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Want to jazz up your boxed cake mix? Make these Cake-Mix Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes [VIDEO]

These Cake-Mix Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes are a fabulous way to jazz up a regular old box of cake mix! Featuring caramelized apple filling and cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

A while back, I received a bunch of cake mixes from Maya. Considering how much I bake from scratch, it took me practically forever to go through that stash. One day I was in the mood to switch up one of the cake mixes, and since the Yellow Cake Mix is one of my absolute faves from this line I decided to go with that.

(And for the sake of transparency, this isn’t sponsored. I just happen to like this cake mix and needed to use it before it expired. This is also my way of saying thanks for the cake mixes.)

Previously, I’ve used this cake mix to make a Pineapple Upside Down Cake, so I wanted to do something with fruit once again. Opening the fridge to check for the possibilities, an idea began to form in my head when I saw that we had some apples in there. After a little bit of research, I decided to try putting this little treat together.

I’m calling these the Cake-Mix Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes, because there are caramelized apples inside the cupcakes and Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting on top. Ta-dah!

Which brings me to a point of curiosity: Do you like cinnamon?

I ask this because I had a close friend back in college who disliked cinnamon. I think she’s the only person I’ve ever met who dislikes it, but I don’t really know a lot of people so I’m sure there are more like her. She was always willing to eat my carrot cupcakes (because she’s a true friend who loves me lol), but that’s about the only thing she was willing to touch that had cinnamon in it. I just know she’d scrunch her nose at me if I ever offered her this cupcake, just like she scrunched her nose at the container of cinnamon at Starbucks. (MAN, THOSE WERE THE DAYS!!!)

And so I feel obligated to mention this little tidbit to those who dislike cinnamon like my friend: While it’s not wrong to dislike things, I recommend that make just a regular cream cheese frosting for this one. I personally only used 1/2 Tablespoon of the spice, and I do not think the frosting came out offensively cinnamon-y. It’s there though, without a doubt.

Meanwhile, for those who REALLY like cinnamon, you can go up to 1 Tablespoon cinnamon powder for the frosting. For me, that’s slightly excessive since I prefer a balanced amount of spice, but it’s an option. Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with liking something whole-heartedly. My point is– you do you!

Recipe notes

  • YELLOW CAKE MIX IS PREFERRED FOR THIS RECIPE. The yellow cake complements the flavors of cinnamon and caramel apples really well and does not overpower, that’s why it’s my preferred cake flavor for this. That said, you can also use vanilla cake mix since that’s a lighter-tasting cake as well. You can use any brand that you like or have on hand. Simply follow the instructions on the box but bake them in a cupcake tin. Make sure to reduce the baking time. (I think I baked mine for 20 minutes.)
  • YOU MAY NEED TO MAKE MORE FILLING AND FROSTING. Since the yield will depend on the cake mix brand, you may need to adjust the quantity of filling and frosting you make. Using Maya cake mix I got 17 cupcakes, and I had to really use every last bit and drop of filling and frosting. You will want to add a half recipe of the filling and frosting if you end up with 20 cupcakes or more. Some cake mixes can make up to 24 cupcakes, so make sure you have enough filling and frosting for all of them.

  • YOU CAN FILL THE CUPCAKES WITH MORE APPLES. Simply cook double the amount of apple filling, then make deeper indentations than I did so the apples go nearly all the way down the center of the cupcakes. As you can see, mine just goes halfway in.
  • YOU DON’T NEED TO PUT ON THE CUPCAKE “LID” LIKE I DID. Although I don’t like piling frosting on my cupcakes, I do agree that frosting piped from a 1M tip looks extra attractive with some height. That’s why I made the conscious decision to “cheat” my way into getting a nice and high swirl of frosting by using that cupcake “lid” trick.
  • FEEL FREE TO ADJUST THE AMOUNT OF CINNAMON IN THE FROSTING. I opted not to add cinnamon to my filling because I wanted it concentrated in the frosting. I used 1/2 Tablespoon ground cinnamon because I didn’t want it to be too much, but you can use a maximum of 1 Tablespoon cinnamon if you like it stronger. Start with 1/2 Tablespoon and taste, and if you think you need more, then add more little by little, tasting in between additions.

Cake-Mix Apple Pie Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

A recipe for jazzed up boxed yellow cake mix featuring caramelized apples and Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting!

Makes 17 cupcakes*


For the cupcakes

  • 1 package yellow cake mix, I used Maya, plus ingredients needed
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 medium tart apples, peeled and finely chopped
  • 6 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 Tablespoon water

For the frosting

  • 1 bar, 225 grams cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • ½ cup 113 grams unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ to 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon, according to preference


Make the cupcakes

  • Prepare and bake cake mix according to package directions but bake them in a cupcake pan instead of a cake pan. You may need to lessen the baking time. Cool the cupcakes completely.

Make the apple filling

  • In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add apples and brown sugar and stir until apples are fully coated. Leave to cook until apples are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl until smooth. Add into pan of apples and stir. Bring to a boil and cook until the caramel is thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely before using.

Make the frosting

  • In a bowl, cream the softened cream cheese and butter together until fluffy. Add vanilla extract and mix to combine.
  • Sift in the powdered sugar and cinnamon, then beat until well-incorporated and frosting is smooth, but also thick and fluffy. (Beat more vigorously during the latter stages of the mixing. Feel free to use a machine for this as well.) Add more sugar depending on how stiff you want the frosting to be. Add more cinnamon if you like a stronger flavor. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a star tip.***

Assemble the cupcakes

  • Using a paring knife, cut a 1-inch-wide cone-shaped piece from top of each cupcake. How deep you make the hole will depend on how much apple filling you have. (You can discard the removed portion but I like to put it back after filling.) Fill the cavity with apple mixture.
  • Pipe frosting on top of the cupcakes in a way that covers the holes and the filling. Decorate the cupcakes as desired. Store finished cupcakes in the fridge but serve at cool room temperature so the frosting isn’t too hard. Cupcakes are best consumed within 2 days.

Watch how it's made


*The yield will depend on the cake mix brand you use. I used Maya’s Yellow Cake Mix and got 17 cupcakes using a regular-sized cupcake pan. You may want to double the apple filling if you get more cupcakes out of your cake mix.
**Feel free to double the apple filling recipe and make deeper holes in the cupcakes to fill nearly all the way down.
***Frosting will store well in the fridge for up to 5 days, covered.
Cupcakes adapted from Taste of Home; Frosting adapted from Pies and Tacos blog 


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