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Root Beer Float Cupcakes

Soda craving? These Root Beer Float Cupcakes topped with a whipped cream frosting and root beer syrup (and a cherry, obviously) will totally hit the spot! 

Head-on view of root beer float cupcake with red and white straw and cherry with other cupcakes and a can of root beer in the background and "Root Beer Float Cupcakes" text at top

Happy September, y’all!! Also known as my favorite month of the year (despite the fact that I’m legit crying about the end of summer). One of the reasons I love September so much is that I always think of it as a second New Year. I mean, it’s not like I’m heading back to school or sending kids off to school or even really changing much in my life come September, but it just feels all shiny and sparkly and fresh and new. It’s the perfect time to re-visit my goals from the beginning of the year (that I’ve so conveniently forgotten about), re-new my commitment to productivity (ugh), and maybe even try to exercise a bit (August was just a tad bit indulgent). Also, there are only four months left in the year and that absolutely terrifies me considering how fast the first eight flew by.

Though I’ve already broken out the pumpkin and apples and have some fun fall recipes coming up for you soon, I want us all to ease into the season with a food that knows no season… Cupcakes. More specifically, root beer float cupcakes. This recipe has been in my head for years and I finally decided to take the plunge and make them. No, these cupcakes aren’t going to help you get this “September New Year” off to a healthy start… But it will be a very happy start. And you’ll notice I said I want to try to exercise more; not stop eating cupcakes. Important semantics, my friends.

I don’t really drink soda (aside from tons of soda water), but ever so occasionally I crave it. And when I do, it’s almost always root beer (or Dr. Pepper) that I crave. When it’s incredibly hot out (it may be September, but it’s still ridiculously hot here in New England!) and I’m parched, a nice cold glass of root beer totally hits the spot.


There are a few important elements in this cupcake recipe. I did use real Root Beer to make them, but I also added root beer extract because I really wanted to up the root beer flavor and it’s tough to do with the soda alone. The topping is a simple whipped cream frosting as I really wanted the cupcakes to mirror a real root beer float. Of course there’s a cherry on top because no matter how you feel about maraschino cherries, you absolutely cannot have a root beer float without them. I was slightly disappointed that the cherries I bought didn’t have stems, but what can you do? Oh, there’s one other really important element to this recipe… That root beer syrup! More on that in a minute.

The cupcake recipe is a typical cupcake recipe, but I do use  my favorite egg white technique. I find cupcakes to be so much lighter and moister (literally just had to make sure that’s actually a word) if you beat egg whites in a separate bowl and then fold the stiff egg whites into the batter.

And the whipped cream frosting is simply heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla. Easy!

Collage showing process of making root beer float cupcakes, including cupcake batter being mixed, cupcake batter in tin, and whipped cream frosting being beaten

OK, want to talk about that root beer syrup? I still have some sitting in a jar in my fridge and I’m currently contemplating how root beer coffee would taste. The syrup is that delicious. I first attempted to reduce and thicken actual root beer, but no matter how long I simmered it, it just wouldn’t get syrupy enough for me. So, I decided to simply make a root beer flavored simple syrup with the root beer extract. Incredibly easy and exactly what I was hoping for.

Mason jar with spoon held above it drizzling root beer syrup

When the root beer float cupcakes cool, you top them with whipped cream frosting, a nice healthy dose of root beer syrup, and a cherry.

Close-up head-on photo of root beer float cupcake with red and white striped straw and cherry with can of root beer in the background

I actually unknowingly made these on Root Beer Float Day (August 6), which felt like some kind of sign that these were meant to be. I admit I enjoyed quite a few myself, but I also shared my batch and even brought a couple to my 4-year-old nephews for a special treat when I was babysitting.  Sometimes I think the boys are my best taste testers because they’re so blatantly honest and will tell me something is “gross” if they don’t like it and I wasn’t quite sure how they’d feel about root beer float cupcakes. They’ve never had soda before, but when Henry had surgery earlier this summer and was asked which flavor he wanted for his anesthesia, he chose root beer. Ha! At first I think they were more excited about the cherries on top, but then they ate these cupcakes right up and asked for seconds. And since I’m their aunt, I totally let them (to be fair, I only gave them each a half to start).

Landscape photo of root beer float cupcakes with red and white straws and cherries with jar of root beer syrup and can of root beer in the background

So, I can happily tell you that these cupcakes are both kid- and adult-approved. I think I got t he root beer flavor pretty spot-on… It’s full-bodied and apparent, but not overwhelming at all. And if for any reason you want more, simply add on more of that root beer simple syrup. Or just grab a spoon and drizzle it into your mouth. I’m not going to pretend like I didn’t.

I’m so happy I finally checked these root beer float cupcakes off my baking bucket list and I know they’re a recipe that will be making many more appearances in my kitchen.

Head-on view of root beer float cupcake with red and white striped straw and cherry with other cupcakes and a can of root beer in the background

Also not sad about the fact that I had to buy a 12-pack of root beer to test this recipe and now I have several extra cans residing in my fridge, just waiting for me to get a craving. A very happy September New Year to me! (OK, but seriously, I need to go exercise like ASAP).

What kind of soda do you crave most?

If you’re looking for more fun cupcake recipes, check out my recipe for Sweet Tea Vodka Cupcakes or Mint Chocolate Ice Cream Cupcakes.

Root Beer Float Cupcakes

Soda craving? These Root Beer Float Cupcakes topped with a whipped cream frosting and root beer syrup (and a cherry, obviously) will totally hit the spot! 
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time18 mins
Total Time48 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cupcakes, Soda
Servings: 12 cupcakes
Author: Sues


  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup root beer
  • 1 Tbsp root beer extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 12 maraschino cherries

Whipped Cream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Root Beer Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp root beer extract


  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
  • Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a bowl with a hand mixer, until light and fluffy.
  • In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together.
  • Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture, alternating with milk and root beer. Add root beer extract and mix until just blended. The batter will be thick.
  • In a separate large bowl, whisk egg whites with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form.
  • Gently fold whipped egg whites into the batter until fully combined.
  • Divide batter evenly among paper liners in prepared pan, filling each about 3/4 of the way full.
  • Bake for about 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. After cooling in the pan for a few minutes, move cupcakes to wire rack to cool completely.
  • Fill a pastry bag with whipped cream frosting and pipe frosting around cupcake. If you don't have any pastry bags, you can use a ziplock bag with the corner cut off for easy piping.
  • Drizzle root beer syrup over cupcakes and top with maraschino cherries.

Whipped Cream Frosting

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  • Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla to cream and beat until stiff peaks form.

Root Beer Syrup

  • Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil.
  • Lower heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes, until sugar is completely dissolved and syrup thickens. Remove from heat and stir in root beer extract.
  • Pour syrup into a mason jar or heat-proof bowl and let cool completely. Store in fridge until ready to use.


13 Responses to "Root Beer Float Cupcakes"

  1. Sally @ Good Dinner Mom says:

    5 stars
    These look incredible! We actually just made Root Beer Floats for a family party this weekend and everyone was raving about how much they love them. I’ll definitely be surprising everyone with these cute cupcakes next time. Thanks for the great recipe share! I like how easy the root beer syrup is, too. Great pictures!

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve got a party this weekend and these look absolutely perfect to bring along! Can’t wait to make them 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    Such a fun idea, and so cute too~My kids would love them! I’m not a soda drinker, but if I do have something, it’s Ginger Ale (even better in a Moscow Mule!) or regular coke-not diet!

  4. Valentina says:

    5 stars
    I feel the same way about September! Love that. My whole family loves root beer floats, so I know they’d adore these cupcakes!

  5. 5 stars
    I love this idea! Root beer was my favorite growing up. We don’t drink soda often, but using it in cupcakes, now that I can’t say no to! Delicious!

  6. Charles says:

    Found some things I didn’t understand:
    In the instructions it says add flour, baking flour (do you mean baking soda)?
    Second, it says to add vanilla (but there is no vanilla in the ingredients in the cupcake batter) do you mean add root beer extract?

  7. Sues says:

    @Charles- Yes, you are correct on both counts (except it should be baking powder as per the ingredients list). I updated the recipe; thank you for letting me know!

  8. Jennifer says:

    Can you use root beer extract instead of vanilla in the frosting?

  9. Sues says:

    @Jennifer- You definitely can! I wanted it to be more like “whipped cream” with the root beer syrup on top, but if you want maximum root beer flavor, I think that would be delicious!

  10. Melanie says:

    This is the first time I’m making a whipped cream frosting (I’ve only done ABC and SMBC). Because of the milk component, do these cupcakes have to be refrigerated? And if so, how long will the cupcakes stay moist while refrigerated? Thanks!

  11. Sues says:

    @Melanie- It is probably best to keep the cupcakes refrigerated since there’s quite a bit of cream in the frosting. I’m going to update my recipe to specify that! They should keep moist for 2-3 day as long as they’re in an airtight container.

  12. Tasneem says:

    I want to make these for my sons birthday party but only have rootbeer concentrate.. can I use this instead of extract? And would it be the same ratios? Thanks is advance!!

  13. Sues says:

    @Tasneem- Hi! I’ve never baked with concentrates before, but I did a little research and they are generally stronger than extracts, so I’m thinking you would need less in this recipe. I would probably use half of what the recipe calls for and then taste the batter to see if it’s strong enough or if you need to add more. Let me know how they come out!

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