Super moist gluten-free chocolate cupcakes with a light and tender crumb. A dream for every chocolate lover! Plus an easy frosting with a SECRET INGREDIENT!

Looking for the best gluten-free chocolate cupcakes? You’re in the right place! Read on for my top tips and tricks for making amazing gluten-free cupcakes.

Side view of a gluten-free chocolate cupcake with a bite taken out of it
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Chocolate cupcakes should be a staple for every gluten-free baker. They’re great for parties, celebrations, and other special occasions, and just about everyone loves chocolate.

This gluten-free chocolate cupcake recipe is based on this delicious gluten-free chocolate cake recipe. It has sour cream for extra moisture and use hot water to activate the cocoa.

Espresso powder is also a delicious (but optional) ingredient to give the chocolate cake a richer flavor.

Plus these gluten free chocolate cupcakes are topped with my favorite chocolate chocolate buttercream that has a secret ingredient that makes it extra delicious – almond extract!

For more gluten-free cupcakes, try these gluten-free vanilla cupcakes, gluten-free pumpkin cupcakes or gluten-free red velvet cupcakes.

This is my favorite recipe for birthday parties or weekend baking with my kids. It’s an easy recipe that makes moist, light, and ultra-chocolatey cupcakes every time. And the chocolate buttercream frosting takes these cupcakes to the next level!

These are truly some of the best chocolate cupcakes you’ll ever have. Even your friends and family members without dietary restrictions will love them.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Rich and chocolatey
  • Light and tender crumb
  • Ultra moist
  • Great for parties

For more gluten-free cake recipes, try this gluten-free lemon cake, gluten-free pound cake, gluten-free angel food cake, gluten-free banana cake, gluten-free mug cake and gluten-free carrot cake.

You also might like this family-favorite gluten-free german chocolate cake!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcake Ingredients

Wet Ingredients

Here are the wet ingredients you’ll need for this gluten free chocolate cupcake recipe.

Gluten-free chocolate cupcake wet ingredients on a countertop
  • Water: Like the hot coffee found in some chocolate cake recipes, hot water helps “bloom” the cocoa flavor, resulting in an ultra-chocolatey, deeper flavor.
  • Oil: Vegetable oil helps add richness and moisture without weighing down the gluten-free flour blend.
  • Sugar: I always like to use a fine sugar like the brand Domino for my gluten-free baking.
  • Vanilla: Use real vanilla extract for the best flavor profile!
  • Sour cream: Sour cream creates a rich and light crumb. It’s a secret ingredient in many of my cake and cupcake recipes!
  • Eggs: Use room temperature large eggs for this recipe.

You also might like this gluten-free chocolate lava cake.

Dairy-Free?

I’ve made these cupcakes dairy-free successfully with dairy-free sour cream. I like the brand Forager. You can also use your favorite dairy-free butter in the frosting.

Dry Ingredients

Gluten-free chocolate cupcake dry ingredients on a countertop
  • Gluten-free 1:1 baking flour: Use a high-quality flour blend that contains xanthan gum to create a cupcake with a tender crumb that holds together. The flour blend makes all the difference in gluten-free baking! This is my favorite brand.
  • Cocoa powder: For the best flavor, I like to use a high-quality cocoa powder brand, such as Guittard. But Hershey’s brand will work too!
  • Baking powder and baking soda: Baking powder and soda work together to help the batter rise, creating a light and delicious cupcake!
  • Salt: I like to use fine sea salt for this gluten-free cupcake recipe.
  • Espresso powder: Espresso powder is another secret ingredient for creating a super rich, chocolatey cake. It really brings out the cocoa powder flavor!

Frosting Ingredients

Gluten-free chocolate frosting ingredients on a countertop
  • Powdered sugar: C&H makes the best quality powdered sugar, but any brand will work for this frosting!
  • Butter: Use room temperature salted butter for this frosting. Cold butter won’t cream together with powdered sugar.
  • Cocoa powder: It’s best to use a high-quality powdered sugar like Guittard, but any brand will work!
  • Almond extract: I LOVE adding a hint of vanilla extract to cupcakes and cookies. It adds a unique flavor profile that’s hard to pin down, but so delicious.
  • Vanilla: Real vanilla extract is best, but imitation will work if you’re in a pinch.
  • Heavy cream: Heavy whipping cream adds rich and creamy texture to the frosting. (Whole milk will work too.)

How to Make This Recipe

  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Dry ingredients mixed in a mixing bowl, and sugar and eggs mixed in a bowl of a stand mixer
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. 
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the sugar, eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract. Mix on medium-high speed until totally combined.
Oil added to the bowl of a stand mixer, and dry ingredients added to the bowl of the stand mixer
  • Slowly add oil to the batter and mix until combined.
  • With the mixer running on low, slowly add the dry ingredients in 3 additions. Mixing after each addition. Slowly pour in the hot water. Mix on medium for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides once until smooth and incorporated.
Chocolate cupcake batter in a cupcake pan, and baked cupcakes in a pan
  • Pour or spoon the batter into the liners. Fill only halfway (unlike muffins, this is important for cupcakes) to avoid spilling over the sides or sinking.
  • Bake for 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan before frosting.

Make the Frosting

Butter mixed in the bowl of stand mixer, and other ingredients mixed into the butter
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a large bowl with an electric hand mixer), add the butter. Beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, heavy cream, vanilla extract, almond extract and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for 1 full minute. 
  • Top the cooled cupcakes with the frosting. Swirl and spread the frosting evenly over the top. Enjoy!

These cupcakes would also be delicious with this peanut butter buttercream.

Storage Instructions

Store leftover cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days. Unfrosted cupcakes can also be stored in the freezer for up to three months. (Thaw for an hour before frosting and enjoying.)

A gluten-free chocolate cupcake with a jar of milk in the background

FAQs

Does Trader Joe’s sell gluten-free cupcakes?

Trader Joe’s does not currently sell any gluten-free cupcakes. They used to sell a gluten-free chocolate cupcake with buttercream frosting, but they stopped carrying them in 2022.

What is the secret to moist cupcakes?

Vegetable oil and sour cream are the secret to moist, light gluten-free cupcakes. I use these ingredients in almost all of my cake recipes!

What are gluten free cupcakes made of?

Gluten-free cupcakes are made using a gluten-free flour blend, instead of wheat flour. My gluten-free chocolate cupcakes also use oil, sour cream, eggs, cocoa powder, and more.

Expert Tips & Tricks

  • Be sure to use high-quality gluten-free flour for this recipe. It makes all the difference with gluten-free baking. This is my favorite brand.
  • Gluten-free cupcakes tend to stick to the liners. I like to use these cupcake liners, which make it easy to peel the cupcakes out when eating!
  • I love using chocolate buttercream frosting for chocolate cupcakes, but you can definitely opt for another flavor! Peanut butter frosting, vanilla frosting, or cream cheese frosting would also taste great on these fluffy gluten free cupcakes.
A gluten-free chocolate cupcake and a hand sprinkling cocoa powder on top

More gluten-free cake recipes

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

A gluten-free chocolate cupcake with a jar of milk in the background
5 from 21 votes

Super Moist Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Cooling Time 15 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 12 cupcakes
Super moist gluten-free chocolate cupcakes with a light and tender crumb. A dream for every chocolate lover! Plus an easy frosting with a SECRET INGREDIENT!

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 cup (150g) gluten-free measure-for-measure flour
  • cup (27g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon instant espresso powder optional
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Other

  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (60ml) neutral oil
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • ½ cup (120g) sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (120ml) hot water

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • ½ cup (113g) butter, at room temperature
  • 3-4 cups (360-480g) powdered sugar
  • cup (27g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup (60ml) heavy cream or milk of choice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • pinch of kosher salt
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Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a standard muffin pan with paper baking cups.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, espresso powder (if using) and salt.
  • Add the sugar, oil, eggs, sour cream and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer or a hand mixer. Mix on medium-high speed until well-combined.
  • With the mixer running on low, slowly add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing after each addition.
  • Slowly pour in the hot water. Mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl halfway through, until smooth and incorporated.
  • Using a kitchen scoop or large spoon, portion the batter evenly into the prepared baking cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs.
  • Let the cupcakes cool in their pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • For the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add 3 cups powdered sugar along with the cocoa powder, cream/milk, vanilla extract, almond extract and salt. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to medium-high speed and whip for a full 2 minutes.
  • If the frosting is too thick, add a little more cream/milk. If the frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar to make a spreadable consistency. Frost the cupcakes as desired.

Notes

Dairy-Free: You can make these chocolate cupcakes dairy-free by using dairy-free sour cream in the cupcake batter and dairy-free butter in the frosting. You can also use your dairy-free milk of choice in the frosting.
Recipe Notes
I like to use these cupcake liners. I’ve used them for years and my cupcakes and muffins never stick.
I usually frost these with a large open star piping tip.
Ingredient Notes
  • Cocoa powder: For best results use a natural cocoa powder rather than Dutch-processed cocoa. It’s best to use natural cocoa powder like Hershey’s in recipes that contain baking soda.
  • Espresso powder: Espresso powder brings out the chocolate flavor, but you can skip it if you prefer.
  • Hot Water: Hot water helps “bloom” the cocoa flavor, resulting in an ultra-chocolatey, deeper flavor.
  • Neutral Oil: You can use any kind of neutral oil for this recipe. I like personally like to use grapeseed or avocado oil. Vegetable, canola and coconut oil will all work as well.

Nutrition

Calories: 384kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 218mg | Potassium: 123mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 47g | Vitamin A: 409IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 1mg

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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. Hi! I want to make these cupcakes into a cake for my husband’s birthday. Would I have to double the cake part of the recipe and divide among two cake pans?

  2. I’m wondering why you add the hot water to the entire mix rather than just to the cocoa powder first, letting it cool before combining. Is it for simplicity or is there a cake chemistry reason?

    1. Hi Sarah, chemistry-wise the hot water is used to activate the cocoa specifically. Adding the hot water to the whole mixture has worked well for this recipe and definitely keeps it simple so that we can go straight into portioning the batter into the cups and baking. Thanks for your question! We hope you enjoy the cupcakes!

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