St. Patrick’s Day Green Cupcakes (made with spinach!)

A year ago, I found a genius idea on Green Lite Bites: using spinach to turn cupcakes green for St. Patrick’s Day.

This year, I wanted to expand on that idea a little.  While the first recipe was great, I wanted to find a way to make these fully from scratch.  No boxed cake mix in this house anymore.  So I did some digging and found a great make-ahead cake mix that I could use just like the boxed stuff.  I made the mix several days ago and just had it sitting on my counter in a bag.  When I was ready to rock, all I had to do was puree the spinach with the applesauce, and then mix it all together.  Super easy.  And a great way to make dessert just a little bit healthier.

St. Patrick’s Day Green Cupcakes


  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered buttermilk (or nonfat dried milk)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 4 cups baby spinach


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Puree the applesauce and spinach in a blender. You may need to add the spinach in batches.
  4. Using a hand mixer, blend the spinach mixture and vanilla into the flour mixture for 2 minutes. Divide evenly into 18 cupcake liners (in a cupcake pan, of course).
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool completely.

I made half the cupcakes plain and then frosted with a vanilla buttercream and topped with sprinkles.  On the others, I put sprinkles on before baking, but they turned out kind of ugly.  Tasty, but ugly.  You can see them a little bit in the below video.

Need another opinion?  The little dude loved them.  He’s a bit of a ham.

Prep ahead tips:  As I said above, I mixed the dry ingredients a few days before and stored them in a plastic gallon-sized bag.


  1. Renee @ MyKitchenAdventures

    how adorable! He should be your video taster for all your recipes you post! lol I’d be interested in that make ahead cake mix! Did you find it on pinterest? Your cupcakes look like they came out great!! Love the bright green color from the spinach! Who knew?

  2. Mary

    Oh, I love this idea for turning them green. I was thinking about making some green muffins and wondering how spinach might turn out. Thanks for answering my question!

  3. Amy Anderson

    Hi Willow, that’s a great question, but one I don’t know the answer to. If you use liquid buttermilk your batter will be too runny. Maybe someone else can chime in and help out?

  4. mollyt

    Thanks for the recipe. I made too made green cupcakes last year from a mix, applesauce and spinach. Looking forward to trying homemade all the way! Pinned this blog post.

  5. Saturday Sadie

    Healthy cupcakes! Love it! I never would have thought of using baby spinach. That’s absolute genius. What a great way to sneak in a bit of the good stuff. Thanks for sharing!

  6. The 21st Century Housewife©

    I love these – what a great way to make a lovely treat healthier! Thank you for sharing them. If you have time, it would be wonderful if you would share these with the Gallery of Favorites linky I co-host. It’s up on my site now.

  7. Slacker Saver

    I also was wondering about the powdered buttermilk, since I have all the other ingredients on hand. I’m guessing if you used regular powdered milk and added 1-2 tsp of lemon or vinegar, it might work. That’s based off the shortcut for regular buttermilk, but I’ve never tried it for powdered buttermilk.
    What would happen if I used frozen spinach for the baby spinach?

  8. Amy Anderson

    Slacker Saver, regular powdered milk by itself would be fine. In fact, the original recipe used nonfat dried milk.

    I wouldn’t recommend using frozen spinach. I haven’t tried it but I’d think it would be too watery, and that it just wouldn’t work as well as fresh baby spinach.

  9. Miz Helen

    Your little guy is just precious! What an awesome cupcake packed with good for you goodies! Hope you are having a great week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  10. Mo 'Betta

    haha, these were already on my “to make” list this week, but I like this recipe even better (don’t have to sub out eggs!) Can’t wait to see how my kids like them!

  11. Stephanie

    OK, so I just made these and as I was mixing it up it was WAY TOO DRY! I was wondering if maybe there was suppose to be water added. I followed the direction exactly, but even after mixing with the hand mixer it was still super thick. I ended up having to add some water (probably about 1/2 cup to a whole cup) just to give it a thick brownie consistency. I also added an egg to it hoping that it would add some liquid, but it gave it a very chewy texture after it baked. I wish I would have just added the water and called it good, but they turned out ok. So if you are making these, don’t add an egg or it will be very chewy, just so you know. I am wondering if anyone else had the same problem with their batter being too dry?

  12. The Astons

    I just made these. They are in the oven…. I had to guess and adapt. I’m guessing you meant 4 cups baby spinach pureed? I’ll let you know how they turn out. I’m they are delicious! They look neat, that’s for sure.

    • Amy Anderson

      I’m sorry to hear that they didn’t turn out well for you. I tried to email you directly…the 4 cups of spinach is NOT pureed. You puree it after you measure out 4 cups. Maybe that’s the culprit?

  13. Anonymous

    Hi I just made these cupcakes~~
    They tasted great but they were very sticky inside. I was wondering if they are supposed to be like that since there are no eggs used in this recipe or is it because i didnt store the dry ingredients like you did?

  14. Tanusree

    i was tossing between spinach puree and green color for my St. Patricks day cake. wasn’t sure how the spinach would taste. and then i stumbled upon this… so now i know what to use 🙂

  15. Pingback: 9 Healthier St. Patrick's Day Treats - Liz's Early Learning Spot

Post a comment

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>