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Cinnamon Pretzel Twist Cupcakes

April 21, 2018 by Nicole Collins

Guys, I think I have a problem.

Apparently, I can only dream up new dessert flavors by sniffing Bath and Body Works Candles.

If you remember, that’s also how we ended up with these Salted Vanilla Cupcakes. Is that bad?

Well, if the result is cupcakes that taste like today’s treat, I think I’ll take one for the team.

So, here’s how today’s recipe came about…

I was burning a Cinnamon Pretzel Twist candle one Saturday night, and the flame was starting to weaken. You know how sometimes you have to pour the wax out of the candle because the flame gets too low? Well, that’s what was happening on this particular evening.

So, I poured the wax in to some foil, but decided not to relight it because it was time for bed. But, as I was taking the doggies out for their last hoorah for the night, I walked past the melted wax; and I couldn’t stop sniffing.

My nose was all up in that wax. It smelled sooooooo good!

So then, I started thinking about how I bet a buttery cinnamon pretzel combo would taste amazing as a cookie or a cupcake. I sent myself a reminder text (as I normally do when I get a recipe idea), and I went about my way to bed.

But, when I got in bed, I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of a cinnamon pretzel something. There I was, laying in the dark, thinking about what I had in my pantry and how I could make some kind of delicious cinnamon pretzel dessert. This genius idea came to me, I texted it to myself again so I wouldn’t forget the genius idea in my sleep haze, and I didn’t sleep a wink that night thinking about how I couldn’t wait to make cinnamon pretzel cupcakes. (Cupcakes won over cookies at the time, which almost NEVER happens.) Though it was not in the original gameplan, it all of a sudden became a top priority project for the next morning.

So today, we’re having Cinnamon Pretzel Twist Cupcakes!!!

Here’s the deal…if a cinnamon bun and a pretzel had a cupcake baby, this is what it would taste like. These are soooo good! I’m not usually a huge cake eater, but I had to shove cupcakes in to my coworkers hands to get them away from me. I didn’t trust them sitting so close to me in my office.

We start with a store bought cake mix. I know, I know. It seems like cheating. But, by the time we add 2 extra ingredients, you’d never know these cakes came from a mix.

I used Duncan Hines cake mix on this one. I generally prefer Betty Crocker, but I like that the vanilla flavor is a little more subtle in the Duncan Hines mix. We need the vanilla flavor to sweeten the cake without it being so overpowering that you can’t taste anything else. We swap out the oil called for in the recipe with some melted butter, and we add just a pinch of cinnamon. It makes the cupcake straight up taste like a cinnamon bun. Buttery, gently spiced, sweet….YUM!

You might need a babysitter when you make the frosting though, because it’s going to be pretty impossible not to lick the bowl clean. To carry over the cinnamon bun flavors, we’re actually going to use Cinnabon coffee creamer as the liquid in our buttercream. This stuff is AMAZING!

Then, to make this frosting a little extra salty sweet, we add ground pretzel crumbs to the frosting. That’s right. Ground pretzel! Because the pretzel pieces add a lot of texture to the frosting, you’re not going to be able to use a pretty piping tip to decorate these. You’ve got to go for the rustic look here. But, I actually really like that down home vibe they give!

In my opinion, these cupcakes taste exactly like the Bath and Body works candle that I spent more than too much time smelling. Buttery, sweet, salty, comforting, incredible…these might be up there in the “best cupcakes I’ve ever made” category!

And they really take little to no effort, which is always a plus!

So, thank you to Bath and Body Works for making such delicious scents. Gotta find that inspiration where you can!

So enjoy, and let’s bake!


Cinnamon Pretzel Twist Cupcakes

Serves: 24 cupcakes Print


For the Cake:

  • 1 box french vanilla cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted

  • 3 eggs

  • ½ tsp cinnamon

For the Frosting:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

  • 4 cups (1 lb or 1 box) powdered sugar

  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp Cinnabon coffee creamer

  • 3 cups pretzels

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • ¼ tsp cinnamon

  • 1/8 tsp salt


  1. Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with 24 cupcake liners. Mix all cake ingredients by hand until everything is combined (roughly 2 mins). (Batter will have lumps.) Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 13-17 mins til tops begin to look golden and a toothpick inserted in to the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Remove from pan, and set aside to cool.

  2. Make the Frosting: In a food processor, add pretzels and pulse until finely ground with a few small chunks. Add softened butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium high speed for 30 seconds until butter is smooth and looking creamy. Add the powdered sugar, ground pretzels, coffee creamer, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt to the mixing bowl. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds until the sugar starts to incorporate in the butter. Turn up to medium high speed, and finish mixing for about 1-2 minutes until the frosting is creamy.

  3. Once the cupcakes are completely cool to the touch, decorate the cupcakes. Use a butter knife or small offset spatula to top the cupcakes with the icing. Enjoy!

Recipe notes:

*I did not test these with any other cake mix brands besides Duncan Hines. The vanilla flavor usually tends to be a little stronger in Betty Crocker mixes, so you may need to add an extra pinch of cinnamon to the batter if using a different cake brand.

*These can sit tightly covered at room temperature for 2-3 days. If by chance they last any longer than that, pop them in the fridge.

*I've always mixed box cake mixes by hand. This isn't an official ruling, but I believe that mixing by hand prevents over mixing which in turn leads to a fluffier cake. The batter is thin enough that it's not a struggle to do. That's what I tell myself anyway!

*The Cinnamon Pretzel Buttercream is too lumpy to be able to use a piping tip to decorate these. Stick with the more rustic look of icing them with a knife.

*It would be really fun to garnish these with cinnamon sugar dusted pretzels!

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