The Gluten Free King Cake Recipe Even You Can Bake (2024)

If you’ve ever attempted to bake your own gluten free pastries, you know it can be quite challenging. Ingredients often don’t react in the same ways they would in typical baking, and good gluten-free baking typically requires a co*cktail of special additives that most bakers, even experienced ones, are unfamiliar with. Whey protein isolate? Tapioca starch? Potato flour? It can quickly get overwhelming and expensive!

I have baked both professionally and for fun on and off throughout the years, and pride myself on being a solid scratch baker. When I was tasked with developing a recipe for gluten free king cake, at first I wasn’t intimidated. Alton Brown practically raised me, for pete’s sake, and who knows more about baking chemistry than him? I naively thought, “How hard could it be, I know how to bake!”

The Gluten Free King Cake Recipe Even You Can Bake (1)

As it would turn out, I do NOT know how to bake without gluten.

Test after test came out crumbly, dry, and disappointing. Just when I had decided I never wanted to see Bob’s Red Mill 1-To-1 baking flour again, I realized: I was going about it all wrong. I was trying to force my favorite king cake recipes to be gluten-free, rather than find a great gluten-free recipe that I could then make my own.

The goal when I started was to create a delicious gluten-free king cake without having to invest in specialty ingredients. All I really wanted was to occasionally be able to make a good king cake for my gluten-free friends, so I hated to spend a bunch of money for items that would likely sit and go to waste. After a good bit of Pinterest browsing, it finally hit me: what was simple, comparably inexpensive, and easily accessible?

The Gluten Free King Cake Recipe Even You Can Bake (2)

Gluten-free bread mix!

After all, what is king cake, after you strip it of all the flavors, fillings, and toppings? Just mildly sweet, soft, bread. I used Hodgson Mill brand because it was convenient to pick up at my local supermarket, but this recipe is straight-forward enough to work with whatever your favorite may be. For best results it should be the type that stays loose, like the consistency of a thick cake batter.

The finished king cake is soft and springy, with bites of cinnamon sugar throughout and topped with a thick, sweet glaze. I like a touch of almond flavoring in my king cake glaze, but you can certainly leave it out if you prefer. The citrus zests really set the king cake apart from a typical cinnamon roll or donut styles and bring it more into the realm of classics like Haydel’s. Yum!

I hope you enjoy creating your own homemade gluten-free king cake and would love to hear about the results! Happy Mardi Gras!

The Gluten Free King Cake Recipe Even You Can Bake (3)



3 ½ cups Gluten Free Bread Mix of your choice

½ cup butter, divided (one stick)

2 tablespoons cinnamon

¾ cup white sugar, divided

¼ cup light brown sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 ½ cups milk

1 ½ teaspoons fast rise yeast (included in most mixes, check yours to confirm)

½ teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon orange zest

½ teaspoon lemon zest


1 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 teaspoon almond flavoring (optional)

Sugar Topping:

1 ½ cups white sugar

Purple, Green, and Yellow food coloring

3 sandwich size plastic storage bags



1. Prepare a standard size bundt pan by spraying with thoroughly cooking spray and lightly coating with either cornmeal or GF baking flour. Tap out excess.

2. Melt ¼ cup butter (half stick) in a medium sized bowl; add ½ cup white sugar, ½ cup brown sugar, and ½ teaspoon vanilla. Stir to combine, set aside.

3. Warm milk in a small bowl to approximately 100*-110*. It will be warm to the touch but not scalding.

4. Add 1 teaspoon of the remaining sugar and all of the yeast to the milk. Stir, set a timer for 5 minutes and set aside.

5. Pour the bread mix into a mixing bowl of a stand mixer* equipped with the paddle attachment. Add remaining sugar and ½ teaspoon of salt and mix on low briefly, just to combine.

6. Melt the remaining ¼ cup butter.

7. When your 5-minute timer goes off, add milk and yeast mixture to bread mix along with melted butter, room temperature eggs, cider vinegar, and orange and lemon zests.

8. Mix on low until mostly combined, stop the mixer and scrape the bowl well with a spatula. Mix again for on medium-high for 3 minutes. The dough will be similar to a very thick cake batter.

9. Spoon approximately 1/3 of the dough into prepared bundt pan. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Top with another 1/3 of the dough, sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar. Finish with the last 1/3 of dough, smoothing the top with a wet spatula. Spray lightly with cooking spray, cover loosely in cling wrap. Allow to rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.

10. Preheat oven to 375* near the end of rising time.

11. Bake at 375* for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when tested.

12. Turn out onto a cooling rack after 5 minutes, allow to cool completely.

Sugar Topping:

While cake is cooling, divide sugar into 3 sandwich bags. Add the purple, green, and yellow food coloring to the bags, then seal and shake. Add more food coloring, a few drops at a time, until desired color intensity is reached.


Combine powdered sugar, milk, corn syrup, and almond flavoring (if desired). Stir until smooth. Drizzle over cooled king cake then top with colored sugars immediately.

*A hand-held mixer can work also, but add 2 minutes to mix time. Mixing by hand is possible but tough on the arms! Stir for 8 full minutes if by hand.

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Hi there, I’m Christy! I am a Slidell native and currently live on the north side of town with my husband and our two girls, ages four and six. By day I manage for Panera Bread, and by night I bake and decorate for my home business, The Little Things Cakes. Thank you for stopping by and being a part of our parenting community!

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The Gluten Free King Cake Recipe Even You Can Bake (2024)


Does gluten free cake take longer to bake? ›

These recipes often call for longer baking times at a lower temperature compared to traditional recipes.

Should you let gluten free cake batter sit before baking? ›

We recommend covering your batters and doughs and letting them rest for at least half an hour. Note: This will also help batters become thicker and doughs to firm up.

Why do gluten-free cakes not rise? ›

Gluten-free flour blends don't have the same elasticity as flour containing gluten so often the cakes don't rise as much or will sink after rising. To combat the flat cake problem, I add ½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda to the recipe even when using a self-raising gluten-free flour blend.

Why is my gluten free cake batter so thick? ›

4. Lighten up your batters. If gluten-free cakes aren't falling apart, they often turn out heavy and unpleasantly dense. That's because gluten creates little pockets of air, so baked goods turn out springy and fluffy; gluten-free flours and grains are lacking this crucial element.

What is the trick to gluten free baking? ›

Gluten-free flours often contain fine starches, so they absorb more liquid than conventional flour. To address this, gluten-free recipes usually call for more liquid and produce looser batters. They may also call for a larger quantity of leavening, like baking powder, to help add volume and lighten the texture.

How do you know when a gluten-free cake is done? ›

While most conventional recipes recommend baking cakes or quickbreads until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, you don't want to wait that long with GF recipes. The toothpick tester should come out with a few moist crumbs instead. It might feel weird, but try to just go with it.

Can I just replace flour with gluten free flour? ›

If the original recipe calls for 260 grams of all-purpose flour, substitute with 260 grams of your blend. Beat the batter more. Because gluten-free flours provide less structure than all-purpose, the batter or dough you make with them may require more beating than that which you are accustomed.

Do gluten-free cakes need more liquid? ›

Add extra liquid: Gluten-free flours tend to absorb more liquid than regular flour, so you may need to add more liquid to your recipes to compensate. This can help to keep your baked goods moist and prevent them from becoming dry and crumbly.

Can you over mix gluten-free cake batter? ›

However, you can actually mix a batter containing xanthan and/or guar gum to a point of diminishing returns. You can overwork the gums and end up with a stringy cake batter or rubbery cookie dough. (Having said that, doing this takes some work. Just don't take your aggressions out on a gluten-free cake batter.)

What gluten-free flour is best for cakes? ›

What's the best gluten-free flour for baking? Bob's Red Mill gluten-free 1-to-1 baking mix is my favorite gluten-free all-purpose flour blend for baking. It has a mild texture and plenty of "stick" thanks to a blend of sweet rice flour, brown rice flour, and sorghum flour, plus some starches and xanthan gum.

Why is gluten-free baking so difficult? ›

Gluten-free baking is a lot harder than traditional baking because gluten protein is what gives baked goods their structure. Bread without gluten or any gluten substitute will be thick and crumbly when it comes out of the oven.

How do you keep gluten-free cakes moist? ›

Tips for best results
  1. Add some almond flour: Using a small amount of almond flour in your baking can enhance the taste and texture dramatically. ...
  2. Add more fat or liquid: It might just be that you need a bit more moisture in your recipe, especially if you're converting a regular “gluten-ful” recipe to gluten-free.
Jan 8, 2022

Why do gluten-free cakes sink in the middle? ›


You may not have used enough raising agents. I do recommend experimenting with double action baking powders. Otherwise try using 25 percent more chemical raising agents (baking soda or baking powder) if you're converting a recipe to gluten free.

Why do gluten-free cakes taste grainy? ›

The Cake Is Gritty:

If your cake turned out gritty, you used a gluten free flour blend that isn't milled as finely. Usually, rice flour is the main culprit of gritty gluten free cake.

Why is gluten free cake chewy? ›

With gluten-free baking, we use a combination of gluten-free flours, starches, and a binder (like xanthan gum). These ingredients take longer to set than regular gluten-containing flour, meaning they may remain slightly “gummy” or sticky until they have cooled.

What are the challenges of gluten free baking? ›

Owing to the challenge of gluten-free flours to form a protein network that provides structure and strength to dough, breads produced in the absence of gluten tends to be flatter, denser, crummier, less chewy and less tasty.

Does it take longer to cook with gluten-free flour? ›

Gluten-free baked goods often take longer to bake than their wheat-based cousins. This is because they have more moisture. Gluten-free flours are typically thirstier and need more hydration.

Why is my gluten-free cake not cooking in the middle? ›

It's very common for gluten free baked goods to sink in the middle and sometimes it's even gummy or looks like it isn't fully cooked. Here's some ways to help avoid that: -Don't over-mix your dough. Mix it until everything is just incorporated and be done.

Does gluten-free crust take longer to cook? ›

Bake gluten free pizza for longer than you would bake a regular pizza of the same size. For the pizza in the video above, the bake time is about 13 minutes on a hot baking stone. (A dough with gluten would be about 8 minutes.)

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