Gluten Free Very Vanilla Vegan Cupcakes Recipe

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by Carol Kicinski on December 21, 2010

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Gluten Free Very Vanilla Vegan Cupcakes Recipe

Birthdays should be special, no matter what time of year a person comes into the world. People born in December, closer to Christmas than farther away from it, tend to have their birthdays rushed or overlooked. But this is not the case in our family.

My g-daughter, Miss Milla Plum, is a December baby and this month she turned a whopping eight years old. Birthdays for eight-year-old girls typically mean cupcakes! And for Miss Milla, it means vanilla cupcakes.

Gluten Free Very Vanilla Vegan Cupcakes Recipe Image

Fortunately for Milla, she has no food intolerances or allergies that we know of. This is pretty unusual in a family that runs the gamut from gluten intolerance, dairy intolerance, seafood allergies and what I highly suspect is an egg allergy. Throw in a vegetarian or two and you can just imagine what needs to be taken into consideration for a family get-together!

I decided on gluten-free vegan cupcakes, as they seemed the safest bet. And I pulled out my secret weapon for moist, gluten-free, vegan cupcakes – Vegenaise. My trusty Vegenaise has never failed me when I use it for vegan baking.

Typically you find all sorts of vegan chocolate cupcakes but rarely vanilla. And Miss Milla requested vanilla so vanilla she got! Very, very vanilla. I made a vanilla cupcake, soaked it with vanilla syrup and frosted it with some vanilla frosting. All gluten-free, all vegan, all delicious!

Since vanilla is the star of this show it is important to use the best vanilla you can find. I like vanilla bean paste; it has a more intense vanilla flavor than extract and is even specked with those gorgeous vanilla seeds. I find it in my upscale grocery store. If you can’t find vanilla bean pasteGluten Free Very Vanilla Vegan Cupcakes Recipe Image, the cupcakes will still be great but if you want them to be seriously spectacular – find the paste! The vanilla frosting will naturally have a lovely antique lace color specked with tiny flecks of brown seed. Normally I love the look but for these cupcakes we wanted white frosting so I added a few hefty squirts of white icing color to the frosting.

To let the vanilla flavor shine use really good quality gluten-free flour. If your flour tastes like beans or something else, make your own by whisking together 1 cup superfine white rice flour, ½ cup potato starch, ¼ cup superfine sweet rice flour, ¼ cup tapioca starch and 1 ½ teaspoons of xanthan gum.

Miss Milla likes her cupcakes decorated with shiny pink and purple sparkles, but you can decorate yours anyway you see fit.

Gluten Free Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes

Gluten Free Very Vanilla Vegan Cupcakes Recipe


Soaking liquid

¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla bean paste


2 cups all purpose gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
½ cup Vegenaise
1 tablespoon pure vanilla bean paste


½ cup Earth Balance dairy free butter substitute
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla bean paste
Pinch of kosher or fine sea salt
Up to ¼ cup water


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Insert paper liners into 12 standard muffin cups.

Prepare the soaking liquid by combining the ¼ cup sugar with the 3 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring until the sugar has melted and continue to boil for 1 minute or until it thickens slightly. Let cool while preparing the cupcakes.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, water, Vegenaise and 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste until fully combined and no lumps from the Vegenaise. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups (it will be fairly liquid). Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until firm to the touch, browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

Cut a cone the diameter of a dime out of the top of each cupcake and save the cut out parts. Spoon the soaking liquid into the center of each cupcake. Replace the cone back into the cupcakes when the soaking liquid has absorbed. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack, about 30 minutes.

Prepare the frosting while the cupcakes cool. In a mixing bowl, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the Earth Balance, powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste and salt. Mix, starting on low speed, to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then turn the mixer to medium and beat for about 60 seconds. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches the desired consistency – it should be thick, smooth and spreadable.

Frost the cooled cupcakes with the frosting and decorate as desired.


This Gluten Free Very Vanilla Vegan Cupcakes recipe makes 12

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog owner’s. This blog accepts free manufacturers’ samples and forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. Affiliate links may be included in this post.

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Categories:    Cupcakes

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Gluten Free Sourdough Baker December 21, 2010 at 8:36 am

HI Carol,This looks like an excellent vegan recipe. Thanks for all your detail and beautiful photos. I am in the process of developing dessert breads but since I can't have the sugar the technique is a bit different. Still working on it.Thanks again,sharon


L. Horhn May 22, 2011 at 11:00 am

I’m sugar free too. Have you tried coconut palm sugar? It’s a low glycemic natural sweetener that kind of resembles sandy brown sugar. I generally substitute one for one with cane sugar or sometimes use a little less. I don’t like it for beverages (tastes over powers) but it performs well in baked goods.


Carol Kicinski May 24, 2011 at 9:28 am

I have just stared to play around with coconut and palm sugars. They seems to be the wonder sugars!

Reply December 21, 2010 at 9:34 am

These look excellent, Carol – and I love, love, love that they're vegan.


Joy December 21, 2010 at 9:38 am

Thanks for this – I have made good chocolate vegan cupcakes but have not seen a vanilla one before that sounded good. These are going on my MUST TRY list. Happy Holidays and Happy Birthday to little Miss Milla, she is adorable!


Donna December 21, 2010 at 9:40 am

My sone was born on Thanksgiving so I know what you are talking about with birthdays close to holidays! I hope Milla enjoyed her cupckaes – these look amazing.


Jeanine December 21, 2010 at 10:11 am

Cute cupcakes! They look delicious. I know my 8 year old would love them as well. :)


Sara December 21, 2010 at 10:14 am

Those look like the best vegan cupcakes I have ever seen. Very nice job. I may just have to try these this Christmas.


Helene December 21, 2010 at 11:53 am

I've made vegan cupcakes before but never gluten free. That's a challenge. Looks so good.


Diane-The WHOLE Gang December 21, 2010 at 12:38 pm

What a lucky little girl to get those cupcakes. I'm licking the computer screen now!


Lisa (bakebikeblog) December 21, 2010 at 4:21 pm

oh they look so elegant! Great job!


Tasty Eats At Home December 22, 2010 at 7:44 am

Hooray for vegan birthday cupcakes! I hope these made her a happy girl.


Sarah December 22, 2010 at 6:31 pm

I found Vegenaise at Nature's Food Patch – in the refrig section – made the cupcakes – WOW!! They ARE wonderful!! Thank you so much Carol!!


The InTolerant Chef December 22, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Every girl deserves cupcakes on her birthday, no matter what time of year it is!


Anonymous December 28, 2010 at 9:48 am

I love your recipes, but am frustrated that I can't make most of them! You often include brand name ingredients (like Vegenaise) and sometimes even quite plain ingredients (like sweet rice flour) which just aren't available over here in Europe. Any chance of some recipes with no brand names, or ideas for using something different if the brand name products aren't available? Thanks!


Simply...Gluten-free December 28, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Dear AnnonymousSweet Rice flour is also called glutinous rice flour (although it contains no gluten) if you can not find it where you are then you can use the same amount of white rice flour. I just find that the sweet rice flour smooths out gluten-free baking. Vegeniase is a no egg mayonaise substitute. You could substitute whatever brand you have there as long as it contains some sort of vinegar in it as it seems to be the combo of the oil and vinegar that make the cupcakes so moist. Hopes this helps!xo,carol


Anonymous January 2, 2011 at 10:28 pm

What can we use instead of sugar in this very vanilla cupcake recipe?


Susan March 5, 2011 at 8:51 pm

I also would like to know what you could use in place of the sugar, as I am refined sugar free. Especially for the frosting. I use palm sugar for cakes and cookies that call for sugar, but the confectioners sugar is a different story. Could we use agave? Just curious.

Also, in place of the earth balance, would palm shortening be okay?


Carol, Simply Gluten Free March 5, 2011 at 9:55 pm

HI Susan,

I am sure palm shortening would be ok instead of Earth Balance but I am not sure about agave in the frosting as it is liquid. Maybe if you added some sort of starch to it like tapioca starch so the frosting would have some body. But maybe not. Hmmm. I am going to have to play around with frosting using agave and get back to you. I have a frosting that uses agave but it uses eggs also and I am assuming you are vegan, right? Anyway, now you have me on a mission! I will report back soon!


Monica January 4, 2012 at 12:25 am

So is the Veganease replacing the egg?


Carol Kicinski January 4, 2012 at 8:40 am

Yes and the oil and vinegar.


Sierra April 18, 2012 at 11:48 am

I found that when I tried the recipe my cupcakes came out grainy and coarse. Is this all gluten free baking? I even made sure to use the sweet rice flour.


Carol Kicinski April 18, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Hi Sierra – what brand flours did you use? If you use just normal white rice flour instead of superfine then baked goods come out grainy. You can either buy superfine rice flours or look for Asian flous at an Asian market – I like Erawan Brand. If you don’t have an Asian market close by you can buty from the internet (and it is a lot cheaper than other brands).


kim @ vegan mama January 29, 2013 at 6:47 pm

What is the purpose of the soaking liquid? Will the cupcakes turn out without that step?


kim @ vegan mama January 29, 2013 at 6:48 pm

I ask because I’d like to make these as mini-cupcakes, and cutting out a cone sounds hard with such a small surface!


Carol Kicinski February 1, 2013 at 10:09 am

I agree! Just skip it.


Carol Kicinski February 1, 2013 at 10:01 am

It just adds more vanilla flavor – you can skip that step if you want, no problem!


Caroline April 28, 2013 at 4:38 pm

That recipe is great!! I just made it and am so psyched to have found a yummy cupcake recipe that is both gluten and egg free. The vegenaise is awesome! Thank you!


Carol Kicinski May 3, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Thjank YOU Caroline! So happy you enhoyed it!


Ashley May 31, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I live in NZ and vegenaise is not available here! (Apparently according to google) :(!! Is there anything just as good I can use instead?


Carol Kicinski June 1, 2013 at 7:07 am

I see you found the answer – 1/2 cup oil and 2 tablespoons of vinegar.


Ashley May 31, 2013 at 9:53 pm

I read in the earlier comments about substituting the vegenaise for oil and vinegar so I tried it. The flavour of the cupcake was nice but it was quite gluggy and didn’t rise much. I used half a cup of oil and 2 tbsp of white vinegar (cause I didn’t have any cider) any suggestions on how to make this better? I so wish vegenaise was available in Nz!!


Carol Kicinski June 1, 2013 at 7:06 am

Hi Ashley, you substituted well but if they were too mosit and didn’t rise well I would try cutting back the liquid to 3/4 cup (and possibly use rice milk instead of water if you can get that) and adding a teaspoon of baking powder as well. Let me know how that works!


Ashley June 1, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Thanks carol! Will give it a go today and let you know how it goes :)


Ashley June 2, 2013 at 11:32 pm

I did it again and used 2 tsp of baking powder and made a reaction between the vinegar and baking soda at the end and added it just before they went in the oven but still no luck with rising :/ I reduced the oil to 1/3 cup and used rice milk instead of water but only 3/4 cup. They were too dry this time lol I reduced the oil because the first time when I did half they were so oily, the wrappers wouldn’t even stick to the cupcake! And actually the second time the cupcake would still pull away from the wrapper :/ what should I try next? Haha I love the flavours!


Carol Kicinski June 5, 2013 at 11:57 am

Before I try again where do you live? What’s the altitude there? Sea level, high in the mountains? Anything you can tell me may help.


Ashley Adams June 18, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Um I live in nz so there are mountains and ocean lol it’s not overly humid but some days it can get a little muggy. It’s pretty mild temps as well


Carol Kicinski July 1, 2013 at 8:22 am

Hmmm, I am at a loss. I live at sea level and have never had any trouble with these rising. My next suggestion is going to be add more flour. So frustrating! I wish I could just pop over there and have a see myself :) If I get to NZ, I will let you know :)


Mishanne Healey September 7, 2014 at 10:01 pm

Hi! The recipe looks great and I’m really keen to make these cupcakes for my friend’s kitchen tea this weekend. The only problem is that I’m in Australia and I haven’t seen Veganaise. What would you recommend to use as a replacement? :)


Carol Kicinski September 18, 2014 at 8:48 am

Hi Mishanne,
Do you have any kind of egg free mayonnaise, or vegan mayo? Just substitute that!


Roxy November 11, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Thanks, these look great for my daughter’s 10th birthday which is three weeks away. Thanks for sharing. :-)


Carol Kicinski December 1, 2014 at 11:07 am

Aw great! You’re welcome Roxy.



SurprizeBaker March 18, 2016 at 12:00 pm

I have made this recipe 6 times yesterday trying to get them to rise and not be gummy. Nothing I have done has made a difference. I have tried using soy milk instead of water, I have tried half soy milk and half water, I have tried adding baking powder to the recipe….any suggestions. I need this recipe for a client in 4 days, Please HELP!


Carol Kicinski March 25, 2016 at 11:06 am

I’m sorry if this answer is too late! But for some reason, that recipe has proved to be a little tricky. Try this as an alternative, it comes from a vegan baker I know, I hope that helps!
1 1/2 Cup gluten-free flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt (whisked together)
1 Cup sugar, 3/4 Cup dairy-free milk, 1/2 Cup vegetable oil, 1 Tablespoon vanilla paste, 2 Tablespoons apple cider venegar (whisked together)
Pour wet ingredients into the dry, mix, and cook at 350F for 16-20 minutes.

Hope that comes in useful at least for future recipes.


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