Beets · Cake · Just Dessert

Pretty Pink Cupcakes – Made With Beets!


No, really!  Beets!

Isn’t that pretty?

And – yes, it’s made with beets.  Well, one beet.  I used the other two to make bread.  But that’ll be another post.

I figured I’d discuss dessert first.

I bought some beets recently, and I roasted them, but we didn’t end up eating them that night with dinner for some reason, so I had them in the fridge, just waiting.

When I was a kid I didn’t like beets.  Not so much because of how they tasted, but because they’d turn nearby foods pink.

I didn’t like that.

Didn’t like pink mashed potatoes, for instance.

Or pink macaroni and cheese.

Or pink anything.

But now that I’m all grown up, I like the idea of coloring foods with beets.

So I figured I’d bake something yummy and girly and colored pink.

Julia would like that, I figured. 

But I also thought a friend of mine would, too.  See, she’s pregnant with her fourth child and, after three sons, she’s having a girl!  And of course, everyone on the planet is thrilled.  Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration.

But anyway, I figure crazy pink cupcakes would be just the thing to celebrate the growing baby girl child.

So here’s what I did. 

First, I got all the other, regular ol’ cake ingredients assembled:  flour, eggs, butter, sugar, and so on.

Then I peeled one of the roasted beets and chopped it up a little.  I dropped that in the food processor and pureed a minute or so.  Then I added a cup of milk and pureed until the whole thing was a frothy, smooth, shockingly fuchsia puree.




How’s that for a color?  Does Crayola have a crayon called “Beet and Milk Puree?”  If they don’t, they should. 

Okay, so on with the normal cake-making stuff – cream together butter and sugar…add eggs…add, in alternating portions, the dry and the wet ingredients.  Pour into prepared pans and bake til done.



(The eggs are in warm water because I’d just bought them that morning and they were still cold.  I didn’t want to add cold eggs to room temp butter.) 



Is there a Bakery Owner Barbie?  Because I think THIS is the color cupcake she would bake.  All the time.





Now, the thing is, the cupcakes are pink on top, but when you peel away the paper and break the cupcakes open, they’re more a pinkish-orange.  Not a bad thing – it’s a gorgeous color, kind of like a vibrant sunset.  I was wondering if maybe the cupcake would be pinker if I’d omitted the egg yolks. 

Something to try out the next time I have beets.


Taste-wise, these were good.  Beets are sweet to begin with, and I’d added some almond extract to the batter – it seemed (in my mind) to be a better pairing with the beet than vanilla, plus I was out of vanilla anyway. 

But what to frost them with?

I could make something pink, sure, but flavor-wise I was leaning more toward something citrusy.  It’s Spring, after all, and to me, Spring says citrus.  Lemon, primarily, but lime would work, too.  And – bonus – I had a bunch of limes!

So I zested one and squeezed out the juice, and used them for the flavor base of my frosting.


And a little bit of green food coloring for color. 


Yummy.  I love lime.



I gave some to my pregnant-with-a-girl friend, and when my kids got home from school, I forced them to eat cupcakes.  Yeah, they get so tired of me doing that.

Alex liked his, clearly.


Julia didn’t like the lime frosting, so I sliced the top off of hers and gave it back to her.

She approved.  (Oh, and you can see, in the bowls behind Julia’s head, that I’ve got two batches of bread dough rising.)


Then, when they’d mostly finished their cupcakes, I told the kids what had made the cupcakes pink.

Alex was surprised but not really concerned. 

Julia, on the other hand, looked up at me and said, holding the remaining small piece of cupcake in her hand, “But I don’t like beets!”

I looked at her hand and looked back at her face and said “You’ve eaten most of it, Julia.”

She thought about that for a minute, and then, with a shrug, popped the last of the cupcake in her mouth.


Here’s the recipe:

Roasted Beet Cupcakes with Lime Frosting

(makes 12-16 cupcakes, depending on how much batter you put in each cupcake cup)


For the cupcakes:

1 large beet, roasted, cooled, peeled and chopped

1 cup milk, room temperature

1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2-1 teaspoon almond extract (to taste)

For the frosting:

1 stick of unsalted butter

3-4 cups of confectioners’ sugar

pinch of salt

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about one large lime)

zest of 1 lime

What to do:

Line muffin tins with paper cupcake cups.  Or butter and flour two 8-9 inch cake pans.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place chopped beet in the bowl of a food processor and process one minute or so, until beet is in small pieces.  Add milk and process until puree is smooth and gorgeous.

You should have about 2 cups of puree.  Add almond extract. Set this aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time.  Mix well after each addition.

Add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with beet puree.  Do not over mix.

Portion the batter into the pans and bake – about 20 minutes for the cupcakes, or about 30-35 for the cakes.

Remove from oven, let cool ten minutes, then remove cupcakes/cakes from pans and allow to cool completely.

While the cupcakes or cakes are cooling, make the frosting.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan, add 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, salt, and lime juice.  Whisk together, bring to just a boil, shut off heat and stir in the lime zest.

Cool in the fridge for about ten minutes, then pour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip frosting until cooled and thickened.  Add more confectioners’ sugar if necessary.

Frost cupcakes!




10 thoughts on “Pretty Pink Cupcakes – Made With Beets!

  1. On Valentines Day I made rice and used the liquid from a can of beets plus a little water. It made the rice a beautiful pink color! I love your idea for the CC and that frosting looks like it would be delicious! Thanks!

  2. I got a juicer a few months ago so now I’m juicing everything in the house. The other day I got some beets and threw one in the juicer with my normal carrot/celery/pineapple/kiwi concoction for lunch. I grabbed my drink and ran back to school. Just as I was about to get out of the car I checked my lipstick only to find my teeth were a nice pink color with little bits of veg dyed a nice dark red. Lucky I had a toothbrush in my desk and didn’t get stopped by anyone on the way in. I was amazed at the color. I may try dying yarn with one.

  3. These are much prettier than the pink scrambled eggs my aunt used to make for Valentine’s day.

    mmm. Sweet cuppin’ cakes…

  4. this looks great!! thanks so much for this recipe!! i have some beets i got from an organic co-op and i had no idea what to do with them!! i bet my kids will love these!

  5. We made these for my daughter’s fourth birthday. She wanted a pink cake with no frosting. This was perfect! They produced a gorgeous pink crust and a slightly pink cake- light, fluffy and delicious. We used 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup cake flour, and eliminated the almond extract- we will definitely be making these again- hmmm, maybe in a week for Valentine’s Day . Thank you so much for helping me create beautiful pink cupcakes with NO food dye!

Leave a Reply