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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.

What Brand of Gluten Free Flour is Best?

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 Gluten Free Vanilla 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

Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes

image of gluten free vanilla cupcake on mini cupcake stand

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


Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting


Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes

  1. Begin by preheating oven to 350°F (175°C), and place 12 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 in two installments. Alternate with the heavy 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.


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



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 269Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 44mgSodium 266mgCarbohydrates 33gFiber 0gSugar 33gProtein 1g

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