King Cake Cupcakes


Less yeasty and more cake-like than king cake, these quick cakes get you the vanilla-nutmeg-lemon-buttermilk flavor and fun colors of a traditional king cake - without waiting around for a yeasted dough to rise.

Prep Time:
30 mins
Cook Time:
15 mins
Additional Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 20 mins
12 cupcakes



  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ cup butter, softened

  • ¾ cup white sugar

  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

  • 2 egg whites

  • cup buttermilk

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • ½ (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

  • ¼ cup butter, softened

  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

  • 2 ¾ cups powdered sugar, or more as needed

  • Gold luster dust and green and purple sanding sugars


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper cup liners.

  2. Stir together flour, baking powder, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Cream butter, 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add half of the flour mixture, all the buttermilk, and remaining flour mixture, beating after each addition until just combined.

  3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full, and smooth tops with the back of a spoon.

  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack, about 30 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, make frosting. Blend cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar to reach a spreading consistency.

  6. Frost cooled cupcakes and decorate with luster dust and sanding sugars.

Cook's Note:

Substitute vanilla extract for the paste, if preferred.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

317 Calories
11g Fat
53g Carbs
3g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 317
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 7g 35%
Cholesterol 31mg 10%
Sodium 201mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 53g 19%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 44g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 1mg 4%
Calcium 40mg 3%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 57mg 1%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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