Calling all lemon lovers! These moist lemon cupcakes with the most delicious dairy-free lemon “cream cheese” frosting are drool worthy. Add to the fact they start with a gluten-free box mix, and only need three ingredients for the cake, you’ll be busting out this lemon delight ALL the time. These Gluten Free Vegan 3 Ingredient Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon “Cream Cheese” Frosting are free of: gluten, wheat, dairy, egg, peanut, and tree nuts!
When you want an allergy-friendly baked good, but you need it fast and with as few of ingredients as possible–THIS IS IT. Cupcakes are great for birthdays–or any occasion really–and will be your allergy mom time saver!
I’ll admit that I’m late to the lemon loving game. I was always such a die-hard chocolate fan that I left little room for much else. Thanks to maturity (and perhaps some pregnancy hormones?) these cupcakes are all I want. Is it silly I was SO excited for my little girl’s birthday yesterday so that I had an excuse to make (and devour) these?
The fact that these cupcakes are such a breeze to make, and include this ETHEREAL lemon cream cheese frosting they’ll be all you’ll want to make too. Seriously–I was never a fan of lemon frosting until I tried it with cream cheese in it. It tones down the brightness and makes it the PERFECT sweet vs. tart in my opinion! My husband says they remind him of a lemon zinger or one of his old hostess favorites and we seriously eat more than the kids!
Because boxed gluten-free cake mixes are so easy to find, this is the type of recipe I’d give to my mom or anyone else that wants to bake for us, but might not have an allergy-friendly stocked pantry, so they’re not buying an entire bag of xanthan gum, or egg replacer if they don’t need to bake this way very often. Be sure to share it with others! And remember–many store bought frostings are actually top-8-free since they just use shortening, so if someone didn’t want to make frosting from scratch, they could easily top these with a store-bought frosting.
Commonly asked questions about how to make these Gluten Free Vegan 3 Ingredient Lemon Cupcakes:
- Do these need an egg replacer? No!!!! Hallelujah!! The carbonation from the lemon-lime soda gives the airy-ness and binding that an egg usually does! It’s so great to not have to have any specialty ingredients on hand.
- Does it matter what type of boxed gluten-free mix you use? I prefer Krusteaz (unsponsored) because I can find it at Walmart and it’s not super expensive. I’ve only tested this recipe with their brand, but I have used King Arthur in this vanilla cupcake version and it worked just as well. Just be sure to read the labels, some brands, like Pillsbury are gluten-free, but use powdered milk. If you try something else, be sure to pay attention, as lots of cake mixes have differing amounts. My recipe calls for an 18-ounce box.
- Which lemon extract do you use for the gluten-free vegan lemon cupcakes? I have used several extracts, with no problems, but I did enjoy using this one.
- Does it matter what soda you use? No. I’ve used both brand name Sprite, as well as the generic Twist Up. You just want to make sure that it’s a fresh bottle, so that there is as much carbonation as possible and that it’s not flat.
- Do I need to use food coloring? No–this is purely optional. I don’t usually, but did use a few drops for the photos just to help them pop better from the white background.
Commonly asked questions about making the Dairy Free Lemon “Cream Cheese” Frosting:
- What type of dairy-free cream cheese do you recommend: I prefer Tofutti or Go Veggie (sorry can’t link to them since they are not shelf stable. I find them at Smith’s, Sprouts, & Whole Foods). Both of those contain soy, so if you cannot do soy, there’s Daiya which is made from coconut.
- What if I can’t find a dairy-free cream cheese? Then, I would recommend using either my dairy-free vanilla buttercream as is, or adding in a few drops of lemon extract into my vanilla buttercream recipe as that is top-8-free.
- Do I need both the lemon juice and lemon extract? I think so. I think just pure lemon extract can taste really artificial. But, I’m sure you could make due if you only have one or the other by tasting and adjusting the amount of powdered sugar to make up for the addition or lesser amounts of liquid.
- Can I use something other than coconut oil in the dairy free lemon cream cheese frosting? Yes. You can use spectrum shortening for a top-8-free oil, or your favorite vegan butter. I find the latter to be more expensive and harder to find, and I always have coconut oil in my pantry. If it’s a hot day, coconut oil does melt faster than the other fats, once frosted so you’ll want to keep these chilled or max room temperature until serving.
How do I make the Gluten Free Vegan 3 Ingredient Lemon Cupcakes?
- Pour the boxed gluten-free yellow cake mix into a large mixing bowl.
- Pour the lemon extract and soda on top.
- Mix gently, so that you don’t knock out all of the air bubbles.
- Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until they are cooked all the way through.
- Cool in the pan for five minutes.
- Turn out onto a cooling wrack to cool completely until they are cool enough to frost. Or, freeze for another time.
- If freezing, thaw completely, then frost when ready to serve.
How do I make the dairy free lemon “cream cheese” frosting?
- In a stand mixer, beat the coconut oil and dairy free cream cheese together.
- Next, add the pinch of salt, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon extract. Mix until blended.
- Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.
- You can add a little less or more powdered sugar to reach your desired thickness (depending on if you’re simply frosting or piping).
- Frost when it’s room temperature, but keep chilled unless using or serving to avoid melting.
Looking for more allergy-friendly cupcake recipes? Try these other favorites:
- The Best Allergy Friendly Chocolate Cupcakes
- Gluten Free Vegan Yellow Cupcakes
- Allergy-friendly Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes
- 1 18-oz Krusteaz gluten free yellow cake mix
- 2 tsp lemon extract
- 15 oz Sprite (or other lemon-lime soda)
Dairy Free Lemon "Cream Cheese" Frosting:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease a muffin tin, or line it with paper liners to avoid the cupcakes sticking.
- In a large mixing bowl, pour the contents of the gluten-free box mix.
- Add the lemon extract and lemon-lime soda.
- Stir gently, to avoid knocking out all of the bubbles.
- Grease a 1/4 cup measuring cup and use that to equally pour the batter into each cupcake well.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until edges are brown and center is cooked through.
- Take the muffin tin out of the oven and allow the cupcakes to cool inside the tin for five minutes.
- Afterwards, turn them out onto a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
- Meanwhile, make the frosting.
DAIRY FREE LEMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the coconut oil and dairy free cream cheese.
- Add the vanilla, lemon juice, lemon extract and pinch of salt. Blend.
- Add the powdered sugar, a little at a time and beat until everything is smooth and incorporated. You can thin it with a little rice milk (or other safe milk alternative) or add a little more powdered sugar depending on your consistency needs.
- Frost the cupcakes and keep at room temperature or chilled to avoid the frosting melting.
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