Copycat Hostess Cupcakes – Low Carb, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free


Copycat Hostess Cupcakes. The classic childhood treat made over to be low carb, dairy free and grain free. Healthy indulgences!

low carb dairy free Hostess Cupcakes

Today is my 41st birthday. And you might think I made these low carb dairy-free Hostess Cupcakes to celebrate but I did not. See, in order to bring you a recipe, I have to make it, photograph it and write about it several days or even weeks in advance. So these pretty little things were actually made several weeks ago, and they weren’t with my birthday in mind at all. I just wanted them. Waiting until my birthday to make them was just not good enough for me. And really, should we have to wait for birthdays or other special occasions to eat cake? I think not.

I made these dairy-free for no other reason than I wanted to. I don’t have any issues with dairy myself and copious amounts of butter, cream and cheese pass my lips on a daily basis. But I’ve had a can of coconut milk in the fridge for some time, for the express purpose of making low carb coconut whipped cream. I thought it would make a great filling for some copycat Hostess Cupcakes. And I figured since I was going that far, I might as well go whole hog and  make everything dairy-free. Food intolerances often got hand in hand, sadly, and many readers have expressed that they have a dairy intolerance along with a gluten or wheat intolerance. I am nothing if not accommodating to my readership!

Low Carb Grain Free Hostess Cupcakes

It was good to challenge myself in this way. I figured it would be easy to adjust my standard recipes for dairy-free ingredients, and for the most part it was. But I learned a few little things in the process, useful tidbits for the dairy-free folks. I already knew that coconut oil makes things more tender than butter. Since these cupcakes needed to be sturdy enough to be filled, I used a little less coconut oil than I normally would butter. I also found that coconut whipped cream won’t stay as whipped at room temperature as traditional whipped cream, so I had to refrigerate the cupcakes to keep the filling from becoming too runny. And finally, coconut oil chocolate ganache…oh my. Very different than butter-based chocolate ganache. It was very runny when I first made it, so I couldn’t get it to stay on the tops of the cakes. I tried refrigerating it to thicken it up, but then it hardened up too quickly so I had to remelt it. Finally I whisked in some cocoa powder to firm it up and let it cool until it was just barely pourable. I spooned it over the tops of the cakes and spread it around.

Dairy Free Sugar Free Hostess Cupcakes

The results of my dairy-free experiment were utterly delicious. And for those of you that aren’t coconut lovers, they didn’t taste like coconut at all. My kids, who can be a little funny when I use “different” ingredients, went absolutely gaga over these. They met all of my own expectations…chocolatey cupcakes with a creamy vanilla center and a chocolate glaze on top. Like the cupcakes of my youth without the guilt.

Copycat Hostess Cupcakes Recipe Low Carb

Copycat Hostess Cupcakes – Low Carb, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free

Yield: 15 cupcakes

Serving Size: 1 cupcake

Copycat Hostess Cupcakes – Low Carb, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free

Copycat Hostess cupcakes made low carb, gluten free, dairy free and grain free. A healthy indulgence!


  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2/3 cup dark cocoa
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup meringue powder (unsweetened powdered egg whites)
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee (optional, improves chocolate flavour)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda OR 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar (omit if using baking powder)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup Kelapo coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup Swerve Sweetener
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp Stevia Extract
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (omit if using baking powder)
  • Cream Filling:
  • 1 15-oz can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
  • 5 tbsp powdered Swerve Sweetener, divided use
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Chocolate Ganache:
  • 2 1/2 tbsp Kelapo coconut oil
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 tbsp powdered Swerve Sweetener
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder


  1. Preheat oven to 325F and line 15 muffins cups with paper liners (parchment ones are best for non-stickability). I realize this is an awkward number of cupcakes but it's how the recipe came out! I did my last 3 after the first 12 were baked.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, cocoa powder, coconut flour, meringue powder, instant coffee, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat coconut oil with sweetener until well combined. Beat in eggs, vanilla extract, and stevia extract.
  4. Beat in half of the almond flour mixture, and then almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Beat in remaining almond flour mixture until well combined.
  5. Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full with batter and bake 18 to 22 minutes, until just firm to the touch and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove and let cool 10 minutes in pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Using a knife or a 1 inch round cookie cutter, core each cupcake and cut just the top off each core (to put back on the filled cupcakes).
  8. Cream Filling:
  9. Remove can of coconut milk from the fridge and flip it upside down. Open can and pour off all the coconut water (reserve for smoothies or some other use).
  10. Scoop out all of the coconut cream and place in large bowl.
  11. Add 3 tbsp powdered sweetener and vanilla extract and beat until it resembles whipped cream.
  12. Spoon filling into center of each cupcake and then top with thin top from cupcake cores. You will have some leftover cream filling and will use some of it for the white squiggles across the top.
  13. Refrigerate cupcakes while preparing ganache.
  14. Chocolate Ganache:
  15. Melt coconut oil, chocolate and sweetener in a small pot over low heat, stirring until smooth.
  16. Stir in cocoa powder until smooth.
  17. Let sit 20 to 30 minutes until thickened, (but don't let it completely cool or it will become too hard - you want it thick enough to spread over the tops of the cakes).
  18. Remove cupcakes from fridge and use a spoon to spread ganache over the top of each. Chill until set.
  19. For the white writing across the top, mix 2 tbsp of leftover coconut cream filling with remaining 2 tbsp powdered Swerve until smooth.
  20. Spoon into a plastic baggie with the very tip cut off and pipe onto cooled cupcakes in whatever design you wish.


Serves 15. Each cupcake has 12 g of carbs and 6 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 6 g.

295 Calories; 26g Fat (73.8% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 12g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 61mg Cholesterol; 248mg Sodium

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  1. Donna Hardin says

    Happy Birthday! I am very excited to try! My Swerve order is expected to arrive today! Just to clarify…I have Clear NuStevia, is this stevia extract? I hope so! Typically, as I am still new to this type of baking, I am missing one ingredient, but if that’s the extract and my Swerve arrives, my guys will get a treat tonight!! Have a marvelous day!! Your Iowa friend.

  2. says

    Happy Birthday!! Today is also my husband’s birthday and I’m making your brownie cheesecake to celebrate. This recipe looks delicious! Question though – the last few cans of coconut milk I’ve had do not do what they are supposed to after I refrigerate them overnight. I open the can up, and the contents are rock hard and I have to scrape it out to get it out of the can, and then it obviously does not thicken at all because it’s so crumbly and hard. Does this mean I have a bad can of coconut milk?

      • says

        I tried with 2 cans of Taste of Thai and no luck! I bought Thai Kitchen this time so we’ll see if it works. You put it in the fridge unopened right? And don’t shake it or anything?

  3. Mary Anna says

    Nice! I’ve actually been making your ganache (for the peanut butter tart or the nanaimo bars) with coconut oil all along. I love the way it firms up when chilled (kind of like that ‘magic shell’ stuff). For those I just pour it on (as the pan will contain it), but for cupcakes, maybe holding the cupcake upside down and dipping into the ganache would work? I’ve dipped fruit (raspberries, strawberries) in it, and I’ve also made little bonbon things out of the leftover crust of the peanut butter tart – at one point I mixed the leftover crust with a little peanut butter, rolled into balls and dipped in the ganache. yum!!

    • Carolyn says

      I actually tried the dipping, but couldn’t quite get it as thick on there as I wanted. I think if I were to do that, I would dip once, refrigerate them and then dip again to get a thicker coating.

  4. Rica says

    Happy Birthday Carolyn!

    For your birthday, a little story. My brother and his wife live overseas, they have a daughter age 9. Sometime ago, I shared the book Wheat Belly with them, and my own story about going gluten free and losing my Asthma. So I think that they are trying to eat less gluten, but have been fooled by the media and the advertisers, that if a box or package from the store says it’s gluten-free it must be healthier. Last night, I was talking with my niece and I asked her what she had baked recently. She said brownies. I asked Box or Homemade. She said box, but then added that they had added two kinds of nuts. I begged to guess which kind. My guess was macadamia nuts and walnuts. Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding….I was correct! My niece was charmed. So then, I told her we had just come back from visiting my in-laws, where my mother-in-law celebrated a milestone birthday. I asked my niece if she would care to guess how old my mother-in-law was. I gave her this hint: she was over 85, but under 92. She guessed 90. Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding…..she was correct! You win a new pillow!

    Happy Birthday again Carolyn, I can’t wait to make this with my niece, the next time we are together.

  5. Eric says

    Happy Birthday, Carolyn. Hope your day has been fun filled, and that you got to spend it with people you treasure. And I, too, want to extend my thanks for all the wonderful creations you manage, somehow, to come up with – they have certainly enriched my life and my diet, when I had feared my options were few. I am not sure how you manage to do it, and to post new recipes as often as you do, but I’m not complaining! Cheers.

  6. Leslie says

    Happy, happy birthday! I’m just chiming in with my thanks for all your recipes. Hope you had a great day.

    One of your CA fans…Leslie

  7. Debra says

    Happy Birthday Carolyn! Hope you have a great day enjoying these fabulous cupcakes. They sound delicious!

  8. Christine Mayfield says

    I was just thinking I wish I could find a low-carb hostess copycat recipe. So glad I found and subscribed to your blog.

  9. Pam says

    Thank you for this great recipe, happy “B” day hope you had a fun one. I will make these for St. Patrick’s day tinting the filling green. They will look great with the green piping sitting on a plate with a green doily.

  10. says

    Happy birthday! Just remember that someday, 41 will sound really young to you! Enjoy it while you can.

    I was thrilled to see that this is dairy free. I still can’t eat eggs or almonds, but am back on chocolate, so I can have the icing and filling!

  11. Leslie says


    Just a quick question about the meringue powder. The only ones I could find have sugar in the ingredients list. In fact, in some, sugar was the 1st ingredient. Is there a particular brand you recommend that won’t have sugar?

  12. Sherrie Lee Nelson says

    Happy Birthday! You truly are a blessing to us all and are very much a life saver in sticking to a healthy diet for several different health challenges. Thank you so much! I hope you had a great day and an even better year!

  13. Aly says

    I want to try these, but I don’t understand the purpose of the meringue powder. At first I thought it might be a replacement for raw egg whites in the frosting or filling, but I see now that it’s part of the cupcake ingredients. So if it’s going to be baked, what is the benefit of using powder instead of plain egg whites?

  14. Jennifer says

    I made these last night- just the cupcake… No filling or ganache. I used Honeyville flours and powdered xylitol instead of Swerve. I also went almost a whole cup of cocoa ( i was almost out anyway and I love chocolate!). These cupcakes are fantastic!!!!! Even my picky nieces loved them (age 4 & 5). And they’re so filling you CAN have just one and feel satisfied. Thank God for your website!!!!:)

  15. Kim says

    Hi thank you for posting this amazing recipe!
    I followed the directions to a T and mine for some reason did not turn out..
    It made more than what you said above and it also seemed very oily, It is also very crumbly and falls apart.. any suggestions…

    • Carolyn says

      No, there is no way for me to tell what went wrong. What brand of almond flour did you use? How about the sweetener?

  16. LeeAnn says

    I have a friend who loves junk food, and I told her I could make a healthy version of just about any ‘junk’. I brought these to her house, and she snarfed 2 of them immediately. Her daughter loved them as well. I didn’t have meringue powder, but used egg white protein powder, and it seemed to work. She invited me back, only if I bring another dozen of these! Thank you SO MUCH for the recipe!!!

  17. Cici says

    I’m making these for a dairy-free friend (& myself!). I’m a little nervous about the “coring” of the cup cake. I use a knife to cut out a 1″ hole. I can envision the cutting around part, but how does it detach? Do I angle my knife so the core I remove is more cone shaped? Now that I write this, it sounds like a stupid question – but I’m submitting it, just to be sure!

    • Carolyn says

      Just press inwards lightly with the knife and jiggle it out. That should work. When I core mine with my round corer, sometimes a little stays in the cupcake and I just scoop it out with a spoon.

      • Lauren says

        Hi Carolyn! I seriously live and die by your website (well, my keto does). I have yet to try a recipe that didn’t turn out flipping fantastic, so *thank you*!

        I’m having friends over this weekend and I would love to make these babies, but I cannot find sugar-free meringue powder anywhere- unfortunately, the closest Whole Foods is over an hour away. Any idea of worthy substitution?

        Thank you in advance!

        • Carolyn says

          Hmmmm…you could use hemp protein but it’s greenish – the cocoa powder might be dark enough to cover it up. Or if you don’t have any objection to dairy, then you can do whey protein.

  18. Kathleen Wong says

    Hi there,

    I hope this email finds you well. I’m writing to you on behalf on Mashable, a leading source for news and information for the Connected Generation. We have over 40 million unique monthly visitors and 20 million social media followers.

    I’m the lifestyle intern and I frequently cover and health wellness. I’m writing a story about surprising foods that someone can grill and I was wondering if I could use the information from this recipe and the images. I would attribute all proper credit to you guys, however you prefer.

    I also sent you an email!

    Kathleen Wong

    • Carolyn says

      Hi Kathleen, you certainly can and I’d love to be included but this isn’t a grilled recipe. Were you looking for my pound cake that was grilled?


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