A unique combination of sour cream + oil makes these gluten-free red velvet cupcakes light, FLUFFY, and completely fool-proof! The whipped batter also ensures they turn out perfectly every single time.
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. Or try these gluten-free chocolate cupcakes.
Want to know my secret to AMAZING gluten-free cupcakes? Here it is: skip the butter and use a combination of sour cream and oil instead!
Whipping the batter also makes a light and fluffy cupcake. You’ll never want to make them any other way!
There are many occasions to use this gluten-free red velvet cupcake recipe, but it is especially great for Valentine’s Day and birthday parties!
Why I Love this Recipe
- Rich and moist – Instead of using butter, these cupcakes call for sour cream and oil. This produces an unrivaled texture that is light and tender!
- Light and airy – Whipping the batter ensures extra light, fluffy cupcakes that taste like your favorite bakery.
- Great for Valentine’s Day – The bright red color of these cupcakes makes them a perfect Valentine’s Day dessert. I love making them for birthdays, too!
Table of Contents
Ingredients You’ll Need
Here are a few notes on the key ingredients to make these gluten-free red velvet cupcakes.
- 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 cupcakes.
- 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.
- 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 Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cupcakes
Combine dry ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
Combine wet ingredients. In a separate 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.
Mix wet and dry ingredients. 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 alternatively with wet ingredients so the flour absorbs into the batter.
Bake cupcakes. Pour the cupcake batter into the muffin tin and bake. Once the cupcakes are baked, remove them from the muffin pans and cool on a wire rack before topping with frosting.
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!
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.
- For moist, fluffy cupcakes: I love the taste of butter, but these cupcakes taste best when using sour cream/oil instead of butter. Butterfat causes gluten-free flour to clump up and make a denser crumb, while oil creates a light, tender crumb! Whipping the batter also helps create an airy, fluffy taste.
- For easy removal from liner: To prevent the cupcakes from getting stuck, grease the cupcake liners. No more cupcakes falling apart when removing the cupcake liner!
- For a tender crumb: A touch of lemon juice will tenderize the crumb for a moist gluten-free red velvet cupcake.
- For professional-looking frosting: Check out this post on how to frost cupcakes.
More Gluten-Free Cupcakes and Cake
Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cupcakes
- 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
- 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
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.
- 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.
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!
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.
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.