Festive Vegan Easter Cupcakes with green vanilla frosting and vegan candy "eggs" will be the hit at any Easter gathering!
These vegan Easter cupcakes are a total cheater recipe, y'all. I used (vegan) store-bought frosting and vegan candy "eggs" to decorate these babies.
The only from-scratch situation happening here is the cupcake itself, which takes about half an hour, depending on how organized your baking is. The recipe is adapted from my Fluffy Coconut Cupcakes, and they're a delight!
Choosing vegan candy
You have lots of choices for vegan candy to top these cupcakes! Basically, anything small and egg-shaped will work, so see what's available near you.
Need some ideas? These are vegan candies that would work well on these cupcakes:
- Jolly Rancher Jellybeans
- YumEarth Organic Sour Beans
- Little Secrets Dark Chocolate Pieces
- Justin's Maple Almond Butter Covered Almonds
When you're shopping for candy, these are ingredients to look out for:
- milk or eggs - Both of these would be listed in bold below the ingredients list, since egg and milk ingredients are allergens. Shared equipment or "may contain" warnings are OK. Cross-contamination is an allergy issue, not a vegan issue.
- confectioner's glaze or shellac - This gives candy its shiny shell and is made from bugs. You can read more about confectioner's glaze here.
- beeswax - Like confectioner's glaze, this is sometimes used to coat candy. Since it's a bee product, it is not vegan.
- gelatin - This thickener is made from ground up bones and tendons. Yuck!
- carmine (aka cochineal or carminic acid) - A red dye, this is made from crushed bugs. I know!
Baking the cupcakes
This is a pretty simple cupcake recipe.
Start by lining your cupcake pan with paper liners. Then, mix up the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Next, mix the wet ingredients separately. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix to combine.
I know that a lot of cupcake recipes say to fill your cups 2/3 of the way, but I have had much more consistent results filling them just halfway.
I like to use an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measure to scoop the cupcake batter into the cup. This is more efficient and less messy than a large spoon, in my experience.
Bake your cupcakes for 20 minutes, and then let them cool completely.
Let's repeat that, because it is so important: let them cool completely!
If you try to frost warm cupcakes, your frosting will melt, and it will be a nightmare. Let them cool. You'll be glad that you did.
Choosing (& dyeing) the vegan frosting
It's true! Many prepared frostings are accidentally vegan. Just check the ingredients for the ones listed above in the candy section.
For this recipe, I would suggest going with vanilla buttercream with no dyes. That way, the green food coloring will be the star of the show!
I recommend mixing up the dye while the cupcakes bake, since you'll have about 20 free minutes.
To dye the frosting, transfer it out of the container it came in into a medium-sized bowl. You need some extra space to stir.
Now, add 5-10 drops of your green food coloring, and mix it well to combine. Add more dye, a couple of drops at a time, until you reach your desired level of green.
How much or little dye you need depends on the one you use. Natural food coloring tends to require more drops than artificial colors.
Gel food dye will need even fewer drops. Just go slowly, stirring well between additions. You can always add more drops, but you can't take any away!
Decorating your Easter cupcakes
Now that your vegan Easter cupcakes are completely cooled (completely!), it's decorating time!
Transfer the dyed frosting to a plastic zip-top baggie, and snip one of the bottom corners away. You just made a piping bag! Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.
Now, arrange 5 pieces of the vegan candy on top of each cupcake. If you're using a bigger candy, like those coated almond, you might want to do 3 pieces instead of 5. See what 3 looks like -- you can always add more!
How to store leftover cupcakes
Got leftovers? No problem! The cupcakes will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Just know that, if you frosted them before storing, they will soften the longer they sit. That's not because they're vegan. That's because of science. Frosting is a thick liquid, and the cake will absorb it over time, making it softer.
Easy vegan Easter cupcakes
For the Cupcakes
- 2 cups vegan vanilla frosting - of your choice (or other frosting! Mix it up, if chocolate isn’t your thing!)
- green food coloring
- 60 pieces small, round vegan candy - jelly beans, coated chocolate pieces...whatever you find at the store that is plant-based and appeals to you!
Bake the Cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350F and line muffin pan with paper liners.
- Dry ingredient mix: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Wet ingredient mix: In a smaller bowl, cream together the vegan butter and sugar until they’re really well combined. Then add the vegan milk, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Beat with a fork or an electric mixer until the wet ingredients are well-combined. The butter and milk will curdle because that's what the vinegar does. This is totally normal. Ugly, but normal.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry, and beat again, until well-combined. Some small lumps are okay, but break up any bigger ones. Divide the batter between your lined muffin tins, filling each cup only halfway. Bake for 20 minutes, then pull them out to cool in the pan until they’re completely cool.
- While the cupcakes bake, color your frosting. In a medium bowl, add the food coloring to your frosting until you get a nice, pastel green color, and stir to combine. Start with 5-10 drops, then add a drop at a time until you get that Easter grass shade you’re going for. Add the color slowly! You can always add another drop, but you can’t take drops away. How much food coloring you need will depend on what type you're using. Gel color, for example, will take less than more standard food coloring. You can mix the frosting the night before, as well. Just store in the fridge until you’re ready to frost.
- Frost each cupcake with the vegan buttercream. You can go simple or fancy. If you want to pipe but don’t have a proper piping bag, spoon the frosting into a plastic baggie, snip off one of the bottom corners, and use that as a makeshift piping bag. Or, you can just spread the frosting on with a fork. It’s all about the candy anyway, isn’t it?
- Arrange 3-5 pieces of candy on top of each cupcake.
- You can make these a few hours ahead or even the day before serving, but you want to frost just before serving. If you’re going to store them overnight, keep them in a covered container in the fridge.
- It is so important that you completely cool these before you frost them. Buttercream frosting on a warm cupcake will melt. Don't let that happen to you!