Let's make bakery style gluten-free vanilla cupcakes from scratch. This is a super easy recipe anyone can mix up in a jiffy. It makes the best cupcakes that are so moist and fluffy; you won't even know they're gluten-free.
Once you try this recipe, you'll never want to buy a box mix again, let alone a gluten-free box mix. They just can't compare!
One idea is to make an all-you-can-eat cupcake buffet. Pair them with these gluten-free blueberry muffins, or you can even make these homemade lemon poppy seed muffins. The sky is the limit!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It's great for kids. A batch doesn't go far with a 5 year old running around the house. On a side note, Chuck, our farm dog, will do anything for a moist vanilla cupcake. What's not to love?
- These vanilla gluten-free cupcakes are just plain easy. Make it on a week night to cure those last-minute sweet tooth cravings, or as my oldest would say, they make for a great breakfast paired with a piping hot cup of coffee.
- These cupcakes are entirely gluten-free, and they taste just the same as a regular old vanilla cupcake. If you're on a gluten-free diet like me, your intestines will thank you! With this recipe, you can have your cake and eat it too.
- For all of the reasons listed above, this recipe is perfect for birthdays and other celebrations. Bring it to Easter dinner!
- Speaking of celebrations, you can double or triple the recipe to feed a crowd and/or party with ease.
Let's talk about a few of the ingredients…
- All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour – With the right gluten-free flour, I've yet to find somebody that can tell the difference; that said, I prefer Authentic Foods Classical Blend gluten-free flour. Time and time again, it has always given me the best results and gluten-free baked goods that taste no different than the original. However, sometimes I do use Authentic Foods Steve's Gluten-Free Cake Flour Blend, especially for cake or cupcakes. Cake flour can sometimes give a lighter, fluffier and somewhat softer texture to the cake, but I find that all-purpose flour is generally sufficient. It's your call. I personally don't like to complicate my baking process any more than necessary.
- Xanthan Gum – I add xanthan gum to my flour to help the cupcakes rise. Some flours already contain xanthan gum, so be sure to check the ingredients before adding more. Too much xanthan gum and/or baking powder can give the cupcakes a soapy flavor.
- Pure Vanilla Extract – Although you can use imitation vanilla, I think a pure vanilla extract gives these cupcakes much better flavor.
- Cooking Oil – For this gluten-free vanilla cupcake recipe, I use vegetable or canola oil. If this is a concern, you can also use the same quantity of melted butter with fine results.
- Buttermilk – I use buttermilk, and I like to keep my favorite buttermilk mix on hand for recipes like this. The reason I like to use buttermilk instead of milk is that it helps give the muffins rise, and without gluten in the muffins, we can use any help we can get with rise. If you don't have any buttermilk on hand, you can make a 1:1 substitute by whisking vinegar and milk together. Use 1 tablespoon of vinegar per 1 cup of milk, and be sure to let it sit for 5-10 minutes, allowing it to curdle before using.
How to Make Gluten-Free Vanilla Cupcakes
Before getting started, pre-heat your oven to 350ºF and fill your muffin tin with cupcake liners. To make the recipe, just follow these steps…
For the cupcakes…
- Whisk together flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs well; add the sugar, and continue beating for about 30 seconds.
- Add oil and vanilla extract, beating until well-combined.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients… (see next step),
- Alternate the dry ingredients with the buttermilk, beating until everything is thoroughly combined.
- The resulting batter will be thin. Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, one by one, until they're about 2/3 of the way full.
- Bake for about 12-14 minutes at 350ºF, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven, and let cool completely before frosting and/or decorating.
For the frosting…
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butters and shortening until smooth, about 3-5 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, mix vanilla extract and milk (or cream) together.
- Gradually add powdered sugar, alternating with a couple tablespoons of milk until a desired consistency is reached.
For the rose decoration…
- Tint the frosting to any color you like.
- Fit a decorator bag with a #1M decorating tip.
- Beginning on the right side of the cupcake, swirl the frosting in a counter clock wise motion to create the rose.
That's it! Now it's time to eat. You'll be shocked at how amazing these gluten-free cupcakes really are.
Expert Tips and Recipe FAQ's
With gluten-free flour, you want to measure it carefully with a spoon, measuring cup, and table knife. Scoop the flour into your measuring cup with a spoon; then gently tap the top a few times with the straight edge of a table knife. Using that same knife, scrape the excess flour off the top of your measuring cup. Then just dump the flour into your bowl.
This can be due to several factors. Sometimes it's because the oven temperature is too high. When this is the case, the outside of the cupcakes cooks quicker than the inside, causing the inside of the cupcakes to rise after the outside has already crusted over. KABOOM!! It's also possible that you used too much baking powder and/or baking soda. When this happens, the cupcakes will rise so fast that they quite literally “pop” and explode.
Many times this happens when somebody fills the cupcake liner cavities too full! This is why I recommend only filling the liner to about 2/3 of the way full.
Since these cupcakes use a buttermilk frosting, it's probably best to keep them refrigerated. Stored in an airtight container, regular freshly baked cupcakes will last up to 7 days in the fridge. However, gluten-free cupcakes usually only keep well for 2-3 days; after that, they start to lose their texture and can even grow more dense.
Yes, you can freeze gluten-free cupcakes. You can even freeze them after frosting! To freeze them without frosting, simply wrap them in plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container. Stored like this, they should last up to 2-3 months in the freezer without getting freezer-burnt.
Freezing the cupcakes after you've frosted them is also possible. Once you've frosted them, place the cupcakes on a baking sheet in the freezer for 4-6 hours, or until the frosting is rock solid. Then follow the same directions given above.
Yes, just substitute non-dairy for any dairy containing ingredients. For example, instead of butter, you can substitute with coconut oil or another acceptable dairy-free oil. The reason I like to use buttermilk instead of milk is that it helps give the muffins rise, and without gluten in the muffins, we can use any help we can get with rise. To make gluten-free dairy-free cupcakes, you can substitute a dairy-free milk, like unsweetened almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk; to make a 1:1 buttermilk substitute, simply add 1 tablespoon of vinegar per 1 cup of dairy-free milk, allowing it to set for 5-10 minutes afterward.
More Muffin and Cupcake Recipes
Even if some of these are not gluten-free, you can easily switch up the ingredients to make them gluten-free.
- Blackberry strawberry muffins
- Strawberry filled cupcakes
- Poke cake lemon cupcakes
- Lime vanilla poke cake cupcakes
If you try this recipe, why not leave a star rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page? I always appreciate your feedback. You can also follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. And subscribe to my email list too!
Gluten-Free Vanilla Cupcakes
- 2 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups cane sugar
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4-6 tablespoons very cold milk or heavy cream
- 8-9 cups powdered sugar
- Pre-heat the oven to 350º F, and fill muffin tins with cupcake liners.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, beat the eggs well; add the sugar, and continue beating for about 30 seconds.
- Add the vanilla extract and oil to the eggs, beating until well combined.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk, beating until everything is thoroughly combined. The resulting batter will be thin.
- Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, one by one, until each one is about 2/3 of the way full.
- Bake at 350° F for about 12-14 minutes, or 'til a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Remove the cupcakes from the oven, and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting and/or decorating.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and shortening until smooth, about 3-5 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, mix the vanilla extract and milk (or cream) together.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar to the butter mixture, alternating with a couple tablespoons of the milk mixture, 'til the desired consistency for frosting is reached.
- Tint the frosting to any color you like, using food coloring.
- Fit a decorator bag with a #1M decorating tip.
- Beginning on the right side of the cupcake, swirl frosting in a counter clock wise motion to create the rose. That's it!