6 Healthier Cupcake Recipes

Lower Calorie Cupcakes, Less Guilt

Who doesn't love an adorable cupcake? Yeah, they're sweet, but not so innocent. All that cuteness can pack a sugary, caloric punch that can blow a day of healthy eating. But rather than live in a world devoid of cupcakes (and joy), we've gathered some of our favorite healthier cupcake recipes which will deliciously satisfy your cravings--guilt-free. 

Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes
These lemon angel food cupcakes topped with a tangy lemon frosting are so light and sweet you’ll be coming back for seconds (or thirds). Hey, we’re not judging.

Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes
1/2 cup cake flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 large egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp grated lemon rind

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp nonfat milk
1 to 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions: In a large bowl, sift together powdered sugar and cake flour. In a different bowl, beat egg whites and salt with a hand-mixer for one minute at high speed. Add cream of tartar and continue to beat at high speed for a couple of minutes until soft peaks form. Add sugar slowly while beating. Continue mixing until stiff, white peaks form. Using a spatula, slowly fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time. Add in vanilla and lemon rind. Pour into cupcake tins and bake for 18 minutes at 350 F.

For frosting, at high speed beat butter until fluffy consistency. Then, at low speed, slowly add in powdered sugar. (Make sure your mixer is at low speed for this or you--and your kitchen--will be covered with powdered sugar!) Once mixed well, add in milk and lemon juice and continue mixing until blended well. If frosting is too thick, you can add in a dash more of lemon juice.

Yields 16 cupcakes; Calories: 144 per cupcake
(Recipe & photo: myrecipes.com/recipe/lemon-angel-food-cupcakes-10000001185427)

Oil-Free, Applesauce Cupcakes with Honey Peanut Butter Frosting
This old rule is a healthy eater’s lifesaver, and one that Registered Dietitian Daniela Knight and fellow cupcake lover, swears by: Simply exchange the oil a cupcake recipe calls for with its equivalent of applesauce. “Oil has 2000 calories per cup, but applesauce has only 200,” she explains. You won’t even miss the oil in the cupcake and your waist will definitely thank you for it.

 honey peanut butter frosting cupcake
Take any cake recipe that calls for oil and exchange the oil for applesauce. Or, make your cupcake batter from your favorite boxed cake mix, and use applesauce. Our favorite is devil's food (especially paired with this frosting recipe below).

Honey Peanut Butter Frosting:
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp stevia (or your favorite sweetener)
Honey (for drizzling)

Directions: Prepare cupcakes according to the cake mix recipe you're using (with applesauce, not oil). For frosting, mix together peanut butter, Greek yogurt, vanilla and sweetener. Frost cupcakes and drizzle honey on top. Simple as that! Refrigerate any leftovers.

This frosting recipe is enough for eight cupcakes; just triple it if you’re using a cake box recipe that yields 24 cupcakes.
(Frosting recipe & photo:  Young Married Chic via shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-recipes/best-healthy-cupcakes-weve-ever-seen?page=11)

Raw, Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (Gluten-Free)
Raw and vegan foods are often misunderstood. People see the words and think greens, tofu and nothing possibly delicious. Perhaps a little raw (vegan) cupcake is just what’s needed to shelve the skepticism. Holistic Health Coach Marissa Vicario--who also happens to love cupcakes--recommends raw cupcakes and frosting because they contain less sugar and unhealthy fat than regular cupcakes. She’s even said she’s had raw, vegan cupcakes that are “out of this world.” So, yeah, just give them a try. Note that these are raw, vegan, gluten-free and soy-free.

raw vegan carrot cupcakes
1 cup walnuts
1 cup dates
2 cups grated carrots
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup raisins
Sprinkle of nutmeg

1 cup cashews (soaked for an hour)
6 pitted dates (soaked for an hour with the cashews)
1 tsp lemon juice
Sprinkle of sea salt

Directions: In a food processor, mix the dates and walnuts. Add the carrots, cinnamon, ginger, sea salt and nutmeg. Pulse until it's a smooth doughy consistency. Add raisins and pulse just until they are mixed in with the dough. Spoon dough into muffin tins and refrigerate for one hour.

For frosting, rinse dates and cashews and combine in food processor with the lemon juice and sea salt. Pulse until well combined. Add water until you achieve a “frosting-like” consistency. Frost cupcakes and enjoy. Makes 6 cupcakes. Refrigerate any leftovers. 

(Recipe & photo: choosingraw.com/raw-vegan-carrot-cake-cupcakes)

Dieter's Funfetti Cupcakes
Nothing screams “cupcake!” like funfetti. Excite your inner child with this healthier two-ingredient take on the classic funfetti recipe.

1 box funfetti cake mix
1 12 oz. can Sprite Zero

1 8-ounce container Fat Free Cool Whip
1 1.5-ounce Fat Free Jell-O Instant Pudding

Directions: Combine cake mix and Sprite Zero in large bowl and mix well. (Word to the wise: add the soda in slowly little by little as you’re mixing--it foams up). Pour into cupcake liners until about a 1/4 to 1/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F.

Let Cool Whip soften by setting it on your countertop for about 20 – 30 minutes or in the fridge for about 4 hours. In a bowl, combine cool whip and pudding mix. (Note: you’re just using the powdered pudding mix, not actually making the pudding.) Mix until well combined and smooth. Frost cupcakes and drop a few colorful sprinkles on top.

Yields 24 cupcakes; Calories: 110 per cupcake
(Recipe & photo: sixsistersstuff.com/2012/08/skinny-funfetti-cupcakes-recipe.html) 

Vanilla Greek Yogurt Cupcakes with Banana Cream Cheese Frosting
Vanilla is anything but plain with this vanilla Greek yogurt cupcake recipe. Barely making a blip on the calorie map, and with 5 grams of protein per cupcake, this sweet treat is definitely guilt-free.

cupcake with banana cream cheese frosting
5 egg whites
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
3 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder

1 cup cream cheese, fat free
1/2 banana

Directions: In a large bowl, add the egg whites and beat them with an electric hand-mixer until egg whites become stiff (they’ll get white and start to hold their shape, usually about 3 minutes on medium speed setting). Add salt and honey and mix on high speed for a minute or two until the egg whites form and hold peaks. Add in vanilla extract. Using a spatula, fold in Greek yogurt. In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Slowly fold dry mix into wet mix using spatula. Pour batter into cupcake tins and bake at 325 F for 20 minutes.

For frosting, let cream cheese soften at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Mix cream cheese and mashed banana until well combined. It’s okay if there are a few banana chunks left--they’ll give extra banana flavor to a bite.

Yields 14 cupcakes; Calories:  60 per cupcake
(Recipe: Curtis Stone via nbc.com/the-biggest-loser/exclusives/nutrition/curtis-stone-recipes/vanilla-cupcakes)

Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes
Chocolate AND cheesecake? Sounds like a total splurge, but don’t worry you can have your skinny jeans and eat your (cheese)cake, too.

Chocolate cheesecake cupcake
1 8-ounce cream cheese, fat free
1/4 cup egg substitute, fat free
1/3 cup no-calorie sweetener of your choice
Splash of vanilla extract
1/2 of box of Devil’s Food Cake Mix (about 1 3/4 cups)
3/4 cup club soda
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions: Let cream cheese soften about 20 minutes at room temperature. Combine softened cream cheese, egg substitute, sweetener and vanilla, and mix well until there are no more lumps of cream cheese. In a separate bowl, combine cake mix with club soda and mix until smooth. Pour cake mix into cupcake tins. Shake the pan gently until the batter in the cupcake tins is smooth. Spoon cream cheese mixture on top of cupcake batter. Top with a few chocolate chips. Bake at 350 F for about 25 minutes.

Yields 12 cupcakes; Calories: 153 per cupcake
(Recipe & photo: hungry-girl.com/chew/show/2298)
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Jennifer Menzer commented
Think I'll make the carrot cake cupcakes tonight!