Basil Cupcakes with Grapefruit Icing

Have you heard? Savory is the new sweet.

I love sweets as much (if not more) than the next person but some days, I crave savory treats.

Ever since making my basil blueberry ice cream last year, I've been testing the waters to see how many baked treats I can make with basil. Good news, the answer is a lot. This week, it was basil cupcakes! 

It's no secret that I love throwing icing on things or that muffins with icing might as well be cupcakes, which is why I went with a basil cupcake as opposed to a basil muffin. The muffin can be arranged for another time. 

These cupcakes are savory but sweet lovers shouldn’t worry, the grapefruit icing is the perfect sweet topping! If you’re looking to remind everyone that spring has arrived, go for some colorful cupcake liners and decorate the cupcakes to look like flowers.

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (210g) granulated sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (170g) butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons (20g) of chopped basil, packed
  • 2 eggs, large
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup (122ml) milk
  • 1 1/2 cup (215g) flour
  • 1 ½ (6g) Teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ (4g) Teaspoon salt

Icing Ingredients (Adapted from the Wilton Buttercream Icing recipe)

  • ½ cup (102g) solid vegetable shortening
  • ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups (500g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons grapefruit zest
  • 2 drops of orange food gel


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside
  • In a stand mixer, cream sugar, butter and basil together until light and fluffy in appearance
  • Turn mixer to low and add one egg at a time, followed by the vanilla and milk
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, and baking powder
  • Gently mix dry ingredients into wet
  • Fill muffin tins ¾ of the way to the top and bake for 18 - 20  minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean
  • While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting
  • In a medium bowl, cream shortening and butter until light and fluffy
  • Beat in vanilla extract
  • Beat in confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time, scraping down the sides as you go
  • Once sugar is completely incorporated, beat in milk and grapefruit zest
  • For optional color, add two drops of orange food gel and gently mix until color is incorporated
  • Once cupcakes are completely cooled frost them