This recipe was tested by 3 other humans prior to posting, and they all confirmed that these do indeed taste like “regular” cupcakes.
I’ll take that as a win. Any time you can make a high-protein treat that tastes like the real deal, you need to take full advantage.
Each cupcake, with the buttercream frosting & Oreos included, comes in at about 180 calories and 11 grams of protein. I know, these aren’t PACKED with protein. But sometimes you need to sacrifice a little bit of protein for maximum flavor.
Rather than try to pack as much protein as possible into these cupcakes, I wanted them to taste amazing. I believe I’ve succeeded.
I recently learned in making my apple cider donuts that when you scale back the protein a bit, it can make a huge difference, so I followed that same principle here. Plus, 11 grams of protein is nothing to sneeze at for a cupcake. That’s still more than other cupcakes out there!
These cupcakes come together with just 4 ingredients, and they could not be easier…
Cake mix, cocoa powder, vanilla protein, and diet soda is all you need (don’t mind the lack of diet soda in the photo above… I grabbed the wrong can of Coke for the photo).
Why diet soda?
If you take a box of cake mix and combine it with soda, it’ll turn into a cake. You can swap out all of the oil & eggs that are required and just use soda instead! I won’t lie and say I understand why it works, but it does, and I’ve tested it numerous times.
I use diet soda simply because it saves us some extra calories. If you want to use normal soda, you’re free to.
When it comes to flavor, I promise you, you’d NEVER know there was soda in here. I personally do not drink soda because I hate it, but you can’t taste it in the slightest in these cupcakes.
You can use any soda you want here, too. Since we’re going with a chocolatey cupcake, I like to stick with a darker soda, but you could always use a seltzer or Sprite and still get a great result.
Making these cupcakes
When you mix everything together, the dry ingredients are going to seem pretty light. But fear not! Once you add the soda in and mix it up, you’ll get a nice chocolately batter.
Two things to note here:
- I use a vanilla protein powder because I like to try to stick with one powder for most of my recipes. If you have chocolate, definitely go for it! That will work great.
- I use Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder, which is darker and richer than a regular cocoa powder. If you want this to be a tad darker and closer to an Oreo color, you can add extra cocoa powder in to make ’em darker. I didn’t want to get too heavy-handed on the cocoa powder, because I don’t love a dark chocolate taste too much.
Once everything is mixed together, you just need to fill your cupcake/muffin tin up halfway. It may not seem like much, but check out how much these cupcakes rise:
Once these cupcakes bake, they’re ready to go! If you want to eat them as is, you certainly can. They’re light, fluffy, and plenty moist to enjoy on their own.
If you eat these without frosting, each cupcake will have only 100 calories, 2g fat, 22g carb, and 5g protein!
But, the frosting is what really makes these cupcakes.
A good frosting can make or break a recipe, and man, this frosting is GOOD.
When it comes to high-protein dessert, you’ll often find some kind of Greek yogurt frosting. That works in some cases, but I want the kind of frosting where you want to open up the tub, dip your finger in, and finish the entire thing on its own.
This frosting is exactly that.
We’re going to be mixing up butter, protein powder, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar. And of course, mixing in some Oreo chunks for good measure.
I can not tell you good this came out! You’re going to have to just trust me and give it a taste for yourself.
The recipe made a little bit more frosting than I needed (I adjusted the nutrition facts a tad to reflect the cupcakes not using ALL the frosting. I had to estimate, and it only removed a small bit of calories, so it’s not anything to worry about). I saved the extra in a bowl and ate it as a dip with some graham crackers…
Best. Idea. Ever.
Take these cupcakes to the next level
If you love frosting as much as I do, you’ll really want to pack it on here. Problem is, the tops of cupcakes can only hold so much frosting.
Enter: stuffed cupcakes.
If you take a butter knife, you can easily carve out the middle of the cupcakes, creating a cavity that you can fill with frosting.
Then, cover the top of your cupcakes with more frosting. They’ll look like any other cupcake, but once you bite into these, you’re greeted with an explosion of frosting and flavor.
There are always questions on substitutions here, so let me address some of the main ones:
Vanilla Protein Powder: Like I mentioned earlier, you can use a chocolate flavor (or any other flavor for that matter) in this recipe. However, note that I used a protein powder that is a blend of whey & casein protein. I find that usually works best in baking, but a regular whey protein should work great as well as this is not a huge quantity. A vegan powder may not work quite as well, but if you try it, please let me know.
The whey/casein blend works REALLY well for the frosting, because the casein helps to create the right consistency we want. If you use a pure whey, it might be a little on the sticky side.
Sugar-Free Cake Mix: Any cake mix works here- it doesn’t need to be sugar free. If you have a chocolate cake mix, that might even work better! I had this cake mix already in my pantry, so I rolled with it.
Dark Cocoa Powder: You can use a regular cocoa powder here no problem, it will just affect the flavor a tad.
Light Butter: The frosting uses light butter since it gives us the buttercream flavor without a buttload of calories. You can use regular butter here, or a vegan buttery spread. As long as we get the buttery flavor & right consistency, we’ll be fine.
Diet Soda: Any soda will work! I use diet to save calories, but you don’t need to use diet soda if you do not want to. If you’re wondering “can I swap out the soda for eggs & oil” then you’re just making a regular cupcake recipe as per the instructions on the box. You can certainly do that if you want.
Storing these cupcakes
I kept my cupcakes in the fridge for a couple of days and enjoyed them. The frosting sets well in the fridge, and I kind of like it when it “hardens” a bit.
You can keep these out at room temperature, but since they contain butter, you won’t want to leave them out too long.
My suggestion is that they are best within 1-2 days.
Need more Oreos in your life?
Checkout some of my other Oreo-based recipes!
- 135g Sugar Free Yellow Cake Mix (any cake mix will work)
- 31g (1 Scoop) Vanilla Whey/Casein Protein (I used PEScience)
- 15g Hershey Special Dark Cocoa Powder
- 2/3 cup Diet Soda (I used Coke)
- 2 Oreo Thins (or single Oreo)
- Start by making the icing/frosting. Add the butter and vanilla extract to a bowl, and use an electric hand mixer (or whisk) to smooth it out. Add the powdered sugar and mix that in until it is fully combined. While continuing to mix, add the protein powder a little bit at a time until it resembles an icing. Finally, break up your Oreos and fold them into your icing.
- Add the icing to the fridge to set while we move on to the cupcakes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix protein powder, and cocoa powder until they are fully combined. Slowly pour your diet soda into the mixture while stirring until a pourable batter forms. Anywhere from 1/2 -2/3 cup diet soda will work, and it will depend on the absorbancy of the protein powder you use. This recipe is pretty forgiving, so you can adjust the amount of liquid if needed.
- Break apart the Oreos and fold them into your batter.
- Spray your muffin/cupcake tin and fill with your batter, being careful not to fill completely to the top so they do not overflow (they will poof up quite a bit). Add to oven and bake for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, remove the cupcakes from the oven and carefully remove them from the pan onto a cooling rack or plate. If you let them cool inside the pan, they will continue to bake and we do not want to overcook them. Let the cupcakes cool for about 15 minutes.
- Once the cupcakes are cool, remove your icing from the fridge and use a butter knife to spread on top of your cupcakes. If you want to enjoy stuffed cupcakes, use your knife to cut out a small bit out of the top and add icing directly into it, then cover the top with more icing.
- Enjoy cupcakes immediately, or add to the fridge to keep the frosting nice and fresh and enjoy over the next couple days.
The protein powder I use is a blend of whey & casein protein. To see how different types of protein powder affect cake recipes, check out my Ultimate Protein Powder Substitution Guide.
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Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1 Cupcake
Amount Per Serving Calories 180Total Fat 7gCarbohydrates 24gFiber 1gSugar 2.5gProtein 11g