1-2-3 Chocolate Cupcakes (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Corn-Free)


If you’ve ever craved chocolate I’m going to tell you a secret. You can whip up seductively rich chocolate cupcakes in a few minutes.  No fancy techniques and minimal skill required.

I know what you’re thinking.  You’ve heard that before.  But if you stick with me, you will see.  People will be beg you to make these cupcakes for them.

This is what I call a dump and mix recipe.  All the ingredients get tossed into one bowl, mix away and then bake.

Don’t believe me?  I dare you to give them a try. I promise that this will become your go-to recipe for chocolate cupcakes.

Notes: This recipe was adapted from one I used to bake back in my college days called Wacky Cake.  It was perfect at the time because it requires few ingredients, no mixer, and best of all, no eggs!  I never seemed to have eggs or butter on hand (back when I ate dairy) so this recipe was a lifesaver. Apparently I haven’t grown up because I still make it far too often!

Rich Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (for best results, use this one)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum (I use a corn-free variety of xanthan gum from Authentic Foods)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (if you are vegan, make sure to use vegan sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup oil of choice (canola, melted coconut oil, safflower or light tasting olive oil will all work)
  • 1 cup brewed coffee or water

Makes approximately 10 cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, place all ingredients and mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes (start your mixer slowly so that you don’t slosh the ingredients).  You can also mix this batter by hand.

Divide the batter evenly into the muffin papers so that they are two-thirds full.  I use a spring-loaded ice cream/batter scoop for this task.

Bake for 14-16 minutes or until the cupcakes spring back a bit when gently pressed with a finger.

Cool, frost and serve.  Once cooled these freeze well and can be thawed at room temperature as needed.

Creamy Chocolate-Mocha Frosting

  • 1 1/4 cups coconut milk (unsweetened)
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1- 10 ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life Mini Chips which is also vegan)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter if you eat dairy)

—>  In a saucepan, combine all ingredients.

—>  Cook over low, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is melted.  Continue stirring until it comes together into a smooth, shiny mixture.

—>  Remove from heat and transfer to a glass bowl.

—>  Cool frosting in the fridge, stirring thoroughly every 15 minutes.  Chill until thick enough to spread.  Approximately 1 1/2 hours.

48 thoughts on “1-2-3 Chocolate Cupcakes (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Corn-Free)

  1. It’s a good thing I don’t live close to you….I would be 10 lbs heavier for sure. I’m going to try these – I’m all about dump and stir!

    • I knew that you of all people would love the dump and stir thing!! Since you don’t have to be gluten-free, feel free to substitute an equal amount of all-purpose flour and drop the xanthan gum. The only other tip is don’t overmix. We don’t have to worry about that with gluten-free batters. Enjoy!

  2. Thanks! My little boy was begging me today for cupcakes! Once again you have came to our rescue. I honestly don’t know what we would’ve done without your blog these past few months. Thanks to you I am not afraid to try to make things. I made chocolate candies today for the kids who were begging for Reese’s peanut butter cups..only nut free, soy free, corn free and gluten free oh, and of course Caesin free, Lol! Thanks for showing me that it is possible!

    • Thank you for your comment! I wish you could see the smile it put on my face. I KNOW how wonderful it feels to delight a child with food allergies with a special treat. My son always says, “and I can even eat it!” That’s why I keep posting. Your chocolate candies sound like they were a hit! Did you use sunflower butter? Take care, Terris

  3. Just made it tonight since all of my flour has arrived, and they are wonderful!! I am so excited to try more recipes! Thank you so much!

  4. Hi! This was a fantastic and easy recipe. I do have one question as I am still new to GF V baking. They came out great and light at first but then got heavy and dense as they cooled and sat at room temp. Is that normal? I did have to add about 1/4 more water as my mixture didn’t seem to come out thin enough. Either way they still taste great, just curious if there were any other hints or tricks to try and keep them light. Thanks again for the great recipe!

    • Hi Lisa, I’m so happy that you got a chance to try the recipe. I love troubleshooting results, so I’m happy you shared your outcome! Regarding the consistency of the batter, I think my note about it being fairly thin was misleading so I plan to change that in the recipe. Sometimes gf cake and brownie batters seem thick and almost gelatinous before baking due to the xanthan gum. In fact, they can be tough to spread with a spatula. This cupcake recipe yields a batter that is thin (relative to that) but fairly similar to a regular wheat cake batter. I hope that all makes sense! Anyways, I’m thinking that if you try again, don’t add additional water and just try it as written. I have never had them turn dense and heavy upon cooling. Since there are no eggs in the recipe, that extra water may have been too much for the amount of baking soda and leaded to a bit of collapsing of the internal structure when cooling. Also, if you do ever want to add more water to a batter, make sure to increase the baking time because slightly underdone cupcakes or muffins can collapse upon cooling. Good luck and thank you for taking the time to comment!

  5. Hi! I have just taken mine out of the oven, and their little puffy pillow tops of joy have sunk into old man wrinkly tops! I didn’t have any GF Plain flour, only self raising so I used that and omitted the baking soda. I only had normal vinegar, so I used that instead of Apple Cider vinegar. Everything else was exactly the same, and I used Macadamia oil. Once I cover them up with some fluffy icing they’ll look great, but just wondering what I might have done wrong, if my substitutions didn’t stuff things up? Thanks :)

    • Update – they’re all stretchy gooey chewy, like a caramel bar? They don’t feel cooked at all. I’ve popped them back into the oven for another 8 minutes & will try again. My normal, non-gf baking skills are awesome. GF baking is doing my head in!!!
      Help :(

      • I just answered your other comment and then I saw this one. It definitely sounds like the problem was leavening, because this recipe won’t work with baking powder. Unfortunately I don’t think extra oven time will solve this problem. :( I know how frustrating baking failures can be, so that is why I can only guarantee results with the ingredients listed. Even different gf flour mixes behave differently from one another. One other thing to check when you do use a ready made flour mix is if it has xanthan gum already added. If you add additional xanthan gum on top of the gum in the mix things can get very gummy and gelatinous.

    • Hi there,
      Hmmm, a few things could be causing those results. The most likely is your use of the self-rising flour. Self-rising flour is typically made with baking powder not baking soda. This vegan cupcake recipe is specifically designed to work with baking soda. In fact, the vinegar enhances the effectiveness of the baking soda to make these rise properly without the addition of eggs. Your substitution of vinegars will not be a problem and the oil you used should be fine too as long as you used the same amount. Underbaking a cake or cupcake can also cause them to be very puffy when you remove them from the oven, only to have them sink and fall later. The good old toothpick test will help next time if you think that may be a factor. Hope this helps and that you can still enjoy eating them!

      • Ah thank you! Next time I will try them with your GF Flour mix suggestion :) they turned out a very odd texture – kind of like really weird mousse! Definitely not edible, but that’s ok. Try & try again! Will let you know how my next attempt goes :)

  6. I made these for my son’s 1st and hubby said they were the best cupcake I’ve ever made (allergy free, or even back when I baked “normal”). My only issue was that they were crumbly. I used guar gum and your flour mix. I did use Bob’s flour but threw it in my grinder to get it extra fine (an they were fluffy and light when baked). Any thoughts on why they didn’t hold together so great?

    • Hi Roxanne, I’m so happy to hear that the cupcakes were a hit for your family. For this recipe I agree that the Bob’s flour was the problem. I think that it has may have more to do with the guar gum. Guar gum doesn’t thicken or strengthen gluten-free baked goods as powerfully as xanthan gum, so if you try them again and your family only uses guar gum, I would add 3/4 teaspoon guar gum instead of the 1/2 teaspoon that is called for. I will probably test a batch this week and see as I usually bake them with the xanthan gum. In cake baking, eggs and gluten are the two main ingredients that create the structure and integrity of the cake (so that things don’t get crumbly). Since this recipe is vegan and gluten-free, the gum is the only thing that is helping provide the structure of the cupcake, so too little may yield a crumbly cupcake. Thanks for your comment and I will let you know if I make a batch soon!

  7. I made these cupcakes just the other day and they were absolutely delicious! I will be making them all the time now since they are so easy and i have just recently gone gluten free. They worked out perfect but did not rise that high … i wonder why?
    they were great :)

    • Hi Anna, So glad you liked them. I would say that these don’t rise all that high for me either. Just a touch above the cupcake liner with fairly flat tops. I just compensate with the frosting swirls! Being egg-free and gluten-free they just don’t have enough structure to get big domed tops like my vanilla cupcake recipe does (which has eggs).

  8. Hi, I was wondering if there is a way to make these cupcakes in a vanilla version? The chocolate ones look delicious, but some of my kids can’t have chocolate? Thank You!

  9. I did see that……they look delicious! Unfortunately I am looking for an egg-less recipe. I ended up making the chocolate ones and they were wonderful. Thank you so much for your recipes……my family is looking forward to sampling more of your Free Eats.

  10. This. Is. Delicious!!!!!!!! I’ve used only 3/4 cups of granulated sugar, added about a tablespoon of coconut flour and a couple of drops of Stevia to cut down on the sugar. I also used half the amount of brown rice flour and the other half, white rice in the GF flour mix. It was fantastic – perfectly dense, not too much but just enough, and the taste… the taste! Heavenly! Thank you so much for sharing – being forced into Gluten-free is quite the challenge, but with your recipes, it actually makes the whole process… fun! ^_^

  11. Pingback: The scoop on nutrition » Must know fast facts in Food Allergy Awareness Week – by guest expert Dea Krismarietta APD

  12. Hi,
    I’m wondering if this recipe can be used to make a cake rather than cupcakes. Sorry if this is a silly question, I am not a baker in any sense of that word! If so, I would guess baking time needs to be adjusted. Any other adjustments you can think of?
    Thanks! Karen

  13. Hi there,
    I left a comment yesterday, but I don’t see it here so I’m guessing it didn’t make it through – trying again.
    Can this recipe be used to make a cake? Sorry if this is a silly question, I am not a baker! If so, what adjustments need to be made?
    Thank you! Karen

    • Hi Karen, I received your comment but we have been out of town so I didn’t have access to my site. Thank you for being patient and I’m sorry for the delay. It looks like you wanted to get baking! :)
      This will work fine in a nine inch round cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-35 minutes. Make sure the cake springs back in the center. Otherwise, if it isn’t “set” or baked through it may fall upon cooling and get really gummy in the center. Good luck! -Terris

  14. Looks delicious! I’m wondering if the frosting would hold up if piped onto cupcakes? How long would it be okay left at room temperature? Thanks for the amazing recipes!

    • Hi there, this is a fairly soft icing, so you could pipe it, but it won’t hold sharp edges. It can be at cool room temperature for a few hours, but will not hold up in warm temperature. If I frost a batch of theses cupcakes for a party I keep them in the refrigerator until about 45 minutes before serving to bring them to room temp. Hope this helps! Thanks for your comment.

  15. I made these today and they were amazing. I used coconut oil and xanthum gum with great results. I made a peanut butter frosting. My daughter now wants me to make these for her birthday.

  16. I have to give this recipe two thumbs up again. I made and froze these cupcakes about 2 mths ago. I thought they were good before but I pulled recently i pulled 3 out for a church outing two for my sons and one for a boy with egg allergies at church. They were having ice cream with what other than chocolate cake…perfect. I ended up eating my son’s (he was too busy playing) so I ate it for him and it was delicious no funny aftertaste moist chocolatey and no regret! I did use enjoy life chips bc I didn’t have cocoa powder.


  17. Wooooow!! I just tried out your recipe for my wheat, dairy vegan son. Only change I did was used 1 cup sorghum in the all purpose flour mix and omitted espresso and oil in ganache. 3 of them rose well and stayed in shape. Were soooo moist and yummy. But the other 7 of them crumbled as I turned it out of the silicon muffin pan. Too dry? What should I so next time?? Thanks so ooooo much!! My son loved it!!

    • Hi there, I’m so happy that you were able to make these for your son and that he enjoyed them. The sorghum shouldn’t cause any difference in the end product. Since 3 cupcakes rose well, and the remaining 7 didn’t, I’m thinking that the batter may not have been mixed thoroughly? It is hard for me to say without being there, but it definitely seems like something was different about the crumbly ones. Gluten free batters need to be mixed really thoroughly and can tolerate a lot of mixing since there is no danger of making the end product tough (like in typical wheat baking). These cupcakes are usually very moist and rich. So, if you do try again, I would leave the batter on your mixer for 1-2 minutes and scrape down the bowl frequently. Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

      • Hi,
        Thanks for the tip. That should be the reason because I did not use a mixer because i was scared of over mixing and making it dense. I suppose gluten requires us to over mix. Moreover, the crumbly cake was a little cakey too and I had to bake it for 40 min in order for the tooth pick to come clean.

      • Yes, the gluten-free batters almost need 2-3 times as much mixing. This helps activate the xanthan gum and really helps with texture and volume of the baked good. Often when there is a rising problem with a gluten free bread or cake, it is due to under mixing. That makes sense that it took more baking too because it doesn’t rise well it will take a long time for it to cook completely through. Best, Terris

  18. So good!! I added 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract and 1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips. Havent even made the frosting yet lol. Thanks for the recipe. I’ll be experimenting with your site for awhile. ^_^

  19. Hi! Thank you so much for your wonderful recipe! My church just celebrated a milestone anniversary, and I baked different cupcakes for dessert. We have people with allergy and dietary concerns, and I wanted to include something for them to be able to enjoy without worry as well. This was a hit, and I loved the texture and taste of it. Never having baked anything gluten-free AND vegan, I was so surprised at how wonderful they turned out, and it gave me motivation to learn more about this world of baking. I’m so glad I found your website! Thanks for doing what you do! : ]

  20. Moving from cupcakes to sheet cake for my sons party! I’m making a 9 by 13 two layers do I need to double or triple recipe?

  21. This recipe is A-M-A-Z-i-N-G!!!!! I am a professional pastry chef gone celiac. Kudos Free Eats. I have only tried the pizza and this recipe….. blown me out of the water. Thank you!

  22. Wacky Cake has been a lifesaver ever since the allergist out my daughter on an elimination trial for eggs and dairy. She is allergic to nuts and corn for sure and I found this post while searching for an icing recipe that didn’t use confectioner’s sugar. On the coconut milk is it the canned coconut milk or the carton in the dairy section? Would another nondairy milk work or only coconut milk? Normally I would just go out and buy some but we have a birthday party tonight and I just realized about the sugar while I was in the kitchen making the cupcakes. I’m just going to have to drizzle them with melted chocolate chips but it would be great to know for the future. Thanks!

  23. Lots of these ingredients are very “corny” (Canola oil, Enjoy life, baking soda) or have the potential to be seriously cross-contaminated (sugar, flour, espresso). Just wanted to flag so people don’t get into dangerous allergic situations! I could possibly go into anaphylactic shock with this recipe.

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