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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).

Enjoy!

(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 145 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!

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  • 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.

Nutrition

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

  1. I made this for my baby’s first birthday and topped it with lots of berries 👌🏻 I did have to make some changes in the cake batter and frosting to suit our taste and I ended up mixing the cake batter a bit much which I think made the cake slightly dense. Nevertheless, everyone loved it! 
    I love that I made a refined sugar free & guilt free cake!! 
    Thank you for this

  2. I made this cake for my sisters 40th birthday party! It was a success for the ones dieting! We loved how good it tastes and that it doesn’t run my sugar up as I’m diabetic! Gonna try freezing the rest to pull out when I want something sweet! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Hi Letha – I’m so happy to hear you and everyone at your sister’s party loved this cake recipe! This is one of my most loved cakes, especially for those on a paleo sort of diet. I will be sure to post more like this soon :)

  3. I can’t say enough about this cake! It is the most superbly, dense, chocolatey, heavenly cake I’ve had! As someone who is mostly Paleo, I’m doing a little dance right now over it! Superb recipe!!! 

    • Hi Daniela – So excited to hear that you love this cake! It’s also one of my personal favorites and a great paleo dessert option :)

  4. Hi Lisa,

    Your cake recipe looks wonderful and I’m excited to make it. Forgive me if these questions have already been asked but is it alright to use regular cacao powder instead of raw? Additionally, would I be able to replace coconut sugar with regular sugar?

    Thanks!
    Tristen

  5. Hi Lisa, I want to try this recipe out, but I wondered if you had a smaller version? 

  6. Coconut oil ?  Solid or liquid,  please :)

  7. Lisa,

    Have you made this cake in a 9 x 13 pan? I am making this cake for my soon to be 3 year olds birthday party and I need a longer cake for the party.

    Thanks,

    Jamie

    • Hi Jamie – I haven’t tried making it in a 9×13 pan, but everything should still be the same :)

  8. Thnx for this amazing recipe!!Can we make it without egg pure vegan?

  9. This looks amazing! Can I cook it in one batch and put raspberries in the middle? Thank you!

    • Hi Catherine – Yes, you can cook this in an extra large pan and put raspberries in the middle. I think that sounds delicious :)

  10. we have a coconut allergy, Any substitute?

    • Hi Danielle – due to the various different coconut ingredients, it would be hard to substitute

  11. with what can you replace tapioca flour??

  12. Is tapioca flour the same as those found in Chinese grocery stores?

  13. Hi Lisa,

    Forgive my ignorance but on the coconut milk you say “full fat”; is that mean coconut cream? The only canned coconut milk , every brand, is “lite” and “unsweet”. (Thai is the main brand I see)

    Thanks so much!
    Laura

  14. Hello!
    Do you recommend using homemade flour?

  15. I have made this cake three times now for birthday celebrations and no one can tell it’s Paleo friendly…how wonderfully deceptive. We found it tastes even better after it’s been in the fridge overnight marinating in its chocolatey flavors of decadence. If you don’t like this recipe then it’s probably because you hate chocolate…or desserts…or just good food in general.

  16. Hi Lisa, would you have an alternative for the espresso powder ? Difficult to find it in France. Thanks.

  17. I’ve made this cake and it’s my favorite that I’ve ever made! However, I recently developed an egg allergy 😕 any substitution ideas? I’m 10 weeks pregnant and this cake is the ONLY thing I want!!!! 

  18. I’m going to make this cake and your gluten free carrot cake for my wedding. I love both cakes so much I’m thinking of doing a combination cake by alternating layers of the two cakes with a cream cheese frosting skim coat. Any idea if this will work?

  19. Where can I buy the espresso powder? I’ve looked at several of my local grocery stores.

    Can’t wait to make this!
    Thanks,
    Laura

  20. Question: is the nutrition information per slice (1/16 of the cake) or total? My dad is a diabetic and my mom is paleo for health reasons but I’d like to make it for them for their anniversary. Thanks!

    • Hi Beatrice – yes, that’s per slice. While the cake is gluten-free and paleo-friendly, there’s still quite a bit of sugar so I wouldn’t consider this diabetic friendly. Another great chocolate dessert option would be my chocolate chia pudding (and you can always reduce the maple syrup). :)

  21. I made this cake for our wedding. It truly was a perfect addition to everything else. Now it’s a family favorite. 

  22. Since going Paleo nearly two years ago, this has become one of my go-to cake recipes, and the whole family loves it! I was planning to make it for my daughter’s birthday party this weekend: however, I just learned that one of her friends has a tree nut allergy. I have seen the recommendation for hazelnut substitution for the almond flour, but I can’t use that either…. Have you tried, or heard of anyone trying, this recipe successfully with grain & nut free flour alternatives (singularly or blended) like cassava or tigernut?

    • Unfortunately, I haven’t tried it with a nut-free flour. Sorry!

    • Holy buckets! Chocolate craving satisfied. I made ours a German chocolate cake with a vegan frosting recipe. The whole family loved it! Tell me you have a vanilla version of this cake…

    • Hi Ashley
      Sorry, I just read your question a few weeks after your daughter’s birthday party. If only I’d read it sooner! In our family we very often substitute SUNFLOWER SEEDS for almond flour. We grind them in a little coffee grinder we keep especially for grinding non-coffee ingredients. We find the ground sunflower seeds produce slightly more flour cup for cup than the almonds, so we grind then measure.

      The sunflower taste is neutral in a chocolate cake. The taste works quite well for us in an almond based pastry recipe for savoury recipes like sausage rolls, although might make the pastry look a little darker than almonds.

      The seeds are a much lower price than almonds in New Zealand., $6-$10 compared to $25-$40 a kilogram. The ONE thing to watch for when using sunflower seeds is they contain Chlorogenic Acid, which simply means that if a recipe contains more than 1/4 tsp baking soda (in my experience), there is an amazing reaction between the soda and the seeds and your cake, pancake, scone, pastry will turn a lovely shade of deep GREEN! Of course, you don’t see this in a chocolate cake, because of the already dark colour of the cacao or cocoa.

      A great experiment to try! And sometimes the green is okay for the eaters in my house, but mostly not appreciated. Except by me, but then I’m like that.

      Hope the birthday party was a great success.

  23. I made this cake for a friend’s birthday and it was delicious! Even my skeptical husband loves it! The only thing I did differently was put fruit preserves in between the layers and used only half of the recommended frosting.

  24. Hello :) I’m planning to make this recipe but can I use oat milk instead of full fat coconut milk? 

  25. I have an almond allergy, what can I switch the almond flour for?  This chocolate cake looks scrumptious.

  26. Can I use monk fruit sugar? How would be the proportion? Same?

  27. Will this turn out the same if I make it into cupcakes, would I need to alter baking time? I have made this cake twice and it’s DELICIOUS! 

    • Yes! I actually halved the recipe and made it into cupcakes a few weeks ago (it made about 15 cupcakes). I believe I baked it for about 22-25 minutes, but I’d keep an eye on it. Enjoy!

    • I’ve only used this recipe for cupcakes.  I also just halve it. It’s always a big hit!

  28. What type of Salt do you typically use? I have lots of Sea Salt in various forms; Coarse, Fine, etc. Looking forward to making this scrumptious looking recipe!

  29. can i use gluten free flour instead of almond flour for someone with almond allergy

  30. Hi, I’m planning to make this recipe but was curious if I could get away with doing less sugar? I’ve never worked with coconut sugar before so I’m not sure how sweet it is. I really just don’t like overly sweet desserts. Thanks!

  31. Incredible cake! Made it for my father in law’s birthday and everyone loved it. Added about 3/4 cup whisky to the frosting and it turned out beautifully. 

  32. I absolutely love this cake! I was wondering if the nutrition facts included the frosting or not?

  33. Hi Lisa! 

    Cake sounds delicious!!! I can’t wait to make it for my husband’s birthday on the 4th! Where is that white tall cake stand from? I’m trying to look for one similar to that? Thanks! 

  34. I would like to use something in place of the almond flour b/c of allergies what could I use? 

  35. I have to say this may be the best chocolate cake I’ve had in a while. My young son has been asking for chocolate cake so I made this one on a whim. Halved the recipe and made a small portion of the icing. It worked out great as a single layer cake. So moist. Thank you!! 

  36. Also, is tapioca flour the same as tapioca starch or cassava flour?
    Thanks

  37. Can the eggs be replaced by a vegan version (flax or chia or aquafaba) ?
    If really like to try it but I need a vegan version.
    Thanks

    • Hi Daniela – yes, several readers have said in the comments below that they used an egg substitute for this recipe and it still turned out wonderful. :)

  38. This cake is INCREDIBLE! My family couldn’t even tell that it was grain free.  It has such an amazing  texture.  Definitely think it’s because of the full fat coconut milk.

    Also, for fun… I added 2 teaspoons of Chinese five spice bc yummmm :]

  39. I have just made this for our Bookclubs 10th year anniversary and even though no one else is Paleo, they all loved it. Even my very fussy brother-in-law said he could eat this every day of the week. Thank you, Lisa, for an amazing, tasty cake. This cake has outdone any cake I have bought in a store so far. No more store bought cakes just this one recipe will be my one and only go to from now on.

  40. This cake was a real show stopper! We made it for my mom’s birthday (she’s gluten & lactose intolerant) and EVERYONE loved it!

    Thanks for sharing!

  41. Hello!
    I would like to make this cake for my husband. HIs birthday is on Thursday. :)
    Can I replace the coconut sugar with Lakanto?
    Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Mila – I haven’t tried that so not exactly sure how it would turn out. You could certainly give it a go, but as Lakanto can be sweeter you may need to alter the amount/ratios of the ingredients.

  42. Hi I have made this recipe and it was great. I made it on Thursday night and leave it to cool and Frost it on Friday UT I didn’t put it in the fridge to use on Saturday but it started to taste a little spoiled do I have to put the cake in the fridge until ready to serve? Can you tell me how to store it can it stay out for a while or you have to refrigerator it. I live in a hot country would the cake spoil if it leave out?

    • Hi Niki – the cake shouldn’t spoil out on the counter if you kept it covered. But if you do plan to keep it for a day or two, I do recommend placing in the refrigerator. You can freeze it as well and then thaw when you’d like to eat it.

  43. This is the best recipe I have made yet. I made the entire batter in a 10″ springform pan. It took and extra 20 minutes for baking time. It’s moist and delicious and freezes well. I also halved the ingredients and made cupcakes another time. A winner for sure.

  44. Hello Lisa, I am very excited to make this cake. I am taking it on a camping trip for my daughter’s birthday. Have you ever date this in a 9 x 13 pan? Do you think it is doable?