Lightened Up Red Velvet Cupcakes

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on February 18, 2014

Two red velvet cupcake

A few days ago (on Valentine’s Day), the husband brought me home a red velvet cupcake. It was ginormous — even despite the fact that he had eaten half of it!

And it was delicious.

I just love cupcakes — there’s something about that pre-portioned cute little personalized cake that gets me every time. And while regular bakery cupcakes are a wonderful indulgence, I wanted to create a version that was slimmed down and lower in calories — because why should cupcakes be just a once-in-a-while treat?

This version is under 200 calories for an entire cupcake, thanks to my secret healthy swaps (some whole wheat flour instead of regular, egg whites for half the eggs needed, applesauce for half the oil, low fat buttermilk and low fat cream cheese instead of full fat).

It’s waistline-friendly, but also rich and tasty! It’s a cupcake you can feel good about eating 🙂

Lightened Up Red Velvet Cupcakes

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Serving Size: 1 cupcake

Calories per serving: 190

Fat per serving: 9g

Nutritional Info Per Cupcake: 190 Calories, 9g Fat (1.8g Saturated), 25.2g Carbs, 14.5g Sugar, 145.1mg Sodium, 1.2g Fiber, 3.3g Protein


    For the cupcakes
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour, sifted
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp red gel-paste food coloring
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp distilled white vinegar
  • For the frosting
  • 8 oz low-fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • *Optional: red sprinkles


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa and salt.
  3. In another large mixing bowl, beat sugar, applesauce and oil until combined. Add eggs and egg whites, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in food coloring and vanilla.
  4. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk (a half a cup each time), and whisking well after each.
  5. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix until combined, about 10 seconds.
  6. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Mix frosting ingredients together in a bowl (you can use a beater to speed it up).
  7. Let cupcakes cool completely, then frost with low-fat cream cheese frosting.


Originally posted on

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

simply h squared February 18, 2014 at 8:06 pm

I love lightened versions of my favorites. This sounds great!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 18, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Thanks!! Let me know if you end up trying it!


dina February 19, 2014 at 11:17 am

sounds like a great recipe!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 19, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Thanks!! 🙂 Enjoy!


MatureMakeup February 20, 2014 at 1:05 am

I just learned about your blog, and the first thing I saw was this post! Red velvet cupcakes are my kryptonite! I have not had anything red velvet since December 2013 as part of my new diet!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 20, 2014 at 10:34 pm

Oh wow! Well kudos to you for starting a new diet in 2014! 🙂 If you do end up trying these cupcakes, they are at least a little more diet friendly thanks to the healthier substitutions!


Kelly - LEFT SIDE OF THE TABLE February 25, 2014 at 8:43 am

Red velvet is my ALL TIME favorite cake. Ugh so good. I could eat it everyday! I like the ingredients you used…vinegar makes a red velvet. Applesauces sounds interesting. Looks fabulous! Thanks for the recipe 🙂 Enjoy your week!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 25, 2014 at 10:41 pm

No problem at all Kelly!! I’m so glad you liked this recipe — you’ll have to let me know how it compares to the traditional red velvet cake recipe too!


Abbey Sharp March 30, 2014 at 1:15 pm

As a Registered Dietitian and a total foodie (and cupcake enthusiast) I am thrilled to see this lightened up version of my favourite sweet. I am particularly grateful that it didn’t include any Cool Whip, which I find a lot of light dessert recipes do.
Looking forward to exploring your site further!

Abbey Sharp


Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 30, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Thanks so much Abbey! I’m not a fan of Cool Whip either because it is so processed. I hope you like this recipe if you try it 🙂


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