Turkey Cupcakes

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Start with a box of your favorite cake mix and make these adorable and fun Turkey Cupcakes for Thanksgiving!

Every holiday I like to make themed baked goods.   Since I often end up taking them in to school for my students they are often semi-homemade.

It’s not that I don’t think the kids wouldn’t like my homemade baked goods, it’s just that they care more about the decorations than how the desserts taste.  So I usually will use a doctored cake mix to make my cupcakes for them.

How to Doctor a boxed cake mix:

  • Substitute milk for the water.  You will be doing a 1:1 substitution.  You can use regular milk or a plant based alternative.
  • Add an extra egg to the batter.  Most box cake mixes use 3 eggs so add in a fourth egg.  This results in a denser, more homemade cupcake texture.
  • Use melted butter in place of the oil. I like to use salted butter.
  • Add in a box of pudding mix.  This helps to enhance the flavor.  Choose a flavors that pairs well with your cake mix flavor.
  • Use vanilla yogurt or sour cream in place of the water in the recipe.
  • Add vanilla or almond extract to give the cake additional flavor.

The whole family will love these adorable Turkey Cupcakes for Thanksgiving!

This year I made a box of yellow cupcakes.  I added in a box of vanilla pudding mix to enhance the vanilla flavor.   You can add a variety of flavors depending on what flavor you want.  I also added in some vanilla extract.

Popular flavor combinations:

  • Chocolate cake mix:   chocolate pudding, chocolate mint pudding, chocolate fudge pudding.
  • White cake mix:   Lemon pudding, vanilla pudding, butterscotch pudding, french vanilla pudding, coconut cream pudding, pistachio pudding.
  • Spice cake mix:  vanilla pudding, butterscotch pudding, banana pudding, cheesecake pudding.
  • Yellow cake mix:   vanilla pudding, coconut cream pudding, white chocolate pudding.
  • Lemon Cake Mix:  vanilla pudding, lemon pudding, cheesecake pudding.

While you can use canned frosting I always make my own buttercream frosting to go on top.  For these cupcakes you can make a chocolate buttercream or just dye the traditional buttercream brown to go on top of the cupcakes.


  • a box of cake mix (I chose yellow cake mix but choose your favorite)
  • milk (I use whole milk but plant based milk can be used)
  • butter (I used salted but you can use unsalted)
  • eggs
  • vanilla extract (depending on your flavor other extracts can be used as well)
  • powdered sugar
  • cocoa powder
  • Hershey’s kisses
  • mini M&M’s (you will need a variety of colors)

I mixes up the cake batter substituting the butter for the oil, milk for the water, and adding in the additional egg.   Then I added in the pudding mix and mixed until the batter was smooth.

I poured the batter into two muffins tins and ended up with 21 cupcakes.  Bake the cupcakes according to the directions on the back of the cake mix box.  Remove from oven and cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling you can make the frosting.  I’m sharing my traditional buttercream frosting recipe.  If you want to make the chocolate frosting remove 1/4 cup of the powdered sugar and simply replace it with the cocoa powder.

These Turkey Cupcakes are easy to decorate and they turned out really cute.  After the cupcakes have cooled simply frost them with brown frosting to make them look like a turkey.   Then you need to put the decorations on quickly before the frosting hardens.

Can I use something instead of the mini M&M’s?

A good substitute for the mini M&M’s are mini Reese Pieces because they are the same size and they come in fall colors.  You could use mini chocolate chips as well, just make sure they are all facing the same way.   This won’t be as colorful though.

Making these Turkey Cupcakes is easy!

The beak and face are made out of a Hershey’s Kiss.   Simply place the Hershey’s Kiss in the middle of the cupcake.   You can leave it as it is or put a touch of melted orange candy on the end to look like a beak.

More Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes:

For the eyes you can either use candy eyes or a bit of white and black candy melts.  Put a dot of white candy melt on and let it cool for 10 minutes.  Then put on a dot of chocolate or black candy melt.

Even the kids can help make these fun Turkey Cupcakes!

The cupcakes are finished off with mini M&M’s for the feathers.  You will need three different colors.  Simply put them in an arc around the Hershey kiss.   The rows will vary in size but it will make the feathers.

These turkey cupcakes are super cute and didn’t take very long to make.  They would be great for kids to decorate or even for adults who like to feel crafty. Either way everyone will love the look (and taste!) of these Thanksgiving Cupcakes.

If you’ve tried my Turkey Cupcakes or any other recipe on  Hezzi-D’s Recipe Box 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:




The whole family will love these adorable Turkey Cupcakes for Thanksgiving!

Turkey Cupcakes

Yield: 24 cupcakes
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

These fun turkey cupcakes are made with a boxed cake mix and fun decorations!


  • 1 box (15 oz) yellow cake mix
  • 1 c. milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 box (3 oz) vanilla pudding mix
  • 12 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 24 chocolate kisses
  • orange candy melts
  • candy eyes
  • 1 bag mini M&M's


  1. {reheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. Follow the directions on the back of the cake mix box substituting melted butter for oil, milk for water, and adding an additional egg. Add in a box of pudding mix.
  3. Mix the batter for 1-2 minutes or until smooth.
  4. Divide the mixture between the muffin tins filling each one 2/3 of the way full.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes or according to the package directions.
  6. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  7. To make the frosting put the butter in a bowl and mix on medium high speed until smooth.
  8. Add in the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and milk and mix until smooth and fluffy. Add more milk if needed.
  9. Frost the chocolate cupcakes with the brown frosting.
  10. Place the orange candy melts in a small microwave safe bowl. Heat in 20 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until melted.
  11. Dip the point of each chocolate kiss in the orange candy and then place in the middle of the cupcake with the point sticking out.
  12. Place the candy eyes right above the chocolate kiss (or use white and black candy melts).
  13. Separate the mini M&M's by color. Place one color in a half circle around the outside of the cupcake. Choose another color and make a smaller half circle underneath the first circle. Choose a third color and make one more half circle. These will look like the feathers of the turkey.


Recipe from Your Cup of Cake

The whole family will love these adorable Turkey Cupcakes for Thanksgiving!

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