Gluten free chocolate orange cupcakes

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Are you looking for a gluten free and vegan chocolate cupcake recipe with a little bit of a twist? Check out this recipe for chocolate orange cupcakes. These allergy friendly cupcakes are gluten free, egg free, dairy free, nut free, and vegan friendly!

This easy cupcake recipe can be made without the use of a hand mixer or stand mixer. It requires no special tools other than a muffin tin and cupcake liners. 

Cooked gluten free & chocolate orange cupcakes with shiny chocolate icing on top. There are ranges and a mixing bowl in the background.

How to add orange flavor to cupcakes

How do you add orange flavor to cupcakes? There are a few different ways that you can add orange flavor to cupcakes. Here are the most common options. 

  • Orange zest. Orange zest is probably the most common ingredient that is added to baked goods to give them orange flavor. The great thing about using orange zest to add orange flavor to cupcakes is that it does not affect the ratio of dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Instead, orange zest can be treated as a mix-in like chocolate chips or cranberries. 
  • Orange juice. Orange juice is another ingredient that can be used to give cupcakes orange flavor. Orange juice is a liquid, so if you add orange juice to cupcake batter then you are going to need to reduce the other liquid ingredients in your recipe. Orange juice is also acidic you so may need to reduce the other acidic ingredients in your cupcake batter. 
  • Orange extract. Orange extract is another way to add orange flavor to baked goods. Orange extract is a liquid, but it is generally more concentrated and less acidic than orange juice. That means that you do not have to adjust the other liquid ingredients as much as when you use orange extract. 

What is in these chocolate orange cupcakes?

What is in chocolate orange cupcakes? Here are all the ingredients in these chocolate orange cupcakes.

  • Gluten free all purpose flour. These cupcakes are made with gluten free all purpose flour rather than an individual flour such as rice flour, almond flour, or coconut flour. We generally use Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour or King Arthur Measure for Measure flour to make gluten free cupcakes. 
  • Cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is added to these cupcakes to give them a rich, chocolatey flavor.
  • White & brown sugar. A mixture of white sugar and brown sugar is used to make these chocolate orange cupcakes. The brown sugar helps to make the cupcakes nice and moist.
  • Baking soda & baking powder. A combination of baking soda and baking powder is used to leaven these cupcakes. The baking soda reacts with the vinegar that is added to the cupcakes to push even more air into the cupcake batter.
  • Salt. A little bit of salt is added to this cupcake recipe to enhance all of the other flavors in these chocolate orange cupcakes.
  • Coconut milk. Coconut milk is used in place of dairy milk to make these chocolate orange cupcakes vegan and dairy free. Coconut milk is our absolute favorite plant-based milk to use in vegan and dairy free baked goods. We generally buy small cans of coconut milk in bulk online to make sure that we never run out.
  • Vegetable oil. Vegetable oil is the main fat that is used in this recipe for chocolate orange cupcakes. The vegetable oil helps to make the cupcakes soft and moist.
  • Vanilla extract. A little bit of vanilla extract is added to these chocolate cupcakes to give them even more flavor. We recommend buying larger bottles of vanilla extract online rather than the small bottles at the grocery store. The larger bottles are generally more economical once you consider the cost per ounce.
  • Apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is added to these chocolate orange cupcakes. The acid in the vinegar interacts with the baking soda that is added to the recipe to push even more air into the cupcake batter.
  • Orange zest. Orange zest is used to give these chocolate orange cupcakes a sharp orange flavor. We prefer using orange zest when we make orange flavored cupcakes so that we do not have to make as many modifications to our base cupcake recipe.

Chocolate cupcake batter for gluten free & vegan chocolate orange cupcakes. There is orange zest on top of the batter.

What is in vegan chocolate icing?

What is in vegan chocolate icing? Here are all the ingredients you will need to make this vegan chocolate icing,

  • Confectioners sugar. Confectioners sugar makes up the base of this chocolate icing. Confectioners sugar is the main ingredient in most recipes for frosting or icing.
  • Cocoa powder. Some of the confectioners sugar in the icing is replaced with cocoa powder to give the icing a rich, chocolatey flavor. We recommend using a high quality cocoa powder. 
  • Vanilla extract. A little bit of vanilla extract is added to the vegan chocolate icing. The vanilla counteracts the sweetness of the confectioners sugar so that the icing is not overly sweet. 
  • Coconut oil. Coconut oil is added to this vegan chocolate icing in place of butter or similar dairy products. The coconut oil should be melted before it is added to the other ingredients to make the chocolate icing. 
  • Coconut milk. A little bit of coconut milk is added to thin out this chocolate icing. Coconut milk is used in place of dairy milk so that this chocolate icing is vegan friendly and dairy free. 

Cooked gluten free & vegan chocolate orange cupcakes in a cupcake tin.

How to store chocolate orange cupcakes

How do you store leftover chocolate orange cupcakes? Here is how to store these chocolate orange cupcakes. 

  • In the refrigerator for a few days. Do you plan to eat your chocolate orange cupcakes within a few days? Then you can store the cupcakes in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat them. We recommend storing the cupcakes in an airtight Tupperware container. 
  • In the freezer for a few months. Do you want to keep your chocolate orange cupcakes around for longer than a few days? Then you can store them in the freezer for up to a few months. If you are going to store your cupcakes in the freezer, we recommend putting them in a freezer safe gallon bag. Make sure the bag you put the cupcakes in is airtight so that the cupcakes do not get freezer burn.
  • Stacked to save space. Do you have a small refrigerator or freezer with limited space? Well we have good news for you! These chocolate orange cupcakes are made with a flat layer of icing that hardens as it cools. That means that you can stack the cupcakes on top of eachother to save space in your refrigerator or freezer. This is particularly useful if you are making a large batch of cupcakes to share!

Gluten free chocolate orange cupcakes

These easy chocolate orange cupcakes are gluten free, egg free, dairy free, and vegan friendly!
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: dairy free, egg free, gluten free, nut free, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

Chocolate orange cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup orange zest (plus up to 2 tbsp more)

Chocolate icing

  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk (plus up to 1/2 tsp more)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Use a zester or grater to zest the oranges. We generally use 6 tbsp of orange zest (this is equal to 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) for a strong orange flavor. If you prefer a more mild orange flavor, you can use 4 - 5 tbsp of orange zest.
  • Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Whisk all of the wet ingredients together in another large mixing bowl. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients little by little, mixing as you do so. Stir the batter until there are no large clumps left in the batter.
    The orange zest can be added into the wet ingredients or mixed in after the dry ingredients are added to the wet ingredients.
  • Add cupcake liners to the wells of a muffin tin then fill the wells of the muffin tin with cupcake batter. Fill the wells no more than 1/2 to 2/3 of the way full.
    The cupcake batter will rise as it cooks. If you fill the wells more than 2/3 of the way, the cupcakes will overflow and may sink in the middle.
  • Bake the cupcakes in the oven for 20 - 22 minutes at 350 degrees.
    We recommend turning the oven off, propping the door open, and letting the cupcakes cool in the oven rather than taking them right out of the oven when they are done. If the cupcakes cool too quickly then they may sink in the middle.
  • Melt the coconut oil and mix all of the ingredients for the chocolate icing. The icing will spread best when it is warm but the cupcakes have started to cool.
    The icing should be smooth and easy to spread. If your icing is thick and lumpy, add more coconut milk to the icing 1/4 tsp at a time until it becomes smooth.

Notes

Orange zest. We add 6 tbsp of orange zest to our cupcakes to give them a sharp orange flavor. If you want your cupcakes to have more of a mild orange flavor, you can use 4 tbsp or 1/4 cup of orange zest instead. 
Xanthan gum. If your gluten free all purpose flour blend does not contain xanthan gum or a similar replacement for gluten then you should add around 1/4 tsp of xanthan gum per cup of flour.
Tips for measuring flour. We recommend measuring flour by spooning the flour into a measuring cup then leveling off the flour with a butter knife. This is the most consistent way to measure flour. If you dip your measuring cup into the bag of flour, it will compress the flour and you will end up with extra flour. 

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