Red Beet Cupcakes from weelicious.comPin

We have an awesome cupcake store in our neighborhood and every now and then we take the kids by to enjoy a special treat. Without fail, their eyes are always drawn to the most colorful cupcakes in the display case. My kids may have no idea how a red velvet cupcake made with crimson food dye actually tastes, but put something like it in front of them and their immediate response is, “that one”.

Red Beet Cupcakes from weelicious.comPin

My take on these cupcakes have a rich flavor, and while they aren’t as artificially red as the red velvet cupcakes which use chemical food dyes (and of course chocolate which this one doesn’t include), they (and their icing) get their bright, reddish-pink color from a surprising, delicious and 100% natural guest, roasted beets. Especially given the never-ending speculation about the connection between food dyes and hyperactivity in children, having smart alternatives for the artificially colored food that kids crave means I don’t have to deprive my little ones.

This doesn’t mean we’re not frequenting our local cupcake store any less often, but I always like reminding myself that whenever there’s something out there I may not be thrilled about my kids eating, figuring out how to make a healthier version is not at all impossible.

Red Beet Cupcakes from weelicious.comPin

Red Beet Cupcakes

4.20 from 5 votes
Author: Catherine McCord
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 large beet, roasted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Beet Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup beet puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Sift the first 4 ingredients into a bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet and combine.
  • Pour about 1/3 cup into lined muffin tins and bake for 25 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.
  • Cool completely before frosting.
  • Beet Cream Cheese Frosting (Make 2 Cups)
  • Place all the ingredients in a mixer and beat on medium to high speed until fluffy. 2. Spread on cupcakes.


Calories: 160kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 6g | Sodium: 220mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g
Did you make this recipe?Mention @Weelicious or tag #weelicious!

About the Author

Catherine is a mama of three. A Kentucky girl living in California. Here’s what I know: all kids can be great eaters and mealtime must be easy. I create simple, healthy recipes the whole family will love.


  1. Could I make this into a cake? Which size pan to use and at what temperature and how long in the oven? I am all out of AP flour, could I sub all with whole wheat flour? And could I sub the honey with maple syrup? I am also out of honey. I am looking forward to making this on Saturday for my daughter’s 3rd birthday. We made your green spinach mini muffins for a daycare potluck party and all love it!

  2. I just made this cupcake, color was vibrant until it was baked. The cupcakes didn’t have the red coloring to it anymore, it was dulled. All in all, the cupcakes did tastes good.

  3. […] think beets are a traditional ingredient in aebleskiver, but they are becoming popular in baked goods and even burgers. If you don’t like beets, I suggest using applesauce instead of the mashed […]

  4. I made a devil’s food cake instead of this recipe and added pureed beets to the batter before baking. Then strained leftover beet puree and used the juice in the cream cheese icing. They were so delicious No one ever thought there were beets in them.

  5. I just made these today. I used whole wheat flour, subbed brown rice syrup for the honey and added the cocoa powder because I wanted them to be more muffin like than cupcakes. I made them as mini muffins and my three year old kept stealing them off the cooling rack as quick as I could put them on, he ended up eating 12 just for lunch :P.

  6. […] Red Beet Cupcakes with Red Beet frosting is a delightfully flavored reddish cupcake that kids of all ages can enjoy without the chemical colors and dyes in some other brightly colored desserts. These tasty and naturally colored treats get their lovely color, texture, and flavor from roasted beets. Even the cream cheese frosting can be colored with the pureed beet. Most will eat this lovely cupcake without ever knowing vegetables are involved unless you tell them. Source Weelicious […]

  7. […] Red Beet Cupcakes with Red Beet frosting is a delightfully flavored reddish cupcake that kids of all ages can enjoy without the chemical colors and dyes in some other brightly colored desserts. These tasty and naturally colored treats get their lovely color, texture, and flavor from roasted beets. Even the cream cheese frosting can be colored with the pureed beet. Most will eat this lovely cupcake without ever knowing vegetables are involved unless you tell them. Source Weelicious […]

  8. Is there any alternative sweetener I could use in the frosting? Like brown rice syrup or malt barley syrup? And would I have to add any dry item to make up for the moisture addition?

  9. […] Red Beet Cupcakes with Red Beet frosting is a delightfully flavored reddish cupcake that kids of all ages can enjoy without the chemical colors and dyes in some other brightly colored desserts. These tasty and naturally colored treats get their lovely color, texture, and flavor from roasted beets. Even the cream cheese frosting can be colored with the pureed beet. Most will eat this lovely cupcake without ever knowing vegetables are involved unless you tell them. Source Weelicious […]

  10. Well, these sure sound healthy! I had some roasted beets that no one in my family, except for me, would eat by themselves. So …. I needed to bake something. These cupcakes need some sugar I think, but then again, I am not planning on putting icing on them. They taste more like healthy muffins than cupcakes. But still good. We will se what my three- year- old will say.

  11. In case anyone is wondering, I did make these with canned beets and the cocoa and they are fantastic. I made a frosting of some butter, cream cheese, vanilla, powdered sugar, and beet juice.

  12. Once the cupcakes are baked the color does not rub off! So no need to worry about staining! I haven’t tried freezing the frosting, but I would think it would come out to a funny texture after being frozen and defrosted. I’ve never had a problem with the frosting staining clothing, but it definitely could rub off. So I’d be careful. You could always make the white frosting if you’re worried about that! 🙂

  13. I made the frosting today and it’s delish!!!! I have 2 questions. 1. Can you freeze the frosting or will it mess up the texture during thawing? 2. Is anyone concerned about staining of clothes? I’d like to make these for Valentines Day for my daughter’s preschool class. I’m a little worried that the kids may get messy and stain their clothes! Any thoughts on this?

  14. […] with cream cheese frosting. The birthday girl requested pink frosting so I used a recipe from Weelicious that colors the frosting with some beet puree. You can hardly taste the sneaky addition of a veggie […]

  15. You could leave out the beet puree! Blueberry juice will turn the frosting purple and raspberry juice will turn it red or pink!

  16. It was so nice to see a familiar face in my new Parenting magazine. Congrats Catherine! I’m planning for my kiddos under sea birthday party at the very beginning of February. I’d love to use this frosting minus the beats. I plan to add a bit of juice from red cabbage which is supposed to make blue instead. Any idea if that would work? Do you need the beat puree for this recipe? I know you also have the butter cream frosting recipe, but I was hoping for a yummy lower sugar version like this one. Thanks for any tips you might have.

  17. It will be a slightly different texture and taste, but I think it should be okay! I would use 3/4 cup sugar and add 1-2 tablespoons more of oil since you’ll be losing some of the moisture that comes from the honey!

  18. You could use a little less beet puree and keep the rest of the ingredients the same if you don’t like the beet flavor!

  19. Ugh! The cupcakes are good but the icing came out a little iffy. Way too beet-y!! What can I do to fix it? I tried adding more powdered sugar and that didn’t help. Suggestions?! They are so stunningly beautiful, I’m dying to make them work!

  20. Just made these for my daughters first birthday. They are a hit! I love that they are so low in sugar, and aren’t super sweet. The color of the frosting is stunningly beautiful. This recipe definitely goes in the recipe box!

  21. Catherine, these are PINKALICIOUS! My 2 1/2 year old toddlers loved them. Thank you so much. We substituted whole wheat pastry flour for the AP flour, and unsweetened applesauce for the oil. We also took your advice and swapped out 3 T of flour for cocoa powder. The result- light, fluffy and delicious red velvety cupcakes. Thank you again Catherine.

  22. This recipe looks rlaely good, Cindy. Love a good banana cake!Wow, it’s not even that hot here in sunny Florida. We’re hovering in the low 90’s in the Tampa Bay area. I can certainly identify with you about restless sleeping when it’s so hot. Our A/C went out about a week ago and it was a full 24 hours before the repairman could get here to fix it. Ugh! With 4 ceiling fans running on high speed and a huge floor fan, it was still 90 degrees inside my house. It was so hot, sticky, and miserable that I only got a few hours of sleep. In addition, I was unbelieveably irritable and ended up with a splitting headache from enduring the unrelenting heat. And my poor dogs did nothing but pant for 24 hours! What in the world did we ever do before air conditioning?

  23. Hi there, Would someone please be able to tell me if I can make a sheet cake using this recipe? I would be using an 18 x 12 sheet cake pan or a slightly smaller jelly roll pan. thank you!

  24. […] you can use healthier ingredients (no trans fats or artificial colors).  Check out this recipe for cupcakes made with beets from […]

  25. Catherine, both of my 24 month-old toddlers (and I of course) thank you for giving us a delicious (and healthy) dessert for Valentine’s Day. We substituted AP flour for WW Pastry and it still came out light and fluffy (you’re recipes are amazing). We’ll definitely be baking these again in the future- they WERE so yummy.

  26. Catherine,
    I’d like to make this recipe into one ladybug cake instead of individual muffins. Do you have any suggestions for how I should tweak the ingredients or baking instructions so I’m still successful with a moist and yummy cake?


  27. Made these yesterday and they turned out so yummy! I used buttermilk (well, 1 tbsp vinegar then filled up to 1 cup with milk)and 3 tbsp of cocoa. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a real red velvet but this came out tastier and more moist than the last version I tried with no dye.

  28. Catherine- I’ve been making your recipes as often as possible (and sharing them with friends) since my little one started eating solids (he’s 2 1/2). These are delicious and so moist! However, they lost their color? Any tips on that?

  29. i made these a few days ago and so far everybody adults n kids love them!! cant wait to make another batch!
    i also added 3tbl of cocoa powder my husband thought it was a chocolate cupcake!

  30. I tried them yesterday, they were very good. I just had a question, the batter stuck to the lining too much, is this normal/. I used A gave instead of honey, at the beginning I thought they were not sweet enough, however, they turned out just sweet enough with the frosting. Thans again for a nice recipe.

  31. I was wondering if you could use sugar instead of the honey. If so, how much? I was going to make these for my daughter’s 1st birthday and am not ready to introduce her to honey.

  32. Where did you get the confetti? I have looked for white confetti everywhere and all I can find is the white mixed in with other colors. Please tell me you didn’t hand pick them out! 🙂

  33. […] and I love muffins. Last week, I made some Red Beet Cupcakes that were wonderful! I didn’t add frosting though, so they were more like muffins. Also, mine […]

  34. My son loves these cupcakes!!!! Im glad he does b/c there so healthy for you!! I will try just about any type of food but these smell like earthworms ( dirt ). I brought myself to try a tiny piece an they weren’t too yummy but im glad he loves them i added the 2 table spoons of cocoa powder to the flour. They were incredibly moist and beets have such a beautiful color i will be making these again 🙂

  35. Did you steam the beets? And did the cupcakes turn out okay? I failed at roasting my beets. Not sure how, but I did. If steaming worked, I think I’ll try that, too!


  36. would steaming the beats instead of roasting affect the recipe any? We LOVE your sweet potato muffins and I steam the sweet potatoes instead of roasting as it is alot faster.

  37. The color of the frosting is amazing! I love that you found a great sub for artificial food dyes. I will definitely have to try this!

  38. I’m obsessed with beets right now! Can’t wait to try these. Trader joes has beets already peeled and roasted in the refrigerated section. That could cut down on time;)

  39. I love beets so i am excited to try these. We don’t get fresh beets up here in the hinterland but i love canned beets (rinsed) so thanks for including the cup measurements. Thanks for the fun recipe!

  40. These are adorable! I’ll definitely be making some for my daughter’s third birthday next weekend!

  41. Can you just omit the cream cheese (from the frosting) & up the butter & sugar? I need a cream cheese free icing 🙂

  42. I roast beets by simply sticking them in a pan in the oven at 375. Don’t bother to cut them up or peel them or anything. Once they’re done (poke with a fork to check, start checking after about 30 minutes), let them cool. Then the peel slips right off and you can use however you want.

  43. I tried this a while ago for my son’s 1st birthday. I think the dye works well in the frosting, but my cupcakes turned out dirt brown. Well, at least they *looked* healthy, like they were whole wheat or something. But they did turn out incredibly moist, and I wonder if the beet juice helped contribute to that.

  44. My husband hates beets but liked this when I made it as a cake with the regular cream cheese frosting (listed where I originally found this recipe) and topped with strawberries and blackberries. It was a big hit!

  45. These look beautiful, but I’m afraid to try them. How “beety” do they taste? I made a beautiful pan of beet brownies once and they were the only treat that ever molded in this house. Nobody ate them and I had to throw them out.

    I’m encouraged by the fact that they only contain 3/4 of a cup of beets.

  46. You can always use whatever “milk” she drinks. My son has a milk protein allergy, so I just use his soy or almond milk in all my recipes that call for milk.

  47. My daughter is lactose intolerant, can I substitute the milk with a nondairy alternative. Any suggestions?

  48. I actually just made these. I have to admit that I am not a big fan of the flavor of beets, as well, although my kids love them. I think they taste to “earthy”. Anyways, the Sweet Beet cookies were a hit in my house, but I wasn’t too thrilled with them, cause they had a true beet flavor. These, surprisingly, did not, to me. The icing is a must as the actual cupcake is very bland, as is. The icing is a beautiful berry color when done, and has a great cream cheese flavor, rather than beet. I thought these were delicious and very pretty for a girl’s birthday party. I could only get 12 cupcakes out of the batter, but thought that was fine as my cupcake pan only holds 12 or 6, so 14 would have been an odd number. Also, I had at least 6 cupcakes worth of icing left over, and I feel like I iced my 12 cupcakes quite liberally. I used the leftover icing to ice a batch of sweet beet cookies and then used the leftover to make my daughter some “princess” sandwiches when she got home from school, as a little snack. Wish it didn’t have butter and sugar in it, but wasn’t planning on letting it go to waste!

  49. YUM! My kiddo loves the sweet beet cookies, so I can’t wait to try this. Was wondering if you have a suggestion on how to roast the beets first?

  50. You can use dairy free butter like Earth Balance or Fleischmann’s unsalted butter and cream cheese like tofutti

  51. These look great!!! Can’t wait to try them. Do you have a dairy free frosting version??? If not they’ll be just as yummy!!! Thanks

  52. You could def. remove a few tbsp of flour and replace it with a few (about 3) tbsp of cocoa powder! I did this and it turned out amazing too.

  53. Agreed with the comment above – it needs cocoa otherwise it is more like a carrot cake. Could you add a few tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa to the mixture? Red velvet cake is my favorite and I would love a dye free alternative!

  54. How can these be chocolatey if there’s no cocoa or chocolate in them? They do sound good though; beets always add incredible moisture to cakes.

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