These gluten-free red velvet cupcakes are light, fluffy, and fool-proof! Thanks to a combination of sour cream, oil, and whipped batter, these cupcakes turn out every time. Top them off with some fluffy cream cheese frosting!

If you are looking to make the perfect gluten-free red velvet cupcakes, you are in the right place. For a cake version, check out this post for gluten-free red velvet cake.

gluten free red velvet cupakes on white plate topped with cake crumbs

Why You’ll LOVE These Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cupcakes!

The recent secret I’ve discovered when making gluten-free cupcakes is to skip the butter and use a combination of sour cream and oil instead. Whipping the batter also makes a light and fluffy cupcake!

There are many occasions to use this gluten-free red velvet cupcake recipe, but it is especially great for Valentine’s Day! The beautiful red color of the red velvet cupcakes is a great, festive way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. These cupcakes are also worthy of any birthday celebration!

Like this gluten-free carrot cake, these cupcakes are topped with a fluffy homemade cream cheese frosting. The light chocolate cake paired with the tangy cream cheese frosting is a match made in heaven!

Ingredients You’ll Need

overhead shot of ingredients needed to make gluten-free red velvet cupcakes

The biggest trick to making a delicious gluten-free vanilla cake is to use a combination of sour cream and oil for richness instead of butter.

I also use this trick in this gluten-free vanilla cake. Butterfat causes gluten-free flour to clump up and make a denser crumb. Sour cream is also the key ingredient in these gluten-free blueberry muffins.

  • Gluten-Free 1:1 Baking Flour: These gluten-free red velvet cupcakes turn 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. You can use vegetable oil or coconut oil.
  • 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.
  • Cocoa Powder: It’s best to use natural cocoa powder like Guittard or Ghiradelli for red velvet cake. The lighter brown color results in a more vibrant red cake, and the higher acidity reacts with the baking soda to create a more tender crumb.
  • Red Food Coloring: If you want a rich red cake, you’ll want to use red dye for food coloring, rather than natural or liquid food coloring.

Best kind of red food dye? I use Americolor “red red” or “super red”) If you leave it out the cake will be a pale brown in color. You can also 1 oz liquid red food coloring, but I prefer gel linked above.

How to Make Perfect Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cupcakes

how to make batter for gluten free red velvet cake

Make the Cake

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  • In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, add the eggs and granulated sugar. Whip on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  • With the mixer running on low, slowly drizzle in the oil.
  • Mix in the red food coloring, vanilla, and lemon juice.
more steps of how to make the batter for red velvet cake
  • 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.
  • Pour the cupcake batter into the muffin tin and bake.

Tip: You want to add the dry ingredients alternatively with wet ingredients so the flour absorbs into the batter.

Once the cupcakes are baked, remove them from the muffin pans and cool on a wire rack before topping with frosting.

cream cheese frosting in glass bowl

Make the Frosting

  • In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese until combined. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla.
  • Beat on low then switch to high for about three minutes or until light and creamy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl then mix for another 30 seconds or so.
  • Spoon the frosting into a piping bag and top each cupcake as desired!

Storage/Freezing Instructions

To Store: Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting should always be refrigerated. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Remove them from the fridge a few hours before serving to have them at room temperature, if desired.

To Freeze: Cupcakes should be individually wrapped and placed in an airtight container. They should not having frosting on them. Cupcakes can be kept in the freezer up to three months.

Recipe FAQs

What’s the difference between red velvet and chocolate cake?


Red velvet has a lighter chocolate flavor, as it uses less chocolate compared with chocolate cakes. Only a tiny bit of cocoa powder is used to create the light chocolate flavor.

A red velvet cake uses more acidic ingredients, such as lemon juice or vinegar, to balance out the sweetness of the rich red velvet flavor.

And of course, red velvet cake is named after its coloring. Red food coloring is not the only reason red velvet cake is red. The chemical reaction of cocoa powder and an acidic ingredient (such as lemon juice or vinegar) creates a red color!

Why does my red velvet cake taste bitter?


Too much baking powder can create a bitter taste in a red velvet treat. Also, mixing up baking soda with baking powder can create a bitter taste.

Red velvet is supposed to taste like a light chocolate, rich cake. It can be described as a mix of chocolate and vanilla flavoring, but a bit more rich.

Does red velvet cake taste different without red food coloring?


Food coloring does not have a taste, so not adding it to the red velvet recipe will not change the taste.

The coloring of the cake may be different, since the food coloring enhances the natural red coloring of the cocoa powder/acidic mix.

Not having red food coloring in the red velvet recipe will keep your tongue from turning red, as the food coloring can have that effect.

Tips & Tricks for Perfect Gluten-Free Cupcakes

  • For a moist gluten-free red velvet cupcake, use sour cream/oil instead of butter.
  • Whipping the batter will create an airy, fluffy taste.
  • To prevent the cupcakes from getting stuck, grease the cupcake liners for a seamless removal from the pan.
  • A touch of lemon juice will tenderize the crumb for a moist gluten-free red velvet cupcake.

More Gluten-Free Cakes and Cupcakes

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

gluten free red velvet cupakes on white plate topped with cake crumbs
5 from 7 votes

Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cupcakes

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Servings 12 cupcakes
These gluten-free red velvet cupcakes are light, fluffy, and fool-proof! Thanks to a combination of sour cream, oil, and whipped batter, these cupcakes turn out every time. Top them off with some fluffy cream cheese frosting!

Video

Ingredients

DRY INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ¼ cups gluten-free 1:1 baking flour 190 grams (I use King Arthur Gluten-Free Measure-for-Measure Flour)
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder 20 grams
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

OTHER INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup sugar 200 grams
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil 50 grams
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sour cream 60 grams (regular or light)
  • 1/2 cup milk 125 grams (I use 2%)

FOR THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter softened 113g
  • 8 oz cream cheese softened brick-style, not spreadable (226g)
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar 390g

Instructions 

MAKE THE CUPCAKES:

  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners. Lightly grease the liners with cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour, cocoa powder, 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 loose the air that you’ve mixed in.) Mix in the red food coloring, 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 each cup to fill ¾ of the way up. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cupcake comes out clean.
  • Let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes. Then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

MAKE THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

  • Using a hand or stand mixer, beat together the butter and cream cheese until combined. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla.
  • Beat on low then switch to high for about three minutes or until light and creamy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl then mix for another 30 seconds or so.
  • Transfer buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe large dollops on top of each cupcake.

Notes

INGREDIENT NOTES
  • Cocoa powder: It’s best to use natural cocoa powder like Guittard or Ghiradelli for red velvet cake. The lighter brown color results in a more vibrant red cake, and the higher acidity reacts with the baking soda to create a more tender crumb.
  • Red Food Coloring: If you want an intensely red cake, you’ll want to use red gel food coloring, rather than natural or liquid food coloring. I use Americolor “red red” or “super red”) You can also 1 oz liquid red food coloring, but I prefer gel linked above.
MAKE IT DAIRY-FREE: Use dairy-free sour cream (I like Kite Hill) and almond milk to make this dairy-free. 

Nutrition

Calories: 263kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 119mg | Potassium: 149mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 47g | Vitamin A: 86IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 52mg | 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. Have you tried baking these with Bobs gluten free flour, or do you th8nk King Arthur’s is better?

    1. Yes this recipe will work with either one! I actually love Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 baking flour for cakes!

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