These gluten-free chocolate cupcakes are every bit as delicious as traditional cupcakes, without the wheat! A light, moist chocolate cake is topped with rich homemade frosting for a treat any chocolate lover will appreciate.

Closeup of a gluten-free chocolate cupcake topped with chocolate curls

If you can’t eat gluten or choose not to, you’ve probably had more than your fair share of disappointing gluten-free cupcakes. Some are dry and crumbly, while others are gummy and dense, but none of them taste like what you’d expect from a cupcake. 

This recipe for gluten-free chocolate cupcakes won’t disappoint. Like my gluten-free vanilla cupcakes, you’ll get a tender crumb, perfect texture, and no “off” flavors. They’re so good, you can serve them at a party and no one will suspect that they’re gluten-free!

Top these cupcakes with a swirl of decadent chocolate frosting, garnish with chocolate curls, and enjoy the best gluten-free chocolate cupcakes you’ve ever tasted.

Gluten-free chocolate cupcakes with chocolate curls

Ingredients

Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

For the Cupcakes:

  • Gluten-free all-purpose flour – I recommend King Arthur’s Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour.
  • Unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter – Let this come to room temperature before you start the recipe.
  • Bittersweet chocolate baking bar – Look for a bar of chocolate with a cacao percentage of around 70%.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs
  • Buttermilk – If you don’t want to buy a bottle, you can make your own by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a liquid measuring cup, then filling it to the one-cup mark with whole milk; stir and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, or until it thickens.
  • Hot tap water

For the Chocolate Frosting:

  • Unsalted butter – This butter should also be at room temperature so it can be whipped into a creamy frosting.
  • Unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • Powdered sugar
  • Heavy cream
  • Salt
  • Vanilla extract

What Is the Best Gluten-Free Flour Substitute?

The key to a good gluten-free chocolate cupcake is in the flour blend. I’ve tested just about all of them at this point and my favorite is King Arthur Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour. If you don’t use that, I recommend a measure-for-measure all-purpose flour substitute; a single flour like almond or coconut won’t work in this recipe.

6 photos showing process of making gluten-free chocolate cupcakes

How to Make Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

Ready to start baking? Here’s what you’ll need to do.

Make the Cupcakes:

Prepare. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and line a muffin pan with muffin liners.

Melt the chocolate. Roughly chop the chocolate, then place the pieces in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes on 50% power. Stir and continue to heat the chocolate until it melts when stirred. Set the chocolate aside to cool while you work on the next step of the recipe.

Mix the dry ingredients. In a mixing bowl, combine the gluten-free flour, unsweetened natural cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 

Mix the wet ingredients. In a second mixing bowl, cream the butter and granulated sugar with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and cooled chocolate for 30 seconds.

Finish the batter. Add half of the buttermilk to the wet mixture and beat for about 20 seconds. Beat in half of the dry ingredients, followed by the remaining buttermilk and the hot water. Beat just until the liquid is incorporated, then add the remaining dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined. 

Bake. Fill the muffin liners halfway full and bake for 17 to 19 minutes, or until a few moist crumbs remain on a toothpick when inserted into the center. 

Cool. Let the cupcakes cool completely before you frost them.

Two photos showing unbaked and baked gluten-free chocolate cupcakes

Make the Chocolate Frosting and Assemble:

Beat the butter. Place the butter in a mixing bowl and beat it on high for 3 minutes, or until it’s fluffy.

Add the remaining ingredients. Sift in the cocoa powder and 3 cups of powdered sugar. Beat the frosting on low speed until it’s thick and all of the dry ingredients are incorporated into the butter. Beat in 3 tablespoons of heavy cream, vanilla extract and salt, then add the additional powdered sugar. Mix on low; if needed, beat in additional heavy cream a tablespoon at a time.

Frost the cupcakes. Fit a piping bag with a piping tip and fill the bag about 3/4 full with frosting. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes and decorate with chocolate curls or sprinkles, if desired.

Frosted gluten-free chocolate cupcakes in muffin tin

Decoration Ideas

I finished these gluten-free chocolate cupcakes with a sprinkle of chocolate curls, but here are some additional ideas:

  • Garnish with chopped candy bars
  • Swap the dark chocolate curls for white chocolate
  • Top with a whole ripe strawberry or raspberry
  • Finish with a toasted marshmallow and gluten-free graham cracker crumbs
  • Sprinkle with chopped nuts
  • Try a different frosting: Peanut Butter Frosting, Salted Caramel Frosting, and Coffee Frosting would all be excellent

Tips for Success

I’ve included tips throughout this post, but here are a few more to help you make the best gluten-free chocolate cupcakes:

  • Measure the flour accurately. When measuring the flour, be sure to use the spoon-and-sweep method. This means using a spoon to transfer the flour into your measuring cup, then leveling it off with a knife. Do not scoop the flour directly from the container with your measuring cup; this will pack the flour and you’ll end up with too much.
  • Don’t over-fill the cupcake liners. If you fill them more than halfway, your cupcakes are likely to overflow in the oven.
  • Sift the dry ingredients for the frosting. This keeps clumps from forming in your frosting, which can make piping difficult and ruin the look of your cupcakes.
View of a bitten gluten-free chocolate cupcake to show soft, tender cake

How to Store

Gluten-free chocolate cupcakes are best enjoyed the day they’re made, but they’ll stay fresh in an airtight container or loosely covered on a plate for 2 to 3 days.

If you have leftover frosting, it can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Allow it to come to room temperature before you use it.

Can These Cupcakes Be Frozen?

Yes, you can freeze gluten-free chocolate cupcakes. Place them on a sheet pan and freeze them uncovered until the frosting is frozen through and feels solid. Wrap the cupcakes in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer bag or airtight container. Freeze the cupcakes for up to 3 months, then let them thaw at room temperature before serving.

Closeup of a gluten-free chocolate cupcake topped with chocolate curls

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

5 from 1 rating
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 19 mins
Cooling Time: 1 hr
Total Time: 1 hr 44 mins
Yield: 24 servings
These gluten-free chocolate cupcakes are just as delicious as the traditional recipe!

Ingredients

Cupcakes

Chocolate Frosting

  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (2 cups)
  • 1 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp heavy cream
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
 

Cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners.
  • Rough chop the bittersweet chocolate baking bar into smaller pieces, place in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 2 minutes on 50% power. Stir and repeat until melted. Set aside to cool.
  • In a mixing bowl combine the all purpose flour, unsweetened natural cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In a separate mixing bowl beat the butter and granulated sugar with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Add in the eggs and cooled chocolate, beat again, 30 seconds.
  • Add in half of the buttermilk, beat for about 20 seconds. Add in half of the dry ingredients, beat. Add the remaining buttermilk plus the hot water, beat just until the liquid is mixed in then add the remaining dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined.
  • Fill the muffin liners 1/2 full. Bake for 17-19 minutes at 350º F or until a few moist crumbs remain on a toothpick when inserted into the center. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before adding the frosting.

Chocolate Frosting

  • In a mixing bowl, beat the butter on high for 3 minutes.
  • Sift in the cocoa powder and 3 cups of powdered sugar. I like to sift these in because it helps break up clumps, creating a light and fluffy frosting. Beat the frosting on low speed until combined and thick.
  • Mix in 3 tbsp of heavy cream, vanilla extract and salt.
  • Add in the additional powdered sugar (1-2 cups), mix on low. If the frosting is too thick, beat in an additional tablespoon of heavy cream.

Assemble

  • Fit a piping bag with a piping tip, I used a Wilton 1M. Fill the bag about 3/4 full with frosting. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. Decorate with chocolate curls or sprinkles if desired.

Notes

To store: Gluten-free chocolate cupcakes are best enjoyed the day they’re made, but they’ll stay fresh in an airtight container or loosely covered on a plate for 2 to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
Cuisine: American
Course: Dessert
Author: Beth
Calories: 252kcal, Carbohydrates: 47g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 28mg, Sodium: 180mg, Potassium: 115mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 34g, Vitamin A: 188IU, Vitamin C: 0.01mg, Calcium: 43mg, Iron: 1mg
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