Vanilla Lemon Ginger Cupcakes with Coconut Cashew Frosting. Vegan and Gluten Free.
vanilla lemon ginger cupcakes gluten free vegan
vanilla lemon ginger cupcakes gluten free vegan

In light of yesterday’s fabulous dialog (thank you, CR readers) I thought that it was a good day for cupcakes. Vanilla lemon ginger cupcakes, that is, with coconut cashew frosting. If that’s not enough of a hard sell, they’re also gluten free (though they don’t have to be) and sweetened with coconut sugar, which many of my readers who eat low glycemic diets prefer. In short, there’s something for everyone.

But I didn’t actually make these for everyone; I made them for Valerie, who celebrated her birthday on Saturday. Happy birthday, Valerie! May the year be every bit as sweet and uplifting as these scrumptious treats.


Gluten Free, Vegan Vanilla Lemon Ginger Cupcakes with Coconut Cashew Frosting

Makes 10

Before I get to the recipe, note that you have three options for flour. You can either use two cups of whole wheat pastry flour, two cups of all purpose GF flour mix, or 1 cup of sweet white sorghum flour, one cup of tapioca starch, and a teaspoon of xanthan gum. It’s up to you. Valerie is allergic to gluten, so I used the third option; it’s the most complex, but I find that it works a little better than standard GF flour blends for delicate stuff. If you’d rather not deal with flour complication at all, and you aren’t allergic to gluten, go with WWPF.

2 cups flour of choice (or the sorghum + tapioca + xanthan blend)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tsp powdered ginger
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp ground chia seed or 1 tbsp ground flax seed, mixed with 3 tbsp water
1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
2 tsp vanilla extract
Juice of 1 lemon
Optional: 2 tbsp lemon zest, divided

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Whisk dry ingredients together. Whisk wet ingredients together. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mix, and then use a hand mixer to get it mixed well (a whisk is fine too). Try not to mix it too much. Gently fold in 1 tbsp of the zest.

3. Pour mix into ten cupcake molds. Bake for about 18-20 minutes (this will depend on your oven) or until they’re golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Decorate with frosting, below, and sprinkle with lemon zest.

Raw Cashew Coconut Lemon Frosting (inspired by the whipped cream from Sweetly Raw, by Heathy Pace)

1/3 cup coconut butter
3/4 cup cashews (dry)
1/4 cup chia seed gel (just chia seeds and water, plumped up; you can follow Heathy’s instruction here)
1/4 cup agave nectar
Dash salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup water

Blend all ingredients together in a high speed blender (if you use a regular blender, soak cashews first and use 1/3 cup water only). Allow to sit in the fridge for a few hours to thicken before using! If it’s too watery, try blending again with some more cashews; if it’s too thick, try adding a little more water. Use kitchen intuition!




And deliciously moist inside:


Speaking of moist, the one downside of these muffins is that they do harden up as the days go by. And they also harden up when they get cold! I made them in the afternoon and stuck them in the fridge, because I wasn’t sure when I would see Val. When I took them back out, I was horrified to find that they’d gotten firm. Fortunately, leaving them out for a bit seemed to remedy this, but Valerie also told me that gluten free baked goods can sometimes firm up over time.

Which means you have to eat them fast Winking smile

Hope you get a chance to try these; the lemon and ginger really make them special! And I’ll see you back here, new salad dressing recipe in tow, tomorrow.


NB: I am submitting this recipe to Ricki’s October 11-15 Wellness Weekend.

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Categories: Cakes
Method: Oven
Dietary Preferences: Vegan

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  1. Ooo, these look really good. And, I don’t eat added sugars, but sweeten my treats with fruit. D’you think I could substitute dates for the coconut sugar? I’d attempt a similar swap for the icing, as agave nectar makes me sick. Or could a banana/lemon/ginger combo work, do you think? I’m still newish to the fruit-sweetened treat arena…

    Thanks for sharing recipes!
    🙂 Kri

    • Hi Kri! I don’t really know about sweetening baked goods with fruit, so I’m afraid that I can’t be very helpful! But if you have success, I’d love to know how it went 🙂

  2. I didn’t have to worry about them hardening up – the family devoured every crumb! The chia seed adds loads of fiber, not to mention protein and omega-3. I did not add all of the water to the icing as the children were breathing down my neck to down these tasty morsels – the consistency was just fine. I will double the batch next time. I am still enjoying the lovely aroma of lemon and ginger – thank you.

  3. Hi Gena, in the frosting ingredients list, were you intending to provide a link? Apologies I do not know how to make that much gel 🙂

    1/4 cup chia seed gel (just chia seeds and water, plumped up; you can follow Heathy’s instruction here)

    Happy Trails! Tamara

  4. Vegan and gluten free! This is quite amazing for something that tastes exceptional. Tried it yesterday even though I’m not really a vegan nor do I have to stay away from wheat. Great veggie recipe nonetheless.

  5. A super easy frosting is “Artisana” Cashew Butter (a little pricey, but you only need a little) and maple syrup. Great on cookies or cupcakes! Just mix and spread.

  6. Hi

    I’m new to raw vegan. Are these cupckaes raw if they’ve been cooked in the oven?

    Thanks 🙂

  7. Sweet recipe. I cannot wait to try them. Perhaps this weekend as a good-bye present for a lovely friend? Regarding the drying out issue of these beauties, it might help to put them in plastic foil. I never put them in the fridge because it definitely dries them out like any other cake. I will let you know as soon as I have tried them.

  8. Those look delicious! It’s good to know that the GF baked goods get harder over time. I made some GF chocolate chip cookies for Burning Man and they were like little tasty bricks. No good unless we had hot cocoa, which we didn’t unfortunately. I didn’t think about the GF part being an issue, just the potentially over baking I had done. Perhaps it was both in this case. I’m going to make your cupcakes though! And eat them warm!

  9. Oh and thank you for the tip about chilling the cupcakes…I would have tossed them for sure thinking I had ruined them. Eating them quickly shouldn’t be a problem, I’ll just share with my office mates.

  10. What a delicious looking treat indeed…I am particularly intrigued by the frosting (I typically stick to a vegan buttercream, perhaps though it is time to branch out).

  11. As a whole, are these cupcakes low-glycemic? (I understand, like you wrote, that coconut sugar is low-glycemic; however, I don’t believe tapioca starch or sorghum flour is low-glycemic…Maybe it all balance out because of the coconut oil and fibre?)

    Thank you

  12. wow these look really delicious! i have a request for you(: i’m not entirely vegan yet but i’m trying to get there..can you please do a list of veggies and write in which form it’s better to eat them- raw/cooked/roasted/baked ?
    oh and also i don’t think i’m gonna be a 100 percent vegan because of the b12 i really don’t want to take any supplements ..but i’m trying to eat as little meat/fish/eggs as i can you know how much is enough to consume the B12 i need? like two time a week maybe? or is it not enough?
    sorry for the long comment, the last thing i wanna say is that your blog is amazing and really changed my view on food choices and veganism, i tried a lot of your recipes and they all turned out amazing
    Thank you:)

  13. Gena, what a fabulous recipe! LOVE the ingredients. I have a mad love for coconut sugar/oil/butter, I may need to make these ASAP to help me and my hubs feel better about being back from an amazing 2.5 week vacay. Back at work today and it’s not fun I tell ya!

  14. They look abosolutely delicious! And I love love love vanilla so I have to make them 🙂 Thanks for the recipe Gena!

  15. Wow it looks super delicious. I want to make something like this. 🙂

  16. What a wonderful friend you are! Lemon ginger vanilla sounds so good, and gentle enough that it could be dressed down to more of a muffin sans frosting and perhaps with some carrot in there to keep things moist.


    • It’s a blended mixture of coconut oil and flesh. You can find it from the Artisana brand.

  17. I can’t have gluten and don’t have the 3rd options ingredients on hand. I have found that gluten free flour has caused some digestive issues. Would chickpea flour work?

    • Anonymous,

      I’m not sure; I don’t tend to love chickpea flour in cake-like baked goods. And on the whole, baking GF is a delicate art, so I don’t like to suggest swaps without having done it myself! Sorry not to be more helpful.


  18. As the very lucky recipient of these wonderful cupcakes, I can attest to just how scrumptious they taste. Thank you again for the lovely surprise 🙂

  19. Vanilla, lemon, ginger in the cupcakes sounds great and then that frosting! I live for frosting and it sounds wonderful! Looks so creamy and beautiful!

  20. I can’t wait to try my hand at these!! They sound awesome. Love the flavour combination