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Zucchini Cupcakes with Creamy Caramel Frosting

by Courtney on August 13, 2012

So you guys probably remember my epic frosting fail last week, right?

I actually ended up keeping that failed batch in the fridge up until last night when I finally decided it needed to be tossed. Otherwise, I would have slowly eaten my way through the entire bowl and that just would have been bad for business.

Luckily, my second take on the frosting turned out juuuust fine.


Actually, it’s more than fine. It’s incredible. And it’s caramel.


I had one last zucchini sitting and waiting to be used up last week, and then my friend Mal sent me the link to a recipe for zucchini cupcakes that immediately intrigued me. I was sold on the cupcakes + zucchini combo, but when I saw caramel frosting? Ohhhh myyyy…


I do love me some caramel. Winking smile


I ended up getting exactly 24 cupcakes out of this batch, although the one dozen I baked in my pretty cupcake holders (a gift from the lovely Tina from my Blogger Holiday Gift Exchange a couple of years ago) used a bit less batter than the full cupcakes.


Just look a those tiny little specs of zucchini in there! They’re saying, “Hey, it’s okay to eat me because I’m filled with veggies!”


Alright then. I’ll have two.


Zucchini Cupcakes with Creamy Caramel Frosting

(slightly adapted from Taste of Home)

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Bake Time: 20 mins + cooling
  • Yield: 20-24

Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1-1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2-1/2 cups flour* (I used 1-1/2 c. all-purpose + 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1-1/2 cups finely shredded/chopped zucchini (I pulsed mine in a food processor)

Creamy Caramel Frosting

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or cow’s milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 – 2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two muffin pans with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs, egg whites, sugar, applesauce, orange juice and extract. Combine dry ingredients; gradually add to egg mixture and mix well. Stir in zucchini.
  • Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
  • For frosting, combine the brown sugar, butter and almond milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Cool to lukewarm (*I waited about 45 minutes).
  • Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar, about a half cup at a time, until frosting reaches spreading consistency. Frost cupcakes.

My frosting was still slightly runnier than most of my other buttercream frostings, but I just put it in the fridge and it was fine.

Enjoy! Smile

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

1 kaylie August 13, 2012 at 1:15 pm

These look SO good! I love making zuccinni walnut bread but I have never tried cupcakes. I will def try this recipe this week!
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2 Andrea @ Vegvacious August 13, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Oh man — these look fantastic! I definitely love me some caramel too and I have quite a few zucchinis almost ready for picking.


3 Paige @ Your Trainer Paige August 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm

How CUTE are those cupcake liners (liners, right?) I never make cupcakes – obviously – lol, but I think I might have to buy a cupcake tin and make these!
OH! And I’m making your parm chicken burgers tonight for dinner :)
Paige @ Your Trainer Paige recently posted..First Day of Camp–Move it Monday


4 Courtney August 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Oooooo YUM!! I hope you love them! Jay and I still have two more leftover from when we made them last week :)


5 Karen August 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm

“1/2 cup canola unsweetened applesauce”

Was this supposed to say just applesauce??



6 Courtney August 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Haha, YES! Fixing now :)


7 Karen August 13, 2012 at 1:26 pm

PS also made the parm chicken burgers but used grass fed beef HOLY my yum… hubby and I cannot stop eating them!!


8 Courtney August 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm

YAY! :)


9 Alex @ Brain, Body, Because August 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm

I love zucchini season!
Alex @ Brain, Body, Because recently posted..Cake!


10 Danielle@cleanfoodcreativefitness August 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm

These look amazing! I am in love with all of these fabulous zucchini recipes! Keep them coming!
Danielle@cleanfoodcreativefitness recently posted..Marvelous in My Monday


11 Sylvia @ Frolic Through Life August 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm

These look amazing! I’ve got some zucchini in my fridge waiting to be made into these babies.
Sylvia @ Frolic Through Life recently posted..At the Farmer’s Market


12 Christine @ Oatmeal Bowl August 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Zucchini cupcakes… caramel. YUM! what a creative and beautiful combination. I like how you were able to reduce the sugar. never used OJ either. but it sounds right. thank you!


13 Michelle @ Eat Move Balance August 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm

I love zucchini bread, cake, anything. I was glancing at the recipe . . . do you think the orange juice is necessary? Can I substitute with any liquid, or is the citrus component important in the baking?
Michelle @ Eat Move Balance recently posted..M²T³ Event: Calamari, Cabbage, Zucchini and Chili!


14 Courtney August 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I’m sure it could be substituted. You really don’t taste much of the OJ flavor (if any) so I’d say give it a shot!


15 Jasmine August 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm
16 Courtney August 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Awesome!! Thank you :)


17 Rachel August 13, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Your cupcakes always look soo professional!
Rachel recently posted..MIMM #2 Shark Week!


18 Danica @ It's Progression August 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm

holy yum…I’m pretty sure I’ve never eaten zucchini plain because I always use it for recipes–muffins, bread, brownies, pancakes, and maybe now even cupcakes :)
Danica @ It’s Progression recently posted..Banana Mango Green Smoothie


19 Alysha @Shesontherun August 13, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Those cupcake liners are so cute. If I wasn’t so full from lunch, I would love one of these :)
Alysha @Shesontherun recently posted..Corn and Scallion Sourdough Pancakes


20 Hope @ With A Side Of Hope August 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm

These cupcakes look incredible! I love the caramel frosting! Yummy! :) I agree with everyone else. The liners are super cute.
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21 Michelle@Peachy Palate August 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm

They looks awesome and so easy to modify for a vegan version! :)
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22 Traci August 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Zucchini bread and caramel frosting are my weakness! Never thought of putting them together. Now I’m in trouble!


23 Lisa August 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Those liners are absolutely adorable. I need to be making more cupcakes, its been forever since I’ve had one. And I of course love the zucchini addition, since I now have an obsession with them!
Lisa recently posted..Simple + Peanut Butter Fudge


24 Suzanne @ Fit Minded Mom August 13, 2012 at 4:47 pm

These are going to make the perfect Fall dessert!! As much as I love Summer time I am starting to crave cooler weather and these aren’t helping:-)
Suzanne @ Fit Minded Mom recently posted..Healthy Chicken Enchilada Casserole + Painting Progress


25 Chelcie @ Chelcie's Food Files August 13, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Wow those sound amazing!! Zucchini in cupcakes must make them healthy! ..:)
Chelcie @ Chelcie’s Food Files recently posted..25 things i’ve learned from waitressing


26 Christie August 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Made a version of your Zucchini Oatmeal bread today!!


A neighbor gave us a huge zucchini so I have been checking out your recipes.
I decided to make mini muffins instead. Great recipe!


27 Brandi August 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Oh my word those look amazing! The icing looks so pretty!!


28 Nicole August 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Random Question: Do you use plastic or re-usable piping bags for your frostings?


29 Courtney August 13, 2012 at 5:18 pm

I use a reusable pastry bag that I can change out the tips with, which I got from my local confectionery store


30 Kim@hingryhealthygirl August 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Oh my! These look delicious. I love the caramel/zucchini combination idea!
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31 Kierston August 13, 2012 at 7:25 pm

You had me at cupcake! :)
Kierston recently posted..5 Things I Learned Post-Competition…


32 krystal@coffeecardiogoddess August 13, 2012 at 7:35 pm

I really want to make these!! Question though, how does the frosting come out tasting like caramel when there isn’t any caramel in it?
krystal@coffeecardiogoddess recently posted..MIMM: Smoothie & Fro Yo Love


33 Purely Twins August 13, 2012 at 9:40 pm

these look great!! what a great combo, never would of thought to put zucchini with caramel.
Purely Twins recently posted..making our 2 minute protein muffin video


34 Annie @ What's Annie Making? August 14, 2012 at 8:35 am

These look amazing! I’m glad you tried to make the caramel frosting again. Can’t wait to try these:)
Annie @ What’s Annie Making? recently posted..Parmesan Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms


35 Me And My Sweets August 14, 2012 at 3:53 pm


I would love you to join My Sweet Party! i host a themed party every month and beginning of next month I feature my top three favourites. Check it out at

btw, your blog is wonderful and I’m a new happy follower:-)



36 Bek @ Crave August 15, 2012 at 1:20 am

They look awesome! Have one for me. Love the cute liners :)
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37 krystal@coffeecardiogoddess August 15, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I made them 2 nights ago and they were a hit with every person that has had one! My hubby really likes them! Coming from the man that kept saying the food processed zucchini looked like bird throw up. Haha
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