I dove head first into gluten free baking this year, and that’s led to a lot of requests for dairy free recipes. Or more specifically, for dairy free cupcakes!
Before you scroll too far, this recipe can also be altered to make gluten free dairy free cupcakes, or dairy free and eggless cupcakes.
It’s a very allergen friendly recipe, and is great for anyone with dietary restrictions 🙂
Learning What Alternative Dairy Products Are Out There
I drink regular milk on a daily basis, so I’m not an expert when it comes to alternative dairy products.
I had a lot to learn. There are so many dairy free alternatives these days, I knew this wasn’t going to be a simple recipe test.
I wanted to try a ton of different types to see what worked best.
After spending about 20 minutes in front of the alternative dairy section at Whole Foods, I made my selections.
I tried to pick alternative products that are relatively easy to find, and frequently consumed by those who are lactose-intolerant or dairy-free.
Which Alternative Dairy Products Are Best For Baking?
While recipe testing, I used almond, soy, coconut, and oat products. There are lots of other options like cashew milk, rice milk, and hemp milk, but I think people drink these less often than the types I chose.
This recipe uses both dairy free milk and dairy free yogurt, so I loaded my cart with alternative milks and yogurts.
I also tested this recipe with sweetened/flavored and unsweetened versions of alternative milk and yogurt.
During my first round of testing, I used the same type of milk and yogurt. My first batch used soy milk and soy yogurt. The second batch used almond milk and almond yogurt…you get the idea.
Then I got worried that combining different types of dairy-free milks and yogurt might cause the recipe not to work. So I tested a few different combinations to see if they still turned out.
I was amazed to find that the cupcakes turned out with each type of dairy free milk I tested. Even more surprising was that the cupcakes that used different types of dairy free milk and yogurt also baked up great!
I was incredibly happy to find that you can use whatever dairy free milk and yogurt are your favorites. Or better yet, whatever you happen to have on hand!
My Preference: Almond Milk and Almond Yogurt
While each batch of cupcakes baked up well, I taste tested them to see which alternative dairy products gave the cupcakes the best taste and texture.
The batch made with unsweetened almond milk and vanilla almond yogurt turned out the fluffiest.
I also enjoyed the flavor of this version, and next time I might add a teaspoon of almond extract to enhance the flavor even more.
I don’t think anyone trying these would guess that they’re dairy free!! They’re just as moist and delicious as my regular vanilla cupcake recipe.
Making Eggless Cupcakes With This Dairy Free Cupcake Recipe
Usually when I get requests for dairy free recipes, I get asked for recipes that are eggless as well!
I’m happy to report that after testing all the different types of alternative dairy, I also tested this recipe without eggs (it was a very long day in my kitchen!).
Eggs do a lot in a recipe. They help add structure, flavor, and richness to baked goods. They also have a leavening effect, and help baked goods rise.
My go to swap when making a recipe eggless is to use applesauce in place of eggs.
It sounds crazy, I know. But using 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of each egg a recipe calls for works great.
Just look how tender the crumb is on this dairy and egg free cupcake, made with applesauce!!
One thing to note when doing this is that you can taste the applesauce in the baked cupcake. It is totally delicious, but not a flavor that meshes well with coconut milk or coconut yogurt.
If you want to use applesauce instead of eggs in this recipe, it tastes best with almond or soy dairy products.
Why is applesauce a good substitute for eggs?
Applesauce is a good substitute for eggs because it helps bind together the other ingredients in this recipe, just like an egg would.
It also helps prevent gluten from developing, which is why it makes such tender baked goods.
While applesauce creates a wonderful texture in these cupcakes, it does cause them to rise a tiny bit less.
You can counteract this by adding an additional 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder to the recipe.
Using This Recipe to Make Gluten Free Dairy Free Cupcakes
Now onto our final variation of this dairy free cupcake recipe, making it gluten free and dairy free!
You can swap in your favorite gluten free flour blend cup for cup in this recipe!
I personally prefer King Arthur’s gluten free flour blend, and find that 1 1/4 cups of GF flour weigh about 150 grams.
In addition to swapping the flour, there are two additional steps you need to take when making these cupcakes gluten free.
Gluten Free Baking Tip #1: Over-Mix Your Batter
The first step is to vigorously whisk your batter for a few minutes once it’s made to help give it structure. I know this goes against everything you’ve ever heard about baking, but over mixing your batter is key when making anything gluten free.
It helps cupcakes rise better as they bake, and gives the cake a more tender crumb.
Gluten Free Baking Tip #2: Let Your Batter Rest
The second step I recommend is letting your batter rest for about 30 minutes before baking your cupcakes.
Gluten free flour blends can have a hard time absorbing moisture and fats. Letting the batter sit before baking it gives the flour more time to absorb all that goodness.
This helps thicken the batter, and prevents your cupcakes from having a gritty texture.
Topping These Cupcakes: Dairy Free Buttercream Frosting
When you’re making dairy free cupcakes, it’s key that you have a great dairy free buttercream to top them with!
I found that using a dairy free butter like Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks tasted best. You can also use vegetable shortening though!
The consistency of this frosting is just as smooth as my regular American buttercream recipe, and it pipes like a dream.
I decided to decorate my favorite batch of these dairy free cupcakes (the almond milk/almond yogurt batch) with an Ateco 869 frosting tip.
My Recommendation: Use Vanilla Bean Paste
To give this dairy free buttercream a more intense vanilla flavor, I love to use vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla extract.
Vanilla extract works if you don’t have vanilla bean paste on hand, but the flavor isn’t quite as strong.
I also love being able to see those tiny little vanilla bean specks!!
If desired, you can also add an additional teaspoon of your favorite extract to this frosting (listed as optional in the recipe).
My one word of caution here is to make sure you pick an extract that will pair well with your alternative dairy.
Since I prefer using almond milk and almond yogurt, adding a teaspoon of almond extract to this frosting would be delicious. It would also help enhance the natural almond flavor in these cupcakes.
Likewise, if you prefer coconut milk and coconut yogurt, you could add some coconut extract.
For soy and oat milk, I think almond or lemon extract would taste great.
Tips for Making The Best Dairy Free Cupcakes:
- Use your favorite type of dairy free milk and yogurt.
- To make eggless dairy free cupcakes, use 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of the egg, and add an additional 1/4 tsp of baking powder.
- To make gluten free dairy free cupcakes, swap in your favorite gluten free flour blend for the AP flour this recipe calls for. Be sure to over-mix your batter and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before baking for best results.
- 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.
Making These Dairy Free 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 dairy free cupcake recipe or any variation of it, I’d love to hear what you think of it! Please leave a rating and comment below.
Don’t forget to tag me @chelsweets and use #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations on social media!
Other Recipes You Might Like:
Dairy Free Vanilla Cupcakes
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (160g)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (6g)
- 1/2 tsp fine salt (3g)
- 1/2 cup alternative milk like soy, almond, coconut or oat (120ml)
- 1/2 cup alternative yogurt like soy, almond, coconut, or oat (95g)
- 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil (60ml)
- 1 large egg, room temp (56g) - see eggless variation in notes below
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (12ml)
Dairy Free Vanilla Buttercream
- 1/2 cup vegan butter or vegetable shortening, room temperature (105g)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (4ml)
- 1/2 tsp almond, coconut, or lemon extract (2g) - optional
- 1/4 tsp fine salt (1g)
- 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar (220g)
- 1 Tbsp alternative milk like soy, almond, coconut, or oat (15ml)
Dairy Free Cupcakes
- Begin by preheating the oven to 350°F / 175°C and place 12 cupcake liners in a muffin pan.
- Sift or whisk together 1 1/4 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp fine salt to a large bowl.
- In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup alternative milk, 1/2 cup alternative yogurt, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 large egg, and 1 Tbsp vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until the batter comes together.
- Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 way full. Bake for 19-21 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
- Let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to finish cooling. If you want to accelerate the cooling process, pop the muffin pan into the freezer for about 30 minutes.
Dairy Free Buttercream Frosting
- Beat 1/2 cup of vegan butter or shortening on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a hand mixer until smooth.
- Mix in 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp of additional extract if desired (like almond, coconut, or lemon), and 1/4 tsp fine salt on a low speed.
- Slowly mix in 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar on a low speed. Halfway through add 1 Tbsp alternative milk to make the frosting easier to mix.
- Mix on low for a couple minutes until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached.
- If the frosting is too thick, add in additional alternative milk (1 tsp at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
- Place the frosting in a piping bag fit with your favorite frosting tip, then pipe large swirls onto the fully cooled cupcakes.
- Garnish as desired, then enjoy!
Dairy Free Cupcake Variations:
- To make eggless dairy free cupcakes, use 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of the egg and add an additional 1/4 tsp of baking powder
- To make gluten free dairy free cupcakes, swap in your favorite gluten free flour blend for the AP flour this recipe calls for, and be sure to over-mix your batter and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before baking for best results
Making These Dairy Free Cupcakes In Advance & Storage Tips:
Make your dairy free 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 for up to a day in an airtight container, but I find frosting them right before serving is best.
Amount Per Serving Calories 458Total Fat 20gSaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 18mgSodium 310mgCarbohydrates 66gFiber 4gSugar 45gProtein 5g