Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes

While I’m not gluten free myself, I get a lot of request for gluten free recipes on social media, as well as in my cake and cupcake classes. That’s why I’m sharing this recipe for gluten free vanilla cupcakes!!

I used to think that gluten free baking was super intimidating, but there are so many wonderful gluten free flour blends out there nowadays!! They make gluten free baking so much more approachable.

If you didn’t tell me that these cupcakes were gluten free, I’d have no clue. The texture and taste are just like a regular vanilla cupcake 🙂

image of gluten free vanilla cupcake on mini cupcake stand

What’s In Gluten Free Flour??

There are a lot gluten free flour blends out there. Each brand uses a unique mixture of wheat flour alternatives, like rice flour, brown rice flour, and even almond flour!

It can be difficult to get the texture of gluten free flour just right for baking. A lot of these alternative flours have a finer texture than all-purpose flour.

Some type of starch is usually added to help give the mixture better structure, and a bit of binding power. Tapioca and potato starch are the most commonly used starches.

image of the best gluten free vanilla cupcake recipe

One other ingredient in gluten free flour that might sound a little strange is xanthan gum. It’s a key ingredient in gluten free baking. Xanthan gum has a big impact on the texture of gluten free baked goods too.

Gluten adds an elasticity and stickiness to dough and batter. Xanthan gum emulates these characteristics in gluten free baking, and helps lock in moisture.

Does It Matter What Brand of Gluten Free Flour I Use?

I’ve tried this recipe with a few different brands of gluten free flour, and so far each of them has worked great:

My favorite brand of gluten free flour for this recipe was King Arthur. However, any brand of gluten free flour you can find at your grocery store should work.

closeup image of gluten free vanilla cupcakes that aren't frosted yet

My only word of caution is to be sure you use some sort of gluten free flour blend.

Using a single type of gluten free flour like almond flour or cassava flour in this recipe will not yield the same results!

Most grocery stores carry at least one blend of gluten free flour. Stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s also have lots of great options.

If all else fails, amazon is another easy way to get your hands on a gluten free flour blend. I order a majority of my baking supplies on amazon, including most of my specialty ingredients 🙂

Swapping Out the Buttermilk for Sour Cream

This gluten free vanilla cupcake recipe is based on my vanilla cupcake recipe, but I did have to make a few changes.

Gluten free baked goods have come a long way in the past few years, but a lot of people still think of them as gritty, dense, and even gummy.

Using a good gluten free flour blend can fix most of these issues. However, I found that the gluten free version of my vanilla cupcake recipe wasn’t able to handle the same amount of buttermilk.

The cupcakes ended up being too moist, and texture wasn’t quite right. To help lighten up this recipe and create a fluffier texture, I use sour cream in place of buttermilk.

image of a gluten free vanilla cupcake cut in half, to show how moist and fluffy the cupcake is

This gives the cupcakes a tender crumb, while keeping them moist and fluffy.

Why This Recipe Works With Gluten Free Flour

Another reason this cupcake recipe works is because it uses oil as a fat instead of butter. Oil is easier for the gluten free flour to absorb.

The cupcake texture was spot on, with the help of the following gluten free baking tips.

Tip #1: Overmix Your Batter

While I strongly advise against over mixing batter in other recipes, and even design my recipes to have as little mixing as possible, gluten free batter is different.

The whole reason you don’t want to over mix your batter is that it develops thick strands of gluten, which can lead to dense, tough cupcakes. But when you’re using gluten free flour, this isn’t a problem.

In fact, overmixing gluten free flour can actually give the cupcake better structure! This helps cupcakes rise better as they bake, and gives the cake a more tender crumb.

The additional mixing can also make it easier to bite into these cupcakes and enjoy them. The incremental structure helps prevent the cupcakes from crumbling as they’re bitten into.

Tip #2 Let Your Batter Rest

Remember earlier when I said that gluten free flour blends can have a hard time absorbing moisture and fats?

If you let the batter sit for a bit before baking it, you give the flour more time to absorb all that goodness. This helps thicken the batter, and prevents your cupcakes from having a gritty texture.

I unintentionally did this as I was photographing and filming this gluten free vanilla cupcake batter. You’d be surprised how long it takes to get a perfect shot of scooping cupcake batter into a pan!

Letting the batter sit for about 30 minutes drastically improves the texture of these cupcakes, so be sure you don’t skip this step!!

Why I Prefer Vanilla Bean Paste Over Vanilla Extract In This Recipe

It’s important to use good quality vanilla when it’s the only flavor in a baked good like this. I used vanilla bean paste in this recipe, and I think it makes a huge difference in taste!

I prefer vanilla bean paste to vanilla extract in this recipe for a couple reasons. The first reason is that I love the little flecks of vanilla bean in the buttercream frosting and cupcakes.

image of gluten free vanilla cupcake being frosted with vanilla bean buttercream

They’re beautiful!! It’s like you can see that warm, delicious flavor incorporated throughout the cupcake.

I also think that the vanilla bean paste adds a stronger, better flavor than vanilla extract. If you haven’t tried it before, I highly recommend giving it a try. It’s not too expensive, and it really elevates the flavor of these cupcakes!

If you don’t want to buy another ingredient or you prefer using vanilla extract, that’s ok too! Just be sure to use real vanilla extract. Imitation vanilla just doesn’t do it for me flavor-wise.

Tips for Making The Best Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes:

  • Don’t be afraid to overmix your batter! Vigorously whisk your batter for a few minutes once it’s made, to help give it structure
  • Let your batter sit for about 30 minutes before baking to help the gluten free flour absorb more moisture from the batter
  • Properly measure your gluten free flour (spoon into the cup measure then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients
  • Use a cookie scoop to easily fill your cupcake liners
  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better, so be sure you set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Bang your cupcake pan on the counter before putting it in the oven, to bring any air bubbles that are trapped in the batter to the surface
  • Use vanilla bean paste to give your cupcakes an amazing flavor!

Making These Cupcakes In Advance & Storage Tips:

  • Make your cupcakes in advance! If stored unfrosted in an airtight container, they can last for 2 days at room temp, up to a week in the fridge, or up to 3 months in the freezer
  • Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • Frosted cupcakes can sit out at room temperature overnight in an airtight container, but I find frosting them right before serving is best.

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try this recipe for gluten free vanilla cupcakes, I’d love to hear what think of it! Please leave a rating, and let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

Other Gluten Free Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 12-14 cupcakes

Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes

Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes

This recipe for gluten free vanilla cupcakes is insanely simple & equally delicious! It comes together in one bowl and makes super moist and fluffy cupcakes

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 33 minutes

Ingredients

Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

Instructions

Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes

  1. Begin by preheating oven to 350°F (175°C), and place cupcake liners in cupcake pan.
  2. Add the gluten free flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large bowl, and gently combine with a whisk.
  3. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients, and add the water, vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract, sour cream, egg and vegetable oil.
  4. Gently whisk together the wet ingredients together until the start to combine, then slowly begin to mix them together with the dry ingredients.
  5. Mix together for a couple minutes, to help give the batter structure. You don't have to worry about overmixing, because there's no gluten in this batter!
  6. Cover and let the batter sit for about 30 minutes, to give the gluten free flour tiem to absorb more of the liquid in the batter.
  7. Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 way full (I like to use a cookie scoop to help me fill them evenly).
  8. Bake for 18-19 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream

  1. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a whisk or paddle attachment, until smooth.
  2. Mix in the vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract and salt on a low speed.
  3. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream.
  4. Beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. 
  5. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 Tablespoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
  6. Place the buttercream in a piping bag fit with your favorite frosting tip, and pipe large swirls onto the fully cooled cupcakes.

Notes

This recipe can also be used to make mini cupcakes! This recipe makes about 40 mini cupcakes, which only need to bake for 9-10 minutes.

These cupcake can be made in advance! If stored unfrosted in an airtight container, they can last for:

  • 2 days at room temp
  • Up to a week in the fridge
  • Up to 3 months in the freezer

If you have extra buttercream you don't use, it can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container or piping bag for up to 2 weeks.

Nutrition Information

Yield

14 cupcakes

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 413Total Fat 20gSaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 57mgSodium 272mgCarbohydrates 57gFiber 0gSugar 47gProtein 2g

29 thoughts on “Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes

    1. Hi Dalila,

      Yay! I used the king arthur gluten free flour blend with these ones, and loved the way it turned out. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  1. Hi Chelsey! Can’t wait to try this recipe! Quick question, at what point does the Xanthum Gum get added? Is it already in the flour you recommend? Thanks so much!!

    1. Hi Christina,

      Most gluten free blends already have the xanthan gum added in, so you don’t have to worry about adding it 🙂

  2. Hi Chelsey. Very excited about making this recipe as I need something GF for this weekend…. Can I make this recipe and instead of making cupcakes make Cake? I have 4 8X2 rounds pans I am going to use.

    1. Hi Destiny,

      I haven’t tested this cupcake recipe as a cake, so sadly I’m not sure! I’m working on a GF vanilla cake recipe right now though, and am hoping to share it soon! Stay tuned 🙂

    1. Hi Aimee,

      I haven’t tested it out, but I would think that it should work just fine!! If you try it, please let me know how it turns out 🙂

    1. Hi Katie,

      Sadly I haven’t! I’m working on a separate gluten free vanilla cake recipe, which i’m hoping to share soon! 🙂 Stay tuned!!

    1. Hi Maryanne,

      I haven’t tested this recipe out as a cake layer, but I’m planning to this weekend! I’m also playing around with a separate GF vanilla cake recipe, and I’m hoping to share whichever works best soon. Stay tuned <3

  3. Made these today using King Arthur’s measure for measure flour. I’m new to gluten free baking…can’t say I’m a fan in general of it, but it’s a necessity at the moment. Thanks for the tip about letting the batter rest. I made another gluten free vanilla cupcake recipe today as well and when I tasted that batter and cooked cupcake it was very grainy. Your recipe solved that problem (and they baked up fluffier too). While I still prefer the cupcakes I make that have gluten, these will be the gluten free version I make from now on. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Aw I am so happy to that you enjoyed this recipe Cindy!! Gluten free baking is definitely different, but with the right tricks it doesn’t have to be so bad 🙂 Happy baking!!

  4. I made these and they were by far the best cupcakes ever!! They were much better than anything we have found in a bakery! They were light and moist and pure heaven! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  5. Do you think I can use this with the gluten-free chocolate cupcake recipe to create marble cupcakes? If not, any ideas on how to do marble cupcakes gluten-free?

    1. Hi Debbie,

      I think that using this with my GF chocolate cupcake recipe to make marbled cupcakes would work great!! You’ll end up making about 2 dozen with both batches of batter, but I think they’ll be delicious 🙂 I’d love to hear how they turn out!!

  6. Hi Chelsea, I’m also a home grown baker who (almost) makes my income by baking. I’ve been dying to find a good and new gluten free vanilla recipe and then I found yours. I’ve used your chocolate one and it’s divine, but this vanilla one was not. At all. Like not even a little bit lol. I know it’s something I did but I’m not sure what I could have done. I’m a professional baker so I usually know when I’ve made a mistake but in this case, I have NO CLUE what I’ve done. My cupcakes came out gummy and the texture was almost bread-like. The flavor was good but they were so bad they were almost inedible. Do you have any idea where I may have gone wrong? I’ve read and reread your instructions and followed them to a tee, and would you to help me figure this out. I know you’re really busy, so no worries if you can’t/don’t want to. I’ll keep trying! Thank you!
    Heidi from Heidi’s Baking Table

    1. I am so sorry to hear that Heidi! We’ll definitely get to the bottom of this together!!

      My first guess would be the flour you used, what gluten free flour blend did you use? did you overmix the batter a bunch at the end, to help give the cupcakes the structure they need to bake up?

  7. These were so good! I’ve made the recipe twice already. Once as normal sized cupcakes and then as mini cupcakes. I had leftover mini ones so I froze them for about two weeks until I needed to show up with dessert for a family birthday dinner and they still tasted great. I used a plant based sour cream too and everything turned out amazing!

    1. That’s awesome! I haven’t tried plant based sour cream before but now I’m super curious! I’ll have to look for it my grocery store next time I go (or once things settle down here in NYC and the grocery stores get restocked). Now I also want to make mini cupcakes 😛 Haha you’re giving me some serious baking inspo!!

  8. It’s not your fault! I did something clearly because based on reviews this should have worked beautifully.

    I used the Bob’s Mill baking mix which is also what I used for the chocolate ones and they were divine. Per your recommendation I ordered the King Arthur brand online and will be attempting these again because I’m determined to nail them.

    I let the batter rest for a half hour, I over-mixed, and I followed your specifications to a tee. I’m wondering if the problem wasn’t the actual batter but maybe in the baking process. Perhaps I pulled them out too early and they didn’t have a chance to fully bake and set. No idea. I’ll let you know how my second attempt goes! Thank you for responding!

    Heidi

    1. Hopefully that’s it!! Fingers crossed your next attempt turns out great 🙂 Can’t wait to hear how it goes!!!

  9. Hi! I baked the gluten free vanilla cupcakes and they turned out amazing! But the batter was a little bit runny. I was wondering what I could do next time for them not to be so runny. I would love to know what I could do??

    1. Hi Camila,

      So happy to hear that! That’s totally fine if the batter is a little runny, that’s just from all the ingredients being at room temp. The batter is sometimes thicker if some of the ingredients aren’t at room temp, but they cake up best if they are. You could add a tiny bit less water to make the batter thicker, but that will make the cupcakes a bit denser. Hope that helps, happy baking!

Let me know what you think!