The BEST Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

This Gluten-Free Chocolate Layer Cake may just be the best chocolate cake we have ever eaten, gluten-free or not. It is super moist, with deep chocolate flavor, and truly easy to put together. The chocolate cake layers are dairy-free and paleo-friendly, and we can promise this gluten-free cake will be a hit for any occasion!

Gluten Free Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Chocolate Cake

We heard you! After we published the BEST Gluten-Free Layer Birthday Cake recipe a while back you’ve been asking us to make a chocolate version. We got to it right away and we are CRAZY HAPPY with the results. This truly is the best chocolate cake we’ve ever tasted! You won’t know it’s gluten-free (not that that matters around here) and it is so rich and moist!

Making this recipe wasn’t as easy as adding in chocolate to our vanilla layer cake. A chocolate cake is a whole different beast. We started with a base of almond and coconut flour, which we love. It lends itself to have just the right crumb and moisture level. And then we added in cocoa powder and adjusted the level of sweetener to balance the bitterness. We added some coffee in to boast the chocolate flavor, but feel free to swap it out with additional milk instead. It took us a few tries to get the right amount of fat, which we use avocado oil here, but once we did this cake was SO GOOD.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe Slice

The cake layers themselves are dairy-free. We choose to frost it with a chocolate buttercream, but if you don’t tolerate dairy you can certainly use a dairy-free chocolate ganache made with coconut milk and dairy-free chocolate to frost your cake.

As we said above, this cake does have nuts. If you’re looking for a nut-free and school-safe cake recipe, go for the two in my cookbook or this July 4th Classic Cake!

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Overhead

Tips Tools Needed to Frost a Cake Like a Pro

It’s not essential to frost the cake like we did. But if you want to give it a whirl, getting these tools make it easier to get an even and smooth cake!

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

If you like this celebration dessert, check out these other recipes:

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The BEST Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • Author: Lexi
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6-10 1x

Ingredients

Scale

For Cake Layers:

  • 21/2 cups (240g) almond flour
  • 3/4 cup (64g) high-quality cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup (24g) coconut flour
  • 11/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 11/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup coffee (see note)
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 11/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Chocolate Buttercream:

  • 4 sticks grass-fed butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder, sifted
  • 6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup almond milk

Instructions

For Cake Layers:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF and grease 3 6″ layer pans (we used avocado spray) and line with parchment paper that fits directly inside. Skipping this step could result in a cake that sticks to the pan. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl add almond flour, cocoa, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt.
  3. In a large bowl whisk eggs. Add in coconut sugar, milk, coffee, avocado oil and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine.
  4. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients and whisk to combine completely.
  5. Divide batter evenly between 3 cake pans and bake in pre-heated oven for 25  minutes, or until a toothpick inserted and removed is clean or any wet cake batter.
  6. Let cake layers cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing by running a thin knife or offset spatula around the side of the pan to loosen the cake and turning over pan on wire rack. Remove the parchment paper liner if still on the cake. Cool completely before frosting.

For Buttercream Frosting:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment beat the butter until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the sugar and cocoa powder and mix on low speed until well blended. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add the vanilla and 1/4 cup of almond milk (or more if needed) and beat on medium speed until lightened in color.

To Assemble the Cake:

  1. Once cake is cooled place first layer on serving plate and frost with a buttercream layer to prevent the cake from moving once assembled.
  2. Add next layer of cake and repeat with layer of buttercream, smoothing over, and place last cake layer on top.
  3. Place cake in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, to let set up and to make frosting cake easier.
  4. Once cake has chilled, add about half of frosting to the top of the cake and using an offset spatula frost cake starting with the top and moving excess down the sides of the cake and smoothing as going.
  5. Decorate as desired with additional frosting, chocolate cups and sprinkles on the side.
  6. Cake will keep 3-5 days in refrigerator.

Notes

You can omit the coffee and substitute in 1/4 cup almond milk or water. Coffee helps bring out the chocolate flavor, but is not essential.

We have a heavy hand when we frost our cakes. If you think you’ll want less frosting, swap the recipe with  3 sticks of butter, 1 cup cocoa powder, 4 cups powdered sugar and follow the recipe as stated. If you do end up with leftover frosting, you can freeze it for later use.

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50 comments
September 7, 2018

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50 Responses

  1. This cake is DELICIOUS! So yummy! The flavour and texture of the cake are so good and the icing is soooo smooth and tasty and not overly sweet. We haven’t even finished it and hubby is already asking for it to be a repeat recipe. Yum!

  2. Can I substitute another flour for the almond flour in the chocolate cake recipe because of nut allergies?

    1. We haven’t tried, so we can recommend any and promise the same results. If you do experiment, let us know how it goes!

  3. This cake was hands down the best homemade cake I have made and the best part was that my family loved it and didn’t know it was gluten free!

    5.0 rating

  4. Hi Lexi. I love this cake. I made it a few times last year for a friend. I want to make it again. But I was wondering about the coconut sugar and oil. In your reply to Chris Endicott I see you mentioned that the crumb is affected by the sugar as well. Have you made it with granulated sugar or brown sugar and what was the result? Also, I think the avocado oil is giving it a bit of an aftertaste. Have you tried it with vegetable, canola or grape seed oil? What was the result? Acceptable? Just coconut sugar and avocado oil gave it a slightly better texture? Thank you!

    5.0 rating

  5. I made this cake and it was absolutely delish!! The frosting was exceptional and the cake was moist without being too heavy or oily tasting. I decided to go vegetarian a year ago and I used homemade cashew milk and earth balance vegan butter. I will definitely include this in my dessert rotation!!!!! Thank you!

    5.0 rating

  6. Wondering about baking in a different size pan. Maybe 13×9 sheet pan or 2 8’’ pans or
    10 ‘’ round for a single layer cake
    Going to make with golden monk fruit sweetener in the cake and powdered monk sweetener in frosting . On a low carb diet and this will be my birthday cake February 29th once every four years , so need a special cake to celebrate

    1. That IS a special occasion. You can bake this in a different pan but this cake is delicate because there is no gluten in it. We recommended the smaller cake pans because it was easier to handle the cake. If you made it as a sheet cake, it might be safer to frost it directly in the pan. A word of caution on using an alternative sweetener: it might not work. This recipe didn’t even work the same when I switched from coconut sugar to brown sugar. Sugar in a baking recipe works in many ways, not just sweetening. It effects the moisture, the crumb and the structure. Let us know how it goes if you do try. And happy early birthday! -Kelli

    1. Hi Rachek. What size cake pan where you using? I can assure you this recipe makes a 3 layer 6″ cake. I know–I’ve tested and made it roughly 11 times now. But happy to help you figure out what went wrong on your end. – Kelli

  7. I made it for a birthday and it was amazing! both gluten-free and gluten eaters liked it! easy to make yet still phenomenal! even people who don’t usually like cake liked it! I used two 9 inch pans that were 1 1/2 inches deep and it turned out great!

    5.0 rating

  8. I have made this cake twice and WOW!! So good. I found though that my cakes sink a bit in the middle, especially after pricking them with the toothpick to see if they’re done – is this normal? and if not, what might I be doing wrong? Also, side note – I have 8 inch pans, so I’ve been making 2 layers out of this recipe, and making 2 batches to end up with 4 decent layers for a tallish cake. I bake them for about 30-35 minutes, would that be long enough?

  9. I have made this cake twice. Once for my daughter that is GF and then my husband requested it for his birthday as well because he liked it so much! I made 1 1/2 of the recipe and poured it into three 9″: pans and it was a beautiful cake! I would love to make the 6″ version. Can you please tell me the height of your pans? Are they 2″ or 3″ – I don’t want to purchase the wrong ones. This cake is absolutely delicious by the way! Thank you so much for it!

    5.0 rating

    1. So glad you loved the recipe! Either 2″ or 3″ inch works here, so long as you are making 3 layers of them as instructed. If you were looking to make 2, you might need the 3″.

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