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Gluten-free Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes

Gluten-free Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes which happen to be VEGAN! anyone? They’re basically ‘triple lemon’ cupcakes, packed with fresh lemon juice, lemon zest with a zesty surprise in the middle.

This recipe has been made in collaboration Koro. All opinions expressed in this post are my own. (For more information along with affiliated links, check out my disclosure policy.)

up close of lemon cupcake with lemon curd in the middle with a whip of buttercream and poppyseeds

Gluten-free Lemon PoppySeed Cupcakes (Gluten-free and Vegan)

These moist Gluten-free and Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes are the easiest and most delicious cupcakes you will ever make.

Poppy seeds and Lemon are match-made in heaven, the perfect summery cupcake flavour combination which you must try! These cupcakes are moist, fluffy and moreish, a delicious lemon flavour, with crunchy poppy seeds, a fresh lemon curd and a whipped Swiss meringue buttercream. Oh my!!

Tools you’ll need to make these gluten-free lemon cupcakes:

Apple corer – For coring the middle of the cakes for the lemon curd.

Piping bags – For decorating and filling the cupcakes with.

Star tip piping nozzle – I use a Wilton 2D piping tip to create a ruffled swirl on top.

Stand mixer or hand mixer – A electric mixer is the best way to create a light and fluffy buttercream. I highly recommend investing in a stand mixer.

A saucepan – Make sure the saucepan is non stick, so that the curd doesn’t stick and burn to the pan.

Set of bowls – For mixing the cupcakes.

Spatulas – A set of spatulas are always a handy tool when baking in the kitchen.

lemon cupcake with a swirl of buttercream on its side with lemon curd

Why I’m going gluten-free?

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may have read about my recent gluten-free journey. I’ll cut the long story short, basically I’ve been struggling with excruciating pain in my tummy and back, which I’ve had a few episodes now.

The first instance was in January of this year, in which I was admitted to hospital for. The pain lasted 10 hours, then immediately went away. Fast forward to April, and this is when it came back. Since April, I’ve had 6 episodes, rolling around on the floor in acute pain. Hot water bottles, sipping on warm water and taking pain killers to ease the pain. Multiple ambulances were called as-well. It’s been awful!

After thorough scans and investigations, nothing was found (except gall stones, which I’ve had since I was 13). I decided to look into my diet further as well.

At the beginning of me going vegan, I took a York Test (Food Intolerance Test), and it was amazing! It really showed what my body can and can’t tolerate.

I took one a few weeks ago and the results showed that I have a very high reaction to Wheat and Gluten. This means, from now on, I am basically following a gluten-free diet and having further investigations.

I’m excited to start baking gluten-free and experimenting with different ingredients and types of foods.

If you have any gluten-free recipe requests, make sure to leave them in the comment below. That would be amazing!

side view of lemon poppy seed cupcake on grey marble with cupcakes in the background

What makes these the BEST gluten-free and vegan cupcakes?

I don’t throw the term “best” around very lightly because it can set a very high expectation. But with these lemon cupcakes, they will definitely not let you down. They’re moist, perfectly sweet with a whole lot of zesty lemon and crunch from the tiny poppy seeds.

The top 5 reasons why these gluten-free lemon poppyseed cupcakes are just SO good:

  • The method: Unlike some gluten-free cupcakes, this recipe is a breeze to make, without any waiting time. A batch can be whipped up in minutes. You can’t beat an easy recipe!
  • They are 100% gluten-free. Anyone will be able to enjoy these allergen friendly cupcakes. If you’re on a nut free diet, simply use a soya or oat based milk.
  • The buttercream: I topped the cupcakes with a high swirl of Swiss meringue buttercream. The buttercream is light, airy and is the perfect ‘crown’ for these delicious lemon cakes.
  • The lemon curd: This is my favourite recipe for vegan lemon curd. Add all of the ingredients into a saucepan and cook. That’s it and it creates for a thick, gooey and zesty curd which really makes these cakes POP with flavour!
  • The poppy seeds: I love using poppy seeds in baking for so many reasons. They add a subtle poppy seed flavour to the sponge along with adding a very light crunch. Trust me when I say lemon and poppy seed belong together in cake- haha! I use Koro’s Blue Poppyseeds. They have a delicious nutty aroma and look gorgeous speckled throughout the cake and buttercream.

Use code: HOLLYJADE5 for £££ off your shop on Koro-shop.co.uk. Koro has fast become my favourite online store for groceries including nut butters, nuts, seeds, chocolate bars and more! You have to check out their site and treat yourself (you now have an awesome discount code, so why not?) Happy shopping!

poppyseeds in a plastic bag
up close of gluten free lemon cupcake with poppy seeds and lemon curd in the middle

What Gluten-free flour to use?

There are so many different types of gluten-free flours to use but I have listed my top 5 below, along with my favourite which I used for this gluten-free lemon poppyseed cupcake recipe Just make sure to get a highly rated flour blend.

  1. Dove’s Farm Freee Gluten-free Plain White Flour
  2. ASDA Free From Gluten Plain Flour
  3. Eurostar Gluten-free White Flour
  4. Sainsburys Deliciously Free from Gluten Plain Flour
  5. Dove’s Farm Gluten-Free Self Raising Flour

How to make gluten-free and vegan cupcakes?

What I love about gluten-free and vegan cupcakes is just how easy they are to make. This recipe uses a gluten-free plain flour blend, along with raising agents. The cupcakes rely heavily on baking soda, baking powder and Xanthan gum in order to work and make for a scrumptious, fluffy cupcake.

There is basically three simple steps to this recipe:

  • Dry Ingredients: Sift and combine all of the dry ingredients in to one bowl, which includes the gluten-free plain flour, sugar, poppy seeds, lemon zest, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and Xanthan gum.
  • Wet Ingredients: Combine all of the wet ingredients in a separate bowl, which includes the vanilla, dairy-free milk and oil.
  • Mix Together: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix to combine then divine into the lined cupcake cases. That’s it!

Due to the leaveners in the dry ingredients, the batter will froth slightly when you pour in the wet ingredients. This is due to the baking powder activating with the liquid. Bicarbonate of soda also activates with liquid. Mix just until the mixture is combined, otherwise, you risk over-mixing and this can result in a tough cake, which no-one wants – haha!

lemon cupcakes with poppyseed and a high swirl of frosting on a grey background

Vegan Gluten-free Lemon PoppySeed Cupcakes (Frequently asked questions):

Are these cupcakes suitable for Coeliac?

The recipe is gluten free, although no-one will be able to tell – trust me!
If you’re Coeliac or making this for someone who is, make sure to check for any cross contamination. Make sure to check each ingredient you use to make sure they don’t have /may contain wheat, gluten, oat, barley’ etc. Check out Coeliac UK for details on how to minimise the risk of any possible cross contamination.

Can I double the mixture?

Sure! Simply use the recipe card below and click the ‘x2’ button, it will double the ingredients accordingly.

What is Xanthan Gum?

Xanthan gum is an important ingredient in gluten-free baking. It’s naturally gluten-free and it’s used to provide structural elements, for example- helping the batter stick together. If you leave this out, the bake won’t turn out half as good!

Can I use American Buttercream instead of Swiss meringue buttercream?

Of course! I use a Swiss meringue buttercream as the lightness works really well with the cupcake, but if you don’t want to use the aquafaba, simply leave it out and add a splash of dairy-free milk in replace.


Looking for more Gluten-free recipes? Check these out:

No-Bake Vanilla Cheesecake (Vegan + Gluten-free)

Flourless Chocolate Cake (Vegan + Gluten-free)

Gluten-free Brownie Cookies (Vegan)

The BEST Gluten-free Vegan Chocolate Cake

Strawberries and Cream Pastry Puffs (Vegan + Gluten-free)

If you make these cakes, make sure to tag me @thelittleblogofvegan over on Instagram and leave a review below. Hover over the images on this post and PIN them to your favourite Pinterest boards. Happy baking!

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up close of lemon cupcake with lemon curd in the middle with a whip of buttercream and poppyseeds

Lemon PoppySeed Cupcakes (Gluten-free + Vegan)

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5 from 2 reviews


Gluten-Free and Vegan Lemon PoppySeed Cupcakes with Swiss meringue buttercream. These light, fluffy and zesty lemon cupcakes are perfect for any special occasion!


Units Scale

Ingredients for the cupcakes

  • 160g of gluten-free plain flour
  • 125g of caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/3 teaspoon of Xanthan gum
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 60ml of sunflower oil
  • 240ml of dairy-free milk
  • 1 + 1/2 tablespoon of poppy seeds

Ingredients for the lemon curd

  • 3 tablespoons of corn flour + 2 tablespoons of water
  • 100g of dairy-free butter/margarine
  • 100g of caster sugar
  • 170ml of lemon juice
  • 3 small unwaxed lemons (zest)
  • 100g of vegan condensed milk*
  • Pinch of turmeric (used to enhance the colour – optional)

Ingredients or the buttercream

  • 150g of dairy-free block butter*
  • 300g of icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste / vanilla extract
  • 30ml of aquafaba (chickpea brine)*
  • 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds


Method (cupcakes)

  1. Preheat your oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan) and line two cupcake tins with cupcake cases.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the gluten-free free flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, Xanthan gum and lemon zest. Stir to combine and set aside.
  3. Add the oil and dairy-free milk into a jug, whisk to combine then pour into the dry ingredients.
  4. Fold in the poppy seeds. Mix until the batter is smooth and there are no lumps of dry mixture showing. Be careful not to over-mix. 
  5. Fill the cases 3/4 full with the batter. Make sure to tap the tins on the worktop to remove any air bubbles.
  6. Pop the cakes into the centre of the preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. You will know they are done when you put a knife or skewer down the centre of the cakes and it comes out clean and they are springy to the touch.
  7. Once baked, place the cupcakes on a cooling rack and allow to cool fully before filling and frosting.

Method (lemon curd)

  1. In a small bowl, add in the corn flour and water. Stir together to make a thick paste.
  2. Add the cornflour paste, dairy-free butter, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, condensed milk and a pinch of turmeric into a medium sized saucepan.
  3. Place the saucepan on the hob and heat over low to medium, stirring constantly, preferably with a whisk. After around 5-8 minutes the lemon curd will thicken. If the curd isn’t thickening, turn up the heat and constantly whisk.
  4. Pour the curd into a heat proof jar or bowl, cover and place aside to cool down.
  5. You can either put it in the fridge or keep it at room temperature to cool. Before you use it, give it a good stir as it will thicken. Any left over curd can be stored in the fridge, perfect for snacking on toast or on other desserts.

Method (buttercream)

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add in the dairy-free butter and whip until creamy. I use a stand mixer with a balloon whisk attachment, a hand mixer will work great too.
  2. Sift in the icing sugar and vanilla, whip on high speed for a couple of minutes to incorporate it.
  3. Pour in the aquafaba and whip for 5-8 minutes on high speed until it turns light and creamy. Don’t over whip it or it can become too soft. If it does, just add in more icing sugar until it’s thick and creamy.
  4. Whip in the poppyseeds to combine.
  5. Your Swiss meringue buttercream should be thick, very creamy, smooth and airy.
  6. Transfer the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a star tip nozzle.
  7. Core the cupcakes with an apple corer, knife or spoon and fill a piping bag with the lemon curd.
  8. Pipe some of the curd down the middle of the cupcakes, then pipe a swirl of buttercream on top.
  9. Decorate the cupcakes with an extra sprinkling of poppyseeds and a lemon slice for decoration (optional).


Storing: Store un-iced gluten-free cupcakes in a sealed container at room temperature for 1 day.  Decorated and filled cupcakes can be stored in the fridge, but allow them to come to room temperature before enjoying.

What dairy-free butter to use? My favourite vegan butters are Naturli Block and Flora’s Vegan Block Butter Alternative. 

What gluten-free flour to use? If you’re using plain flour, make sure to add in the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and Xanthan gum. If your’e able to find gluten-free self raising flour which already has the raising agents in, only add in the baking powder and Xanthan gum

What is aquafaba? Aquafaba is the water from a can/tin of chickpeas. The chickpea water or brine as it’s called, acts as an amazing egg substitute for cakes, cupcakes and delicious meringue buttercream. You can also get aquafaba in a carton for easy use.

What vegan condensed milk to use? My favourite vegan condensed milk is Natures Charm Vegan Condensed Coconut Milk and Carnation condensed Oat Milk. 

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


  1. Ellie
    June 25, 2022 / 6:51 am

    Hi. Can you use regular flour, such as self-raising. If so do you still need the xanthan gum?

  2. Annette
    August 2, 2022 / 11:23 am

    If I decorate these with buttercream, can I freeze them as I would other vegan cupcakes?

    • August 2, 2022 / 3:42 pm

      As these cupcakes are gluten-free, they are slightly different to your regular cupcake, I wouldn’t suggest freezing them. Store the cakes in a sealed container overnight, then frost when ready to serve, that my preferred way 🙂 Hope this helps xx

  3. Paulina
    October 2, 2022 / 8:06 pm

    Hi! I have a question about buttercream. Should I add aquafaba directly to the butter? Or whip the aquafaba first and then gradually add it to the butter?

    • January 8, 2023 / 1:27 am

      Hello, the great thing about aquafaba in buttercream, it doesn’t matter if you add it in with the butter or after the icing sugar is added, it all ends up the same way (smooth and fluffy). happy baking xx

  4. Rowena
    December 9, 2022 / 9:13 pm

    Whoa……never again will I make frosting any other way than this….most of it got piped into my pie-hole but Good Grief it was delicious!

    • January 8, 2023 / 1:26 am

      omg, hahah! I love this so much! I am so happy you enjoyed!!! xxx

  5. Julia
    January 12, 2023 / 6:06 pm

    Hello! thank you for sharing! can I cook them as a cake instead of cupcakes?

  6. April
    September 29, 2023 / 11:22 am

    Hi, the first ever gluten free/vegan cupcakes that I have made that have actually risen! QQ, mine, although risen and fluffy, seemed to be stodgy in the mouth when eating. Any thoughts on what I may have done wrong or is that how they are supposed to be?

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