Learn how to make the best gluten-free vanilla cupcakes with this quick and easy recipe! Moist and fluffy cupcakes are ideal for birthdays and celebrations because with such a superb taste, no one knows they are GF!
best recipe for gluten free vanilla cupcakes
Since this popular gluten free vanilla cake has yielded so many rave reviews, I wanted dedicate an article on how to make gluten free vanilla cupcakes, full of the best tips and tricks!
If you have been disappointed by dry, crumbly gluten-free cupcake recipes, I want you to know you don’t have to settle for subpar results! The techniques perfected in my gluten-free cookbook and chocolate gluten-free cupcakes means you can have your cake and eat it too!
The fluffy, tender texture in this gluten-free vanilla cupcake recipe comes from using the ideal ratio of wet ingredients to dry, which saturates the starches, without weighing them down.
Melted butter also helps with coating gluten-free flour, eliminating any grittiness and adding a rich, buttery flavor. However, an easy dairy-free adaptation is included below!
how to make gluten-free vanilla cupcakes
(Below shows step-by-step photos and modified instructions. For the complete recipe, along with ingredient amounts, scroll down to the recipe card.)
- Preheat the oven to 350º F. This recipe makes about 22 cupcakes, so you will have to prepare two 12-cup muffin pan with paper cupcake liners.
- Melt the butter first so it has time to cool before blending in. Once it comes to room temperature whisk together egg whites, milk, cooled butter, and vanilla.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined.
- Add all but 1/2 cup of the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients. Beat slow at first to moisten ingredients. Increase to medium speed for 2 minutes, until the batter becomes pale and fluffy.
- Pour in the remaining 1/2 cup liquid and beat for 1 minute longer.
- Pour the cupcake batter into the prepared pan, about 2/3 full. To do this quickly and evenly, I use a large trigger scoop.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
baking with gluten free flour
Fortunately, there are some great gluten free flours on the market. However, they all contain a different mixture and combination of starches, which yields inconsistent results.
I’ve found Cup4Cup gluten free flour to perform superbly in all types of gluten-free baking, so that is my number one recommended brand. If you are wondering how other brands compare, check out the best gluten free flour blend to see all the results.
When measuring GF flour, gently spoon the flour from the bag into the cup and level off with a knife. This gives the most accurate measurement since the weights of blends vary.
which vanilla extract to use
Buying vanilla, especially quality vanilla extract, can cause some sticker shock. So, you may be wondering if it is really worth it?
I keep three types of vanilla stocked in my kitchen at all times. When making baked goods that simply need a bit of flavor enhancement, such as in pancakes, cookies, or chocolate desserts, I reach for an inexpensive (yet highly rated) imitation vanilla flavoring.
Use a more intense, quality extract when desserts don’t have multiple flavors competing with the vanilla, such as in frostings, cheesecake, custards, puddings, and vanilla cake.
At minimum use pure vanilla extract, but if you really want a vanilla bean flavor to shine through use vanilla bean paste in the same amount as you would use extract.
best frostings for cupcakes
Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, it’s time to bring your own unique twist with frosting and decorations! For bakery-style cupcakes, transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large open tip.
If adding sprinkles (make sure to read labels for gluten-free!), sprinkle immediately after frosting or they will not stick once the frosting has set.
- Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream (as pictured)
- Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting
- Fluffy Chocolate Buttercream
- Whipped Chocolate Ganache Frosting, recipe in Carmelita Cake
- Fluffy Coconut Frosting recipe in Almond Joy Cake
- Dulce de Leche Frosting in Banoffee Cake
- Whipped Lemon Cream Cheese frosting recipe in Lemon Blueberry Cake
- Cream Cheese Frosting in Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake
Pro technique for filling cupcakes
The key when portioning out cupcake batter is to not overfill the tins. Unlike muffins, which rise quickly to have domed tops, you’ll want your cupcakes to be as even and uniform as possible for frosting.
Therefore, I recommend filling the cups to two-thirds full, and no more! If you still have batter leftover, use an additional muffin pan.
Also, use a tool to distribute the same amount of batter into each cup. I use a trigger ice cream scoop because it gets the job done quickly and cleanly, but you may also use a 1/4 measuring cup.
gluten-free dairy-free vanilla cupcakes
If you are looking for a dairy-free gluten cupcakes, this recipe is easily adaptable.
Replace the milk with a dairy-free milk, such as almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk. For the butter, use vegan, plant based butter sticks and cut the amount of salt to 1/4 teaspoon.
storing and freezing cupcakes
For best results, serve these cupcakes at room temperature in an airtight container. Although some frostings have to refrigerated, I highly recommend setting the cupcakes out several hours before serving to reach room temperature.
Gluten-free desserts especially have a tendency to dry out when refrigerated, so I wouldn’t advise storing them for over 24 hours in the fridge. If you need to make the cupcakes ahead of time, freeze the frosted or unfrosted cupcakes until shortly before serving.
Freezing Unfrosted Cupcakes: Wrap each completely cooled cupcake securely in plastic wrap. Transfer wrapped cupcakes to a gallon freezer bag and freeze up to 3 months.
When ready to use, remove from freezer bag and thaw wrapped cake at room temperature for 1 hour before frosting and serving.
Freezing Frosted Cupcakes: Place frosted cupcakes on a baking sheet and freeze until the frosting solidifies. Wrap each cupcake securely with plastic wrap and transfer to a gallon freezer bag to freeze up to 3 months.
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Moist and Fluffy Gluten-Free Vanilla Cupcakes
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 5 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups gluten free all purpose flour (I use and recommend Cup4Cup gluten free flour)
- 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. The recipe makes approximately 22 cupcakes so you will need to prepare two 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Set aside.
- Melt the butter first so it has time to cool before blending in. Once it comes to room temperature whisk together cooled butter, milk, egg whites, and vanilla in a bowl.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Add all but 1/2 cup of the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients.
- Beat slow at first to moisten ingredients. Increase speed to medium for 1 minutes and mix until the batter becomes pale and fluffy. Pour in the remaining 1/2 cup liquid and beat for 1 minute longer.
- Distribute cake batter evenly between the prepared cupcake tins, filling no more than ⅔ full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, it's better to error on the side of slightly over-baking to make sure the excess moisture has evaporated.
- Remove from the oven and cool in pans for 5 minutes. Turn cupcakes onto wire rack to cool completely before frosting with fluffy vanilla or chocolate buttercream.
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Dairy Free AdaptationTo make dairy-free, substitute Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks and use unsweetened almond milk for the milk. Reduce the amount of salt to 1/4 teaspoon.
CAN I HALVE THE RECIPE?Yes. This recipe makes 22 cupcakes, but it may be halved for a smaller batch.
STORING / FREEZING CUPCAKESFor best results, serve these cupcakes at room temperature. Although some frostings have to refrigerated, I highly recommend setting the cupcakes out several hours before serving to reach room temp. Gluten free cakes especially have a tendency to dry out when refrigerated, so if you need to make the cupcakes ahead of time, freeze the frosted or unfrosted cupcakes until shortly before serving. Freezing Unfrosted Cupcakes: Wrap each completely cooled cupcake securely in plastic wrap. Transfer wrapped cupcakes to a gallon freezer bag and freeze up to 3 months. When ready to use, remove from freezer bag and thaw wrapped cake at room temperature for 1 hour before frosting and serving. Freezing Frosted Cupcakes: Place frosted cupcakes on a baking sheet and freeze until the frosting solidifies. Wrap each cupcake securely with plastic wrap and transfer to a gallon freezer bag to freeze up to 3 months. Recipe adapted from Gluten-Free White Cake
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Does the gluten free flour need to have xanthan gum in it already, or can gluten free flour that doesn’t have it also be used?
Melissa Erdelac says
Yes the GF flour should have xanthan gum in it. If it doesn’t, add 1/2 tsp of it with the dry ingredients.
Amazing! So soft, and absolutely delicious!
Melissa Erdelac says
So happy to hear! Thanks so much for sharing!