If you’ve ever been to a first birthday party, you know that a “smash cake” is usually on the menu.
But considering the fact that many babies haven’t been introduced to refined sugar, flour, or dairy before that big day, parents might find themselves with a sick or grouchy child if they offer a traditional birthday cake– let alone give the baby a whole cake to play with!
Of course, I don’t want to make any parents feel badly about giving their baby a traditional birthday cake, because one special day isn’t going to be a huge deal in the grand scheme of things. However, since we don’t want to introduce grains, dairy, or refined sugar to our son yet, we decided to make him a batch of these oil-free applesauce cupcakes to celebrate his big day.
These cupcakes are made with fiber-rich coconut flour, which is generally considered safe for those with nut allergies.* Coconut flour tends to require the structure of eggs, which we had already introduced to our son several weeks prior to his first birthday, but if you need a recipe that is egg-free, you might want to try turning my Buckwheat Banana Bread or Pumpkin Bread recipes into cupcakes for a vegan (and still gluten-free!) option.
These cupcakes are sweetened with maple syrup, since we also haven’t introduced honey yet, but if you want a recipe that is free of all added sugar, the banana bread I just mentioned, as well as these Banana Snack Muffins, would make a great option, too.
Topped with Coconut Whipped Cream (we didn’t add any sweetener this time) and a sprinkling dried banana for “sprinkles,” these cupcakes are lower in sugar but still pretty enough to serve your loved ones!
First Birthday Applesauce Cupcakes (Dairy-free, Grain-free, Nut-free, Oil-free)
Makes 12 cupcakes
3/4 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat the oven to 350F and line a standard muffin tin with 12 parchment or silicone baking cups (<– my preferred choice).
Measure the coconut flour by scooping the flour directly from the container, then using the back of a knife sweep off the excess, creating a level measurement. (This is also referred to as the “scoop & sweep” method.) It’s imperative that you measure the coconut flour correctly, as even an extra teaspoon can throw off the recipe!
Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and use a whisk to break up any lumps, mixing well until a thick and uniform batter is created. Divide the batter into the 12 muffin cups, then bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden and the centers are firm. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Frost with Coconut Whipped Cream, or another topping of choice.
These cupcakes can be stored at room temperature, but they will dry out quickly after the first day, so I recommend storing them in a sealed container in the fridge for up to one week. Remove from the fridge 3 hours before serving to bring them back to room temperature. If you want to make them ahead of time, they can even be frozen and then thawed in the fridge overnight. Be sure to frost them just before serving, for best results.
First Birthday Applesauce Cupcakes (Grain-free, Dairy-free, Nut-free)
- 3/4 cup coconut flour
- 6 eggs
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line a standard muffin tin with 12 parchment or silicone baking cups. Measure the coconut flour by scooping the flour directly from the container, then using the back of a knife sweep off the excess, creating a level measurement. (This is also referred to as the "scoop & sweep" method.) It's imperative that you measure the coconut flour correctly, as even an extra teaspoon can throw off the recipe!
- Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and use a whisk to break up any lumps, mixing well until a thick and uniform batter is created.
- Divide the batter into the 12 muffin cups, then bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden and the centers are firm. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Frost with coconut whipped cream, or another topping of choice.
Per serving: Calories 123, Carbohydrates: 19, Protein: 5, Fat: 3
- I have not tried making this recipe with another sweetener, so you’ll have to experiment if you need an alternative. If you feel comfortable using honey, I’d use slightly less than the amount of maple syrup called for, as honey has a stronger flavor and sweetness. Coconut nectar could also be used as a low-glycemic option.
- There is no substitute for coconut flour. If you need an alternative, please see the other recipe suggestions I mentioned above.
- If nut allergies are not an issue, you could also try using my Creamy Cashew Icing as a tasty topping.
*The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) states: “Coconut is not a botanical nut; it is classified as a fruit, even though the Food and Drug Administration recognizes coconut as a tree nut. While allergic reactions to coconut have been documented, most people who are allergic to tree nuts can safely eat coconut. If you are allergic to tree nuts, talk to your allergist before adding coconut to your diet.” (source)
Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite type of cupcake? If you’re a parent, did you offer your child a smash cake? Our little guy got his own cupcake, but he had no idea what to do with it! Like most new foods that he’s introduced to for the first time, it quickly ended up on our floor.
Questions and Reviews
This is fantastic! After nursing exclusively nursing my 4 boys, I felt terrible buying into the messy sugar-laden cake ‘tradition’. Thanks for the reminder (I’m due in March)!
What a great idea! I have always thought it to be odd to give such a small child so much unintroduced food in one sitting!
This post comes at the perfect time! Our little one has her first birthday next month and I love that I won’t have to look too far for a healthy option for her. We want to celebrate without artificial dyes, white flour, sugar, etc.Turning one shouldn’t mean introducing their clean little bodies to a world of junk. I loved following your blog as I was pregnant, as well. Thanks so much for sharing healthy recipes with our family and so many others!
I’m so glad you’re sharing all this baby food experience with us! I will definitely be utilizing it when I start having children!
Thanks for sharing! My daughter’s 1st birthday is coming up and I’ve been looking for a better alternative to traditional cake. Did your son enjoy his birthday cupcake?
He loves the cupcakes! He’s not a fan of the frosting, but he pretty much turns his nose up at anything that makes his hands messy lately.
Sounds/looks amazing! Any substitutions for the eggs?
Check out the other recipe suggestions I mention at the top of this post if you need an egg-free option. I wouldn’t recommend substituting the eggs in this particular recipe.
How do you make the frosting. I so want to try these.
The recipe is linked above: https://detoxinista.com/2013/05/easy-coconut-whipped-cream/
Do you think this would work to make a large “smash” cake instead of cupcakes?
This recipe looks wonderful! My daughter’s first birthday was two days before her open heart surgery, so I had to be extra careful with what she ate. I made her a really bland muffin with baby food for the frosting. It was pretty gross, but she liked it. 🙂 Haha. I wish I had this recipe back then! I’m definitely going to use it for my son’s first birthday in a couple of months. Some of my friends have done the traditional smash cake. Most of the time, the babies would just play with it. My nephew ate an incredible amount though and was pretty cranky. I guess it depends on the baby. 🙂 Thank you for all of your creative, delicious recipes, and Happy Birthday to your little man!
This is perfect timing! My daughter turns 1 in a few weeks and I was going to make her a (paleo) hummingbird cake (like I did for my oldest, but it wasn’t Paleo). I will have to try these as well. It always breaks my heart when I go to kid’s parties and see the brightly colored cakes filled with sugar 🙁 My motto with my oldest was, if I wouldn’t feed it to her, why should I eat it? A bit extreme maybe, but like you, I want to feed my kids to the best of my ability…until they can decided for themselves to eat junk 😉
Happy birthday to your little one!
Here’s that hummingbird cake recipe, if you’re curious (maybe leave out the syrup):
Like so many, I offered the “smash cake” to both my girls at their first birthday — keeping in mind, up to this point they had been 100% nursing, so never had any food prior too!
I felt guilty, as though, really Laura, you’re going to give them this loaded in refined sugar cake as their first food? But I guess I just felt pressure and the whole right of passage thing.
How much better our these little cupcakes! Love this idea. And I can still get a traditional cake for those who want that but next time baby will have these. Thanks for sharing!!
There’s totally pressure to do the smash cake! I’m not sure these cupcakes would pass the adult taste-test (though I do like them myself), but my son LOVES these. He prefers them without the frosting though… he doesn’t like getting his hands messy. Ha!
My favorite cupcake is the chia latte from Sprinkles. Soo good! While I don’t have kids, I’ve help make 3 of my nieces and nephew’s smash cake. I think my nephew was the best. He picked his whole min-cake up and smooshed it against his face!
I can veganize anything, but 6 eggs is a lot of substitutions! Do you think using 6 flax eggs or other egg replacement would yield good results?
No, I wouldn’t replace the eggs in this recipe. I’d suggest trying one of the other egg-free recipes I mentioned at the top of this post.
was wondering if you could substitute the applesauce for pureed pumpkin instead….having a strong pumpkin craving today 🙂
Yes, I think that sounds delicious, too! I don’t see why that wouldn’t work… I might have to try that myself. 😉
Love the idea of this recipe, just curious why so many eggs? I’m guessing it can’t be done with less eggs? Thanks
Coconut flour requires a high ratio of eggs for structure. If you use less eggs, they would be dry and dense.
These sound so delicious! I was curious about how you could use coconut flour without using eggs. I can’t have eggs but would love to try baking with this flour. What have you found to be a good egg substitute for use with coconut flour?
I do have one really good egg-free coconut flour recipe in my cookbook– but I have to wait to share that one until it’s released! If I come up with another recipe, I’ll be sure to share. 🙂
This looks really nice Megan and I like the idea of using applesauce instead of oil.
This reminded me of the Cosby show s6 ep16 when Denise (Lisa Bonet) threw a birthday party for Oliva(Raven Simone) and made all healthy foods including a carob cake. I made my son something similar for his first bday with frosting made from avocado and raw cocoa. Thanks for the memories.
Happy Birthday to your son.
These look delicious. It hard to get apple sauce here int he UK do you have a recipe for homemade version?
Made this cupcake yesterday (without the frosting) just because the recipe was so simple, easy to make, and perfect gluten free snack. i love it and so did my teenager and 10 yr old.
what is coconut whipped cream?
Here’s the method for making it: https://detoxinista.com/2013/05/easy-coconut-whipped-cream/
Can you alternate almond flour for coconut flour in case we don’t want to make these nut-free?
Almond flour can’t be swapped for coconut flour in recipes, but I have a tested recipe here for you: https://detoxinista.com/almond-flour-cake/
I’m wondering if you would need the maple syrup if you were going to substitute for pumpkin.
Yes, the maple syrup adds necessary moisture and helps the texture. I posted a pumpkin variation here: https://detoxinista.com/2014/09/paleo-pumpkin-spice-muffins-nut-free/
I will share this with a friend who I believe will be super interested in making these for her daughter! Also, I’m looking forward to making them for family & friends, as well. Btw, I’m curious, what is grated or sprinkled on top of some of the cupcakes in your photos? Thank you!
The sprinkles are freeze dried banana slices!
I never did the smash cake, seems point less, cakes cost to much money to just make a mess out it andd I am not a fan of messy babies or kids and sugar. I felt no pressure to do so either. I actually feel better when I do things others don’t agree with, makes feel feel good about myself for some reason. These look heavenly. I am not a fan of eggs, and 6 eggs!?! Yikes!!!! ButI am giving it a shot any way, sticking them in the oven now and hoping for the best. here goes…..
Could you bake these in a 8 or 9″ round cake pan instead to make a cake instead of cupcakes? Would that alter cooking time at all?
Yes, I think if you filled a 9-inch pan it would need to bake for about 35-40 minutes.
great thank you so much for your quick response! I will try this, we’re celebrating my boy’s 1st birthday this weekend 🙂
Hi – I’m thinking of using this recipe for my son’s first birthday, but I have one of those giant cupcake, 10 cup capacity pans. Do you know how I would alter the recipe to accommodate that size? Thanks.
I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for this recipe! I tested it out on my nephew’s first birthday today using the recipe as a smash cake and then making cup cakes for everyone too! It was a HUGE success! I was able to get a small, two layered cake and 4 cup cakes out of one batch of batter. This was such a great alternative to any other smash cake recipes or ideas for a first birthday! I’m going to be using it with my daughter in a couple of months too!
Thanks again! We’ve loved all of your recipes!
I have made the pumpkin version with less eggs (but then again i get farm fresh eggs from friends and they are quite large) I have used only 4 eggs and they come out fantastic. Are your recipes using 6 medium eggs?
In baking, most recipes assume that you will use “large” eggs. However, your eggs from a farm may be larger than the store-bought eggs that are labeled “large.”
Okay, so I’ll admit that I didn’t have high hopes for these cupcakes to be good. I figured they’d be dry or a weird texture (I’m brand new to baking with coconut flour since I just switched my family over from gluten free to grain free), but I wanted to insure my daughter’s celebration of a first birthday would not be an unhealthy start into sweets, along with not triggering anyone else’s allergies. These cupcakes were amazing. Moist, super tasty, texture like regular white flour cupcakes from my childhood. My 1 year old didn’t really get into them (I think the texture of a cupcake, being so different from the steamed fruits and veggies she’s used to was just not to her liking), but the lithe 7 kids, plus my husband and I, scarfed them up! Thanks for sharing this great recipe. Will be used and shared over and over again.
Just made this for a smash cake I’m making. It was enough for 2 layers of 4in cake pan and 3 cupcakes. Delicious and super moist.
Im making the frosting tomorrow.
How long did you cook these for when you put in the 4 inch rounds? I’m planning on using this recipe for my daughter in October but wanted to make her a small cake instead of a cupcake.
For those who used this recipe for a cake rather than cupcakes: What did you put the batter in to bake it? Did you use all the batter? Did you change baking time or temp? Thanks!
I’m thinking to make 2 four inch pans–how would i alter the quantity for these ingredients?
I LOVE these! I Made them for my sons birthday, for friends kids birthdays, and even for adults cause they are so simple and good. I’ve made them as a full sized cake too! But…. I always have trouble with the coconut milk whipped cream. No matter how long I leave it in the fridge it never separates, and so I use my hand mixer and mix and mix and mix, but it never really gets solid enough, so ends up running down the sides of the cake. Any tips for me on getting this to work? Thanks!,
I just tried this recipe and it turned out too moist…almost too eggy. It tastes delicious but I’m hoping you can help me figure out where I went wrong and how to perfect the texture, it’s almost like French toast that’s a little soggy… Should I add a little more coconut flour?
Great recipe! Thanks for sharing. Can I add cacao to make them chocolate? Any ideas how much? Thanks in advance!
are the measuremnets by weight?
I was wondering if you came up with a biscuit recipe for your son?
Like a teething biscuits for example.
Could this be made in a 6in pie pan?
I just did this, and they smell amazing, but they don’t look so good, not fluffy at all, I only use 1/2 of agave syrup because that is the only I have at this moment, do you have any suggestions?
Hi. My child has eczema and I’ve noticed he has it worse after eggs, so would you happen to help me out as in what to use instead of it?
I would love to try this recipe but my baby who will turn one soon, has eczema and it seems to be worse whenever I have eggs (I am breastfeeding) or when I give her some (She first had egg when I made these ‘toddler pancake’ of yours).
You said in one of the comments above that one recipe in your cookbook will be without the use of eggs.
I have bought your book (of course! 😉 ) but there is no such recipe.
Can you help me out ?
Thanks a lot
Wait a minute!
I might have found… Is it the banana coconut muffin?
Yes, it’s the banana coconut muffin! My son LOVES those, so I hope they’re a hit with your baby, too!
Thank you very much. I made these but I have to say that they taste just like banana and it is not a big hit so far…. I am going to keep trying though and will be ready for the big day 🙂
Thanks so much for this reciepe! My daughter is very sensitive. She’s allergic to lots of things including milk. I was stressing so bad thinking she wasn’t going to be able to have a cake for her first birthday in a couple of weeks. So glad to find this!
I made this recipe as written for my daughter’s 1st birthday. They were delicious! The cupcakes reminded me of apple spice muffins and were a hit with adults and kiddos. Thanks for the great recipe!
Since they were such a hit with my daughter, I was thinking of making them as snacks in a mini muffin pan and adding some shredded veggies. This recipe was my first experience using coconut flour. Do you think adding some veggies would work?
Hi! This recipe looks amazing. I would love to use it for my best friend’s baby’s first birthday party. I just had one question, and I know you might not see this since you posted this recipe a year ago, but.. Did you sift the coconut flour before you scooped it? I’ve heard that it should be sifted first, but I didn’t want to assume that it was what you did. Thank you!
I am what you call a “lazy cook” so I never do things like sifting! I just scooped it right out of the bag, and then leveled it off with the back of a knife.
Would you share with us what kind of cake you did for your son’s birthday?
Thank you very much
This recipe is what we served for his birthday!
Thanks Megan, sorry I meant for this second birthday.
Did you make the banana snack bar?
Thanks a lot
Yes, I made the banana snack cake this year. However, my son doesn’t really like baked goods these days so Austin and I ended up eating it and our son enjoyed his favorite date balls instead. 😉
I know why, they are delicious, both !!
Thank you 🙂
My daughter started daycare after she turned 1 and having a milk allergy has forced me to bring her food to school. A small inconvenience but also a blessing in disguise. I’ve seen what they feed the kids and being European born, I’m not ok with it. With that said, she (now 20 months) gets these little treats every now and again in her lunch box and she LOVES them. Practically inhaled them. Thanks for the great recipe! Look forward to trying many more. Btw, theyre not just for kids….I enjoy the healthy treat too!
Hello! I was wondering if this can be made into an actual cake and what size pan would it fit in?
I would also like to know if this can be made into a cake. Size and bake times please!
I just made these with Coconut Nectar instead of Maple Syrup.
Delicious and moist! My 11 month old likes them, too.
This looks great! Wondering if I can sweeten this recipe with a ripe banana (or 2), instead of using maple syrup? any thoughts? I’m no baker, so unsure if that would ruin this recipe. Thanks!
I made these for my sons first birthday and they were delicious. I added a teaspoon of vanilla paste as well. For the icing I did a cream cheese and maple syrup icing. So yummy! And moist! I think this could easily transform into a carrot cake cake recipe.
I’m that “aunt”…the one that makes the elaborate sugar-laden birthday cakes for all my friends’ children. So when my friend asked me to make something gluten-free, low sugar for her son’s first birthday, I almost lost it. Like I was literally at a loss as to what this mean. My brain simply could not compute. Then I found this recipe and while I was skeptical, I made it and everyone, including the birthday boy. This has now become a popular breakfast muffin recipe for when I am invited places. I’m still and will always be “that aunt”, but thanks for the great alternative!
I have been researching how to make an apple pupcake recipe healthy for my guide dog’s birthday, and I haven’t been able to convert the ingredients to accommodate coconut flour. This apple sauce cupcake recipe is just what I’ve been looking for. All the same ingredients with the adapted measurements for coconut flour instead of wheat. Apples are my dog’s favourite, and I know she will just love these. I plan to core the cupcakes and add a bit of apple sauce filling as a bonus flavor burst. I am also planning to fold in some apple chunks before baking, and I hope it still comes out fine. Fingers and paws crossed they will come out delicious. Thank you so much for posting this recipe!