Hello, vegan gluten-free chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting! This easy and delicious recipe utilizes gluten-free flour and other top ingredients. I hope you enjoy this recipe for gluten-free cupcakes as much as I do.
Thanks to the folks at NOW® for sponsoring this blog post! All opinions, as always, are my own.
Why this recipe is so easy
I’m not sure if you know, but I’ve been following a gluten-free diet for almost two years now. And let’s just say when I first started playing around with gluten-free baking, my creations were not entirely edible. At all.
Nowadays, though, I bake for my friends, family, and neighbors often. And unless they’re lying to me, my gluten-free baked goods go over really well! In fact, I even made my own gluten-free wedding cake this past summer.
My goal with all my recipes is to make them easy to make and also so delicious that they’ll become staples in your household. So you don’t need any fancy equipment to make this recipe. And if you don’t have all the ingredients on hand?
No worries, because I’ve provided options for substitutions. Now, let’s get baking!
Of course, step one to making gluten-free, vegan cupcakes is having the proper ingredients on hand. So here are the essentials for whipping up these oh-so-delicious baked goods:
Adding in ground flax seeds to cupcakes—and in fact, other baked goods like muffins and cookies—is a fantastic way to amp up the nutrition. In this recipe, used NOW Real Food Organic Flax Seeds, which are an excellent source of fiber and also provide an abundance of healthy fat.
To grind up the flax seeds, I used a spice grinder. A coffee grinder would also work!
Coconut milk powder
If you’re like me, you hate wasting ingredients. And so one of my biggest pet peeves is when I need just a little bit of milk for a recipe. That’s why I love baking with powdered milk, like NOW Real Food Organic Coconut Milk Powder. You just combine it with water—and ta-dah, you have a plant-based milk!
Here’s a no-brainer: cupcakes, even gluten-free chocolate cupcakes, contain sugar. But I aim to not go overboard on sugar with my baked goods and to use less-refined sugar options. That’s why I opted to use NOW Real Food Coconut Sugar, as well as cane sugar, for the cupcake base.
If you’ve never baked with coconut sugar, it has a consistency and taste that’s very similar to that of brown sugar. Plus, this particular coconut sugar is not only sustainably harvested but also has a lower glycemic impact than many other sugars out there.
Unsweetened cocoa powder
This is one of my go-to ingredients because it lets me add sweetness to recipes without added sugar. I used NOW Real Food Cocoa Lovers Organic Cocoa Powder in this recipe. I love this particular product because its suppliers are dedicated to eliminating forced child labor.
Plus, you get loads of naturally occurring polyphenols!
Vitamin C powder
OK, OK, this wouldn’t be a dietitian recipe if it weren’t packed with extra nutrition, right? Because I’m all about helping us all have the best immune systems possible, I added an extra dose of vitamin C to these cupcakes.* And I promise, you can’t taste it at all!
I did this by mixing in NOW Acerola 4:1 Extract Powder. If you didn’t know, acerola is an exotic cherry-like tropical fruit that’s loaded with immunity-helping vitamin C and additional health-helping anthocyanins.*
Most cupcake recipes contain oil, and it’s usually a very standard vegetable oil. These are totally fine to use. But I see oil as an opportunity to add in extra nutrition to my recipe. That’s why I opted to use Ellyndale Naturals Macadamia Nut Oil.
The oil offers a delicate flavor that’s both nutty and buttery—which boosts the flavor of these vegan cupcakes. Plus, macadamia oil is high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
Apple cider vinegar
One of the secrets to vegan baking that I’ve learned over the years is that vinegar does wonders to help leaven and add flavor to baked goods. You can use white vinegar, too, but I like the tang that apple cider vinegar provides.
So of course you see sprinkles in my cupcake photos—and you most certainly can top your cupcakes with dark chocolate shavings and sprinkles. But if you’d like to cut back on added sugar, you can opt just for dark chocolate as a topping. It’s also lower in sugar.
P.S. Want to buy any of these ingredients? Use code AMYGORIN for 20 percent off at NowFoods.com!
Ingredient substitutions you can make
If you’re like me, you’re all about ingredient substitutions—and I don’t blame you. I mean, I never go to the grocery store for just one ingredient. So if you’re missing any of the ingredients for these cupcakes, here are some substitutions you can make in these gluten-free chocolate cupcakes:
- Coconut sugar: This ingredient isn’t always super easy to find at the grocery store. So feel free to swap in a light brown sugar instead.
- Coconut milk powder: If you don’t have this on hand, you can absolutely swap in a cup of coconut milk for the coconut milk powder and water in the cupcake batter. No coconut milk on hand? You can use unsweetened almond or soy milk instead.
- Gluten-free flour: During the height of the pandemic, I couldn’t get my hands on all-purpose gluten-free baking flour. So I learned how to make my own, using a mixture of gluten-free flours. You can use this gluten-free flour recipe to do so. I have to say, it’s pretty cost effective!
- Macadamia oil: As much as I love baking with this oil, don’t let it stop you from making this recipe. Avocado or grapeseed oil will also work in a pinch!
- Dark chocolate: If you don’t have a chocolate bar on hand, you can use mini dark chocolate chips!
It’s so easy to make these vegan , gluten-free chocolate cupcakes! First, preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Then line a muffin tray with cupcake foil liners.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flax seeds, coconut milk powder, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, vitamin C powder, and salt. In a separate medium mixing bowl, mix together the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract.
Pour the wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Using the whisk attachment on a hand mixer, gently combine.
Pour batter into the cupcake liners, until liners are two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Grate dark chocolate, and set aside.
To make the frosting, combine vegan butter, softened to room temperature, unsweetened cocoa powder, powdered sugar, coconut milk powder, water, kosher salt, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.
Using an electric mixer, mix gently—increasing speed as the mixture thickens. Add additional water, if needed.
Frost cupcakes once they’ve cooled completely. Top with grated chocolate and sprinkles, if desired. Then enjoy!
If you’ve never had vegan buttercream frosting, you’re really going to be wowed. The key to making a killer vegan buttercream? Using plant-based stick margarine and powdered sugar.
In fact, my neighbor found it hard to believe that the frosting was vegan when I had her taste test these!
Here’s the really surprising secret to doing so: You don’t need fancy piping tools. You simply need a mini icing knife, which costs just a few bucks at a baking store.
Glob on a huge chunk of icing to the top of a cupcake, then use your fingers to turn it while you use the icing knife to spread the icing. This makes it so you don’t get any crumbs in your icing.
Because these cupcakes contain plant-based margarine, which is perishable, I recommend covering the cupcakes and storing them in the fridge. They’ll stay good for 3-5 days…if they last that long!
More gluten-free desserts
If you enjoy these vegan gluten-free chocolate cupcakes, you’ll also love these desserts:
- Superfood Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies
- Vegan Avocado Chocolate Mousse
- Vegan Chocolate Dairy-Free Pudding
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes
- 1 tbsp flax seeds, ground
- 3 tbsp coconut milk powder
- 1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- ½ cup cane sugar
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp acerola powder
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup water
- ⅓ cup macadamia oil
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ounce dark chocolate, grated
- Sprinkles (optional)
- 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) vegan butter, softened to room temperature
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup + 5 tablespoons powdered sugar
- ½ tsp coconut milk powder
- 2½ tsp water
- Pinch kosher salt
- ⅔ tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Line a muffin tray with cupcake foil liners.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flax seeds, coconut milk powder, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, vitamin C powder, and salt.
- In a separate medium mixing bowl, mix together water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Using the whisk attachment on a hand mixer, gently combine.
- Pour batter into the cupcake liners, until liners are two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.
- Grate dark chocolate, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine frosting ingredients. Using an electric mixer, mix gently—increasing speed as the mixture thickens. Add additional water, if needed.
- Frost cupcakes once cooled completely. Top with grated chocolate and sprinkles, if desired.
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