The Very Best Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Recipe

The Very Best Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Recipe

The impossibly light, moist and tender crumb of this cake makes it (yes, really) the very best gluten free vanilla cake you’ve ever had.

Really, I think it makes it the best vanilla cake recipe, period. But it does happen to be gluten free, after all.

This is the very best gluten free vanilla cake you will ever eat. A super moist, tender crumb, and it bakes perfectly every time!


Between September and February of any given year, there are birthdays upon birthdays in my family. Everybody gets to choose what sort of cake they’d like to celebrate with, but if you drag your feet—then I choose.

And I usually go old school, like this gluten free vanilla cake recipe or my one bowl gluten free chocolate cake. Every once in a while, I really get down to basics with my flourless chocolate cake.

But a chocolate cake as rich and fudgy as that flourless cake is only appropriate if the birthday boy or girl is a true chocolate lover.

This is the very best gluten free vanilla cake you will ever eat. A super moist, tender crumb, and it bakes perfectly every time!

Simple pantry ingredients

Like that gorgeous one bowl chocolate cake, the ingredients to the best gluten free vanilla cake are simple pantry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla.

Unlike chocolate cake, to get the best vanilla cake you’re going to have sift the dry ingredients (yes, you really do have to if you want that super tender, non-grainy crumb), and beat the heck out of the butter and sugar before you even think about adding anything else.

A stand mixer is great, but a handheld mixer works just as well provided you’re willing to stand there, beating and beating for at least 3 minutes.

This is the very best gluten free vanilla cake you will ever eat. A super moist, tender crumb, and it bakes perfectly every time!

Ingredients and substitutions

I’ve tried this cake every which way, and this is truly the best. If you need to modify the ingredients, of course the cake will be different.


For dairy-free, I recommend Spectrum nonhydrogenated butter-flavored vegetable shortening in place of butter. Try 1:1 by weight. You can also try vegan butter like Miyoko’s Kitchen or Melt brands.

You’ll need a buttermilk substitute. Try half unsweetened almond milk by volume and half nondairy plain yogurt in place of the buttermilk.

I really don’t like a simple milk + acid like lemon juice or vinegar as a buttermilk replacement. That only replaces the acid, but not the thickness of buttermilk. The half milk half yogurt swap is the best.

Maybe you’d like to make a white cake, instead of this yellow cake. My recipe for gluten free white cake is perfect for adding food coloring for a special occasion or for adding edible confetti for a homemade Funfetti cake. The video on this page is for that recipe, which is a variation of this recipe for gluten free yellow cake.


I have not tried this cake with an egg substitute. But I’m afraid I just can’t see working out very well since this cake is very egg-dependent.

My typical egg replacement suggestion is a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel). But this cake calls for mostly egg whites, and a chia egg is not an egg white substitute.

If you’re feeling adventuresome, you can try replacing the whole egg with a chia egg and the egg whites with slightly whipped aquafaba. Aquafaba is simply the brine from a can of chickpeas.

I’m working on a true vegan gluten free vanilla cake recipe. But in the meantime here we are. 🙂


In place of cornstarch, try arrowroot or even potato starch. If you are using a higher starch all purpose gluten free flour blend like Cup4Cup (or my mock Cup4Cup), replace the cornstarch in this recipe with an additional 54 grams of your flour blend.


Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 2 8-inch round cakes


2 cups (280 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (54 g) cornstarch*

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

10 tablespoons (140 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 egg whites (100 g) + 1 whole egg (50 g, weighed out of shell), at room temperature**

1 1/3 cups (10 2/3 fluid ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature

*A note about flours: If you are using a higher starch all purpose gluten free flour blend like Cup4Cup (or my mock Cup4Cup), replace the cornstarch in this recipe with an additional 54 grams of your flour blend.


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease 2 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each with a round of parchment paper (trace the perimeter of the cake pan on the parchment, then cut out the circle). Set the pans aside.

  • Into a medium-size bowl, sift (yes, you have to sift!) the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, baking soda and baking powder. Add the salt, and whisk to combine well. Set the dry ingredients aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed for at least 3 minutes, stopping at least once to scrape the entire mixture off the sides and bottom of the bowl, or until very light and fluffy. Combine the egg whites, egg and buttermilk in a small bowl, and whisk to combine well. To the large bowl with the butter and sugar mixture, add the dry ingredients in 4 equal portions, alternating with the buttermilk and egg mixture in 3 parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing to combine in between additions. The batter will sometimes look a bit curdled. Once all of the ingredients have been added, beat for another minute on medium speed to ensure that everything is combined, then turn over the batter a few times by hand. It should be very thickly pourable and relatively smooth.

  • Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared baking pans and smooth each into an even layer with an offset spatula. Place the baking pans in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the pans, and continue to bake until the cakes are lightly golden brown all over, have begun to pull away from the sides of the pan and do not jiggle in the center at all (about another 10 minutes). I find that these tests for doneness are more useful than the toothpick test.

  • Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack (and removing the parchment paper liners) to cool completely before frosting and serving. I frosted with 3 cups of a cream cheese buttercream frosting.


  • Marlena Feuz Amalfitano
    January 29, 2016 at 1:22 PM

    This is an excellent recipe – good crumb, nice and light, tasty, all good things. Tastes like the “other” cake

  • Mary B.
    January 25, 2016 at 12:54 PM

    I have bought two of Nicole’s books and tried lots of her recipes…just used a few this past Christmas as well. The results of her recipes are incredible. Not only are her recipes delicious and successful, but they don’t taste gluten free. I encourage anyone who is curious and hasn’t tried her books to support her efforts!

  • Jennifer S.
    January 25, 2016 at 12:25 PM

    another home run – -for those who like white cake (not me, though I eat it -teehee). I’m totally sticking with your chocolate devil’s food cake because Nicole – that cake is the bomb! But if someone ever asks for white cake – this will be my go to! :)

  • Kristen
    January 25, 2016 at 10:38 AM

    Looks great!!! I’ve purchased and would love to use up the Trader Joe’s GF AP flour and then buy what you recommend. Do you have any idea if it would work here? No worries if not. I’m new to all of this and have yet to try baking. Thanks!!!

    • January 25, 2016 at 11:12 AM

      Hi, Kristen,
      I actually reviewed the Trader Joe’s GF AP flour when it first came out (find it here), and I found it to be remarkably similar to King Arthur’s Multi-Purpose GF Flour. I’m afraid it’s not a very flattering comparison. I highly recommend against using it in this recipe as it’s quite an unbalanced blend (very starchy, more so than Cup4Cup even), and most importantly for a recipe like this, its rice flour is very gritty. You really need a superfine rice flour for a tender crumb. In fact, I think this recipe wouldn’t bake up the same at all using that flour. So sorry!

      • Kristeb
        January 25, 2016 at 11:35 AM

        Thank you so much! You saved me from ruining good butter :) I appreciate you replying. I’ll go read the reviews… Now… What to do with these 3 bags?!

        • January 25, 2016 at 11:57 AM

          That’s kind of a tough one, I’m afraid. You could try using it in my DIY Bisquick Mix, and just make the batter and let it sit so the rice grains can soften. I was so hopeful when I saw that TJs flour. :(

      • elky
        January 26, 2016 at 12:15 AM

        On a similar topic, I’ve been trying to make mock better batter with vitacost brand flours/starches and while they’re not gritty, everything is turning out dry. I’ve checked that I’m not under-measuring fluids, and then added an extra ounce of water to the no-rise yeast rolls and they were improved, not perfect. The batter for the cookie dough cupcakes was still way too thick even with extra fluid. Either it’s the vitacost flours being extra hygroscopic or my xanthum gum is superduper strength. So I’m trying to get my hands on some actual Better Batter instead of trying to build my own but stocks are low everywhere right now. I’ll have to bite the bullet and get a whole 5lb for trial.

        • Michelle Parker Howard
          January 26, 2016 at 12:03 PM

          No worries! You will love it. I just ordered 25 lbs ! (YIKES!)

  • Michelle Parker Howard
    January 25, 2016 at 10:37 AM

    Have you tried these as cupcakes by chance? Any difference in the method or cooking time?

    • January 25, 2016 at 11:10 AM

      Hi, Michelle,
      Actually, believe it or not I haven’t! I think they would probably work just fine, but I can’t be 100% sure. I would say keep the method precisely the same, fill the muffin wells 2/3 of the way full and start checking them at 18 minutes. Just an educated guess, though!

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