My Go-To Vanilla Cupcakes I Made For My Son’s First Birthday {Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Option}

By Sara McGlothlin

I wish I could have included “And He Loved Them!” to the title of this post. Honestly, I was a little nervous as I served Mason his birthday cupcake. I think there is a lot of pressure put on this milestone moment. A mom wants the memory of their newly turned toddler eating their birthday baked good, icing smashed all over their chubby cheeks. At least I did! He has shown signs of a texture aversion, so I was worried how it would turn out. He likes muffins, so I was hopeful. I am happy to say he ate and enjoyed!

My son is not fully gluten- and dairy-free, but I have an affinity for Healthified baking, so I wanted to be in charge of making his cupcakes. These were loved by everyone, so I know they will be my go-to recipe from here on out. They are too good not to share!

Strawberry Cupcakes {Grain-free, Paleo}

These strawberry cupcakes are a delightful treat this time of year. Almond flour, coconut flour, and tapioca flour are what I call the paleo baking trifecta, and offer a grain-free and more blood sugar balancing blend to this baked good. Fresh strawberry puree provides a natural sweetness that shines through in every bite. Frost with a plant-based and paleo-friendly frosting.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 24 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 44 minutes
Course Dessert
Servings 10 cupcakes


  • muffin tin
  • hand mixer or stand mixer
  • whisk


For the cupcakes:

  • ½ cup dairy-free milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, stems removed and halved makes ~1 cup puree
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • ¼ cup coconut nectar or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • ½ cup coconut oil, room temperature
  • ½ cup grass-fed butter, room temperature can sub with vegan butter or palm shortening
  • 1/2 cup vegan or regular cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch or tapioca flour


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the dairy-free milk with the apple cider vinegar. Set aside.
  • Place the strawberries in a food processor and blend until a puree is formed, scraping down the sides and pulsing as you need to until smooth (if there are still some strawberry chunks, that is OK). Transfer the puree to a small bowl or measuring cup (it should yield about 1 cup). Note: you will use 3/4 cup for the cupcakes, and 1/4 cup for the frosting.
  • In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix the almond flour, coconut sugar, coconut flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to blend.
  • In the medium mixing bowl with the apple cider vinegar mixture, add the beaten eggs, 3/4 cup of the strawberry puree, coconut nectar or maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Whisk until creamy.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the flour mixture. Beat until a batter is formed, increasing the speed as needed.
  • Transfer the batter into the cupcake liners, filling the cups about two-thirds to three-quarters of the way full. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to slightly cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the muffin tin, before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting, about 1-2 hours.
  • Make the frosting. In a large bowl, combine the coconut oil and grass-fed butter. Beat with a hand mixer until fluffy, about 30 seconds. You can also use a whisk to beat by hand.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and beat again, using a spatula to scrape down the sides as needed.
  • Using a spatula, mix the frosting. Frost the cooled cupcakes immediately, or transfer the frosting to the refrigerator for 10 minutes for a denser texture.


Storage: Place frosted cupcakes in an airtight container and store at room temperature for 1 day. To make them up to 3 days in advance, store unfrosted cupcakes in the fridge until ready to frost. Make the frosting when ready to serve, or store it in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Stir before using and 10 minutes before frosting, place the frosting in the refrigerator for a denser texture, if desired. Once chilled in the fridge, the frosting will harden, so it is best frosted and served at room temperature.
Prep Tip: The frosting can be easily spread with a spoon or knife. You can also place the frosting in a plastic sandwich bag and cut a small corner off one end. Squeeze to pipe.
Keyword Dairy-free optional, Gluten-free, Grain-free, Soy-free

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