Cupcakes are simply divine. But if you’ve adopted a sugar-free lifestyle—or if you’re just trying to eat a little healthier—sweet treats have likely been cut from your diet. Thankfully, we’re here with a recipe for sugar-free cupcakes that may allow you to indulge your sweet tooth without eating any real sugar.
The best part? We’ll teach you how to substitute sugar in almost any recipe, too. That’s right, your favorite low-sugar desserts can become no-sugar desserts with just a kitchen scale and new sweetener.
The Secret? Replace the Sugar with Another Sweetener
Cupcakes are meant to be sweet, moist and chewy. It’s a texture and flavor profile that’s hard to achieve without sugar. But you don’t need true, granulated sugar to get those same results. There are several sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners that can be used in place of sugar, including Stevia, Swerve and—our choice—coconut sugar ($20).
Coconut sugar looks remarkably like brown sugar, but it’s much finer. It’s not as dense as granulated sugar, but adds a rich flavor to your bakes. It delivers a deliciously caramelized taste to your final dessert. Frankly, even Mary Berry would be proud of this substitution.
The trick to substituting sweeteners for sugar is using weight instead of measurements. We highly recommend investing in a kitchen scale like this one for accuracy.
How to Make Sugar-Free Cupcakes
We adapted our top-rated Very Vanilla Cupcakes recipe to make a batch of sugar-free cupcakes. We swapped the granulated sugar with coconut sugar and increased the milk to add more moisture.
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1-3/4 cups and 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or 1-1/2 cups Swerve
- 3 eggs
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2-1/3 cups cake flour
- 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole milk
Editor’s Tip: You can find Swerve in the baking aisle at your grocery store or on Amazon.
Step 1: Combine the ingredients
Preheat the oven to 350°. Combine cake flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and coconut sugar until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, until well integrated. Add vanilla, then turn off the mixer.
In a large bowl, combine cake flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk, ensuring ingredients are well-blended after each addition. The batter will be darker than traditional vanilla cupcake batter, but that’s OK! You’re using a darker sweetener.
Editor’s Tip: Don’t have cake flour? All-purpose will do the trick, but sift your ingredients together, don’t simply combine. Sifting makes the flour finer, leading to a lighter cake and fluffier texture.
Step 2: Pour the batter
Line your cupcake tray. We prefer reusable liners, like silicone baking cups ($8). Fill each cup about 3/4 of the way, then bake for 18-22 minutes, rotating halfway through. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean. Let the cupcakes cool on a wire rack.
Step 3: Frost and enjoy
Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, top with your favorite frosting and enjoy your delicious sugar-free cupcakes!
How to Make Sugar-Free Frosting
Ensure your entire dessert is sugar-free by either eliminating or replacing the sugar in your frosting recipe. There are three sugar-free frostings that we recommend for this cupcake:
This is a good one for people simply trying to avoid refined sugar. Use honey instead of sugar to sweeten your frosting. Combine 1 cup softened butter and 1 cup honey in a stand mixer. Beat until smooth and whipped, about 3–4 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and continue beating until combined.
Break 8 ounces of sugar-free chocolate up into small pieces and place in a heat-proof bowl. Heat 1 cup heavy cream until just about boiling, then pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for 30 seconds, then whisk until smooth and combined, about 1–2 minutes.
Have that favorite frosting recipe you can’t quite let go of? Same here. We love an easy and delicious vanilla buttercream frosting, but our favorite recipe calls for quite a bit of powdered sugar. Thankfully, Swerve sells this sugar-free substitute for powdered sugar. Replace the powdered sugar with Swerve and your frosting will look and taste almost identical to its sugary counterpart.