Have you ever wished there was a way to make frosted cupcakes a bit healthier? This healthy vanilla cupcake recipe is low in sugar and butter and contains Greek yogurt for extra protein. But it’s still light, fluffy and moist and tastes like a delicious treat. These are perfect healthier party cupcakes that both kids and adults will love. Quick and easy to make in 30 minutes, and you’ll absolutely love the 2-ingredient frosting on the top!
I consider it the greatest compliment when people enjoy a healthier cake I’ve made without realising it’s been ‘healthified’!
I’ve never met anyone who didn’t rave about these lower sugar Greek yogurt blueberry muffins. When I served the ‘digger cake’ made with this 30-minute healthy chocolate cake recipe at my son’s first birthday party, no one could believe it was made with hidden veggies and no refined sugar.
Which is why I’m thrilled to have developed a healthier party cupcake recipe that still tastes like a treat! They’re my go-to easy cupcakes for birthdays and celebrations.
I served these at my son’s third birthday party and I don’t think anyone noticed that they were healthy cupcakes with around 3 times less sugar than regular ones. 😉
And what about the frosting? I’m not generally a fan of cake frostings because they sometimes take as long to make as the actual cake! But a 2-ingredient frosting? I can cope with that. Big bonus – it tastes like cheesecake!
What makes them healthier?
✔ They’re low sugar cupcakes. There’s just half a cup of sugar in a batch of 12 to 14 – nowhere near as sickly sweet as your average party cupcake, which usually contains a cup to a cup and a half of sugar.
✔ They’re relatively low fat, too, with just 1/3 cup butter which is also less than in an average cupcake recipe.
✔ They also contain some Greek yogurt and milk. Hello extra calcium and protein!
✔ Like the cake, the frosting isn’t saintly either, but there’s no butter, and no icing sugar. The only sweetener is the white chocolate.
For the batter
Here are the ingredients I use to make my healthier birthday cupcake batter:
Butter: I like to use a little butter for flavor in the cupcakes. You’ll need just a third of a cup. You’ll need room temperature butter so that it’s easy to cream together with the sugar. So take it out of the fridge for a while before you’re ready to bake.
Sugar: Regular white sugar is fine, but use an unrefined cane sugar or coconut sugar instead if you prefer.
2 eggs: I always try to use free range or organic, but any large eggs are fine.
Vanilla essence: A decent amount (1 to 1.5 tablespoons), so you can really taste it!
Flour: All-purpose flour/Plain flour or cake flour will both work well. If you prefer you can use white whole wheat flour or gluten free flour in a ratio of 1:1.
Greek yogurt and milk: These are stirred into the batter for extra calcium and protein. They also help to give your cupcakes a tender, moist crumb.
Of course, you’ll also need baking powder, baking soda and salt.
For the cheesecake frosting
White chocolate: As already mentioned, this is the only sweetener in this healthier vanilla frosting. And yes, you actually can use milk or dark chocolate instead if you like. For a kids’ party I like to make one batch of cupcakes with white frosting and one batch with chocolate frosting!
Cream cheese: I’ve used light and full fat to make these cupcakes, and both work well.
How to make them
The step-by-step guide below should help you make the recipe perfectly first time. Scroll down to the end for the full recipe including ingredient amounts.
As well as being a healthy version of a favorite party treat, this is also a very easy cupcake recipe. Make them in just a few simple steps with a large bowl and hand mixer.
For the batter:
- First, cream the butter and sugar together for a few minutes with a hand mixer or stand mixer until really pale, light and fluffy.
- Then slowly beat in the eggs and vanilla for another half a minute to a minute.
- Add the vanilla. If you like you can add another teaspoon to the frosting.
- Finally, fold in the flour, yogurt and milk. I suggest folding in half of the flour mixture, then half of the combined Greek yogurt and milk. Then fold in the rest of the flour and the rest of the yogurt and milk.
For the frosting:
- Melt the white chocolate. The microwave method is fine. I just melt in 30 second bursts. 3 bursts is usually about right.
- Slowly whisk the white chocolate into the cream cheese. A stand mixer or hand held whisk are both fine.
- Scrape the frosting into a piping bag with the nozzle of your choice. Pipe onto the cupcakes.
- Add sprinkles! Or topping of choice (see below for more ideas).
The end result is a bit like a very simple cheesecake. I could definitely eat it all by itself (and in fact some of the children at my son’s birthday party did!).
Helen’s top tips
- As always with cupcakes and muffins, don’t overmix when making the batter! Just until everything is well combined. Slightly lumpy is fine.
- Fill the cupcake liners half way so that the cake rises to just about the top. I prefer to make smallish cupcakes so I use small to medium sized cases (not mini!).
- Be careful not to overbake. Bake just until a toothpick or skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean. The cakes should spring back lightly when touched.
- Chocolate melting tip. If you have a very powerful microwave, reduce the power to 80% so there’s no risk of the chocolate burning.
- When piping on the frosting, try to work fast as it can become more difficult to pipe as the chocolate sets. Ideally, ask someone to help you hold open the piping bag so that you can scrape it in more easily.
- Pipe quickly and confidently from the outside in. Just pipe a smallish swirl onto each cupcake. This way you won’t run out of frosting!
- Make a dark or milk chocolate frosting instead. There’s no reason why you couldn’t use the chocolate of your choice to make this cream cheese icing – white, dark or milk. I’ve tried dark chocolate and the cupcakes were just as yummy and popular!
- Vary the sprinkles! Swap for sugar-free spinkles, chopped berries or coconut instead. How about blue or pink sprinkles on the top for baby shower cupcakes? Or how about adding a third of a cup of sprinkles to the batter as well to make funfetti sprinkle cupcakes?
- Add the zest of a lemon, half a cup of blueberries or a third of a cup of dark chocolate chips to the batter.
- Make mini cupcakes instead (around 24). Remember that they will take less time to bake. Begin checking with a toothpick or skewer inserted into the centre after around 9 minutes (it should come out dry!).
More things to know (FAQ)
These are about 20% lower in calories than a typical homemade vanilla cupcake. But they also have less than half the amount of sugar (in the cake and frosting combined) and potentially a lot more calcium (thanks to the yogurt and milk). Perfect for kids and toddlers, and I promise they won’t notice the difference!
Spray your cupcake liners with a little oil before filling them with the batter. Also, make sure they are completely cool before peeling off the liner and eating. I know it can be hard to wait, but they need to be cool before frosting anyway!
They’ll be fine left out for a few hours after making them (and at the party!). Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. The cream cheese frosting will harden a little, so take them out of the fridge for a while before you want to serve them.
Actually, you can! Simply freeze them in a single layer in an airtight container for 2-3 months. Thaw them overnight in the fridge.
More healthier party food
- Serve this 10-minute fresh tomato salsa with bowls of tortilla chips and you shouldn’t hear too many complaints.
- This amazing, gooey healthy chocolate cake is ready in just 30 minutes. Frost it simply with a healthy avocado frosting and leave it at that, or make it into a digger cake (or dinosaur cake – just saying. Anything with ‘dirt’ as the base works)!
- This veggie pesto pasta is packed full of delicious roasted vegetables, perfect for feeding a crowd, and great served either hot or cold.
- Anything ‘mini’ goes down well at parties, right? Both kids and adults will love both these 6-ingredient mini quiche lorraines and these crispy mushroom filo triangles.
Or check out all my party recipes.
Also check out this list of 25 low sugar cakes (that still taste great!).
Healthier Vanilla Cupcakes With 2-Ingredient Frosting
Equipment (affiliate links)
Ingredients (UK/Australia? Click below for grams/ml)
For the cake batter
- ⅓ cup butter (or 2.7 ounces)
- ½ cup sugar (or 3.5 ounces)
- 2 large eggs
- 1.5 tablespoons vanilla essence
- 1.5 cups plain flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda (UK/Aus: bicarb of soda)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup Greek yogurt
- ⅓ cup milk
For the 2-ingredient frosting
- 9 ounces cream cheese (or 1 cup plus a little extra) I use full fat or light cream cheese at room temperature – both work
- 7 ounces white chocolate in the UK/Australia this is a standard large bar
- sprinkles of your choice (optional)
To make the cakes
- Pre-heat the oven to 355F/180C.
- In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with a hand held or stand whisk for 2 or 3 minutes until very light and fluffy.⅓ cup butter, ½ cup sugar
- Beat in the eggs one at a time for about another minute until well combined.2 large eggs
- Briefly whisk in the vanilla.1.5 tablespoons vanilla essence
- In another smaller bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.1.5 cups plain flour, ¾ teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon salt
- Add half of the flour, half of the yogurt and half of the milk to the butter/sugar/eggs mixture and whisk again until just combined. Don't overmix.1.5 cups plain flour, ⅓ cup Greek yogurt, ⅓ cup milk
- Add the rest of the flour, milk and yogurt and whisk again until just combined.
- Place cupcake cases in a cupcake/muffin pan. Fill each case about half way with batter.
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until a skewer or knife poked into the centre of a cake comes out clean. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the frosting
- When the cakes have cooled completely, break the white chocolate up into a bowl or jug. Melt in the microwave in 30-second bursts (I find 3 bursts is about right). If you prefer, melt in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water.7 ounces white chocolate
- In another bowl or jug, beat the cream cheese with a hand held whisk. Slowly drizzle in the melted white chocolate and whisk until well combined.9 ounces cream cheese
- Working quite quickly, scrape the frosting into a piping bag with a nozzle on it. Pipe small swirls of frosting onto the cakes. I usually start from the outside and work in. Add sprinkles if you like.sprinkles of your choice