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Amazing Paleo Chocolate Cake (gluten-free, dairy-free)

This paleo chocolate cake recipe is fluffy, light and airy. It’s also unbelievably decadent, rich and moist. It’s the perfect dessert or birthday cake.

(gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free) This paleo chocolate cake recipe is unbelievably rich, decadent and moist. It's the perfect chocolate birthday cake.

I’m not one to use superfluous words in my recipe titles unless something is truly extraordinary. Case in point: this amazing paleo chocolate cake. And yes, it really is amazing. So much so, that I even debated leaving off the word “paleo.” Because I think you could offer up this chocolate cake recipe to someone who eats gluten and grains and they’d have no idea that it was gluten-free, grain-free and dairy-free. You guys, it’s incredibly delicious!

Unlike most paleo cake recipes, this version is light and airy while still moist and spongy. I mean, just look at those crumbs. There’s the perfect amount of air pockets in the cake yet it holds together like a real deal chocolate cake. But it’s a paleo chocolate cake.

Watch me make this Paleo Chocolate Cake:

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It’s also the perfect way to kick-off my birthday month – with a deliciously decadent chocolate birthday cake. Now, it’s a birthday tradition of mine to always have a mint chocolate something on my actual birthday. Last year I made these Mini Skillet Brownies with Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. But it’s quite involved. So I’m thinking something slightly easier this year. My birthday is the last day of the month, so I’ve still got a few weeks.

Until then, you’ve got this paleo chocolate cake to enjoy. And trust me, you will. I even whipped up a video (above), so make sure to watch that.

(gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free) This paleo chocolate cake recipe is unbelievably rich, decadent and moist. It's the perfect chocolate birthday cake.

(gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free) This paleo chocolate cake recipe is unbelievably rich, decadent and moist. It's the perfect chocolate birthday cake.

(gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free) This paleo chocolate cake recipe is unbelievably rich, decadent and moist. It's the perfect chocolate birthday cake.

It’s taken me several years to perfect my paleo baking and I think I’ve finally got it nailed. But I’m sure many of you will have questions regarding the ingredients, so let’s dive into those.

  • Are all three flours (almond, tapioca and coconut) necessary? Yes. For some reason, most paleo cake recipes only use almond flour or coconut flour. But I find those results less than stellar (i.e. dense and dry). If you think about it, gluten-free flour blends are always a combination of flours to achieve the right texture. Paleo baking should be no different. And this triumvirate of flours (my signature blend) is what I use on many of my recipes, including my reader favorite Paleo Pancakes.
  • Why is each flour important? Almond flour is the main nut flour providing most of the bulk. Tapioca flour provides the light, airy, fluffiness. And the coconut flour provides structure to the cake.
  • Can I swap honey or maple for the coconut sugar? Unfortunately no. The coconut sugar crystals are what helps to provide all those mini air pockets that make this cake so delicious. Honey or maple syrup would create a much more dense cake.
  • Why do you add espresso powder? To make this cake unbelievably rich and decadent. The espresso powder doesn’t make the cake taste like coffee or even mocha. In fact, you don’t taste it at all. But what you do taste is a depth of chocolate flavor that makes you go, “wow!” To give you an analogy, vanilla extract is added to most baked goods to enhance the flavor. Well, that’s what espresso powder does here. It takes this paleo chocolate cake recipe to the next level.
  • Can I use almond milk instead of coconut milk? You can, but it likely won’t be as moist. Full-fat coconut milk is thick and adds necessary fat, on par with dairy milk or buttermilk.
  • Why do you add vinegar? Well, speaking of buttermilk (which is frequently used in traditional cake recipes), my version of buttermilk is coconut milk plus vinegar. Voila! The vinegar also creates a chemical reaction with the baking soda, a la baking powder-style, to create fluffiness in the cake.

Hopefully that answers some of your questions, but if you have more, please feel free to ask them below in the comments.

(gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free) This paleo chocolate cake recipe is unbelievably rich, decadent and moist. It's the perfect chocolate birthday cake.

(gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free) This paleo chocolate cake recipe is unbelievably rich, decadent and moist. It's the perfect chocolate birthday cake.

(gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free) This paleo chocolate cake recipe is unbelievably rich, decadent and moist. It's the perfect chocolate birthday cake.

Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the chocolate buttercream frosting is equally impressive. Like lick the bowl impressive. It’s also vegan, dairy-free and paleo, depending on how you make it.

I’ve separated that recipe into it’s own post, so that you can easily search for it and use on other cake or cupcake recipes in the future.

But together, I’m not kidding when I say that this is by far the best paleo chocolate cake recipe out there. It may even be the best chocolate cake recipe. Period. Serve it up with a cold glass of my Homemade Cashew Milk and you’ll be in heaven. Or serve leftovers up for breakfast (umm, I did) along with a glass of Chemex Coffee or Cold Brew Coffee.

Other gluten-free and paleo chocolate recipes you might like are my Chocolate Mug Cake, Paleo Chocolate Waffles, Chocolate Truffle Tart, Chocolate Avocado Pudding, Molten Chocolate Cake and The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies. And if you’re looking for a non-chocolate cake recipe, I highly recommend my Gluten-Free Carrot Cake (that’s also paleo-ish).

Enjoy!

Click HERE to pin this Paleo Chocolate Cake recipe to your Pinterest Board

(gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free) This paleo chocolate cake recipe is unbelievably rich, decadent and moist. It's the perfect chocolate birthday cake.

(gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free) This paleo chocolate cake recipe is unbelievably rich, decadent and moist. It's the perfect chocolate birthday cake.

Amazing Paleo Chocolate Cake (gluten-free, dairy-free)

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 10 servings
This paleo chocolate cake recipe is fluffy, light and airy. It's also unbelievably decadent, rich and moist. It's the perfect dessert or birthday cake. 
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Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

Wet Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. 

  2. Grease three 8-inch cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper. I prefer to grease my pans with ghee or organic palm shortening as coconut oil can leave a slight coconut taste. Set these aside. 

  3. Add all of the dry ingredients to a very large mixing bowl and whisk together. 

  4. Add all of the wet ingredients to a separate medium mixing bowl and whisk together. Then, pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk together for 1-2 minutes to create your cake batter. 

  5. Evenly divide the batter between the three baking pans and cook for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

  6. Once the cake has completely cooled, assemble the cake by adding the chocolate buttercream frosting between each layer and frosting the outside. 

Recipe Notes

You can also use two 9-inch cake pans for a two-layer cake (the layers will be thicker). Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

 

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80 comments on “Amazing Paleo Chocolate Cake (gluten-free, dairy-free)”

  1. Hey Lisa, 

    I was wondering if it’s okay to use a bundform cake pan to bake a single, larger version of this cake instead of doing a three tier. Can you suggest a baking time / temperature for me? 

    Best, 
    Sara. 

    • Hi Sara,

      As I haven’t made this recipe in a bundt pan I can’t guarantee the results, but I’d probably keep the temperature the same. Baking times will need to be increased, to probably 45-50 minutes, but I’d start checking it at 40 minutes just to make sure it doesn’t overcook and dry out. If you try it, let me know how it turns out! :)

  2. I recently made this cake and it was a huge hit! It’s already been requested for multiple occasions. I can’t wait to make it again, so I can indulge.

    Rating: 5
    • So happy to hear you loved it Alan! And I’m right there with you on indulging – I’ll be baking another cake in the next week as well! :)

  3. Hi Lisa,

    This looks amazing! I’m baking it for my son’s B-day.
    I have 3 questions:
    1. Could I use sparkling water instead of water to make it fluffier? I have a vegan friend and she gave me the tip but I’ve never done it and don’t want to ruin it ;/

    2. I’m in the UK and I have both: Bicarbonate of Soda and Baking Powder. Which one would I use and how much for a fluffier cake?

    3. How long does the cake keep? If I bake it tomorrow Friday, will it be fresh on Sunday?

    Thank you!
    Ellie

    • Hi Ellie – that’s actually an interesting tip on the sparkling water and one I’ve not tried! Baking Powder is essentially bicarbonate of soda plus an acid already mixed together. I use bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) in this recipe as certain baking powders contain gluten, corn or aluminum. And there’s enough acid in the recipe to cause that chemical reaction. But you could certainly use either. And I think the cake would stay fresh for a couple of days as long as it’s fully iced to prevent drying out. Alternatively, you could make the layers ahead of time, wrap in plastic wrap and foil, then freeze until Sunday as well. Hope you and your son enjoy it! Happy birthday to him! :) x

  4. You do realise that Ghee is clarified butter don’t you. Great recipe though. 

    • Glad you like it! And yes, ghee is considered dairy-free for most people as the lactose and casein proteins are removed. But you could also easily swap in palm shortening or coconut oil in this recipe.

  5. Hi there! Are you able to use an egg replacer for this recipe? Thanks so much!

  6. Fantastic recipe, but make sure that your layers are *fully* cooled and don’t add more than the minimum almond milk to the frosting. When I assembled my (still slightly warm) cake with extra milky frosting, the frosting oozed out of the cake layers and pooled in the dish.

  7. Hello, if I don’t have espresso powder, could I use brewed coffee in place of the water in the wet ingredients?

    • Update: I did end up using brewed coffee. I had an espresso roast and I made it slightly weak. I have to say this cake and frosting are absolutely amazing!! This will be my go to chocolate cake from now on. I wish I had found it sooner!! I made the frosting with maple sugar, and realized after I had added all the other ingredients, that I only had about 4 cups of maple sugar, but it still came out perfect.
      My whole family loved it!
      Thank you!

  8. Wow. Thank you for the amazing recipe. This was by far the best chocolate cake ever, paleo or not. I was looking for a flourless chocolate cake that was fluffy and not dense for gluten-free and dairy-free guests for Thanksgiving, and I found your recipe that also worked for me (low carbs)! What a bonus. I also had all the ingredients on hand so it made it easy to make. It was absolutely delicious! Hard to believe it isn’t a regular wheat flour cake!! I did not use your frosting recipe because I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand, but I will try it next time. I’ll be making this cake over and again many times in the future.

  9. Hello from across the pond. I baked this cake and it was simply amazing. I had to take a little artistic license with cup size to UK metric conversions and had to swap coconut sugar (can’t buy this anywhere in the UK) for icing sugar. However the taste and moisture was perfect, and the cake lasted for well over a week which must say something about the ingredients. Simply brilliant and will be baking again this weekend!! (I did a two layer cake with the chocolate icing and a single layer cake with a dark ganache).

    • So happy you loved it! Fresh ingredients are always best. I’ve even frozen this cake for a few months, thawed, and it was just like new! Also, you can grab coconut sugar on Amazon UK in the future as well: http://amzn.to/2jQbt98 :)

    • Hey Neil, 

      How long did you bake your version of a single layered cake, and at what temperature? I was planning to use a single layer bund-form cake pan, but I’m worried that it won’t come out properly since the recipe originally calls for a three tier. 

      Thanks in advance!

  10. This recipe looks amazing! I’ve been looking for a paleo recipe however want to make it a mango cake. Would I need to add more flour if it replacing the cacao for mango purée? Thanks :-)

  11. hi lisa! I do not have tapioca flour on hand but i do have arrowroot starch. would that work? if so, are the ratios the same?

  12. I made this cake a few weeks ago and it was amazing! My family loved it and couldn’t even tell it was paleo.

    I’m making a carrot cake for Thanksgiving. I have a family reciepe that I usually use and have even made gluten free. I’m considering using the base of this cake for it. Any thoughts on that? I know it will need to be altered some because of the dry vs wet ingridents.

    Do you have a carrot cake reciepe?

  13. Have you made cupcakes with this recipe? I’m tempted to try it!

  14. Hi there, if the only two flours I can use are coconut and arrowroot (sub for tapioca) due to food sensitivities, do you have a recommendation on how to divide the flour amounts between those two choices? I accept that it won’t exactly turn out the same, but if you have a suggestion that’d be great! thanks

    • Hi Rebekah, I’d definitely use more arrowroot than coconut, maybe a 3:1 ratio. Could you use hazelnut flour? If so, I’d sub that for the almond flour. But you’ll probably have to play with it a bit to get the right texture with those two flours. Good luck!

  15. Hi.. it looks so good and I’d like to make it but was wondering if I can or if anyone has substituted the coconut sugar for erythritol (swerve)?

  16. I made this cake a couple months ago and everyone loved it! I even bought a swanky new cake stand to present it on! I’d now like to make a yellow cake using components of this recipe. Could I substitute the coconut oil for melted butter or ghee to give that yellow look?

    • Yay – so happy everyone loved it! And a perfect excuse to buy a new cake stand. ;) You could definitely swap the coconut oil for butter or ghee. And you might need a little less if you’re leaving off the cacao powder. Let me know how it turns out. I may have to add that variation to Downshiftology as well! x

  17. Been eating GAPS/Paleo for 5+ years and have done a lot of baking over this time frame. I started checking on the cake around 30 minutes and it was still fairly wet. I checked back 5 minutes later and the cake was over done, dry as could be, to the point of being inedible. We wound up throwing it out.

  18. can I use cocoa powder instead of cacoa? Is there a big taste difference?

  19. Can i cut the recipe in half? I need a smaller cake

  20. I usually freeze my layers and do a dirty icing layer. Would this cake sustain the freezing and dirty ice?

  21. I made this cake for my hubby and 2 friends !! 4 thumbs up! It’s incredibly delicious and looks wonderful!!! Thanks, Lisa, for another outstanding recipe!

  22. How is this Paleo? Or Vegan? Or even remotely healthy? Vinegar, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, baking soda, salt (eggs for vegans?)? These are all highly processed and human killer ingredients.

    Try this four ingredient cake:

    Food process to a dough dates, black beans, cacao beans.

    Layer dough, sliced bananas, dough, sliced bananas, dough, whipped bananas on top, no need to bake.

  23. This weekend, I was tasked with making a 50th birthday cake for my chocoholic aunt who has an allergy to gluten, dairy and eggs!! I used an egg replacer and…IT TASTED FABULOUS!! Everyone swore it tasted better than “reg” chocolate cake!!I wish I knew how to post a picture! Thank you for your post!!

  24. Hi, I am allergic to almonds and some other nuts. is it possible to use another type of nut flour, such as hazelnut?

  25. Lisa – my husband is diabetic. Do you think the recipe would still work if only 1c of coconut sugar is used?

  26. Hi, just a question. The recipe calls for full fat coconut milk, is it the one in the can or the one in a carton? This looks divine and trying it for a good friend of mine. Many thanks for sharing your recipe. Oh also, we don’t have almond flour here that i can find in the shops is it the same as ground almonds?

    • Yes, the full fat coconut milk is the one in the can. The one I used is linked above in the recipe. For the almond flour, I used blanched almond flour which is finer than ground almonds (or almond meal), but if you can grind it fine enough, that should work. It may just be a slighter denser texture. You could also use hazelnut flour, if you can find that in the stores. Hope that helps! :)

      • I just baked this cake and like what you said it is a bit dense. I don’t know if it is because i undercooked it or because of my oven temperature. I baked it at 160c bec. my oven only have 160c then 180c, can you believe it? i baked it for 35minutes but looks dense and seems like it is under cook. why do you think this happened?

      • I’d say it sounds a bit undercooked. I would definitely bake it at 180 degrees celsius. And the cooking time would also have to be adjusted if you only used two pans instead of three. Everyone’s ovens are slightly different, so it may take another try to get it perfect on your end. :)

  27. What brand cacao powder do you use?

  28. Hi, I have just made this and its delicious!! However, I find it didn’t rise as much as had hoped, it rose however I need a touch more lift for a celebration cake I am making, do you have any ideas as to get a little bit of extra lift?? :) I xxx

    • Hi Lillie – so glad you loved the cake! Unfortunately, gluten-free/paleo cakes don’t tend to rise as much as those made with wheat flour (because they don’t contain gluten). You could try adding 1-2 tsp of baking powder (just opt for gluten, corn and aluminum free, if possible). And I’m not sure if you made a 2-layer or 3-layer version, but I usually opt for a 3-layer cake when I’m going for something more “showy,” as it’s a little more dramatic and gives that extra height. ;) x

  29. This cake is soo good!!! I highly recommend it.

  30. Im not a baker but I will pass this onto my friend who bakes for us! It looks decadent. – Laurel

  31. This chocolate cake looks sooo good. And it’s gluten free so I definitely need to add this to my to do list.

  32. this is absolutely beautiful breathtaking and that is a trick I also use baking…the vinegar! Shhhh lol I would love to give this a shot with an egg replacer to see how it goes 😊

  33. This cake looks amazing! I love baking with coconut flour. Can’t wait to make this!

  34. This not only looks delicious but there is a lot of really good info here. I didn’t know there was such a thing as coconut flour. I love adding coffee to chocolate recipes too. Definitely on my short list, thanks so much!

  35. So I am still working through my auto immune protocol diet which excludes eggs for another 6 months… have you tried this recipe with an egg replacement? I KNOW this cake will be delicious b/c your pancakes were out of this word!