DessertApril/May 2009

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake Recipe

Everyone needs a good vanilla cake recipe in their baking repertoire - even those of us who are gluten-free!

[Updated August 9, 2017]  

Professional gluten-free baker Diane Kittle teamed up with Gluten Free & More Magazine to provide our readers with this truly stellar gluten- AND dairy-free vanilla cake. This is a cake that people of all diet restrictions can enjoy. Easily substitute eggs and milk, or vary the taste of this classic recipe by replacing vanilla with a different gluten-free flavor extract, such as almond, orange or maple. Frost with dairy-free “Buttercream” Frosting (instructions below).


Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30-40 minutes

lazy susan

Using a lazy susan to ice your cake makes it easy!

What You'll Need:

- a standing mixer
- an ice cream scooper
- 2 round 8-inch pans
- 2 round 8-inch cake boards
- a finely meshed sifter
- a lazy susan (optional)

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake

Even though this cake is gluten-free, it's still fluffy and moist. Sweet!


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, margarine or Spectrum Organic Shortening
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3½ cups gluten-free All-Purpose Flour Blend+ extra for dusting
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups cow’s milk or rice milk, hot

Gluten- and Dairy-Free Cake Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add shortening and sugar to your standing mixer; mix on a low setting. Microwave or heat rice milk on stove until hot.

making gluten-free vanilla cake

2. Add 4 eggs to the mixer while it is running. You may need to scrape the mixer occasionally.

making gluten-free vanilla cake

3. Lay down a sheet of parchment paper. Using a fine mesh sifter, sift gluten free flour onto the parchment. Add baking powder, xantham gum, baking soda and salt to sifted mix. Then add vanilla extract to mixer while running.

making gluten-free vanilla cake

4. Slowly pour half the dry ingredients into the moving mixer.

making gluten-free vanilla cake

5. Pour half the hot rice milk into the mixer.

making gluten-free vanilla cake

6. Pour the rest of the dry ingredients in, then the rest of the milk

making gluten-free vanilla cake

7. Mix and scrape until the gluten-free batter is smooth and silky.

making gluten-free vanilla cake

8. Grease both 8-in. pans and dust them thoroughly with gluten free flour blend.

making gluten-free vanilla cake

9. Use an ice cream scoop to evenly split the batter into each pan. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

making gluten-free vanilla cake

10. Pop your baked layers out of the pans. Slice the slightly domed cake tops with a long knife. This ensures your cake will stack nicely and be flat. Plus, you can use the tasty cake tops for other baking projects (think gluten-free tiramisu and bread pudding)!

making gluten-free vanilla cake

11. Place one cake layer onto a lazy susan. This handy kitchen tool is not absolutely necessary, but it sure simplifies icing! Spoon a generous scoop of buttercream frosting on the top of your first layer.

making gluten-free vanilla cake

12. Spread the icing evenly.

making gluten-free vanilla cake

13. Place the second cake layer top-down onto the frosted first layer.

making gluten-free vanilla cake

14. Spread a light coat of frosting around the sides of the cake. This is what is called the crumb coat – it glues down any loose crumbs and ensures the top coat of frosting looks nice and neat!

making gluten-free vanilla cake

15. Spread an even crumb coat over the entire cake.

baking gluten-free vanilla cake

16. Using a butter knife this time, add your top coat of dairy-free frosting. The butter knife creates a thick, spackled texture. Do the sides of your cake first, then the top.

baking gluten-free vanilla cake

baking gluten-free vanilla cake

17. Now your cake is finished. Enjoy this gluten-free delight as soon as it's done! 

gluten-free vanilla cake

Cake serves 16. Each serving contains 324 calories, 13g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 53mg cholesterol, 49g carbohydrate, 370mg sodium, 0g fiber, 3g protein.

TO MAKE EGG FREE: Replace 4 large eggs with 6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce mixed with 2 teaspoons baking powder + 4 tablespoons warm water mixed with 1 tablespoon gluten-free egg replacer.


Coconut Cake: Substitute 1 tablespoon pure coconut extract for the vanilla; substitute coconut milk for milk of choice; then add ¾ cup coconut flakes (optional) to the cake batter, stirring until combined.

Lemon Cake: Substitute 2 teaspoons pure lemon extract for vanilla; reduce milk by 1/3 cup and add 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice; add 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest to the batter when adding the eggs.

Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Buttercream Cake Frosting Recipe


dairy free buttercream frosting recipe

This frosting is not too sweet. To vary the flavor, replace vanilla with another gluten-free flavoring extract, such as lemon or coconut.

6 cups powdered sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup boiling hot water
2½ cups Spectrum Organic Shortening
¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter or margarine, slightly softened, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine powdered sugar and salt.

2. Using a whisk attachment, add boiling water and whip at low speed until smooth and cool, approximately 5 minutes.

3. Add shortening and margarine to the sugar mixture and whip at medium speed until smooth, approximately 3 minutes. Add vanilla. Increase speed to medium high and whip until light, fluffy and increased in volume, approximately 10 minutes. Frosting will fill most of a 5-quart mixing bowl.

Cake serves 16. Each serving contains 538 calories, 40g total fat, 16g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 18mg cholesterol, 45g carbohydrate, 163mg sodium, 0g fiber, 0g protein.

TIP: Leftover “Buttercream” Frosting is great on cupcakes or cookies. Refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks. Allow chilled frosting to return to room temperature before using. To fluff it up, whip for a couple minutes. 

Gluten-Free Lemon Cake Filling Recipe


Delicious in layered lemon, coconut or vanilla cake. This recipe makes enough for a 3-layer cake with filling left over.

1/3 cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
1½ cups water
4 egg yolks, beaten with a fork
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest, optional

1. In a medium saucepan, stir cornstarch, salt and sugar. Add water and stir again. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens, approximately 5 minutes. When mixture begins to boil, lower heat and continue to stir for 1 minute. Remove pan from the heat.

2. In a small bowl, place egg yolks and about 1/3 cup hot cornstarch mixture and stir together.

3. Whisk this mixture back into contents of the saucepan and return pan to medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture is very thick, about 5 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and lemon zest.

5. Pour filling into a bowl or container and let cool for 30 minutes. Refrigerate for about an hour to firm. Remove from fridge and spread on cake layers.

Cake serves 16. Each serving contains 62 calories, 1g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 52mg cholesterol, 13g carbohydrate, 39mg sodium, 0g fiber, 1g protein.

Special thanks to Diane and Heather at Dee's One Smart Cookie for courteously providing this step-by step recipe! Dee's One Smart Cookie is a dedicated allergy-friendly bakery in Glastonbury, CT. All of the goods made contain no gluten, dairy, soy, or nuts. Egg-free and rice-free products are available as well. 

Photography and videography by Kerstin Meyne-McCall. 

Comments (14)

Any recipe for a White vanilla cake? I'm not fond of the yellow cakes as theyndo taste different than white cake.

Posted by: grandma peg | May 25, 2017 8:54 AM    Report this comment

Hi Victoria, Unfortunately I don't think there is a gluten-free version of this spray. If you use the original PAM and then dust with rice flour, as Dess is doing in the video, that should work fine. Happy Baking, Beth - Food Editor

Posted by: Moderator | May 24, 2017 5:51 PM    Report this comment

What was used to spray the pans? I've been looking for a gluten-free oil/flour spray (similar to PAM) but have not been successful.

Posted by: hankinsv | May 21, 2017 5:02 PM    Report this comment

Can the lemon filling be made egg free?

Posted by: Nomkitac | April 16, 2016 5:41 PM    Report this comment

I was disappointed that the picture, which shows a 3 layer cake with lemon filling between, is not the same as the recipe. I'll still try it because it does sound good, but would really like to have the recipe for the lemon filling.

Posted by: lynott | January 29, 2016 4:24 PM    Report this comment

Please explain what Spectrum organic shortening is. Can I use another type of shortening?

Posted by: Mardef | September 12, 2015 7:12 PM    Report this comment

Hi and thank you for this wonderful recipe. It turned out great and my hubby and kids still dont know its gluten free!
I would like to reduce the sugar in the recipe; how can I do that without compromising the recipe? Can I use raw honey or coconut sugar? If yes, how much?
Hope to hear back from you as Im definately keeping this recipe.
Thank you.

Posted by: amateurbaker | September 3, 2015 9:31 PM    Report this comment

Your 8 inch cake pans should be at least 2 inches high or you might want to use 9 inch pans. It's a wonderful recipe. - Moderator

Posted by: LW Moderator | April 12, 2015 9:05 AM    Report this comment

I followed this recipe exactly and poured the batter into two 8" round cake pans. As the pans cooked the batter poured over the sides and burnt the bottom of the oven & the smoke ruined the top edge of the door. Either the ingredient amounts should be reduced by a quarter or use 3 x 8" round pans.

Posted by: LisaJoyce | April 4, 2015 9:50 AM    Report this comment

I made this cake recipe and followed all instructions. I used the all purpose flour blend as directed. When It came out of the oven it looked fine and was thoroughly baked. As It cooled, It became dense and gummy almost like a bread pudding. Have any ideas what may have happened?

Posted by: eepal | April 14, 2014 10:38 AM    Report this comment

KEITH F: We contacted Diane Kittle, the chef who wrote tihs recipe. She responded:

"The real question is what size pan does he have, because when people refer to sheet cakes, it could be varying sizes. Also, is he making a two layer sheet cake or a single layer sheet cake?

I would not recommend a gluten free cake recipe for a pan larger than 9x13". If he's making a 9x13" single layer cake, then the recipe below will be sufficient. If he's making 2 layers (2 pans) , then he will need to double the recipe. If he is making an egg free version, do not double the recipe. Make 1 recipe twice. The cake will not come out the same if you double a cake recipe which requires more than 4 eggs replaced."

My guess is that you are using the 9 x 13, so you don't need to double. Enjoy and good luck! - Moderator

Posted by: LW Moderator | April 18, 2013 3:50 PM    Report this comment

I used this recipe for my oldest son's fourth birthday. It was great. Now it's time to make a cake for his brother's first birthday. I need it to be a sheet cake though. Any idea if I would need to double or triple the recipe to have enough for a sheet cake?

Posted by: Elizabeth F | April 18, 2013 1:55 PM    Report this comment

I am interested in making the cake pictured. Can you post the lemon filling recipe that is used in between the layers. I made this frosting for my son's birthday chocolate cupcakes and it was delicious!

Posted by: Loan N | March 12, 2013 4:36 PM    Report this comment

One batch of cake batter made 30 cupcakes. And a half-batch of the frosting was plenty to frost them. The frosting is amazingly light and fluffy!

Posted by: Patricia G | February 19, 2012 11:14 AM    Report this comment

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