Last week I took my kids to one of their friend’s birthday party. When the time arrived for cake, all the kids lined up to get some. As the birthday boy’s mother passed out slices, Chloe, who had been quietly waiting for her piece asked, “is there food coloring in that?” During the awkward silence that resulted as the mom processed that this inquiry was made by a three year-old, I was overcome by equal parts horror and pride.

Although I tell my kids that food coloring isn’t good for their bodies, I’m hardly militant about them consuming it. In fact, I tend to treat birthday parties like Vegas_ whatever happens there, stays there. Juice boxes, brightly colored cakes, even cheese puffs are fine by me on special occasions. Yet in spite of my flexibility on the issue, both of my kids completely avoid artificial food coloring.

I still love brightly colored desserts and these cupcakes are one of my new faves. The cake has an intense lemon flavor while the icing is a vibrant blueish-purple free of any artificial dyes. When Kenya skeptically asked me how the icing got so blue, I was overjoyed to tell him it was only from blueberries. He brought some to school one day and as he proudly passed the bite-sized cakes out to his friends he told them, “there’s no food coloring in these!”

Never underestimate how far your kids will go with a little bit of knowledge!


Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberry Icing_ A Cupcake to Dye For

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Author: Catherine McCord
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 minute


  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 large lemons (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, defrosted



    Sodium: 140mg | Sugar: 15g | Fiber: 1g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Calories: 230kcal | Fat: 12g | Protein: 3g | Carbohydrates: 28g
    Did you make this recipe?Mention @Weelicious or tag #weelicious!

    About the Author

    Catherine is a mama of three. A Kentucky girl living in California. Here’s what I know: all kids can be great eaters and mealtime must be easy. I create simple, healthy recipes the whole family will love.


    1. is it okay to use this recipe to make one big cake? its for a birthday cake, we’ve tried it as cupcakes and they were really gorgeous 🙂

    2. will this recipe work for a big birthday cake? i’ve tried the cupcakes and they were delicious

    3. Hi Catherine, just wondering if you have tried making these ahead of time and freezing them. Would love to bring them on our flight to Florida next week as my daughter’s onboard birthday cake.

    4. Yes! They freeze beautifully! Freeze the cupcakes without the frosting. You can make the frosting and store it in the fridge for about 4 days. Let it come to room temperature before using, and add a tiny bit of water to it to loosen it up as needed! So fun to have an onboard birthday cake!

    5. Of course Jeffrey likes pie. We all love Pie!!! You two are crazy. I seem to relacl that Jeffrey likes Nachos with chicken, Doritos, Turkey Chili .Need I say more

    6. In case anyone is considering making a cake from this (which is delicious!), beware that you will have to double the recipe. It’s only enough to make 1-9″ layer. But, it works well as a cake – it’s super moist. I used whipped cream instead of the powdered sugar and milk and it was a perfect pairing with the lemon. I also only used 1/2 the called-for lemon juice and zest and the cake had plenty of lemon flavor.

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