Funfetti Birthday Cake

Whether I’m turning 8 or 28 or 98, nothing says “happy birthday” to me quite like funfetti cake. The storebought mixes are far from vegan, but this recipe is actually better than the mix and almost as easy to make. It’s become the new favorite for my coworkers’ birthdays at school too. Just for fun, I’d love to try baking it in ice cream cones next time!

Note: Use the rainbow sprinkles of your choice. The regular Wilton rainbow sprinkles from the grocery store are technically vegan (check the ingredients first to be sure), but have artificial food dyes, soy, and other ingredients to which some people are sensitive. For a healthier (but less brightly colored) option, look for “Let’s Do Organic!” brand Sprinkelz Confetti from the health food store. The colors are more pastel and the sprinkles are smaller, but they’re organic, vegan, gluten-free, and kosher.

If you don’t need this to be gluten-free, you can substitute all-purpose flour for the GF flour and leave out the xanthan gum.

If you don’t need this to be tree nut-free, you can substitute unsweetened vanilla almond milk for the rice milk.


For the Cake

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla rice milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) Earth Balance vegan butter, melted
  • 1 cup vegan granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups GF flour mix
  • 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles

My gluten-free baking flour mix

You can use this for most GF recipes, or use your favorite store-bought mix. I make this several cups at a time, then keep it in an airtight container in the fridge so I’m ready for baking. Keep in mind that you will need to add xanthan gum to your recipes when you substitute this for all-purpose flour, since this mix does not have any yet.

  • 1 part brown rice flour
  • 1 part sweet sorghum flour
  • 2/3 part potato starch
  • 1/2 part tapioca starch

For the Frosting

You can use any frosting you like on this cake. Many store-bought tub frostings are technically vegan, but I find them revoltingly sweet and fake-tasting after years of cooking from scratch. This is my current favorite go-to frosting:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) Earth Balance vegan butter, melted
  • 2-3 cups vegan powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Splash of unsweetened vanilla rice milk


  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Mixing bowl
  • Stand mixer or electric hand mixer (optional)
  • Muffin tin for cupcakes, cake pan of your favorite shape, or 9×13 pan for rectangular cake


For the Cake

  1. In liquid measuring cup, add 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar to 1 cup unsweetened vanilla rice milk. Set aside and let it curdle. (I know it sounds gross, but you’re essentially making buttermilk, which is necessary to help the cake rise properly without egg.) Let it sit for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Pour the melted butter into your mixing bowl and whip it for a few seconds. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until well-blended, about 1-2 minutes on medium speed.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Once the milk has had at least 5 minutes to curdle, gradually add the wet and dry ingredients to the mixing bowl in this order:
    • 1/2 cup flour
    • 1/3 cup milk
    • all baking powder, baking soda, salt, xanthan gum
    • 1/2 cup flour
    • 1/3 cup milk
    • Remaining 1/2 cup flour
    • Remaining 1/3 cup milk

    If you just dump everythng together instead of adding it gradually, that’s okay too, but you’ll need to stop your mixer several times and carefully scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is combining. Whenever I skip this step to save time, I find a layer of sugar-butter at the bottom and clumps of flour that haven’t been mixed properly. It’s worth the extra minute to add the ingredeints gradually for this recipe, trust me.

  5. Mix on medium, then medium-high, for a few minutes until thoroughly mixed. (Note: If using all-purpose flour instead of GF, be careful to mix only until mixed, then stop or it will become chewy. If using GF flour, mix for a couple minutes longer than you think you need to, it can only help.)
  6. Take out the blender attachment and manually fold in the rainbow sprinkles by slowly stirring with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Don’t overmix these or the colors will blend to greyish-brown very quickly!
  7. Grease your cupcake pan or cake pan, or line the cupcake pan with paper liners.
  8. Pour the batter carefully into your pan. Aim for about 3/4 full because it needs room to rise.
  9. Bake in the center of the oven at 350 degrees F until a toothpick comes out clean. Start with 20-24 minutes for cupcakes, or less for mini-cupcakes, longer for cake pans. Important note: These will turn only very slightly golden brown, much lighter than you’re used to seeing for a finished cake. Don’t let that fool you; trust the toothpick.
  10. Let the cake cool for at least 15 minutes in the pan before trying to remove it. Then let it cool completely on a drying rack, or in the pan if you’re leaving it there, before frosting.

For the Frosting

  1. Wash your mixing bowl and beaters.
  2. Pour melted vegan butter into the mixing bowl. Beat for several seconds, then add vanilla and apple cider vinegar. Beat for one minute.
  3. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, continuing to mix the entire time (this is why a stand mixer is so helpful), until thick and smooth. Drizzle in a tiny bit of rice milk if it’s crumbling up instead of looking smooth like frosting.
  4. Taste a tiny bit and adjust as needed:
    • If it tastes like powdered sugar, add a dash of vanilla and rice milk.
    • If it tastes like butter, add more powdered sugar.
    • If it tastes too intensely sweet, add just a couple drops more apple cider vinegar, but don’t overdo it.

    I have no idea why, but frosting comes out a little different every time I make it. That’s why you need to tweak it until it tastes right today.

  5. Frost the cake or cupcakes and top with sprinkles. Cover leftovers and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator.


Adapted from Minimalist Baker’s recipe for One Bowl Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes.