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. Scroll down for a how-to recipe video.
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.
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.
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 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 chocolate chip paleo 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)
- 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
- Preheat your oven to 350 °F (175 °C) and line a muffin pan (or two) with 14 liners.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the cocoa powder, almond flour, baking powder, espresso powder and salt. Set aside.
- 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.
- Pour the batter evenly into the muffin liners, about 3/4 full.
- 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.
- 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 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.
224 comments on “Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes (gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free)” — Add one!
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Really impressed with this recipe, the texture is light and moist and just the right amount of chocolatey flavour and sweetness.
I made a nut-free version by substituting quinoa flour, they worked great.
I’m so glad that the cupcakes worked well with your sub! Quinoa flour sounds really interesting. Thanks for your feedback. :)
Thank you for sharing such an awesome chocolate cupcake recipe. Turned out beautifully. I subbed pureed banana (from frozen) + Stevia/erythritol for the apple puree and honey. It’s so nice to have a recipe that notes all the exact weights. I just iced the cupcakes with a chocolate sweet potato icing. They look divine! Thank you again. I’m going to have to check out other recipes on this site now!!
My apologies for just now seeing your review! It was in spam for some weird reason with a bunch of other comments. :( I’m so happy that the cupcakes worked with all your changes! That’s great. :) I hope that you’ll enjoy the other recipes just as much! Thanks a ton for your comment and sorry again.
What can I use in place of the coconut oil..canola, extra virgin olive oil for baking, vegetable…..?
Hello! Any of those work. Hope you’ll enjoy them. :)
Wow Erin, unbelievable chocolate cupcake recipe. The thing I loved the most is that it is gluten free. My family love chocolate. I’d be making it this weekend for sure. My mom has teeth sensitivity issues. Won’t you think if I could skip the frosting so that she could eat it with us. Will it effect the taste? Thanks for sharing.
You can leave off the frosting without a problem. :) I hope you’ll all enjoy them!
I almost never comment on recipes but I am SO impressed with these cupcakes I felt I had to give them their dues. I have been gluten free for nearly ten years and these are hands down the best GF cupcakes I have ever had. I have made the recipe twice. First time I had to make quite a few subs because of what I had on hand and I was so impressed with the result I wanted to try again with the right ingredients. Second time around I followed the recipe to a T and they turned out even better! Flavour is rich and chocolatey and the texture is amazing! Nobody would ever guess these are gluten free. My family (not GF) also agreed these were absolutely fantastic.
I just made this recipe i just change the applesauce for Greek yogurt same amount and instead of honey a use organic agave..and the taste is delicious in the cupcakes..my husband loved the recipe.
I’m so glad that your husband loved them! Thanks for sharing your changes to the recipe. They sound great!
Can i sub avocado oil for coconut oil?
I’m sorry for just now seeing your question! (my son and I have been sick for weeks) I haven’t tried it but I think it would work. But there might be some avocado taste to the cupcakes.
Every week I bake a grain-free, dairy-free dessert for my sister’s office. I would like to make these as mini-cupcakes for her clients to sample. What would be the baking time? They look absolutely delicious so I’ll probably make the regular size cupcakes for me!
I never make mini cupcakes / muffins so I really have no idea. I’d check starting at 5 minutes! I’m guessing it’ll likely take about 8-10. Sorry I can’t be more exact. I hope everyone will enjoy them!
These were my bday cupcakes and were divine! I replaced the almond flour with tigernut flour, and it worked out beautifully! Usually tigernut flour is a great sub for almond flour in baked goods, and my digestion is much happier because of it. Thanks for sharing!
I’m so glad that you enjoyed them! And what an awesome tip with the tigernut flour. I have about 15 bags that I need to use up soon (it was on sale and I couldn’t help myself ;)) Do you use the same amount in cups or grams? Like 1 cup of almond flour = 100 grams and 1 cup of tigernut flour = 120 grams. So if a recipe calls for 1 cup of almond flour, do you use 1 cup of tigernut flour? Or 100 grams of tigernut flour? Thanks so much for the feedback and sorry for my slow reply (I was on vacation).
I use the same amount in cups. And to be honest, I tend to not be the best at making exact measurements, especially when it’s a super familiar recipe. You’ll have to post some recipes of how you use all that tigernut flour you have! Hope you had a nice vacation :)
Haha. If I can first make something super delicious with all that tigernut flour, then I will! Right now, everything is just edible. :/ And thank you – it was indeed nice! Thanks a bunch for coming back to let me know. I’m super excited to try it out!
Everyone loved it! Made for my parents and siblings, but cake version. Left it too long in the oven, but it was still amazing. Making it all the time. I LOVE CHOCOLATE and cupcakes! Good job on the recipe.
Thank you! I’m really happy you liked it. :) What cake pan size did you use? Thanks for your feedback!
LOVE. AMAZING. Made half the recipe to try it out, why did I do that? I need more! Perfect as is.
Haha. It’s usually a good idea with paleo sweets, right? ;) I’m glad you liked them!
Just made them again! Hubby and kids loved them!! Didn’t think I’d have to share them with everybody, the downfall of a great recipe lol
Haha. I’m sorry you had to share but happy your family liked them! :)
I absolutely love this recipe.
I’ve made it a couple of times tweaking it a bit to experiment with other ingredients and it turns our well every time. My family loves this cupcake. It’s now our family favourite, even our visitors love it.
Thank you for sharing your scrumptious recipe.
I’m so glad that you all have been enjoying the cupcakes! And how awesome that your visitors like it, too. :) Thanks for your feedback and sorry for my slow reply!
I didn’t see a recipe on your website for vanilla cupcakes. Can I just modify this recipe? I need both chocolate and vanilla cupcakes for a party.
I’m so sorry for just now seeing your question! That unfortunately wouldn’t work. You’d have to rework the whole recipe. Sorry about that!
These chocolate cupcakes look yummy, I can see why they are a hit. We can’t do eggs so I’ll just have to keep coming back and drooling over the pics ! I can do the icing though and that is a MUST make.
It really is! Hope you’ll love it.
I was intrigued, I’m a chocolaholic and I’m trying to get healthier foods in my life, so I tried it. I loved itJust made these and the original recipe wasn’t quite rich enough for me, so I added some cocoa processed with alkali and a little maple syrup. Then it was perfect! These cupcakes look heavenly! Thanks for this recipe.
I’m happy that you enjoyed them! Interesting idea with the maple. :) Thanks a bunch for your feedback (and sorry for my slow reply!).
These these are so beautiful!!! I love how fudge-y they look and that they are paleo compliant!! Pinning for later!
Thanks so much! :)
Hi. I’m from Mauritius. I tried your recipe and it came out really good. Thanks a lot.
I didn’t have applesauce, so I used buttermilk in its place, it was no longer dairy free, but it was so moist.
Oooh! Thanks for the buttermilk tip. It’s also possible to make dairy-free buttermilk so I’ll recommend that in the future. I’m happy that you enjoyed the cupcakes! Thanks for your comment. :)
Oh my gosh, these look SO good! I hardly ever bake with applesauce but you now have me convinced. :-)
Thank you! I hope you’ll get to try them out. :)
I haven’t made cupcakes in YEARS!! Love that you used espresso powder :) These sound right up my alley. Gonna have to make these for my sister’s upcoming birthday.
All of that chocolate looks so satisfying, that I really have to try it over the weekend. Thanks for sharing it with us
You had me at chocolate cupcakes, but paleo?? These are amazing! Thanks for the yummy recipe :)
OMG! gluten free, grain free, dairy free Choklete? It will be a great chocolate item for my family. But the frosting is the barrier for my younger baby. I’ll try it tomorrow. Hi Erin thanks you so much for sharing such type of value return presentation.
I hope that your family will enjoy it! I’d love to hear how it came out. :) Thanks for your comment!
Hi do you know how many calories are in one cupcake with the icing? Thank you kindly. We are addicted to these and love them! :)
I don’t have that info but you could use this recipe analyzer for the nutritional profile. So happy you like them! :)
Hi there I was wondering about the sprinkles? Am I supposed to just buy some or is there a process to making them?
Hi! I talk about the sprinkles in the paragraph after the first picture. Here’s how you can make your own paleo coconut sprinkles.
Loved these cupcakes i used plain cocoa powder vs dutch because i couldn’t find it and i believe this gave it a slight bitter after taste but it was very slight and I’m certain it was the kind of cocoa. But, with such a small amount of sugar this was the best gf brownue cupcake ive ever had and the froasting is amazing! I keep them in the fridge and i love the hard icing top its delicious!
Yay! I’m happy to hear that you liked the cupcakes so much. I’m a big fan of that frosting, too. ;) Thanks a bunch for your comment!
Where do you get espresso powder?
I got mine at the grocery store (I live in Germany so the store isn’t relevant) but you can get this nice brand on Amazon. It’s also ok to omit it from the recipe!
Hi, my cupcakes came out kind of flat, the top didn’t rise as high as yours in the photos and half of my cupcakes got stuck in the silicone mold, please help, thanks
Hi there! The tops are kind of flat and don’t rise very high. Look at the first few seconds of the video or the cupcakes in the background of the second picture. With frosting, the tops look higher. If yours were even flatter than what you see in the video, then I would recommend checking that your baking powder hasn’t expired. I never use silicone so I can’t really help there. I would recommend using cupcake liners!
I just made these yesterday. I didn’t have applesauce but found I could substitute mashed banana. They were AMAZING! Texture and taste of a good cupcake. Thank you SO VERY MUCH for this recipe. So easy and unbelievably delicious. You’re right on one thing, they don’t taste that good right out of the oven. Once they cooled they were delicious. They came out beautiful. I used the type of icing used on German Chocolate cake and it was too good to be true. Again,thank you. I can’t eat wheat and many substitute flours just don’t taste that great, but almond flour is delicious.
Oooh! Thanks for the banana recommendation. Some others have asked for an applesauce sub in these and now I know what to recommend! Did you taste the banana at all? I’m so happy that it worked out well and that you enjoyed the cupcakes! Thanks a bunch for your nice comment. :)
You can just barely taste the banana, but chocolate and banana are so good together anyway. What was so wonderful, was eating a delicious cupcake and knowing I’d have no digestive upset. I would cheat and have a regular wheat cupcake and always paid the price. These have given me back the joy of eating cupcakes which I love because it’s kind of a “control” on eating sweets. I know when I eat a cupcake, that’s it. Plus I do love that they’re sweetness isn’t from a cup of sugar LOL One night I just couldn’t help myself because they are so good, and I ate THREE after dinner,LOL, but NO stomach upset. It was wonderful. I have tried several recipes and they just didn’t taste that great or the cupcake didn’t come out looking very nice. These were perfect. I also loved that they were a dense cupcake, I’m not a fan of “fluffy” cake products, I like something dense and chewy. Again, thank you so much. When you can’t eat grains, finding a GOOD alternate recipe is like finding gold!
Aww, yay! So happy that you didn’t have any digestive issues with these. :) If you like chocolate + banana, you could try my paleo chocolate banana muffins. I haven’t made them in a while but I remember them to be denser and fudgier than these cupcakes. I hope you’ll give them a try. :) Thank a ton for your comments!
Can I use agave in replacement of honey?
I haven’t tried it but I imagine it’d work fine!
Can I use coconut flour instead of almond
Coconut flour isn’t interchangeable with any other flours as it absorbs so much more liquid. :( Sorry about that!
These were absolutely delicious. Used coconut nectar instead of honey (same amount) and it worked really well. Also left out the espresso powder because I’m not a fan of anything with a coffee flavor. Very tasty cupcakes with a good texture!
Great to know that coconut nectar works well! Thanks for the tip. :) So happy you liked them! Thanks for your comment.
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!
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!
Can I use something else in place of espresso powder? I’m having a hard time finding that anywhere.
You can just omit it. :)
Aamazon has espresso powder
Thanks for the tip!
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!
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!).
Wow! Chocolatey goodness I don’t feel bad about eating! These are so good!
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!
Is there something we can substitute for the applesauce? My daughter can’t have apple. Strange but true lol. Thanks!
Maybe some mashed bananas? But I really don’t know as I haven’t tried it. Sorry about that!
You could try pumpkin puree. I use it in place of most of the oil in carrot cake – stays super moist. With chocolate you shouldn’t notice a pumpkin taste. Less sugar too.
Thanks for the tip! Sounds very promising. :)
Perhaps jarred baby food pears or a fruit she can have.
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???
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?
Yes, 108 grams is too heavy for 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp. I can see something heavier like almond flour (1 cup= 120g) weighing that much but not cocoa.
With paleo baking, I like to weigh everything but if I would have used the weight listed it would have been too much.
I measured out the 3/4 cups + 2 tbsp and then weighed it and it came out to 59 grams. I went with 60 and the cupcakes came out perfect with the added surprise that it actually made 18 cupcakes instead of 14.
Paired with the chocolate frosting, my kiddos devoured them for our Valentine’s party today.
I’m very happy that they came out well for you and that they were enjoyed at the party! :) I’m not sure what to say about the cocoa grams. I also use grams when baking (and when developing a new recipe, I use cups and grams to ensure I’m not messing anything up) and I always get around 115 grams. When you google grams in 1 cup cocoa powder, you get results saying between 100-115 grams. One site did say 90! But nothing nearly as low as 67 grams, which is what 1 cup would be with your measurement. But if 60 grams worked for you in this recipe then I suppose it doesn’t matter. :) Thanks for your comment!
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.
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!
Oh my gosh chopping these up and using them in a dairy free ice cream would be heavenly thank you for the idea!
I don’t have Dutch-process cocoa powder. Can I use cacao powder instead?
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!
What a pity! Did you make any changes at all to the recipe, like maybe using Hershey’s instead of Dutch-process cocoa powder? I ask because all the other reviewers who followed this recipe (most of them are on the first page of comments when you click “Older Comments”) seemed to have loved them!
According to this and this page – cacao powder is more bitter than Dutch-process cocoa powder. So that could be your problem since you found them bitter and nobody else has mentioned these having a bitter taste. “Dutch-processed cocoa powder (dark cocoa) is cocoa powder that has been processed with an alkalized solution, making it less acidic and much richer in taste. Regular cocoa powder retains a more acidic nature and bitter taste.”
Unfortunately not. Since this recipe makes 14 and you’re wanting 12, you’d have to multiply every ingredient by .85, which is not a nice number to be messing with when it comes to fractions and baking.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
Thanks for the tip! I’d love to hear how it comes out with your sub.
I love how the frosting looks so fresh and moist.
Haha. Thank you! I like that, too. ;)
Hi -could this be made into a cake?
Hi! A few commenters have so you may want to look there. I also made it into a paleo chocolate strawberry cake using 6″ pans. Hope you’ll enjoy it!
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?
I don’t have that info but you can copy and paste the recipe here for the nutritional profile, if you’d like. :)
The expresso powder, is it necessary?
It just brings out the chocolate taste.
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
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!
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!
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.
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!
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. :)