Vanilla Cupcakes (Grain-free, Nut-free)

These cupcakes are surprisingly moist and delicious, with a secret hidden ingredient.

vanilla cupcake with frosting on top

I love “sneaking” an extra serving of vegetables into decadent-tasting treats, and these cupcakes are no exception–> they get their extra moisture from the addition of zucchini, instead of oil or butter! Don’t worry, no one will be able to tell. The resulting cupcakes are moist and fluffy, with no trace of vegetables!

I hope you’ll love working with coconut flour as much as I do. It’s more allergy-friendly than it’s almond flour counterpart, and you only need a very small amount in each recipe. One bag of coconut flour can last quite a long time in your pantry, making it a more economical grain-free choice.

Naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup and loaded with protein, these cupcakes will make the perfect sweet treat at your next special event!

Vanilla Cupcakes (Grain-free, Nut-free)
makes about 9 cupcakes


1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup zucchini, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs


Preheat your oven to 350F and line a standard muffin tin with parchment liners.

To easily whip up the cupcake batter, I like to throw everything into a blender and blend until completely smooth. If you don’t have a blender, you’ll need to puree the zucchini in a mini food chopper, then whisk the ingredients together until well combined.

making vanilla cupcakes

Transfer the batter to the paper liners in the muffin tin, filling each one half-way.

Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, turning the pan half-way through the baking time for even results.

baked vanilla cupcakes in a cupcake tin

Allow to cool completely before frosting and serving.

I frosted mine with some Coconut Whipped Cream, but they’d be delicious with any frosting you like!

vanilla cupcake with coconut whipped cream on top

4.82 from 16 votes
Vanilla Cupcakes (Grain-free, Nut-free)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins

A light and fluffy grain-free cupcake, with a "sneaky" serving of zucchini!

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy free, dessert, grain free, nut free, paleo, zucchini
Servings: 9
Calories: 109 kcal
Author: Megan Gilmore
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and line a standard muffin tin with parchment liners.
  2. To easily whip up the cupcake batter, I like to throw everything into a blender and blend until completely smooth. If you don't have a blender, you'll need to puree the zucchini in a mini food chopper, then whisk the ingredients together until well combined.
  3. Transfer the batter to the paper liners in the muffin tin, filling each one half-way.
  4. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, turning the pan half-way through the baking time for even results.
  5. Allow to cool completely before frosting and serving. I frosted mine with some Coconut Whipped Cream, but they'd be delicious with any frosting you like!
Calories per cupcake: 109, Fat: 2g, Carbohydrates: 16g, Fiber: 2g, Protein: 3g

Substitution Notes:

  • In recipes calling for this many eggs, it is not recommended that you try substituting flax or chia eggs, as the texture will not be the same, and they will most likely be difficult to get a fully-baked result. (Unless you like gooey, under-baked middles.)
  • If you don’t care for maple syrup, feel free to try using honey or coconut nectar instead. (Honey is slightly sweeter in flavor, so I’d use less than the 1/2 cup.) If you want a sugar-free option, you’ll have to really experiment with stevia or xylitol, as it will definitely change the results.
  • Please do NOT substitute any other type of flour for coconut flour. It will not work, and you will waste your ingredients in the process.

Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite flavor of cake or cupcake? Mine is carrot cake, so that’s next on my list!


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These look absolutely wonderful!
I bet you could totally make these more muffin like – without all the maple syrup. I’m actually not a huge cupcake lover, but I do love muffins.
I think my favorite flavor would have to be banana or blueberry. So good.


These look great!
How would you suggest I reduce the sweetener? Just cut it in half and carry on, or do I need to reduce the dry ingredients accordingly?
Thank you!


    Your guess is as good as mine! I always learn by trial & error, so please let us know if you have any success with your experiment!


I am so glad I found you! I love reading your blog. You cook exactly like I do and I never have to change a thing in your recipes!!


How do you even come up with these recipe ideas? To puree zucchini to make a cupcake! This is a must try. Ive made your cheesecake with the zucchini in it. My father comes over often and asks if i have any. So now i need to make the for him whenever he visits πŸ™‚
love your recipes!


    I basically just try to put zucchini or another vegetable in anything I make. πŸ˜‰ Hope your father enjoys this one, too!


Thank you for all your delicious recipes! Your blog is my favorite. For sweetener, I always do a 1:1 conversion from honey or maple syrup to mashed banana. Sometimes I need to add extra dry ingrediants though (in this case, will add more cocounut flour if needed, keep consistency of dough in mind). BTW Meagan- I love the spelling of your name πŸ™‚


These look so good! Can’t wait to try πŸ™‚


Do you know how coconut flour combines? Does it combine as a starch or nuts?


Oh I love coconut flour. I’m definitely going to try this recipe! I just have my questions with baking soda. I’ve been told it contains aluminium so usually I use a little bit of powder yeast instead.

Aurora@Fitness is Sweet

I really want to try this recipe! I have a grain sensitivity, and a minor nut allergy, so this is perfect!


Could this be made as a cake instead of cupcakes? Looks sooo yummy!


    Yes, I think so! I’d double the recipe so you can make two 9-inch cakes, if you want layers. πŸ™‚


yum! can’t wait to try this! was wondering if Agave nectar would be a suitable substitute for the maple syrup? I just happen to have some in my cabinet so I dont have to go out and buy the maple syrup…


    Yes, I’d just use slightly less agave since it’s sweeter than maple syrup.

Amanda Jewell

These look great! Do you think I could substitute the maple syrup for pureed dates? If so, do you think it would be ok to decrease to 1/4c and not change the flour amount?


    I have no idea, since I haven’t tried it myself. Please let us know how it turns out for you!


I have an allergy to coconuts. I have successfully substituted 2 cups of gluten free oat flour for 1/2 cup coconut flour in other cupcake recipies. The end result is a bit denser than normal, but still very tasty. You do need to let the batter rest to make sure it won’t become too dry due to the oats. Looking forward to trying it with these cupcakes as well.


I don’t have any coconut flour on hand right now… πŸ™

Would any other kind of flour work? (nut flours preferably? I don’t like using normal all-purpose kinds of flours…)

Thanks! Looks amazing!

-Grace πŸ™‚


    As I noted above in the Substitution Notes, there is NO substitute for coconut flour. Nut flours will definitely NOT work, without making significant changes to the recipe. I’d recommend starting off with one of my almond flour based recipes, instead, if you wish to make modifications.


Do you think I could use almond flour for these? Can’t wait to try!


    No, please see the substitution notes above. I’d recommend starting with one of my almond flour recipes if you want to make modifications.

Sh blues

What ingredients to use for coconut frosting ? Thanks


    You can click on the link above to be taken to the recipe for the coconut whipped cream.


They look lovely! I love the addition of zucchini and no one will know!And coconut cream is my favorite!


Do you think 1/2 cup applesauce could be subbed for the zucchini?


    It’s worth a shot! You might want to reduce the sweetener in that case.


These are gorgeous!! I love using coconut flour for everything!! I’m making these today!:) Thanks for the inspiration! πŸ™‚ I love your blog and always enjoy your posts:)

Laura @ Gluten Free Pantry

I make grain-free cupcakes with my five year old daughter about once a week and she loves them! But I have never tried your awesome idea of adding zucchini to the ingredients. I’m looking forward to making your recipe this weekend!


Sad to say… I just made this and they didn’t turn out for me. Followed the recipe exactly… πŸ™ I had to bake for another 5 minutes since 20 didn’t seem to be enough, and even then they came out super dense. They tasted ok, but I think they would have been a lot better if they came out fluffier like yours seemed to have. Maybe next time!


    I had the same issue. I only cooked for 20 but they don’t look the same as the picture. I have a high powered blender but it didn’t seem to make the same looking puree. So it tastes a little grainy and a little more dense than it looks in the picture. Next time, I will try in my food processor instead.


      What brand of coconut flour did you use? I wonder if that makes a difference… And are you using large eggs? Smaller eggs might account for a lack of moisture and fluffiness.


        I’m not sure of the brand since I bought it in bulk from Sprouts. I did use large eggs, also mixed everything with my blendtec. Perhaps I’ll try using another egg or egg white to see if that helps?


          Yes, I think another egg could help. Also, make sure when measure the coconut flour that you use the “scoop and swipe” method, where you scoop the measuring cup into the flour bag, then swipe the top clean with a knife. Even an extra teaspoon of coconut flour can make a big difference in a recipe, since it’s so absorbent!


      Hmm…wish I would have read farther down in the comments before putting mine in the oven. I thought the batter looked a little thick compared to the pictures up here. But, I see how this is most likely my error. I think I added a bit too much coconut flour. Next time I will be more careful! Still excited to eat them though!


    I also had the same issue and ended up adding some water to the batter because it was too thick. They tasted good but grainy as Favi mentioned. I also used my blender. I put the eggs in last and wonder if that made a difference in the way the batter whipped up? The eggs may also have been a little on the small side. I used Bob’s Red Mill flour and was thinking next time I should sift it first.

    I also lost my mojo where the frosting was concerned but think I know the issue – I had the can upside down in the fridge so it didn’t separate (at least that’s what I think the issue was…) So it was not a thick, frosting consistency. I poured it over a warm muffin anyway and it was very tasty nonetheless.

    Will try them again next weekend.


    I made these yesterday and they turned out well for me. I used a blender and needed to scrape the sides a few times to make sure it was mixed well. I baked them for 20 minutes in a mini-muffin pan. Also used Bob’s Red Mill brand. Only thing I’d change is I would grease the pan with coconut oil next time which I didn’t do. I thought there’d be enough fat to skip it, but you really need liners or greasing.

    I liked them very much and may try adding banana next time.


Hi Megan,

Do you think yellow summer squash could be substituted in for the zucchini in this recipe?


    Yes, I don’t see why not!


YAY!!! You rock my world. I can’t wait to try these and I LOVE that you sneak some extra veggies into delicious tasting desserts. Favorite flavor usually-chocolate πŸ™‚


I love the addition of the zucchini! Great way to get veggies and eat something sweet at the same time. I’ll definitely be trying these!


Hi, just made them! I had all the ingredients on hand so I was very excited to give them a try. I like to use rice malt syrup as I don’t eat sugar. I doubled the recipe but was short on syrup so I used 1/2 cup and 1/4cup stevia. I did not get the same purΓ©e as you as my mixture seemed a lot fluffier, maybe due to different brand of coconut flour. I added a little coconut milk as my mixture was dryer also, maybe from the stevia powder. Although mine came out more like a muffin than a cup cake, they were still delicious.


I made these tonight along with a chocolate avocado frosting and they are AMAZING. I can’t believe how good they are, self-control will be tough here! Thanks for such a great recipe!

Laura Dembowski

OMG! These look and sound so good! I seriously cannot wait to try them, and I even have a bag of coconut flour in the pantry waiting to be used.


Yummy, I have these in the oven right now and the batter is super yummy! I doubled the recipe (I have 3 kids) and used half maple syrup and quarter honey. Nice and sweet! Also made coconut whipped cream frosting and strawberries for the top! Thanks so much for you recipes- So many are now are “regulars”!


Thank you for all your recipes!!! I made your sweet treats once a week. Is so delicious and its more healthy then what we find at the grocery store! :)Thanks again!


Mine didn’t puff up either -maybe baking powder would work better than baking soda in this recipe. However they taste wonderful and make a delicious base for strawberry shortcake. Simply split the cupcake in half, top with sliced fruit and a dollop of cashew cream.


I love your blog and make many of your recipes on a regular basis. These turned out too “eggy” though, IMO. I haven’t noticed this in your other grain-free recipes, though.


I baked these this morning. I have fresh strawberries cut up with a little bit of sugar. This will be my strawberry shortcake desert for tonight.


Just made these yesterday. They are fantastic! Can you recommend the best way to store them? Fridge or counter? Thanks so much for your delicious recipes! You make grain free living so much more enjoyable!


These look great! Too funny I use zucchini to replace sugar bulk in recipes I make with stevia! Even I thought I was crazy but it works so well! I can’t wait to make these I have some coconut flour burning a hole in my cupboard!


Thank you for this recipe. My daughter has very limited diet options, with this recipe she was able to have a cupcake at her birthday party.


hello Megan I tried these cupcakes and they looked and smelled so good in the oven but they became deflated as soon as I pulled them out of the oven.
Any idea why?


they were also totally empty inside. πŸ™


I would love to try this.. I never used coconut flour before, which brand is best and where can I purchased it? Storing? which is better frig or counter in a sealed container? Thank You


    I go to sprouts and by their brand. 16oz will run you about $3.85-$4. The best price I’ve seen and the flour is great! Have made a ton of Meagan’s recipes!


Thank you for this recipe! A friend shared it with me and I will forever be grateful! Amazing, moist cake and I topped it with your peanut butter fudge frosting. This is my new late night indulgence!


Love your site! <3
Could I use store bought shredded coconut instead of the coconut flour?
xo Daniela


have you ever tried this recipe for a full-sized cake?
do you think it would hold up?


Thanks for the recipe these came out delicious, i topped half with some chocolate cashew icing and the rest with lemon curd . i was a bit worried when i blended all the ingredients as it looked a bit dry(my measurements might have been a bit off), so i added a little bit of almond milk and they came out perfect. Thanks


Just made these and they turned out perfect!!! Moist and cakey! I doubles the recipe and used 1/2 cup raw honey and 1/4 cup brown sugar becuz that’s all I had. I also added about 1/2 cup almon milk becuz the batter was too thick and filled the muffin tins 3/4 the way. Fantastic! After frosting them I put slices strawbery hearts for Vday, thanks so much for the incredible recipe!!! Also you cannot taste zucchini AT ALL!


Loved these! Such a great vanilla taste and I don’t feel guilty eating one…..ok, more than one


Do you have any suggestions on a good flavor to substitute the vanilla extract for? I am unfortunately, allergic to vanilla. I will usually just leave it out, but I would love to hear any flavor ideas!


    My other favorite flavoring is almond extract, so I’d try that!


Hello! I love all your recipes, I am very nervous about using coconut flour so I thought I’d ask for your advice!
I am going back and forth from this recipe, and your glazed chocolate donut recipe. I want to make chocolate cupcakes for my birthday tomorrow, but I do not have zucchini on hand to add to the batter (nor a good blender!)
So my question, if I want to make 1 dozen chocolate cupcakes, should I follow the donut recipe and double it, and then bake them for 20 minutes?

Thank you so much!!


    I haven’t tried the donuts as cupcakes, so I can’t say for sure that they will work perfectly, but it’s worth a shot! Hope you have a happy birthday! πŸ™‚

Elaina Malcolm

Has anyone added cocoa powder and made chocolate zucchini cupcakes?

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