These gluten-free chocolate cupcakes are light, fluffy and bursting with dark chocolate flavor. They are also dairy-free and so simple to make.
For a super fun way to use this chocolate cupcake recipe, check out my gluten-free whoopie pies. Need more gluten-free, dairy-free cupcakes? Try my special gluten-free, dairy-free ginger cupcakes, gluten-free vanilla cupcakes, gluten-free fresh strawberry cupcakes, raspberry lemonade cupcakes, gluten-free red velvet cupcakes and my grain-free healthy banana cupcakes!
Developing a chocolate cupcake/cake recipe has been a long process for me. But I finally found just the right balance of ingredients that make these cupcakes chocolatey, moist, light and hold a perfect rise.
Gluten-free flour – I know that the trend in gluten-free baking has moved to all-in-one wheat flour replacements. So I developed this recipe using King Arthur Measure for Measure Flour. Be sure to check out my collection of King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour recipes. Cup4Cup and Pamela’s Artisan blend will work well too. All of these flours are certified gluten-free. I did not test with Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 (not certified GF) since I have had reactions to several of their products.
Cocoa Powder – Ghirardelli used to be my go-to, but their products now contain a wheat warning. Hershey’s cocoa powder is gluten-free and easy to find at your local market. I personally prefer an organic cacao powder but I encourage you to use whatever unsweetened cocoa powder you have!
Espresso Powder or instant coffee granules – Coffee is an excellent flavor booster for chocolate. It will will enhance the bittersweet flavor in these cupcakes. It’s not mandatory but highly recommended!
I use dairy-free milk substitutes – almond, coconut, oat, soy will all work. Just be sure to use an unsweetened one,
Mixing the Cupcake Batter
More than most cupcake batters, this one will develop air pockets very easily. Too much air will make these cupcakes dry and will create uneven rising. Here’s how to avoid over-mixing:
Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir with a whisk so that they are completely combined. VERY lightly beat the wet ingredients before adding to the dry. Stir the wet and dry together, using a rubber spatula, just until combined and mostly smooth. A few tiny lumps are ok. Get it into the pan and send it straight to the oven.
NOTE: If baking at high altitude. I recommend King Arthur Baking for excellent guidance on this subject and many more baking issues.
Baking the Cupcakes
You may be surprised to see that these chocolate cupcakes bake at 325°F, not 350°. They need a more gentle baking temperature to allow them to rise gradually. The higher temp caused them to rise too quickly and crack on top. But at 325°, they had a nice smooth, gentle dome. Perfect and ready for frosting.
Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes (Dairy-Free)
- 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 c gluten-free flour blend*
- 1/2 tsp espresso powder optional
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 2/3 c unsweetened dairy-free milk room temperature
- 2/3 c oil sunflower, avocado, canola
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or powder
- 1 c sugar
- Pre-heat the oven to 325°F and line muffin tin(s) with paper liners
- If the eggs are cold, place in a bowl of warm water while preparing the other ingredients.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder (If using) into a mixing bowl. Stir with a whisk to combine well.
- If the milk is cold, heat in the microwave for 10 seconds to take the chill off. In a small bowl, very lightly beat the the eggs, milk, oil, vanilla and sugar.
- Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and stir until mostly smooth. Over-mixing will create too many air bubbles which will cause uneven rising and dry cake.
- Divide the batter evenly among the liners, filling each well just past half way. These cupcakes will rise quite a bit.
- Bake 18-20 minutes or until the top is set and bounces back from a gentle tap.
- Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely
- Top with your favorite frosting. Here is my full list of cupcake frosting recipes.