This gluten free lemon lavender cupcake recipe features a gluten free and dairy free lemon cake with a luscious lavender frosting. If you're looking for a taste of Spring, these cupcakes are it! They are light, fresh, and will make your tastebuds sing.
Lemon and lavender is one of my absolute favorite flavor combinations. When I lived in Cleveland, I worked at a coffee shop that served a lemon lavender latte with little lavender buds on top. It was absolutely divine! Since I moved away, said coffee shop has permanently closed which has made me so sad! So, I wanted to develop a lemon lavender recipe to sway my nostalgia for my favorite latte. And so, this lemon lavender cupcake recipe was born!
Gluten free recipes are always a little difficult to bake. Especially gluten free cake recipes, since they tend to be a bit more dense. Before getting into this recipe, I will say that the gluten and dairy free lemon cake is more dense than a typical spongey cake. However, it is still super delicious! The lemon cake features lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract, Bob's Red Mill One-to-One Baking Flour, oat milk, and coconut sugar (this is not only a gluten free cupcake recipe, but a refined sugar free cupcake recipe!) The lavender frosting is more indulgent- not dairy free or refined sugar free. But it is absolutely delicious and made with dried lavender flowers, powdered sugar, and butter.
What Is the Best Gluten Free Flour to Bake With?
When I first tested this recipe, I used a 1:1 ratio of Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour and homemade oat flour (I just blended up some whole rolled oats in the food processor to make it). After adding all the other ingredients and putting the cupcake batter in the oven, I realized that the gluten free flour blend just didn't work. The cupcakes came out extremely flat and gooey (because I also added WAY too much fresh lemon juice). So, one day later, I tested the recipe again using Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free One-to-One Baking Flour. It made a HUGE difference in my gluten free lemon cupcakes!
Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free One-to-One Baking Flour is a combination of rice flours, starches, and xanthan gum (a thickening agent/stabilizer) that makes it perfect for gluten free bakes. I have recently been using this flour mix to transform non-gluten free recipes into gluten-free treats. It works great! Bob's Red Mill is seriously one of my all time favorite baking brands. They have so many great products that make baking healthier and gluten-free so much more accessible!
Lemon Juice vs Lemon Extract
So, what's the difference between lemon juice and lemon extract? Lemon extract is much more concentrated than lemon juice. Another big difference between the two is that lemon juice is acidic whereas lemon extract is alcohol based. In baking, you need acid to activate baking soda, so do not substitute lemon extract for lemon juice in recipes that use baking soda. So, the next time you are wondering "can I use lemon extract instead of lemon juice?" look at the recipe to see if baking soda is an ingredient that is needed.
This gluten free lemon lavender cupcake recipe uses baking powder, but I would still recommend using lemon juice and lemon zest in it because it adds a nice fresh pop of flavor and a little bit of texture.
Can I Use Baking Soda Instead of Baking Powder?
Can baking soda be substituted for baking powder in these lemon lavender cupcakes? Yes, but be careful. What is the difference between baking soda and baking powder? Well, baking powder already contains an acid to make it react and rise whereas baking soda does not. Because the lemon juice acts as an acid in this recipe, you can use baking soda instead of baking powder. However, remember that baking soda is much more powerful than baking powder. ¼ teaspoon of baking soda is equivalent to about 1 teaspoon of baking powder. For more information on baking powder vs baking soda, check out this article by Bon Appétit.
Tips and Tricks
- Do not, I repeat, do NOT over-mix your batter!! When I first tested this recipe, I used a KitchenAid stand mixer for the gluten free cupcake batter and it was a huge mistake. I recommend placing your ingredients in a mixing bowl and gently folding the dry ingredients into the wet ones as outlined in the recipe. Over-mixing your cupcake batter will result in the air bubbles of the cake bursting, which creates a flat and dense cupcake.This recipe is already more dense than your typical cupcake recipe because of the gluten free flour, but over-mixing will turn your cupcakes into complete bricks.
- Make sure to use room temperature eggs in this recipe. It's important for the science of gluten free baking! Also, once you melt your coconut oil, let it cool completely to room temperature.
- Be sure to use culinary lavender that is safe to eat.
How to Store
Store your cupcakes in an airtight container on the counter. They will last for 3-4 days. It is important to only frost the cupcakes that you want to immediately eat and then store the cupcakes and frosting separately. The frosting should be stored in a container with a tight fitting lid in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. I found that storing frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator made them dry out and become hard over the course of a day. So store your cupcakes and frosting separately!
Wondering "can I freeze gluten free cupcakes?" I would not suggest freezing them.
- You can substitute any milk for the oat milk in the gluten free and dairy free lemon cake (whole milk, coconut milk, almond milk).
- If you're not a fan of lavender, I recommend making some cream cheese frosting to go on top of your cupcakes. Broma Bakery has a recipe for the perfect cream cheese frosting! It really brings out the cake's lemon flavor.
More Lemon Recipes on the Blog
Alright, now that you got allllll the insider gluten free baking tips, let's get into our gluten free lemon lavender cupcakes recipe! If you make this recipe, be sure to rate it and leave a comment or tag me on Instagram!
Gluten Free Lemon Cake
- 1 ¼ cups gluten free flour
- ⅓ cup melted coconut oil
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup oat milk
- 1.5 sticks salted butter softened
- 3 tablespoon dried culinary lavender buds
- 2 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- Optional: blueberry juice or food coloring
- For the gluten free lemon cake, preheat oven to 350° and prepare a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- In a mixing bowl, mix the melted coconut oil and coconut sugar by hand.
- Once combined, add the vanilla extract and eggs one at a time until fully combined.
- In a separate bowl, mix the gluten-free flour, baking powder, and salt together.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Do not over-mix!
- Add milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Mix until just combined.
- Scoop gluten free cupcake batter into the muffin pan, filling the cupcake liners ¾ of the way full.
- Bake the gluten free lemon cupcakes for 20-25 minutes. Check their doneness with a toothpick. They are baked through if a toothpick comes out mostly clean when poked through the middle of a cupcake.
- How to make lavender frosting: add the coconut sugar and dried lavender buds into a food processor. Pulse until powdery.
- Cream softened salted butter in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until smooth and fluffy (about 2 minutes at medium-high speed)
- Add vanilla extract and the coconut sugar and lavender and mix until combined.
- Now add powdered sugar ½ cup at a time while whipping the frosting at medium speed.
- Add your blueberry juice or food coloring to tint the frosting purple. Finished frosting should be thick but easy to spread.
- Add frosting to a piping bag and frost cupcakes once they have completely cooled. Serve cool. Store leftover cupcakes in an airtight container on the counter for 3-4 days. Store leftover frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
If your frosting is too thick, add a little milk. If it is too runny, add a little more powdered sugar.
Frost only as many cupcakes you need to immediately serve and store leftover cake and frosting separately.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 cupcake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 412Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 235mgCarbohydrates: 60gFiber: 1gSugar: 48gProtein: 3g