Angel Food Cupcakes

This recipe for light-as-air angel food cupcakes is a wonderful choice if you’re looking for a delightful summer dessert. Topped with fluffy whipped cream and fresh berries, these cupcakes are both refreshing and beautiful.

angel food cupcakes topped with berries

If we’re talking dessert (and we usually are), we know summer is home to many seasonal favorites. This is the time for key lime pie, peach cobbler, cherry pie, strawberry shortcake, and the list goes on. (Here’s our full summer recipes section.)

Angel food cake is another popular summertime choice. Topped with whipped cream and served with fresh fruit or embellished with chocolate ganache and sprinkles, angel food cake is truly the epitome of light summer sweets. So, can we turn our angel food cake into cupcakes without compromising the taste and texture? The answer, we discovered, is yes.


Angel Food Cupcakes Details

  • Texture: These angel food cupcakes are cloudlike puffy and fluffy. We’re almost certain you could skip the pool floats this summer because you’ll float away after 1 bite. Ha!
  • Flavor: You’ll enjoy a delicately sweet flavor with a lovely hint of vanilla. If our taste buds are anything alike, we’re confident these will be the tastiest angel food cupcakes you try.
  • Ease: These cupcakes are completely made from scratch with just 7 ingredients. But we can’t achieve this perfection for free. We need to get our sugar superfine, sift and aerate dry ingredients, whip the egg whites, and in general, handle our batter with care. Because there’s a couple finicky steps, we call this an intermediate baking recipe.

angel food cupcakes on teal cake stand

angel food cupcakes topped with whipped cream and berries

Recipe Testing Angel Food Cupcakes: What Works & What Doesn’t

Prepared without any fat like butter, oil, or egg yolks, angel food cupcakes rely on specific ingredients and careful mixing methods.

  1. Superfine sugar. The first step is to pulse regular granulated sugar in a food processor, grinding it down into a superfine sugar. Larger sugar granules harshly cut into the angel food cake batter, deflating the egg whites in their path. Don’t sabotage your recipe from the beginning– it’s imperative to use superfine sugar.
  2. Use real cake flour. All-purpose flour produces a dense angel food cake– it will end up tasting like white bread. In a pinch, you can use this cake flour substitute but the results are more favorable if you use actual cake flour.
  3. Aeration time. There’s another essential step while you’ve got the food processor out. It’s called aerating the dry ingredients and it’s crucial to the outcome of your angel food cupcakes. Aerating (1) fluffs the dry ingredients up and (2) allows them to dissolve quicker and more easily into the egg whites. Both are important!
  4. Whipping the egg whites. Egg whites, a little water, and cream of tartar make the base of angel food cake. You’ll whip them, along with 1/2 cup of superfine sugar, until light and fluffy. Make sure there are no yolks hiding in the batter as their fat will prevent the egg whites from whipping properly. (You might remember that if you’ve ever tried French Macarons.)
  5. No chemical leaveners needed. You’ll notice that baking powder and baking soda are missing from the recipe. That’s not by mistake– the air in whipped egg whites give the cupcakes all their rise. (Just like chocolate soufflé.) Since we’re not leaning on a chemical leavener as a crutch, it’s important to handle that air with care so the cupcakes don’t deflate. Meaning… don’t overwork the batter as you add the dry ingredients. 
  6. What does the cream of tartar do? It holds the air bubbles in place, ensuring that angel food cake’s batter maintains its fluff ball volume when baked. If you leave out the cream of tartar, the egg whites will deflate.And the water? It breaks up the sugar, so the cupcakes aren’t as sticky. Note: We don’t find water necessary in a larger angel food cake.
  7. Give the batter a break. As mentioned above, we don’t want to overwork the cake batter. We’ll put that into practice when we add the dry ingredients. (Don’t get nervous. I’m literally asking you to do less work.)
  8. Sifting is key. Sift the dry ingredients into the egg whites in parts, folding between each addition. Sift a little in, fold together, sift a little more in, fold together, etc. Dumping all the dry ingredients into the delicate egg whites will deflate them. If you haven’t caught on by now, the fluffier and puffier your angel food cake batter, the fluffier and puffier your angel food cupcakes.
  9. Spoon the batter. The batter is foamy (air!), so you can’t pour it into your cupcake liners. Instead, grab a spoon and spoon the batter into each cup filling about 3/4 full. The cupcakes only take about 18-20 minutes. The tops will be a very pale golden brown and will bounce back if you gently poke them.

Here’s a photo of the whipped egg white mixture:

whipped egg whites in a stand mixer with whisk attachment

Now sift in the dry ingredients in stages, gently folding together after each addition to make a foamy batter:

2 images of angel food cupcakes batter in a glass bowl

Angel food cupcakes in a cupcake pan

Angel Food Cupcake Quick Tips

We know that was a lot to take in under Recipe Testing just above. Here is a cheat sheet.

  1. use superfine sugar and real cake flour
  2. pulse the dry ingredients to aerate
  3. whip egg whites until fluffy
  4. sift the dry ingredients into the egg whites
  5. carefully fold the batter together

This photo speaks for itself where you can see the deflated and shriveled cupcake vs. the light and fluffy cupcake. Taking a few extra minutes to correctly prepare the recipe makes all the difference.

2 angel food cupcakes with one overmixed cupcake and one perfect cupcake

Toppings

We use and recommend homemade whipped cream as the frosting. You don’t want anything to weigh down or take away from these light cupcakes. Something just as light – or even lighter – keeps the spotlight on the angel food cupcakes themselves.

You could also spoon lemon curd on top or serve them with strawberry topping sauce.

angel food cupcake on silver plate

Brand Recommendations

  1. Blender/Food Processor. You need a food processor or blender to make this recipe possible. My team and I always use and recommend this ninja blender.
  2. Fine Mesh Strainer. Remember that the sifting step is imperative. We use and love this fine mesh sieve. You can use a hand crank sifter if you have one, but we prefer using a mesh one.
  3. Egg separator. The more diverse your baking becomes, the more you’ll find yourself separating eggs (Pavlova, French Macarons, Banana Cream Pie, and Swiss Meringue Buttercream for example.) Eggs are a truly magical ingredient in baking because they can do so many things when whole and even more when separated. Anyway, this is our favorite separator.
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angel food cupcakes on teal cake stand

Angel Food Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 14-16 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This recipe for light-as-air angel food cupcakes is a wonderful choice if you’re looking for a delightful summer dessert. Prepared without any fat like butter, oil, or egg yolks, angel food cupcakes rely on specific ingredients and careful mixing methods. For best success, follow this recipe closely.


Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (59g) cake flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon warm water
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Homemade Whipped Cream for topping

Instructions

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position and preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 2-4 liners – this recipe makes about 14-16 cupcakes. Set aside.
  2. Make the cupcakes: In a food processor or blender (I use this one), pulse the sugar until fine and powdery. Remove 1/2 cup and set aside to use in step 3; keep the rest inside the food processor. Add the cake flour and salt to the food processor. Pulse 5-10 times until sugar/flour/salt mixture is aerated and light.
  3. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip egg whites, water, and cream of tartar together on medium low until foamy, about 1 minute. Switch to medium-high and slowly add the 1/2 cup of sugar. Whip until soft peaks form, about 5-6 minutes. See photo above for visual. Add the vanilla extract and beat just until incorporated.
  4. In several additions, slowly sift the flour mixture into the egg white mixture using a fine-mesh strainer, gently folding after each addition. To avoid the cupcakes from deflating or tasting dense, don’t add the flour mixture all at once. Sift and very slowly fold in several additions. This is important! Spoon batter into liners, filling only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides.
  5. Bake the cupcakes until very lightly browned around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. For around 3 dozen mini cupcakes, bake for about 10-12 minutes, same oven temperature.
  6. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  7. Spread or pipe homemade whipped cream onto cupcakes. I used a small icing spatula for some, but a Wilton 8B tip looks wonderful (see picture above!). Garnish with fresh berries.
  8. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. To freeze, wrap unfrosted cupcakes individually in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and freeze in a large container. Thaw on the counter before frosting and serving.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): KitchenAid Stand Mixer | 5-qt Tilt-Head Glass Mixing Bowl | Ninja Master Prep | SieveEgg Yolk SeparatorCupcake Liners | Cupcake Pan | Wilton 8B Star Icing Tip | Icing SpatulaBlue Cake Stand
  3. Egg Whites: 1 large egg white is about 2 Tablespoons, so if using carton egg whites, use around 12-13 Tablespoons. For the best accuracy and texture, I strongly recommend using egg whites from eggs you crack yourself. For the leftover egg yolks, here are all of my recipes that use egg yolks.
  4. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

212 Comments

  1. Sally, This recipe is the bomb! I made them for our friends and they loved them. I believe, with any recipe I find online, you must know your over. Mine tends to run at the max time of what recipes say, so I make sure to watch and adjust accordingly.

    This recipe was spot on. I did, however, pair it with berries that I tossed with limoncello and a doplop of whip cream.

    Individual angel food cakes…who knew!

  2. I was skeptical at first. The batter looked just like meringue before baking. However, this recipe exceeded my expectations. If you follow the recipe, you will have no problems. Just a heads up. They do not rise like an angel food cake would. So I would suggest filling the liners all the way up. I used an ice cream scooper but now I wish I would have used my larger muffin scooper because it turned out 22 cupcakes instead of 16. I will definitely make this again. They tasted really good. Next time I will add a teaspoon of almond extract with the vanilla extract to give it a more authentic taste.

  3. Would it work just as well to use egg whites in a carton sold at the grocery store as a substitute for “freshly-separated” egg whites?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Misi, Although carton egg whites don’t whip up to nearly the same volume, you can try to use them if you wish. See recipe notes for details.

  4. Elizabeth the Rookie Baker says:

    Hi! I love all of the recipes I’ve tried with you! I was wondering if this recipe would support some light sprinkles for a confetti cake effect? How would I go about adding them? Just fold them in after the flour?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Elizabeth, Yes you can very gently fold sprinkles into the batter before baking! You can see how we made a Party Angel Food Cake this way 🙂

  5. Hi sally, about how many times to I fold over the dry ingredients in the angel food cake? Am I to make sure all the dry ingredients are completely folded in or can there be area where I still see dry patches. Worry that I overfold

  6. Marlyn Rodriguez says:

    It taste like sugar. That’s it.

  7. Would I be able to use this recipe for a 3 tier 6inch cake?

    1. Hi Elsie, it should be enough batter but I’m uncertain how the cake’s texture would turn out. Let us know if you try anything.

  8. Wendy Antoncich says:

    First of all the flavor and texture were awesome! But the tops were kind of sticky. What should I do to correct? Bake longer? Whip more? Looking for nutritional information as well. Love your website!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Wendy! If it’s too sticky, the cake or cupcakes could be under-baked. But some sugar stickiness is completely normal. We’re unsure of the nutritional info of this recipe, but there are many great online calculators like this one: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

      1. Thank you Trina! It won’t be long before I make these again and next time I’ll bake longer.

  9. Hello! Long time fan, first time commenter!
    Do you have to use regular granulated sugar that’s been pulsed in a food processor/blender, or can you use finely granulated or ‘berry sugar’?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Rebecca! You can use superfine sugar here. Or pulse regular granulated sugar as instructed.

  10. Hello! Question about the 1 tbsp water…I’m going to make 3 mini loaves with the recipe and wondering if I should keep it in the mix? I don’t see adding water to the standard angel food came to prevent it from being sticky. Thoughts? Do I want the stick because I’m not using liners and the batter NEEDS to be sticky to climb the pan walls?

    1. Hi Kelly, our apologies– for some reason we’re just seeing your comment now. You could probably get away with skipping the water for mini loaves, but I haven’t tested it to be certain. Did you end up trying it?

  11. HI Sally, Is there a reason to process the sugar instead of starting with sifted icing sugar or caster sugar?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Joyanne, you can use castor sugar in this recipe.

  12. Hello!

    I’d like to make 24 cupcakes, can I duplicate the ingredients?

    Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Karina! To make 24 cupcakes we would follow the angel food cake recipe instead (it is this recipe practically doubled). Then bake as directed for cupcakes. Enjoy!

  13. Hi Sally! I absolutely LOVE these cupcakes and currently have a batch in the oven. I was wondering, since I have so much extra batter and only have one muffin pan, will the batter be fine on the counter for 20 minutes until I can make another batch?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Claire, that’s fine! Just cover the leftover batter loosely with a clean kitchen towel until ready to use. Enjoy!

  14. Rosemary Carrescia says:

    Hello,
    Could you revise your recipe if we are using Baker’s Sugar. Would using Baker’s Sugar make the process any easier?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rosemary! You can use superfine/Baker’s sugar here (skip the step of pulsing the granulated sugar).

  15. Sally,
    How can I make this recipe dairy free? Or what is your best dairy free cake/cupcake option? Thanks.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Melissa! These angel food cupcakes themselves are dairy free, but you would need to find a different topping – perhaps you could make a whipped cream with canned coconut milk? You could do a quick google search find one. Let us know what you try!

  16. Hi Sally! I have a question: Is it possible to OVERBEAT the egg whites? I made these for the first time and I followed your instructions to a T. But I found that it was really hard to fold the flour into the egg whites (I sifted just a few tablespoons at a time with a fine mesh strainer) because the whites were so firm. It was also really hard to fill the cupcake cups because it was like working with a thick foam that did NOT want to settle into the muffin tins. The end result looked more like a baked meringue than a cupcake. I looked at your video for regular angel food cake (not cupcakes) and I noticed that your batter was much more pourable than mine. I’d really like to try this again but I’m not sure what I did wrong the last time. I would LOVE your feed back! Will you post a video of you making these cupcakes? Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Miyoung, We are working on a new video for these angel food cupcakes! In the meantime, it does sound like your egg whites were over-whipped. In doing this, the egg whites become too stiff (matte and foamy instead of glossy and soft), which would make the batter itself too thick. When beating the egg whites, stop and check them often since it’s only a few seconds between perfect soft peaks and over-whipped. Let us know if you try them again!

      1. Thank you! I’ve never baked with egg whites before. I didn’t realized that they could get too stiff. I’m sure that is what happened. They were yummy though! I made mini meringues! I will definitely try them again.

  17. Hi Sally! I made these and they were SO delicious! I followed the recipe to a tee but I had one issue which I’m not sure is normal. When I took the cupcakes out of the oven, they were full size. I let them sit in the tin for 10 minutes and the transferred to a wire rack for cooling. When I cake back, the cupcakes SHRUNK so tiny they were hardly bitesize. Surly this can’t be right, lol. Where did I go wrong?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Alisha! A little shrinking is completely normal and expected from these egg white-heavy cupcakes. Was the texture still super light and fluffy? If so you didn’t do anything wrong! Otherwise, they may have been under-baked.

      1. Phew! Okay, good to know! They were so light and fluffy! Definitely making these again. Thank you 🙂

  18. These were great. I doubted my ability to make them because I typically ruin recipes that ask you to fold, but they turned out! Only ask is to update the recipe with a how to fold description.

  19. Hi! I followed the recipe EXACTLY and it still turned out like the bad one…what did I do wrong?

  20. Hi! Is it also okay to used brown eggs in baking?

  21. The second go round these came out great, but a few notes!

    Keep a close eye while whipping the meringue, 5-6 minutes is way too long for my mixer.

    You MUST use paper cupcake liners. I had some lovely gold foil liners, and the batter made them crinkle up into a weird shape.

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