Perfect Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes

Soft and full of vanilla flavor, these simple, but perfect gluten free vanilla cupcakes are just what we need in our baking arsenal.

perfect gluten free vanilla cupcakes

I love cake. And when I say that, I mean I love ALL cake. I seriously cannot think of a flavor of cake or cupcakes I don’t love. Chocolate is probably my absolute favorite, which is surprising because as a kid I didn’t like chocolate cake. But as an adult, I grew into so many flavors of cake–carrot, pistachio, spice, pumpkin, caramel, etc, etc.

But whomever says vanilla is boring hasn’t had a truly perfect vanilla cupcake. And these cupcakes here are the ultimate perfect gluten free vanilla cupcakes! They’re pillowy soft and FULL of vanilla bean flavor in both the cake and the buttercream. And what’s great about these cupcakes is they can be a blank canvas for any combination of flavors and textures you can dream up!

Ingredients for Perfect Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes

These cupcakes are so soft and moist, you’d never know they’re gluten free. My family has been loving my cupcakes for years (before Celiac) and when I had to change everything to gluten free, I really thought things were gonna go downhill. But I found a great recipe that I adapted to fit my gluten free needs, using my own gf flour blend and my own special touches.

Cake Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need for the cake part of these cupcakes:

  • gluten free flour blend–I use my own all purpose gluten free flour blend. A store bought blend may be substituted (although the recipe hasn’t been tested with anything other than my blend).
  • cornstarch–I add a little bit of cornstarch with the flour, which acts somewhat like cake flour.
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • milk–I use whole milk. You may be able to get away with a dairy free milk, but I haven’t tried it.
  • cream–it’s amazing what cream does to a cake batter.
  • vanilla bean seeds and extract–for maximum vanilla flavor, I use both the seeds from a vanilla bean AND extract.
  • butter–I love the flavor butter imparts to cakes.
  • sugar
  • eggs

The Buttercream

You can play around with many different vanilla frosting ideas for these cupcakes. I’ve got plenty of options here on the blog (my signature French buttercream, an Italian meringue buttercream, or a Swiss meringue buttercream). But I thought for these cupcakes, because they’re “simple and perfect,” American buttercream all the way. Here’s what you’ll need (3 simple ingredients):

  • Butter
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla–because we’re going with the whole “perfect vanilla” theme, of course I’m gonna use vanilla bean seeds AND extract for maximum vanilla flavor. But use what you have.

People often ask why there is no liquid in this recipe. I explain that it isn’t necessary because of the amount of butter compared to the amount of powdered sugar. Most American buttercream recipes require a little milk or cream to thin them due to the heavy amount of powdered sugar, which makes them really thick. And really sweet. But not this American buttercream.

unwrapped vanilla cupcake

Frosting and Decorating Ideas

These perfect gluten free vanilla cupcakes are just that–perfect as they are. But, if you want to use these as a stepping off point to something else, here are some ideas:

  • Plain–plain is sometimes anything but. The simplicity of a vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream can be so satisfying.
  • Chocolate–one of my favorites–vanilla cake with chocolate frosting. Try this fudge frosting.
  • French buttercream–my signature frosting, French buttercream is the be all end all to buttercream frostings, in my opinion. And it can be flavored a million different ways.
  • Coconut–use this recipe for a flour-based buttercream frosting, and then add shredded coconut.
  • Sprinkles–I love sprinkles and there are so many kinds of sprinkles for every holiday you could ever want.
  • Whipped cream and raspberry jam–or strawberry. Or fresh fruit.
cupcakes sitting on top of muffin tin with bottle of vanilla in background

These perfect gluten free vanilla cupcakes are the ultimate in real vanilla flavor and will put store bought cupcakes to shame!

perfect gluten free vanilla cupcakes

Perfect Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes

Soft and full of vanilla flavor, these simple, but perfect gluten free vanilla cupcakes are just what we need in our baking arsenal.
Print Recipe
Keywordcupcakes, Gluten Free, vanilla
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time48 minutes
Servings24 cupcakes


  • 1 cup (2 sticsk or 226 g) butter, at room temperature
  • cups (550 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract, or the seeds from one vanilla bean
  • cups (400 g) Kim's gluten free flour blend (a store bought blend may be substituted, but hasn't been tested)
  • 2 tbsp (16 g) cornstarch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • tsp kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • cups (300 ml) whole milk
  • ¼ cup plus 3 tbsp (105 ml) heavy cream

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 3 cups (6 sticks or 680 g) butter, at room temperature
  • 6 cups (680 g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract, or the seeds from one vanilla bean


  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners and set aside.
  • Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla on low speed until well combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue to cream for about 4-5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  • Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. In a measuring cup, whisk together the milk and cream.
  • Blend in ⅓ of the flour mixture, followed by ½ the milk/cream mixture. Blend in the second ⅓ of the flour and the rest of the milk/cream, finished by the final ⅓ of flour. Beat for just an additional 5 seconds longer to incorporate all the ingredients. Let the batter sit for 15 minutes and stir gently before scooping into muffin cups, filling ¾ full.
  • Bake the cupcakes for 28-33 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pans for 5 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely.

For the Buttercream

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a handheld mixer), beat butter until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar in increments with the mixer on low (so it doesn't fly out of the mixer). Add the vanilla. Turn the mixer up to medium and beat for about 5-6 minutes, or until lighter in color and texture (this extra mixing is crucial to the texture of the buttercream).
  • Frost cupcakes as desired.

26 thoughts on “Perfect Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes”

  • Can’t wait to try this recipe! The cupcakes look amazing. I am always looking for a frosting that is whipped and melt in your mouth soft, and hope this one is it! Thanks.

  • Hi Kim – question about your flour blend for cakes, pastries, etc. if I’m using it to convert a “gluten recipe” is it a cup for cup equivalent to regular flour, or would you recommend using 3/4 cup of your GF blend to replace 1 cup regular flour? Thanks. (If I already posted this, apologies- it seems to have disappeared).

    • Hi, Helen! It does sub cup for cup in most recipes. However, sometimes I’ll either add a little more liquid (around 1/4 cup or 60 ml) or reduce the flour, as you said, by 1/4 cup. It just depends on the recipe 🙂

  • Hi! Just made these this evening, and they are absolutely DELICIOUS, but structurally didn’t hold together. We made no changes at all to the recipe, used your flour blend as we usually do (have had GREAT luck with some of your other recipes!), and the cupcakes collapsed. They still taste great, so no big deal, but getting them out was almost impossible and most are sort of sunken discs.

    Any ideas what the issue might be?


    • I’m so sorry they collapsed! If I’ve ever had sinking cupcakes, it’s usually because I took them out of the oven too early. However, another culprit could be not creaming the butter and sugar long enough OR overbeating the batter. I hope this helps if you bake them again 😊

  • Kim,
    HELP! My daughter turns 9 at the end of March and this is what she said “I want strawberry shortcake fur my birthday. I’ve read about little girls loving strawberry shortcake and I’ve NEVER even HAD any.” It made me a bit sad as that was one of my favorites as a child, too, but we are all GF now (not by choice). Do u have a recipe you would suggest to use?
    We have had many meals where my husband has complimented the meal, then said “thank you, Kim!”as your recipes have opened a tasty world fur us again. Thank you so much for all you do!

    • Awe, you and your family are so sweet! I’m thrilled y’all are able to enjoy some great food again!!

      I don’t have a layer cake made into a strawberry shortcake, but traditionally strawberry shortcake is made with a sweet biscuit, whipped cream, and strawberries that have been macerated with a little bit of sugar. Are you looking to make a strawberry shortcake layer cake?

      What day is your daughter’s birthday? Mine is March 27th! Since we’re both end of March babies, maybe I can come up with something before then for her 🙂

      • Her birthday is the 29th, very close to yours! 🙂 Yes, that sounds like it would be fabulous! If you could come up with something, that would be great, but I don’t want to cause any stress either.

  • In your ingredient list you have cornstarch but not in directions to add to flour mixture? I’m making these now so I hope you just missed putting cornstarch in directions and it was not mistaken addition to ingredient bc I’m adding the cornstarch. I lOVE your choc cup cakes so wanted to try these.

    • I made these but they were not light fluffy and airy like the chocolate ones. That is what I was hoping for. Are they supposed to be more dense and sticky like after baking? Flavor is good despite this.

      • No, they’re not supposed to be dense at all. Did you substitute anything, like use a different flour blend? Or sub the milk/cream or butter? Also, the mixing method of alternating dry and wet ingredients is very important to getting the right texture.

        • I did not substitute anything but question about step 5. When You say to add 1/2 of this then 1/3 of that etc am I blending after each addition? I did not do so bc it said add one thing after another and then blend 5 more seconds. Also was cornstarch part ofvrecipe? I asked this above, in my first question trying to trouble shoot. Thanks!

          • I’m sorry, Stacy! I should have made that a little more clear and will go back now and do so. It’s a technique for not overmixing, to alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients. I use my stand mixer, so the mixer is beating as I’m adding each addition in, but if you’re using a hand mixer, then you would need to beat each addition in JUST until combined and no further.

            Yes, there is cornstarch in the recipe and I’m so sorry I didn’t include combining the cornstarch in with the other dry ingredients in the instructions. It is listed in the ingredients, but I forgot to explain what to do with it in the instructions. Again, I apologize for these errors on my part, and I hope you can try the recipe again as it should be!

  • tomorrow is finally the day… the day to try your great sandwich bread…and the cupcakes:)
    I have a question, is there anything i can use to substitute the ‘heavy cream?”
    my guy is lactose intolerant, but we can use things like goat milk, kefir, goat/sheep yogurt, which all have worked well. (including the good ol goat milk with vinegar as buttermilk 🙂

    Also just curious, have you ever tried making twizzlers? I just tried the basic first recipe on you tube with your flour mix… i’m waiting for them to cool !

    Than you for your hard work !

    • I think goat milk would be a great sub for the heavy cream!

      I tried to make twizzlers once and I didn’t care for them. I won’t give up, though, so when I feel like trying again, I will 😊 Let me know how yours turn out 🥰

      • I have to admit.. i chickenned out this morning:( I noticed a lot of Americans love their sugar, so I just opted to use a hand written recipe i’ve used in the past, with mildly sweet cupcakes, and your buttercream frosting:)

        The twizzlers were a total failure lol. I used the recipe ‘yoyomax’ on youtube, it looks very straight forward..but they did not get solid. The flavour was nice but they jsut remained this gummy goo.
        I have some store bought ones that are mostly sugar, brown rice syrup, rice flour and cornstarch… so i may end up trying to put something together with that. There’s another recipe i will try from ‘bon apetite’ where the baker lady tries all kinds of things. I made her pop tarts (GF:) and they were not bad!

        The adventure continues today … with your sandwich bread recipe ^_^

  • Hi Kim ☀️
    Made these yesterday to honor my Father’s Birthday who died when I was 7 yrs old. They are delicious, light and airy with an amazing taste. Made and orange buttercream frosting that gave them the taste of a creamsicle. Yummy😋. I did have a couple that sank in the middle, but once I piped them with the frosting you couldn’t even tell they had sunk. Thank you once again for an amazing recipe. Love them all ❤️🦋.

    Would love to upload a pic for you, is there a way to do that on this site?

    • Those sound divine, Shari!!

      I need to check on how to do that. I’m not as technologically advanced as other bloggers, so give me a little bit and I’ll see if I can find out 😍

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