cupcakes.  The cupcake itself was sweet with hints of the pepper and cardamom to mellow out the sweetness.  There was also a brightness from the grapefruit zest and juice.

A close up of a pink grapefruit cupcake.

The frosting is sweet and tart which I love in a dessert.  The grapefruit juice cuts through the sugar and leaves a delicious flavor.

If you’ve tried my Negroni Grapefruit Cupcakes or any other recipe on Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks please take a minute to rate the recipe and leave a comment letting me know how you liked it. I love hearing from you! You can FOLLOW ME on:

A blue platter with three pink grapefruit cupcakes on it.

Negroni Grapefruit Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 24 minutes
Total Time: 54 minutes

Sweet and spiced Grapefruit Cupcakes are topped with a Grapefruit Buttercream frosting.


For the cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground peppercorns (preferably pink)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons grapefruit zest
  • 2 Tablespoons grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 1 egg

For the frosting:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butte
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Campari or grapefruit juice
  • red food coloring


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and pepper.
  3. In a large bowl beat the butter, sugar, and grapefruit zest until fluffy.
  4. Add the egg and grapedruit juice and mix well.
  5. Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix well. Add in the milk and mix until combined. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until juice combined.
  6. Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups. Bake for 22-24 mminutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. To make the frosting beat the butter and powdered sugar on high speed until fluffy. Beat in the Campari or grapefruit juice and beat until smooth. Add in red food coloring and mix until desired color is reached.
  9. Frost the cooled cupcakes. Top with sprinkles, sanding sugar, and a slice or oragne or grapefruit.


Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine, May 2021.

A blue platter with three pink grapefruit cupcakes with straws in them.

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