You’ll never need another gluten-free birthday cake recipe! This cake is fluffy and pillowy-soft. Add chocolate buttercream and sprinkles to get the best cake for a special occasion!

Want a gluten-free cake recipe that’s perfect for birthdays? This is it! This birthday cake is based on this gluten-free cake recipe I tested dozens of times!

A slice of birthday cake on a white plate

I love wishing my family members a happy birthday with a sweet, delicious cake—loaded with lots of sprinkles. But there’s nothing like a dry, dense gluten-free cake to ruin the occasion.

Luckily, the best gluten-free birthday cake will never leave you disappointed. This cake has the same light, moist crumb of traditional cakes. I’ve tested dozens of variations to get the recipe just right. You also might like this recipe for gluten-free ice cream cake!

This classic birthday cake will remind you of a traditional cake, thanks to the light, moist crumb. No one ever has to know it’s gluten-free (except those on a gluten-free diet, of course)!

For more gluten-free cake recipes try this gluten-free red velvet cake, gluten-free chocolate cake, gluten free angel food cake, and gluten-free German chocolate cake.

Why You’ll Love this Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Recipe

  • Soft and pillowy crumb
  • Made with simple ingredients
  • Bakes up in under an hour
  • Makes a stable and reliable cake
  • Can be made as a layer cake or a 9×13 sheet cake

Ingredients You’ll Need

The biggest trick to making a delicious gluten-free birthday cake is to use a combination of sour cream and oil for richness instead of butter. I also use this trick in these gluten-free blueberry muffins. Butterfat causes gluten-free flour to clump up and make a denser crumb. Sour cream is also the key ingredient in this gluten-free coffee cake!

overhead shot of ingredients to make the vanilla cake

Here are a few more notes on the key ingredients in this gluten-free cake recipe. If you have any additional questions feel free to leave me a comment below!

  • Gluten-Free 1:1 Baking Flour: This gluten-free cake turns out best when you use a high-quality 1:1 gluten-free flour blend. Look for a gluten free all purpose flour blend that contains xanthan gum so the cake has the structure it needs. This is my favorite brand for this recipe.
  • Sour Cream/Oil: Adds richness and tenderness to the cake without weighing down the crumb. It truly makes for the best gluten-free birthday cake!
  • Lemon Juice: Lemon juice helps to tenderize the crumb. It’s the secret ingredient in my gluten-free pumpkin bread as well.
  • Baking Powder: I use a good amount in this recipe for the perfect rise.

How to Make Gluten-Free Birthday Cake

Make the Cake

step by step photos of how to mix together the gluten free cake batter
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, including gluten-free flour blend, baking powder and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the room temperature eggs and sugar. Whip on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  • With the stand mixer running on low, pour vegetable oil or coconut oil into a measuring cup, then slowly drizzle in the oil. (You want to do this slowly so you don’t loose the air that you’ve mixed in. This is the best way to create a light gluten-free cake!)
  • Mix in the other wet ingredients, including vanilla extract and lemon juice.
step by step photos of how to make add the dry ingredients to the cake batter
  • With the mixer on low, add ⅓ of the dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated.
  • Add the sour cream. Mix to combine. Add another ⅓ of the dry ingredients and continue to mix.
  • Add ½ of the milk followed by the last ⅓ of the dry ingredients.
  • Add the remaining milk. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed until totally combined.

Note: Adding the dry ingredients alternately with liquid ingredients ensures the flour absorbs into the batter. This prevents dry, grainy cake and makes for the perfect birthday cake!

Make the Frosting

  • In a stand mixer (or large bowl to use with a hand mixer), beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the cocoa powder and 3 ½ cups powdered sugar, the heavy cream, and vanilla extract.
  • Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to medium-high speed and beat for 2 full minutes. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if the frosting is too sweet. (I recommend adding ⅛ teaspoon.)
  • If the frosting looks too thick add a little more cream/milk. If the frosting looks too thin add more powdered sugar to get a spreadable consistency.
  • Frost the cake as desired. Top with rainbow sprinkles and enjoy!

Storage/Freezing Instructions:

TO STORE: This easy gluten free vanilla cake will stay moist and soft for up to 2 days. To store, simply cover the cake tightly with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature. This classic cake keeps much longer than other gluten-free cakes, which is another reason I love this recipe!

TO FREEZE: Want to prepare this gluten free birthday cake recipe ahead of time? No problem! Bake the cake as usual, let it cool, and then wrap it tightly before freezing. When you’re ready to assemble and eat the cake, take it out to frost and let it thaw for a couple hours before eating. (Don’t frost the cake before freezing.)

Round, layered birthday cake with chocolate frosting and a ring of colored sprinkles

FAQs

How do you keep a gluten-free cake moist?

A better way to get moist gluten-free cake is by using a combination of sour cream and oil instead of butter. Adding the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients also prevents a dry, grainy cake. If you skip this step, you’ll get a different result!

Does gluten-free flour make good cakes?

Gluten-free flour can make delicious birthday cake if you choose the right recipe and gluten-free flour brand! Choose a high-quality flour and use a recipe like this one, which swaps out butter and uses sour cream and oil, instead.

How do you make gluten-free cakes better?

Use a combination of sour cream, oil, and lemon juice to get a tender, light crumb and moist gluten-free cake, every time!

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • I recommend making two 8-inch round cake pans or one 9×13-inch cake with this gluten-free recipe. These are my favorite 8-inch round cake pans. They are great quality for the price! For a 9×13-inch gluten-free cake I recommend this glass pan.
  • The main trick to amazing chocolate buttercream is to whip the frosting throughly and add a pinch of salt to even out the sweetness. I add a pinch of salt to any frosting I make now!
  • Gluten-free cake turns out best when you use a high-quality 1:1 gluten-free baking flour. Look for a blend that contains xanthan gum so the cake has the structure it needs.
  • Want to make a funfetti cake? Simply add sprinkles to the batter of this gluten-free birthday cake recipe, and frost with vanilla buttercream frosting rather than chocolate.
  • You can also use this gluten-free cake batter for cupcake recipes by baking in a muffin pan.
A round, layered birthday cake with a piece sliced out

If I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you try this gluten-free birthday cake, be sure to leave me a comment/rating below. I’d love to hear from you! 

a slice of birthday cake on a white plate
5 from 11 votes

Gluten-Free Birthday Cake (BEST EVER!)

Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Cooling Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Servings 12
You'll never need another gluten-free birthday cake recipe! This cake is fluffy and pillowy-soft. Add chocolate buttercream and sprinkles to get the best cake for a special occasion!
Want a gluten-free cake recipe that's perfect for birthdays? This is it! I tested this recipe dozens of times to get it just right!

Ingredients

DRY INGREDIENTS:

OTHER INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 3/4 cups sugar 380 grams
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil 100 grams
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream 120 grams (regular or light)
  • 1 cup milk 250 grams (I use 2%)

FOR THE CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 1/2- 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup ¼ cup heavy cream or milk more as needed to adjust frosting consistency
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • Sprinkles for decorating if desired

Instructions 

MAKE THE CAKE:

  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two 8-inch round pans or one 9×13 pan. I also like to line the bottom of the 8-inch round pans with a circle of parchment paper then grease again.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the eggs and sugar. Whip on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer running on low, slowly drizzle in the oil. (You want to do this slowly so you don't lose the air that you've mixed in.) Mix in the vanilla and lemon juice.
  • With the mixer on low, add ⅓ of the dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated. Add the sour cream and mix to combine. Add another ⅓ of the dry ingredients and continue to mix. Add ½ of the milk followed by the last ⅓ of the dry ingredients. Add the remaining milk and stir until totally combined. (You want to add the dry ingredients alternately with liquid ingredients so the flour absorbs into the batter.)
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean.
  • If using 8-inch round pans, let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Then turn out the cakes onto a wire rack to continue cooling. Cool completely before frosting.

MAKE THE FROSTING:

  • In a stand mixer (or large bowl to use with a hand mixer), beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the cocoa powder and 3 ½ cups powdered sugar, the heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to medium-high speed and beat for 2 full minutes. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if the frosting is too sweet. (I recommend adding ⅛ teaspoon.)
  • If the frosting looks too thick add a little more cream/milk. If the frosting looks too thin add more powdered sugar to get a spreadable consistency.
  • Frost the cake as desired. Top with sprinkles and enjoy!

Notes

  • I recommend making two 8-inch round cake pans or one 9×13-inch cake with this gluten-free recipe. These are my favorite 8-inch round cake pans. They are great quality for the price! For a 9×13-inch gluten-free cake I recommend this glass pan.
  • Gluten-free cake turns out best when you use a high-quality 1:1 gluten-free baking flour. Look for a blend that contains xanthan gum so the cake has the structure it needs.
  • Funfetti cake? Simply add sprinkles to the batter of this gluten-free birthday cake recipe, and frost with vanilla buttercream frosting rather than chocolate.
  • You can also use this gluten-free cake batter for cupcake recipes by baking in a muffin pan.
  • The main trick to amazing chocolate buttercream is to whip the frosting throughly and add a pinch of salt to even out the sweetness. I add a pinch of salt to any frosting I make now!
  •  

Nutrition

Calories: 712kcal | Carbohydrates: 128g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 369mg | Potassium: 304mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 109g | Vitamin A: 625IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 106mg | Iron: 2mg

Categories: , ,

Hi, I’m Erin!

BS Food Science,

MS Nutrition

I believe you can make amazing, gluten-free food with everyday ingredients that everyone will enjoy. I’m here to share my tried-and-true recipes with you!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    The cake was amazing! I followed the directions to the T! I used King Arthur’s rice flour and added a bag of Jell-O instant pudding, vanilla as I would do in a regular cake mix! I challenge anyone to guess this is a gluten-free cake! This was made for my daughter’s birthday who just turned 36 and has celiac disease! She wanted vanilla icing, so I just did not add the cocoa powder! Thank you so much for the cake recipe. Once again, it was awesome!

    1. I’m so happy to hear this! I’ll have to try the Jell-O pudding trick sometime myself. So glad your daughter enjoyed it!

  2. 5 stars
    I made this cake for our daughter’s birthday and she LOVED it. I made it again, but made it into cupcakes; your note to drizzle the oil is very important because my drizzling was more than that and the batter was thinned out. However, the cupcakes were still very good. One more point, when I printed the recipe in August it said 3 eggs and the current recipe says 3 egg whites; 3 eggs were fine too.

  3. 5 stars
    My family went crazy for this cake. I was feeling so lazy and really wanted to you a box cake but this was so worth the extra effort!

  4. Is this recipe ok to stack another cake on top for a two tier birthday cake. I will be using dowels.are you using two different flours for this cake as I have tried three different recipes for gluten free cakes and the structure is to crumbly.

  5. I love your recipes and I’ve made your chocolate chip cookie recipe using the combination of flour and almond flour, can you do the same thing for this cake recipe?

    1. I’m so glad you like the recipes! Cake is a little different than cookies so I don’t always use almond flour in cakes – but if you like using almond flour you could use 1/2 cup almond flour and 1 3/4 cups gluten-free 1:1 baking flour. I hope this helps!

    1. This cake works much better with the combination of oil/sour cream! Butter causes the crumb of the cake to clump up so I don’t recommend using it.

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