These Healthy Cupcakes are light, fluffy, and moist. They’re also less sweet than most conventional cupcakes, both in the cake and in the pretty pink frosting, but they are still SO delicious! (Maybe “healthier” is a better term!)
Healthy Vanilla Cupcakes
I love making classic desserts that have all of the texture and flavor we expect, but that are a little less sweet. This cupcake recipe is one of the staples in our repertoire for kids birthday parties and holidays and it is exactly what you want from a cupcake—fluffy, loaded with vanilla flavor, and sweet enough that no one will mistake it for a muffin.
A batch of these lower sugar cupcakes—they have 1/4-1/2 cup less sugar than other classic recipes, plus significantly less sweetness in the frosting options—are a great kids dessert option. They’re even a good option for a first birthday cupcake. I’ve served these to kids of all ages, as well as adults, and no one is ever the wiser as far as the sugar content goes!
Ingredients in Healthy Cupcakes
Here’s a look at the ingredients you’ll need to make this cupcake recipe.
- unsalted butter
- whole milk
- vanilla extract
- baking powder
TIP: The texture of the batter will be best if the eggs and milk aren’t freezing cold and the butter is soft at room temperature.
How to Make Healthy Vanilla Cupcakes Step-by-Step
The process for making these cupcakes is similar to any other cupcake. Here’s a look at the steps involved. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full information.
- Cream the butter and the sugar with a handheld mixer until light and fluffy. (photo 1)
- Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating to combine. Beat in the vanilla. (photo 2)
- Add the dry ingredients and the milk, alternating and gently beating together in between. . (photo 3)
- Divide the batter among paper liners and bake. (photo 4)
TIP: It’s rare that I use electric mixers in any of my recipes since I know how chaotic homes with little kids can be, but you really do need to add air to the butter and sugar to create a fluffy cupcake.
How can I ensure these are light and fluffy?
Having the butter softened at room temperature (so when you pick up the stick of butter, it feels soft), and beating the butter and sugar for at least 3 minutes. That and not over-baking and allowing the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack, not in the pan so they don’t continue cooking, are my best tips
Can I make these healthy cupcakes gluten-free?
Try using this cup for cup gluten free flour blend in place of the all-purpose.
Can I make these toddler cupcakes with whole wheat flour?
If you want to use a whole grain flour, I recommend using whole wheat pastry flour as it will be less dense than straight up whole-wheat. Or, use half whole-wheat and half all-purpose.
Easy Frosting Options
I have a few options that you can consider:
Tips for Making the Best Healthy Cupcakes
- Be sure to beat the butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes until it’s fluffy for the best texture results.
- To avoid over baking, set your timer for the lower end of the time range and check the centers with a cake tester. If it comes out cleanly, and the edges are lightly golden brown and the tops are firm to the touch, pull them from the oven.
- Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool soon after you pull them from the oven to ensure that they stop baking.
- Be sure the butter is soft at room temperature and pull the eggs and butter from the fridge about an hour before you start baking if possible.
- Gluten-free: Use cup for cup gluten-flour.
- These are best on the day they are made. If needed, you can make these up to 24 hours ahead of time. Let cool fully and store in an airtight container at room temperature. Frost right before serving if possible.
- Top with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting, yogurt frosting in my Smash Cake, or Quick Chocolate Frosting
I’d love to hear your feedback if you make these cupcakes so please comment below!
This recipe was updated Jan 12, 2021. Comments from before that are from an old version of this recipe. Significant testing and improvements have been made!
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
- Add the butter and sugar to a medium bowl. Beat with a hand-held electric mixer on medium-high speed until light, fluffy, and thick or about 3-5 minutes.
- Add in the eggs one at a time, beating in between to fully incorporate each egg. Add in the vanilla.
- Add the baking powder, salt, and half of the flour to the bowl. Beat on the lowest speed. Add half of the milk. Beat on the lowest speed. Add the remaining flour and milk and beat on the lowest speed to just combine the batter.
- Divide the batter among the paper liners, filling each cup with about 1/4 cup batter.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes or until just golden brown around the edges and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack and let cool completely.
- Frost as desired.
These are best on the day they are made. If needed, you can make these up to 24 hours ahead of time. Let cool fully and store in an airtight container at room temperature. Frost right before serving if possible.
Store any leftover cupcakes, once frosted, in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Let sit for a bit at room temperature before serving to allow them to soften up (the cupcakes firm up in the fridge).
Be sure to beat the butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes until it’s fluffy for the best texture results.
To avoid over baking, set your timer for the lower end of the time range and check the centers with a cake tester. If it comes out cleanly, and the edges are lightly golden brown and the tops are firm to the touch, pull them from the oven.
Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool soon after you pull them from the oven to ensure that they stop baking.
Be sure the butter is soft at room temperature and pull the eggs and butter from the fridge about an hour before you start baking if possible.
Gluten-free: Use cup for cup gluten-flour.