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Happy Birthday! This whole wheat healthy birthday cake is a low sugar birthday cake that still has all of the sprinkles and fun with fewer naughty ingredients!

healthy birthday cake

Here we are again, a whole year since I last posted a birthday cake in memory of my Dad. I swear, it feels like I just wrote that post. The time GOES SO FAST! It was my Dad’s birthday yesterday. He would have been 64! I would have liked to see him as a 64 year old 🙂 

Times like these, when the world is basically at a stand-still due to a widespread pandemic, I think of him and wonder what he would have thought about everything that’s going on.

Things sure are dire, guys! I’m grateful that my family is healthy so far, and we have everything we need. I’m doing my best to stay positive throughout this whole thing, but I admit that the long days of social isolation are tough.

But, since we’ve all hopefully stocked up on flour, why not bake a cake?!

healthy birthday cake

What makes this a healthier cake recipe?

I like to think of this healthy birthday cake as my grown-up version of my very popular healthy smash cake, for babies. There’s a few qualities about this cake that make me feel it’s qualified for “healthy” cake status:

  • it’s made with whole wheat flour
  • it has zero refined sugars
  • it contains no butter; only coconut oil 

Note: I want to make sure you keep your expectations in check. Since we’re using whole wheat flour, the cake is bit more dense than a typical fluffy white birthday cake. It’s also not nearly as sweet. That being said, it was certainly sweet enough to have my kids begging me for more!

How do you make this healthy birthday cake?

As per usual, start by sifting together all of your dry ingredients, then whisking together your wet ingredients in a separate bowl. I generally like to keep all ingredients at room temperature prior to combining them!

For this particular recipe, I used 2 small cake pans (6″ x 3″). You can certainly make this recipe in a regular sized cake pan too! I’ll include instructions for both.

You could use a stand mixer for this recipe, but you certainly don’t have to!

When mixing the wet into the dry, mix only until there are no dry streaks left in the cake batter.

The cake needs to bake for 25-28 minutes at 350 F. You definitely don’t want to overbake this cake, or it could taste quite dry!

If you have cake strips, soak them and wrap them around the cakes to ensure a level top. I ended up just leveling off the cakes a bit with a serrated knife before frosting them.

Is the frosting also healthy?

I originally wanted to keep the frosting for this cake totally free of refined sugars too, but I tried a few different ones, and ended up with this one as my favorite. It’s made with melted white chocolate and cream cheese, and the texture is very close to buttercream! Thick, creamy and sweet, but not too cloyingly sweet. We loved it! I’ve got a couple of other options for you below if you want something totally sugar-free:

OR you could just make a straight-up honest cream cheese or buttercream frosting. Try this one from my mini chocolate cake and double it!

healthy birthday cake

This cake is best enjoyed the day, or day after it’s made. It will start to dry out after a couple of days! But, since it’s healthy, you could just polish off any leftovers for breakfast, right?

Keep it in an airtight container, on the counter, for up to 3-4 days.

I hope you’re all keeping healthy, and sane during this trying time we’re all in. There’s no reason we can’t still celebrate a birthday, right!? And at least this way we can do it a little lighter.

Stay safe ❤

healthy birthday cake

healthy birthday cake

Sweeeeeeets. Here’s a few lighter ideas for satisfying that sweet tooth:

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healthy birthday cake

Healthy Birthday Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.9 from 13 reviews

  • Author: Katherine | Love In My Oven
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Diet: Low Calorie


Happy Birthday! This whole wheat healthy birthday cake is a low sugar birthday cake that still has all of the sprinkles and fun with fewer naughty ingredients!


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour*
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract (yes, tbsp)
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk**
  • 1/3 cup sprinkles, plus more for decorating


  • 1 package (8oz) full-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt (at least 2.5%)
  • 4 oz white chocolate, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and spray two 6″ round cake pans**** with non-stick cooking spray, and lightly flour them. Set them aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the coconut oil with the applesauce, followed by the eggs. Add the maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Add half the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir to combine. Add half the buttermilk, stir to combine, then add the remaining dry, followed by the wet, until there are no dry streaks left in the batter.
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans (use a kitchen scale to be exact), then bake the cakes for 25-27 minutes. Check the cakes with a toothpick at 25 minutes; if the toothpick comes out wet, bake for an additional 2 minutes before checking again. If it’s clean, remove the pans from the oven. Let them cool for 10 minutes before carefully inverting the cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Prepare the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a handheld electric mixer, combine together the cream cheese with the Greek yogurt until smooth and whipped. Melt the white chocolate, using a microwave-safe bowl, in 30 second increments, until smooth. Add the melted chocolate to the stand mixer and beat to combine. Frost the cakes immediately, using a spatula to smooth onto the cake.

Serve the cake immediately, or the next day. The cake will keep, in an airtight container, on the counter for 3-4 days.


*If you have access to white whole wheat flour, you can use this in place of the entire amount of flour (2 1/4 cups flour)

**I highly recommend using the store-bought buttermilk, full-fat. In a pinch, you can make your own by adding 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice to plain milk, and letting it sit for 10 minutes.

***For other frosting recipes, including sugar-free, see the above blog post

****You can also bake this cake in one 9″ round cake pan, and consider cutting it in half, horizontally, to make it a layer cake. Or double the recipe and bake it in 2 pans! Bake for 20-22 minutes in a 9″ pan before checking with a toothpick.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: cakes
  • Method: oven bake
  • Cuisine: american
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Healthy Birthday Cake

About Katherine

Heeey! Thank you for stopping by! I like 30-minute dinners and giant peanut butter cups made with only 3 ingredients. I LOVE food! If you do too, you're in the right place.

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  1. What a lovely tribute to your Dad Katherine! I’m always up for a healthier option when it comes to enjoying my sweets. This looks totally delish. Love the added sprinkles! So fun!

    1. Thanks Mary Ann! I am definitely always looking to make things a bit healthier, too! I hope you had a great weekend my friend XO

  2. I love this tradition more than I can even express to you Katherine!❤️
    Whole wheat flour is an ingredient that I adore baking with and I love how pretty those cake layers look!! Definitely need to add this to my must try list!

    1. I think you should take it up, Tasia! It’s a nice way to talk about the ones we’ve lost 🙂 Thank you so much my friend!!

  3. This birthday cake is gorgeous, Katherine! More nutritious and SO festive! Looks and sounds so delicious!

  4. Hi i would really love to try this for my baby’s 1st birthday! But I dont have access to applesauce what is the best substitute for that? Can i use banana or yoghurt instead? thank you! 🧡

  5. Hi! What is full fat free yogurt? Is that 3.25%, or maybe closer to 11%? Also, how would you describe the taste of the cake? Does it taste like vanilla, or apples? Thanks!

    1. HI Isabelle! You can use anything that is not “low fat” if that makes sense. So a 3.25% or even an 11% would work well. And I would say the cake is sweeter like vanilla.

  6. I would like to make this recipe for a 13×9 cake pan. Would you recommend that I double the recipe? Thanks for the help!

    1. Yes, I would double the recipe and keep an eye on the baking time. It might require less time than in the round pans.

  7. Do you think you could make this cake ahead of time and freeze it? And do you think it would work for cake pops?

  8. Hi! I am going to make this cake for my sons birthday Sunday! Can I use Einkorn flour in place of all the flour you use. Thanks so much!

  9. I made this recipe exactly as stated and, while the cake and frosting are delicious, the frosting does not look like what you have in the photo. It is quite a bit runnier and refrigerating it doesn’t seem to help. I’m wondering, did you use the same frosting recipe written here for the cake in your photo, or something different?

  10. I made this today for my husband’s birthday and it turned out so perfectly. I used 1/3 cup maple syrup and 1/3 cup coconut sugar, and used unsweetened vanilla almond milk with 1 1/2 tbsp of ACV in place of the buttermilk. It was so moist and fluffy and I will definitely be making this again. Thank you so much.