Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes (gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free)

These paleo chocolate cupcakes are moist but not eggy and have a rich, dark chocolaty taste! Topped off with chocolate fudge frosting. Grain-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free.

So here’s the promised cupcake recipe that I used as a carrier for the paleo vegan chocolate frosting that I posted last week.

Before anyone gets their knickers* in a twist, I know sprinkles aren’t paleo. They’re, like, the very opposite of paleo. But just look how they brightened these cupcakes up! They look much happier with the sprinkles.

These paleo chocolate cupcakes are moist but not eggy and have a rich, dark chocolaty taste! (grain-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free)

Here’s how you can make your own paleo coconut sprinkles. The recipe uses plant-based natural coloring and coconut and while they’re not nearly as bright as nasty store-bought sprinkles, you don’t have to worry about what you’re eating!

Raspberries, strawberries and mini chocolate chips would also make for pretty and delicious paleo alternatives to sprinkles.

* I don’t think I’m British – I just loathe the p-word.

This paleo chocolate cupcakes recipe is pretty much the same recipe I used in my spiderweb cupcakes. I adapted it a little to make the cupcakes bigger and to make the measurements a bit easier for people who use measuring cups instead of grams.

These paleo chocolate cupcakes are moist but not eggy and have a rich, dark chocolaty taste! (grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free)

I also added a little more sweetener! The original paleo cupcake recipe was sweetened with just honey but when I tried the recipe as written, and ate a cupcake without the frosting, I wanted more sugar. So I added two tablespoons of coconut sugar.

These gluten-free dairy-free cupcakes have a really interesting texture and I don’t mean that in a bad way! It’s hard to describe, but they’re kind of mousse-like. They’re not like regular, fluffy airy cupcakes, but they’re moist and… mousse-like. I’m sure that won’t convince you to make them so here’s a review from the original recipe:

“A girl who has been eating GF for 3 years said they were the best GF cupcakes she has ever had! They were all asking after the recipe!” I think they’re pretty darned delicious but I don’t know about best gluten-free cupcakes ever. I think I’ll reserve that title for cupcakes that have the same exact texture as regular cupcakes. Ones where you have no idea that they’re gluten-free (like my best gluten-free brownies recipe!)

These paleo chocolate cupcakes are moist but not eggy and have a rich, dark chocolaty taste! (gluten-free, grain-free and dairy-free)

These paleo chocolate cupcakes don’t have that typical weird, eggy and spongy thing that a lot of grain-free cupcake recipes I’ve tried have had, though so that’s a huge plus. All in all, I’d say that these cupcakes are a victory. :) Check out the reviews in the comments in you need convincing!

For more of my most popular paleo recipes, try my paleo chocolate chip cookies or these paleo blueberry muffins! I can pretty much guarantee you that neither will disappoint. :)

I definitely need to up my paleo cupcakes game (when it comes to variety!). These chocolate cupcakes are pretty much all I have. What kind should I make next?!

Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes (grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free)

Rated 5.0 by 15 readers
Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes (gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free)
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Ready in:
  • Yield: 14 cupcakes


  • 3/4 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons (104 grams) Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup + 2 tablespoons (80 grams) almond flour or almond meal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (use paleo baking powder, if necessary)
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (126 grams) coconut oil, melted
  • 2/3 cup (213 grams) honey
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (160 grams) unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • for frosting: 1 or 1 1/2 batch paleo chocolate fudge frosting1
  • paleo decoration ideas: raspberries, strawberries, mini chocolate chips, homemade coconut sprinkles


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 °F (175 °C) and line a muffin pan (or two) with 14 liners.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the cocoa powder, almond flour, baking powder, espresso powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the melted coconut oil, honey, applesauce, coconut sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add the dry mixture to the wet and stir just until combined.
  4. Pour the batter evenly into the muffin liners, about 3/4 full.
  5. Bake for 24-28 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out mostly clean. A few moist crumbs or a little stickiness is okay, just not raw batter. These are super moist so if it comes out totally clean, they're probably overdone.
  6. Let cool for 5 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. These do not taste very good straight out of the oven. I recommend letting them sit for 2 hours and then frosting. When you refrigerate them, they become denser, the way brownies get when you refrigerate them. Can be kept at room temperature, unfrosted, for up to 3 days or can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.


  1. 1 batch of frosting will yield just enough for slightly more than 1 tablespoon of frosting per cupcake, which isn't very much for frosting lovers. You may want to do 1 1/2 batches or even a double batch if you want to frost the cupcakes more generously. I used about 1 1/2 tablespoons (1 1/2 batches) of frosting on mine.

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152 comments on “Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes (gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free)” — Add one!

  • Sarah
    December 24, 2017 @ 4:50 pm

    Your whole wheat chocolate cupcake is my go to recipe when we want a chocolate cake but I am loving these cupcakes! Do you have a recipe for a vanilla version? Could I omit the cocoa? Thanks!

    • Erin replies to Sarah
      December 24, 2017 @ 9:02 pm

      So happy you like both versions! I unfortunately don’t have a vanilla version and it doesn’t work to just omit the cocoa. :( Sorry about that!

  • L P says
    December 19, 2017 @ 12:49 am

    Can I use something else in place of espresso powder? I’m having a hard time finding that anywhere.

    • Erin replies to L P
      December 20, 2017 @ 8:46 pm

      You can just omit it. :)

  • Haley W. says
    December 6, 2017 @ 6:04 pm

    In all my years of using recipes I found online, this is the first time I’ve felt compelled to write a review. These cupcakes are Ahhhmazing! I tried two other recipes I found on different sites before this one and neither one of them holds a candle to these. The frosting is delicious as well. The only changes I made were I used cacao powder instead of cocoa and I used butter instead of coconut oil in the frosting. Great recipe! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Erin replies to Haley W.
      December 8, 2017 @ 5:47 pm

      Well thank you for taking the time to leave your first review! I’m honored. :) I’m so happy that you liked the cupcakes and frosting and it’s good to know that cacao powder works well. Thanks again for your comment (and sorry for my slow reply!).

  • Lyndsay says
    November 21, 2017 @ 3:14 am

    Wow! Chocolatey goodness I don’t feel bad about eating! These are so good!

    • Erin replies to Lyndsay
      November 24, 2017 @ 7:40 pm

      I’m so happy that you liked them and don’t feel bad eating them. :) Thanks for your comment and sorry for my slow reply!

    • Maryann Prendergast replies to Lyndsay
      December 1, 2017 @ 5:15 am

      Is there something we can substitute for the applesauce? My daughter can’t have apple. Strange but true lol. Thanks!

      • Erin replies to Maryann Prendergast
        December 2, 2017 @ 9:32 pm

        Maybe some mashed bananas? But I really don’t know as I haven’t tried it. Sorry about that!

  • H says
    November 17, 2017 @ 11:50 am

    I think the cocoa measurements are off in this recipe. When I weighed 3/4 c + 2 1/2 tbsp cocoa, it was only around 50g, not 108g. Big difference! Should this be 1 3/4 c instead, or are the grams wrong???

    • Erin replies to H
      November 17, 2017 @ 2:25 pm

      Hi there! The measurements are correct. If you google “1 cup cocoa powder in grams,” you’ll find sites saying somewhere between 100-115 grams. I actually use cups and grams when baking to ensure everything is correct. :) Did you maybe use sifted cocoa? Or something other than Dutch-process?

  • ADS
    October 26, 2017 @ 5:01 pm

    I made these for my birthday and they were incredible! I actually didn’t get the mousse like texture from them, they actually turned out spot on cupcake texture for me! I froze the leftovers and my daughter and I enjoyed pulling out a couple on the weekends to thaw and eat with cashew milk ice cream! So delish. I’m wanting to bake again this weekend and while I want to try something new – I have been craving these so badly since we finished the last of them off.

    • Erin replies to ADS
      October 27, 2017 @ 9:29 pm

      That’s awesome that you got the regular cupcake texture! Maybe I’m just weird with my description of them. ;) That’s great to know that they freeze well. You could always make these AND something else. :D I can recommend these paleo apple muffins, which also have an awesome texture. Thanks for your comment!

  • Mona says
    September 30, 2017 @ 12:41 am

    I don’t have Dutch-process cocoa powder. Can I use cacao powder instead?

    • Erin replies to Mona
      September 30, 2017 @ 7:09 am

      I haven’t tried it so I’m not positive. Sometimes it can have an effect on a recipe but sometimes not. Sorry I can’t give you a better answer!

  • Molly
    August 28, 2017 @ 2:12 am

    So, I was reeeaaallly skeptical about these and as they baked, they did not smell like traditional cupcakes. But after they cooled and were frosted, they were excellent. Truly delicious! I did add 1 Tbs. of powdered sugar to the frosting for a little sweetness. So pleasantly surprised – I’ll be making them more often! Thank you!

    • Erin replies to Molly
      September 9, 2017 @ 7:04 am

      I’m so sorry I somehow missed your comment! I’m so happy that you enjoyed the cupcakes and that you’ll be making them again. :) Thanks a ton for your feedback!

  • Sarah says
    August 21, 2017 @ 4:47 pm

    What could I substitute for the Almond Flour? We have a nut and grain allergy in my daughter’s class, but I want the little boy to be able to have a cupcake when I bring some in for her birthday next week.

    Thank you!

    • Erin replies to Sarah
      August 22, 2017 @ 10:27 am

      Unfortunately, nuts flours aren’t interchangeable with non-nut flours. I’ve heard of people using sunflower seed flour as a sub but I’ve never tried it and have no idea if it’d work here. Sorry about that!

    • CJ replies to Sarah
      October 3, 2017 @ 4:20 am

      Hi Sarah,
      I’ve had great success subbing tigernut flour for almond flour in many of recipes with a 1:1 ratio. I plan to try this with cacao and tigernut flour.

      • Erin replies to CJ
        October 3, 2017 @ 7:27 pm

        Thanks for the tip! I’d love to hear how it comes out with your sub.

  • Luna says
    August 17, 2017 @ 8:44 am

    I love how the frosting looks so fresh and moist.

    • Erin replies to Luna
      August 17, 2017 @ 8:07 pm

      Haha. Thank you! I like that, too. ;)

  • Kellie says
    August 11, 2017 @ 3:57 am

    Hi -could this be made into a cake?

  • Trish Hafely says
    July 23, 2017 @ 9:00 pm

    I have been finding many Paleo or Glute-free recipes but no nutritional values are attached. I really need to know total calories, sugar and salt, etc. Do you have that information for your recipes?

    • Erin replies to Trish Hafely
      July 24, 2017 @ 9:32 pm

      I don’t have that info but you can copy and paste the recipe here for the nutritional profile, if you’d like. :)

  • Isa says
    June 13, 2017 @ 4:53 am

    The expresso powder, is it necessary?

    • Erin replies to Isa
      June 13, 2017 @ 6:41 pm

      It just brings out the chocolate taste.

  • Hildie says
    May 17, 2017 @ 9:32 am

    Hi, I was wondering if the coconut flavor of the oil comes through in the final product.
    I’m trying to piece together a [refined] sugar-free German chocolate cake for someone at work and I think this recipe is a winner for the cake portion :D

    • Erin replies to Hildie
      May 18, 2017 @ 9:15 am

      Hi there! You can’t taste it at all if you use refined coconut oil. I haven’t tried this recipe with unrefined coconut oil so I can’t say for sure, but I’m guessing there might be a slight coconut taste then. I hope you’ll enjoy them!

      • Hildie
        replies to Erin
        May 23, 2017 @ 7:12 pm

        I just made this and wow! Super fudgy, therefore do NOT bake in a bundt pan…it won’t come out xD
        Needless to say, I immediately made a second batch – this time as 2 9″ rounds. The only thing I altered was using about 25g of agave to complete the honey (I ran out).
        From what I can taste in the failed bundt, this cake is insanely moist and fudge-like! It really is amazing. It tastes like fine dark chocolate cake. This is soooo a keeper!

        • Erin replies to Hildie
          May 26, 2017 @ 10:38 pm

          Aww. I’m sorry the bundt didn’t come out well! I have had the worst time converting grain-free recipes to bundt pans. They almost never work for me! I’m happy the 9″ rounds worked out well. :) Did you double the recipe for that? Or were the layers very thin? I’m so very happy that you enjoyed the cake! Thanks a bunch for your tips.

  • Paula
    May 6, 2017 @ 2:54 pm

    I´ll try these tomorrow! They look so yummy, thank you! Can I replace honey with raw sugar? Do you have any idea of the equivalence? Thanks!

    • Erin replies to Paula
      May 6, 2017 @ 9:04 pm

      That’d unfortunately throw off the liquid / dry proportions so I wouldn’t recommend it. Maple syrup or another liquid sweetener should work! I hope you’ll enjoy them. :)


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