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.
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 for a party angel food cake, it 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.
Video Tutorial: How to Make Angel Food Cupcakes
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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:
Now sift in the dry ingredients in stages, gently folding together after each addition to make a foamy batter:
Angel Food Cupcake Quick Tips
We know that was a lot to take in under Recipe Testing just above. Here is a cheat sheet.
- use superfine sugar and real cake flour
- pulse the dry ingredients to aerate
- whip egg whites until fluffy
- sift the dry ingredients into the egg whites
- 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.
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 sauce.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Angel Food Cupcakes
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 4 hours
- Yield: 14-16 cupcakes
- Category: Cupcakes
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
- 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.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- 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.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): KitchenAid Stand Mixer | 5-qt Tilt-Head Glass Mixing Bowl | Ninja Master Prep | Sieve | Egg Yolk Separator | Cupcake Liners | Cupcake Pan | Wilton 8B Star Icing Tip | Icing Spatula
- 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.
- Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!
Keywords: Angel Food Cupcakes
Reader Comments & Reviews
Can you add freeze dried fruit in the food processor with the leftover sugar, flour, and salt? If so, how much would you add?
Hi Karly, I have never tested them that way but I don’t recommend it. Extra ingredients will weigh down this very delicate batter.
It’s a great recipe with very detailed tutorial on the steps. My cupcakes turned out great and this is definitely the lightest and fluffiest cake I’ve ever had!
Hi Sally. Is it possible to use this recipe (6 egg whites) & bake it in a 6 inch removable bottom pan? It doesn’t have the tube. Would it hold up or sink in the middle? Thanks
Hi Maryanne, you can certainly try it but the cake won’t be very sturdy. Cupcakes or a full size angel food cake in a tube pan are best.
Hi Sally, I was wondering what to do with the separated egg yolks. Since you often add extra yolks to your baking, is it sensible to freeze each of them in an ice cube tray and use them as needed? Not sure how much that would change the texture though. Thanks!
Hi Jennie, see my recipe note for all of my recipes using leftover egg yolks. You can freeze egg yolks in ice cube trays. Thaw in the refrigerator then use in any recipe.
Hey Sally, loved this recipe, Thanks for the super helpful tutorial. I was disappointed though when my cupcakes came out of the oven, they kinda sucked in. It’s hard to explain, they stayed the same hight but got skinner, I guess? I am wondering why this happened. I sifted all the ingredients and did everything right, but maybe I didn’t put enough batter in the muffin cups? Anyway, they were delicious, but wondering why this happened. Thanks Sally
Hi Avery, glad you enjoyed how these cupcakes taste! A little shrinking is completely normal and expected from these egg white-heavy cupcakes. A little more batter per cupcake could help a bit for next time though.
Sally I have a question. Any recommendations to stop the shrinkage. I’ve made these 3 times and the result was always the same. I’m wondering if it has something to do with my altitude. Thanks!! (They are delicious though)
Hi Debbie, I wish I could help, but I have no experience baking at high altitude. I know some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html
Thanks for getting back to me.
Well I tried again…..I’m not a quitter! Lol. There wasn’t much difference with the changes I made and by what I’ve read, this seems a common problem. They’re not heavy at all so I think I’ll just fill my baking cups all the way and let the chips (or should I say cupcakes) fall where they may.
Thanks again and just to let you know you are always my go to site when I need a recipe that excels!! Thanks for that also
1. Is there a substitute for cream of tartar?
2. Can I make a cake out of this recipe instead of cupcakes?
Looking forward to hear from you! Thanks a lot for your beautiful recipes!
Hi Aqsa, This is my recipe for Angel Food Cake. Other acids beside cream of tarter, such as lemon juice, can work but they aren’t nearly as effective.
Hi Sally, how long can I store these at room temperature? I’ll be making these a day ahead taking them into work the next day. Thank you!!!
Also if whip cream is not stable at room temperatures can I use your cream cheese frosting instead? Not sure if that would taste good with this
Hi Ellie, These cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. If you are looking for a lighter frosting alternative you can try Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
Just wondering, since I have never made angel food cake or cupcakes, is the cake suppose to be a bit sticky? They came out tasty but I was wonder that. Maybe I didn’t mix it well enough?
Yes! If it’s too sticky, the cake or cupcakes could be under-baked. But some sugar stickiness is completely normal. 🙂
Question: With the sugar. I know it needs to be super fine. Do I measure out the sugar and then put it in a food processor and use that or will this process make more sure because it has been broken down? Or do I break it down super fine and then measure out the sugar?Does that make sense?
Hi Lorie, Yes that makes sense! You want to measure out 3/4 cups of sugar and place that inside your food processor. So measure and then grind it.
With angel food cake, you need to cool the cake upside down. But with cupcakes, do you need to cool the cupcakes upside down? If so, how do you do it?????
You don’t– cool normally.
I was surprised when my friend requested angel food cake for her birthday but luckily I found this recipe! The cupcakes were a hit! I made the homemade whipped cream to go on top too which was perfect. I felt like I was trying so hard to keep the air in the batter that it turned out too fluffy! I made 12 cupcakes and 12 mini cupcakes and still had batter left over!
I tried these cupcakes and I’m quite sure where my mistake was- when I beat the egg whites, I had my mixer to low of a speed. I did it on 4 and I think I needed to go higher- to 6. It took longer than 5-6 minutes. Plus when I spooned the mixture, I noticed some of the egg white was not mixed in well. Will try again!
Hi Tracy, Yes you want to whip the eggs on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. You can see the above photo and video for a visual! Let me know if you try again!
I don’t have a food processor or blender.Do you think it would be alright to just sift the ingredients or do you suggest something else?
Hi Mary! A food processor or blender is certainly key to break down the sugar and mix those ingredients. Purchasing and using superfine sugar would help, though. In a pinch, you can sift & whisk but the results will not be exactly the same.
My husband’s grandma made angel food cake for his birthday every year. I decided to surprise him with angel food cupcakes. They turned out great and it was a great memory!
Sally! These are so good! The cupcake itself with the whipped cream is such a light dessert combination. It was exactly what I wanted.
One thing I thought was weird: the cupcakes almost seemed smaller than normal. Not like they deflated. They stayed the same height as when I took them out of the oven. More like they shrunk in on themselves width wise as they cooked. Is that normal or did something go wrong when I made them? Either way, they were delicious!
I’m so glad you enjoyed them, Stephanie! Was the texture still super light and fluffy? If so you didn’t do anything wrong!
Recipe was so easy to follow and they turned out exactly like they were supposed to!
This was my first time attempting Angel Food and they turned out perfectly. So light and fluffy!
These we’re SO good but I could not get them out of the cupcake liners without it tearing my cupcake apart. I would never be able to serve these but they tasted great
After we made a great meal together, my husband jokingly asked, “What’s for dessert?” I searched Sally’s recipes for cupcakes and the June Angel Food Challenge brought these up. I’d never made Angel Food before so I guess ignorance is bliss – I didn’t stress, I just followed Sally’s directions. They came out great! I wanted a sweeter, richer topping so I made buttercream frosting. When I brought one out to my husband, he was blown away that I made Angel Food cupcakes because his mother was always trying to make a perfect Angel Food cake. Her success was spotty because she didn’t have Sally 😉 He said that this is the best cake/cupcake I’ve ever made (but he’s sure he’ll feel that way about the next cake I make). These keep calling his name so they won’t be around long.
Made these today and topped them with your whipped cream recipe and fresh strawberries. They are so yummy!
Instead of pulsing regular sugar, could you use powdered sugar?
Hi Twyla! Powdered sugar is too compact– you need the superfine sugar.
It’s not letting me rate the recipe, but I give it 5 stars!!! I used all purpose with cornstarch because I dont have cake flour, and it’s just easier for me that way. Just sift the 2 together 5 or 6 times comes out light, and perfect. Anyway, I used strawberry extract instead of vanilla and I did the same with the whipped cream I made. They did deflate a little as they cooled, but the taste is amazing! I think I over whipped everything though. Still not bad for my first ever attempt at doing angel food anything.
These turned out great. Simply delish with strawberries and blueberries, a little sugar and whipped cream. Perfect for using after recipes with left over egg whites. Made sure to follow your tips. Pulse the sugar and my batter was high and nice and pretty and stayed that way. Thank you for step by step instructions. I would also like to say that some baking techniques, requires practice the more you do them the better the result and easier too. The batter is sticky and I used some sturdy cupcake liners, the foil ones. I found they set down in the tins and stayed wide open so I could fill them. Don’t over fill, like you said. Yours is one of the best blog sites around. Thank you so much.
I love angel food cake, so when I saw this, I knew I had to try it, even though I knew I would fail. I did. All was going well, until I noticed, while folding the batter it wasn’t fluffy anymore. My aggressive mixing had popped too many bubbles. I decided to hand mix it just one more time. Spooning it into the liners, even me, the novice baker noticed something was wrong. The whole thing just flopped. I’d over mixed it. Fortunately, your amazing recipe held up. In the oven, my failed cupcakes rose perfectly. Deflated some because I didn’t know how to cool them upside down, they still tasted amazing. Thank you! I’ll be making these again!
My first time to bake angel food cupcakes and they turned out amazing!
I was nervous at first since it will be for a special young ladies event just last Saturday. But thanks to your detailed instructions and tips, I decided to make them. 🙂
I am so glad I did as they all loved these cupcakes and one sweet lady friend commented, “the taste is heavenly”!
Thanks a lot for this my dear Sally.
Warm regards from Belgium.
p.s. the cupcake wrappers stick closed to the airy cupcakes that they turned out cute looking and elegant. Wish I could show the picture. 🙂