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


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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 and has quickly become a reader favorite.

Paleo chocolate cake on a white cake stand.

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.

Paleo Chocolate Cake Recipe Video

While this recipe is easy to make, I do recommend you watch my step-by-step tutorial video. Give it a watch below!

The Perfect Birthday Cake

This recipe is 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. Previously, 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.

Making the chocolate cake batter and buttercream frosting.
Frosting the chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting.

Ingredients, Questions, and Tips

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.
  • Is there an alternative for the almond flour? If you only have a problem with almonds, you could substitute the almond flour with hazelnut flour. But if you need a nut-free cake I’d recommend my flourless chocolate cake instead.
  • Can I make this without eggs? I personally haven’t tried it, but many commenters below have said they’ve used chia eggs, flax eggs, and store-bought egg replacers with good results.
  • 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.

A single slice of paleo chocolate cake on a white plate.
A slice of paleo chocolate cake on a plate with fork.

The Creamy Buttercream Frosting

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 its 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.

Serving and Storing

Serve it up with a cold glass of my homemade cashew milk, almond milk or oat 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.

To Store Unfrosted: You can make the unfrosted cake layers several days in advance. Once they’ve completely cooled, tightly wrap them in plastic wrap (I double wrap them) and store on your counter at room temperature (if it’s not hot) or in the fridge for 2-3 days. If you’d like to store them longer than that, you can also freeze them for 3-4 months. Then, when you’re ready to serve the cake, just defrost the layers and add your buttercream frosting.

To Store Frosted: You can also store the entire frosted cake. It will last for 4-5 days at room temperature. I do recommend covering the cake to protect it from dust and any kitchen splashes. Yes, you can freeze it frosted too! If the cake is whole, just place it in the freezer uncovered to allow the frosting to harden. Then, tightly wrap it in plastic wrap as mentioned before. If you’d like to freeze leftovers in individual slices, just place them in glass storage containers – no need to wrap! Again, they’ll last for several months. Then, just bring the cake to room temperature to enjoy!

Paleo chocolate cake on a cake stand with slice removed to a plate.

More Gluten-Free and Paleo Chocolate Recipes

Want this recipe in cupcake form? Check out my Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes.

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!

Paleo chocolate cake on a white cake stand.

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

4.96 from 341 votes
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 16 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


This paleo chocolate cake recipe is fluffy, light and airy. It's also unbelievably decadent, rich and moist. Once you make it, you'll see why it quickly became a reader favorite. Watch the video above!



cake dry ingredients

cake wet ingredients

chocolate frosting


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  • 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.
  • Add all of the dry ingredients to a very large mixing bowl and whisk together.
  • 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.
  • Evenly divide the batter between the three baking pans and cook for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Once the cake has completely cooled, assemble the cake by adding the chocolate buttercream frosting between each layer and frosting the outside.

Lisa’s Tips

  • My baking time of 28-30 minutes is based on a standard oven. I’d recommend checking the cakes earlier, at 23-24 minutes if your oven tends to cook fast or if you’re using a convection oven.
  • You can also use two 9-inch cake pans for a two-layer cake (the layers will be thicker). Bake them for approximately 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Remember to make sure your cake is 100% cool before frosting. Even the slightest amount of internal heat in the layers will cause the frosting to melt.
  • This is the brand of espresso powder that I use.
  • For substitutions and storing, make sure to read the tips in the post above.


Calories: 749.9kcal | Carbohydrates: 103g | Protein: 8.8g | Fat: 36.9g | Saturated Fat: 16.5g | Cholesterol: 46.5mg | Sodium: 335.2mg | Fiber: 5.2g | Sugar: 83.9g
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Gluten Free Chocolate Cake, Paleo Cake, Paleo Chocolate Cake
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Recipe originally posted August 2017, but updated to include new information and tips. 

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Recipe Rating


  1. What an amazing recipe! My friend made this cake (gluten and dairy free) for my wedding and everyone loved it!! She used an egg replacer from the brand Orgran. My husband who has a gluten and dairy allergy said it is the best cake he ever had!!

    I just baked it now myself for the first time, I swapped some ingredients so I just made a third of the amount as a try out (in case it would fail ;)). I used brown sugar instead of coconut sugar, all purpose gluten free flour instead of tapioca flour and instead of 1,3 egg (because I used a third of all amount) I used 1 tbs of flaxseed mixed with 3 tbs hot water, 0,5 tsp baking powder mixed with 0,5 tsp apple cider vinegar and 1 tbs of applesauce. I haven’t tasted the cake yet, it’s still cooling down, but it looks super fluffy and spongy! Thank you for this delicious recipe :)5 stars

  2. Thanks for sharing this! Wondered if you had tried Monkfruit instead of Coconut sugar? I see not to use other sweeteners, but don’t use coconut sugar and wanted to try Monkfruit. Thoughts?5 stars

  3. This cake was incredible! It was so moist and full of flavor! I served it at a baby shower, and no one knew it was paleo – the couldn’t believe it! The details in the blog along with the step by step video were both very helpful! The vegan buttercream frosting was to die for! Thank you for providing a healthier version of a classic cake!5 stars

  4. Absolutely delicious! Made exactly as listed for my daughter’s 22nd birthday yesterday and it turned out perfect! She and I both have Celiac & Hashi’s, and my son has Celiac, so your recipes are always my go-to! Thank you!5 stars

  5. I’ve made this recipe as is and it’s seriously so amazing! Now I was wondering if this could be made with a monkfruit sub for the coconut sugar? And powdered monkfruit for the frosting? I want to bake this for my diabetic father in law. Thank you!5 stars

    1. Hi Karla – happy you loved the recipe! I haven’t tried it with that sub, but I believe others have. Scroll through the comments to see if you can find those.

  6. Hi Lisa. I’m making this cake for my daughters 1st birthday party 🥳 I can’t wait, it sounds delicious.

    Just a couple of questions. I’m trying to work out when it’s best to bake. In your option should I make the night before and frost in the morning? I’m thinking it’ll be super fresh and cool enough to frost. If I’m cooling it overnight, should I leave it in the cake tins on the counter? Also my tins are 8 1/2 inches. Should I make two layers with this size?

    1. Hi Anna – yes, you can make this cake the night before and leave them in the tins. Once they’re fully cooled, just place a tea towel over them. And yes, you can make two layers if you’d like. Just note that you may need to increase cooking time a little bit. Hope you have a wonderful birthday party for your daughter!

  7. Seriously better than regular chocolate cake!! I have made this for my son’s birthday parties for the past 3 years and everyone continues to ask for it the next year!!5 stars

    1. You could try adding a bit more of other flours. Just keep in mind that coconut flour is highly absorbent. I’d recommend watching the video and trying to match that texture.

  8. This cake truly is amazing! I made it for my daughter’s birthday. Added a raspberry coulis filling between the layers and a traditional buttercream icing. It was amazing!5 stars

    1. A raspberry filling in between sounds amazing! Hope everyone enjoyed this cake at your daughter’s birthday.

  9. This cake is absolutely delicious! I decrease the sugar to about 2/3 the amount and used mostly coconut sugar but add some regular as well as I didn’t want the taste of the coconut to be overwhelming (not sure it would have). I would love to try even less sugar next time as I don’t like things too sweet. The cake was airy and moist. Didn’t taste gluten free at all and I love that it is almond flour based! Thanks for the great recipe.5 stars

    1. Glad you’re loving this chocolate cake, Maria! Let us know how it is the second time you make it with a little less sugar.

  10. Lisa, I am looking for a chocolate cake to make for my birthday. Can you tell me a substitute for the tapioca flour? I am allergic to tapioca, cassava and corn. Thank you

  11. Made this substituting with chia eggs to be dairy free. . I also used 1/2 avocado and 1/2 banana, and agave for frosting. Also added gf chocolate chips for extra sweetness.   Cake was very heavy and denser than brownies.  I would not suggest to use chia eggs.  Unless maybe adding extra levening ingredients; baking powder.   Flavor overall was good.  Serve at room temp or slightly cooled. 

  12. We absolutely love this recipe and will all the potlucks and BBQs coming up I’d like to try making cupcakes with this recipe. Do you have a suggestion as to how long to bake?5 stars

  13. I’m excited to make this cake! I recently bought your book and happy to see it has recommendations for best way to freeze/store. I’m hoping i can make this cake and freeze some for a later time. While i realize once frozen and thawed you cant expect it to be the same, but do you have any suggestions for freezing or do you recommend not trying to freeze at all?5 stars

    1. Yes, you can freeze this cake as is. But I suggest slicing it into pieces before freezing.

      1. Looking to make this cake for my sons birthday( his friend is gluten and dairy free and I’d like to accommodate him!) Could I substitute normal white sugar in place of the coconut? Would quantity still be the same?