This gluten-free chocolate cake has the perfect texture and is extremely moist and chocolaty. It’s super quick and easy to make and also has vegan and dairy-free options. Nobody will believe it’s gluten-free!
This is my go-to cake for special occasions. It never disappoints.
If you don’t need an entire 8” cake, you can freeze it and can spread the love throughout the coming months. It’s not so big though, so, within a few days, I’m betting it will be gone.
I’ve made this cake for over 15 years now, and I’ve had no desire to try another because it’s really just perfect. If you’re looking for the best gluten-free chocolate cake, you have to give this one a try!
It uses basic ingredients, is made in one bowl, and the flavor can’t be beat.
Just your usual stuff here! I go into detail about most ingredients down below.
How to make it
It’s a super simple recipe. You basically just stir it all together in a bowl, pour into pans, and bake.
First, you mix together the dry ingredients.
Then add the wet stuff. You don’t need to mix the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients separately, as you usually do in cake recipes.
The batter will be SUPER thin, almost like water. I’ve had some form of this recipe up on the blog for 10 years, and I’ve always had this warning in this recipe, and so many people have said that they were still worried about how thin it was.
You do not need to worry. 😆
And now bake! A toothpick should not come out completely dry. If it does, your cake is overbaked and will be dry.
It should have moist, wet crumbs on it. Just not raw batter.
Because it’s so moist, a tiny layer (if you can even call if that) sticks to the bottom of the pan. I highly recommend using parchment paper on the bottom of the pans to ensure that the cakes come out okay.
Nobody can tell once the frosting’s on, though. But I wanted you to see the photo so you wouldn’t think you did something wrong if your cake looks like mine.
Can I use cacao powder?
I always use Dutch-process cocoa powder in my baked chocolate recipes, which results in a darker, richer, more chocolaty cake.
If you use cacao powder, which is lighter in color and taste, your cake won’t be as chocolaty and won’t be as sweet. That may or may not be a good thing, depending on what you like.
If you go with the sugar option (instead of honey) and use Dutch-process cocoa powder, this cake has a normal sweetness. So if you use cacao powder, it might be okay if you don’t want your sweets very sweet.
If you choose the honey option (which is 1 cup of honey in place of 2 cups of sugar) and Dutch-process cocoa powder, the cake is already less sweet than a regular cake. So with the honey option, I don’t recommend using cacao powder.
By the way, you’d normally need to reduce the liquid in a recipe when you sub in honey for granulated sugar. But I never have here and honestly have no idea how it works so well.
I’ve never tried this recipe with cacao powder, so I can’t guarantee that it’ll come out well. I have made it with natural cocoa powder (like Hershey’s), but I much prefer it with Dutch-process for the more intense chocolate flavor.
I recently used King Arthur Flour Gluten-free Measure for Measure Flour in my Vegan Mug Brownies. It worked great!
I wanted to try it out in something a bit more challenging because a mug cake that calls for 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour isn’t exactly a proper test.
I’ve made this cake several times a year for 15 years, so I’m well-acquainted with how exactly the texture should be. ;) I was doubtful when mixing up the batter.
With wheat flour and Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-free Baking Flour, the batter is almost as thin as water. Bob’s is what was used in the photos and video.
With King Arthur Flour, it was thicker, like normal cake batter, and seemed a bit gluey. It also took 5 minutes longer to bake.
But it baked up wonderfully! Just like with Bob’s, there isn’t any grittiness or funky taste in this recipe.
Does it taste gluten-free?
If you use the same flour as I did, the cake won’t taste at all gluten-free. It is so moist and fudgy that even the pickiest eaters will be pleased. It tastes just like traditional chocolate cake!
You can try a different blend, but I can’t guarantee that it would be as good or that it wouldn’t taste gluten-free.
All gluten-free flour mixes are different, so rather than experiment, stick to the exact recipe to yield the best results.
If you want something whole grain and gluten-free, try this Swedish Sticky Chocolate Cake Kladdkaka Recipe. It’s incredibly easy to make, gooey and irresistible even with the vegan option.
Traditional or healthy version
You’ve got a lot of options with this deliciously versatile cake. If you don’t need it to be gluten-free, you could use whole wheat flour to make it healthier or regular all-purpose. Trust me, the whole wheat version won’t taste like cardboard because there is so much chocolaty taste to cover up a wheaty taste.
You can also use regular eggs or chia eggs for a vegan version.
Regular sugar, coconut sugar or honey are all great options for sweeteners in this cake. It just depends on your preferences.
Can this cake be made paleo?
I’ve been working on converting this recipe to use a mix of paleo flours. But it’s still not ready.
In the meantime, I have this delectable Paleo Chocolate Strawberry Cake! It’s made for two with a fudgy chocolate frosting and strawberry filling.
I also have these Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes.
You have a few options. I used my Paleo Vegan Chocolate Fudge Frosting because it tastes superb, holds up at room temperature and can be piped! It’s not overly sweet, so the sweetness of the cake shines through, and it’s super easy to make.
You can use whatever type of milk you’d like in the frosting. If you use canned coconut milk, which is much thicker than normal milk, I suggest using about half water and half coconut milk. So 6 tablespoons of each.
If you don’t want to frost the sides of the cake, just make ⅔ of the recipe. You’ll have a bit left over.
If you just want a little frosting, you can probably get away with making ½ of the recipe.
I know the amount of frosting for the whole cake is a lot. In everyday life, when I’m not posting a recipe, I never frost the sides.
This cake doesn’t really need it because it is sweet enough on its own, but it does take it to another level of goodness!
If you like ganache, then this Vegan Chocolate Frosting is delightful. It has a paleo option, so it works well with this gluten-free cake. And it only has 2 ingredients, so it’s foolproof.
Are you a cream cheese frosting lover? If yes, try this Healthier Cream Cheese Frosting. It yields just over 2 cups, which is enough for the filling and top of the cake.
If you also want to frost the sides with cream cheese frosting, use these amounts instead:
- 16 ounces (450 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups (160 grams) powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Then follow the directions on the post, slather it on and top it with something bright and fruity for extra flare.
Topping it with raspberries or strawberries is easiest and gives the cake a sweet freshness. If I don’t have any of those on hand, I like to sprinkle some crushed freeze-dried raspberries on top.
Sprinkles are also fun. I always smile when I see the photos in my Vegan Chocolate Cake recipe. The sprinkles make it look so cheery!
Chopped nuts are easy, too.
Using other pans
The bake time will widely vary depending on what combination of sugar, eggs and flour you use.
I would start checking the cake at 20 minutes and then every 3 minutes thereafter. I would say the same for an egg-free version.
If you make a chia egg and honey version, then 22 minutes is your mark. Start checking it at 15 and keep an eye on it.
You’ll want to bake the cake until the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs, but no liquid. Don’t wait for it to come out totally clean or it will be overbaked and dry.
Two round 9” pans
If you want to divide the recipe into two 9” pans, you’ll definitely need to bake it for fewer minutes. I haven’t tried it, so if you do, let me know how much time it took and I’ll try it out and update the post!
Sorry, but it won’t bake properly and will come out gooey and rubbery, so I don’t recommend it.
If you prefer cupcakes, check out my post on Gluten-free Chocolate Cupcakes.
If you don’t feel like clicking over, then:
- Preheat your oven to 350 °F (175 °C). Line 2 muffin pans with 24 liners.
- Follow the preparation directions below.
- Fill each liner just a little more than halfway full.
- Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with some moist crumbs, but no liquid.
- Let cool for 5 minutes in the pans, and then turn out onto a rack to cool. Let cool completely before frosting.
How to store the cake
You’ll want to keep this cake refrigerated. It’s a very moist cake and the frosting should be kept refrigerated.
If you want to make it in the morning and serve it later in the day, that’s fine – no need to refrigerate.
You can also make the layers, cool completely, wrap them in plastic wrap, and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Cover and refrigerate any leftover frosted cake for up to 4 days.
How to freeze the cake
It’s easy to make this cake ahead of time and freeze it! It makes special days much less stressful when cake is just waiting to be thawed and frosted.
If you do this, be sure to let the cake layers thaw and come to room temperature before you frost it.
If you have leftover pieces from an already frosted cake, you can still freeze them with the frosting for up to 3 months. You can even freeze a whole frosted cake!
Just know the frosting will sweat a bit. But it will still taste amazing.
Dairy-free or vegan options
It’s really easy to make this cake dairy-free and vegan. For dairy-free, just use dairy-free milk.
I like cashew milk, but you can use whatever you’d like.
To make it vegan, in addition to the above change, you also need to use chia eggs. That’s the only egg sub I’ve tried in the recipe, but I think other ones would also work well. But I can’t say for sure as I haven’t tried it.
Questions about this gluten-free chocolate cake?
Can you taste the olive oil? If you use extra-virgin olive oil, you will be able to taste the olive oil in the batter and when the cake is straight out of the oven. But once it cools, you will not be able to taste it. If you are worried about it, you can use light olive oil which refers to the taste, not calories.
Can I use a different oil other than olive oil? Yes, you can use canola oil, vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, or melted refined coconut oil. Basically any oil with a neutral taste. Using unrefined coconut oil would give you some coconut flavor.
Can I use butter? I think you could use butter, but it wouldn’t be as moist. Butter is 80-82% fat, whereas oil is 100% fat. So if you’re aiming for the moistest cake, baking with oil is your best bet.
Can I use a different gluten-free flour mix? If you use a different brand of gluten-free flour, I can’t guarantee the same results. My recommendation would be to bake according to the exact ingredients and directions to get the best gluten-free chocolate cake.
I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free 1-to-1 Baking Flour and King Arthur Flour Gluten-free Measure for Measure Flour with great results..
That being said, if you have another brand that works as a substitute for all-purpose flour, then you can most likely use it here. I can’t say with assurance that the texture would be as perfect as the flour mix I used, but you’re free to try it. If you do, let me know what worked for you so I can update the post.
Can I use almond / coconut / other flours? Nope. None of those are direct subs for wheat flour. You need to use a gluten-free baking blend that’s meant as a 1-to-1 sub for wheat flour. If you don’t want to use such flour, you could check out this Italian Lemon Almond Flour Cake. It’s fresh and lovely and would be a great alternative if you are using almond flour.
If chocolate is what you’re after, then you could try these Coconut Flour Brownies. They’re topped with a chocolate fudge frosting and taste amazing!
Can I reduce the sugar? If you reduce the sugar, you also reduce the moisture, so unless you want a dry cake, I wouldn’t try it. However, I think using 1 1/2 cups of sugar would be okay.
I don’t recommend reducing the honey as that’s already a reduced amount.
If you have a liquid sweetener that replaces honey, then it should work here. Any granulated sweetener that you would usually use in place of granulated sugar would most likely work here as well. I’ve had a terrible time using keto sweeteners in my chocolate recipes, so I wouldn’t recommend that unless you’re quite confident that it’ll work.
I haven’t tried other sweeteners for this cake, so I 100% say if a different sweetener would work.
Can I use dairy-free milk? If you’re wanting to use a milk alternative, cashew milk is my favorite. It has a more neutral taste than almond milk which is why I prefer it in baked goods.
Oat milk would also be great. I haven’t tried it, but I imagine that it would work just fine.
If you want to use canned coconut milk, I would do half water and half coconut milk for both the batter and the frosting.
Other healthier Valentine’s Day desserts
The chocolate cake is optimal for Valentine’s Day, but it isn’t necessarily the healthiest treat. Even using honey, the frosting is sweetened with chocolate and has a lot of sugar. If you’re looking for the healthiest options, I do have some desserts just for you.
- For a super-rich and creamy healthy dessert, this Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake is paleo and no-bake! It’s made with coconut milk, dates and coconut sugar, so it’s definitely healthier than a regular cheesecake.
- This Paleo Vegan Chocolate Mousse is date-sweetened, egg-free and super simple to make. It’s healthy, and it’s also guilt-free!
- These bite-sized Healthier Raspberry Truffles have only 4 ingredients and are vegan, gluten-free and naturally grain-free. They’re impressive and freeze well, so you can have amazing treats for months.
- This Paleo Fudge are bite-sized bits of love. It has an amazing texture, it’s made with almond butter and sweetened with maple syrup. Plus, it’s vegan and easy to make!
- Prefer white chocolate? This White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse is easy enough for ‘him to make’ 😁. Just grab the link and send it to your sweetheart for a super creamy, terrific treat.
- For a sugar-free treat, this Keto Cheesecake is divine! It’s a classic-looking cheesecake, but with no sugar! It has a graham-cracker-like crust and is really amazing, especially for being sugar-free. It also freezes great, so it’s super to make ahead.
I hope you like this Gluten-free Chocolate Cake! If you make it, I’d love to see it! Please snap a pic and tag #texanerin so I can be sure to find it.
Gluten-free Chocolate Cake
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 8-12 slices
See notes for the vegan/dairy-free version!
- 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar1 or 1 cup (320 grams) honey2
- 1 3/4 cups (242 grams) Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-free Baking Flour or 1 3/4 cups (230 grams) King Arthur Flour Gluten-free Measure for Measure Flour
- 3/4 cup (85 grams) cocoa powder (I used Dutch-process)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large3 eggs4
- 1 cup (240ml) milk of choice5
- 1/2 cup (120ml) oil6
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (240ml) boiling water
- 3 cups (510 grams) semi-sweet chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup (180 milliliters) milk
- 3/4 cup (168 grams) refined coconut oil or butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the frosting:
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C). Line two round 8" cake pans (2" tall) with parchment paper on the bottom and grease the sides of the pans.
- In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (sugar through salt).
- Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.
- Mix until combined, and then stir in the boiling water. The batter will be almost as thin as water (if using King Arthur Flour, it'll be thicker).
- Divide the batter between the two prepared pans.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with some moist crumbs, but not raw liquid.
- Let cool for 5 minutes in the pans, and then turn out onto a rack to cool. Let cool completely before frosting.
- Unfrosted cake layers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for 2 days or refrigerated for 3. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
- In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, mix together the chocolate, milk, coconut oil or butter, vanilla extract and salt. Stir until melted and completely smooth.
- Let the pan cool for about 15 minutes (or until cool enough to place in the refrigerator) and then place the pan in the refrigerator for about 1-2 hours, stirring after every 15-20 minutes, or until firm enough to spread on the cake. I usually need about 1 hour. If you forget about it and leave it in the refrigerator for too long, it'll be too firm to spread on the cake, so be sure to keep checking on it. If it gets too hard, very lightly reheat it on low heat, while stirring constantly, until it's soft enough to spread.
- Once the cake has cooled, spread about 3/4 cup of frosting on the first layer, about 1 cup on top of the cake, and the rest on the sides. If you have any left over, it freezes great.
- Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days. You can also freeze the frosted cake or unfrosted layers for up to 3 months.
For the cake:
To make the frosting:
- Instead of 2 cups of granulated sugar, you can also use 2 cups (380 grams of coconut sugar)
- The honey version is less sweet, but with the frosting, still sweet enough. Nobody has ever complained about it not being sweet enough!
- If you're outside of the US, it's best to weigh your eggs unless you know what the equivalent of a large US egg is where you live. US large eggs = German medium eggs, for example. Each egg should weigh 50 grams out of its shell.
- To make this cake vegan, I use chia eggs. For this recipe, mix together 2 tablespoons of ground chia seed with 6 tablespoons of water until well combined. Let sit for about 1-2 minutes or until goopy like regular eggs.
- To make it dairy-free, I like cashew milk but you can use whatever you'd like. If you want to use canned coconut milk, I recommend using 1/2 cup of that + 1/2 cup of water for the batter. That’ll thin it down so that it’s like regular milk. For the frosting, you'd use 6 tbsp coconut milk + 6 tbsp water.
- I recommend something neutral like melted refined coconut oil, light olive oil, grapeseed oil, vegetable oil or canola oil.
- For a vegan cake, use sugar (not honey), plant-based milk, chia eggs, vegan chocolate and coconut oil in the frosting. This is how I usually make the cake and it's great!
- For dairy-free, use plant-based milk, dairy-free chocolate and coconut oil in the frosting.
Adapted from Hershey's One Bowl Chocolate Cake