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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.

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

Other gluten-free and paleo chocolate recipes you’ll love:

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.
4.95 from 226 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.
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1,255 comments on “Amazing Paleo Chocolate Cake (gluten-free, dairy-free)”

  1. O love this cake, I’ve made a lot of times and it’s always great. I would like to know if the nutrition information is per slice or per cake?
    Thank you very much

  2. Would it be possible to sub the coconut milk for cashew milk?

  3. I made this cake for my best friend’s 40th birthday to make it a little more special while in quarantine. It came out amazing!!! I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make (I’ve never made a cake like this before). I only had two cake pans so I made two layers instead of three, but still came out great. The frosting also came out delicious and was surprisingly easy to spread. She couldn’t believe it was gluten and dairy free. I’ve already had several requests for the recipe and will definitely be making it again for the next birthday.

    • Hi Julia – I’m so glad you were able to celebrate your friend’s birthday with this delicious cake! This continues to be one of my reader’s favorite recipe, so can’t wait for more of your friends to try this chocolate cake :)

  4. Any idea how long to bake if you make cupcakes with this recipe?

  5. Can I use one big cake tin and just slice the cake through the middle once it’s cooked? Or will it not cook thoroughly?

  6. I am baking the paleo chocolate cake and in the frosting ingredients what is organic palm shortening ? Or there any other ingredient I can use instead? 
    Thank you Lisa for all those lovely recepies , yesterday I did for my daughter the banana bread and she did love it 😍 

    • Hi Maria- You can also use butter or ghee in replacement of palm shortening :) Hope you enjoy this cake as much as the banana bread!

  7. Sorry, silly questions but what is espresso powder? I live in Australia and have never heard of it. Is it just instant coffee or do I grind up espresso beans?? Thanks.

  8. I’m planning to make this for my birthday in a few says!   But I don’t have espresso powder and can’t just run to the store.  Can I use strong coffee?   

    • Hi Elyse – Yes, you can use a little strong coffee. Happy early birthday! :)

    • Hello, is it important that the almond meal should be very fine ? I have almonds but I don’t know how fine I could grind them and I can’t just go out getting almond flour.
      Also, would that be ok to leave the tapioca flour as I don’t know where I could find some ? I know the texture will change as per your Q&A before the recipe… Or could I use corn starch instead (I have this !) ?

      • Hi Yasmina – the almond meal should be fine for this recipe. And yes, you could try cornstarch as a sub for the tapioca flour.

      • Thank you very much !I will try to have the almond as fine as possible and see how it goes ! Thank you !

  9. I made this for my daughter’s birthday party, and everyone DEVOURED it!!! Nobody could believe it was gluten and dairy free. I also substituted 1/2c stevia and 1/2c erythritol for one of the cups of coconut sugar, so it was lower sugar as well.

    • Hi Analisa- So happy to hear everyone loved this chocolate cake! And thanks for letting me know about the substituted sugars you used. Will definitely keep that in mind :)

  10. This is the most delicious cake we’ve ever eaten! Worked perfectly first attempt – never found a paleo or gluten free recipe that tastes this good. Even better than a ‘normal’ cake. Thanks so much – I made it for my husbands birthday today :)

    • Hi Steph- Thrilled to hear you love this recipe! It’s definitely a reader’s favorite for a reason. I hope your husband had a great birthday!

  11. Hi! Can I substitute arrowroot flour for tapioca? I want to make this for my sisters birthday, but would love to avoid the store if I can right now due to the current climate!

  12. Hi, want to try this receipt but can I use egg substitute?

  13. I have made this cake before and it has always been a hit. Today I am making it for my son’s 6th birthday tomorrow and it is first year he is going to have sugar in his cake. We usually go away from the city for his birthday and this year he wanted a small playdate with three of his friends and we obviously had to change plans but he is very excited to decorate our apartment with balloons and this cake which I am by the way going to fill with candy too as his request, lol.

    First time I comment on this recipe even when it is not first time I make it but in these rough times for everyone I wanted to say thank you and let you know it is going to be part of a very special day in my house.

    • Hi Kristal – This makes my heart so full that this chocolate cake can bring some joy and happiness for your son during these rough times. I love the idea of decorating your apartment and still figuring out a way to make this day special for him :) Hope your son has an amazing birthday.

  14. I’m going to try this this weekend and was wondering if I could use Bob Redmill’s Paleo Flour since it has all 3 of these flours in it?

  15. I made this for my son’s birthday last night, and my husband is still raving about it. Good good good!!!

    • Thrilled to hear that your whole family enjoyed this chocolate cake :) And happy birthday to your son. I hope this cake brought some joy on his special day during these rough times!

    • Hi,
      I want to make this cake for my birthday in a couple of weeks. I am a bit sensitive to coconut so I was wondering if there is any way I could substitute the coconut milk for cashew milk? As there is already a lot of coconut in this recipe I was hoping a milk substitute would be easiest without sacrificing too much or the texture.

      Thank you!

  16. Can I subsitute tapioca flour with corn flour? I have tapioca pearls , if I roast and grind them in my dry grinder would that be the same ? I plan to make this in two days and can’t go out to get the flour and orders are delayed :( 

    • Unfortunately, corn flour is not interchangeable with tapioca flour. If the tapioca pearls are pure tapioca starch/flour (with no added ingredients), then it should be fine to grind them up.

  17. Hi was wondering what oven type you use? Fan or conventional? Thank you 

  18. Is there a way to make it sugar free also?

    • Hi there – Unfortunately sugar is a large component of this recipe, as there is also some sugar in the chocolate.

  19. Hi! I want to make this cake for my sons birthday but he is allergic to dairy and nuts. I saw in the comments substitutes for the eggs, but I was wondering is there a substitute for the almond flour I can use?

  20. Hi Lisa, excited to try this! Can I substitute tapioca for cassava flour? And as for the espresso powder, does it have to be instant or I can use regular grounded coffee? Thank you!

    • Hi Vicky – I would not recommend cassava flour in this recipe, as it might change the texture. And instant coffee is different from grounded coffee. You can use instant espresso powder or instant coffee or add a smidge of brewed coffee. But don’t add ground coffee beans.

  21. Hi! I made this cake yesterday and it was beyond amazing!!
    I was wondering if I can substitute the eggs with something else to make it vegan?  
    Thank you!

    • Hi Ruth – I haven’t tried this recipe with an egg substitute, but others have used flax eggs/chia eggs with success (you can scroll the comments to see).

  22. 5 Star chocolate cake. This is the best Gluten Free chocolate cake recipe I’ve made thanks to you Lisa Bryan. 

  23. Wow Wow Wow!!!! This is an amazing cake! Recipe is easy to follow and the results are fabulous! I even made it into brownies. My friend who is true Paleo did not believe that this cake was Paleo and I had to keep showing her the recipe. This is by far the best gluten free (and better then gluten cake) recipe out there!!


  25. Can you separate the eggs and whip the eggwhites to stiff peaks and fold them in at the end?

  26. Can I substitute anything for the coconut oil? Ghee?

  27. Can I make the cake ahead of time and freeze it until I’m ready to frost it? 

    • Hi Krista – Yes! If you are freezing the layers without the frosting, just make sure to let each layer cool then tightly wrap them in plastic wrap. Then just put them in the refrigerator to thaw it before frosting.

    • I made this cake for my daughter’s birthday—the texture was everything for being a gluten-free cake! Could never tell. 
      I was wondering if I can make this cake without the cocoa flavor, perhaps a Vanilla flavored cake? 

  28. Can you use a different flour other than almond

  29. Oops sorry it’s late 😴
    *this is NOW my go-to 😊

  30. I made this cake today and was thrilled at the cake-like texture. I would continue to make this recipe even if I wasn’t GF/DF. I served it at a family dinner and everyone loved it. Thank you SO much Lisa. Thia is not my go-to!!

    • Hi Diane – That was definitely the goal for this recipe – to replicate the texture of a real cake :) So happy to hear you loved this one!

  31. Hi

    Can I replace the tapioca flour with more almond/coconut flour? My personalised diet does not allow tapioca

  32. I have tried a handful of recipes for paleo chocolate cake, and this one takes the cake!! Haha… for real. For the frosting I made a ganache with Lily’s dark chocolate chips and coconut cream. It looked and tasted supreme. Thank you!!

    • Hi Anne – Thrilled to hear you loved this recipe! It definitely is a reader’s favorite because of the fluffy texture :)

  33. May i substitute eggs with a different ingredient?

    • Hi Celeste – I haven’t tried this recipe yet using a egg replacer, but if you do try it, please let me know what you ended up using! I will also be creating video and post soon about different types of egg replacers after I do some testing, so stay tuned :)

  34. Is it possible to swap the coconut sugar for a sugar-free granulated option like stevia? Hoping to make a gluten free & sugar free cake for my parents 50th anniversary in a couple of weeks and this recipe looks amazing!!

  35. This cake was amazing.  My child was so excited to have cake for her birthday.  I was a little nervous about trying a new recipe for such an important day but it came out perfect.  Her only request was a white frosting so I left out the cacao powder.  Worked great.

    • Hi Renee – I’m so glad you took the risk on a new cake recipe, and ended up loving it! Also, happy birthday to your daughter :)

    • Hey Lisa,

      For the coconut milk, can I use a coconut milk can? Or is it the coconut milk drinking cartons?

      Thank you! 

  36. Perfect Chocolate Cake! Love Love Love this.
    Absolute hit for our 7 year olds birthday party – the kids loved the vegan buttercream icing too.
    Highly recommend as easy to make and so full of flavour.

  37. I made this for a church potluck, as I was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease and lactose intolerance and several families in my church are also gluten free. I took leftovers to work today and had rave reviews from g/f folks as well as a few who eat gluten. One coworker said she does not usually like cake or frosting but loves the desserts I bring in, so she wanted to try this one. She loved it. ;) Thanks for all of your hard work, Lisa!!

  38. Ah-maxing!
    This will be our go to recipe from now on!

  39. Hi lisa … I love all ur recipes , you really inspired me to change my diet and start eating clean and to have healthier life choices , i also have some health issues…. but where i live in egypt it is very difficult to find tapioca flour and coconut sugar any replacements??

    • Hi Nehal – I’m happy you love my recipes! You could use arrowroot powder for the tapioca flour and regular sugar for the coconut sugar. Though I might add a little less sugar as cane sugar tastes sweeter. :)

  40. Hi! This looks amazing! I was looking for dairy free/gluten free birthday cakes and I came across your blog! Very interesting!! I just subscribed because I’m in the process to improve our family’s diet and your recipes look very delicious! I will try this recipe! Question: could I use Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder? that’s what I have and it’s also gluten free. I checked the label and it’s just cocoa. Tbh, I’m on a budget and I have all the ingredients except for this. Thank you!

    • Hi Valeria – I’m so glad you stumbled upon my channel and that I can help play a part to your journey of being gluten-free :) As for the recipe, you can use the cocoa powder instead of cacao powder! Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  41. Can this recipe be halved? I find it difficult to cook for one and not end up throwing food away. Surely if I had a bigger freezer (just on top of my fridge) I could freeze more stuff, but it’s better just to make less.

  42. Just WOW 🤩 MOIST, chocolatey and easy to make, could not believe the incredible taste. I will certainly be making this cake again.

  43. Can I freeze this?

    • Hi Sarah – Yes you can freeze this either as a whole if you are prepping this for an event, or you can freeze the leftovers by slicing them into pieces so that you can take them out individually to thaw and eat :)

  44. I’m assuming your nutrition information is for the entire cake…?

  45. This cake was amazing! So moist and tasty my whole family loves it! 

  46. Can you sub the flours for cassava flour?

  47. Hi I’m wondering if I can make this into cupcakes and if so how long you would suggest to bake them.

  48. Is there an egg substitute for vegan take on this cake?

  49. Please let us know which is good cocoa , I tried some organic ones but were very powdery 

  50. I made this for Christmas Day and it was delicious! I’m wondering if it could be turned into a vanilla cake? I’m worried if I leave the cacao out it will ruin the wet/dry ratio?

    • Hi Kristy – So glad everyone enjoyed this over Christmas. As for turning this into a vanilla cake, removing the cacao will alter the wet/dry ratio unfortunately. But, I hope to create a vanilla version sometime soon, so please stay tuned!

      • Hey just wondering if you have created a vanilla version yet as id love to do one for my daughters bday in a month.

      • Hi Teagan – I have not created a vanilla version yet! But I hope to do so in the future :)