Neapolitan Cupcakes

Published September 27, 2014. Updated May 13, 2019

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These Neapolitan Cupcakes have three irresistible flavors: a milk chocolate cupcake, a fluffy vanilla bean cupcake and strawberry buttercream frosting. This is easily the most unique cupcake recipe I’ve made to date! 

Neapolitan Cupcake

Neapolitan Cupcakes From Scratch

Here’s a classic ice cream flavor turned into cupcakes and you’re going to love them! They are soft as clouds and layered with three irresistible flavors: a milk chocolate-like cupcake, a vanilla bean cupcake and a fresh strawberry frosting. I just couldn’t get enough of them!

Because of these, I know I’ve found a new obsession — layered cupcakes. As if I needed another food to be crazy about, but honestly there’s just no way I could resist these.

I have the feeling you’ll be seeing more layered cupcakes on here in the future. I know they can be a little tricky, as finding two batters that have a similar consistency so the top layer doesn’t just sink into the bottom will always be the challenge.

With this unique cupcake recipe, I just used my favorite chocolate cupcake batter and a light and fluffy white vanilla bean batter. I chose not to go with a traditional vanilla cupcake because it would have been too heavy, but also because I wanted a whiter cupcake with less of a yellow tint to it (which egg yolks will do).

I loved cutting the cupcakes in half to see the contrast between the layers, because the cupcakes are more white inside. Yes, these homemade cupcakes take a bit more effort than a traditional cupcake since you have to make two batters, but it is well worth it.

Plus, the recipe does make 24 so it’s not like you are putting in the extra effort for only a dozen cupcakes. Ice cream flavor turned cupcake — you need these in your life, don’t you think?

four Neapolitan Cupcakes on wire rack

Neapolitan Cupcake Ingredients

Don’t let the lengthy ingredient list list scare you off! There are lots of repeat ingredients needed for the cupcake layers.

For the chocolate cupcake layer, you’ll need:

  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Baking soda
  • Boiling water
  • Unsalted butter
  • Vegetable oil
  • Granulated sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt
  • Eggs
  • Heavy cream
  • All-purpose flour

For the vanilla cupcake layer, you’ll need:

  • Cake flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Vanilla bean seeds
  • Egg whites
  • Milk
  • Vanilla extract

And for the strawberry buttercream frosting, you’ll need:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Freeze dried strawberries
  • Heavy cream
  • Powdered sugar

Neapolitan Cupcakes cut in half on counter

How to Make Cupcakes From Scratch

  • Make chocolate cupcake batter, then distribute it among 22 paper-lined muffin cups.
  • Make vanilla cupcake batter, then gently add 2 tablespoons of batter on top of the chocolate batter.
  • Bake cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, then leave on counter to cool completely.
  • While the cupcakes cool, make the strawberry buttercream frosting.
  • Pipe strawberry frosting onto cupcakes and enjoy!

Can I Use Fresh Strawberries in the Frosting?

Yes, if you’d rather make fresh strawberry buttercream, you can make a double batch of this strawberry buttercream frosting recipe. It has a few more steps than the strawberry frosting I used in this homemade cupcakes recipe, but it’s equally delicious!

Can I Freeze the Cupcakes for Later?

If you have a special event in mind you’d like to prep these cupcakes for, I recommend making and freezing the cupcake base and waiting until the day of to make the strawberry frosting! Freeze the Neapolitan cupcakes in a freezer bag and thaw on your counter when you’re ready to eat them.

unique cupcake recipe with two layers

Tips for the Best Cupcakes

  • When making the chocolate cupcake batter, the water must be boiling. Warm tap water won’t work!
  • Be careful when spreading the vanilla bean cupcake batter over the chocolate batter — you don’t want the two flavors to mix too much.
  • When making the strawberry buttercream, the butter must be softened to room temperature before you whip it up. If the butter is too cold, it won’t fluff up properly.

Neapolitan Cupcake with strawberry frosting

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4.73 from 11 votes

Neapolitan Cupcakes

A luscious and impressive cupcake with three tempting flavors in one - chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Everyone is sure to fall in love with these!
Servings: 22
Prep45 minutes
Cook35 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour 20 minutes


Chocolate Cupcake

White Vanilla Cupcake

Strawberry Frosting


For the chocolate cupcake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large heat proof mixing bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and baking soda. Carefully pour in boiling water and whisk until bubbling subsides and mixture is well blended, allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a separate large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer set on low speed, blend together melted butter, vegetable oil, granulated sugar, vanilla and salt until well combined, about 30 seconds. Stir in egg and egg yolk. Blend in cocoa mixture then blend in heavy cream. Slowly mix in flour and blend until combined, while scraping down sides and bottom of bowl.
  • Spoon an even 1/8 cup (2 Tbsp) into bottom of 22 paper lined muffin cups and spread into an even layer, set aside.

For the white vanilla cupcake:

  • Sift cake flour into a medium mixing bowl. Add baking powder and salt and whisk mixture 20 seconds, set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together butter and sugar with vanilla bean seeds on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. In separate mixing bowl whisk together milk, egg whites and vanilla extract until well blended.
  • Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to butter/sugar mixture, then mix until combined, then add 1/2 of the milk/egg mixture and mix on low speed until combined then increase to medium speed and mix 1 minute (if you are using a paddle attachment that doesn't constantly scrape bowl, then mix 1 1/2 minutes and occasionally scrape down sides and bottom of bowl throughout mixing.
  • Batter should become fluffy). Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until combined, then add remaining 1/2 of the milk/egg mixture and mix on low until combined then increase to medium and mix 1 minute (1 1/2 minutes with regular paddle attachment, it should have the consistency similar to fluffy mousse). Add last 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until well combined.
  • Gently dollop a heaping 1/8 cup over chocolate layer in cupcake wells and carefully spread batter evenly to edges. 
  • Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean, about 16 - 19 minutes. Cool in baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely (once cool immediately store in an airtight container). Pipe or spread strawberry frosting over cupcake once cooled. 

For the strawberry buttercream frosting:


  • *I used the scoop and level method to measure dry ingredients.
  • **The frosting recipe I've linked uses freeze dried strawberries. If you'd rather make strawberry frosting with fresh strawberries, make a double batch of my fresh strawberry frosting recipe
  • Important note: nutrition estimate does not include frosting.
Nutrition Facts
Neapolitan Cupcakes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 203 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 36mg12%
Sodium 97mg4%
Potassium 89mg3%
Carbohydrates 28g9%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 15g17%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 249IU5%
Calcium 31mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

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  • Vernette Eli

    I made these last night and it was my first try. Omg these are time consuming. I was so nervous because I’ve never baked from scratch. Yes they are a little extra work but these cupcakes are phenomenal. The chocolate layer was moist I expected it to be dense but it’s not. The vanilla bean top was such a moussy batter I was afraid I’d done it wrong. I was so happy when I pulled them out of the oven and they were beautiful. So yummy. I had trouble with the frosting because I couldn’t find freeze dried strawberries. I used some strawberry jello powder. Definitely worth the effort.

  • Brianna H

    a total hit! everyone love these and they were super addicting

  • excitedbakerofsweets

    Hello! I was just wondering how many vanilla bean seeds you needed to use. All the seeds in the pod, or just a few. I am really excited to try these out, as something to do during covid. These look really good and I can’t wait to taste them!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Cut 1 vanilla bean in half then use all of the seeds in that half.

  • Shelley

    Would all purpose flour work in this recipe, obviously with a little change in texture? Cake flour is NO WHERE to be found!

      • excitedbakerofsweets

        I ran out of cornstarch and can not get any. Is there any other way to substitute it? I am thinking of just trying all purpose flour and seeing what happens. Is there any reason I should NOT try this or is there a certain measurement I should use if I do end up doing this? Thanks for all your help with this and thank you very much for putting out recipes for everyone else to try. All the recipes that I have used of yours have worked, unlike many I have tried, and they are all EXTREMELY delicious!😊

        • Jaclyn

          Jaclyn Bell

          They should work okay with all-purpose flour too they just won’t be quite as fluffy. I’m so happy to hear you’ve found my recipes to be delicious :)!

  • Ronda

    I have made these many times and always with great reviews! If yours doesn’t turn out please review the recipe, you’ve possibly missed a step or miss measured.

  • T.J

    Followed recipe step by step and it was near impossible to layer. After first batch was cooked it was just soggy and floating in oil. Feel like what a waste of money and effort.
    Even leveled measuring cups. Chocolate just rises over vanilla. All I’m left with what is edible is the strawberry.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Sorry to hear you had trouble with it something had to have gone wrong. Are you sure everything was included and ingredients were properly measured (I use scoop and level method not spoon and level)?

  • Debra Brundage

    Every time I make these cupcakes my chocolate rises and mixes in with vanilla like a marble effect and not layered. How do I fix this?!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Sorry to hear that! How are you measuring, I use the scoop and level method to measure and this may help as batter would be more dense. Also try not to mix in too much air is it will want to rise.