Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes

My friend Ella writes and photographs the beautiful blog Pure Ella. Today, I am part of a group of bloggers helping Ella celebrate the upcoming birth of her second baby. Ella prefers to eat vegan and gluten free, so I made gluten-free and vegan vanilla cupcakes to bring to the virtual party :)

vegan cupcakes | healthy green kitchen

I adapted these treats from Minimalist Baker’s recipe for Strawberry Beet Cupcakes. They have a somewhat dense, moist texture and they are not too sweet; they are so yummy with the vegan buttercream. I was considering coloring the buttercream, and also piping it onto the cupcakes in a “fancier” way, but in the end I opted to honor Ella and keep things as natural as possible here. I love the look of the single candied violet on each cupcake and I hope Ella likes it too!

vegan cupcakes | healthy green kitchen

Though I’ve never baked with it before, I decided to try these with my homemade walnut milk as the liquid, and I think they came out great. The instructions for how to make the walnut milk are below, but know that you can substitute a different dairy-free milk, if you like. If you do, let me know how these work out…I’d love to know.

soaked walnuts | healthy green kitchen

If you have no issue with dairy, I think you can go ahead and just use milk, and also butter instead of the dairy-free butter. Along the same lines, you don’t have to make these gluten free. Use regular flour instead of the gluten-free flour if gluten is not a problem for you.

cupcakes in pan

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vegan cupcakes | healthy green kitchen

Please be sure to check out all the other bloggers and see what they made for Ella’s virtual baby shower:

Kris of 80 Twenty (Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus) // Meg of Beard and Bonnet (Shower Worthy Tea Sandwiches) // Emma of Coconut & Berries (Strawberry Orange Rosewater Smoothie)// Cara of Fork and Beans (Lemon Blackberry Cupcakes) // Ashley of My Heart Beets (Artichoke Hummus) // Jenny of Nourished Kitchen (Cultured Coconut Milk & Mango Popsicles) // Gina of So…Let’s Hang Out (Cucumber Mint Limeade) // Beth of Tasty Yummies (Sprouted Hummus Cucumber Cups) // Rika of Vegan Miam (Sweet Potato Dumplings in Ginger and Jasmine Syrup {Tang Yuan}) // Richa of Vegan Richa (Dark Chocolate Silk Pie) // Gabby of The Veggie Nook (Lemon Poppyseed Truffles) // Sherrie of With Food + Love (Blackberry + Mango Fruit Salad with Earl Grey Whipped Coconut Cream)


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Recipe for Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes

These vegan cupcakes are made with walnut milk. Nut milks are pretty different than dairy milks nutrition wise, but they are a nice alternative for drinking and for recipes. Any type of raw nuts (or seeds) can be used to make nut milks. Almond milk is a classic, but delicious milks can be made from pecans, Brazil nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and more. This recipe features walnuts, which are high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, one of the fatty acids in the omega-3 family). A nut milk bag will come in handy for this recipe (they’re available at natural food stores and on Amazon).
Servings: 12 cupcakes


For the walnut milk (you won't need this if you are making the recipe with a store-bought milk alternative or regular milk):

  • *1 1⁄4 cup/140 g walnuts soaked overnight in enough water to cover the nuts by 1 in/2.5 cm
  • *4 cups/960 ml water
  • *1 to 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • *1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • *pinch of fine sea salt

For the cupcakes:

  • *1 cup walnut milk or use a different homemade or store-bought nut milk or coconut milk, or regular milk if not vegan
  • *1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or use white vinegar
  • *1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • *1/2 cup/1 stick Earth Balance non-dairy butter softened (or use butter if not vegan)
  • *1/2 cup sugar I used organic sugar
  • *2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • *1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour for gluten-free baking, I like Pamela's Artisan flour blend and King Arthur gluten-free multi-purpose flour blend, or use unbleached all-purpose pastry flour if you are not gluten free
  • *1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • *1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • *1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the vegan buttercream frosting:

  • *1/2 cup 1 stick Earth Balance non-dairy butter (or use butter if not vegan)
  • *2 cups powdered sugar
  • *splash of walnut milk or other milk alternative or milk


For the walnut milk:

  • 1. Drain the walnuts and rinse thoroughly. Combine with the water in a blender and blend for several minutes. You want the nuts to be thoroughly pulverized.
  • 2. Pour through a nut milk bag or a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth to strain out the nut pulp (I compost mine). Return the strained liquid to the blender and add the maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. Blend until thoroughly combined. Drink immediately. Leftover milk will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days (shake well before serving).

For the cupcakes:

  • 1. Heat oven to 350°F and line a muffin tin with paper liners.
  • 2. Whisk together the nut milk and lemon juice in a large bowl, then set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Mix in the flax seeds.
  • 3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the Earth Balance with the sugar until creamy. Add vanilla extract and walnut milk mixture and beat until well blended.
  • 4. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl with a fork and then add to the wet ingredients. Beat until all of the ingredients are blended.
  • 5. Fill cupcake liners with batter (about 3/4 way of the way full). Bake for about 19-22 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • 6. Allow cupcakes to cool in the muffin pan for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. When cool, frost and decorate the cupcakes as desired.

For the vegan buttercream frosting:

  • 1. While the cupcakes are chilling, beat the butter until fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating after each addition. Add the splash of milk if the frosting seems too thick. You can color the frosting if you like, or leave it white like I did.
  • Decorate the cupcakes with sprinkles, or colored sugar, or candied violets, if desired.