Okay okay, “healthy” is a relative term, but when you compare these against your typical cupcakes packed full of sugar and way too much white flour and butter, they’re definitely healthierand satisfy chocolate cravings like a champ. After watching the documentary Fed Up recently, I was inspired to start paying a little more attention to how much sugar I’m consuming. Have you guys seen it? Did it cause you to make any dietary changes? Since the film also makes you want to stop eating processed foods altogether, I spent a few hours on a Saturday toying with some favorite baking recipes and swapping out sugar for healthier alternatives like maple syrup, and subbing raw cacao powder for processed chocolate.

These cupcakes were my favorite result, still including just enough of the naughty stuff (sugar, butter, & white flour) to make them feel decadent without sending your blood sugar spiking. These are best eaten warm out of the oven when the chocolate chips are still melty, but you can also gently rewarm them the next morning and eat one for breakfast (just call them muffins!) Keep reading for the recipe…

Healthy Chocolate Cupcakes

Serves 12

Healthy Chocolate Cupcakes

By Camille Styles


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate chips
  • powdered sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine flour, cacao powder, soda, espresso powder, and salt. Stir with a whisk until combined.
  2. In the standing bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add maple syrup and vanilla, and beat for 1 minute, then add eggs, beating well between each addition.
  3. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in 3 additions, starting and ending with flour. Beat in chocolate chips just until combined.
  4. Line a muffin tin with muffin cup liners, than spray with nonstick cooking spray. Divide batter between 12 cups and bake for 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  5. Remove cupcakes from pan, let cool completely on a wire rack, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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Comments (10)
  1. 1
    sara veroni December 5, 2014 at 6:37 am

    I live in Europe and after years of adapting American recipes I’ve learned to cut the sugar in half, add an extra egg (our eggs are smaller) and if following a savoury recipe use 1/4 of the garlic or onion!

  2. 2
    tricia haydon December 5, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Is it me or is the recipe missing? Thanks for checking.

  3. 3
    Texas Jak December 5, 2014 at 9:28 am

    I don’t see the recipe either. Hmm…I’m sure you’ll post it soon. I have not seen the documentary, but have some of the same concerns. I recently made Mexican Avocado Chocolate Cake and it has some “healthy” ingredients. No butter, almond flour and not a lot of sugar. Maybe you can try that next time.
    Texas Jak

  4. 4
    Vanessa @ Living in Steil December 5, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Love this! I’ve been trying to cut back on sugar (why is it so hard?!), but find giving up sweets virtually impossible. These cupcakes look decadent without being entirely sinful! I can’t wait to try this recipe!


  5. 5
    Sandra December 5, 2014 at 9:49 am

    I don’t see the recipe either.

  6. 6
    Charlotte December 5, 2014 at 11:14 am

    These ‘muffins’ look divine! I frequently reduce sugar in cookies and pies, but not usually in cakes, which call for more precise measurements to produce the right texture. Using brown sugar seems to impart a bit more flavor and sweetness than white sugar. I’ve switched to raw sugar in my coffee and find that I’m satisfied with 1/2 tsp.

  7. 7
    arielle December 5, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    great idea. I have been considering dropping sugar altogether, but with the holidays, it sort of sounds like a new year resolution in the making. thanks for sharing this cleaner recipe!

    love, arielle
    a simple elegance

  8. 8
    Camille Styles December 5, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Sorry guys, I don’t know why it disappeared for awhile! Recipe is back!! 🙂

  9. 9
    Andrea April 13, 2021 at 10:31 pm

    Really easy and yummy recipe. Will definitely make this again! Thanks for sharing a great recipe

  10. 10
    Candice Knight January 16, 2022 at 8:29 pm

    Yum! These were just perfect for my chocolate craving! I wanted something easy and chocolaty. I swapped greek yogurt for buttermilk and it was still good.