A recipe for moist, fluffy, and super chocolaty vegan gluten-free chocolate cupcakes that are easy to make and perfect for your next celebration (or just for when you’re craving chocolate!). These simple homemade gf cupcakes are the best, especially when topped with chocolate frosting and sprinkles!
When I shared my vegan chocolate buttercream frosting recipe, I told you that I had a whole bunch of fun recipes to share with you over the next while. Well here’s the first one: Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes!
It took me SIX tries to perfect this recipe. I can’t say my family was too upset; these are chocolate cupcakes, after all! The taste was always 100%, it was the texture I kept failing on (very similar to how my chocolate doughnuts testing process went!).
The cupcakes kept turning out dense, more like a brownie. Dense is a great texture for brownies, cupcakes? Not so much.
It all had to do with the leaveners and the quantities of those leaveners. Once I made a few adjustments, perfection was achieved!
So let’s go through everything so you can make your own batch of amazing nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free chocolate cupcakes from scratch.
Ingredients You’ll Need
10 simple ingredients is all you’re going to need:
- 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour Blend (I use Bob’s Red Mill brand, the one in the BLUE bag)
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (Dutch-process cocoa is needed for this recipe and make sure you sift it to get all the lumps out)
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda (Make sure these are both fresh, they’re both very important to achieving the ideal rise and texture)
- Cane or Granulated Sugar (not sure if you’re sugar is vegan? Buy organic, it will be 100% vegan)
- Hot Water (to help “bloom” the cocoa powder, more info on that below)
- Oil (to add moisture to the cupcakes)
- Apple Cider Vinegar (or white vinegar, this is being used so it reacts with the baking soda to provide even more air bubbles to provide more lift while baking, and don’t worry, you won’t taste it!)
- Vanilla Extract (to add even more amazing flavour)
- Salt (to balance the sweetness)
How to Make Them
(Note: I’ve outlined the step-by-step on how to make this recipe here, but find the full recipe, ingredients, and directions at the end of this post.)
When I say this recipe is simple, quick, and easy, I’m not exaggerating in any way. All you have to do is whisk all the dry ingredients together (make sure to sift your cocoa powder!), then stir all the wet ingredients, plus the sugar, together and then combine the two.
Back in elementary school, you may have done the volcano science project or see someone do it. It’s the one that combined baking soda and vinegar to provide a reaction. Remember that?
This is what you’re doing with this recipe, you’re combining those two ingredients to replicate that same reaction to make the cupcakes rise nicely. Have a look at the last picture in this collage to see the reaction taking place:
After you add the wet ingredients to the dry, stir until there are no lumps or pockets of dry ingredients left. Don’t over mix, though, since this will pop all of those bubbles that we need!
After I have everything mixed nicely, since this batter is a little more runny than others, I like to pour it into a large measuring cup and then pour the batter into the cupcake liners.
You need to fill each cupcake liner 2/3 of the way up (see the top right image below). If you add too little, your cupcake will be too “short,” and if you add too much, your cupcakes can sink and not bake properly, or bubble over making a mess in your oven.
And now you have 12 perfectly moist gluten free chocolate cupcakes, almost ready to be decorated! The image directly above this text is a finished cupcake.
As you see, they only rise a little higher than the cupcake liner and have fairly flat tops, which is exactly what you want since this makes them perfect for decorating. Be sure to allow them to cool completely before frosting or your frosting will melt and make a mess.
Are you new to vegan gluten-free baking? If so, be sure to read all of my vegan gluten free baking tips!
My preferred way to top these cupcakes is my vegan chocolate buttercream recipe, but feel free to use any type of vegan frosting.
And when decorating, you can get as fancy as you’d like, or keep it simple by just using a butter knife to smear on some icing. They’re going to taste good either way!
Tip: If you’re new to cupcake decorating, I highly recommend this inexpensive cupcake decorating kit (Amazon Link) that comes with four of the most popular decorating tips as well as eight disposable decorating bags.
I used a Wilton 1M tip (it comes in the kit I link to above) to decorate the cupcakes in the pictures on this page, and vegan gluten-free round sprinkles (rainbow nonpareils). I also recommend buying a 12″ reusable piping bag to add to your collection.
To make them pretty, start at the outer edge of your cupcake and move the tip around in a continuous circular motion (don’t stop!) while applying pressure to the bag, moving towards the center.
Expert Tips for Success Every Time
- Always sift your cocoa powder to get rid of the lumps. The hot water helps to dissolve them, but to be safe, it’s best to give it a good sift before adding to the mixing bowl.
- Make sure your baking powder and baking soda are fresh, these are two of the ingredients that help the cupcakes to rise and before fluffy.
- Measure your ingredients properly. I recommend using a scale (this is one I have (Amazon Link)) and my weight measurements, but if you don’t have a scale, lightly spoon the flour and cocoa powder into your measuring cup until it is overflowing and then drag the flat edge of a butter knife across the top to level it off. (NEVER dunk the measuring cup into the flour to fill your measuring cup because this will guarantee an incorrect measurement of up to 1.5x more flour and a recipe fail.)
- Don’t overfill the cupcake liners.
- For the very best results, follow the recipe exactly as it’s written and don’t reduce the amount of sugar, oil or any of the other ingredients.
What’s the Texture Like?
Exactly like I said, moist and fluffy! Have a look at the two following images to see.
But in order to get this texture, you must follow the recipe exactly as it’s written. Any substitutions or changes and you run the risk of things not turning out as expected.
I have only use Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour Blend (the one in the blue bag) for this recipe so I can’t speak for any others. Results will vary with other blends since ingredients and ratios will differ.
The Bob’s 1 to 1 Baking Flour I use contains xanthan gum, so if you do try another gf blend and it doesn’t contain xanthan gum, you’ll need to add 3/4 teaspoon of it to your recipe.
If xanthan gum is something you cannot have, then I recommend making this double chocolate muffin recipe as your cupcakes instead and omit the chocolate chips (they’re called muffins but they’re just like cupcakes!)
Any type of oil can be used in this recipe, such as avocado, vegetable, or safflower. Unrefined or refined coconut oil can be used as well, but if unrefined is used, there may slight hint of coconut flavour. Vegan butter is not recommended as it will weigh the cupcakes down and the texture will not be as moist since butter is roughly 20% water and oil is 100% oil.
Organic cane sugar or granulated sugar works best for this recipe and works with the rest of the ingredients to give the final cupcakes their moistness and texture. Don’t reduce the amount of sugar called for, substitute with a different type of sugar or, use a liquid sweetener.
Just like the sugar in the recipe, the oil, and the specific quantity called for, works with the other ingredients to make the cupcakes moist and help with the texture. As for an oil-free substitute, I have not tried any, so I’m unsure of how they would turn out.
This recipe was developed using Dutch process cocoa. Natural cocoa powder / cacao powder and Dutch process cocoa work differently in baked recipes, and since I have not experimented to know how it will react in this particular recipe and how to adjust the other ingredients accordingly, I recommend sticking with Dutch process for the best results.
Using hot water helps to “bloom” the cocoa powder. Blooming is a fancy way of saying “enhance” the chocolate flavour to make it even more deep, rich, and chocolaty tasting. It also helps to break down any cocoa powder clumps (but still sift it!).
TIP: If you want to bring out the flavour even more, try substituting the hot water with hot brewed coffee. The coffee flavour will not be there but it will work to enhance the chocolate flavour even better than hot water.
The recipe can likely be doubled and made into a cake, BUT, I have not personally tried it yet. When I do, I will update you on how it works out.
Yes, but the baking time will need to be reduced to 9-11 minutes.
Store leftovers in an airtight container. They will keep at room temperature for up to 2 days. After that, place the container in the refrigerator for another 3-4 days. You can also freeze unfrosted cupcakes by storing them in an airtight container for up to three months. Defrost at room temperature when you’re ready to serve them.
This may have happened for a few reasons (I’ve had this happen with muffins a few times!). 1) You opened the oven door while your cupcakes were baking. 2) You over mixed your batter. 3) Your oven was set too high. 4) You let the batter sit too long before putting it in the oven. 5) Your baking powder or baking soda was not fresh or has expired.
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If You Make This Recipe…
I hope you loved it! Please tell me about it by leaving a rating and comment below OR you can post a pic to Instagram and tag me so I can see, I’m @delightfuladventures over there!
And If You Like This Recipe…
…you may also like these other vegan chocolate recipes:
- Vegan Chocolate Doughnuts
- Vegan Chocolate Tart
- Vegan Chocolate Mousse
- Vegan Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate Muffins
- Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
You can help others to find this vegan gluten free cupcake recipe by pinning it to one of your food boards on Pinterest. Click here to pin it now!
Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes
- 1 ½ cups (222g) gluten free flour **see important note about flour below**
- 1/2 cup (42g) Dutch-process cocoa powder sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (200g) cane sugar (or granulated sugar)
- 1 cup (240ml) hot water
- 1/3 cup (80ml) oil
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
For the Frosting:
- 1 recipe vegan chocolate buttercream frosting
- Preheat oven to 350° F (177° C).
- Add muffin liners to your muffin pan and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a small bowl, mix the sugar, hot water, oil, vanilla extract, and vinegar together until blended.
- Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until combined. Mix until there aren't any lumps but don't over mix and get rid of all the bubbles forming from the reaction between the vinegar and baking soda.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the largest cupcake comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and allow cupcakes cool in pan for a few minutes, remove them, and place them onto a cooling rack.
- Allow cupcakes to fully cool and then use this chocolate buttercream frosting to frost them.
- Please read all of the information and FAQ info above and below before making this recipe.
- It’s important to know that different gluten-free flour blends use different ingredients and ratios, so results may vary if you substitute. I have never used any other brand of gf flour to make this recipe (other than Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour (Amazon link) in the blue package, NOT the red package), so please know that your results may not be the same as mine if you substitute with another gluten-free flour blend. The weight listed above is for this specific brand of flour.
- If you cannot use the flour I use, be sure to use a rice based gluten-free flour blend and if the brand you’re using doesn’t contain xanthan gum in the ingredient list, add 3/4 teaspoon to the dry ingredients.
- Dutch process cocoa powder is needed for this recipe. Natural cocoa powder (cacao powder) cannot be used without altering the the other ingredients. If used, your cupcakes may not turn out the same as mine do.
- This recipe will NOT work with coconut flour or any other single gluten-free flour, it must be made with a blend.
- Make sure your baking powder and baking soda are fresh before using, these are very important ingredients that contribute to the cupcakes rising properly.
- Any type of oil can be used in this recipe, such as avocado, vegetable, or safflower. Unrefined or refined coconut oil can be used as well, but if unrefined is used, there may be a slight hint of coconut flavour.
- Organic cane sugar or granulated sugar works best for this recipe and works with the rest of the ingredients to give the final cupcakes their moistness and texture. Don’t reduce the amount of sugar called for or substitute with a different type of sugar or use a liquid sweetener.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container. They will keep at room temperature for up to 2 days. After that, place the container in the refrigerator for another 3-4 days. You can also freeze unfrosted cupcakes by storing them in an airtight container for up to three months. Defrost at room temperature when you’re ready to serve them.
- Nutrition info is based on 1 cupcake without frosting. Nutrition info is only to be used as a rough guide. Click here to learn how nutrition info is calculated on this website.