These healthy chocolate cupcakes get a soft, moist texture from their not-so-secret ingredient: beets. The beets act as a natural red food dye, plus they bump up the fiber. Use red beets to give the cream cheese frosting a vibrant pink hue.

EatingWell Test Kitchen
Source: EatingWell Magazine, September/October 2015


Recipe Summary

1 hr 30 mins
Nutrition Profile:


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups with paper liners.

  • Bring about 1 inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Add beets, cover and steam until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a blender. Add buttermilk and puree until smooth. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the beet puree. Pour the rest into a large bowl.

  • Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk egg, oil, 1 cup confectioners' sugar and vanilla into the beet puree in the large bowl. Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.

  • Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

  • To prepare frosting: Combine the remaining 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar and cream cheese with the reserved beet puree in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Top each cooled cupcake with a generous 1 tablespoon frosting.


Make Ahead Tip: Store unfrosted cupcakes at room temperature for up to 1 day; refrigerate frosting for up to 1 day.

Equipment: Muffin tin with 12 (1/2-cup) cups; paper liners

Gluten-free Variation: Swap a cup-for-cup gluten-free flour blend for the white whole-wheat flour and use gluten-free vanilla extract.

DIY Muffin Cups: Make your next batch of muffins or cupcakes the ultimate grab-and-go treat by lining your tin with muffin liners. No liners? No problem. Use 5-inch squares of parchment paper, coat each muffin cup with cooking spray, and push each square into the cups using a small can or bottle, pressing the paper up the sides. (It’s OK if some of the paper is sticking out over the rim.) Fill each cup as directed.

Nutrition Facts

221 calories; protein 5.1g; carbohydrates 34g; dietary fiber 3.5g; fat 8.4g; saturated fat 2.3g; cholesterol 24.8mg; vitamin a iu 135.7IU; vitamin c 1.3mg; folate 30.1mcg; calcium 51.7mg; iron 2.8mg; magnesium 26.4mg; potassium 194mg; sodium 263.7mg.

Reviews (7)

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7 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 5
  • 4 star values: 0
  • 3 star values: 2
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5 stars
This is a fabulous yummy moist cupcake and the icing is to-die-for just fabulous!! Read More
Rating: 3 stars
I would probably eat these for breakfast... They weren't sweet enough to call them a cupcake more like muffin territory for me. Maybe with some chocolate chips thrown in it would be more sweet but this just wasn't quite there for me. Read More
Rating: 3 stars
Title was appropriate and describes the cupcake well. I'll admit I don't have a very clean palette yet. I do think this is a good recipe probably better for adults than for children that are used to grocery store cupcakes. It went over well with the group of adults I served it to and they were surprised that beets were the main ingredient. It wasn't very red though. The icing was nice and sweet. I made these as mini cupcakes and used my all purpose gluten free flour mix. I might experiment with this a bit and try adding some Stevia to the batter and maybe some coffee or mini chocolate chips to drown out the musty root vibe. Pros: Good texture not too heavy. Cons: Cupcakes had an earthy taste. Not sweet enough for me. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
I was given these cupcakes last year by a friend and decided to give them a try this year. The first time I made cupcakes. The second time I put the batter in a bread pan. It made an amazing loaf of quick bread. It is extremely moist and earthy. But if you are used to things with a more natural flavour you want to be offended by it at all. My 10-year-old loves them so I wouldn't think children would be turned off by the flavor either. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
I did use gluten free flour and they came out delicious. I ended up forgetting to save some of the beet puree for the icing so we went with a buttercream frosting instead. Still yummy. Well written recipe - very easy to follow. Thank you. Oh yeah and my three-year-old loved them! Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Used 1pkg Love pre-cooked beets shredded...1-3/4c. Also forgot to separate sugar...all went into batter. Don't think it mattered. I don't use frosting on cakes anyway so the cake was a little sweeter. Beautiful shaped cakes...Highest I have ever made... Reminded me of how Devil Dogs used to taste in the old days..... Read More
Rating: 5 stars
I made a few substitutions 1 cup white all-purpose flour used organic sugar and reduced it to 2/3 subbed kefir for buttermilk. I think I reduced the sugar too much ha ha but the cupcakes turned out great. They were so fluffy and the earthiness of the beet/cocoa combo was delightful. My 8-year-old wanted to eat them all up. Read More