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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. Hi Lisa, I live in Nicaragua and here I can not find tapioca flour or coconut sugar.  With what other ingredients can I replace these?  Thank you!

    • Hi Victoria – you could use arrowroot powder instead of tapioca flour and regular sugar instead of coconut sugar (you might want to start with less of it though, as it’s sweeter).

  2. Hello
    I have made this chocolate cake three times, each one was a birthday cake. It was so delicious three young men ate one whole cake. 
    Can this cake be made as a vanilla cake?

  3. My daughter follows a strict anti-inflammatory/paleo diet and it’s SO hard to find recipes for sweets for her when she wants a treat. This cake is hands down the best paleo dessert we’ve made & we couldn’t even tell it was GF. Even froze the cake overnight last night to let our icing get firm today & it was perfect tonight! 

    We did make our own icing with coconut cream, melted chocolate chips, and a little bit of powdered coconut sugar (due to additional dietary restrictions), but it complemented the cake perfectly! We’ll definitely be making this again! Can’t wait to try the cupcakes. :) 

    • Hi April- I’m so glad you finally found a paleo cake recipe that was a success! The goal for my paleo baked goods is to always make sure it tastes like the real thing :) Can’t wait to see how your cupcakes turn out.

  4. I have made this cake numerous times now with various frostings. It is absolutely delicious and my family loves it as well. Thank you for the great recipe!!

  5. This cake is amazing and I will make it again. I made it for my nieces 14 birthday. It was nice and fluffy and you couldn’t tell it was made without flour. The sweetness of the cake is perfect. I think I put a bit too much cocoa in, as it was a bit too chocolatey. The only down side of this cake is the price of buying the ingredients. If the ingredients were more reasonably priced this recipe would be my go to birthday cake recipe. I chose a different frosting than the Vegan Chocolate Buttercream Frosting recommended for the cake, so can’t comment on that.

    • Hi Serena- I’m thrilled to hear everyone enjoyed this cake for your niece’s birthday. And I understand the ingredients can be a bit more as this is a paleo cake. But You can also try baking my paleo chocolate cupcakes as well next time. They use a bit less than this chocolate :)

  6. Hello, just wondering what can be substituted for the ghee? Supposedly it is dairy free but it comes from a cow and my toddler (this cake would be for his birthday) is extremely sensitive to milk protein. Can’t risk any being in there.

    Would honey or extra coconut oil work instead of ghee? Thanks

  7. Have made this chocolate cake half dozen time’s and is everyone’s favorite cake! My friends and family couldn’t even tell that it was paleo.

  8. sorry, just saw you answered this already – canned!

  9. when you say coconut milk, do you mean the canned or the coconut milk in the cold, dairy sections (as alternative milks)?

  10. Can you make this in a 9×13 inch pan? Thanks.

  11. This recipe is amazing! I would like to make it again for my daughter’s birthday but adding fondant decoration.
    The frosting in your recipe is deliciously soft, will it stand up to having fondant put on top of it? Do I need to change the consistency (and what would I add) to do that?
    And, once baked will the texture of the cake change if it’s put in the fridge? Some cakes made with regular flour and buttercream kinda get less soft once refrigerated and don’t regain their previous texture. I am not familiar with this combination of flours and how they might act in the fridge … last time this recipe was made the cake was devoured so fast it never made it to the fridge!

    • Hi Rosie – I’m happy you love this recipe! Yes, no problem adding fondant to the frosting. And the texture is perfect after it’s been refrigerated. Just make sure to crumb coat it before refrigerating so it doesn’t dry out.

  12. Loved your recipe! Made this for my daughter’s birthday! Wonder if this can be made without eggs? Will chia or flax eggs work in this recipe? Thanks 

    • So glad your daughter enjoyed this chocolate cake for her bday :) As for no eggs, I haven’t tried any egg substitutions yet for this recipe. But I’m thinking one of those eggs could work for this recipe.

  13. I’ve made this cake twice now and am about to make it for the 3rd time. SO GOOD. I added a raspberry puree between the layers because it is very chocolaty but all in all SO GOOD.

    • Hi Allie – A raspberry puree sounds amazing in between! Thrilled that you’ve enjoyed this cake so much!

  14. I love the look of this recipe but was hoping I could use all butter instead of the palm oil as I try not to use this for ethical reasons.  Thanks you for a great looking recipe.

  15. The cake sounds amazing!
    Do you have nutritional information for just the cake without the frosting?

    Any feedback on swapping the coconut sugar for Lakanto monkfruit with erythritol ?

    Trying to get the carbs down for my T1Diabetic son. His 21st bday is coming up and he loves chocolate cake.

    • Hi Pamela – I don’t have the nutritional info without the frosting. You’d have to calculate that with an online nutrition calculator. And I haven’t tried the recipe with monk fruit or erythritol, but I believe others in the comments have so you might want to scroll through.

  16. This cake turned out amazing!! No one could tell it was gluten free, dairy free. I will be making this again, soon!!

  17. Is the coconut oil measured when it’s solid or melted? Looking forward to making it!

  18. The nutritional data is for the whole cake or a portion. How big is the portion?

    • Hi Justina – The nutritional info will always be per serving! There are about 16 servings in this cake, so depends how big of a slice you cut. But I’m measuring a thin slice :)

  19. Hi, I love chocolate cake, especially this healthier version, and might be tempted to make this for myself, but it may be just a tad excessive.. so I was wondering if it’s possible to cut the recipe to make a 1 layer or 2 layer cake instead. If so, can you please advise how to reduce the ingredients ? Would you just divide by 3.. but what if it’s not divisible by 3 like the 4 eggs? Thanks!

  20. Hello Lisa, I happened across this recipe as I was trying to find a gluten free/dairy free chocolate recipe for my son’s girlfriend!! This looks absolutely delicious!!! I will have to make it for sure, but I only have almond flour right now! Quick question though, can this be made into cupcakes? I like to freeze them, and sometimes with the frosting separate. (My son in New York LOVES chocolate & I send him cupcakes/frosting in separate containers).🙂
    I look forward to making this recipe and checking out others you have as well!
    Thank you for sharing!💕

    • Hi Elizabeth! I actually have a chocolate cupcake recipe on my website already that uses the same base as this cake! It’s called Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes :)

  21. Hello!

    I am not paleo but my friend recently went gluten free and dairy free and I just baught all of the ingredients for this cake except the coconut milk!

    Do you use the coconut milk that is sold cold by the regular milk or are we talking canned coconut milk? If canned, what is a “full fat” coconut milk supposed to be calorie wise. Will it say full fat or does it just NOT say light?

    Thank you for all of your help! very excited to make this cake!

  22. First of all I love your page! Thank you for the amazing recipes! I want to bake this cake but I don’t have almond flour… Can I use only tapioca or rice or anything else?
    Thank you!

  23. Hi! This cake looks so delicious, my sisters birthday is coming up and I was just wondering how many people this cake actually serves.

  24. What is the best way to store this? Can I make it a day ahead?

  25. This cake is so flipping good. My 9 year old kiddo made it (more or less on his own) and it came out perfect. He’s been getting into baking during this pandemic craziness and it was the perfect challenge for his first attempt at a solo paleo cake. He did use regular vegetable oil since we just ran out of coconut but everything came out great! Thank you so much!

    • Hi Natalie – Wow! That’s amazing to hear your 9 year old made this cake! Happy to hear it turned out great :)

  26. Hi Lisa –

    I’ve made this one a couple of times and it was amazing both times!! On the second time, I accidentally used coconut flour instead of almond and just went with it (found a almond/coconut flour conversion online) and it worked out awesome as well. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    • Thought I’d add – I baked mine in a toaster oven, too!

    • Oh wow, I’m surprised it turned out with that much coconut flour, but happy to hear it! Haha. :)

    • So you added 3 1/4 cups of coconut flour instead of almond flour? My son is allergic to nuts so I love the recipe and I m trying to substitute almond with coconut or cassava flour. This recipe sounds perfect for his birthday if I was able to substitute almond with a different flour.

  27. This recipe looks amazing and I’m so excited to try it! I’m wondering if I could use something in place of the tapioca flour? I live in a small town and apparently no one carries it. Thanks in advance!

  28. Hi this looks amazing! How would I change the recipe if I’m just wanting to do 1 8inch cake? Thank you! 

  29. Hi there,

    Wow this cake was truly amazing! Thank you so much. I am wondering if this cake can be turned into a vanilla one. Would have to replace cacao powder with a different ingredient I’m assuming. 
    Any help would be much appreciated. 

    Kate x

  30. This truly is the BEST paleo chocolate cake recipe!  Thank you Lisa for the recipe!  Delicious!  

  31. My friend, Jamie, @ sent me this recipe for our baby’s 1st birthday cake. It turned out fabulous! So moist and delicious! I only had 2 9″ pans and made 1/2 the recipe of the buttercream frosting. Absolutely perfect and will definitely be making again and again! Thank you! I don’t see a place to add photos, but will if you tell me how.

    • Hi Sonia- I’m so glad everyone loved this cake! Can’t wait for you to make it again and maybe send photos to the Facebook community group :)

  32. Great recipe, Love love love it
    This will be my go to for chocolate cake. Did half the recipe and was able to get a double layer due to pan size. Mind you I am not gluten sensitive but am cutting down my wheat consumption. Kids finished it by the next day . I have never seen cake consumed so quickly in my house barely had any to give to friends. If I hadn’t said anything no one would know its gluten free. Friends loved it.
    Such a simple recipe with great reward. 
    p.s made the frosting also – my first time – a winner
    Thanks so much
    This will be my birthday cake recipe

    • Hi Nicky- That’s amazing to hear given none of you are gluten-free! But, I’m glad that you all loved this chocolate cake :)

  33. THIS IS SO GOOD!!! keep it up

  34. Hi! I’m considering making this cake. I’m scouring the internet for a “healthy” chocolate cake as I am on week 6 of “clean eating” and the ingredients here all seem to work. I’ve never heard of tapioca flour though? Is it considered “clean”? Also, are the nutrition facts below for the entire recipe and I would adjust based on serving size?

    • Keep in mind that there’s two cups of sugar in this recipe. ;) I don’t consider any recipes with sugar to be your healthiest options. But it’s definitely a delicious dessert!

  35. Hi Lisa! What do you mean by the full-fat coconut milk? Is it a can milk which is partially creamy and concentrated? Or just a coconut milk from a carton?

    • Hi there! It is the full-fat coconut milk from the can. You can also reference the video to see :)

  36. So glad I found this recipe! I’ll be making it next week for my mother in law’s birthday! Any idea how I can re measure the ingredients if I want to use 2 cups of almond flour instead?

    • Hi Gaby – you’d just use about 65% of all the other ingredients if you use 2 cups of almond flour. Unfortunately, it’s not the easiest division. ;)

  37. This cake is seriously amazing. I’ve halved the recipe and it still makes an amazing 2 layer cake. Seriously a magical recipe!

  38. The only way to tell this isn’t a regular cake is that it doesn’t make you feel gross like you ate too much sugar. It’s absolutely incredible. The texture is perfect, it’s rich and decadent, fluffy and moist at the same time, chocolaty and delicious. The frosting that is linked is also to die for. 

    • Hi Michele- Looks like you found a winning chocolate cake recipe :) Glad you enjoyed the frosting as well!

  39. I’ve made this cake in the past and it was ABSOLUTELY delicious. However, I would like to make this into a full vegan cake. What would be the best egg substitute? Unsweetend apple sauce? Flax seed? And will the measurements be the same?

    • Hi Danielle – Glad you enjoyed this cake! As for egg substitutes, I haven’t tried using any just yet. But I’m thinking either mashed banana, applesauce, or flax seed might work. I’m not sure about the amounts though.

  40. Made this awhile ago for my birthday and it was amazing and I’d love to make it again for a friends bday BUT she’s allergic to almonds is there another flour I could substitute?

  41. Can I half this recipe to make just one layer of cake?

  42. Hi!! I plan to make this cake for my 4 year old son’s birthday. He is already very very very hyper without caffeine :) Is it okay to omit the espresso or is there a caffeine free substitute you recommend?

    • Also I just realized I have dutched cocoa powder (unsweetened). Will that work in place of cacao powder? I’m trying to avoid a trip to the store since we’re in quarantine!

    • We don’t use espresso or coffee in our home either! I’ve read it’s OK to omit it in small quantities such as this recipe; the chocolate just won’t have that depth that the coffee brings out. Hope this helps! I would love to know a substitute as well so we can still enjoy that super chocolate-y flavor… yum!

  43. Forgot to rate it the first time. BEST CAKE AND FROSTING EVER!

  44. OMG! So I made this for my son’s girlfriend who’s paleo. My son, who’s not a fan of paleo, texted me and said, Mom, are you sure this is paleo? He, his girlfriend and her family (who are all huge foodies) said hands-down the best cake they’ve ever had!!! I was able to try the left-overs this morning. Delicious!!! I half’d the frosting recipe which was more than enough AND delicious. I only had two 8-inch pans and a 9-inch pan, so I did all three and lined the bottom “shelf” with raspberries. Also, I didn’t have espresso, so I used instant coffee but put the granules through a strainer to make it more powdery. My go to cake from here on out!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • Hi Cathy- Thrilled to hear that everyone loved this chocolate cake so much! My goal is to always make my paleo baked goods taste like the real thing – so I cannot wait for you to try my other paleo desserts.

  45. Regarding Elyse’s comment using strong coffee, did you mean two teaspoons of brewed strong coffee in place of the espresso powder? I too don’t have expresso powder. I have instant coffee, but I’m assuming I would need to brew that? Looking forward to making this tomorrow!

  46. Wow – this was good! I don’t eat many baked goods since I’m gluten free and dairy free so this was a real treat. My family couldn’t tell the difference between this and a “regular” floured cake. They ate it up.

    Thanks so much for you GF recipes. This is my way of life now and it’s so nice to have alternatives.


    • Hi Rich- That’s always my goal when it comes to baked goods! I’m glad you came across my channel and can make delicious gluten free recipes without hesitation :)

  47. Hi Lisa,

    I randomly found this receipe online ad I’m looking for a convenient gluten free one for my daughter’s upcoming birthday.
    I think that this will be a hit, I’m positive about it though I haven’t tried it yet.
    Could you please give me a hint as to how to write “happy birthday” with a different color on top? Maybe saving some of the frosting and using some coloring just for the writing?


    • Hi Lina – you could make a small amount of regular white buttercream frosting to pipe “happy birthday” on top. If you don’t have a piping bag you can just snip the corner of a ziploc bag as well. Enjoy!

  48. Does it have a coconut-y flavor or aftertaste? 

  49. Cant wait to try your chocolate cake and frosting recipe for my upcoming birthday!!! I am so excited. I do have a question. I make a bread that calls for arrowroot flour/starch and am hoping you think it would be a good substitute for the tapioca flour. I have all the other ingredients.
    Thank you!

  50. Hello! This looks amazing! Could I substitute the coconut milk with almond milk? And also, the tapioca flour with rice flour? What would be the ratio? Thanks!!

    • Hi Kelly – yes, you can substitute the milk. But I haven’t tried it with rice flour, so I’m not sure how it would turn out. If you give it a try, let us know how it goes!