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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 and has quickly become a reader favorite.

(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 this Video of my Paleo Chocolate Cake Recipe

 And subscribe to my YouTube Channel for weekly cooking videos!

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 Flourless Chocolate Cake (also nut-free!), Chocolate Mug Cake, Paleo Chocolate Waffles, Chocolate Truffle Tart, Chocolate Avocado Pudding, Molten Chocolate Cake and Paleo Brownies. And if you’re looking for a non-chocolate cake recipe, I highly recommend my Gluten-Free Carrot Cake (that’s also paleo-ish).


(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.
4.93 from 170 votes

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

Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Servings: 16 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
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

  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 cups coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups raw cacao powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 tsp salt

cake wet ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

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.


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
©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram. Tag @downshiftology and hashtag it #downshiftology.

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

  1. I have commented before and given raves, but I have to add another. I have made this recipe, I think, 5 times this last year. Each time I am asked for the recipe. I send them to this page. Yesterday I baked this cake for a dear friend’s 75th birthday – his request. It was a surprise party with about 30 people so I made 2 – 9″x13″ cakes and stacked them. In our small town of Yachats, OR (a lovely coastal town, BTW) there are many here with diet restrictions. This cake was almost perfect for the group. I’d say almost because one couple is vegans and cannot eat eggs… I discovered. (Any tip on an egg replacement, if I ever am asked to bake when they are there again?)

    So, the reason I am posting this today is that this recipe is brilliant. It is by far the very best chocolate cake any of us has ever eaten – and I have eaten a lot of cakes in the last 68 years. It is a wonderful thing (to find this recipe) for those that have diet restrictions because it IS, in fact, the very best cake they most likely have tasted in a long while. So thank you from all my friends for this lovely exquisite taste experience. It’s a wonderful cake for those of us that don’t have a diet restriction, as well. Much healthier than using white flours and sugars. So for any of you out there wondering about baking this cake…just do it. It will become your favorite as well.
    Thank you from many of us in Yachats, OR for creating this recipe. We LOVE IT!

    • Hi Nancy – Wow, I am so thrilled to hear you have made this so many times in this past year already and that you and everyone you have made it for have loved it every single time! I do my best to test and test baked recipes until it is perfect, so that my followers don’t waste ingredients – especially when it comes to baking a full cake. As for egg replacers, mashed bananas is a good substitute. But, I will be posting a video on Youtube about egg replacers sometime in the next year, so stay tuned for that :)

  2. Hey! Do you think I could make this recipe as cupcakes? 

    • Hi Anna – Absolutely! You can just pour the batter into muffin tins. But, I hope to turn this into a cupcake recipe soon in the new year. So stay tuned!

  3. Full fat coconut milk comes in a can with the coconut cream on top. Do I just shake up the contents and measure?


  5. Ok this is the best ever. I will never look for another gluten free chocolate cake recipe again!  The only change I made was arrowroot flour instead of tapioca and was just fine! Thanks for the recipe- I made it for my own birthday cake!

    • Hi Kristina – So happy to hear you loved this chocolate recipe! It definitely is a reader favorite at Downshiftology :)

  6. This is without a doubt the BEST GLUTEN FREE CAKE I’ve ever had. Period! :D The problem is that I want to bake a cake every week now lol thank you so much for this recipe

  7. Do you think this can be made in the mini bundt cake pans?

  8. I have some friends who cannot eat any dairy or gluten or they get extremely ill. So I searched the internet and found Lisa Bryan’s Amazing Paleo Chocolate Cake. I gave the recipe a try and paired it with gluten and dairy-free Coconut Pecan frosting to make German Chocolate Cake. The same morning, I also made a genuine German Chocolate Cake … and in a side-by-side test, I absolutely could NOT tell the difference between the two. My neighbor tried the gluten and dairy-free version and was as amazed as I was that it was as good as I said it was. This is a keeper of a recipe. Lisa Bryan, thank you so much for all your hard work and ingenuity to create this wonderful recipe … and the kindness to publish it online to help those whose dietary needs are so restrictive, because that’s extremely difficult to live with long-term.

  9. I can’t find espresso powder, can I use a shot of coffee instead (I have a coffee machine) or can I use something else please? Thanks Mandy 

    • Hi Mandy – you can buy the espresso powder on Amazon (I have it linked on my Shop page). But yes, you could use a little shot of coffee as well. :)

      • Thanks so much Lisa! My mum found some super fine instant coffee and I made the cake today and turned out ok…I am in Sydney, Australia so it’s harder to get some of the things you use. I felt it was a bit dense rather than fluffy but I used 2 tins and they were different sizes as I was making my daughters birthday cake (which was the shape of a pig). Plus I used your metric measurements rather than us cups measurements so perhaps that made a difference?? On the weekend I’m making a butterfly shape which is a large rectangular shape. Would you suggest whisking for longer to get more fluffy or reducing the amount of coconut oil?

      • Hi Mandy – with that many changes to the original recipe, it’s hard to know why it turned out the way it did. But I’ll add that all paleo cakes are always more dense than traditional gluten cakes (if that’s what you’re comparing to).

  10. This was so yummy!!! I added espresso powder to the icing to give it a coffee flavor and it was so delicious. 

    Do you think I could leave out the cocoa and make it a vanilla cake? 

    • I’m happy you loved the recipe Danielle! And no, unfortunately that doesn’t work (I’ve tried). But I’m working on a white cake recipe for the future. Hold tight! :)

  11. Hi
    Can I use coconut flours instead of tapioca flour or any other alternative please? 

    • Hi Sarah – unfortunately no, coconut flour can’t be used as a substitute for the other flours in this recipe. You could use arrowroot powder as a sub for the tapioca flour though.

  12. Brava! This cake is phenomenal. I used flax eggs so I was nervous how it would turn out but I was pleasantly surprised. It came out dense but delicious and moist. Really good!

  13. I made this cake for a party and people were absolutely stunned. I had someone tell me “I am not a cake person or a chocolate person, but this is incredible” and then she went to get another slice. Just spectacular. I am back here to get the recipe again to bring to Thanksgiving dinner this year — I am going to wow my future in-laws!!

    P.S. I also decorated it and wish I could share a photo!

  14. I made this today and it was fabulous! Every paleo dessert I’ve made has tasted, well Paleo. When it comes to chocolate cake, I don’t want to sacrifice on taste or texture. As it was baking, I even thought it smelled too paleo (almond flour-y?) to be good. I was wrong. This cake absolutely lives up to the hype. It was moist and perfect and delicious. Thank you for my new go-to cake recipe!!! 

    • Hi Callie – I am so happy to hear that! When it comes to baked goods, I never compromise flavor or texture. This will definitely be a recipe to keep on hand for any birthdays or celebrations :)

  15. Can you use brown sugar instead of coconut sugar? 

  16. Hi,
    I’m sorry if this question has been answered before but could I replace the coconut sugar with medjoo dates (made into a syrup with water) or honey or mole syrup? Would it change the texture of the cake?

    • Hi Ani – It would be better not to change to a liquid form of sugar as this will change the liquid to dry ratio in this recipe!

  17. This cake turned out sooooo moist, dark and delicious. I used 2   9 inch pans, and used half of the vegan buttercream frosting for just the middle and top. Everyone commented how delicious it was. One did not feel cheated for having to be gluten and dairy free. 😀. So grateful for this awesome easy and tasty recipe!

  18. I can’t find expresso powder?? Help, I’m making this tomorrow. Is there another”name” of something that will work? 

  19. I’ve been craving a nice slice of chocolate cake for sometime now but since I’m on a diet I thought I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it for a long time, but this scrumptious paleo chocolate cake has put all my worries to rest, thank you for sharing.

  20. Hi Lisa! 
    I’m so excited to make this cake for me and my sister, we’re both gluten and dairy free. Do you think using regular sugar will change it much if I don’t have coconut sugar?
    Thank you!

  21. Would any part of the recipe change if I turned this into cupcakes instead of a cake? I figure bake time maybe?

  22. This is truly the best chocolate cake ever.
    I’ve made this three times in the last 5 weeks! The first time was the whole cake. I used three 9″ cake pans.
    Perfect. After that I halved the recipe and used two 6″ cake pans. Had a lot of leftover frosting (halved that too!), so it is in the freezer.
    Thank you so very much!

    • Hi Carrie – Wow! You’ve really made use of this recipe! Which makes me so happy to hear :) This recipe has definitely been a winner, so I’m glad you are enjoying it!

  23. How long will the cake last for if refrigerated?

  24. HI Lisa,
    May I use a bundt cake pan (or 2) for this recipe?
    Thank you in advance for this recipe and your feedback.
    With Appreciation,

    • Hi Deirdre – I haven’t personally tried it myself, but other people have baked this caked in different pans and they have turned out just fine! But do let me know if it ends up working out :)

  25. Hi Lisa. Can I replace the almond flour with chick pea flour for this chocolate cake recipe.

    • Hi Vicky – I personally haven’t used chickpea flour yet in my recipes. But, if this combination works for you, please do let me know :)

  26. This cake was beyond delicious! It was rated 10 out of 10! I highly recommend for anyone to make it. Will NOT leave you unsatisfied. Thank you Lisa! I hope more recipes to come around. I have made a couple of your recipes and not one has failed!

    • Hi Laurie – So happy to hear you loved this cake! It’s definitely a Downshiftology essential recipe :)

  27. I made this cake for my daughter’s birthday so my niece could have some at the party, and she is allergic to wheat, soy, dairy, and peanuts. Everyone was shocked at how good it was. I am so grateful for the recipe and the easy-to-follow instructions. 

    I would like to use the recipe again to make a cake for a vegan friend, so could you recommend an egg replacement that would give the best results? Thanks!

    • Hi Annie – So glad to hear everyone loved this cake recipe! Everyone swears by it :) As for egg replacements, a few options are applesauce, bananas, flax seeds, or baking soda.

    • My friend baked this cake for me and I LOVED it! It is moist, not dense, and better than any regular chocolate cake I’ve ever had!

  28. This is the most AMAZING chocolate cake I’ve ever had! 
    The carbohydrates in the nutrition info are for the whole cake or for a slice only?! 

    • Hi Mayara- I’m so happy you loved this cake! It’s definitely one of my most popular chocolate cake recipes :) As for the nutrition facts, it is per slice. However, it sometimes depend how big of a slice you cut your cake.

  29. Hi Lisa, thank you so very much for this recipe. I was a professional baker for many years, and had developed all my own recipes. I transitioned to grain-free about 8 years ago; you can imagine the journey of learning a whole new way of cooking, with new ingredients and techniques. I’ve been making your Amazing Paleo Chocolate Cake since shortly after you published it (thank you!!). Your recipe is easy and reliable, and has won the hearts of many of my standard-diet guests. It is the only chocolate cake recipe I use now.

    As a professional baker, I came to understand that the ‘how’ of making a cake is just as important as the ‘what’ that goes into it. While I’m in a different career now, I’ve held on to those hard-won lessons in chemistry and physics that take a baked good from ‘weekday wonderful’ to ‘stop traffic amazing’. Your Amazing PCC recipe is the first chocolate cake recipe that has been worth making (and eating) over and over again to incorporate and tweak those lessons.

    Your recipe is AMAZING as written and I highly recommend it. If anyone wishes to go the extra mile and make a few modifications, here is what my testers have agreed make it even more sublime:

    Ingredient weights: almond flour (288 gr), tapioca flour (112 gr), coconut flour (32 gr, but can increase to 50 gr for a more toothsome texture), cacao powder (126 gr).

    Instruction adaptations:
    * combine cacao powder, espresso power and boiling water (or use 1 c very hot coffee, reg or decaf). Stir into a thick paste and set aside to cool down. The hot water/coffee ‘blooms’ the chocolate flavor and makes it more pronounced and intense.

    * use the dry-to-wet method: combine the wet, combine the dry, add dry to wet, then add chocolate last.

    * beat very well for a long time for better texture and rise. Use a stand mixer for best results: combine sugar (in a crystalline form) with fat (coconut oil) and beat thoroughly for several minutes. Add eggs and mix until pale yellow, and satiny and ribbony, at least 5 minutes (longer is better). This is where the air bubbles are created, that the vinegar and baking soda will inflate during cooking. Add milk and beat for several more minutes (because this milk has good fat in it, which can become more air bubbles). On lower speed, add dry ingredients (which have been whisked together already), about 1/4 at a time until incorporated. Add chocolate paste the same way, plus vanilla. Stir/whisk in vinegar last, quickly, and get it all into the oven as soon as possible.

    These ideas did not originate from me, they came from Rose Levy Beranbaum, Shirley O, Corriher, Cook’s Illustrated, and other long-forgotten sources of baking wisdom. For readers who want to geek out on the science of baking, I recommend Corriher’s book ‘Bakewise’, or find her on YouTube, she’s a national treasure!

    Thank you again, Lisa, for this truly AMAZING recipe.

  30. This recipe is an amazing recipe. I made it for my teacher’s b- day & she is gluten free/dairy free, so it was perfectly delicious recipe . I made a couple modifications based on what I had in the house: I used rice flour instead of tapioca & white sugar Instead of coconut for the batter .

    Tip: if you don’t have rice flour take raw white/ brown rice blend in blender / food processor until it is flour-like consistency

    • Hi Fantine – So happy to hear everyone loved this recipe! And thanks for the quick tip for people who are missing a few flour ingredients :)

  31. Hi do you have this awesome recipe available in a white / vanilla cake?
    thank you

  32. Hi there! Just wondering if it’s possible to replace all of the flours in the recipe (almond, tapioca and coconut flours) with gluten free flour – in the same measurements? I have seen a few comments about replacing one or two, but wasn’t sure if replacing all three would work?

    • Hi Emma – gluten-free flour blends are all different ratios of flours, so unfortunately I’m not sure which ones may work. But if you give it a try and it works, please let us know which you used! :)

  33. Are the calories for all the cake or just for a part or it?? Thanks 

  34. Can I use buttermilk instead of coconut milk?
    And could I use a gf flour blend?
    Like Bob’s 1:1?
    Thank you

    • Hi Lorka – Yes, you can use buttermilk if you prefer to use that while baking. And yes! Any gluten free flour blend works just fine.

    • Hello! This is really an amazing cake. I’ve made it before and it turned out so good. However, I’d like to make it almond free because of an allergy. Is there a flour you would recommend that I could replace the almond flour with?

      • Hi Rebecca – Does your friend have an almond allergy or nut allergy overall? If it’s a nut allergy, it’s going to be hard to replace the almond flour because of it’s texture. However, I do recommend my flourless chocolate cake as an alternative!

  35. Is this calling for refrigerated coconut milk or canned?

  36. I am planning to make this for a birthday but have one question. Can tapioca starch be used for the tapioca flour? Apologies if you have already addressed this question. 

    • Hi Julie – Yes! You can use tapioca starch in place of tapioca flour as they are essentially the same. I hope everyone at this birthday party enjoys this cake :)

  37. I cant have expresso powder. What can I use in its place?

  38. Oh wow!  Tastes like the real thing!!

  39. Do you think this could be made with flax seed eggs?! 

  40. So I have done this recipe with 3 layers before and it worked great, but this time I opted to try the (2) 9” pans.  Don’t do it unless you leave out about a third of the batter.  We had a mess, a waste of ingredients, a new need to clean the oven and a smoke filled house.   Unless you have really tall 9” pans.

    Also, don’t bake zombie tired. 

  41. WOW! This is so delicious. I made cupcakes and halved the recipe and they turned out even better than I had hoped. Now, I just need to put them away so I don’t eat them all before my husband gets home. :-)

  42. I made this for myself for my birthday and it was totally delicious. I’ve been dreaming about it ever since and am making it again! This is so moist, delicious, chocolatey, even my gluten-eating kids loved it!

    • Hi Alex – I’m so glad you enjoyed this cake! This recipe literally doesn’t even taste like it’s gluten free :) By the way, happy birthday!