Gluten Free Lemon Muffins (with Mascarpone Frosting)

Gluten Free Lemon Muffins

If you are looking for simple breakfast ideas then these gluten free lemon muffins with crumb topping and delicious mascarpone lemon frosting are for you! Serve it on a Sunday morning to make your kids’ day all that more happy. Check out my best gluten free muffins recipe below!

Why You Will Love This Recipe

Texture. These lemon muffins are super soft on the inside with a crunchy crumb on the top!

Flavor. These gluten free muffins have a deep almost cream cheese like flavor with the notes of lemon that is created by the lemon zest and fresh lemon juice.

Easy recipe. Even though you need to make the muffin batter, the crumb topping, and the mascarpone frosting, the whole recipe will take you about 30 minutes total. First, you make the crumb top, then the batter, then you can make the frosting while the muffins are baking in the oven. Make a bigger batch and keep for longer! Although in my house they wouldn’t last longer than one day, they are that good!

Simple ingredients. You don’t need to get any special ingredients for this gluten free lemon muffins recipe, even the gluten free flour blend is going to be mixed by you!

Substitutes and Swaps

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lemon Muffins

Use coconut milk, rice milk, or almond milk to make these muffins dairy free. In the crumb topping you are free to use cold coconut oil in place of butter, and for the frosting use coconut cream instead of mascarpone and heavy cream.

Vegan Gluten Free Lemon Muffins

To make these gluten free lemon muffins vegan just use the same substitutions as in the dairy free version plus omit the egg and use a banana or a chia egg instead.

Sugar Free Gluten Free Lemon Muffins

To make this recipe sugar free you can substitute the sugar for coconut sugar. I haven’t tried it with other natural sweeteners like honey, dates, maple syrup, or any other, but you are free to try them, just keep in mind that those are different in texture and it will impact the end product!

Gluten Free Lemon Muffins

Ingredients Guide

Sugar – use white granulated sugar for the muffin batter, brown sugar (light or dark brown) for the crumb topping, and confectioners (or powdered) sugar for the frosting. Feel free to experiment with natural sweeteners, but I have not tried this recipe with those.

Lemon zest – many people ask whether you can substitute lemon zest with lemon juice, but the answer is no, you can’t. Lemon juice is way more subtle when it comes to flavor and you really want your muffins to burst with lemon in every bite (or if you don’t, then go ahead and use lemon juice).

Get yourself a good zester though, because zesting a lemon with a dull grater is such a pain (ask me how I know that!). I tried zesting a lemon with a knife and adding the bits of skin into the dough as well, but it doesn’t give out as much flavor this way and you will end up with pieces of lemon skin on your teeth as you chew on your lemon muffins. Not the best!

Xanthan gum – really important ingredient here. There are substitute for xanthan gum like guar gum or psyllium husk powder, you are free to try them, but remember you do need some sort of a binding agent in your batter in order for the muffins to hold up together.

Gluten Free Flour – in this recipe I use my own mix for the muffin recipe (details below). All you will need is tapioca flour, cornstarch (potato starch will work, too), and white rice flour. You can try with other flours but it will impact the texture and flavors of the end product.

Baking powder – you need this ingredient in order for your gluten free muffins to rise and get that nice round top. Just make sure that the baking powder you are using is gluten free.

Egg – this ingredient adds moisture and structure to your gluten free baked goods. Egg also serves as a binder in gluten free baking, but on its own it is not enough and does need the help of the xanthan gum.

Oil – use any oil you like. I used sunflower oil in my lemon muffins.

Milk – adds moisture and richness to your muffins. Use whole milk for better flavor!

Lemon juice – make sure to use fresh lemon juice for best results!

Mascarpone – you are free to substitute mascarpone with cream cheese if you’d like to.

Heavy whipping cream – helps make the frosting more liquid which allows you to drizzle it onto the muffins with ease.

Brown sugar – adding brown sugar to the crumb topping contributes to the crunch you get at the end of the baking process. You can use other sugars if you’d like to, but it won’t yield the same crunchiness as the brown sugar does.

Butter – make sure your butter is cold when you are adding it to the flour as it will allow for the crumbs to form instead of the topping being dough like.



Ingredients for the Gluten Free Lemon Muffins
  • ¼ cup white granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 32 grams cornstarch
  • 31 grams tapioca starch
  • 82 grams white rice flour
  • ¼ tsp xanthan gum
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup oil (I used sunflower oil)
  • ¼ cup milk (I used 2.8%)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Crumb Topping

ingredients for the crumb topping (2)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar (light or dark)
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • ½ cup white rice flour
  • 2 tbsp butter (29 grams)


ingredients for the muffin frosting
  • 61 grams mascarpone
  • 150 grams heavy cream
  • 30 grams powdered sugar
  • zest of 1/3 lemon
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

How to Make Gluten Free Lemon Muffins

Step 1 – make the crumb topping

In a medium size bowl mix all the crumb top ingredients. Make sure the butter is cold and cut into small cubes (about 1 inch), this will help incorporate the butter into the flour evenly. Use your hand to mix the dough and place it into the refrigerator while you are making the muffin batter.

Crumb Topping

Step 2 – prepare the muffin batter

Zest and juice your lemon. Add all the dry ingredients together and whisk to incorporate, then add the wet ingredients to the flour bowl and mix well with a spatula or a stand mixer. Don’t worry about overmixing the dough! In gluten free baking the more mixing the better.

Pour the muffin batter into the greased (or lined with paper) muffin tins, spread the crumb topping onto each muffin evenly, and pop them into the preheated oven at 320F / 160C for about 30-40 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown on the top. Gluten free baking takes more time and is better done at lower temperatures, this is why we are going to bake our gluten free muffins at 320F/160C and not at the regular 350F/170C.

Step 3 – prepare the frosting

While the muffins are baking, toss all the frosting ingredients together and mix to combine. Set aside.

Step 4 – frost the muffins

When the muffins are done, let them cool in the tins for about 10 minutes, then you can carefully take them out and place onto a serving platter. Once the muffins have cooled down, spread the frosting onto them and enjoy!

Gluten Free Lemon Muffins with a Crumb Topping

Tips for Making Gluten Free Lemon Muffins

Zesting Lemons

  • What is the easiest way to zest lemons? With a good lemon zester! It is pain to have to zest a whole lemon with a dull grater! But lemon zest is necessary for the lemon flavor to be strong enough.
  • How to zest a lemon without a lemon zester? You can use your grater you have at home if it is sharp enough. If it is not, you still can zest your lemons with it, it will just take more time. You can also use a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife, but that will come with zest bits, which might not be the best for the muffin texture. However, you can cut the zest up into small pieces and still use it in this muffin recipe.
  • What part of a lemon do you zest? Lemon has the outer skin that is yellow and if you scrape it off enough you will see the white part of the skin that is under the yellow one. The white part is bitter and you definitely don’t want it in your baked goods. Scrape off the yellow layer from the entire lemon and feel free to use it in any recipe that calls for lemon zest.
  • Is lemon peel and lemon zest the same? Lemon peel consists of two layers: a yellow one and a white one. Yellow one is referred to as lemon zest and the white one is normally discarded.

– Avoid using heavy flours for gluten free muffins. Tapioca flour (or starch), potato starch, and rice flour make for a good blend for this muffin recipe.

– Bake gluten free muffins on a lower heat setting (320F/160C) for a longer time (30-40 minutes) to get best results as gluten free baked goods need extra time to bake all the way through and for that reason you will be better off with lower temperature so that the muffin tops don’t burn.

– Cool your muffins before adding frosting or it will melt.

– Add chocolate chip if you would like to make gluten free chocolate chip muffins with lemon flavor.

– Feel free to add some berries like blueberries, for example, to make gluten free blueberry muffins with lemon flavor.

Gluten Free Lemon Muffins with a Mascarpone Frosting

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Won’t My Gluten Free Muffins Rise?

You might be using heavier gluten free flours and not enough baking powder. Make sure your baking powder is not expired and is still active. Check out how to make sure your baking powder is active here.

How Do You Make Gluten Free Baked Goods Moist?

You need to add extra ingredients that will moisturize like: eggs, yogurt, sour cream, or pureed fruit. If you find these gluten free lemon muffins not moist enough then add extra ¼ cup of yogurt, a mashed banana, or an extra egg.

How Long Do Gluten Free Muffins Last?

These gluten free lemon muffins will last for up to 5 days, but realistically you will probably finish them within a day or two!

How Much Sugar is in a Gluten Free Muffin?

The same amount as in a regular gluten muffin, which is about 14.5 grams.

Why are My Gluten Free Muffins Crumbly?

You might need to add more moisture to your muffins by using enough eggs, or adding yogurt, sour cream, or pureed fruits. You might be using a bit too much flour or a wrong type of flour for a certain recipe. You also need to make sure you are using enough xanthan gum in order to keep your muffins together! Do not omit xanthan gum from your gluten free recipes.

Why are my gluten free muffins gummy?

You might be using too much milk or other moisture in the muffin batter that makes them gummy. Make sure to follow the recipe exactly for the best results.

What Flour Has No Gluten?

White rice flour, brown rice flour, sorghum flour, corn flour, potato starch, cornstarch, tapioca flour (starch), buckwheat flour, coconut flour, almond flour, potato flour, amaranth flour, millet flour, quinoa flour, teff flour, and others.

Can You Just Replace Flour with Gluten Free Flour?

No, you can’t. The reason for that is that gluten free flours absorb way more moisture than wheat flour does, so the recipe needs to be adjusted to contain the right amount of moisturizing ingredients to ensure the best result and avoid gummy texture. Another thing you need to pay attention to is the binding agent in your recipe. If you replace wheat flour with gluten free flour you will need to add xanthan gum, guar gum, or psyllium husk in order to make sure that your baked goods don’t fall apart as you bite into them.

Other Gluten Free Desserts You Will Love

What’s Next?

Have you made these gluten free lemon muffin recipe? I would love to see! Share your experiences below, or tag me on Instagram @natashashome_ and I would love to share your creations in my stories. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below!

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