This dairy-free, gluten-free vanilla cake is as stunning as it is scrumptious! Whether you are looking for a beautiful gluten free cake for your next birthday party, celebration, or wedding cake base, this will be just what you need. Come see why bakeries love making this recipe for their customers!

Two frosted slices of gluten free vanilla cake on white plates.

My daughter is very artistic, and she creates gorgeous mandala designs. I am so excited she made a mandala design out of sprinkles for this cake. No matter how you decorate it, this gluten free vanilla cake is going to impress! I am happy to say this cake is also dairy-free! Just use dairy-free frosting if you can’t have dairy.

If you love cake as much as we do, you will want to check out all of my gluten free cake recipes on the blog :-).

What sets my recipe apart:

  • This cake is special. It is perfect for a birthday and fancy enough to be a wedding cake! This is my family’s favorite cake for any party!
  • My cake turns out fluffy, light, and full of pure vanilla flavor! It tastes like it came from an expensive bakery!
  • You can make this cake as a vanilla cake or a white cake. See the below FAQ for how to adapt this easy cake recipe to be a white cake.
  • Make it in just 1 hour and 10 minutes!

Allergen Information:

This homemade vanilla cake is gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, oat-free, and soy-free.

Make It Vegan!

I’m a professional chef/baker and was looking for a great gf/vegan cake for our special clients with special needs. I researched plenty through the years and I absolutely loved this recipe. I subbed Bob’s Mill egg replacement and used lactose free half and half instead of milk, used half tsp salt and extra vanilla. It’s simple to make and one of the best gf cakes I’ve had. I made sure not to over mix. Thanks for this recipe!!! I’m keeping it my rotation.”

Laura, blog comment
A cake decorated with turquoise bead-like sprinkles.

As I mentioned, this gluten free cake is perfect for a party, a wedding (though you will need to triple the recipe or more depending on the number of guests!), or any occasion.

Photos of the vanilla cake ingredients.

Ingredient Notes:

  • Gluten Free Flour Blend – I have tested this recipe with King Arthur Measure for Measure GF and Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 GF blend. That doesn’t mean others will not work; I have not tested other flours.
  • Xanthan Gum – If your gluten free flour blend doesn’t contain Xanthan Gum or Guar Gum, please add 1 teaspoon.
  • Baking Powder – Use aluminum-free baking powder; it makes a difference in flavor.
  • Light Oil – I like to use either avocado or canola oil. I don’t recommend strong-flavored oils like olive oil.
  • Milk – I use almond milk as my non-dairy milk to keep my cake dairy-free, but any plant-based milk will work.
  • Eggs – Size large.
  • Vanilla Extract – I recommend using pure vanilla extract to make this homemade cake in a cake where the flavor is important.
  • Cream Cheese – Any brand will work; you can check for gluten-free cream cheese. If you are dairy-free, Kite Hill makes good dairy-free cream cheese.

Having the right Tools for Making Cake is also important.

Reader Modifications:

1. Jennifer M. made this lemon-flavored cake by using lemon juice instead of vanilla and a few drops of yellow food coloring.
2. Trinity M made this into a large sheet cake to feed a crowd!
3. Julie S. used butter instead of oil, sour milk (buttermilk), and 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda and said it turned out great.

Tips For Success:

  • Do not use a standing mixer to make this gluten-free vanilla cake recipe! Your cake batter can get overmixed easily, and your cake will not turn out fluffy.
  • Use pure vanilla extract and not imitation vanilla in this cake recipe. You will taste the difference!
  • Periodically check your oven temperature to ensure it’s right. Otherwise, your cake and other baked goods will bake unevenly.

Step-By-Step Photos and Directions:

Making a homemade gluten free cake is easy. Be sure to read all of my tips and instructions for the best results! Preheat your oven to 350º F, and be sure the oven rack is positioned in the middle of the oven. I recommend using a regular bake setting and not the convection oven for this recipe.

Dry cake ingredients in a bowl.

Step 1: Add the dry ingredients to a large bowl. The best way to blend the flour is with a wire whisk to blend.

To measure your gluten free flour, I recommend using the spoon method or leveling method. In a perfect world, people weigh their flour, but most do not own a kitchen scale. Every gluten-free flour blend has a different weight, making a scale even trickier. Put the measuring scoop into the flour and fill. Do not pack the flour. Use a knife to scrape along the top to remove the extra flour. You can also use a spoon to fill the measuring cup. Use a knife to level along the top to remove the extra flour.

Gluten free vanilla cake wet ingredients in a bowl.

Step 2: In a smaller mixing bowl, add the oil, eggs, vanilla extract, and non-dairy milk. Whisk to blend the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until the two are barely mixed. This is the secret to getting the fluffiest cake! Overmixing is really bad for gluten free cakes.

🔑 Sandi says: NOTE: If you are making a white cake, see the FAQ below for specific directions. They are a little different!

Gluten free vanilla cake batter in a bowl.

Step 3: Your gluten-free cake batter will be creamy like in this photo. Scrape down the sides to get all of the batters for the cake.

📢 Sandi says: Every gluten-free flour blend has a different starch-to-grain ratio. The brand of gluten-free flour you use will affect the moisture of the batter. If your cake batter is too runny, add more flour, and if it is too thick, add more liquids.
Read Why Gluten-Free Flour Blends Vary to learn more about this.

Cake batter in pans ready to bake.

I used these cute little layer baking pans so that all my layers were the same size!

Step 4: Add the vanilla cake batter to your layer cake pans (cupcakes or sheet cake pan!) and bake. I baked the cakes for 20 minutes in these little layer cake pans. If you are using larger 9-inch cake pans, you will need to bake the cakes longer.

Remove the cake from the oven to a wire cooling rack. Let the cake sit for 3-4 minutes in the pan, then carefully tip the cake onto the cooling rack.

How do you know when the cake is finished baking?

1. The toothpick test is the most common. Stick a toothpick in the center of the cake and pull it back out. If it comes out clean and liquid-free, your cake is finished baking.
2. Another way to check is if the sides are pulling away from the pan; it is a good indicator that the cake is done.
3. You can also use your finger to check the cake’s texture. If you press down on the cake and it doesn’t bounce back up, it probably needs to cool a little longer.

Cream cheese frosting in a bowl.

Step 5: To make the gluten-free cream cheese frosting, add softened cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and water to a stand mixer bowl with a whisk attachment. Mix well until thick and creamy.

Using tweezers to drop sprinkles into a design on the cake.

Step 6: Decorate this gluten-free vanilla cake any way you like! If you want to know what brands of sprinkles are gluten-free and celiac-safe check out my guide to gluten-free sprinkles.

Ways to use this gluten-free vanilla cake recipe:

  • Make cupcakes with the batter. Perfect for holidays and other gatherings.
  • You can make a sheet cake for a birthday party or any other event.
  • Whip this recipe into cake pops for a fun spin.
A slice of vanilla layer cake on a plate.

Don’t you want to grab the fork and have a bite? Many people ask if it is hard to assemble a layer cake. I can promise it looks much harder than it is!

Gluten-Free Cake Troubleshooting

Baking the perfect gluten-free cake can be tricky. The most important parts are choosing the right flour, not overmixing the batter, and ensuring the recipe liquid ratio works for the flour blend you choose.

Why did my gluten-free cake turn out dense or crumbly?

There is nothing more frustrating than having your gluten-free cake turn out dense. A few potential issues can cause this.

  1. I always tell my readers not to use a stand mixer when they mix cake batter. They tend to overmix your batter, leaving you with a denser cake. Mix the gluten-free cake batter only until the ingredients are combined, and avoid overbaking by checking the cake a few minutes before the suggested baking time.
  2. Another reason for a dense cake is that every gluten-free flour blend has a high starch-to-grain ratio. This will greatly affect the moisture level of the cake. If you are using a flour blend I didn’t test, you may need to adjust the liquid or flour amount to get the right batter consistency.
  3. The same answer for #2 applies if your cake is crumbly. You may need to add more liquid to your cake batter to compensate for the grain-to-starch ratio of your flour blend.

Why did my gluten-free cake sink in the middle?

  1. I know it is tempting to open the oven door and check on your cake, but opening the door while your cake is baking can cause it to sink in the middle. Cakes need a consistent, steady baking temperature. Opening the oven door lets cooler air into the oven, slowing the baking process.
  2. Always check the expiration date of your baking powder or baking soda before using it. Expired leavener will cause all sorts of issues in your baking.
  3. Is the cake underbaked? Know that the cake bakes from the outside in, so if you take it out of the oven too soon, the middle hasn’t had a chance to finish baking. Do the toothpick test to ensure your cake is thoroughly baked. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, it is done baking. If you see batter or crumbs, the cake needs to bake longer.

For more cake troubleshooting help and tips, see my Gluten-Free Cake Troubleshooting Guide.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How long will this gluten free vanilla cake keep fresh?

This gluten free vanilla cake will keep up to 4 days in an air-tight container or up to 4 months in the freezer.

How do you keep this gluten free cake moist?

The secret to keeping this gluten free cake moist is not to overmix the cake batter. Mix the batter until the ingredients are just barely mixed to keep it moist and fluffy.

How do you lift a layer of cake onto a cake stand?

The easiest way to lift a cake layer onto a cake stand is by using a giant spatula. Place the spatula under the cake and raise it. You will want to make sure to hold the cake with your other hand to ensure you don’t lose balance.

How do you assemble a gluten-free layer cake?

To assemble a layer cake, you must first add the base layer to your plate or cake stand. Next, add a layer of frosting on top of the base layer and spread it around.

Next, you add another layer of cake and then another layer of frosting. You keep adding layers until you have used all of them. After all your layers are together, you can continue to frost and decorate the cake.

You can read more details about decorating and assembling a layer cake in my Gluten-Free Wedding Cake recipe.

Gluten-Free White Cake Instructions:

To make this gluten-free vanilla cake a white cake, you must make a few easy adaptations.

  1. Use only egg whites. Save your yolks for another recipe.
  2. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks (not stiff!) Add the rest of the wet ingredients and gently fold them into the egg whites.
  3. You will need 1/2 cup more milk to make the cake a white cake.
  4. If you want this cake to be pure white, use this clear vanilla extract.
  5. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Be careful not to overmix the batter.
  6. Add to your cake pans and bake as directed.

More Gluten-Free Dessert Ideas:

Reader Leah's cake made with my recipe.
Reader Leah W. decorated this cake with pink icing and flowers.

Love This Recipe?

If you made and enjoyed this recipe, I would be incredibly grateful if you could leave a comment below. Please include which flour blend you used. This helps others know that this recipe is delicious. Thank you!

Two slices of gluten free vanilla cake on white plates.

Gluten Free Vanilla Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Sandi Gaertner
A deliciously light gluten free vanilla cake that is perfect for birthdays, weddings, or any party. This recipe can be made into cupcakes, sheet cake, or a layer cake. Homemade cream cheese frosting.
4.81 from 151 votes
dairy free allergen icon
gluten free allergy icon
nut free allergen icon
soy free allergy icon
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Gluten Free Cake Recipes, Gluten Free Dessert Recipes
Cuisine American
Servings 14 slices
Calories 399 kcal

Ingredients
  

Cake:

  • 2 cups gluten free flour blend * see note
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder aluminum-free
  • teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup light oil (*I used avocado oil)
  • ¾ cup non-dairy milk * see note
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese * see note
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 ¼ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pur vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  • In a large bowl, add the dry cake ingredients and use a whisk to blend.
  • In a smaller bowl, add the wet ingredients and whisk to mix.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well. Note photo above of the batter consistency.
  • Spoon batter into greased cake pans, or cupcake pan. 
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes (for the small layer cake pans) You will want to bake longer for larger pans. Use the toothpick method described below to know when your cakes are done.)
  • Remove the cake layers from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack. If you are making a layer cake, inspect each layer for bumps (if one area of the cake rose more)
  • Use a knife to level any bumps to make your cake layers flat.
  • Place the bottom layer of cake on a cake stand. Add frosting to the top of the layer. Place the next cake layer on top of the frosting, and frost that layer. Repeat until all layers are frosted.
  • To make the gluten free cream cheese frosting, add softened cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and a bit of water to a bowl and mix well until thick and creamy.
  • Use a cake spatula to frost the top and sides of the cake. Decorate how you like.

Video

Notes

  1. I have tested this recipe with King Arthur Measure for Measure GF, Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 GF blend, and Authentic Foods Multi Blend. That doesn’t mean others will not work, I just have not tested other flours.
  2. If your gluten-free flour blend doesn’t contain Xanthan Gum, add 1 teaspoon.
  3. I used almond milk but other dairy-free kinds of milk will work, but I do not recommend canned coconut milk.
  4. The cake is naturally dairy-free. To make this fully dairy-free you need to alter the frosting ingredients by substituting the butter for vegan butter and using vegan cream cheese.
  5. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, it is done baking. If you see batter or crumbs, the cake needs to bake longer.
  6. This cake will keep up to 4 days in an airtight container, or up to 4 months in the freezer.
  7. See my Gluten-Free Cake Troubleshooting Guide for more tips and any troubleshooting issues.

To Make This a White Cake:

  1. Use only egg whites. Save your yolks for another recipe.
  2. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks (not stiff!) Add the rest of the wet ingredients and gently fold them into the egg whites.
  3. You will need 1/2 cup more milk to make the cake a white cake.
  4. If you want this cake pure white, use clear vanilla extract.
  5. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Be careful not to overmix the batter.
  6. Add to your cake pans and bake as directed.

SPECIAL NOTE

Please know that every gluten free flour blend has a different starch to grain ratio. If you use a blend I didn’t test, you may need to adjust your moisture levels in your baked goods.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 399kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 4gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 63mgSodium: 122mgPotassium: 113mgFiber: 2gSugar: 35gVitamin A: 391IUCalcium: 74mgIron: 1mg
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Nutrition Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the actual nutritional information with the products and brands you are using with your preferred nutritional calculator.

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Recipe Rating




108 Comments

  1. Hi! I’m a fan of this recipe, thanks so much for sharing it.

    I once made it when I had no milk on hand, just heavy cream. It turned out great with cream!

    Did it used to include almond flour before the update? I swear it used to have almond flour. If so, what was the recipe that included almond flour please? Thanks!

    1. I am so glad you loved this cake. I am so glad heavy cream worked well. This cake has always been dairy-free and nut-free, I think you must be thinking of another cake recipe on the blog.

    1. That is odd, I see them on the back end, but I think an ad was over them. I sent a note to the ad company and re-pasted the frosting directions. I think it should be there now.

  2. 5 stars
    Best gluten free cake recipe I’ve ever tried! I appreciate the simple ingredients which make for a classic taste and texture. I also use this recipe as a base for when I make strawberry cake. I add a packet of strawberry jello, 1/4 tsp almond extract, and a little extra splash of milk and it bakes up pink and beautifully. Thank you for this recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    Made for a Canada Day strawberry tea party. I’m glad to report that the cake worked beautifully with an inexpensive gluten free flour blend that is easy to find here in Canada.
    I will use this recipe again and again! I have photos which I can send if you tell me how.
    The President’s Choice all purpose gluten free blend contains tapioca starch, potato starch, corn flour, modified cellulose and Xanthan gum. It was very moist and not at all crumbly.

    1. Thank you so much for coming back to let me know you loved the recipe. I am certain other Canadian readers will be glad to know the flour blend you used worked well. Thank you!

  4. I have a question or two. Does this cake work with regular cows milk? And would strawberries hold up for a few days if put between layers as well as on top? Thank you! I am eagar to try this!!!

    1. Hi Linda, it should work with regular milk. Honestly, I wouldn’t make the cake too far ahead…gluten free tends to spoil quicker because the flours don’t have the added preservatives. I would think it will hold up making the day before with strawberries.

  5. 5 stars
    I’m a professional chef/baker and was looking for a Great gf/vegan cake for our special clients with special needs. I researched plenty through the years and I absolutely loved this recipe. I subbed BobsMill egg replacement and used lactose free half and half instead of milk, used half tsp salt and extra vanilla. It’s simple to make and one of the best gf cakes I’ve had. I made sure not to over mix. Thanks for this recipe!!! I’m keeping it my rotation

    1. Hi Katrina, unfortunately, almond flour behaves VERY differently in a recipe than gluten free flour. It doesn’t absorb liquid in the same way, nor will almond flour work by itself. If you are looking for a grain-free cake recipe, I would recommend searching Pinterest.

  6. 5 stars
    I didn’t imagine that a GF cake could taste this good! My husband and I both enjoyed it.

    I used the King Arthur’s Measure for Measure and the avocado oil, and I used whole milk. I used three 8″-round cake pans, and baked them for 20 minutes. I made this a white cake and substituted 3T egg white powder and the recommended water on the package for the three egg whites, and added the extra milk as in your instructions. I cut back to 2 cups of powdered sugar for the frosting.

    Thanks for this recipe. I will definitely being make this cake again!

  7. 4 stars
    I used the king Arthur’s Measure for Measure gluten-free flour and have used it before in your cookie recipe. The flavor of the cake was fantastic. However, it was a little dry and gritty. Wondering, like with the toll house cookie recipe, if I should let the batter sit for about 15 minutes prior to baking. Also, I used skim milk and vegetable oil. Going to give it another try with almond milk and avocado oil, like you did. Wanting your advice on the resting period … Thanks so much for these delicious recipes, they make my GF family. Very happy. 🙂

    1. Hi Kathleen, you can definitely let the batter sit to soften up the rice flour. I usually don’t notice grit with this blend. Almond milk and avocado oil shouldn’t make any difference. I am really glad you loved the cake!

      1. Thank you very much! One more question, do these need to be refrigerated in a sealed container for four days like the cookies? You stated they lasted up to four days in a sealed container so I wanted to clarify. I wondered if refrigerating mine added to the dryness. ☺️