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.

close up of vanilla cupcake in daisy cardboard wrapper with a blue background.

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 vanilla cupcakes, gluten free or not! 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!

UPDATE: When I first wrote and shared this post, I thought I had the best gluten free vanilla cupcakes out there. They were pretty special, at least to me and my family. But then I started getting comments from readers stating they were having some trouble with these cupcakes sinking. So I made another batch and I had the same exact problem and I couldn’t figure out why. I had tested this recipe several times before posting it the first time and it worked beautifully. So the only thing I could think of was I must have put the wrong measurements down on the blog post, or I goofed up somehow in listing out the correct ingredients.

Either way, I couldn’t leave the recipe as is. So I searched and searched and tried dozens of concoctions (again) for the best vanilla cupcakes, and I believe I finally have it right. These cupcakes have stood three trials without any problems, and I made sure I got the ingredients and measurements exactly as I made them each time. So I’m crossing my fingers no one will have any problems with this new recipe and will just be able to enjoy the fruit of their labors! Because we all need a little vanilla cake every now and then.

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

ingredients for cakes measured out individually on granite countertop.
  • Kim’s 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).
  • Sour cream — it’s amazing what sour cream does to cake. It makes it so tender and soft.
  • Vanilla bean seeds and extract–for maximum vanilla flavor, I use both the seeds from a vanilla bean AND extract.
  • Almond extract — just a very small amount of almond extract seems to enhance the vanilla flavor.

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 or a Swiss meringue buttercream to name a couple). But I thought for these cupcakes, because they’re “simple and perfect,” American buttercream all the way. Here’s what you’ll need for my American buttercream (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.

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.

several vanilla cupcakes in daisy cardboard cupcake liners on robin's egg blue cake stand.

Vanilla Cupcakes 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 frosting (ermine), 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 in daisy cardboard cupcake liners on robin's egg blue cake stand with frosting filled decorating bag in front.

gluten free vanilla cupcakes frequently asked questions

Can this recipe be baked into a cake instead of cupcakes?

Yes, it should bake up just fine in cake pans, but of course you’ll need to adjust the baking time accordingly, depending on the size of your cake pans.

How long do vanilla cupcakes last?

They will stay fresh in a sealed container at room temperature for 3-4 days. They can also be frozen if wrapped well in plastic wrap.

Can vanilla cupcakes be made dairy free?

You can try a dairy-free sour cream or yogurt in place of the sour cream and a dairy-free butter alternative in place of the butter.

more gluten free cupcake recipes

cupcake on flattened yellow cupcake liner with bite taken out of it.

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

close up of vanilla cupcake in daisy cardboard wrapper with a blue background.

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
CourseDessert
CuisineAmerican
Keywordcupcakes, Gluten Free, vanilla
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Servings20 cupcakes
AuthorKim

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (170g) butter, at room temperature
  • cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract, or the seeds from one vanilla bean
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • cups (300g) sour cream
  • 2 cups (280g) Kim's all purpose gluten free flour blend (a store bought blend may be substituted, but hasn't been tested)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp kosher salt

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

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line muffin tins with paper liners. The recipe makes about 20 cupcakes, depending on how full you fill the liners.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the sour cream, vanilla, and almond extract, beating just until combined.
  • Reduce the speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients, a little at a time, until all of it has been added, stopping the mixer right after adding the last amount. Fold in any unmixed flour by hand.
  • Scoop the batter into cupcake liners and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pans for 5 minutes before turning out onto a 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.

Notes

Cupcakes will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.  For longer storage, freeze them on a baking sheet until firm enough (about 30 minutes to an hour) and then carefully wrap individually in plastic wrap.   

Adapted from Chef Lindsey Farr’s Sprinkles Copycat Vanilla Cupcakes



28 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?

    Thanks!

    • 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 😍

  • I have made these twice now and they fell in the center both times. I can’t figure out why. I did everything exactly as you said. Made your flour mix exactly as printed. I even tried the flour mix in a trusted recipe that I have successfully used many different gluten free flours in and they fell also. So I’m not sure what I am doing. I’ve made many of your bread flour recipes and they’ve all turned out beautifully so I’m figuring it’s me. I did notice the milk powder I got is whole milk. Would that make a difference? Thank you for your generosity in sharing your talents.

    • I’m not sure, Danielle, but hold tight because you’re not the only one I’ve heard this from so I re-tested the recipe myself and got the same results you did. I’m thinking maybe when I typed the recipe into the blog post I somehow messed something up. Regardless, I’ve reformulated the entire recipe and tested it three times and the cupcakes baked high and didn’t sink and were absolutely delicious. I will be posting them very soon (within the week or next week) so be on the lookout. And thank you for letting me know. I always want to know if anyone has trouble with my recipes 😊

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