Healthy Smash Cake Recipe

This easy, healthy smash cake recipe is the perfect healthy alternative for baby’s first birthday. Packed with secretly healthy ingredients like applesauce and topped with a delicious homemade frosting, this healthy smash cake is a wonderful dairy-free, gluten-free and low sugar treat.

Healthy Smash Cake for Baby’s First Birthday

To celebrate we had an intimate gathering with family and had Hemsley smash her very own cake.

I had seen “smash cake” photography on Pinterest and I loved the idea and while I am by no means a talented baker or cake maker, I decided to put myself to the challenge and see if I could create a healthier and still super cute smash cake for miss Hemsley.

What Is a Smash Cake?

A “smash cake” is a small cake you bake for your little one on their first birthday that nobody really gets to enjoy but them because not only do they get to eat it, they get to “smash” into it as a one-year-old might do when plopped in front of a big delicious cake!

Usually, they smash it with their hands (or feet…or both!) and go to town taking large mouthfuls of cake while all the guests stand around watching the hilarity and the cuteness ensue!

Healthy smash cake

Because I’m a nutritionist it’s in my blood to make things healthier naturally. I truly can’t help it! A smash cake can really be any flavor and contain any ingredients, so a healthy smash cake will obviously contain healthier ingredients.

While this smash cake does contain sugar, it’s pure maple syrup and there’s not a lot of it. 


What size is a smash cake

Usually a smash cake is a smaller round cake served to a single child so the average size is usually ranging from a jumbo sized cupcake to a 6 inch layer cake. This varies based on the family and the kids but a 3 layer 6 inch or 4 inch round cake is a perfect size for a one year old to destroy and still give you nice photos.


First birthday theme cake ideas

  • Minnie mouse smash cake-– you can give a cake a black base and make the top and middle pink with white polka dots then add some round black fondant ears on top.
  • Unicorn smash cake-– Making a white colored layered cake with a unicorn horn and face on it (you can buy a simple kit off of amazon for this) then just pipe some swirly rainbow hair for the horse mane.
  • Cookie monster smash cake— a blue cake with large fondant googly eyes on top and some broken Chips a hoy cookies scattered around.
  • Mickey mouse smash cake— This is great for a first birthday cake for a boy. A red base with a black top and two large yellow buttons in front. Top with mickey mouse fondant ears.
  • Pink smash cake— make a light pink buttercream for a strawberry cake and then add dollops of different shades of pink icing along the side. Swirl it all together as you level it out for a nice ombre effect.


Healthy First Birthday Smash Cake - - #firstbirthday #smashcake #healthycake #healthybirthday #firstbirthday #dairyfree #glutenfree

How To Make a Healthy Smash Cake:

The cake is sweet, but not too sweet, and also has hidden fruit. I also decided to make the cake completely gluten and dairy free so that I could enjoy a slice too (in the case any of it was salvageable after Hemsley had made her way through it!).

Here’s the process! 

  1. Prepare frosting ahead of time and chill. 
  2. Prepare batter by whisking the dry ingredients in one bowl. 
  3. Mix the wet ingredients in another bowl to combine.
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until completely smooth. 
  5. Divide the batter between two 6″ round cake pans (lightly greased with oil).
  6. Bake 25-30 minutes until a toothpick pulls clean in the centre of each cake and cool completely.
  7. Carefully slice the rounded top off of each cake to create a flat surface so the cakes can be stacked level.  
  8. Layer the cake between frosting and decorate as desired.

Healthy Smash Cake Ingredients:

To make this smash cake healthier I swapped out a lot of regular cake ingredients for unrefined, gluten free, and dairy free ingredients. I’m doing my best to use a food philosophy with Hemsley that reflects my own; embracing balance, honouring our bodies and paying attention to how food makes us feel, while also enjoying indulgent foods in moderation. 

Here are the main ingredients you’ll need:

  • Gluten free flour (1 to 1 baking flour – Bob’s Red Mill brand) 
  • Applesauce
  • Almond Milk (unsweetened) 
  • Maple syrup
  • Olive Oil
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla

Smash Cake Frosting Ingredients:

To make the frosting I stuck with icing sugar to get a great consistency! 

  • Coconut Milk
  • Organic Icing Sugar (for the frosting)
  • Vanilla 

Optional Decoration:

  • Gold Sprinkles (found at most baking bulk stores, or in the baking section at the grocery store)


Watching Hemsley first cautiously poke at her smash cake then slowly but surely start “smashing” into it, taking handfuls and eating bites while also trying to share with all of us, was beyond cute. My heart. This sweet baby girl is so filled with joy, curiosity, love for others, and spunk, I have moments where I still shake my head in disbelief that she’s really ours.

Wow. Babies are truly spectacular and the growth that occurs in the first year of their lives is nothing short of miraculous. I am in awe at Hemsley’s resiliency, her ability to adapt and learn, and to see week-by-week the little person she is becoming.


How big is a smash cake?

We’re going to cover some of your questions right here. 

How Many Layers Do You Need For a Smash Cake?

When it comes to layers, you can do as many as you want but I recommend at least 2 as this gives the cake the height it needs for great pictures and of course, optimal smashing! I used two cake layers in my healthy smash cake with frosting in between the layers and I think I could have easily gone with three layers for even more height! 

What size of smash cake pan should I use? 

If you are planning to make a homemade smash cake of your own, one question many people often ask is which size of pan is best. For this smash cake, I used a 6-inch round cake pan, but you could easily use different sized pan and make a 4-inch or 5-inch smash cake too just keep in mind if you use a smaller sized pan you will need to adjust your baking time slightly! 

How to decorate a first birthday cake

You can decorate a cake however you want. In this post I point out a few different ways and suggestions for decorating you cake but you can make it as fancy or as plain as desired. Adding unlit candles is fun and safer than the ones with actual fire. Adding toys usually gets a great reaction from the kids because who deosnt like toys. Then just stick wit anything in theme or within your party’s colorscheme.

Can babies eat cake on their first birthday

Yes, your baby can safely enjoy cake (healthy or nonhealthy) on their first birthday. Babies are encouraged to start eating solid foods starting at around 6 months of age and by the time that they turn a year old they should have some mobility and idea of how to feed themselves with their own hands. Don’t worry, your baby isn’t actually going to eat the entire cake. Most of it gets “smashed” and smeared for the sake of taking a few fun photos.

Do you do a smash cake for second birthday

Smash cakes are usually just a first birthday thing because it’s so special of a moment. Smashing cakes on a second birthday can be done if desired, but most people are good with just getting the smash cakes for their babies first birthday.

I hope you have enjoyed all of this cuteness and education on making the best healthy smash cake for your little one!

P.S. I was actually able to salvage a little piece of the smash cake for myself and it really was delicious!

(2021) Julian’s 1st Birthday Update: 

This Healthy Smash Cake was such a success for Hemsley’s 1st birthday I decided to make it for my son Julian’s 1st birthday as well.

For his cake I used this same recipe and 1.5x the recipe to make 3 cake layers (instead of two)

I decided to go with a Woodland theme inspired by Whisk Wander (see here) and decorated the cake in a “naked icing” style with vanilla icing. I topped the cake with “moss” made from matcha and shredded coconut and “dirt” made from hemp seeds and cocoa powder.

For added decor I used Schliech woodland toys, some greenery, and a small banner I made using card stock paper and wooden letters I found at Michaels craft store. 

Julian loved his cake and it was another success! This just goes to show you can decorate this healthy smash cake however you like and make it your own for your little ones special day. 


Be sure to pin the photos below the recipe to save this one for later! 

This delicious and healthy smash cake recipe is great for a baby first birthday. The homemade cake works for a boy or girl depending on your final decorating and is super easy to whip up. It’s made with banana, carrot, vanilla, coconut, and is low sugar, dairy free, and gluten free too!

Healthy Smash Cake Recipe (1st Birthday)

Yield: Serves 6-8 (or 1 happy toddler)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This easy, healthy smash cake recipe is the perfect healthy alternative for baby’s first birthday. Packed with applesauce and topped with a delicious homemade frosting, this healthy smash cake is a wonderful dairy free, gluten free, lower sugar option!


  • 2 cups gluten-free 1 to 1 baking flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Coconut Frosting

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight in the fridge or freezer
  • 1/2 cup organic icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Optional Decoration

  • 1/4 cup gold sprinkles (or other colour of your choice)
  • "One" Candle or Banner & Hearts (see recommended products list)


    1. Prepare the frosting ahead of time by placing the can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight.
      Once chilled open the can and scoop the firm coconut cream from the can and add to a bowl (reserve the coconut water for a smoothie or discard).
    2. Beat the coconut cream on high until light and fluffy then add in the vanilla extract and 1/2 of the icing sugar.
    3. Beat again for another minute, then add in the remaining icing sugar and beat once more until completely combined and the icing is light and fluffy.
    4. Chill the icing in the fridge until the cake is ready to assemble.
    5. For the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease two 6-inch cake pans with coconut oil and line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.
    6. In a large bowl add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix to combine.
    7. In another bowl combine the applesauce, maple syrup, almond milk, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth.
    8. Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until completely incorporated and no clumps remain, avoid overmixing.
    9. Divide the cake batter between the two pans and bake on the middle rack for 25 to 30-minutes or until a toothpick pulls clean from the centre of the cakes.
    10. Allow the pans to cool on a cooling rack completely before removing the cakes from the pans.
    11. Once the cakes are completely cooled place one layer on a serving tray and gently slice the top of the cakes to make sure they are flat on top and level for stacking.
    12. Spread a 1/2 inch layer of the frosting on the top of the bottom cake layer then top with the other cake layer.
    13. Spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cake as evenly as possible and then decorate the cake as you prefer.
    14. Serve within 1 hour.**


Because the cake is rather moist, dense, and absorbent, the frosting will eventually begin to darken and dry so it is best to frost the cake as close to serving time as possible. I recommend preparing the cake with the middle frosting layer the day of the party, then frosting and decorating shortly before serving for the best taste and appearance.

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It’s crazy seeing this two side by side how many similarities there are… genetics, always amazing me!

Author: Christal Sczebel

Christal is the creator of Nutrition in the Kitch. She's a Certified Nutritional Consultant, twice published author, gluten and dairy free recipe developer, food photographer, speaker, wife, and mama. Christal loves good food, all things wellness, and loves to travel. Her wellness philosophy is centred around balance and sustainable health, life's way too short for boring diets and restriction!

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  • I have a cake smash in just over an hour and this icing is crumbling instead of spreading… useless! Husband rushing to store now for tub frosting…. This recipe came highly recommended so I was wondering what I did wrong, but then reading the comments I see many people are struggling. Should have scrolled down and read all the way through the post to the comments first! ?

  • Cake turned out super dry and took forever to cook. I don’t think the flour proportions are right. Have the cake smash this evening and sitting with a cake that turned out bad and looking for last minute options.

  • This looks great! Going to make it for my sons bday in February. May I ask where you purchased the banner and poles holding the banner, the cake stand and how you made the matcha mulch? Thanks so much!

  • We made this for my daughter’s birthday last year and it was a hit! Her birthday is rolling around again and I’m wondering – could you use this recipe to make cupcakes?

    • How about honey instead of make syrup?? That would be “healthiest” right?? How is this “dairy free” if there’s EGGS IN IT???????

  • The cake is very dense and LO was having a hard time trying to smash it. Also the icing turned out thin and watery despite having followed all instructions, so I had to use something else. The cake tasted pretty good.