Beetroot Cupcakes

Towards the end of my last post I moaned a little about how badly my red velvet cupcakes had turned out. However, due to a smattering of public demand I have decided to post the recipe for all of you beetroot lovers out there. Please, be assured that if you like beetroot then this recipe is for you; the flavour is subtle, yet delicious and the texture is surprisingly light. Of course, as I am never one to give in, the red velvet cupcakes will eventually see the light of day.

This morning when attempting to ice these little beetroot wonders, I discovered that using a piping bag is harder than it looks. To be honest, a delicate touch has never been particularly evident in the frugal family, but it didn’t seem as though such an attribute was necessarily a requirement. even so, they were an absolute mess and ended up being iced in the most primitive fashion possible; though they are still pretty, in my eyes. Nothing seemed to be going quite to plan during the icing process; my intention had been to give it a little red tinge with a drop or two of food colouring. Indeed, our cupboards were entirely devoid of the necessary goods.

This recipe reminds me of a quote I once heard on some forgotten cookery programme. The presenter argued that one can make a delicious cake using almost any ingredient one wants, as long as one prepares it in the correct way. This appears to be a most agreeable statement, for despite the fact the beetroot did not succeed in turning my batter red, it did give it an extremely rich and dark hue. Indeed, though the cupcakes themselves are not quite to my liking, they are very pretty and jolly good to look at. If anyone has any tips for me, with regards to using a piping bag, they shall be gladly accepted. If truth be told, and I think it must, I need all the help I can get.

Beetroot cupcakes

Makes 18-20


For the Cake:

• 2 small beetroots

• 120ml sunflower oil

• 60ml milk

• ½ tsp balsamic vinegar

• 2 eggs

• 150g plain flour

• 150g caster sugar

• 2 tbsp cocoa powder

• ½ tsp baking powder

• ½ tsp bi-carbonate of soda

• A generous pinch of salt

For the Icing:

• 200g full-fat soft cheese

• 50g butter

• 1 tsp vanilla essence

• 70g icing sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 200C, place the beets in an oven dish with a little water and bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove the skins, chop and place in a food processor, blend until the chunks are tiny.

2. Whilst the beets are roasting mix together all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and all the wet ingredients in a measuring jug. Slowly and thoroughly fold the wet ingredients into the dry; ensure that there are no lumps. Once the beets are prepared fold them into the mixture. Turn the oven down to 180C, spoon the mixture equally into cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes. You can test whether they are cooked by plunging a knife into them. If it comes out clean, they are ready.

3. To make the icing simply mix all of the ingredients together. Make sure there are no lumps and return to the fridge for 5-10 minutes before icing.

Cost: Beetroot is incredibly cheap, particularly at this time of year; two of them set me back a mere 50p. As such, these cupcakes are extremely cheap, especially when one considers how many are made with this recipe. Indeed, the entire batch, including icing, should set one back around £2.10. Not bad at all, though only if you like beetroot.

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71 comments on “Beetroot Cupcakes

  1. thelittleloaf
    December 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I’ve only tried baking with beetroot once, and while it lent a lovely velvet texture to my brownies, I couldn’t quite escape the fact that there was an ever-so-slight underlying taste of beetroot. Your cupcakes do look very good though.

    I’m surprised it didn’t tint them red at all…when making mine practically everything in the kitchen turned a lurid shade of pink!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 2, 2011 at 4:24 pm

      It does give a great texture, but I had the same taste problem – though my dad, who adores beetroot, loves them. I think the colour is down to the pH of the batter, so I’ll try and make it more acidic next time.

  2. thecompletecookbook
    December 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I think your rustic approach to icing these lovely moist looking beetroot beauties is perfect! I too battle with the whole icing bag nozzle thing so will be eagerly reading all of your comment responses.
    🙂 Mandy

    • frugalfeeding
      December 2, 2011 at 4:23 pm

      Thank you! no one seems to have too much advice for me, unfortunately.

  3. IamSimplyTia
    December 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Well done! They look great.

  4. Kristina
    December 1, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I love beetroot:D I am not a fan of cup cakes, but beetroot cup cakes… hmmm…. sounds very daring! 😀

    • frugalfeeding
      December 2, 2011 at 4:23 pm

      I’m not such a fan of beetroot unfortunately. give them a go, they aren’t as absurd as they sound!

  5. Michele Schoff Terry
    December 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    So glad you posted this! Was thinking about red velvet cake with beets just the other day. Will have to give these a try for sure!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 10, 2011 at 3:36 pm

      Thanks, so am I! Do give them a try, they are wonderful according to my family.

  6. thekalechronicles
    December 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    I make a beet-based cocoa cake and the batter is a rather alarming shade of orchid — fortunately, it browns in the oven and no one can tell what is in it: my brother who doesn’t eat vegetables voluntarily loved it. Can’t help you with piping or icing — that’s the sort of thing I never do.

  7. rachsmith
    December 1, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    I’m a HUGE fan of beetroot – have made beetroot brownies and beetroot ice cream, but never cup cakes. Definitely one to give a go…

    • frugalfeeding
      December 10, 2011 at 3:35 pm

      Well, if you’ve tried those you simply must try these!

  8. Sandra Leah
    December 1, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Wow, so interesting. I will have to try this!!!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 10, 2011 at 3:35 pm

      Very! Yet I’ve been told they are delicious.

  9. Lasairiona
    December 1, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Jinx! I baked red velvet yesterday, using this recipe from pinterest

    I have to say, it’s delicious!

    Having serious issues with runny cream cheese frosting though – any suggestions how to get the perfect cream cheese frosting?

    • frugalfeeding
      December 2, 2011 at 4:22 pm

      Haha! My problem is, I don;t think red velvet cupcakes should actually be that colour – they look a little fake. I also don’t it’s good to ingest quite so much food colouring. I could make red velvet cupcakes easily with red dye, but where’s the fun in that? My tip with the frosting would be to use real butter and put it back in the fridge after mixing it to give it a bit of time to set.

  10. Polina Pen
    December 1, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Every recipe I’ve come across, including professional ones, uses a red (plus a small amount of lbue sometimes) food colourant plus cocoa to achieve the desired velvet result.

    • frugalfeeding
      December 10, 2011 at 3:34 pm

      I’ve seen some amazing ones made with beetroot here in Britain. I simply refuse to use so much food colouring.

  11. Rhoda Kirwan
    December 1, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    I AM going to try these. I love beetroot. And I have to say I think the cupcakes look very rustic! :O) I mean that in the best possible way.

    • frugalfeeding
      December 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm

      Glad to hear it :D. I like the rustic decoration of the cakes I make… perfection is overrated.

  12. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide
    December 1, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    I’m telling you this is going to catch on!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm

      It may do, though I’m keeping my hopes down a little – I don;t want to be disappointed.

  13. whiskydrinkinchimneysweep
    December 1, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    I love beets! My family does not. Time for some delicious trickery.

    • frugalfeeding
      December 10, 2011 at 3:34 pm

      I’m not the biggest fan, but the flavour was so subtle.

  14. Michelle
    December 1, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Well, a cupcake is about the only way that I could stomach a beet. Whenever they appear in my farm share, I pickle them for my mother. But, try as I might, I just don’t like the taste of “iron filings” as my husband describes them!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 2, 2011 at 4:19 pm

      Me neither… give them a go though, you may be pleasantly surprised.

  15. alicemccormick
    December 1, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    yay! here they are!

  16. grainnep
    December 1, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    I love beetroot – one of my favourite veggies and I also grow it so thanks for the idea of cupcakes. I might just try them soon and will let you know how it goes.

  17. thebigfatnoodle
    December 1, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    I’m gong to have to find a way to get my husband out of the house so that I can make these. He refuses to eat beetroot but loves cake so I’d love to see if he even notices! Always love your recipes because they really are unique!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 2, 2011 at 4:17 pm

      Haha, you should try it – that would be very interesting! I try to be a little unique sometimes, though not too hard 😀

  18. LittleMrsOrganized
    December 2, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Interesting! Nice to see a different kind of cupcake!

  19. alternative eating
    December 2, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Just bought some beets:) Maybe I should use the once left over for these once:) Looks really good:)

  20. Kay aka Babygirl
    December 2, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    You always come up with something amazing and these Beetroot Cupcakes look fantastic. I will definitely have to try these out

  21. Bam's Kitchen
    December 3, 2011 at 2:41 am

    Oh my goodness, great minds think alike!!! I just posted an entry for red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Will have to give yours a try as well. Take Care

    • frugalfeeding
      December 10, 2011 at 3:22 pm

      They do, I’m sure :D. Do, they were delicious according to my beetroot lover.

  22. Tara
    December 3, 2011 at 3:51 am

    I love the idea of putting vegies in my cupcakes… makes them healthy right?! Great idea!

  23. RecipeAdaptors
    December 3, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I’m going to have to try these when the next crop of beetroot comes out of my garden.

  24. Carroll
    December 3, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Love beets in cake! This sound great!

  25. sourdoughtheangrybaker
    December 3, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Piping is all about maintaining even pressure with your right hand on top and using your left as a guide, or reserve depending on the whole right/left hand dominance. Also be sure to remove any air bubbles in the bag before you start. You can do that with a bench scraper or flat end of a knife, scraping until the icing is tight and flush in the bag. Most red velvet cake is made here in the states with food coloring, however some of the fancier shops do go the beetroot route. As usual, nice work Frugal!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 10, 2011 at 3:20 pm

      Yes, I find it a little difficult though – perhaps I’m a little too heavy handed. I’ll continue to go down the beetroute 😀

  26. Julia
    December 3, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    They look yummy, I’d definitely stuff my face with several of them!

    I could not use a piping bag to save my life until a few months ago, with the help of one of my lovely friends and a joy of baking video. Youtube is full of advice and tutorials, definitely worth checking out. Two things I discovered I was doing wrong were:
    1. not pushing the icing all the way to the bottom of the bag to get rid of airholes. This video has about a million minutes of cupcake making and 3 seconds of icing (might be an exaggeration) but from around 14 minutes it is quite useful
    2. get the bag set up properly in your hand. Look at how the lady is holding the bag in the video; if she took that free end of the bag that’s just sticking in the air and hooked it over her forefinger and under her middle finger, that increases the pressure and makes it easier to pipe in a continuous motion.
    I’m sure that’s terribly explained, hope it makes some sort of sense. One last thing; disposable icing bags are much easier than the material ones for applying the correct amount of pressure without getting handcramp!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 10, 2011 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks for the tips, they aren’t terribly explained! I’ll look for some disposable bags and I’ll carry on practising.

  27. Carolyn Chan
    December 4, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Perfect ! I was just thinking that I have some beetroots in the fridge that I needed to use. These look amazing.

  28. Budget Bon Viveur
    December 5, 2011 at 7:42 am

    These look excellent!! Have to try em’. And don’t worry about the icing — I made blueberry-oat muffins last week with a cream cheese icing and they aren’t going to win any beauty contests. Still amaaazing though 🙂

    • frugalfeeding
      December 10, 2011 at 3:31 pm

      Oh yes, you do :D. Beauty isn’t everything!

  29. Chilli Ninja
    December 5, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    They look great to me. Love beetroot, love cupcakes – never had the two together. Can’t really imagine what they taste like but would love to try them. I’m growing beetroot so I must give these a go, thanks!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 10, 2011 at 3:09 pm

      Thanks! Give them a go, it’s very subtle but the flavour is definitely there just at the end.

  30. Emerald Garden Lady
    December 9, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Today is the day! I am just popping up to the Veggie Barn to buy a couple of beetroots and then I’m back home, oven on and all set to get red fingers.

    Hubby is crazy about beetroot, he just loves it, so this should be interesting.

    Hopefully all will go well and I can pop a picture of my efforts on my blog with a link to your recipe.

    Wish me luck!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 10, 2011 at 3:28 pm

      Oooooh, how exciting! Consider all my luck wished!

  31. thesinglegourmetandtraveller
    December 15, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    These sound – and look – great. Must try them out!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 15, 2011 at 11:45 pm

      Thanks! Those who liked beetroot, loved them.

  32. Lonely Wife Project
    December 15, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    OMG I really need to try these immediately! Thanks for your sweet comment on my blog.

    • frugalfeeding
      December 15, 2011 at 11:24 pm

      You do :D. No problem, I always enjoy your blog.

  33. jok3r133
    December 19, 2011 at 10:49 am

    These look divine. I’ve been wanting to attempt baking with beetroot since I saw heard about a famous beetroot red velvet cake at this Malaysian cafe. Can’t wait to give it a go!

    • frugalfeeding
      January 1, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      I simply hate using ridiculous quantities of red food colouring. Give it a try 😀

  34. Granny
    December 27, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    The “primitive icing fashion” you so belittle caught my eye and I have only one thing to say: These look absolutely irresistible! A confession: My muffins never quite turn out the way I envision. A thought: Preparing in the correct way, I have found out, means including two very important ingredients… playfulness and passion. Clearly, you already knew this. Slainte Mhath! (Hope you don’t mind a wee Gaelic greeting).

    • frugalfeeding
      January 1, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      Why, thank you! Gaelic is inoffensive to me :D. I’m Welsh, we’re not too different 😀

  35. thelittlebowl
    December 28, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Great job on these! Do they turn a nice, bright red?

    • frugalfeeding
      January 1, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      I’m afraid not, that was the idea though 😛

  36. throve
    February 10, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    I am a huge beetroot fan. These look great.
    What is it about icing small cakes? They make it look so easy on telly.

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