In the past, gluten-free baking has gotten a bad rap: It was associated with cookies with the density of bricks, cakes with the texture of rubber, etc. But it’s come a long way in recent years, thanks to a ton of alternative products on the market, including almond, oat, coconut, and tapioca flours. With the right combination of ingredients, you can whip up a gluten-free treat that tastes no different from the regular kind.
And since everyone loves cupcakes, start your gluten-free dessert experiments with these 21 recipes. Not only do they ditch the gluten, most of them also use swaps to be dairy or refined-sugar free, so they’re acceptable for a variety of diets. It’s time to bake the world a better place.
1. Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes
There’s one tablespoon of vanilla extract in these cupcakes, so its flavor is unmistakable without being overpowering. Simple and straightforward, these make the perfect canvas for whatever frosting you like.
2. Gluten-Free Vegan Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes
With a full cup of blueberries inside the batter and more for garnish on top, these cupcakes aren’t at all stingy about their fruity flavor. Fresh lemon juice and zest keeps them tasting light, while a swirl of coconut milk frosting adds a decadent—but still healthy—touch.
3. Vegan Chocolate Caramel Coconut Cupcakes
With a dark chocolate batter and gooey centers, these look and taste super decadent, but they’re also surprisingly healthy. The caramel filling is made purely with dates and coconut, a flax egg and coconut whipped cream makes them vegan, and there’s no added sugar in the entire recipe.
4. Banana Spice Cupcakes with Chai Yogurt Cream
Banana and chai isn’t a flavor combo you see every day, but that’s all the more reason to try these wholesome cupcakes. With real ground spices and fruit, plus a reduced-fat Greek yogurt frosting, they make a perfectly acceptable breakfast, too.
5. Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes with Fudge Frosting
Not sure whether that craving is for a cookie or a cupcake? Take the thinking out of the equation by baking up a treat that works as both. These have a base that tastes like cookie dough, but thanks to being in cupcake form, they’re still the perfect vehicles for swirls of frosting.
6. Honey Cinnamon Cupcakes
If just one cupcake won’t do, make a batch of mini ones so that you can inhale several without feeling too full or overdoing it on the sugar. Thanks to ingredients like almond flour and cinnamon, plus a honey butter frosting, these are particularly rustic and especially perfect when cooler weather rolls in.
7. Flourless Ricotta Cupcakes With Chocolate Coconut Cream
Whoever says gluten-free baking only yields cardboard-like results has never tried these. Instead of flour, its ricotta cheese at the base of these muffins, making them rich but lighter than air all at once.
8. Healthy Upside Down Pineapple Cupcakes
Unlike regular pineapple upside-down cake, which can be a brown sugar and butter bomb, these cupcakes use smart swaps to achieve the same sweetness. You still get the gooey caramelized topping, but it comes from lower-glycemic coconut sugar, which will do less of a number on your blood sugar.
9. Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
These cupcakes do come with plenty of white sugar and heavy cream, but egg whites and Greek yogurt lighten things up slightly. The best part is the strawberry surprise hiding inside the vanilla sponge.
10. Flourless Peanut Butter Churro Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting
If you want all that churro flavor without actually eating deep-fried dough, these cupcakes hit the spot. Instead of flour, a peanut butter, banana, and peanut flour mixture makes these extra fudgy, and there’s that must-have kick of cinnamon throughout the batter and frosting.
11. Red Velvet Cupcakes With Spiralized Beets
There’s usually nothing natural about how red velvet cupcakes get their startlingly red color. But these rely purely on beets for that magenta tint in the dark chocolate batter. To clean things up further, they ditch the refined sugar and dairy, too.
12. Paleo Cupcakes With Almond Flour and Raspberry Frosting
Coconut and almond flour make these treats not only gluten-free, but entirely grain-free, too. Sweetened only with stevia, with topping packed with healthy fats, they’re your low-carb solution to a cupcake craving.
13. Healthy Cinnamon Apple Cupcakes
With generous spoonfuls of cinnamon both in the batter and the frosting, these cupcakes have notes of the warm spice throughout, while each bite also holds sweet chunks of apple. Thanks to egg whites and Greek yogurt, these are also much lower in fat than your average baked good.
14. Almond Flour Funfetti Cupcakes
Remember, we’re taking the gluten out of cupcakes, not the fun! Bring that point home with these colorful, sprinkle-filled, buttercream-topped treats. It’s hard not to smile while eating them.
15. Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes With Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting
Wheat-free baking can often call for various flours for one batter. These cupcakes go for a simpler route, using just gluten-free oat flour. Mix-ins like grated carrots, applesauce, and coconut sugar keep the batter wholesome, while a non-dairy cashew frosting tastes just like the classic cream cheese version.
16. Vegan Peanut Butter Cupcakes With Dark Chocolate Frosting
Sweetened with dates, with a frosting made of chickpeas (no, really!), these might be the most fiber-rich cupcakes ever. Don’t worry, the bean-y flavor can’t be detected at all. The cocoa powder and peanut butter make 100% sure of that.
17. Pineapple Turmeric Cupcakes
Okay, so calling a cupcake “healthy” might be a stretch, but this recipe gets pretty close. All of it—including the frosting—can be made with less than 10 ingredients; none of which include refined sweeteners, gluten, or dairy. There are even some anti-inflammatory benefits (not to mention a gorgeous golden glow) from the pinch of turmeric.
18. Low Carb Chocolate Mocha Coconut Cupcakes
Between being low carb and gluten-free, these coffee-kissed cupcakes promise a lot, but they totally deliver. Sugar-free chocolate chips keep the net carbs to five grams, and almond and coconut flours replace wheat while adding healthy fat.
19. Coconut Lime Cupcakes
Give your dessert a tropical twist with a generous squeeze of lime juice in the batter and a thick, lime zest-topped coconut frosting. Sweet, tart, and refreshing, it’s an island vacation in a cupcake.
20. Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes
No false advertising here—with lots of orange zest, fresh orange juice, and some actual vanilla bean paste, these cupcakes really do taste just like the classic ice cream bar. The best part is, you can take your time savoring each bite—these have no risk of melting!
21. Chocolate Lava Cupcakes
We know what you’re thinking: lava cakes are complicated! But this recipe uses a clever hack to get the same molten center without the fiddly oven work. Just pipe a ganache filling right into the middle of each cupcake and voila—you’ve got lava.