These light and fluffy Grain-Free Lemon Cupcakes make the perfect gluten-free, vegan springtime dessert! Grain-free vanilla cupcakes infused with lemon extract and lemon peel and topped with a vegan vanilla frosting. Add a batch of my refined sugar-free Easy Vegan Lemon Curd to the center of the cupcakes for an extra lemon-y surprise!
It all started after I was looking for a way to use the Easy Vegan Lemon Curd I made the other day. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am all about eating it by the spoonful, but then I got the idea to use it as a fun surprise filling in these Grain-Free Lemon Cupcakes! If you’re a lemon dessert lover, these lemon cupcakes will 100% be your main squeeze this spring 😉
When I was developing recipes for my dessert cookbook, The Beginner’s Guide to Gluten-Free Vegan Baking, I figured out the BEST grain-free flour combination. A mixture of cassava flour, coconut flour, and almond flour. The cupcakes bake so light, fluffy, and dare I say… moist- perhaps something that is sometimes hard to attain if baking gluten-free, grain-free, AND vegan. But not these cuties. They are cupcake perfection I think everyone will enjoy!
To make these Grain-Free Lemon Cupcakes also nut-free, I swapped out the almond flour for quinoa flour! If you can’t find quinoa flour in your local grocery store or on Amazon, you can certainly use the exact same amount of almond flour. Aside from the perfect grain-free, gluten-free, plant-based flour mixture, it’s important that we have the right wet ingredients to achieve the perfect cupcake batter. My go-to for gluten-free, vegan baking is almost always vegan buttermilk (flax milk + apple cider vinegar) and either avocado or grapeseed oil. And I always keep the cupcake batter naturally sweetened with maple syrup to cut back on the refined sugars, since I do use organic powdered sugar in the frosting.
How to make these lemon cupcakes:
You simply create your vegan buttermilk mixture by adding 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to the flax milk, or whatever plant milk you prefer. I find that flax and oat milk “curdle” the best, and letting it sit for about 10 minutes to “curdle”. Watch this quick video making vegan buttermilk on Instagram!
Then whisk together the dry ingredients: cassava flour, coconut flour, quinoa (or almond) flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, and add pure lemon extract, pure vanilla extract, maple syrup, avocado/grapeseed oil, and finally the vegan buttermilk and gently fold until all of the dry is mixed into the wet, being careful not to over mix. Overtaxing the batter will create a dense batter and the cupcakes might not turn out as light and fluffy.
Spoon or pipe the batter into a lined cupcake pan almost to the top, but not quite and bake for 15-17 minutes until the toothpick comes out clean. Allow them to cool completely before frosting. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy! 🙂
These cupcakes actually taste better the next day once they’ve completely set up, so if you’d like to bake them the day before serving go right ahead! I would frost the day of, though. These Grain-Free Lemon Cupcakes are fantastic without the lemon curd filling, my hubby actually prefers them this way, however, I liked them with the lemon curd as well. To add the lemon curd to the cupcakes, wait until they are fully cool, remove the centers of each cupcake about 1/2-3/4 of the way down with a small round cookie cutter (or knife if you don’t have one) and then pipe or spoon lemon curd into the centers. Place the cutout cupcake round back on top if desired and frost as usual!
Let me know if you like these cupcakes better with or without the lemon curd down below in the comments section, I would love to hear your thoughts! I think they are delicious with or without it 🙂 Please also giving these cupcakes a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating so that others can discover this allergy-friendly cupcake alternative! Tag me on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest!
Also check out my Grain-Free Vanilla Cupcakes with Blackberry Frosting!
- 2/3 + 1/2 cup almond milk (or other plant milk)
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup cassava flour (NOTE: not all cassava flours are equal. Some make the batter runny. My favorite brands to use are Bob's Red Mill and Let's Do Organic)
- ½ cup quinoa flour (may use almond flour instead)
- ½ cup coconut flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup avocado oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest (from ~ one lemon)
Lemon Curd Filling (optional)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2-3 small lemons)
- 1/2 cup plant milk (I used flax milk, but you can use oat, almond, cashew, coconut, etc.)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon tapioca flour/starch + 2 tablespoons of water
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- pinch of turmeric for color (optional)
- 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
- 1.5 cups organic powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon plant milk
- If you're planning on filling the cupcakes with lemon curd, find the directions on how to make it in THIS POST.
- In a glass bowl or measuring cup whisk together the almond milk and apple cider vinegar and let it sit for about 10 minutes to "curdle".
- Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, whisk together the cassava flour, quinoa/almond flour, coconut flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder, then add the pure lemon and vanilla extracts, maple syrup, avocado/grapeseed oil, milk mixutre, and lemon zest. Stir just enough to form a batter. DO NOT OVER MIX.
- Line a cupcake pan and then fill each liner just below the top. Bake 15-17 minutes or until risen and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely before filling with the lemon curd and frosting.
- To fill the cupcakes with the lemon curd, use a small round cookie cutter or a paring knife to cut a small cone out of the center of each cupcake, making a well about 1-1 1/2 inches deep. Spoon or pipe a small amount of lemon curd into the well. If you like, you can replace the piece of cupcake you removed on the top, so the top of the cupcake still has a smooth surface of cake with the curd underneath. (This is definitely not necessary, but is pretty quick and easy and can make the cupcakes slightly easier to frost.)
- To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat the shortening and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth then slowly add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed until the filling is sturdy. Add the plant milk 1 teaspoon at a time until you achieve your desired frosting consistency.
- Pipe the frosting on the cooled cupcakes. Store the cupcakes covered on your counter for up to 3 days.
*You may bake the cupcakes a day ahead of time and frost the day of serving if desired! I actually liked them better the second day! 🙂