Gluten-free vs. regular cupcakes

CupcakeBatterGluten- free is all the craze these days. Because of the huge increase of people going gluten-free (because of a gluten intolerance or for other reasons), recipes for gluten-free baked goods, bread, and snacks are all over the place. While I am not gluten free, I find myself wondering if these delicious looking recipes everywhere are as good as the regular version. So, I decided to do a comparison. And what better treat to try than cupcakes?

The two recipes I tested are Lemon Cupcakes (both gluten-free and regular) that I found from

GlutCupcakeRegular (Gluten-containing) Lemon Cupcakes (makes 12 servings)


  • 1 cup and 3 tablespoons self-rising flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup and 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1-1/2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon whole milk, divided


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 12 cupcake pan cups with paper liners.
  2. Sift the self-rising flour and salt together in a bowl. In another bowl, beat the unsalted butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating each egg until incorporated before adding the next. Mix in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.
  3. Gently beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture, one third at a time, alternating with half the milk and half the lemon juice after each of the first 2 additions of flour. Beat until just combined; do not over mix.
  4. Fill the prepared cupcake liners with batter 3/4 full, and bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before removing them to finish cooling on a rack.

Price of regular flour to make cupcakes: $3.13 for 5lb bag (18.15 cups)= $0.17 for 1 cup of flour

GFcupcakeGluten Free Lemon Cupcakes (makes 12 cupcakes)

  • 5/8 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 3 3/4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 – 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1- 1/8 cups gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour + 1 teaspoon of xanthum gum)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Whisk milk and lemon juice together in a bowl. Beat vegetable oil, egg whites, lemon zest, and vanilla extract into milk mixture.
  3. Combine gluten-free baking flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until batter is well mixed, about 2 minutes. Spoon batter into lined cups to about 3/4-full.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until tops are a light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes in the muffin tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Price of gluten free flour to make cupcakes: $7.79 for 44oz (4.4 oz per cup of flour) = $0.78 per cup of flour.

The cupcakes were surprisingly similar visually. While the gluten- free cupcakes turned out relatively moist and had a good flavor, the regular cupcakes were victorious in the taste category. They were fluffier and had a better overall mouth feel. However, the plethora of recipes for gluten free goodies allows individuals that cannot tolerate gluten to still enjoy these treats.

Another point to think about is the price of gluten free products. One cup of gluten free all purpose flour is about 4.5 times the cost of regular all purpose flour. Also, one cup of all-purpose flour has around 400 kcal, 88 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fat, and 12 grams of protein. One cup of Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all-purpose flour has 400 kcal, 4 grams of fat, 88 grams of carbohydrate, and 12 grams of protein. So the nutritionals are basically the same except gluten free flour tends to have more fat. As you can see both flours have the same amount of carbohydrate per cup. If you are going gluten free to try and lower your carbohydrate intake, substituting gluten-free for regular versions is not necessarily the way to do it.

This gluten free cupcake recipe has 138 calories and the regular cupcakes have about 160 calories, but this is due to differences in the ingredients that have nothing to do with gluten, such as the butter and eggs.

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