Gluten-Free Vanilla Cupcakes

4.92 from 23 votes
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It’s so tempting to use a boxed gluten-free cake mix any time there’s a big event because it’s so reliable. But let’s face it, the taste is underwhelming at best. I developed these homemade gluten-free vanilla cupcakes topped with buttercream frosting to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth! They’re light and fluffy with a creamy, mouthwatering frosting that I love to slather on every dessert.

frosted gluten-free vanilla cupcakes in cupcake liners.

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe

These gluten-free vanilla cupcakes are so easy to make from scratch. Once you taste them, you won’t go back to gluten-free boxed cake mixes again! I promise you won’t even be able to tell that these vanilla cupcakes are gluten-free!

Ingredients

  • Unsalted Butter: Makes the cupcakes super tender and forms the base of the buttercream. For a dairy-free option, use Smart Balance butter.
  • Granulated Sugar: Sweetens the cupcakes.
  • Eggs: Give the cupcakes structure.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract: Adds classic vanilla flavor to both the cupcakes and the frosting.
  • Gluten-Free All-Purpose Rice Flour Blend with Xanthan Gum: I like Pillsbury gluten-free. Not all gluten-free flours are created equal. You may experience different baking results depending on the gluten-free flour blend you choose.
  • Baking Powder: Helps the cupcakes rise in the oven.
  • Salt: Balances the sweet flavor of the cupcakes and the buttercream.
  • Milk: Adds moisture to the cupcakes and helps thin the buttercream to the correct consistency. For a dairy-free option, use unsweetened almond, cashew, or coconut milk.
  • Confectioners’ Sugar: Sweetens the buttercream without making it gritty.

Step by Step Instructions

Vanilla Cupcakes

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners or spray with gluten-free cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the softened butter. Add the sugar and beat until smooth. (pic 1)
  4. Add eggs and vanilla extract and mix until fully combined and smooth.
  5. Add gluten-free flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until combined.
  6. Pour in milk and mix for 2 minutes on medium until batter is smooth. (pic 2)
  7. Scoop the cake batter into the lined muffin pan. I always use a greased ice cream scoop when making cupcakes and muffins. It measures out the perfect amount and is less messy than trying to spoon batter into the pan. (pic 3)
  8. Bake cupcakes for 25 minutes. Please watch your oven because all ovens are different. I like to check my cupcakes with a toothpick to make sure they are done also. (pic 4)
  9. Allow cupcakes to completely cool before frosting. I like to use a baking cooling rack.

Vanilla Buttercream

  1. In a large bowl, cream the softened butter until smooth.
  2. Add the pure vanilla extract and mix until fully combined.
  3. Add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time and mix until fully combined.
  4. Add the milk and beat until smooth and spreadable. (pic 5)
  5. I like to line a piping bag in a tall glass and then add the frosting. It makes it easier and less mess to fill. My favorite frosting tip is the Wilton 1M. (pic 6)
step by step photos for how to make gluten free vanilla cupcakes

Tips and Suggestions

  • I have found that the best way to measure gluten-free flour is to use the “spoon & level” method.  Use a spoon to scoop the flour out of the bag into a measuring cup.  After spooning the flour into a measuring cup, use the back of a knife to level the flour off the measuring cup.
  • For uniformed sized cupcakes, I always use a greased ice cream scoop. It makes it nice and easy to get the perfect amount in the baking pan.
  • I also like to use cupcake liners to keep the cupcakes from sticking to the pan.
  • Allow your cupcake to completely cool before frosting them. I like to use a cooling rack.

Why Did My Cupcakes Overflow?

You should never fill the wells of your cupcake tin higher than 3/4 of the way full. If you overfill them, they will overflow as they bake!

piping frosting on gluten-free vanilla cupcakes.

Why Did My Cupcakes Sink?

If you overmix the batter or add too much moisture, your cupcakes may rise rapidly in the oven, then quickly collapse. It’s important to have a light hand when combining the batter and to ensure you are measuring your ingredients correctly!

Why Did The Frosting Melt Off Of My Cupcakes?

It’s super important to fully cool your gluten-free vanilla cupcakes before attempting to frost them. If your frost them while they are still warm, the frosting will begin to melt and separate!

Storage Instructions

Storage: Store gluten-free vanilla cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Freezing: There are lots of times when I need to bring my children a safe gluten-free treat to have at a party or event and having some of these cupcakes in the freezer really helps.

Once your cupcakes are completely cool, wrap the cupcakes with plastic wrap (I like the press and seal wrap) and place in a freezer bag. The cupcakes can be frozen up to 3 months. You can defrost the cupcakes at room temperature for 2-3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

3 gluten-free vanilla cupcakes.

More Gluten-Free Dessert Recipes to Try!

4.92 from 23 votes

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cupcakes

Servings: 12 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
frosted gluten-free vanilla cupcakes in cupcake liners.
An easy recipe for gluten-free vanilla cupcakes that are soft and fluffy. Bakery-style gluten-free cupcakes topped with a vanilla buttercream frosting. The recipe also has a dairy-free option. 

Ingredients 

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, dairy-free use Smart Balance butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • large eggs
  • tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose rice flour blend with xanthan gum, I like Pillsbury gluten-free. Not all gluten-free flours are created equal. You may experience different baking results depending on the gluten-free flour blend you choose.
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk, dairy-free use unsweetened almond milk, cashew or coconut milk

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened, dairy-free use Smart Balance Butter
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk, dairy-free use unsweetened almond milk, cashew or coconut milk

Instructions 

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with liners or spray with gluten-free nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until smooth.
  • Add eggs and vanilla extract and mix until fully combined and smooth.
  • Add gluten-free flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until combined.
  • Pour in milk and mix for 2 minutes on medium until batter is smooth.
  • Scoop the cake batter into the lined muffin pan. I always use a greased ice cream scoop when making cupcakes and muffins. It measures out the perfect amount and is less messy than trying to spoon batter into the pan.
  • Bake cupcakes for 25 minutes. Please watch your oven because all ovens are different. I like to check my cupcakes with a toothpick to make sure they are done too.
  • Allow cupcakes to completely cool before frosting. I like to use a baking cooling rack.

Vanilla Buttercream

  • In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth.
  • Add the pure vanilla extract and mix until fully combined.
  • Add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time and mix until fully combined.
  • Add the milk and beat until smooth and spreadable.
  • I like to line a piping bag in a tall glass and then add the frosting. It makes it easier and less mess to fill. My favorite frosting tip is the Wilton 1M.

Video

Notes

  • I have found that the best way to measure gluten-free flour is to use the “spoon & level” method.  Use a spoon to scoop the flour out of the bag into a measuring cup.  After spooning the flour into a measuring cup, use the back of a knife to level the flour off the measuring cup.
  • For uniformed sized cupcakes, I always use a greased ice cream scoop. It makes it nice and easy to get the perfect amount in the baking pan.
  • I also like to use cupcake liners to keep the cupcakes from sticking to the pan.
  • Allow your cupcake to completely cool before frosting them. I like to use a cooling rack.
  • Store in an airtight container or freeze for up to 3 months. See the recipe post for freezing instructions. 
  • Mama says, “Check all of your labels!”

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupcakeCalories: 433kcalCarbohydrates: 63gProtein: 3gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 83mgSodium: 125mgPotassium: 107mgFiber: 1gSugar: 54gVitamin A: 620IUCalcium: 71mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @mamaknowsglutenfree or tag #mamaknowsglutenfree!

About Audrey Roberts

I'm Audrey Roberts, a busy mama of four and I love sharing the recipes that I make for my family. I make gluten-free family-friendly recipes that are simple and delicious that you can too! I use easy to find ingredients that won't break your budget. You will also find dairy-free options and Paleo recipes. I am also the author of The Everything Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Cookbook, which is an Amazon Best Selling Cookbook in the US and Internationally. Living gluten-free since 2010. I hope by me sharing my journey it may help you with yours.

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42 Comments

  1. So I know what to look for in the store, is your rice flour blend strictly rice & xanthan gum or are the other gf flour types in the blend?

  2. Hello! I’m excited to make these cupcakes. I see that they can be frozen; can you freeze them frosted, or is unfrosted best? If they can be frozen frosted, what’s the best way to freeze and thaw them? Thanks!

    1. Hi Christy, to freeze these cupcakes frosted, place them on a plate or baking sheet and freeze until solid, about 1-2 hours. This will set the frosting. Then, wrap each cupcake in plastic wrap and place in a ziplock bag store for up to 1 week. To thaw, carefully unwrap the cupcakes and let come to room temperature.

  3. Hello! I have rice flour, but it does not contain xanthan gum, how much xanthan gum would I put in per recipe? Thank you! 🙂

    1. Hi Kelli, as a general rule, we recommend 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of gluten-free flour!

  4. My whole family loved these cupcakes and says these were the new favorites..I am hoping it will also work as a cake..id really like to try that too. Thx

  5. Hi Audrey!

    I’m wondering if this can me made with oil instead of butter? If yes, how does the process change for mixing? Thanks!

  6. These cupcakes are amazing! And the frosting too! I made them for my son’s first birthday party 💙 I made extra to have for later! I used king Arthur’s cup for cup gluten free flour and I’ll definitely be making again!!

  7. Made this today in the UK gluten free and vegan. Had to convert the measurements to grams and ml and It ended up quite thin as cake mix goes, is that right/ your experience too? They were delicious but I needed to really fill the cup cake baking dish to get anything large enough to call a cupcake as always find that things just don’t rise 🙈. Lastly I used a plant based butter but it looked like it had split very early into the process before the flour was added but then it recovered slightly. Would love to know if my measurements were correct when converting from cups. Not a seasoned baked as you can probably tell.

    1. These turned out pretty dense. I’ve re-read the instructions over and over and I can’t figure out what I did wrong. I used Bob Mill’s 1:1 GF flour – is that not a good one for this recipe?

      1. Hi Agnes! The type of gluten-free flour used can definitely affect the way the final product turns out.

  8. I’m a real fan of these cupcakes and the blueberry muffins made dairy free and sometimes even with flax eggs as well to create a fully vegan, GF version. The blueberry muffin recipe works beautifully with diced apple pieces instead of blueberries for variety. I have a toddler who often misses out on eating the same things as her friends as she has dairy allergies and is gluten intolerant but with these she not only gets to enjoy cupcakes and muffins like her friends but they love them too.

  9. My son was recently diagnosed with allergies to wheat, milk, egg, and peanuts. I made these cupcakes tonight with 4 TBSP of Just Egg egg replacer and they came out really amazing! An absolute lifesaver of a recipe, so easy and so delicious, and it will enable my son to join in with his friends/classmates.

        1. Hi Laura! You could definitely try baking this in a cake pan, but the timing will need to be adjusted. Keep a close eye on it, so that it doesn’t overbake.

  10. these were deliciously fluffy and me and my girlfriends devoured them! thank you for this AMAZING recipe.

  11. Audrey these cupcakes were fantastic. I used your chocolate buttercream recipe as well and it could not have turned out better. So Thank you very very much! My only question is have you ever made either your vanilla or chocolate cupcakes vegan? without the eggs? If so, how did they turnout and what did you use? Bob’s Egg replacer? Flax Egg? I have tried unsuccessfully to make a GF and Vegan vanilla cupcake and am hoping to adapt yours but any advice or feedback from you or anyone who has done so would be much appreciated.

    1. I am so happy that you enjoyed the cupcakes Kelly! I use Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free egg replacer. Thank you so much for the awesome 5-star review.

  12. Two family members need gluten-free, four do not. But these cupcakes were INHALED by everyone. I will definitely use this recipe again!

  13. Love these cupcakes! I will be making for the 3rd time this weekend for my 29 yr old daughter’s birthday! She is gluten/dairy free. My husband and I prefer them now, even though we don’t have any “known” allergies. The neighbors love them too!!

    1. My 12 yr old is getting into baking and with her gluten and dairy allergies feel quite limited at times. This will be a great go-to recipe for her. Thank you!
      How would you bake this as a Cake? Pan-size? Oven temp the same? Time?

      1. Hi Christina! I am so happy that your daughter is getting into baking. I also have a recipe for a gluten-free vanilla cake as well.

  14. They were so easy and tasted so good! First gluten free dairy free I made that tasted like regular! Will keep this recipe for sure!

  15. These are awesome! Can’t even tell they are gf and df. Thank you so much! Even my picky 6 year old granddaughter loved them.

  16. Thank you so much for sharing this, Audrey! Like all of your recipes, it makes even my super taster boys guys super happy! ? we love that your recipes are easy enough for my kiddos- 9yo and up – can make this with no or minimal help. Admittedly, my 13 you boy isn’t patient enough to make his danishes as pretty as yours…but they are delicious just the same! We use King Arthur GF flour because we can easily order it. Thank you!

  17. I made this tonight. It was my first time making cupcakes, and in fact it was my first time baking anything. I made your gf pancakes a couple of days ago and that was my first time making those, lol. Your recipes are very easy to follow, even for a beginner like me. There was a couple of things I had to google (like how to cream the butter, since I didn’t know what that meant) but overall the instructions were good. The cupcakes came out lovely, very soft and fluffy and they tasted delish. Very happy for my first time baking anything. Thanks so much and I can’t wait to try some more of your recipes 🙂
    Ps the pancakes were lovely too, lol.

  18. I loved this recipe so very much! It was so moist and fluffy! Our whole family loved it! Even my brother who is not fond of desserts said it was the best treat he ever ate! Thank you so much!

  19. These were so delicious! We all loved them and this now my go to cupcake recipe. I had never made cupcakes from scratch before, and now i will never make from a box !

  20. Thank you for sharing this recipe – it was exactly what I was looking for! We are gluten and dairy free in my house. This recipe came out light and fluffy and isn’t nearly as dense as the cupcakes the local gluten & dairy free cupcake retailers are baking in their bakeries.

    I can use this to modify for my wedding to create our custom flavor without a problem! I love that the recipe uses pre-blended all purpose flour with the xanthan gum in it so I am not measuring out a gazillion different flours and starches as I typically do when baking from scratch.

    The only thing I could say negative is that I made the buttercream frosting right before sitting down for dinner and when we came back to frost the cooled cupcakes, the frosting wasn’t thick anymore but a tad thin which disappointed my fiancé. But it was still super delicious and I am sure that if I take the time to whip it up the texture would again be perfect – or I could use 1T less milk next time to make him happier.

    Thank you, again!

    1. Thank you so much for the awesome 5-star recipe review, it really made my day! I am so happy that you enjoyed the cupcakes and they were light and fluffy. It really blessed me to hear that you can use this recipe for your wedding. A tip on the frosting is if you need it to be more stabilized you can add cornstarch. I usually make the frosting right before I frost the cupcakes and then add to the piping bag and stick in the fridge for a minute or two. I love in Florida so it hot and humid here, so I always need to refrigerate my frosting. You are so welcome, I love sharing the recipe I make for my family. Thanks again!

  21. Oh my goodness! I am not gluten free by necessity-but my husband is. We have adapted many recipes and usually use only stuff he can also eat vs making 2 of everything. I saw this recipe and thought I’d give it a try. I miss a good vanilla/yellow cake….he’s more a chocolate fan (and I see you have a recipe for that I’ll be trying also). They turned out perfect. Not dry and crumbly and grainy like the rest of my vanilla cake recipes….this one is a keeper and I am trowing out the rest! Now…can I use this to make an actual cake? Or is there another recipe I need to find for that? 🙂 I also tried the cinnamon roll cake and it was a hit with family that had no idea it was gluten free-one even ask for the recipe to make themselves! Thank you!!

    1. Thank you so much Terri for the wonderful 5-star recipe review, it really made my day! I am so happy that you and your husband enjoyed the cup vanilla cakes and they turned out perfect. I am also happy to hear that you enjoyed the cinnamon roll cake. I have not posted my yellow cake recipe, yet. You are so welcome, I love sharing the recipes I make for my family and helping others. Thanks again!