Anise Licorice Cupcakes

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If you’re a licorice lover, these Anise Licorice Cupcakes will rock your socks off! They’re so cute with the little licorice gummy bear on top!

Anise Licorice Cupcakes on a black cake stand

Anise Licorice Cupcakes on a piece of wax paper

Anise Licorice Cupcakes

So while not everyone is a licorice fan, our family definitely loves it. I didn’t like it as a kid, but now it’s easily one of my faves.

Have you ever had the Jelly Belly licorice candy mix? The one with little pieces that are like Good N Plenty, with the red, black and white pieces, and some pieces that are covered in sprinkles? My dad has been a lover of that mix for forever.

He used to always have some hiding in his desk drawers in his home office. When I lived at home and had a craving for it, I’d go looking. Sometimes it was trying to hide underneath envelopes or papers or something. But you can’t hide sweets from me. No way! I will find them. Then I will eat it!

You’ve read my stories about us hiding sweets from each other before, right? My mom, dad and brother – we all did it. When we had something we liked and didn’t want to share, it had to be hidden or it would be eaten before you could say “Hey! Where did my cupcake go?”

Anise Licorice Cupcakes with a bite out of one
Anise Licorice Cupcakes on a tray

I started filling my parents’ Christmas stockings back in college and I pretty much always include a bag of that stuff in my dad’s. Then I steal half of it. Win-win for me. 🙂

So I’ve been excited to try a licorice flavored cupcake for some time now.

The licorice flavor comes from the anise extract. Anise is actually a plant and it’s used to make things like black jelly beans. Who knew?! I had always assumed licorice was some manufactured flavor but it actually comes from a plant. Crazy!

For these cupcakes, I started with my usual cupcake and added the anise flavor. The icing also has anise, so this cupcake is licorice city!

The cute little bears sitting on top are actually a CVS brand gummy bear. I saw them the other day and couldn’t walk away without them. I knew they’d be perfect on top of my cupcake.

And while the mix might seem strange, I actually love the frilly, girly icing and potentially scary cake stand with the not-so-sophisticated bears. It’s like bears got a makeover and attended a super chic black and white event. You know, cuz why not? Plus, Halloween is a couple days away and everyone should get to dress up and go to a party. 🙂

Anise Licorice Cupcakes on a black cake stand
Anise Licorice Cupcakes on wax paper

You might also like:

Moist and Fluffy Vanilla Cupcakes
Black Forest Ice Cream Cake
Death by Chocolate Icebox Cake
Lucky Charms Cupcakes

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Anise Licorice Cupcakes close up

Anise Licorice Cupcakes

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 18 minutes
  • Total Time: 33 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 Cupcakes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


If you’re a licorice lover, these Anise Licorice Cupcakes will rock your socks off! They’re so cute with the little licorice gummy bear on top!



  • 1 2/3 cups (240g) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup salted butter (170g), room temperature
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 tsp anise extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) milk


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tsp anise extract
  • 34 tbsp water or milk



1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
3. Add butter, egg whites, anise extract, sour cream and milk and mix on medium speed just until smooth. Do not over mix.
4. Fill cupcake liners a little more than half way.
5. Bake 18-20 minutes.
6. Allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to finish cooling.


1. Combine butter and shortening and mix until smooth.
2. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
3. Add anise extract extract and 1-2 tbsp of water or cream and mix until smooth.
4. Add remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
5. Add a little more water or cream until desired consistency is reached.
6. Top cupcakes with icing.


You may notice little bits of butter in the batter, but that’s ok. They will melt into the cupcake as they bake.


  • Serving Size: 1 Cupcake
  • Calories: 465
  • Sugar: 43 g
  • Sodium: 124.5 mg
  • Fat: 25.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 57.3 g
  • Protein: 3.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 46.6 mg

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  1. Karen T W

    The second batch that I made was delicious. The first though, I had problems with the room temperature butter getting cold because of the cold milk and sour cream. It made the butter clump up. On the second batch I warmed up (room temp) the milk and sour cream. This fixed my problem.

  2. Nataly

    Thank you for this fantastic recipe! I am licorice addicted! The only question is do you buy anise extract or make yourself?

      1. Lindsay

        I’m not sure. I might try a quick Google search. I’ve seen that you can make vanilla extract by putting vanilla beans in vodka. You may be able to do something similar.

  3. Nicole -Seeking Victory

    These sound absolutely amazing. I love Licorice and I love how innocent these look whilst hiding a big punchy flavour

  4. Heather @ Shards of Lavender

    I absolutely love black licorice! I didn’t think too many other people did, since when I mention anise is one of my favorite flavors, I usually received a look of disgust. I’ve eaten too many bags of licorice candies, including these bears, but my favorites are the large anise jelly beans my mom used to buy in the bulk section. And, yes, she would try to hide them from us, but we always knew her hiding places. I still hide my favorite foods from the rest of the family… Pinned and will be making these!

  5. Lindsey+@+American+Heritage+Cooking

    Those gummy bears are the cutest cupcake toppers and your frosting is beautifully piped! These cupcakes look incredibly moist! I think I would like the licorice flavor without the gummy candy. Pinned!

  6. Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness

    I cannot tell a lie. I am not a big licorice fan. HOW–EV-ER, my mother is obsessed with the stuff and we happen to be having a Halloween Party with my fam that these cupcakes are just screaming to be brought to! Pinned!

  7. Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom

    love love love these cupcakes and the CVS gummy bears on top! My kids love licorice so I definitely have to try these! I love that you used anise extract. I’ve only cooked with star anise, which I assume is essentially the same thing or derived from the same thing . . I can’t wait to meet you in Chicago next week! 🙂

  8. Amanda

    I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but you are wrong. These little bears are totally sophisticated and adorable! Truly a unique and creative cupcake… well done!

    (did you catch my pun up there? I couldnt resist)

  9. Aimee+@+ShugarySweets

    I love black licorice. And anise extract. And good and plenty candy!!! Last year I made lemon and licorice cupcakes. Try adding the lemon to these next time, you might LOVE the combo!! Apparently it’s a scandanavian thing 🙂

    1. Janice Pas

      Yes, it is definitely a German thing. Should try Springerlie cookies. The traditional recipe has lemon zest & anise.

  10. Mir

    You’ve just made me so happy! I LOVE licorice, but I always feel so alone because people tell me it’s gross. It’s not! It’s amazing!
    And I am going crazy for that bear on top. Can you ship me a couple? 🙂

About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29