An easy gluten-free yellow cake recipe. Dairy-free. Perfect for birthdays and other special occasions.
Why You’ll Love This Gluten-Free Yellow Cake
This is an easy one-bowl gluten-free cake recipe. Unlike my gluten-free white cake, which is amazing, but requires several specific steps, this recipe is similar to a box mix. You mix all the ingredients in one bowl, give the batter a mix, and bake. It’s easy enough to make on a busy weeknight and yummy enough to be served at birthday parties. There’s a lot to love with this cake.
- Easy to make. It’s a one-bowl recipe.
- Moist (not gummy!).
- Tender with a tight, soft crumb.
- Perfect for birthday parties.
Gluten-Free Yellow Cake: Key Ingredients
Gluten-Free Flour. I developed this recipe with Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour blend. This blend is easy to find and affordable. If you use a different flour blend, you might experience different results. Look for a flour blend that contains xanthan or guar gum. Without these ingredients, the cake won’t rise as high.
Granulated Sugar: For the best flavor, texture, and color, use regular granulated sugar. Cane sugar (also called sugar in the raw) may be used in this recipe. The cake will have a darker color and a slight caramel flavor. Brown sugar should be avoided as it contains moisture from the molasses that will affect the texture of the cake.
Vegetable Oil. This cake recipe uses liquid vegetable oil. It gives the cake a moist and tender crumb. Avoid olive oil or any other strong flavored oil. (Unless you want the cake to taste like olive oil, of course.)
Vanilla Extract. To achieve the classic yellow cake flavor, the recipe uses vanilla extract. If you prefer an almond flavor, replace the vanilla extract with half almond extract and half vanilla extract.
Gluten-Free Yellow Cake: Tips for Success
- Grease the cake pans. Coat the cake pans with nonstick cooking spray or brush with solid shortening and dust with gluten-free flour.
- Whisk the dry ingredients. Take a minute to whisk together the dry ingredients together. This ensures that the baking powder is evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Folks tend to rush through this step. If I can encourage you to do one thing, it would be to slow down and whisk the mixture for a minute. And I mean a minute. Use the timer on your phone and whisk, whisk, whisk.
- Check the bottom of the bowl for dry flour. Gluten-free flour loves to cling to the bottom of a mixing bowl. Before pouring the batter into the prepared pans, take a spatula and scrape the bottom of the bowl. If you see streaks of flour, stir them into the batter.
- Cool the cakes on a wire rack. After removing the cakes from the oven, allow them to cool in the pan for about five minutes. At this point, they are really delicate. Removing them from the pan right away can cause them to break. After five minutes, turn them out onto a wire rack to cool. This allows the steam to escape from the cakes. If they remain in the pan, the steam can cause the cakes to stick.
- Let the cake cool before frosting. Before frosting your cake, make sure it’s totally cool. The center of the cake loves to hold on to heat. Take your hand and place it on the center of the cake, the way you’d place your hand on a baby’s back. If it feels warm, don’t frost it yet. A warm cake + frosting=melted, messy frosting.
Gluten-Free Yellow Cake: FAQs
Can I make this cake without eggs?
I haven’t tested the cake egg-free, sorry.
Can I make this cake with a sugar substitute?
I haven’t tested the recipe with a sugar replacement.
Can I use this recipe to make cupcakes?
Yes. Directions for making cupcakes are included below in the notes section of the recipe.
Can I use this recipe to make a sheet cake?
You sure can! It makes a 9×13-inch sheet cake. Directions for baking are included below the recipe.
Gluten-Free Yellow Cake
For the Gluten-Free Yellow Cake
- 2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend, see note (12 1/2 ounces; 355 grams)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces; 298 grams)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup vegetable oil (7 ounces; 198 grams)
- 2/3 cup water or milk (5 1/3 ounces; 150 grams)
- 4 large eggs (about 8 ounces out of shell; 226 grams)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Frosting
- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (16 ounces; 453 grams)
- 3/4 cup Dutch-process or natural cocoa powder, sifted (2 1/4 ounces; 65 grams)
- 1 cup butter or dairy-free butter replacement, softened (8 ounces; 226 grams)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup milk, water, or coffee plus more as needed, see note (2 ounces; 56 grams)
Preheat oven and prepare the cake pans. Adjust oven rack to center position. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans with gluten-free nonstick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Make the Batter. Whisk together gluten-free flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla extract. Blend until smooth.
Bake the Cakes. Divide batter equally between the two prepared cake pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Cool. Remove pans from the oven. Allow cakes to cool in the pan for five minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Prepare chocolate frosting. Whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a small bowl.
Beat butter for 30 seconds on high speed until light. Stop mixer. Add powdered sugar mix and milk or coffee. Mix, on low speed, until creamy. If frosting seems dry, add additional milk or coffee until smooth and creamy.
Frost Cake. When cake is cool, fill and frost the cake.
Gluten-Free Flour Blend
This recipe was tested with Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour Blend. Replacing the flour with another brand might change the texture of the cake. Be sure to use a flour blend that contains xanthan gum. If it doesn't, add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum to the flour. Whisk to combine. Then use as directed.
Sheet Cake Directions
Lightly grease a 9 x13-inch pan. Bake the cake until golden brown about 40. Allow cake to cool in the pan. Prepare frosting as directed above and frost cake when cool.
Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners. Spoon batter into muffin cups, about 2/3 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Prepare frosting and frost cupcakes when cool.
5 stars! I’m definitely saving the recipe for later. I believe the cake is so moist and tender. I especially like that it’s gluten and dairy free. I’ll probably make it tomorrow. Lucky me, I have all the ingredients at home.
Many thanks for the utterly fabulous recipes! Your blog is amazing! Looking forward to your new ideas <3
Best birthday cake ever! So easy to make!!
Not being a big chocolate fan ( I know hard to believe!) I made a lemon frosting and put raspberry seedless jam between layers and to decorate.
Thank you Elizabeth!!!! Despite being unable to celebrate with friends and family this made my birthday amazing!!
Wendy Schmidt says
“oily cake, oily cake
eat a slice
get a tummy ache”
After a midnight cake baking session, I can only guess that the ingredients are listed incorrectly? A cup of oil!! If it hadn’t been so late, I might have questioned the oil amount…as the gram weight for the the cocoa powder in the icing was also incorrect, but I just happily followed the recipe as I’ve made other things using your recipes and been so pleased. I don’t know….it is possible this heavy cake just isn’t to my liking….maybe,
but I won’t be trying this one again – sorry Elizabeth. Love your stuff usually.
You’re right. The cocoa powder amount was a typo. It’s been updated. Thanks for catching that.
As for the oil, it’s correct. One cup of oil or two sticks of butter is the traditional amount used for yellow cake.
May I ask what gluten-free flour you used?
Sorry that this cake wasn’t to your liking.
Wendy Schmidt says
I used a gluten free mix that has the same ingredients as Bob’s 1 to 1, although probably not in the specific amounts. It’s possibke thats the issue.
Thanks for your reply.
Good to know. Flour blends can really impact the final texture. Again, sorry it wasn’t to your liking.
CAN I SUBSTITUTE 2 STICKS OF BUTTER INSTEAD OF OIL, SINCE BUTTER HAS MORE FLAVOR
Yes! Melt the butter and allow it to cool slightly. The texture of a butter cake will be a bit denser than one made with oil but the flavor will be lovely. Enjoy!
Christie Eddins says
Do you have a way to turn this into a chocolate cake?
I don’t! But I have a recipe for gluten-free chocolate cake.
Hi. I have two questions for you. First, would you substitute dairy free margarine for the butter in order to keep it dairy free or just go with the oil? I was looking to add a little density like butter does but without the dairy.
Second, I have been having trouble getting Bobs One to One lately but found an 8 pound bag of King Arthur Gluten Free Flour at Bjs. Have you received any feedback about substituting KAF for Bobs?
Thanks so much
Good questions! You can always try a dairy-free spread but I don’t think it will give you the pound cake texture you’re looking for.
As for the King Arthur Flour, people really like it. However, until the Bob’s flour, it does not contain any xanthan gum. This can spell trouble for cake recipes. I’d add one (1) teaspoon xanthan gum to the recipe if you want to use the King Arthur Flour.
Made for my son’s birthday today. It’s his favorite type of cake and it was a hit. This will become his gluten free cake from this point forward. I used the flour listed and wisked, wisked, and wisked as noted. So easy to make.
hi, elizabeth i’m trying this recipe for my cell model project and i am gluten-free so i was excited when i saw this recipe, can’t wait to try it. 🙂
I made this according to the directions in the recipe, using 1/2 milk and 1/2 water and King Arthur GF flour plus 1 tsp. xanthan gum. I made the cake in two round 8″ pans, which took about 7 min. longer to bake than in the instructions. I frosted the two layers separately and there was quite a bit more frosting than what I needed. The cake was even better after a couple of days.
Lisa Cobb says
I was out of Bob’s 1-1 Baking flour so I used Pillsbury Brand. Turned out great for cupcakes. Kind of like a lighter, sweeter corn muffin.
I just tried the recipe. I love the texture but I am surprised by a very strong bitter taste. I used olive oil, which never bothers me in cake, and only half of the sugar. Can it come from that? It’s the first time I use this gluten free flour (the same that you use), does it have a bitter taste in general? The flour also have a strong smell, is it normal?
The flour shouldn’t have a strong odor or flavor. It’s a very neutral flour. If it has an offputting odor, it might be best to try another bag.
Made this recipe last night because I’d yet to come across a good gluten free yellow cake and it was delicious. Definitely going to make this again with some chocolate chips inside.
Also, I made a batch egg free using the ‘science egg’ (2 Tbs Water + 2 Tsp Baking Powder + 1 Tsp Oil per egg) and it worked like a charm! Turned a lovely golden color on top and expanded like a good cake should during baking.
Anna G says
Loved this cake! I used a different (homemade) GF flour blend I’ve been experimenting with and wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but the cake was moist, light and fluffy, and had a perfect crumb. Would definitely make again!
I’m trying this case today,but there is a discrepancy in the flour measurement. it says 2 1/2 cups flour, but then says its 12 1/2 ounces, which aren’t the same amount. Is it 1 1/2 cups flour?
There’s no discrepancy. One cup of gluten-free flour weighs 5 ounces. So 2 1/2 cups is 12 1/2 ounces. Hope that clears things up!
Stephanie Ann Jirka-Johnson says
Love it! Light and fluffy
Ariana Wharton says
I tried this with Bobs GF Baking flour and it looked gorgeous but the crumb ended up becoming gummy in my mouth. I’m going to try with Bobs GF AP flour and see if that makes a difference because I wasn’t sure which one you used. Thank you for this recipe!
Used Cup 4 Cup flour blend and achieved excellent results. I was worried that the batter was gummy, but I trusted that the recipe was tried and frue. Sure happy that I got raves..Thank you for sharing!
MICHELE FLEMING says
This cake was delicious! It’s super moist and no one knew it was gluten free. I’ll be making this again.
Unfortunately, baked this for my husband’s birthday yesterday and it was a failure. The only sub I did was Lakanto for sugar and cut back on that by 1/4 cup. It turned out horribly sweet, hard as a brick, oily, dense, flat, chokingly dry, ( probably overbaked because it still appeared gummy in the center at 25-30 minutes). Sigh. The ongoing trials and tribulations of gluten-free baking. Your GF one bowl chocolate cake, however, is one of my favorites!
Using Lakanto for sugar is a huge change for a gluten-free recipe. Sugar adds moisture to baked goods. So I’m not surprised to learn it turned out dense and dry without sugar.
Hi Elizabeth, I’m sure this recipe is actually a 5 star! Yes, it was probably the Lakanto. I have used it in other recipes and it sometimes works-it seems to be a matter of ‘is it going to be my lucky day today?’ I salvaged the cake for shortcakes. I’m moving on to your almond flour yellow cake and will use coconut sugar. Thank you for the great recipes! So appreciated!