Gluten free vegan lemon cupcakes

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Are you looking for an easy cupcake recipe that is gluten free and vegan friendly? Then check out this recipe for gluten free lemon poppy seed cupcakes! These lemon poppy seed cupcakes have a subtle lemon flavor that is enhanced by the addition of a zesty lemon icing. 

These gluten free lemon cupcakes are made with coconut milk and coconut oil rather than milk and butter so they are dairy free and vegan friendly. They are also made without eggs, so they are perfect for anyone with an egg allergy.

 

Gluten free & vegan lemon poppyseed cupcakes with lemon icing.

How to add lemon flavor to cupcakes

How do you infuse cupcakes with lemon flavor? Here are your options when it comes to adding lemon flavor to cupcakes.

  • Lemon juice. Lemon juice is perhaps the most common lemon flavoring that is added to baked goods. If you add lemon juice to a recipe, you should generally reduce the quantity of the other liquid ingredients that are added to the recipe so that the batter does not become too thin and runny. Since lemon juice is a liquid, it also works great in icings and frostings that need to be smooth and creamy.
  • Lemon extract. Lemon extract is a liquid just like lemon juice, so it also works well in dishes that are supposed to be smooth such as icing. Lemon extract is generally more concentrated than lemon juice, so you do not need to add as much lemon extract to a recipe. That being said, you may still need to reduce the measurements of the other liquid ingredients in the recipe. Lemon extract is not as tart as lemon juice, so it is great for recipes where you want more of a more subtle lemon flavor.
  • Lemon zest. Lemon zest is a great option if you want to add lemon flavor to your cupcake recipe without offsetting the ratio of dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Grated lemon zest acts more like a mix-in, like chocolate chips or cranberries, so it does not disrupt the ratio of dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Lemon zest can be chunky, so it should not be used in dishes that are supposed to be smooth such as icing.

Batter for gluten free & vegan lemon poppyseed cupcakes in a muffin tin.

What is in these lemon cupcakes?​

What is in these gluten free lemon cupcakes? Here are the ingredients in these lemon cupcakes.

  • Gluten free all purpose flour. Gluten free all purpose flour is the main ingredient in these gluten free cupcakes. You should use a gluten free all purpose flour (this is the brand we use) or a 1:1 baking mix to make these cupcakes. You should not use an individual gluten free flour (rice flour, almond flour, potato flour, etc.).
  • White sugar & brown sugar. A mix of white sugar and brown sugar is used to make these lemon poppy seed cupcakes. We use half white sugar and half brown sugar in most of our cupcake mixes. 
  • Baking powder & baking soda. A mixture of baking powder and baking soda is used in this cupcake recipe. The baking soda works particularly well as a leavening agent in this recipe because it reacts with the acidic lemon juice.
  • Salt. As always, a little salt is added to these lemon poppy seed cupcakes. The salt helps to enhance the other flavors in the recipe.
  • Coconut milk. Coconut milk is used in this recipe for gluten free lemon cupcakes. We recommend using coconut milk rather than another plant based milk if possible. The high fat content of coconut milk contributes some extra creaminess to the cupcakes. We generally buy cans of coconut milk in bulk online since coconut milk is our absolute favorite plant based milk to use in gluten free baking.
  • Vegetable oil. Vegetable oil is the main fat that is used in this recipe for lemon poppy seed cupcakes. We find that cupcakes made with vegetable oil have a lighter and fluffier texture than cupcakes made with other fats.
  • Vanilla extract. A small amount of vanilla extract is added to these lemon poppy seed cupcakes to enhance the flavor. Lemon and vanilla is an amazing combination as long as you don’t let the lemon overpower the vanilla.
  • Lemon juice. Lemon juice is added to these lemon poppy seed cupcakes to give the cupcakes a bright, fresh flavor.
  • Lemon zest. As if lemon juice wasn’t enough, we also add some lemon zest to these lemon poppy seed cupcakes. We generally need to use 1 large lemon or 2 medium sized lemons to get enough lemon zest for these cupcakes. We recommend grating the zest with a dedicated citrus zester with rather than a large box grater. Long, thin testers are much easier to maneuver when zesting a lemon.
  • Poppy seeds. The final ingredient added to this recipe for gluten free lemon cupcakes is poppy seeds. The poppy seeds provide a nice crunch and a nutty flavor that compliments the bright flavor of the lemon.

What is in the lemon icing?

What is in the lemon icing? Here are the ingredients in our lemon icing. 

  • Confectioners sugar. As with most icing recipes – confectioners sugar is the main ingredient in this recipe for lemon icing. 
  • Lemon juice. Some lemon juice is added to give the icing a bright lemon flavor. The flavor of the lemon icing is more bright and fresh than the flavor of the lemon cupcakes, which is more mild. 
  • Coconut oil. Coconut oil is the main fat that is used in this recipe for lemon icing. The coconut oil should be melted before it is added to the lemon icing. As the coconut oil cools, it solidifies and makes the lemon icing more firm. This is perfect if you plan to make a large batch of cupcakes because it means you can save room and stack multiple cupcakes on top of each other! The fact that the coconut oil is melted before being added to the icing also means that you can also microwave leftover cupcakes with icing on them. No need to worry about the icing melting everywhere!
  • Vanilla. Just like the cupcakes, this lemon icing has a little bit of vanilla added to it to compliment the lemon flavor. The vanilla helps to cut through the sweetness of the confectioners sugar. 

Cooked gluten free & vegan lemon poppyseed cupcakes in a muffin tin.

Tips for making cupcakes

Are you new to making cupcakes? Here are some of our best tips for making cupcakes. 

  • Do not overfill the wells. You should fill the wells of the muffin tin you are using no more than 2/3 of the way full. In fact, it is safer to fill the wells more like half of the way full. These cupcakes rise a lot in the oven and if you add too much cupcake batter to the wells, the cupcakes will overflow and sink in the middle.
  • Cool the cupcakes in the oven. It is best to let cupcakes cool for a few minutes in the oven rather than taking them out right when they are done. Cupcakes have a tendency to sink in the middle if they go from a hot environment to a cool environment too quickly. Turning the oven off and propping the door open when the cupcakes are still in the oven allows the cupcakes to cool in a more gradual manner.

How to store these cupcakes

Are you looking for tips on how to store these cupcakes? Here is how to store these gluten free lemon cupcakes.  

  • In the refrigerator for a few days. You can store these cupcakes in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator for a few days. One of the great things about these cupcakes is that they are made with an icing that solidifies in the refrigerator. That means that after you let the icing cool, you can stack the cupcakes on top of each other in a tall tupperware. This is a great way to save space if you have a crowded refrigerator.
  • In the freezer for a few months. These cupcakes can be stored in the freezer for up to a few months. If you are going to store the cupcakes in the freezer, you should put them in an airtight freezer bag and squeeze as much of the air out of the bag as possible. 

Lemon poppy seed cupcakes

This easy lemon poppy seed cupcake recipe is gluten free, vegan, egg free, and dairy free.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: dairy free, egg free, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups gluten free all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cups white sugar
  • 2/3 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup lemon zest

Lemon icing

  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • 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.
  • Line the wells of a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Fill the wells of the muffin tin with cupcake batter.
    We recommend filling the wells 1/2 to 2/3 of the way. You should not fill the wells to the top because the cupcakes will rise quite a bit in the oven.
  • Bake the cupcakes for 20 - 22 minutes at 350 degrees. You can stick a toothpick in the cupcakes to determine whether they are done. If the toothpick comes out dry, the cupcakes are done.
    We recommend turning the oven off and propping the oven open then letting the cupcakes cool in the oven. When cupcakes cool too quickly, they are more likely to sink in the middle.
  • Melt coconut oil and mix the ingredients for the lemon icing. Spread the icing over the cupcakes when the icing is still warm.

Notes

Icing consistency. This recipe for lemon icing makes a firm icing that solidifies in the refrigerator. We prefer to use this type of icing because it makes it easy to stack cupcakes on top of each other in the freezer or refrigerator. If you want to make an icing that is more light and fluffy, you should replace the coconut oil with equal quantities of vegan butter or margarine. If you are using butter or margarine, you should use softened butter rather than melted butter. If the icing is too thick, you can add a few teaspoons of non-dairy milk to thin it out. 
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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