Light and fluffy, delicate matcha cupcakes, optionally topped with dairy-free frosting. This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and you can even make it refined sugar-free and oil-free!
It’s been quite a few years since matcha really exploded onto the food and drink scene globally, and we all wondered (or maybe just me?) how and why this secret had been kept from us. Especially since it’s been used for centuries in Japan and East Asia for drinking and culinary purposes. That includes matcha desserts, like these cupcakes (or muffins if you want to leave them unfrosted).
Matcha is earthy, wonderfully green, packed with health benefits, and tastes delicious when combined into matcha dessert treats. As it is a delicate flavor, it’s best not to overpower it with too many strong flavors though, so I’ve even provided several options for complimentary frostings/toppings like this homemade white chocolate or a cashew-based frosting.
Unless, of course, you want to go frosting-free. In which case, you can enjoy these as matcha muffins instead. Luckily, they look as good as they taste, with a beautiful green color that is sure to impress!
Best of all, the below matcha cake recipe is dairy-free, vegan, and gluten-free! I’ve also included options to make them sugar-free or with all-purpose flour if preferred.
What Is Matcha Green Tea Powder?
Matcha green tea powder is a type of green tea that’s ground into a fine powder from the dried leaves. The tea originates in East Asia, particularly Japan. It tastes earthy, ‘vegetal,’ and ever so slightly bitter depending on what type you’re using.
It’s also absolutely full of nutrients and antioxidants. By using the powder, matcha includes all the nutrients from the entire leaf, which means the antioxidant level can be up to 137 x greater than any other green tea.
Matcha green tea powder is also packed with several vitamins, including vitamin A, C, E, K, and B-complex vitamins. Various studies also show how matcha tea powder can boost liver health, brain function, and even promote heart health.
More so, it only contains small amounts of caffeine, meaning that it can provide a slight energy boost but without the negative ‘crash’ that often accompanies high-caffeine items.
What Is The Best Matcha For Cupcakes?
There are three main types of matcha tea powder, called ‘grades.’ These are culinary, premium, and ceremonial (from cheapest to most expensive). Culinary is usually used for cooking and baking (like making matcha cake, cookies, bread, and muffins), while the higher quality powder is used for drinking.
Culinary matcha is often thought of as being of lower quality. However, it is actually purposefully stronger in flavor and slightly more bitter to cut through all the other ingredients and still stand out.
If you want a subtler, less bitter flavor, you can use premium matcha, which is still potent enough in flavor for these vegan cupcakes.
Ceremonial matcha is the most expensive and milder/sweeter in flavor. This means it can become overpowered easily within baked goods. Though, if you do want a very delicate flavor, then feel free to use it.
Avoid products labeled ‘green tea powder‘ or any powders that contain extra ingredients such as sugar, dairy powder, etc.
Below you can see the ingredients that I used for the gluten-free matcha muffins. If you don’t need them to be gluten-free, simply use 140 grams of all-purpose flour.
How To Make Vegan Matcha Cupcakes
For the full ingredients list, measurements, complete recipe method, and nutritional information, read the recipe card below.
Step 1: The preparation
- If you’re planning on making the frosting, then soak the cashews in hot water for 1 hour. Alternatively, boil them for 15 minutes until soft. Then drain and pat dry.
- Line a muffin pan with eight regular-sized paper liners and preheat the oven to 360 °F/180 °C.
If you’re planning on making mini muffins, then you’ll need more, smaller liners.
Step 2: Make the batter
- Add all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir with a spoon. I recommend sifting the matcha and baking powder. You can also process the dry ingredients in a food processor or blender for just a few seconds.
- Combine the wet ingredients in a different medium-sized bowl and whisk well.
- Then, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine with a whisk or hand mixer.
Step 3: Bake the matcha muffins
- Divide the batter among the wells of the muffin pan. I used an ice cream scoop (about 1 – 1 1/2 scoops per liner).
- Bake for between 20-24 minutes. To make sure the muffins are ready, insert a toothpick into the center of one. It should come out almost clean (it’s ok if there are some crumbs on the toothpick, but it shouldn’t come out wet).
- Allow the cakes to cool completely. You can enjoy them plain as muffins, or with icing, like green tea cupcakes.
Step 4: Make the icing/frosting
- For Simple ‘Icing’: Combine a few tablespoons of powdered sugar (or powdered Erythritol) mixed with a little plant-based milk + lemon juice until it has your desired consistency.
- Whipped Cream: You can also use dairy-free whipped cream (e.g., whipped coconut cream).
- Chocolate Drizzle: Alternatively, skip the frosting and drizzle the matcha muffins with a little melted white chocolate or dark chocolate (I prefer white with matcha).
Alternatively, make a simple cashew-based frosting (recipe with measurements below in the recipe card). These are the ingredients that you will need:
- Combine all the ingredients, except the cashews, in a bowl and whisk until smooth and lump-free.
- Then, transfer to a saucepan, and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Allow it to boil and thicken for 30-60 seconds, then switch off the heat.
- Combine this thickened mixture with the soaked cashews in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Scrape the sides of the blender jug occasionally.
- Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (or 30 minutes in the freezer), to thicken ready for piping.
This dairy-free frosting isn’t as thick as buttercream, so the vegan cupcakes will need to be refrigerated.
- Pipe it onto the muffins and enjoy!
How To Store
Fridge: Store the leftover matcha cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Freeze: You can freeze the plain (not frosted) matcha muffins and transfer them to an airtight freezer-safe bag or wrap them in plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Alternatively, the frosted cupcakes can be transferred to a freezer-safe container and stored for up to 1 month.
Thaw in the refrigerator or defrost/warm in the microwave.
Can I Use All-Purpose Flour?
Yes. I’ve tested this recipe with all-purpose flour instead of the combination of gluten-free flour types. It turned out wonderfully and slightly fluffier than the gluten-free muffins.
Make sure not to over mix the batter though, or the gluten will overdevelop, and the muffins won’t be fluffy.
I also made the gluten-free muffins once with just oat flour (without the additional rice flour) and they turned out quite dense, so I wouldn’t recommend it.
A combination of oat flour and almond flour works fine too, though they are denser than the version with rice flour and oat flour (or the version with all-purpose flour). If you want to give it a try, then use 90 grams of oat flour and 80 grams of almond flour (everything else remains the same).
Recipe Notes & Variations
- I tried to make these vegan muffins with cashew butter instead of oil, and they turned out good, but they are a little fluffier with oil.
- Top Tip: Use matcha that is lighter and brighter green instead of dark or murky green in color. When it comes to matcha powder, it’s best to spend a little extra for higher quality, no matter which grade.
- The color of these matcha cupcakes will vary based on the color of the powder you’ve used. Too much heat can also cause the color to change.
- Optional Add-Ins: The delicate flavor of matcha in these green tea muffins is best when not overpowered by other flavors. However, it pairs well with several popular cupcake flavors (like chocolate!). So feel free to add in some chocolate chips (dark or white). A sprinkle of freeze-dried raspberry pieces or powder over the top also adds only a little flavor, but the reddish-pink against the green cupcakes is striking and beautiful.
- For more ingredient notes, refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this post!
Other Vegan Muffin Recipes
If you enjoyed these simple matcha muffins, you might enjoy these other vegan muffin recipes.
- Vegan Blueberry Muffins
- Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
- The Best Vegan Chocolate Muffins
- Vegan Apple Muffins With Streusel
- Chocolate Chip Sweet Potato Muffins
If you give this matcha cupcakes recipe a try, I’d love a comment and ★★★★★ recipe rating below. Also, please don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan #elavegan – I love seeing them.
Vegan Matcha Cupcakes
- Watch the video in the post for easy visual instructions.
- If making the frosting, soak the cashews in hot water for about 1 hour (or boil them for 15 minutes) until soft, then discard the water.
- Line a muffin pan with 8 paper liners (regular size) and preheat the oven to 360 °F (ca. 180 °C). If using a mini muffin pan, you will need more paper liners.
- Add all dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir thoroughly with a spoon. I recommend sifting the baking powder and matcha. You can also process all dry ingredients in a food processor or blender to distribute the matcha evenly.I used 1 1/2 tablespoons of ceremonial matcha (which is less bitter). Feel free to use just 1 tablespoon if using culinary matcha.
- Combine the wet ingredients in a different medium-sized bowl and stir with a whisk.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a whisk. You can also use a hand mixer. Do not over-mix the batter if using all-purpose flour.If your flour is very fine, you might need to use 3/4 cup of dairy-free milk, otherwise, your batter might be too thick. Start with 2/3 cup and add more if needed.
- Divide the batter among the wells of the muffin pan. I used an ice cream scoop and about 1 - 1 1/2 scoops per muffin (1 scoop for the AP flour version and 1 1/2 scoops for the gluten-free version).
- Bake for about 20-24 minutes. To make sure the muffins are done, insert a toothpick into the center of one muffin. It should come out almost clean (it's ok if there are some crumbs attached to the toothpick, but it shouldn't come out wet).
- Let the muffins cool completely. You can enjoy them plain or with icing (e.g. a few tablespoons of powdered sugar or powdered Erythritol mixed with a tiny bit of plant-based milk + lemon juice until it has your desired consistency). You can also use dairy-free whipped cream (e.g. whipped coconut cream), or make my frosting recipe.
- Add all frosting ingredients, except the cashews, to a medium-sized bowl and stir with a whisk until there are no lumps.
- Transfer this mixture to a saucepan and bring it to a boil, stirring frequently. Let it boil for 30-60 seconds (it will get super thick, that's normal), then turn off the heat.
- Add this mixture to a high-speed blender along with the soaked cashews. Blend until completely smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the blender from time to time.Depending on your blender you might need to add a few tablespoons of plant-based milk in addition. If you have a powerful high-speed blender you'll need just about 120-140 ml, but if your blender is not powerful, you'll need a bit more milk (up to 160 ml). Try not to add too much though, otherwise, the frosting will be too thin.
- Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour (or freeze it for about 30 minutes) until thickened which helps to pipe it onto the muffins. Since it's not as thick as buttercream, I recommend refrigerating it.
- Pipe it onto the muffins and enjoy! Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
Video Of The Recipe
- Flour: I tested the recipe with 140 grams of regular all-purpose flour instead of oat flour + rice flour. The muffins turned out lighter and fluffier. A gluten-free 1:1 all-purpose flour should work fine too (I haven't tried it though). Check the post for a version with almond flour.
- Sugar: Use organic white sugar, or a sugar-free sweetener like Erythritol (my preference), or Xylitol. If using regular sugar, you can use less, if you prefer it less sweet.
- Plant-based milk: Any dairy-free milk is fine. Some examples are almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, oat milk, etc.
- Oil: If you want to make the muffins oil-free, then use 60 grams of nut butter like cashew butter or coconut butter.
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically