Healthy Vanilla Cupcakes From Scratch {With Real Buttercream Frosting}

Birthdays are a tough subject when it comes to what we’ll be eating for dessert. I mean, we can’t just buy a cake from the Bi-Lo Bakery and call it a day. I wouldn’t even buy a cake from a health food store because they don’t know our personal dietary restrictions and therefore we wouldn’t be able to trust that they’d steer clear of using things that you wouldn’t find in a real food kitchen. So, we figured since it was a birthday, we’d make cupcakes.

By the way, they were the best cupcakes I had ever eaten in my entire life. We’re talking legitimately  awesome cupcakes that no bakery could beat. Ever. End of story.

Healthy Vanilla Cupcakes From Scratch | Natural Chow | http://naturalchow.comMaking healthy vanilla cupcakes from scratch is something that anyone and everyone should do. I can’t stand to walk down the grocery aisle’s and watch people buy several boxes of cake mix. Not when it’s as easy as it is to make them yourself.

It’s a little hard to make a classic dessert healthy without scaring people off with phrases like “gluten-free” and “it’s even vegan!”. So after a little bit of perusing around the world-wide-web and narrowing down my choices, I decided to try Allie from Baking A Moment‘s Simply Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes. I found the recipe to be surprisingly easy to follow and the cupcakes light and fluffy, but also not too delicate. The vanilla flavor was just right and all of the cupcakes turned out beautifully.


Exhibit A.


The smell in my kitchen was KILLING me while I waited for them to be done baking. You can probably imagine my excitement as they were pulled carefully from the oven. Oh, how the beauties sat, cooling on the counter, waiting, just waiting to be frosted.

Healthy Vanilla Cupcakes From Scratch | Natural Chow |

I had a little predicament when the time came to frost the cupcakes, though. I found a Wilton piping bag (the last one, of course) but a piping tip was no where to be found. I bought, like, two four packs of piping tips about a year ago when I attempted to pipe one a First Holy Communion cake (key word being attempted). But, surely enough, the only I could find was squashed and WAY too small to pipe large swirls onto a cupcake. Talk about not fun. Eventually, I found a large star tip in the drawer where I keep silpats and oven mitts. Of course it was in that drawer, why wouldn’t it be?

Healthy Vanilla Cupcakes From Scratch | Natural Chow |

I think I did a pretty good job for my first time making cupcakes from scratch.

A note about the cake flour: I rarely buy cake flour, so for this recipe I used a technique I found from Joy the Baker’s website on how you can make your own cake flour. For this particular recipe, I used 1 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour. I put the only the flour to be made into cake flour into the bowl. I then took out 3 tablespoons of it (which I returned back to my flour container) and replace it with 3 tablespoons of arrowroot flour (you can use organic corn starch, too). Then I sifted it four times and continued with the recipe.

A note about the buttercream frosting: The recipe DOES call for powdered sugar. I simply make my own by blending unbleached pure cane sugar with arrowroot flour. For the method, my go to recipe is on Whole New Mom. It takes only 1 minute to make your own powdered sugar!

Healthy Vanilla Cupcakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 24
Perfect cupcakes with an intense vanilla flavor and a light crumb.
  • 1½ cups unbleached cake flour
  • 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups pure cane sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1½ cups organic milk
  • 2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  2. Add the butter and mix on low speed, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (4 to 5 minutes).
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure all the ingredients are well-combined.
  4. Combine the milk and vanilla in a measuring cup. Beat half this mixture into the flour mixture. Beat on medium speed for 1½ minutes, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, add the remaining milk mixture, and beat for another 30 seconds.
  5. Fill paper liners ⅔ of the way with batter, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before topping with buttercream.
4714214g128g70g : 8g615g322g2868mg10g78g1261mg
And now for the buttercream. Because the world would be lost without it.

Fluffy Buttercream Frosting
Makes enough for about 12 cupcakes.
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons organic milk or heavy cream
  1. Beat butter for a 2 minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed.
  2. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter.
  3. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.
3309185g117g55g : 7g422g414g645mg3g492mg
Healthy Vanilla Cupcakes From Scratch | Natural Chow |

Happy cupcake making!


  1. says

    I’m so happy you had such a great experience with this recipe! And I couldn’t agree with you more about box mixes- I really don’t think they’re any easier than baking from scratch! But maybe that’s partly because my pantry is always stocked with ingredients ;) Your photos are lovely, and the cupcakes couldn’t look more perfect! Great tips too about the cake flour and powdered sugar! :D

    • says

      Wow, thanks so much Allie! I made them for my brother’s birthday yesterday and everyone loved them. I’m so glad you like my photos because this is honestly all I can achieve with a Kodak EasyShare. I’ll be getting a new camera soon though so, YAY! Thanks again for all the inspiration and kind words!

  2. says

    Yum! Those cupcakes look so good. Makes me hungry. Thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays Blog Hop! Will share on Pinterest.

  3. Danielle says

    These look tasty!! I’m on the hunt for a healthier cupcake for my daughter’s 6th birthday party this Saturday. I’m going to make these.
    Do you have any recommendations for making the frosting a different color, like a light blue, green, or purple, without food colorong??

    The theme is Little Mermaid

  4. CK says

    I did not have arrowroot or cake flour on hand so I halved the recipe (the yield is 24 which was too much for us anyway) and used only organic white flour. Cutting the butter into the flour and dry ingredients made me so skeptical – the batter was so dry and I thought, there’s no way this will work. Still skeptical while spooning the batter into the cups. But it worked and the cupcakes turned out amazing! They are fluffy but also dense and cake-like and moist – just perfect, thank you! I used your peanut butter icing instead which was also a hit!


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