These gluten free vegan chocolate cupcakes are simply PERFECT: moist, fluffy and rich, and topped with the most amazing velvety-smooth, luxurious vegan chocolate buttercream. They’re incredibly easy to make and use only the usual pantry staples: no strange ingredients or egg replacements needed! They’re also pretty much indistinguishable from “regular” cupcakes – you’d never know that they’re made without any gluten, eggs or dairy.
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These are hands down THE BEST gluten free vegan chocolate cupcakes you’ll ever try. Everything about them is just spot on: from the moist, fluffy, intensely chocolatey cupcakes to the rich and fluffy vegan chocolate buttercream.
And you’d honestly never know that they’re made without any gluten, eggs or dairy! I’ve optimised the recipe to give cupcakes that are pretty much indistinguishable from their “regular” equivalents – so, they’re guaranteed to be a hit with everyone, regardless of whether or not they’re gluten free and/or vegan.
Importantly, this recipe uses only the usual pantry staples: no strange ingredients and no egg replacements needed!
And as per usual with my chocolate recipes, I made sure to stuff as much chocolate in there as possible. So, there’s both melted dark chocolate *and* cocoa powder in both the gluten free vegan cupcakes and in the vegan buttercream frosting. The final frosted cupcakes are basically one big, glorious chocolate overload – and there are no words for just how much I love them. And I hope you’ll love them too!
Note that I do already have a gluten free vegan chocolate cupcake recipe on the blog that I published back in 2018. That recipe has been made and loved by many, but over the years my baking knowledge has evolved and expanded. So, it was high time to make a new and improved version of these fabulous cupcakes.
I didn’t want to delete that recipe, as many readers have enjoyed it over the years – and it also shows the progress of my baking journey. Personally, I prefer this new recipe for its richness and perfect textures. However, there’s no such thing as too many chocolate cupcakes to choose from… in general when it comes to chocolate, I’m a firm believer in the saying “the more, the merrier”.
Before we get to the bits and bobs of making these amazing cupcakes – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!
Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.
The moist & fluffy gluten free vegan chocolate cupcakes
These gluten free vegan chocolate cupcakes are incredibly easy to make: all you have to do is melt the chocolate and oil together, combine them with the wet ingredients, sift together the dry ingredients, and then mix it all together into a luscious, chocolatey batter. Yes, that’s all there is to it.
The batter will be fairly runny, almost like an extra-thick hot chocolate, and that’s exactly how it should be. It contains quite a high proportion of wet ingredients (especially water and non-dairy milk), and that’s what keeps these cupcakes wonderfully moist – without venturing over into fudgy brownie territory! So, while the cupcakes are moist and rich, they’re also fluffy, soft and airy.
How to fill cupcake liners for PERFECT cupcakes
For perfect cupcakes that only just peak over the rim of the cupcake liners (after all, we’re not making tall, domed muffins here), fill the cupcake liners or muffin tin cups about 2/3 to 3/4 full. This ensures that the batter doesn’t rise too much and doesn’t spill over the top – and, at the same time, you also won’t have a gap between the top of the cupcake and the rim of the liners.
The exact amount of batter per cupcake will vary slightly depending on the size of your muffin/cupcake tin and liners (unfortunately, neither of these are standardised and they can vary in size/volume), but it’s a good rule of thumb that gives reliable results.
If you follow the recipe below precisely and accurately, and then divide the batter evenly between 12 liners, you should get the perfect amount of batter per each liner with no issues.
To divide the batter evenly between the liners or cups, I usually use a large “4 tablespoon” ice cream or cookie scoop. This helps you to scoop out equal portions of the batter each time.
What’s the best oven temperature for gluten free vegan chocolate cupcakes?
I always bake cupcakes at a slightly lower oven temperature of 320ºF (160ºC), compared to the more usual 350ºF (180ºC).
I go into more detail about why that is in my cookbook Baked to Perfection (along with lots more interesting science about cupcakes & muffins and other gluten free baking), but in short: a lower oven temperature ensures that the edges and the centre of the cupcakes bake at a similar rate, which gives an even rise and results in a flat top that’s perfect for frosting.
The fluffy, velvety vegan chocolate buttercream
The vegan chocolate buttercream frosting is based on the one that I use in my highly popular Ultimate Gluten Free Chocolate Cake. It’s my favourite, go-to chocolate buttercream frosting that’s insanely luscious and chocolatey, and really the only difference in this vegan version is that I used a vegan butter alternative instead of regular butter.
(By the way, this is also the frosting that I used in my Small Batch Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cake, which is INCREDIBLE and you definitely need to try it!!)
For these cupcakes, I used the Stork vegan butter block that’s available here in the UK. However, most firm vegan/dairy free butter blocks will work well. Just make sure that you don’t use a soft vegan spread, as that would result in a loose, soft buttercream and that can cause issues when you pipe it onto the cupcakes.
Using a firm vegan butter alternative ensures that the buttercream pipes beautifully and holds its shape nicely even if the cupcakes stand at room temperature for a long time.
Decorating the cupcakes: two piping techniques
Because I’m terribly indecisive, I piped the buttercream in two different styles: in a tall, swirly mound on top of each cupcake and also in a simple rose pattern that’s just as gorgeous. I used the Wilton 1M piping tip in both cases.
You can pipe the buttercream whichever way you like, there’s no rules here. The main difference between the two styles of piping (aside from the obvious visual difference) is how much frosting you get per cupcake.
If you like only a very small amount of frosting per cupcake, go with the rose pattern (left in the photo below). In that case, you can halve the amount of frosting in the recipe.
If, on the other hand, you’re a believer in a 1:1 frosting-to-cupcake ratio, then the tall swirl is the one for you (right in the photo below).
As a simple finishing touch, you can sprinkle the cupcakes with chocolate shavings as I’ve done for some of them, but chocolate sprinkles or other kinds of sprinkles will also work great.
And there you have it: this is how you make the PERFECT gluten free vegan chocolate cupcakes. These are seriously amazing, and you’d never know that they’re made without any gluten, eggs or dairy. They’re just ridiculously delicious, super easy to make, and you’ll want to make them over and over (and over) again.
More amazing gluten free vegan recipes
If you’re looking for more ridiculously delicious gluten free vegan recipes, you’re definitely in the right place!
- Small Batch Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cake
- The Ultimate Gluten Free Vegan Cinnamon Rolls
- Gluten Free Vegan Caramel Doughnuts
- Easy Gluten Free Flour Tortillas (Only 5 Ingredients!)
- The Ultimate Gluten Free Artisan Bread
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Super Moist Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
Gluten free vegan chocolate cupcakes:
- 90 g (3 oz) dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids), chopped
- 55 g (4 tbsp) sunflower oil or other neutral-tasting oil of choice
- 140 g (½ cup + 4 tsp) hot water
- 140 g (½ cup + 4 tsp) non-dairy milk, room temperature (You can use almond, rice, soy or oat milk (provided that you’re not sensitive to oats), but I don’t recommend using coconut milk.)
- 35 g (2½ tbsp) plain vegan yoghurt
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
- 160 g (1⅓ cups) plain gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour that doesn't have any xanthan gum added. You can also mix your own gluten free flour blend using this recipe. Note that for this homemade blend, 1 cup = 150g, so ideally use a kitchen scale for best results.)
- 200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 30 g (5 tbsp) Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 1¼ tsp xanthan gum (If your gluten free flour blend already contains xanthan gum, reduce the amount to 1 tsp.)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
Vegan chocolate buttercream:
- 250 g (2¼ sticks) vegan butter block, softened (I used the Stork vegan butter block that’s available in the UK. However, most firm vegan/dairy free butter blocks will work well – just make sure that you don’t use a soft vegan spread.)
- 180 g (1½ cups) powdered/icing sugar, sifted
- 65 g (⅔ cup) Dutch processed cocoa powder
- ¼-½ tsp salt (you can adjust the exact amount to your personal taste)
- 120 g (4¼ oz) dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids), melted and cooled until lukewarm
You will also need:
- chocolate shavings or other sprinkles of choice (optional)
Gluten free vegan chocolate cupcakes:
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 320ºF (160ºC), and line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake liners.
- In a heat-proof bowl, either in the microwave or over a pot of simmering water on the stovetop, melt the chocolate and oil together.
- Add the hot water, non-dairy milk, vegan yoghurt and vanilla to the chocolate-oil mixture, and whisk well until combined. Set aside until needed.
- In a large bowl, sift together the gluten free flour blend, sugar, cocoa powder, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and whisk well (with a large balloon whisk) until you get a smooth cake batter with no flour clumps. The batter will be fairly runny.
- Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling each liner about ⅔ to ¾ full. I recommend using a "4 tablespoon" ice cream or cookie scoop to portion out the batter evenly.
- Bake at 320ºF (160ºC) for about 30-32 minutes or until well risen and an inserted toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool in the muffin tin for about 5-10 minutes, then carefully transfer them onto a wire rack to cool completely. Make sure that the cupcakes are 100% cooled to room temperature before you decorate them with the vegan chocolate buttercream frosting.
Vegan chocolate buttercream:
- Note: You can halve the amount of the buttercream frosting if you plan to decorate the cupcakes with a simple rose swirl (see blog post for photos). That type of decorations requires less frosting compared to piping a tall swirly mound of buttercream on top of each cupcake.
- Using a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and powdered/icing sugar together until pale and fluffy, for about 5 minutes.
- Sift in the cocoa powder and salt, and whip for a further 2-3 minutes, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally, until fully combined.Tip: You can tailor the amount of salt to your personal preference – add it slowly (pinch by pinch), mixing well after each addition, and taste before adding more.
- Add the melted and cooled chocolate, and whip until fully combined.
Decorating the cupcakes:
- Transfer the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a piping tip of choice. I used the Wilton 1M piping tip.
- Decorate the cupcakes by piping the vegan chocolate buttercream on top, in whatever frosting style you prefer.
- Sprinkle with chocolate shavings or sprinkles of choice (optional) and serve.
- The gluten free vegan chocolate cupcakes keep well in a closed air-tight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.Before serving, take the cupcakes out of the fridge and leave them at room temperature for at least 15-20 minutes. The chocolate buttercream frosting will be fairly firm directly out of the fridge, and leaving it at room temperature for a while softens it to its original luscious, velvety texture.