There’s a lot to love about this gluten-free chocolate cake recipe. It makes a dense, rich cake that is loaded with chocolate flavor, and, the best part, it’s so easy to make. Mix the batter in one bowl and you’re ready to bake.
This cake is perfect for birthday parties and other celebrations. And, just like my gluten-free vanilla cake recipe, this recipe can be used for a layer cake or a sheet cake.
A good chocolate cake is a thing of beauty. It should be worthy of celebrations, easy enough to whip up at the last minute, and, of course really chocolatey. This recipe succeeds on all fronts.
This recipe was inspired by classic chocolate layer cakes. You know the kind? They’re always piled high with frosting and served at birthday parties, BBQs, and any other occasion that calls for cake. After one bite, you’ll know why this is my favorite gluten-free cake to bake.
Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Ingredients.
- All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour. Using a gluten-free flour blend makes it easy to make this cake. A good blend should give the cake a nice crumb and texture. Use a blend that contains xanthan or guar gum. Without it, the cake can turn out dense. If your blend doesn’t contain xanthan or guar gum, add one teaspoon to the recipe.
- Cocoa Powder. Adds a rich chocolatey flavor and reacts with the baking soda to help the cake rise. You can use either natural cocoa powder or Dutch-process. Natural cocoa powder gives the cake a nice chocolate flavor. Dutch-process cocoa powder, which has been treated with an alkaline solution, makes a very dark and chocolatey cake.
- Granulated Sugar. Adds sweetness. Regular granulated (table) sugar is perfect for this recipe.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda. The combination of baking powder and baking soda gives the cake a lovely rise.
- Salt. One teaspoon of salt enhances the chocolate notes. It’s an important ingredient in this cake. Table salt is best for baking.
- Eggs. Three eggs help the cake rise and provide a lovely texture and flavor. This recipe has not been tested with an egg replacer.
- Oil. A half-cup of oil makes the cake rich and tender. It also makes the cake dairy-free! Be sure to use a neutral-flavored oil, such as vegetable oil, for the best flavor.
- Milk or Coffee. Milk or coffee make this a smooth silky batter. Use dairy milk or dairy-free milk. For a mocha-like flavor, replace the milk with one cup of cooled coffee.
Gluten-Free and Dairy-free Cake.
Since the cake recipe uses Replace the milk called for with an equal amount of dairy-free milk or coffee.
Almond flour or Coconut flour.
Grain-free flour, like almond flour or coconut flour, doesn’t work with this recipe. Please use my recipe for either almond flour chocolate cake or coconut flour chocolate cake if you want to bake with almond or coconut flour.
How to Make Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake. Five Steps for Success.
This recipe is almost like making a box cake mix. The big difference is that you need to measure the ingredients. Other than that, it’s almost the same. Mix everything in a large bowl and bake.
1. Preheat Oven.
Cakes bake best when placed in a hot oven. I always turn my oven on before I start measuring ingredients. This way it’s ready after I’ve mixed the batter.
If you forget to preheat your oven, no problem. It’s okay to let the batter wait in the pan while the oven heats.
2. Make the Batter.
To make the batter, you’ll need a large mixing bowl and a whisk. You can use a handheld whisk or electric mixer. It’s up to you.
Grab a large bowl or use a stand mixer. Whisk together the gluten-free flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. This step helps distribute the baking powder and soda throughout the flour and sugar.
Add the milk, eggs, and oil. Mix until the batter is smooth. It only takes about a minute or so. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Sometimes the dry ingredients like to cling to the bottom of the bowl. Scraping it ensures all the ingredients are mixed into the batter.
3. Bake the Cake.
Spread the batter evenly into the pan. For this recipe, you can use two 8-inch round pans or one 9-x13-inch pan. If you want to make cupcakes, use this recipe for gluten-free chocolate cupcakes.
Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few dry crumbs clinging to it. Two 8-inch rounds take about 30 minutes and a 9×13-inch pan takes about 40 minutes.
When the cake is done, remove it from the oven. Let the cake cool in the pan for about ten minutes. If you take it out of the pan too soon, it can break.
After about ten minutes, turn the cake out onto a wire rack. Cakes cooled in the pan can stick. If you want to serve the cake in the pan, you can let it cool right in the pan and then frost it.
5. Finish with Frosting.
Did you know that if you frost a warm cake, the frosting can melt and run off the cake? So it’s important to wait until the cake is totally cool before frosting it.
I’ve included a yummy chocolate frosting with the recipe. It’s so good and rich! If you’re using canned frosting, remember to read the label to make sure it’s gluten-free.
How to Store and Freeze a Gluten-Free Cake.
Cover the leftover cake and store it on the counter for up to three days.
To freeze the cake, allow it to cool completely. Wrap the cake tightly with plastic wrap and then freeze it for up to three months.
You can freeze a frosted cake too. Place the cake into the freezer until the frosting is very hard, about two hours. Remove and wrap tightly. Frosted cakes freeze really well.
To thaw the cake, remove it from the freezer and allow it to thaw at room temperature. If your cake is frosted, remove the plastic wrap before thawing.
One Bowl Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
This gluten-free chocolate cake is so easy to make. Simply mix all the ingredients on a bowl and bake. It's a moist, rich cake with a really tender crumb. Perfect for birthdays and other celebrations.
Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
- 1 ¾ cups Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour, see note (9 ounces; 255 grams)
- 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar (12 ½ ounce; 354 grams)
- 1 cup natural cocoa powder (3 ounces; 85 grams)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 cup milk or coffee (8 ounces; 226 grams)
- ½ cup vegetable oil (3 ½ ounces; 100 grams)
- 3 large eggs (about 6 ounces; 170 grams out of shell)
- 4 cups powdered sugar (16 ounces; 453 grams)
- ½ cup natural cocoa powder (1 ½ ounces; 42 grams)
- 1 cup butter, softened (8 ounces; 226 grams)
- 4 tablespoons milk, divided (2 ounces; 56 grams)
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare your pan(s). Lightly grease: two 8" round cake pans OR one 9" x 13"- pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Whisk together gluten-free flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add milk, vegetable oil, and eggs. Whisk batter until smooth.
Divide batter evenly between the two 8-inch prepared round cake pans OR spread evenly into 9 x13-inch pan.
Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
For 8-inch round cakes: about 30 minutes.
For 9×13-inch pan: about 40 minutes.
Allow cakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove cake(s) from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool.
When cool, frost with chocolate frosting. Wrap cake and store at room temperature for up to three days.
For the Chocolate Frosting
Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and milk. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds. Increase mixer speed to medium-high.
Beat frosting until fluffy and smooth. If frosting seems too thick, add the additional tablespoon milk.
If using a flour blend that does not contain xanthan or guar gum, add 1 teaspoon xanthan gum to the batter. Add the xanthan gum to the gluten-free flour. Whisk. And then follow the recipe as written.
Yvette Lachance says
Hi, made this cake recipe for my son birthday, it was excellent. Everybody (16 people) said it was the best chocolate cake they’ve ever had. 🙂 I do have a question regarding the frosting. I found it a bit thin. I used coconut oil based butter, which I know is thinner consistency than regular butter. Is there something I can do to thicken it up a little. Thanks for the recipe, I also made cupcakes too, just as delicious!!
Yes. Coconut oil is sensitive to temperature. It goes to liquid when warm. To make the frosting thicker, reduce the amount of liquid you use and add additional powdered sugar.
Marisa Sim says
I made them as cupcakes and they were quite dry. Is there a way to make them more moist? Thanks
This cake is very moist. I would not recommend adding more liquid or fat to it. How long did the cupcakes bake?
great recipe – i’m planning to try it out this evening.
Just one question – do you think cocoa powder can be switched with carob powder?
It should work with carob powder. Since the flavor of carob is lighter, the cupcakes might not taste as chocolate-y as ones made with cocoa powder.
Can I substitute the granulated sugar with powdered erythitol?
I don’t think that would work but I haven’t tested it.
You mentioned that coffee adds a pop of flavour but there is none in the ingredients – I was just wondering if you decided not to add this or how much coffee would you add to the dry ingredients?
You can replace the milk with coffee. I’ll update the recipe list to clarify. Enjoy!
DELICIOUS! it looks yummy and a mouth-watering cake. I will definitely try to make it soon.
I have been baking gluten free cakes for years and this is by far the BEST gf cake I have ever tasted. It is soooooooo moist! I love it!! Thank you so much for sharing this delicious and EASY recipe. 🙂
Glad you enjoyed it!
Hi, I would love to give this a try however, I have a gas oven and the time and temp never work out for me. What would you recommend I do differently to get a good end result. Many thanks
I would invest in an oven thermometer. It sounds like your oven might not be running at the correct temperature. Once you find out what’s happening inside the oven, adjust the dial accordingly. Some ovens run too hot; other too cold.
Hi, I have made this cake before, and it is super rich and moist! Would the recipe work the same way if I omitted 1/4c of the sugar?
I think so. I hesitate to say because tinkering with the sugar can sometimes cause a recipe to fail. But, in this case, I think a reduction of 1/4 cup would work.
This was delicious but very dense. Could that have been because I used a 12-cup bundt pan? I baked it for 49 minutes, until the tester came out clean but the cake was over baked. How long should I have baked it for?
This cake is very dense. I haven’t tested it in a bundt pan but, like you noticed, would assume that it would turn out pretty dense. As for the baking time, I can’t say because I haven’t tried this one as a bundt. It’s usually done when a cake tester comes out clean or has only a few crumbs clinging to it.
Sorry I don’t have additional info!
Hi Elizabeth! I was initially planning to make the white funfetti cake recipe you’ve got, but then I saw this! I still want the colour pop, though, so it should be fine to just add the rainbow sprinkles into the batter just before pouring into pans, right?
Also, I have a tiny oven and only one pan. Would it affect if I keep the 2nd half of the batter out while waiting for the 1st half to bake then cool, before reusing the same pan for the 2nd half? Just wondering if the consistency of the 2nd half would be different due to being left out for ~40 minutes.
I made the cake – the sprinkles completely disappeared, hahaha. Did they melt, I wonder?
And about splitting to 2 reusing the same pan, the problem was an uneven split. So my 1st pour accidentally had lesser than the 2nd, hence was denser and shorter too. But overall, so absolutely delicious! I paired it orange buttercream, being inspired by Terry’s Chocolate Orange (my favourite holiday treat)
Would definitely make this again sometime!
Yay! Glad you liked it. I think the sprinkles probably just couldn’t be seen in the dark batter. They do sort of melt and without a white or yellow cake, I think they’d be hard to see!
And I LOVE chocolate and orange. Excellent pairing!
Gabriela Aoun says
Made this cake for a birthday party yesterday and everyone loved it! It was so dense and delicious. I substituted coconut sugar for granulated and coconut milk for dairy milk. Will definitely make this again.
I made my first cake ever using this recipe, and it turned out fabulously. Thank you so much.
One thing: in the text you say to use 1-1/4 cup of flour but in the instructions you say to use 1-3/4. I went with the latter and it word great.
Can I substitute butter for the oil? I don’t like the taste of vegetable oil in baked goods.
Yes but the texture of the cake will be a little denser.
Made this with 3 scoops Nature’s Fuel chocolate protein and 1/2 ghee instead of oil 2 cups h2o instead of milk and 1/4 cup cocoa. Made cake pops and dipped them in dark vegan chocolate. Holy YUM
lea rabkin says
Made today. Topped with real whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Perfect cake. Going to freeze slices and take some over to my sons. This cake won’t last long. Grape seed oil and almond milk for those ingredients.
I use Bob’ Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour for everything including yeast breads.
Thank you for an anazing recipe.
my cakes sank noticeably in the middle. I do live at 6,000 + feet, is there any modification you would recommend? Haven’t tasted them yet but I cooked them for exactly 30 minutes. . so far the remnants on the rim of one of the pans are delicious!
Sorry to hear your cake sank! Let’s see if we can get to the bottom of this. The first two questions that come to mind are: what type of gluten-free flour did you use? And did a cake tester come out clean when you removed the cakes from the oven? While baking time is important, it’s more of a guide.
Or, as you mentioned, it could be the altitude. You could try reducing the baking powder by 1/2 teaspoon and increasing your oven temperature by 25 degrees. These things combined should help the cake not to over-rise. What might have happened is that the cake rose too fast because of your altitude and then sank when cool.
Let me know and we can go from here!
We were blown away by this recipe. I made this as a birthday cake recently. We couldn’t believe it was GF. It was so flavourful and moist. It didn’t crumble all over the place like most GF things we’ve tried, including a GF cake ordered from a bakery for another birthday. We are still fairly new with the GF stuff in this house (just over a year) and I’m just venturing into making things myself. I am definitely keeping this recipe on hand.
This is our favorite recipe!! The coffee just makes the chocolate that much better 🙂
This is a keeper! Made this for my son’s birthday and everyone was raving how good it was. It is dense, but in a rich, decadent way while still being moist. I halved the powdered sugar for the frosting and used less granulated sugar than called for in the cake and it was perfect; more chocolatey, less sweet. My friends and family couldn’t believe it was GF. They loved it! Topped with a little whipped cream and fresh raspberries and strawberries and you have the perfect desert.