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

11 Reviews / 4.7 Average
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CupcakesBoth 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


Yellow Cupcakes (better than the box!)

Adapted from Joy of Cooking.
Click here for two frosting recipes to choose from...yes, just pick one!
11 Reviews / 4.7 Average
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 22 mins
Total Time: 37 mins
Print Recipe
Servings: 20 cupcakes



  • Line a cupcake pan with 20 paper liners and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a medium sized bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl combine the milk, egg yolks, and vanilla.
  • In a large mixing bowl use an electric whisk to beat the butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar together until creamy. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer down to low and slowly add both the flour mixture and milk mixture in small batches (and alternating) while the mixer is still going. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Set aside.
  • Again using an electric mixer whip the egg whites along with 1 tablespoon sugar until they are light and fluffy and peaks begin to form. Do not overmix because the mixture will become dry. Using a rubber spatula carefully fold the egg whites into the cake batter until it is combined thoroughly (again be careful not to overmix).
  • Equally divide the batter into the 20 cupcake liners and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes clean, about 22 to 24 minutes. Let cool completely before adding frosting.


Cupcakes can be frozen unfrosted.
Nutrition Facts
Nutrition Facts
Yellow Cupcakes (better than the box!)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 208 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 58mg19%
Sodium 157mg7%
Potassium 93mg3%
Carbohydrates 25g8%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 13g14%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 350IU7%
Calcium 46mg5%
Iron 0.4mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Click for the frosting recipes.

Cupcakes Lit

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

  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!

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