Yellow Cupcakes with Homemade Frosting (better than the box!)

11 Reviews / 4.7 Average
Adapted from Joy of Cooking, this Yellow Cupcake recipe is way better than the box ones from the grocery store. Yes, these do include sugar but I use white whole-wheat flour, and you can guarantee there are no unwanted ingredients. These cupcakes come out so fluffy. Be sure to top them with homemade frosting for your next birthday or special event.
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Both of my daughters typically request yellow birthday cake over chocolate, which consistently leaves me wondering if there was a mix up at birth. Almost every year we have the same conversation where I ask, “What kind of cake do you want for your birthday…chocolate or yellow?” and the answer I get is “yellow.” Then I immediately follow up with, “Are you sure? You don’t want chocolate???” But no matter how hard I try I can’t win them over, although one year I did get my older daughter to agree to a yellow AND chocolate marbled cake, which turned out to be a win-win for everyone. :)

So as promised (on Facebook a couple weeks ago), below is the yellow cupcake/cake recipe we’ve been using. And while this recipe below (originally from Joy of Cooking) contains sugar and some white flour – both against our real food rules – I recognize this is WAY better than the store bought boxed version that many have relied on for years and that unfortunately contains a lot of unwanted additives (like hydrogenated oils)! And for the homemade frosting I even used all natural beet juice for the pretty pink color you see in the photos. For a less girly look feel free to experiment with small amounts of other colored juices as well (I froze the leftover juice in an ice cube tray since it didn’t take much). So for those occasions which are truly special – like birthdays! – we hope you enjoy this homemade treat with your loved ones.

I am admittedly horrible at decorating cakes so here are some links to the supplies that helped me pull these together:

Icing Cupcakes

Click for the frosting recipes.

Cupcakes Lit

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185 thoughts on “Yellow Cupcakes with Homemade Frosting (better than the box!)”

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  1. Please create a red velvet cake/cupcake recipe!! I can’t find a recipe that is doable. I want to use real food ingredients as much as possible and I don’t know about the whole beet juice or food coloring thing…my husband wants a red velvet cake for his birthday. :):)

  2. Has anyone tried this recipe in a dairy free version using almond milk? I need a good recipe to make my dairy allergic son a 1st birthday cake ! :)

  3. I would like to adapt this recipe to fit a standard sheet cake pan. I tried once and remember that the cake turned out very dry. I may have overcooked since the middle was not set after the recommended baking time. Do you have any suggestions?

  4. Hi! I made these the other day and they were dry and had the texture of corn muffins and 22 minutes was way too long. I live in SC and am glad I no longer need to make altitude adjustments like I did in UT at over 6000 ft. I also normally mill my own grain to the finest grind, but I didn’t do that this time, so I will try that next time. Do you have a video that shows how to fold in the egg white fluff? I’ve always been great with baking moist muffins and sweet breads, cookies, and brownies, but I tend to shy away from yellow cake because they never turn out for me. I would greatly appreciate any help. I did try a naturally sweetened version from another source using peach puree and although I liked that it was all-natural, the texture was like a dry sponge. Thank you!

  5. I have always wanted to try coloring my homemade buttercream with beet juice, but was afraid the frosting would be too runny to pipe. Thanks for the recipe! My girl will be so excited to have PINK frosting on their birthday.

  6. My daughter’s birthday is coming up and she has a friend that can’t have dairy. I was planning on subbing the milk with almond milk. What about the butter? Will coconut oil work? Also, any suggestions on a tried dairy free, whole food frosting? Can find some but with things I usually don’t bake with like soy margarine and I’m sure they aren’t whole food.
    Btw, have made this as written in cupcake and cake form and it is a great recipe!
    Thanks for any help!

      1. Thanks for replying. That sounds like a perfect solution. Sounds safe to make the night before, throw in fridge and take out 30 minutes before serving so not too hard? What’s your experience with it overnight? Thanks again!

      2. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

        Hey again. I’ve not made it the day before so I can’t say how well it will hold up.

  7. I want to make these for my daughters’ preschool Valentine’s parties but one student has a milk allergy (just milk not butter) is there something I can substitute? Btw I use pomegranate juice to dye my frosting instead of beet juice – much easier!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Sherri. Yes, this is one of the rare exceptions to Lisa’s recipes where she uses white sugar. We’ve not subbed with maple or applesauce. ~Amy

  8. What is cake flour? Is that just regular flour? Sorry, I’m new to cooking so I have no idea, explain it like you would to a child ;)

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. Cake flour is a very fine flour with a lower protein content than all purpose flour. It gives cakes a fine texture. :)

  9. My birthday is coming up in December and I am facing a dilemma. My absolute favorite birthday cake is Red Velvet Cupcakes. I love them, a lot, but my recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of red food coloring. I am assuming the kind I have been using is petroleum based. I don’t want to put that in my body, but I still want Red Velvet for my birthday cake. Could I substitute beet juice for the food dye? Any other suggestions? Thank you!

  10. 5 stars
    I am trying to make this cake right now, lol, and I have no idea what to do with the egg whites… how many go in the milk mixture and how many in the sugar

  11. I know this is old but this cake flour is giving me a hard time! I found unbleached but it’s made in a places that processes nuts! Can’t use! Can I sub pastry flour for the cake?? Thx! We made the cupcakes and they are great but just saw on the cake flour box that it’s not but free so I can’t send to school!!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. We’ve not tried using pastry flour so we can’t predict the outcome but I think I’d give it a whirl. If you do, let us know how it works. ~Amy

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Heather. Cake flour is a finely ground flour used in many cake recipes. It has a lower protein content (about 8) compared to all-purpose flour (10-11%). The extra protein helps to add structure to cakes. It may have a different name in Denmark? ~Amy

  12. Hi!
    What can I use if I don’t have white cake flour? all purpose flour? I have spelt, almond flour, brown rice flour…Thanks!

  13. 3 stars
    I have made this recipe twice now. It was a tasty cake for my son’s birthday, but it was just too dry. Has anyone else had this problem?

  14. How would you use this recipe to make a dry cake mix without making a cake out of it? I want to use it in a recipe that calls for just yellow cake mix. How could I adjust it for that?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Lauren. Well, that is not something we’ve done. I suppose you could replace the milk and vanilla with powdered forms? ~Amy

  15. Hi! I was wondering if all your recipes can be substituted with gluten free all purpose flour or a combo of almond and coconut flour. I love all your recipes on your website, but sometimes I would like to make them gluten free. Thanks!

  16. I used this recipe along with the frosting #1 to make a 5 layered rainbow cake for my daughter’s birthday. I used beets, carrots, swiss chard, lemon, and blueberries for the colors and it was amazing! Not only was it beautiful to look at, the kids LOVED it! Thank you for doing what you do and providing us with recipes and knowledge to help our families!

  17. Is one recipe equal to one boxed cake mix? I can’t wait to make this for our youngest FIRST Birthday Celebration this weekend!! Thanks

  18. I commented earlier with a question about how to make the buttercream frosting into chocolate. I added 3/4 c cocoa powder and it was perfect! Love having 100 Days as my “go-to” for real food recipes. Keep up the great work!

  19. too get color in them can’t you make the frosting and then put a little bit in a bag like one that frozen raspberries come in and mix in bag to pick up any colored juices from the berries then mix with the rest and whisk it though the rest of the frosting… should taste better than beet juice too,lol

  20. I plan on making these for an end of year party at church. Do I need to make the whipped cream frosting right before the party, or will it keep for a couple of hours in the fridge?

  21. 5 stars
    I absolutely LOVE this chocolate cake recipe. I made cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday party and everyone loved them! I will never use a boxed mix again. The frosting is fantastic, too. Best ever! I was interested in how to make the frosting chocolate? How much cocoa powder would you have to add to balance it out? Thanks!