These gluten-free red velvet cupcakes are moist, rich and yummy. The easy recipe mixes up in just a few minutes and makes a perfect 12 cupcakes. A tangy buttermilk batter (dairy-free options) and tangy cream cheese frosting balance the sweet cake with hints of chocolate.
Be sure to check out more of gluten-free cupcake recipes including my gluten and dairy-free chocolate cupcakes, vanilla cupcakes, gluten-free fresh strawberry cupcakes, fluffy raspberry lemonade cupcakes and my healthy banana cupcakes.
I am usually pretty adamant about using plant based colors in my baking, but unfortunately these natural colors do not survive the baking process. The red came out of the oven looking pale and orangey. Red velvet is all about that gorgeous deep red color, so just for this recipe, I use artificial red food coloring.
Red Velvet Ingredients
My go to for gluten-free flour is King Arthur Measure for Measure. It is widely available around the US and I like to use a flour that you, my readers have easy access to. It works well in almost all of my recipes and is the most affordable of the ones I’ve used. Pamela’s All Purpose Artisan Blend yields similar results, and like King Arthur is certified gluten-free. Cup4Cup (certified gf too) can be use for this recipe also, but contains milk powder.
Buttermilk is the key ingredient in red velvet cakes and cupcakes. If you don’t have buttermilk or want a dairy-free substitute for buttermilk, here’s how to do it:
Measure out the milk, either dairy milk or a non-dairy milk substitute, add 2 tsps vinegar, stir and let sit for 10 minutes. It may or may not thicken like buttermilk but the tangy flavor will be there.
Red velvet cake has just a hint of chocolate flavor in the form of cocoa powder. The cake is not meant to have strong chocolate flavor. Dutch process cocoa is the best option. The acidity is reduced in this type of cocoa powder.
An extra teaspoon and a half of vinegar is added to the recipe to assure that the slight tang unique to red velvet cake is present. Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar are the best options.
With the acid ingredients that are included in red velvet cake, baking SODA is usually used. But gluten-free baked goods can have a hard time holding the rise and baking soda is a powerful leavening agent. I find that baking powder works best in this recipe. The 2 eggs included also help to make the cupcakes fluffy, airy and moist. They get a nice gentle dome and hold the rise when cooled.
Red Velvet Cupcake Topping
Red Velvet is traditionally topped with cream cheese frosting. My pipeable cream cheese frosting is great for cupcakes and holds its form when piped. These cupcakes would also be delicious with my vanilla buttercream frosting.
You’ll see a lot of red velvet cakes decorated with cake crumbs on the frosting. It makes for a pretty topping that shows off the beautiful, vibrant color of the cake. If you can stand to sacrifice one cupcake to make crumbs, here’s how to do it:
The cupcakes are moist and will not crumble (LUCKILY!) unless they are purposely dried out. Take one cupcake and cut it into small pieces. Place the pieces on a baking sheet and heat in the oven at 300F for 5 minutes, Toss the pieces around and bake 5 minutes more or until the pieces feel toasted and slightly crispy. Pull the pan from the oven and let sit until cooled and dry. Use a fork or your fingers to crush to crumbs. Sprinkle onto freshly frosted cupcakes. The frosting will form a crust and lose its stickiness if it sits so, wait to frost the cupcakes until the cake crumbs are ready.
Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cupcakes
- ⅓ c buttermilk, warmed
- 1 c gluten-free-flour blend*
- 4 tsp cocoa powder Dutch process preferred
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ c sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ¼ c oil avocado, canola, sunflower, vegetable
- 1 Tbsp red food coloring (plant based colors do not work well)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp white or apple cider vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a muffin tin with paper liners.
- Heat the buttermilk in a small pot or in a microwave safe container until hot but not bubbling. About 20 seconds in the microwave works.
- Sift the dry ingredients (NOT including the sugar) into a small mixing bowl.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar, eggs, oil, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla until smooth.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until most of the dry is incorporated.
- Add the warm buttermilk and stir until smooth.
- Divide the batter evenly between the 12 liners.
- Bake 18-20 minutes or until the tops are set and bounce back from a gentle tap.
- Cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Top with my Pipeable Cream Cheese Frosting