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19 Easy Cupcake Recipes for the Perfect Bite-Sized Treats

If you love cake but want smaller, more controllable portions, then you need to check out these 19 easy cupcake recipes.

 

It’s amazing what people are doing with cupcakes these days. 

Forget plain old vanilla and chocolate confections–think Key Lime to Vanilla, Banana Salted Caramel, Pineapple Updside Down, and S’mores…and that’s only the beginning.

It’s also amazing how diet-friendly cupcakes can be.

Sure, some are more calorie dense than others, but as you’ll see, many of these recipes are light enough to fit just about anybody’s macros.

So, fire up the oven, break out the muffin pan, and let’s get baking. 🙂

Enjoy!

Key Lime Cupcakes

Serves 12

No matter what time of year it is, citrus cupcakes are in season. Adding a little citrus juice and zest is an easy way to make naturally flavored cupcakes. Key lime is great for the summer, especially with a splash of tequila in the frosting – and you’ll have leftover buttercream after frosting a dozen cupcakes.

This recipe can also be readily adapted into orange or lemon cupcakes. When the cold seasons roll around, a few dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg are all you need to make this recipe festive.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

376

Calories

3 g

Protein

40 g

Carbs

19 g

Fat

Ingredients

Cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted before measuring

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup whole milk, room temp.

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbsp. key lime juice (or citrus juice)

1 Tbsp. key lime zest (or citrus zest)

1/2 cup butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg, room temp.

2 large egg whites, room temp.

Buttercream Frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, firm but not cold

1/8 tsp. salt

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted before measuring

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. key lime juice

1 Tbsp. key lime zest

1/2 tsp. milk (if necessary to thin)

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Cardamom Vanilla Cupcakes

Serves 12

These vanilla cupcakes are anything but plain. Cardamom, a spice commonly used in chai tea blends, livens up this classic dessert. Aside from that, these are simple grain-free cupcakes made with almond flour, eggs, coconut sugar, and coconut oil.

And if you’re going to make vanilla cupcakes, it’s worth doing it right – procuring and scraping real vanilla beans to get the ultimate flavor.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

381

Calories

15 g

Protein

28 g

Carbs

26 g

Fat

Ingredients

Spiced Vanilla Cupcakes:

3 cups blanched almond flour

1/4 cup coconut flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1 Tbsp. ground cardamom

4 large eggs, room temp.

1/4 cup pure honey

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

2 vanilla beans, scraped for seeds

Coconut Orange Frosting:

1 1/2 cups full-fat coconut cream (from 2 cans coconut milk)

1 or 2 vanilla beans, scraped for seeds

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup (or honey)

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. ground cardamom

Zest of 1 orange

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Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

Serves 18

Believe it or not, these Oreo cupcakes are even better than the classic sandwich cookie.

The recipe starts by mixing up a batter for black magic chocolate cake, which uses coffee to enhance the cocoa powder, and then tossing crushed cookies in the mix. The frosting isn’t exactly like the cream center, but that’s pretty much just sugar. Instead white chocolate buttercream goes on top to upgrade the Oreo experience.

Of course, cookie crumbs or even a whole cookie will make an excellent garnish.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

266

Calories

2 g

Protein

37 g

Carbs

13 g

Fat

Ingredients

Chocolate Cupcakes:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

Dash of sea salt

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 large egg

1/2 cup hot coffee

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

4 chocolate crème-filled sandwich cookies, chopped

White Chocolate Buttercream:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

6 oz. white chocolate, melted and cooled

1 tsp. vanilla extract

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Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Serves 12

Cupcakes can’t get more pumpkin-packed than this. These coconut cupcakes are stuffed with pumpkin pie filling – well, a buttercream frosting that takes just like pumpkin pie.

They’re great whether you need a gluten-free pumpkin treat for Halloween, or are bringing dessert to a big gathering and aren’t ready to challenge the family member who’s known for their pies.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

352

Calories

4 g

Protein

27 g

Carbs

27 g

Fat

Ingredients

Paleo Cupcakes:

1/2 cup packed coconut flour

1/2 cup arrowroot flour

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup pure honey

4 large eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp. almond extract

Pumpkin Buttercream:

1 cup butter (or coconut oil)

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree

1/3 cup arrowroot starch

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Pinch of salt

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Healthy Carrot Cupcakes

Serves 9

When you think of healthy dessert, carrot cake probably comes to mind. Yet those vegetables can fool you into eating a lot of fat and sugar if you don’t watch out for the other ingredients.

Because carrots are naturally sweet, these shouldn’t need as much added sugar as other cupcakes, and the flavor holds up well if you use a low-calorie alternative sweetener like xylitol instead.

For a nutritious topping, mix together cream cheese and vanilla protein powder; sweeten to taste.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

192

Calories

3 g

Protein

28 g

Carbs

9 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups spelt flour (or all-purpose flour)

1/2 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/3 cup xylitol (or granulated sugar)

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup applesauce

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 packed cup shredded carrot

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Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

Serves 12

How can a cupcake get healthier than being infused with fruit? Unfortunately, strawberry cupcakes are one to watch out for because they’re often baked with artificial flavors and colors.

This recipe takes things in the opposite direction with real strawberries in not just the batter but the frosting too. Since they’re full of fresh fruit, definitely keep these cupcakes refrigerated.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

218

Calories

5 g

Protein

36 g

Carbs

7 g

Fat

Ingredients

Strawberry Frosting:

1/2 cup blanched almond flour

1/2 lb. strawberries (about 1 1/2 cups)

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Pinch of sea salt

Strawberry Cupcakes:

1/2 lb. strawberries (about 1 1/2 cups)

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup almond butter

1 1/4 cups oat flour

3/4 cup sorghum flour

1/4 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

2 pinches of sea salt

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Vanilla Mascarpone-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Serves 12

Look no further if you need decadent cupcakes for a special occasion. These rich chocolate cakes are made with quark (or cottage cheese) and have creamy mascarpone in the middle.

You won’t even need a piping bag for the frosting, or to fuss about getting the presentation just right. They’re topped with a spoonful (or two) of ganache, which drizzles down over the sides of these filled cupcakes.

After that, the only thing to make these look more amazing is a sprinkle of toasted coconut, if desired.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

346

Calories

6 g

Protein

35 g

Carbs

21 g

Fat

Ingredients

Chocolate Quark Cupcakes:

1/3 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup hot water

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 scant cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup butter

2 large eggs

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

4 oz. (about 1/2 cup) quark or cottage cheese

Vanilla-Mascarpone Filling:

1/5 cup heavy cream

4.4 oz. (about 1/2 cup) mascarpone

1 vanilla bean, scraped for seeds

Dark Chocolate Ganache:

1 bar (3.5 oz.) dark chocolate

2/3 cup heavy cream

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S’mores Cupcakes

Serves 12

These cupcakes capture the essence of s’mores by keeping it simple.

First, the cake batter uses crushed graham crackers like flour. After the cupcake pan is filled, push squares of chocolate into the middle. Marshmallow butter cream is used as the topping – a mix of butter, marshmallow crème, and powdered sugar.

With a little extra effort (and hopefully a stand mixer), you could make fresh marshmallow to complete these cupcakes instead.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

473

Calories

4 g

Protein

55 g

Carbs

27 g

Fat

Ingredients

Graham Cracker Cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers (about 10 sheets)

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp.

2 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 oz. chocolate bar, broken into 24 pieces

Marshmallow Buttercream:

1 cup unsalted butter, room temp.

1 container (7 oz.) marshmallow crème

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

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Banana Salted Caramel Protein Cupcakes

Serves 12

Without tons of sugar and cream, banana cupcakes can seem so healthy that you might mistake them for a muffin.

This version, on the other hand, is nutritious and sinfully delicious with caramel flavoring to make them taste like bananas foster. The vegan cupcakes are made with banana, pea protein, oats, and chia seeds.

And the luscious frosting is a unique blend of cashews and dates.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

121

Calories

8 g

Protein

15 g

Carbs

4 g

Fat

Ingredients

Banana Cupcakes:

1 large banana

1/4 cup pea protein powder

1/4 cup coconut sugar

3/8 cup old-fashioned oats

1 Tbsp. chia seeds

1 Tbsp. almond butter

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp. toffee-flavored liquid stevia

1 Tbsp. natural caramel flavoring

Frosting:

1/2 cup cashews, soaked for an hour

3 Medjool dates

1 Tbsp. pea protein powder

3/8 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. toffee-flavored liquid stevia (optional)

1 tsp. natural caramel flavoring

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Fudgy Beet Cupcakes

Serves 10

Beets can be used as a natural way to get the bright red color of red velvet cupcakes. The only problem is that you have to hold back on the cocoa to let the vibrant red come through.

For really fudgy cupcakes, you’ll need to use plenty of chocolate, but that doesn’t mean the beets have to go. In this recipe, they take the place of some of the oil, much the way that applesauce or mashed bananas wok as a low-fat baking substitute.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

169

Calories

2 g

Protein

28 g

Carbs

7 g

Fat

Ingredients

2 medium beets

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup + 1 heaping Tbsp. whole-wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, reserve some for garnish

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

Pinch of salt

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Angel Food Cupcakes

Serves 36

This low-fat cake makes the perfect base for any toppings you can dream of.

Err on the healthy side with a classic angel food cake pairing: fresh fruit. It can be decadent if you pile diced fresh strawberries on top and drizzle with melted chocolate. Of course, there’s no end to the choices to complete your angel food cupcakes.

Add protein with a frosting made of Greek yogurt and casein, go non-dairy with coconut whipped cream, or slather your favorite buttercream on top.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

59

Calories

2 g

Protein

13 g

Carbs

1 g

Fat

Ingredients

12 large egg whites

1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted before measuring

1 1/8 cups cake flour, sifted before measuring

1/4 tsp. salt

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Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Cupcakes

Serves 18

These are the perfect cupcakes to bake for any peanut butter cup lover. They start with a graham cracker crust, then peanut butter cheesecake batter goes on top, and chocolate buttercream goes on top.

Did I mention there’s a mini peanut butter cup hiding in the middle? The surprise makes these a great treat to bring to any event. Watch everyone’s faces light up as they bite into the candy center.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

547

Calories

7 g

Protein

65 g

Carbs

31 g

Fat

Ingredients

Graham Cracker Crust:

1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers (about 10 sheets)

4 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

18 bite-size peanut butter cups

Peanut Butter Cheesecake:

2 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, room temp.

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 large eggs

Chocolate Buttercream:

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

5 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

3 Tbsp. milk (or more to thin)

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Black Bottom Apple Cupcakes

Serves 12

When it’s apple season, there’s no reason not to toss fresh apples into everything. Of course you can make apple pie and applesauce, but the fall harvest can also add a new take on other classics like chocolate cupcakes.

The way these are layered, you can leave them unfrosted so the diced apple on the top peeks through. And these black bottom cupcakes are like two desserts in one. Eat the two flavors in one bite, or enjoy the apple cupcake first, followed by the chocolate cake on the bottom.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

196

Calories

3 g

Protein

25 g

Carbs

10 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 1/2 lb. granny smith apples

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

6 oz. cream cheese

1 large egg

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup apple juice

3 Tbsp. oil

3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

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Sticky Date Pudding Cupcakes

Serves 5

Sticky toffee pudding is a classic British dessert that’s as impressive as it is comforting. But if you don’t have the time or desire to make a toffee sauce from scratch, the same flavors can be enjoyed in less time with this cupcake version.

Rather than cooking a toffee sauce, you just need warm some chopped dates, orange juice, almond milk, and honey in a pan to make the topping, a sticky date ganache.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

300

Calories

6 g

Protein

67 g

Carbs

3 g

Fat

Ingredients

Date Cupcakes:

10 Tbsp. water

12 Medjool dates

1 1/2 bananas, peeled and roughly chopped

2 1/2 Tbsp. coconut flour

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 tsp. pure honey (optional)

1/2 tsp. baking powder

Sticky Date Ganache:

5 Medjool dates, chopped

Juice of 1/2 orange

3 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. pure honey

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Gingerbread Protein Cupcakes

Serves 6

These cupcakes are perfect to serve for the holidays. Yet unlike other sweet treats they won’t be followed by a blood sugar spike and resulting crash. That’s because they rely on a mix of whey protein, ground almonds, and coconut flour to replace the starchy white flour.

And the ginger is lightly sweetened with applesauce and a touch of molasses. The frosting is also nutritious with Greek yogurt and protein powder.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

137

Calories

17 g

Protein

16 g

Carbs

2 g

Fat

Ingredients

Gingerbread Cupcakes:

1 1/2 scoops WHEY+ vanilla protein isolate

1/4 cup almond flour

2 Tbsp. coconut flour

3 Tbsp. Truvia

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 medium egg

1 Tbsp. molasses

3 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk

Yogurt Frosting:

1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt

1 scoop WHEY+ vanilla protein isolate

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. sugar-free maple syrup

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Cookie Dough Frosted Chocolate Protein Cupcakes

Serves 12

Can’t decide between baking cookies or cupcakes? This recipe offers the flavors of both desserts along with some protein too. And since they’re mini cupcakes, you won’t feel guilty about eating a few at once.

The macros are so great, these cupcakes even make an awesome post-workout snack. Just beware of bringing them to train with buddies because you’ll need plenty to share.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

125

Calories

13 g

Protein

5 g

Carbs

4 g

Fat

Ingredients

Chocolate Protein Cupcakes:

1/2 cup (2 scoops) WHEY+ vanilla protein isolate

3/4 cup almond flour (or oat flour)

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup xylitol

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup liquid egg whites

3 tsp. water

Cookie Dough Frosting:

2 scoops WHEY+ vanilla protein isolate

4 Tbsp. coconut flour

4 Tbsp. PB2

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tsp. water

2 Tbsp. dark chocolate chips

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Pineapple Upside-Down Protein Cupcakes

Serves 8

If you want to avoid frosting, an upside-down cake is the way to go. The fruit caramelizes so beautifully that it doesn’t need anything else to be a complete dessert. Yet pineapple upside-down cake isn’t the most attractive cake to serve.

Make pineapple cupcakes instead, and you won’t end up with a sticky mess of crumbs. And it’s easy to turn these into gluten-free cupcakes by using oat flour.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

193

Calories

7 g

Protein

29 g

Carbs

6 g

Fat

Ingredients

Cupcakes:

1 scoop WHEY+ vanilla protein isolate

1/3 cup almond meal flour

1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (or oat flour)

1/4 cup coconut sugar

3/4 tsp. baking powder

3 egg whites

1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Pineapple Topping:

1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained and patted dry

4 cherries, halved and pitted

2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup coconut sugar

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Protein Frosting for Cupcakes

Serves 12

Regardless of what flavor cupcakes you choose to make, you’re going to need a delicious topping. Who would eat plain cupcakes?

Use the frosting as an opportunity to boost the nutritional profile of your indulgent dessert. Casein is lighter than whey, and you can add more to thicken the protein frosting to your liking. But other kinds of protein powder can work too.

For whey, it’s recommended to stick to just one scoop, and leave out the milk.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

32

Calories

6 g

Protein

2 g

Carbs

1 g

Fat

Ingredients

2 scoops casein protein powder

1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

5 Tbsp. milk

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Sharp Cheddar Cupcakes with Honey Blue Cheese Frosting

Serves 12

Who says cupcakes can’t mix savory and sweet? Considering that cheese is served in many cultures as an after-dinner course, cheese cupcakes aren’t as weird as they sound.

These are an awesome snack to serve for game day because they go well with pretzels and chips. And cheese cupcakes would also make a great surprise for a birthday whether they’re a fan of Cupcake Wars or just the local cheese shop.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

552

Calories

10 g

Protein

44 g

Carbs

35 g

Fat

Ingredients

Cheddar Cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cups whole milk

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 large egg, beaten

2 1/2 cups (10 oz.) shredded extra-sharp cheddar

Honey Blue Cheese Frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese

1 cup butter

4 Tbsp. blue cheese

2 Tbsp. pure honey

1 cup powdered sugar

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What if you could build muscle and lose fat eating “naughty” foods every week?

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In short, what if I told you that proper dieting--whether you want to maximize fat loss or muscle growth--is much simpler and more enjoyable than you’ve been led to believe?

Imagine eating delicious, filling meals every day...never feeling starved or stuffed...having great energy levels and workouts...and watching your body respond exactly as you desire, dropping fat or adding muscle each and every week.

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

If you like my articles, then you'll love my bestselling books. They'll show you exactly what you need to do to build muscle and lose fat without hating your diet or living in the gym.

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