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Gluten Free chocolate Cupcakes

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If you’re looking for a simple, classic treat, these gluten free chocolate cupcakes are moist, rich, and bursting with chocolate flavor. 

Image shows a gluten free chocolate cupcake, topped with chocolate icing and sprinkles on a white plate in the forefront. In the background are more cupcakes on a cooling rack. Text above reads "Gluten free chocolate cupcakes"

Easy cupcake recipes are essential for pulling off a last-minute birthday party – which I always seem to end up doing for the kids in my life (and not just my own kids! 😅). 

I really love gluten-free carrot cupcakes, and one of my kids is a fan of gluten-free vanilla cupcakes, my other kids and my husband love chocolate, and it’s hard to argue with that!

Back in the day – even less than ten years ago – quality gluten free baked goods were not easy to find. Now they’re everywhere. And every time I make gluten free treats, I’m still so grateful for how easy it is now to find decent gluten free flour. 

Something like these gluten free cupcakes used to be a challenge, and now they’re not. 

What are gluten free cupcakes made of? 

Image shows a close up of several gluten free chocolate cupcakes topped with chocolate icing and green and purple sprinkles, sitting on a wire rack.

Making gluten free treats does require a little bit of thought though – after all, we can’t just use the all-purpose flour that sits on every grocery store shelf. 

Here are some general rules: 

Use finely ground flour. High-quality flour is ground very finely. A lot of cheaper flours are coarser and result in dry, mealy baked goods. For rice flour, I like Authentic Food superfine rice flour. For most other flours, I use Judee’s Ingredients, and usually get sorghum flour from Bob’s Red Mill. 

Use 1/3-1/2 starch, and 1/2-2/3 flour. This is the best ratio for a gluten-free flour blend. A lot of gluten free grains need a little help in the starch department. The most versatile starches, in my opinion, are cornstarch, and arrowroot powder, with tapioca starch coming in third. 

Never use more than 33% of any one flour. So if you have 33% starch, you’ll need two different flours to make up the other 67%. This is partly for taste. Using all rice can result in a bland, rice-y flavor, and using all teff or quinoa can be fairly strong. So use a blend. One of my other favorites (since I already mentioned rice, teff, and quinoa) is sorghum flour. It’s nice and mild but different than rice, so the two make a good mix together. 

Image shows a gluten free chocolate cupcake topped with chocolate icing and sprinkles sitting on a white plate. Several more cupcakes sit on plates in the background.

Of course, rules were made to be broken, so if you like using all one type of flour, the you do you. If you have a recipe with flavors coming from other ingredients, such as these gluten free banana cupcakes, you can get away with a lot more in terms of flour flavor.

Use just the right amount of binder. I usually use guar gum, or xanthan gum. Too little can result in dry, crumbly gluten-free cupcakes, and too much can result in shrunken, gummy cakes. 

With that said, here’s the mix I used for this beautiful, delicious gluten free chocolate cupcakes recipe: 

  • 3/4 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon guar gum

With all that said, you can use your favorite high-quality gluten free flour mix, such as Pamela’s gluten free baking mix. 

Other ingredients in gluten free cupcakes are pretty straightforward – baking powder, soda, salt, eggs, milk, vanilla, cocoa powder, and instant coffee – optional, but it makes the chocolate flavor more intense. 

What is the secret to moist cupcakes? 

Image, taken from above, shows a gluten free chocolate cupcake sitting on a plate with a bite taken out of it to show the texture of the cake.

There are so many factors. 

In gluten-free baking, the quality of your flour is actually a big one. Fine flours with an appropriate starch-to-flour ratio and the right amount of guar gum help keep your cupcakes moist. 

Eggs also help keep your cupcakes moist. The correct wet-to-dry ingredient ratio, sugar (which acts as a wet ingredient in baking), and oil all help keep your cupcakes moist and delicious. 

In short, a solid recipe. 

And don’t forget not to overbake. 

What kind of oil should I use? 

I like to use light-tasting olive oil. It’s mild in flavor, and the resulting cupcake is more tender than if you use butter. It also avoids seed oils and is heavier than coconut oil. 

That said, you can use coconut oil with great results in this recipe. If you want to use coconut oil but avoid the coconut flavor, you can use expeller-pressed coconut oil. 

Best Gluten Free chocolate cupcakes

This recipe is almost identical to our gluten free chocolate cake recipe.

Image, taken from above, shows several bowls full of the ingredients needed to make gluten free chocolate cupcakes, sitting on a white table. Includes several bowls of gluten free flours, sugars, cocoa, egg, oil, butter, and more.
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/34 cup gluten free flour mix with 1 teaspoon of guar or xanthan gum if your mix doesn’t already contain it
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee (optional – helps intensify the chocolate flavor)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil (I use light-tasting olive oil)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the icing, you can use your favorite recipe. One of my favorites is Italian Meringue buttercream icing. It’s silky smooth and doesn’t contain nearly as much sugar! 

On the other hand, classic chocolate buttercream icing is never wrong, and here are the ingredients for that: 

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

To make the cupcakes, 

First, preheat oven to 350º

Stir all the dry ingredients together, including sugar, in a medium bowl.

Image, taken from above, shows a white bowl with a spoon in it, full of dry ingredients for gluten free chocolate cupcakes

Then combine wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.

Whisk wet ingredients together well, then add in the dry ingredients. 

Image, taken from above, shows a large glass mixing bowl with the dry ingredients being added to wet ingredients for gluten free chocolate cupcakes

Mix until everything is fully incorporated, then beat for an additional minute.

Divide batter into 12 paper-lined cupcake tins. I like to use cupcake liners rather than greasing the tin.

Image, taken from above, shows gluten free chocolate cupcakes in muffin tin ready to bake

Bake in the center of the oven for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Remove from oven and let cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

Image, taken from above, shows gluten free chocolate cupcakes, baked, ready to ice

When the cupcakes are cool, beat icing ingredients together until smooth, and pipe, or spread icing onto cupcakes. 

Image shows a close up of a gluten free chocolate cupcake topped with chocolate buttercream icing and sprinkles. Several more iced cupcakes sit nearby on the wire rack.

This icing recipe is the perfect amount to frost the 12 cupcakes as shown in these photos. If you want to use more or less, you may want to adjust the recipe quantity to suit your needs. 

Print

Gluten Free chocolate Cupcakes

Who doesn’t love chocolate? These delicious gluten free chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream icing are easy to make, and taste amazing.

  • Author: Elise
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 18-20 minutes
  • Total Time: 43-45 minutes

Ingredients

Scale

Cupcake ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup gluten-free flour blend (with 1 teaspoon guar or xanthan gum if your mix does not already contain it.)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups granulated sugar

For the chocolate buttercream: 

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º
  2. In a medium bowl, stir flour blend, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, instant coffee, and salt together and set aside
  3. In a larger mixing bowl, beat eggs, milk, oil, vanilla, and sugar together
  4. Stir in dry ingredients until fully incorporated
  5. Beat an additional minute
  6. Divide batter between 12 paper-lined cupcake tins
  7. Bake in center of oven for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean
  8. Remove from oven and let cupcakes cool
  9. When cupcakes are cool, beat icing ingredients together until smooth
  10. Pipe, or spread icing onto cupcakes
  11. Decorate and serve
  12. Enjoy!

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