These gluten free lavender cupcakes are gf vanilla cupcakes made extra special with easy homemade lavender-flavored sugar and a lavender milk glaze on top. They taste—and look—like spring in a cupcake!

Why choose lavender for baking?

Dried lavender buds add a brightness and a delicate sweetness to these cupcakes, plus a very subtle light blue tinge and an almost woodsy feeling to your baked goods. It pairs really beautifully in cooking with other woodsy flavors like rosemary, and in baking with sugar or other bright flavors like lemon.

Lavender very well may be the stuff of magical fairy princesses. These lavender flower buds are so lovely and smell just like they look. I wish I looked as good and smelled as nice!

Lavender flowers in jar

Why you’ll love this gluten free lavender cupcake recipe

These soft, spongy gluten free vanilla cupcakes with a sweet and fragrant confectioners’ sugar glaze are perfect for tea time, or dessert. They’ll also brighten up any brunch table, especially in the spring when we all long to see bright colors.

These cupcakes, with the tender texture of our best gf vanilla cake, are a really fun alternative cake for any celebration—especially for a small child who loves purple, flowers, and purple flowers!

I first made these gf lavender cupcakes when my youngest child was a 6-year-old little girl who loved all things purple, and the smell of lavender. The purple glaze on top of these cupcakes is a visual representation of the beautiful lavender aroma and flavor that lies within, but this glaze would also work beautifully on our gf funfetti cupcakes for a celebration!

Lavender glazed cupcake on small metal plate with more in background

Gluten free lavender cupcake key ingredient notes

These cupcakes have the “usual” baking ingredients you’d expect (butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, leaveners, milk). Here are a few things to keep in mind as you gather some of what you’ll need to make these lovely cupcakes.

  • Gluten free flour blend – I like Better Batter or Cup4Cup here. If you’re new to my recipes and this blog, please be sure to click through to learn about appropriate gf flour blends, and choose your gf flour blend carefully. Remember, the main gluten-containing ingredient in conventional baking is flour, so its replacement is the most crucial choice you’ll make.
  • Cornstarch – This starch is added to lighten the Better Batter gluten free flour blend a bit, which results in a more tender result. You can replace it with potato starch or arrowroot, if you prefer. If you’re using Cup4Cup, which already has a lot of cornstarch, use 2 tablespoons more Cup4Cup in place of the cornstarch.
  • Culinary lavender – Baking with culinary lavender adds a beautiful aroma and bright, flowery flavor. Be sure your dried lavender buds are designed for baking, and resist the urge to add more than is directed!
  • Granulated sugar – This adds sweetness and is also a tenderizer in this cake, as it is in all sweet baking recipes. Here, it’s ground with dried culinary lavender first to flavor it without adding unwanted texture to your cupcakes.
  • Buttermilk – This recipe calls for buttermilk, which has a texture and acidity that adds tenderness to your cupcakes. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, replace it with equal amounts (here, 1/3 cup each) plain yogurt and milk (avoid nonfat dairy, which tends to make baked goods tough). Avoid “souring” some milk with some lemon juice or vinegar, which doesn’t replicate the power of buttermilk.
  • Egg and egg white – Egg whites add rise and the egg yolk adds richness, and both help to bind the ingredients together here. If you use 2 whole eggs instead, your rise will be a little less even and your cupcakes will be more likely to crack on top.

Lavender in pan

How to make lavender sugar

The easiest way to flavor both the cupcakes and the glaze with lavender is to grind just the right amount of dried lavender buds into granulated sugar. You can use a blender, but I prefer a food processor since it’s easier to control how much you process the mixture that way.

If you have a small, but powerful, spice grinder try grinding just the dried lavender on its own. Then, add about 3/4 of the ground lavender to the cupcake batter. For the glaze, replace the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar with another 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar and the rest of the ground lavender.

Fingers holding cupcake with dripping lavender glaze over glass bowl

How to make the simple homemade lavender glaze

I used to flavor this glaze with lavender by steeping some of the culinary lavender buds in milk until they infused the liquid with their flavor and aroma, then straining them out and adding them to confectioners’ sugar to make a flavored glaze.To simplify things, now I simply grind the lavender buds into granulated sugar in a blender or food processor, and add that to both the cupcakes and the glaze.

Making a simple confectioners’ sugar glaze is easy as long as you understand that it’s easier to thin it more than to thicken it after adding too much liquid. So go slowly with liquid.

The glaze must really be thick, or it will be transparent on top of the cupcake, and won’t be very pretty. And, of course, if artificial food coloring bothers you, just don’t use it. They’re beautiful as is, au naturel.

Cupcake batter in blue liners in muffin tin

Tips for making the best gluten free lavender cupcakes

Sourcing your dried lavender buds

I originally bought culinary lavender flowers at Shop Terrain, and they were super expensive. But this was years ago, and now they sell containers of culinary lavender in the spice aisle at Trader Joe’s.

If you’d like to grow your own lavender to use in cooking, be sure to select the variety carefully, then dry it and store it in a sealed container in a cool, dark pantry. Apparently, royal velvet and Provence varieties are considered culinary lavender.

Go easy on the lavender

There’s something about lavender that you need to know: A little is kind of nice, the right amount is heaven.

Too much lavender tastes like you’re eating soap. Try to resist the temptation to add more of it when you make the lavender sugar. Trust me (or learn the hard way, like I did!).

Beat room temperature butter and sugar until light and fluffy

Be sure your butter is at cool room temperature (not greasy to the touch, but you can poke a finger into it), and beat it and the sugar well with an electric mixer first. The mixture will increase in volume and turn lighter in color when it’s fully whipped.

Whenever possible, I prefer the “reverse cream” baking method of mixing dry ingredients first, then adding mix butter, eggs, and liquids in one bowl. But it isn’t always appropriate—like here, where we want a super light and tender crumb.

Use cupcake liners for easier cleanup

Cupcake/muffin tin liners help your cupcakes rise up in their wells, and make a beautiful presentation. But be sure you’re using so-called greaseproof liners that don’t soak up the moisture of the baked goods. If you’re at all concerned that they may stick to your cupcakes, spray the empty liners very lightly with cooking oil spray before filling them.

Let your cupcakes cool completely before icing or frosting

If your cupcakes are even slightly warm when you dip them in the icing, or top them with any sort of frosting, the topping will melt and lose its shape. You want your cupcakes to be completely cool first, so the glaze develops a very thin shell on top when it’s fully set.

Baked cupcakes in blue liners in muffin tin on white paper

How to store gf lavender cupcakes

All baked goods are best the day they’re made, and these cupcakes are no exception. But if you’ve baked them in protective cupcake liners, once they’re glazed they will stay fresh at room temperature in a sealed container for 2 days.

For longer storage, I recommend freezing the cooled, unglazed cupcakes in a tightly-sealed freezer-safe zip-top bag. Defrost at room temperature, and glaze before serving.

Gluten free lavender cupcakes: substitutions

Gluten free, dairy free lavender cupcakes

This recipe, like our gluten free vanilla cupcakes, can be made dairy free by replacing the butter with vegan butter, like Melt or Miyoko’s Kitchen brand, and the buttermilk with nondairy unsweetened almond milk.

Instead of almond milk in place of buttermilk, for the most tender cupcakes you can make a dairy-free ‘buttermilk’ by combining 1/3 cup plain nondairy yogurt and 1/3 cup almond milk. This buttermilk replacement also works for a mock buttermilk with dairy-containing ingredients.

Gluten free, egg free lavender cupcakes

This recipe calls for 1 whole egg and 1 egg white. You can try replacing them with 1.5 “chia eggs” (1.5 tablespoons ground white chia seeds + 1.5 tablespoons lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel). Alternatively, try replacing the whole egg with 1 “chia egg” and the egg white with 25 grams of aquafaba (the brine from a can of chickpeas).

Lavender bud alternative

Instead of grinding dried culinary lavender buds with granulated sugar to make lavender sugar in these cupcakes and glaze, you can try using food-grade lavender extract in place of the vanilla extract in the cupcakes. Be cautious when adding the extract, since it may be quite strong, and you don’t want to overdo it and make cupcakes that taste like soap!

If you’d prefer a different flavor to lavender, dried mint might work well. We used a similar technique in our Shamrock shake flavored gf cupcakes.

You can try almost any other dried herb—but keep in mind that most won’t pair well with dessert, like these cupcakes. For example, rosemary is somewhat similar, in texture and can be ground into granulated sugar in much the same way, but I don’t think I’d like rosemary sugar to much.

Yellow cupcake with purple glaze and lavender flower buds on gray surface

 

FAQs

What is culinary-grade lavender?

Culinary lavender is a specific variety of lavender that is processed with culinary applications in mind. (Source.) Culinary lavender has less oil than purely aromatic lavender that is used in soaps.

What does gluten free lavender cake taste like?

Lavender-flavored baked goods taste like lavender smells, but just enough! It’s similar to baking with dried herbs, and if you’ve ever used herbs de Provence in, for example, gf chicken and dumplings, you’ve already tasted culinary lavender!

How do I make my gf lavender cupcakes light and fluffy?

These cupcakes are light and fluffy, with a tender crumb when you measure your ingredients carefully, by weight, select your gf flour blend properly, beat your room temperature butter and sugar until light and fluffy, and add your room temperature buttermilk in between batches of dry ingredients.

How can I make purple icing for my gf cupcakes?

The only way I know to make colored icing is to use food coloring. For a vibrant color, use red and blue gel food colorings in equal measure, and mix until the color is uniform. Liquid food coloring will thin the glaze too much, and add an unpleasant taste if you’ve used enough for a bright lavender.

If you’d rather not use food coloring, just skip it entirely and decorate the top of your glaze with a couple buds of culinary lavender. They’ll still taste great!

Can I use fresh lavender for the cupcakes and lavender frosting?

You must use dried lavender to make the cupcakes in this recipe, since fresh lavender buds will add moisture to the recipe and make it unbalanced. For the glaze, you can grind fresh lavender into granulated sugar and compensate for the added moisture by using less milk in the glaze.

Can I use this lavender cupcake recipe to make a sheet cake?

This recipe doesn’t work well as a sheet cake, but you can use the lavender sugar method in this recipe to replace the unflavored granulated sugar in our gluten free vanilla sheet cake recipe.

Lavender glazed cupcake with bite taken on metal plate

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How to make beautiful, glazed gluten free lavender cupcakes

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Gluten Free Lavender Cupcakes | Beautiful and Delicious!

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Try this light and airy gluten free lavender cupcake recipe this spring. See how delightful and fresh dried lavender tastes in this gf cupcake recipe.
Course Cupcakes, Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword gluten free lavender cupcakes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 19 minutes
Servings 12 cupcakes
Author Nicole Hunn

Equipment

  • Blender or (mini) food processor for grinding lavender sugar
  • Stand mixer or handheld mixer

Ingredients

For the lavender sugar

  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon dried culinary lavender buds plus more for decorating (optional)

For the cupcakes

  • 1 ½ cups all purpose gluten free flour blend (I used Better Batter; please click thru for appropriate blends)
  • ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum omit if using Better Batter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup granulated lavender sugar from above
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg at room temperature, beaten
  • 1 egg white at room temperature, beaten
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • cup buttermilk at room temperature

For the glaze

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons milk plus more as necessary
  • ¼ cup granulated lavender sugar from above
  • 1 drop blue gel food coloring optional
  • 1 drop red gel food coloring optional

Instructions

Make the lavender sugar

  • In the bowl of a blender or (mini) food processor, place the granulated sugar and culinary lavender. Cover and blend or pulse just until the lavender disappears into the sugar.
  • Set the lavender sugar aside to use in the cupcakes and the glaze below.

Make the cupcakes

  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease or line a standard 12-cup muffin tin and set it aside.
  • Place the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl, and whisk to combine well. Set the bowl aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large bowl with a handheld mixer, place the butter, 1 cup of the lavender sugar, egg, egg white, and vanilla, and beat at medium-low speed to combine.
  • Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture appears whipped (about 2 minutes).
  • To the large bowl with the butter mixture, add half the dry ingredients and beat lightly until just combined.
  • Add the buttermilk, and beat lightly, then the remaining dry ingredients, beating again until just combined.
  • Fill the prepared muffin cups 3/4 full of batter, and shake the pan back and forth to even out the batter in the cups.
  • Place the tin in the center of the preheated oven. Bake until the cupcakes are lightly golden brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean (about 19 minutes).
  • Remove the tin from the oven and allow to cool at least 10 minutes in the pan. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the glaze.

  • In a medium-size bowl, place the confectioners’ sugar and add about 1 teaspoon of the milk. Mix until you have a very smooth, thick paste.
  • Add the remaining 1/4 cup of lavender sugar, and more milk by the drop, mixing well, until you have a very thickly pourable glaze.
  • Add the liquid slowly, because it’s much easier to thin the glaze than to thicken if once you’ve added too much liquid.
  • Add the optional blue and red gel food coloring, and mix until you have a purple glaze.

Glaze the cupcakes.

  • Dip the tops of the first cooled cupcake into the glaze, bobbing the top 3 times, and then slowly twisting the cupcake until it is upright.
  • Place on a sheet of parchment paper to set. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes.
  • If desired, sprinkle with a few lavender buds before the glaze is set.
  • Allow the cupcakes to set at room temperature and then serve.

Video

Notes

Originally published on the blog in 2012. In 2022, cupcake recipe updated and glaze recipe simplified; most text, video, and photos new.

The post Gluten Free Lavender Cupcakes | Beautiful & Delicious! appeared first on Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

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