Birthday Cakes for Children on the Ketogenic Diet: Part 1

How to Create a Ketogenic Birthday Cake That Your Keto Kid Will Love!

Birthday cakeBirthday cakes are so much more than just the ingredients that go into them. They are symbolic of accomplishment, milestones, and the gathering of loved ones to share a treat with the birthday girl or boy. Because of their significance, parents of children on a ketogenic diet may worry that their child will have to miss out on a birthday cake. Thankfully, that is not true!

Although a typical store-bought birthday cake is simply not an option for a child on the ketogenic diet, rest assured that there are ways to provide a tasty and keto-friendly birthday cake that your child will love. It may take some homework, trial & error, and creativity, so be sure to plan ahead. We’ve collected some ketogenic diet cake recipe ideas that you can choose from. You could use these recipes to make a regular cake or cupcakes. Cupcakes work especially well because you can make a special keto cupcake for the birthday boy or girl and non-keto cupcakes for the rest of the party guests.

Keep in mind that you may need to adjust the recipe to accommodate your child’s ketogenic ratio and calorie requirements, so ask your ketogenic dietitian for help. If the recipe that you want to use is for a 3:1 ketogenic ratio but your child needs a 4:1 ratio, your dietitian may be able to make it work by tweaking the recipe or by adding a side of heavy cream, Liquigen®, or another source of fat to raise the ratio. If you do end up adjusting the ratio, be sure to try out the recipe prior to the big day to make sure it comes out as expected.

Ketogenic Diet Birthday Cake & Frosting Recipes:

  • Chocolate Cupcake & Chocolate Cream Frosting: If your little one is a chocolate lover, our KetoCal® Chocolate Cupcake with Chocolate Cream Frosting Recipe is a great option! This recipe is for a 3:1 ratio but as mentioned above, your dietitian may be able to help you make it work by adjusting the recipe or serving it with an additional fat source.
  • Chocolate Cupcake: The Matthew’s Friend’s KetoCal Chocolate Muffin recipe can be converted to a cupcake by adding frosting (see frosting recipes ideas below). We have recipes for making it at a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio, along with a Modified Atkins Diet recipe.
  • Sprinkle Cake: Keto Cook has this amazing Sprinkle Birthday Cake recipe, a keto-version of the popular “Funfetti” cakes. This recipe is  for a 3:1 ratio, but again, your dietitian may be able to help you make it work.
  • Buttercream Frosting: The Charlie Foundation and Keto Cook collaborated on this awesome recipe for Buttercream Frosting, which can be used with the Sprinkle cake recipe or whichever recipe you are using. Best of all, they have instructions for making it at a 2:1, 3:1, or 4:1 ratio.
  • Whipped Cream Frosting: This recipe for Whipped Cream Frosting is another creation of Keto Cook and the Charlie Foundation. The great thing about this option is that the frosting is a 6.88:1 ratio, so it can be used to bring down the ratio of the cake if needed (ask your dietitian to help you come up with the exact amount required).

Cake Decorations:

Once you have decided on a recipe for the cake and frosting, you can move on to decorating and personalizing it. Party supply stores usually sell cake decorations with kid-friendly themes. You will want to select non-food decoration options (rather than edible decorations made of icing), such as themed baking cups, birthday candles, cupcake picks, figurines, etc. Once you select the theme, you can use keto-friendly food coloring to make matching colored frosting. 

As Dana explained in her recent parent guest blog post on making the ketogenic diet fun for kids, the key is to focus on what your child is interested in at the time. Her daughter wanted a Barbie cake, so Dana used her creative powers to create amazing keto Barbie cupcakes (pictured right). She used miniature Barbie figurines and keto-friendly food coloring to create Barbies with pink and purple cupcake bodices!


I love that Dana made matching non-keto Barbie cupcakes for the other children so that her daughter didn’t feel like she was eating something different than everyone else.  Whenever possible, try to provide your child with keto-versions of the foods that everyone else eats because it helps them to feel normal. If you provide party guests with food (for example, pizza), you could make your child a keto version (for example, our 3:1, 4:1 or MAD keto pizza recipes) so that they feel included in the pizza party. Note- you can make the pizza ahead of time and freeze it so that you just have to warm it on the day of the party.

I am always amazed by the measures that parents take to provide a suitable birthday cake for their child. The moral of the story is that food restrictions don’t have to stop you from giving your little one a happy birthday. When it comes down to it, the cake itself is less important than the effort that goes into making your little one feel special on their day. With a little creativity, everyone can have a great time celebrating another year and milestone.

Thanks for reading Part 1 of my post on ketogenic diet birthday cakes. Next week I’ll post Part 2, which is on making non-food birthday cakes for keto kids who are tube-fed!


KetoCal Hanukkah Recipes

Being on the medical ketogenic diet for the management of epilepsydoesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy traditional Hannukah foods! Check out these recipes for keto-friendly latkes and sufganiyot!

KetoCal Latkes with Sour Cream Topping (4:1 ratio)

Latkes are potato pancakes often enjoyed during Hanukkah. These delicious keto latkes are made with low-carb vegetables (zucchini and cauliflower) instead of potatoes.

KetoCal Sufganiyot (4:1 ratio)

Sufganiyot are jelly-filled doughnuts often enjoyed during Hanukkah.

KetoCal is a medical food for the dietary management of intractable epilepsy and is intended for use under medical supervision. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether KetoCal is right for you. 

The medical ketogenic diet for epilepsy should be used under medical supervision. 

The Ketogenic Ratio Explained

If your child’s physician has recommended a ketogenic diet for epilepsy management, you likely have many questions, which may have led you to this post. As you collect information online and educate yourself on the topic, you may come across the term “ketogenic ratio” and wonder what it means. I’ll try to clear things up in today’s post.

Photo by Lurie Children’s Hospital

The classical ketogenic diet for epilepsy is designed according to a ratio. This ratio, often referred to as the “ketogenic ratio”, represents the amount of fat in the diet, in comparison to the amount of protein plus carbohydrate. If you are a visual person like me, this infographic to the right, which was created by the awesome keto team at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital, will help explain the concept better.

If the last paragraph didn’t trigger long-forgotten memories of middle-school math class, the remaining paragraphs surely will. Don’t worry if math is not your thing- the fundamentals will come back to you quickly. Many keto parents will tell you that managing their child’s ketogenic diet revealed math and cooking skills they never knew they had! Also, keep in mind that the ketogenic dietitian who you work with will very carefully design and calculate your child’s diet, helping you to manage it at every step along the way, so you are by no means on your own.

The most commonly used ketogenic ratios are 4:1 and 3:1. A 4:1 ketogenic ratio describes a ketogenic diet that is made of 4 grams of fat for every 1 gram of protein plus carbohydrate. In other words, for every 5 grams of food consumed, there are 4 grams of fat and 1 gram of protein and/or carbohydrate. Therefore, a 4:1 ketogenic diet contains 80% fat (4÷5=80%) and 20% protein plus carbohydrate (1÷5=20%). Likewise, a 3:1 ketogenic diet contains 75% fat (3÷4=75%) and 25% protein plus carbohydrate (1÷4=25%).

Notice that the ketogenic ratio compares the amount of fat, protein, and carbohydrates in grams, a measure of weight. This is because the diet is calculated in grams, since foods are measured by weight using a gram scale.

If you compared fat, protein and carbohydrates according to the number of calories provided from each (rather than the number of grams of each), the ratio would be a little different because fat provides more calories per gram than protein and carbohydrates do. Each gram of fat provides the body with 9 calories, while each gram of protein or carbohydrate provides the body with 4 calories.

For example, let’s say that you need to consume 360 calories. To provide 360 calories from protein and/or carbohydrate (which both provide 4 calories per gram), you would need to eat 90 grams of protein and/or carbohydrate (360÷4=90). However, to get the same amount of calories from fat, you would need to eat just 40 grams of fat (360÷9=40). Fat provides the same number of calories with much less mass because it is more calorically dense than protein and carbohydrates.  For this reason, ketogenic meals tend to look smaller than standard meals, even when they provide the exact same amount of calories.

If a child is on a 4:1 ketogenic ratio, 90% of the calories in their diet comes from fat. Did I lose you there? This part confused me
at first because I thought “how can it be both 80% fat and 90% fat?”. The answer is that it is 80% fat if you are measuring by weight and 90% fat if you are measuring by calories.  Remember that a 4:1 ketogenic ratio represents 4 grams of fat for every 1 gram of carbohydrate plus protein. Four grams of fat (which provides 9 calories per gram) provides a total of 36 calories (4 x 9 = 36). One gram of protein or carbohydrate (which provides 4 calories per gram) provides a total of 4 calories (1 x 4 = 4). The ratio of calories from fat to calories from protein plus carbohydrate is 36:4. This means that for every 40 calories consumed, 36 come from fat and 4 come from protein and/or carbohydrate. Thus, 90% of the calories comes from fat (36÷40=90%), and 10% comes from protein and carbohydrate (4÷40=10%). On a 3:1 ketogenic diet, about 87% of the calories comes from fat, and 13% comes from protein plus carbohydrate. For comparison’s sake, a typical American diet contains about 35% of calories from fat and about 65% from protein and carbohydrate.


I hope that this post helped to explain the ketogenic ratio and the basic design of the ketogenic diet, but if you have any questions or need anything clarified, please comment and we’ll do our best to help!


For more information on the medical ketogenic diet for epilepsy, visit