Fluffy, moist, and filled with sprinkles, these gluten free birthday cake cupcakes are the best! Homemade and so easy to make. Dairy free with a simple swap!
These are my favorite gluten free birthday cupcakes! No weird ingredients, just simple foods to make a colorful cake topped with vanilla buttercream frosting! This tastes so good no one will believe it’s gluten free! It has the perfect texture and is filled with lots of sprinkles.
Free from: wheat, gluten, yeast, fish, shellfish, soy, sesame, peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, corn (optional), celery, mustard, and more
Why You'll Love these Cupcakes
These cupcakes are perfect for birthdays, special occasions, holidays, or just anytime you feel like celebrating! This is one of the best gluten-free birthday cake recipes around thanks to it's moist crumbs, easy instructions, and fun!
I love birthdays and I love to make cupcakes from scratch. This recipe is based on a classic birthday cake but with a gluten free funfetti cake twist! While you cake make cake layers with this, I love a cupcake. There is something so fun about a mini cake for everyone! This one doesn’t require much more work than a store-bought cake mix.
For these birthday cupcakes you will need:
- Gluten free flour
- Brown sugar
- Sour cream
- Vanilla extract
- Baking powder
The ingredients for the frosting are:
- Butter (can use vegan butter)
- Powdered Sugar
- Milk as needed (dairy and dairy-free milk both work)
Best gluten free flour
There are so many gluten free flour blends on the market now that are available in grocery stores. Every gluten free flour blend is slightly different so not all will get you the same results as seen in this recipe.
I have not tried this recipe with Bob's Red Mill flour.
If you try a different flour than the ones listed, you may need to change how much liquid to add or subtract from this recipe to get similar results. Just be aware and use your best judgment!
I don’t recommend a single ingredient of gluten free flour, like almond flour, oat flour, or white rice flour for these cupcakes. A blend is really required to be the best cupcakes.
To make this recipe dairy free, you can replace the milk and butter with plant-based milk and butter of your choice! My favorite is rice milk and Earth Balance sticks.
To make this corn free, make sure that the baking powder and powdered sugar are both corn free. Also check to make sure the vanilla extract is not made with corn alcohol. Finally, replace the cornstarch with either tapioca starch or arrowroot powder. If you can’t use those, more gluten free flour will also work.
To make this egg free, I recommend that you use my gluten free and vegan chocolate cake as your cake base. Using an egg replacer in this recipe isn't the best way to make it.
The full instructions with all the measurements are written in the recipe card below so make sure to check that out!
Prepare a cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Try to use paper liners and not aluminum liners. The paper helps the gluten free batter climb up the sides better so you get a taller rise.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: Both brown and white sugars, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and gluten free flour. Use a whisk to combine these ingredients and set them aside.
In a separate medium sized mixing bowl, add the melted butter and vanilla extract together. Give this a whisk. Slowly pour in the warmed milk while whisking.
Add the eggs one at a time and let them fully incorporate before adding the next.
Finally, add the sour cream. As you whisk it, don't be afraid to really put some arm muscle power into it! I generally whisk for about a minute until the wet ingredients get a little foamy.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. I like to use a spatula at this point. Make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl from time to time to fully incorporate the ingredients.
Finally, add the sprinkles! Give it a quick mix and then pour the batter into the cupcake liners.
Fill each liner about ¾ of the way full. A full batch will make about 18 cupcakes and a half batch usually makes about 9 cupcakes for me.
Bake these cupcakes at 350F for 22-24 minutes. When a toothpick inserted into the middle pulls out clean, they are done!
Let them rest on the countertop in the hot cupcake pan for 3 minutes. Then, remove the cupcakes from the hot pan and let them finish cooling on a cooling rack. This will prevent them from getting a soggy bottom!
After they are cooling, mix up the frosting, top with more sprinkles, and enjoy!
Gluten Free Sprinkles
The best gluten free sprinkles I have found are from Sweetapolita. They have a whole section on their site dedicated to gluten free, vegan, even dye free sprinkles! You can pick the best sprinkle for you and your family. Plus, they have so many colors!
Baking gluten free the type of pans that you use can have a huge impact on the final result. I have found that a metal pan works best for gluten free baking. It transfers heat better than glass or ceramic.
How to store
Gluten free cakes do not stay as fresh as long as wheat cakes. Therefore, try not to make these cupcakes more than 24 hours ahead of time unless you are freezing the cake.
Fridge: Store cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days before they become dried out.
Freezer without frosting: Place unfrosted cupcakes in a freezer safe container with a layer of plastic wrap between the container and the lid. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use, remove from the freezer and thaw on the countertop at room temperature for 1 hour.
Freezing frosted cupcakes: Transfer the cupcakes to the freezer so the frosting solidifies. After the frosting is frozen, wrap the cupcakes in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use, thaw the cupcakes in the fridge for 4 hours ahead of serving. I also like to remove the cupcakes and let the rest on the countertop for 30 minutes before serving from frozen.
Do I need to add xanthan gum?
No, not if the gluten free flour blend contains it. King Arthur Measure for Measure does have xanthan gum already mixed in.
Note, however, that the King Arthur All-Purpose gluten free flour does not contain xanthan gum so you will need to add ½ teaspoon to your dry ingredients.
Is there a difference between gluten free white cake and yellow cake?
Yes, while both are vanilla flavored, yellow cakes are more buttery and moist with a slightly denser crumb due to the added egg yolks. White cakes only use egg whites for a lighter, more delicate texture.
I prefer a gluten free cake with the added yolks to help with flavor and keep the cupcakes more moist for longer.
Can I make this as a sheet cake?
Yes you can! This recipe can be baked in a 9x13 baking pan.
Bake the cake at the same temperature. The baking time may be a few minutes longer, but start checking at about the 25 minute mark.
Cool the cake completely before frosting.
Expert Tips and Tricks
- For a pure white cake, use clear vanilla extract and omit the egg yolks.
- For the best results in baking, use room temperature eggs, melted butter, and warmed milk. Cold ingredients will never combine the right way. This warmed up method makes sure your cakes are never grainy.
- Measure your flour correctly! The best way to measure gluten free flour is to use a spoon to scoop it directly into the measuring cup. Don't press it down. When it overflows, use the back of a knife to gently scrape off the excess flour.
- You can use any kind of milk or butter for this recipe, almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, etc. BUT! You need to use the best vanilla you can purchase. The vanilla is the star of the show in this cupcake so go ahead and splurge on some delicious vanilla.
Want more gluten free recipes?
If you try these out, please leave a comment below! This provides helpful feedback to both me and other readers. And if you want more delicious, dietary friendly recipes you can subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!
- stand mixer or hand mixer
- mixing bowls
- mixing spoons
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- cupcake tray
- cupcake liners
Gluten Free Cupcakes
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- ½ cup milk
- 1 ¾ cup gluten free flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3-4 tablespoons sprinkles
- ½ cup butter room temperature
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-2 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon sprinkles
Gluten Free Cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Set this aside.
- In a large bowl, sift together white sugar, brown sugar, gluten free flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Give this a quick whisk and set it aside.
- In a small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave or over the stove. Let it cool slightly before adding it to the other wet ingredients.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the room temperature eggs, the warmed milk, the melted butter, and the room temperature sour cream. Add the vanilla. Give it a good whisk so that everything is well incorporated. Nothing should be lumpy but you may still see the sour cream.
- Now pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Using a spatula, combine. Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Finally, add the sprinkles and give them a quick mix in.
- Fill each cupcake about ¾ of the way full.
- Bake for 22-24 minutes. Remove them from the oven when a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcake removes cleanly. Let them cool for 3 minutes in the hot pan, then pull the cupcakes out of the pan and let them finish cooling on the cooling rack.
- In a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, or in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, cream the room temperature butter. Add in the powdered sugar in two batches, adding the milk, vanilla, and sprinkle of salt in the second batch.
- Whisk on high speed for 5 minutes or until the frosting is light and fluffy.
- Transfer to a piping bag and frost cupcakes. Or, you can use the back of a spoon or knife to decorate. Sprinkle with more sprinkles on top. Enjoy!