Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes with Vegan Buttercream

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If you have food allergies, it can be tough to find great recipes to send to school for parties. Make some of these Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes for your next birthday party or school event

image collage of vegan vanilla cupcakes with white vanilla frosting and gold and silver sprinkles

As some of you already know might know, I post a ton of vegan recipes and baked goodies, but I’m not a vegan. In our house we have multiple food allergies that mean we can’t always bake with eggs and dairy, along with peanut and tree nut allergies. Every person in our home has slightly different allergies and intolerances, so baking and eating out gets tricky!

This is also quite challenging when my kids go to birthday parties when there is cake and ice cream galore. It’s always hard to know what’s safe to eat and what’s not, so we usually end up packing them something sweet they can eat at parties.

overhead photo of vegan vanilla cupcakes topped with white buttercream and silver sprinkles

When my daughter and son had their birthday parties in elementary school, I needed to make something that fit their allergies but something that would also keep 20+ kids happy. That’s how these Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes came to be πŸ™‚

I tried a vegan cupcake recipe online, but the batter was too thin and they overflowed and sank in the middle – not so great looking! I was able to disguise this with frosting, but I decided to make my own recipe that worked better and was easier to make.

nut free vegan vanilla cupcakes on a wood board with a bite taken

Just a heads up, this recipe is not gluten free or sugar free! My kids can have gluten and wheat so I decided to make cupcakes that everyone (including the other children) would enjoy.

Want a gluten free cupcake recipe? Try our Gluten Free Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes, they are top 8 allergen free!

Making vegan vanilla cupcakes

This recipe makes 3 dozen cupcakes, but you can adjust the recipe to meet your needs if you need less. Since I was making cupcakes for a crowd at the time, this was perfect, but not everyone needs a bumper crop of cupcakes haha. Our recipe card has a nifty servings slider button, and I’ve also written the recipe for one dozen cupcakes underneath the recipe card as well.

cooling rack with unfrosted vegan vanilla cupcakes on top, next to a bowl of buttercream frosting

For these dairy free cupcakes, I use a 2-Tablespoon sized protein powder scoop to scoop the protein powder into the cupcake papers and it delivered the perfect amount of batter so these didn’t overflow. If you want to get fancy, you can use a batter dispenser for less mess!

The cupcakes baked right to the edge of the paper and it made 3 dozen cupcakes – pretty handy! These do not peak at the top like regular cupcakes since they don’t have eggs, and they are slightly more dense in the middle, but still so moist and delicious.

vegan nut free vanilla cupcakes with white frosting on a wood cutting board

These bake up great with regular cupcake papers, I haven’t tried these vegan cupcakes with silicone muffin/cupcake liners yet, but imagine they’d be just like our other cupcakes: our cupcakes bake fine in silicone muffin liners, but you don’t want to leave them in the silicone liners too long or they’ll sweat and get soggy on the bottom.

soy free vegan vanilla cupcake on a wood board with gold and silver sprinkles on top of white frosting

If you find that these are sinking in the middle too much, make sure you don’t overfill your muffin pan. And add about 1 Tablespoon more flour to the batter to help with sinking. 

This post is originally from June 2013, and we recently updated the photos and text. Here are some of the original photos:

tray of vegan vanilla cupcakes topped with pink frosting and cute sprinkles
Cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday party
large box of vegan vanilla cupcakes and vegan chocolate cupcakes with frosting and sprinkles
Cupcakes for my son’s birthday party

Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes (Dairy Free and Nut Free)

If you have food allergies, it can be tough to find good treats. Make some of these Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes for your next birthday party or school event!
Vegan, dairy free, nut free; Contains wheat; Free of: soy, dairy, nuts, eggs
4.91 from 31 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy free cupcakes, vanilla cupcakes, vegan cupcakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 33 minutes
Servings: 36 cupcakes
Calories: 56kcal

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Line muffin pan with muffin papers
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the rice milk, oil, and vanilla
  • Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Using a small measuring cup (protein powder scoops work really well), scoop the cupcake batter into the prepared muffin pan until each muffin cup is 2/3rd’s full. Make sure not to over-fill the pan otherwise the cupcake batter will overflow as it bakes.
  • Bake the cupcakes in the pre-heated oven for 17-19 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If you are using a stoneware pan, they may take a little bit longer to bake.
  • For chocolate cupcakes, reduce the flour by 1/4 cup and add 1/2 cup cocoa powder

Nutrition

Calories: 56kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Fat: 2g | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 72mg | Sugar: 3g | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 0.3mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @TheFitCookie or tag #TheFitCookie!

Recipe for one dozen Vegan Vanilla cupcakes:

We have a batch-size adjustment option on the recipe card, but to make it easier, here are the measurements for 1 dozen cupcakes:

  • 1 cup + 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup rice milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 2 Tablespoons oil (canola or olive)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions and bake times are the same 

wood cutting board with vegan vanilla cupcakes on top, with frosting and sprinkles

Making the vegan vanilla buttercream

Below is the recipe for the buttercream frosting. I love using the non-dairy butter flavored palm shortening from Spectrum, but if you can’t find the butter flavored kind, you can use the regular palm shortening and add a little imitation butter flavor. That’s totally optional and only if you want a dairy free buttery taste to the buttercream!

Sustainable palm shortening (solid palm oil) works the best to make this kind of buttercream frosting. It doesn’t have soy in it, it’s non-hydrogenated, and I use sustainable brands like Spectrum and Nutiva.

You can use non-dairy butter flavored coconut oil instead of palm shortening, but I can’t guarantee the results. Coconut oil is not as shelf stable and frosting made with it separates easier. If you make it with coconut oil, don’t beat it too much (it will melt if you mix it a lot), and you might have to use more powdered sugar.

Vegan Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Contains sugar, Vegan, Gluten-free; Free of: soy, dairy, nuts, eggs
4.96 from 24 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy free buttercream, vegan buttercream frosting
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 24 Tablespoons
Calories: 99kcal

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, beat the palm oil with a hand held blender until creamy
  • Blend in the powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, and rice milk, and cream together until well blended
  • Adjust the consistency of the frosting by adding more rice milk to thin it or adding more powdered sugar to make it thicker.
  • For chocolate buttercream frosting, replace 1/4 cup of the powdered sugar with 1/4-1/2 cup cocoa powder, depending on how dark you want the chocolate flavor

Notes

*If you don’t want to use palm oil, you can use completely softened dairy free butter and omit imitation butter flavor. You may need to add a bit more powdered sugar to get the stiffness/structure in the frosting that you prefer.

Nutrition

Calories: 99kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 0g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 2mg | Sugar: 14g | Iron: 0mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @TheFitCookie or tag #TheFitCookie!

87 thoughts on “Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes with Vegan Buttercream”

  1. Hi Sarah,
    Would the cupcakes turn out the same if I substituted cane sugar with castor sugar? I would like to avoid buying cane sugar since I don’t use it normally and I’m making this for a school event.
    Thanks for your help.

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    These are so good. I made both the vanilla and choc versions today (with a pinch cinammon in my choc and extra vanilla in the plain ones). They were very tasty with a nice texture. I also substituted half the oil with vegan butter and omitted the salt just out of curiosity and it worked. Thanks for a great vegan recipe!

    Reply
  3. Could I use this recipe to make a cake? I’m looking for a vegan, nut-free, and chocolate-free recipe to make a cake for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary! Help! πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Hi Laura! You can make this recipe into a full sized cake. You’d make the full recipe of batter for 3 dozen cupcakes, and put it in 2 8-inch or 9-inch pans then bake about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted comes out clean. We’ve made this into a full cake before and it’s good! They are more dense than a cake with eggs, but it’s delicious and easy to put together πŸ™‚

      Reply
  4. 5 stars
    Thank you for a simple, yummy recipe. I’ve made them twice in the past couple of weeks and both times they turned out great.

    Reply
  5. 5 stars
    It worked! I’ve gone through so many mixes, and none of them even come close to ease of this recipe. It’s so unfussy, I forgot to add the non dairy milk and did water instead (force of habit). They rose beautifully and had a nice crumb. Thank you so very much for sharing. I did use your smaller batch recipe. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  6. 5 stars
    Hello!
    I’ve been making this recipe for my daughter’s preschool class as several students have allergies.

    Would it be possible to make it in a square pan or round pans? Have you done that before? Trying to make either a cross or bunny for their Easter party.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Krista! I’ve made this recipe in circle pans before for a layer cake, it has been a while since I’ve done that, so I can’t remember how long I baked it for in the circle pans. I would try baking them in a bigger pan at 25 minutes then check to see if it’s done (inserting a toothpick in the middle should come clean). If not, then you can bake it 3-5 minutes more at a time till it’s done. Let me know how it turns out for you! πŸ™‚

      Reply
    • Hi Jannat, this recipe calls for rice milk, but you can use any milk that you like in this recipe. Dairy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk in the carton will work just as well (water even works if you are out of milk).

      Reply
    • Hi Amelia! Palm oil is the best choice for frosting like this since it holds up better at room temperature than coconut oil and doesn’t melt when you beat it with a mixer. But you can try using coconut oil, the results won’t be quite the same, and you might have to use more powdered sugar to hold it together.

      Reply
    • Hi Luke! I haven’t tried using gluten-free flour in this recipe yet so I can’t guarantee the results, but I bet a gluten-free all purpose flour blend would work okay in this recipe if it had a binder in it (like xanthan gum).

      Reply
  7. Great recipe, Sarah! I would love to try it, but do you think I can make it in a Bundt pan instead of cupcakes? I’m looking for a rice milk cake recipe to make in a Bundt pan (I just got a new one and want to try it πŸ™‚ Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Silviya! You could try this in a bundt pan. I’ve made this recipe into a full sized cake before with good results. Make sure to bake it a bit longer, and the inside will be more dense than a regular cake since there are no eggs for lift. Make sure to grease and flour your bundt pan generously first to make sure the cake comes out πŸ™‚ Let me know how it goes!

      Reply
  8. Cupcakes! These are so cute for a birthday or just anytime. I’ve never made cupcakes without eggs. Are they denser than a “typical” cupcake, do you think?

    Reply
  9. WOW…that is A LOT of cupcakes….bet the kids were thrilled. They sound delicious and look amazing. My grandson asked for vanilla cupcakes for his birthday too.

    Reply
    • Hi Fahmida! Here are the measurements for 1 dozen (12) cupcakes:

      1 cup + 3 Tablespoons flour
      1/2 cup sugar
      2 teaspoons baking powder
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      2/3 cup rice milk (or other non-dairy milk)
      2 Tablespoons oil (canola or olive)
      1 teaspoon vanilla

      Instructions and bake times are the same πŸ™‚

      Reply
        • Hi Lindsy! Here are the measurements for 1 dozen chocolate cupcakes:
          1 cup + 1 Tablespoons flour
          4 Tablespoons cocoa powder

          1/2 cup sugar

          2 teaspoons baking powder

          1/4 teaspoon salt

          2/3 cup rice milk (or other non-dairy milk)
          
2 Tablespoons oil (canola or olive)

          1 teaspoon vanilla
          Instructions and bake times are the sameΒ 
          If the batter seems too runny, you can add another 1 Tablespoon flour to thicken the batter a bit

          Reply
  10. Thanks so much for this recipe. I can’t wait to try it for my egg/dairy allergy son! Have you tried to freeze the baked cupcakes? It would be great to be able to make them in advance and then just grab one from the freezer when he has a party to attend so that he has a dessert to eat with all the other kids.

    Reply
    • Hi Stacy! Thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚ These do freeze well, you can make a batch and freeze them for later. They should thaw out at room temperature or you can put it in the microwave for 20 seconds or so to thaw 1 or 2 of them

      Reply
  11. I was wondering if I could use butter flavored crisco in this recipe instead of the oil? If it would still give it a good tasting flavor. I also was wondering in the cake if I could use Coconut Milk instead of the rice milk?

    Reply
    • HI Brittani, you can use coconut milk to replace the rice milk, just use the same amount. As for Crisco, I don’t know how that would turn out since I used a liquid oil in this recipe and Crisco is a solid at room temp and it doesn’t melt readily. This will change the texture of the cupcake batter. You can try it, but I can’t guarantee the results.

      I don’t use Crisco in my baking because it has hydrogenated soybean oil in it, but Spectrum makes a natural palm shortening that comes in butter flavor that makes a nice substitute for Crisco. I use the Spectrum palm oil in frosting. If you want butter flavor in the cupcakes while still using a liquid oil, you can also use imitation butter flavor/extract, melted Earth Balance Soy-Free Margarine, or melted butter flavored coconut oil from NOW Foods instead of using butter-flavored Crisco. Those all have good flavor and are healthy, too, and should keep the texture the same

      Reply
    • I use light tasting olive oil in this recipe, but you can use coconut oil in this recipe if it is melted then mixed in as a liquid, or if you can find liquid coconut oil. It may change the texture slightly but not much

      Reply
  12. 5 stars
    These have become my “to go”recipe every time we give or are invited to a party, my son had dairy allergy and he feels so happy every time I make them. Now every time I open this page and see your family picture I feel like you are just another friend of us. Thanks for sharing your recipes.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for your kind words, it really means a lot to me! <3 If you can think of any other recipes you would love to see re-made to be allergy-friendly, let me know. I love getting new ideas πŸ™‚

      Reply
  13. 5 stars
    Made these tonight for my daughter who has a severe dairy and nut allergy. Turned out really well! Thanks for the recipe. I found the cupcakes stuck to the cupcake liner paper a bit does that mean I need more oil? Also I used vanilla soy milk instead of rice and left out the vanilla essence.
    Thanks again πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Hi Nya, I’m so glad this recipe worked out for you! I have found that the papers will stick a bit for a while, but after the cupcakes are completely cooled they usually come off well. If they don’t come out good, you could try adding more oil, but it would change the texture of the cupcakes. I would maybe try spraying the bottoms of the papers lightly with a little bit of oil or non-stick spray and see if that helps πŸ™‚

      Reply
  14. I am so happy to have found this recipe! I will be making these on Saturday for my son’s 2nd birthday! He was recently diagnosed with a dairy/egg/soy allergy and I was afraid birthday cupcakes would not be an option! thank you!!

    Reply
  15. I see you advise to frost the day they would be eaten. Can this recipe be used to make a cake? And, why frost the day of? I would need to frost and decorate the cake the night before for a long drive the following day . It is for the birthday party of a 7 year old whose sister is allergic to nuts and dairy. Please advise. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Jill! You can certainly make this recipe into a cake (I did this for my son’s latest birthday). I made 2/3 the recipe and it made 2 9-inch round cakes for a layered cake. Just bake it a bit longer and check your cakes to make sure they are cooking in the middle by using a toothpick or cake tester.

      I recommended frosting the cakes the day of because of the particular buttercream frosting I used with this recipe (the recipe that is written below the cake recipe). That particular frosting recipe tends to get soft and could make the cupcakes/cake a bit soggy after a while. You can avoid this by using a different frosting recipe or by replacing the Earth Balance in the frosting with more palm oil. I used Earth Balance for that nice butter flavor (without the butter of course), but to keep this frosting from getting too soft you can use all palm oil. The recommendation was made because of the frosting, not necessarily the cake, so you should be fine if you make sure your frosting doesn’t get runny as it warms up. This is why palm oil is better than coconut oil for this frosting if it’s warm outside. Let me know how it goes!

      Reply
      • adding Crisco to the icing with the spectrum soy free palm oil will help give body to the icing, so it holds up better for decorating and weather.

        a good alternative to no eggs, if you want anything a bit more moist without adding more oil (I am looking at trying this recipe with weekend) is adding in bananas or unsweetened apple sauce, as they are a binder/egg replacement, and do not change the texture much.

        Reply
        • Thanks for the tips! I avoid Crisco, however, since it is hydrogenated and uses soybean oil, which my son and I have an intolerance to. You can give this a try with bananas or applesauce, I haven’t used those in this recipe so I can’t say whether they will turn out the same, but let me know if you do try it! There is enough gluten in this recipe that there typically is no need for an added binder, the oil and rice milk add enough moisture and the right texture and these hold together quite well. But if these were made gluten-free a binder would be necessary.

          Reply
  16. These look so yummy! I’m planning to make these for my brother and his friends, because my brother is allergic to dairy. I tried to find other cupcake recipes using rice milk, but I couldn’t find any! Thank you so much for posting this πŸ™‚

    Reply
  17. Instead of milk, could u use just water?? Please reply ASAP, I’m making cupcakes tomorrow morning, have no milk and these sound amazing

    Reply
  18. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! Thank you so much. Finally an egg free recipe that actually rises properly and tastes fantastic xxxxxx My son is sooooo happy.

    Reply
    • Yep, these would be fine baked the night before. Just be sure that the cupcakes cool completely before storing in a container otherwise they will sweat a bit. I would recommend frosting these right before you need them, depending on the frosting you are using, for the best results.

      Reply
  19. Are you not aware that palm oil cultivation can be harmful to the environment–jungles and rainforests are often burned and destroyed, and orangutan and other wildlife habitats harmed? Just sayin’.

    Reply
    • Thanks bunches! Fortunately I don’t bake these too often or I couldn’t keep my mits off them! πŸ˜‰

      Reply

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