Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

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Our Easy Gluten Free Chocolate Cake recipe is rich in flavor and the cake is light and moist. The creamy, rich chocolate buttercream frosting is optional, but once you’ve tried it you’ll want to have some more.

The keys of a good gluten free chocolate cake are a good quality recipe that provides a successful outcome, along with some good all-purpose gluten free flour. We’ve made some brand name recommendations below that make a delicious cake.

gluten free chocolate cake slice

Important Equipment and Tools 

We recommend using the following equipment and tools to make your gluten free chocolate cake.

Electric mixer
Mixing bowl
8 inch round cake pans
Parchment paper

Does Gluten Free Cake Taste Different?

What makes this gluten free chocolate cake special? Let’s say you have a gluten free chocolate cake sitting side by side with a regular chocolate cake, does the gluten free cake taste different? No, they should both taste the same if they’re made with a good recipe and the gluten free one is made with quality gluten free flour.

How Do I Make a Gluten Free Chocolate Cake?

We’d love to show you how. Just follow our recipe instructions, tips, and ingredient list below for a making one of the best made from scratch gluten free chocolate cakes that you’ve ever tasted.

Can I Make Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Ahead?

Yes, you can make this gluten free chocolate cake ahead. The best way to do so is to bake the cakes and place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days before frosting. We suggest waiting to frost them shortly before your cake is served.

chocolate buttercream frosting

Assembling the Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

When assembling your gluten free chocolate cake, you’ll want to gather all the necessary tools and items. To assemble your cake, you’ll need 2 layers of baked cake, completed chocolate buttercream frosting, and any desired toppings.

It will also be helpful for you to have a cake stand or cake plate if you want to use one and a knife that can be used to spread the frosting.

To assemble your cake, make sure the cake as fully cooled and remove it from the baking pans. Remove sheets of parchment paper from the cake. Place the bottom layer of cake onto the cake stand or desired cake plate.

Gently spread the first layer of chocolate frosting across the top of the first layer of cake. Carefully remove the second layer of cake from its baking pan and remove the piece of parchment paper.

Stack the second cake round on top of the frosting that was applied to the top of the first cake round.

Spread frosting to cover as much or as little of the cake as desired. Add any wanted toppings. Serve and enjoy. This is how to make a gluten free chocolate layer cake.

How to Make the Easiest Chocolate Frosting

Follow the step-by-step instructions in our recipe card below for how to make the easiest chocolate frosting. The frosting tastes delicious and creamy.  It’s one that you’ll come back to again and again for your gluten free celebration cakes.

How Do I Make Chocolate Buttercream Frosting?

There are many recipes out there for chocolate buttercream frosting. We’ve included one of the best below. The addition of sour cream gives it a distinctive flavor that is slightly tart and compensates for the otherwise sweet flavor.

Just follow our step-by-step instructions below for how to make some of the best chocolate buttercream frosting.

gluten free cake with frosting

Tips for Success:

The following tips for success are what you need to make the best gluten-free chocolate cake.

To make the best cake, make sure you use a good recipe as well as some good quality all-purpose flour. Choosing the right gluten free flour blend is valuable and we’ve listed two of our favorite brands below.

Be careful not to over mix the cake batter which can potentially cause your cake to fall.

Do not cook your cake too quickly at too high of a temperature which can cause your cake to crack.

Use parchment paper in the bottoms of your cake pan for easier release of the cake from the pans.

Be sure to follow proper storage guidelines below for any leftover cake.

How to Store the Cake

Chances are you’ll not have leftover cake because this recipe is delicious. But if you do, or if you want to make it ahead, we’ve got you covered. Below are instructions for storing your gluten free chocolate cake.

Storing Gluten Free Chocolate Cake on the Counter

Your gluten free chocolate cake made with our recipe should only be stored at room temperature on the countertop until it has been frosted. If storing at room temperature just until it’s cooled, place the cake on a wire rack to allow proper air circulation. Once it has cooled, you’ll want to move it to an airtight container to keep it from drying out.

After it’s been frosted, it needs to be moved to the refrigerator.

Storing Gluten Free Chocolate Cake in the Fridge

To store your cake in the refrigerator, make sure that it’s properly covered. It’s easiest to store a cake that hasn’t been frosted. To store wrap the cake in plastic wrap, sealing it tightly. Or, store it in an airtight container.

To store a frosted gluten free chocolate cake in the refrigerator, use a cake dome topper to cover it and keep it from drying out. Your cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Storing Gluten Free Chocolate Cake in the Freezer

To store your gluten free chocolate cake in the freezer, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and then seal it in a zipped freezer bag or place it in an airtight container. This will help to keep the cake from drying out or becoming freezer burnt. Store your cake in the freezer for up to 3 months.

gluten free chocolate cake eaten

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Ingredients and Substitutions

Following is a list of ingredients and possible substitutions for a delicious gluten free chocolate cake.

Eggs. To substitute eggs, we recommend using a flax egg or a chia egg for the best results for this recipe.

Gluten free all-purpose flour. Using a good gluten free, all-purpose flour is the key to the outcome and success of a good cake.

Baking powder and baking soda. Baking powder and baking soda fulfill important roles in making a cake. They are what make a cake rise. We don’t recommend leaving the baking powder and baking soda out of the recipe.

Cocoa powder. You can use regular baking cocoa powder or for a richer experience consider using Dutch cocoa powder. For a lighter chocolate experience cacao powder can also be used.  

Granulated sugar. Our recipe calls for just plain white granulated sugar. For a sugar free cake, you can use your favorite one to one sugar substitute.

Salt. Salt is an important aspect of the recipe which lends itself to a good flavor throughout the cake.

Vanilla. Using vanilla is another important aspect to the mild flavoring of the cake.

Vegetable oil. If you don’t have vegetable oil, you can substitute most any of your favorite baking oil including canola oil.

Coffee. We simply recommend making a black cup of instant coffee that’s bold in flavor. Or if you’re normally a coffee drinker, just put on an extra cup and use it for this cake.

Buttermilk. For a bit of a less rich experience, you can substitute milk or heavy cream for the buttermilk. Or for a dairy free version, just use your favorite dairy free milk.

Egg Free Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

For dietary restrictions that require an egg free gluten free chocolate cake, there are a variety of egg substitutes that can be used for baking.  For this recipe, we recommend flax egg or chia egg for best results, but our whole list of egg substitutes can be found here.

gluten free chocolate cake on stand

Customizing Your Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

Part of the great aspect about making your own homemade gluten free chocolate cake is that you can customize it however you’d like.

From choosing the ingredients, deciding the pan shape, selecting the toppings, to finishing it however you want, customizing your gluten free chocolate cake is part of what makes it so delicious.

Whether you want to know how to turn it into a Paleo birthday cake, turn it into a gluten free, dairy free cake, vegan chocolate cake, gluten free chocolate cupcakes, the ultimate gluten free chocolate cake, or gluten free chocolate birthday cake, you can do it all by customizing this recipe. 

Why You Should Make This Recipe

This recipe makes a nice, moist gluten free chocolate cake that tastes like a regular cake. It is rich in flavor and tastes delicious. It comes together using basic pantry ingredients.

Our recipe is versatile and can accommodate any add-ins along with any desired toppings for a customized gluten free cake outcome.

Ingredient Notes:

The ingredient that makes this recipe gluten free is the use of a good all-purpose flour such as Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour or King Arthur gluten free flour. Be sure to use your favorite all-purpose gluten free flour.

We don’t recommend substituting a non-grain flour in place of the called for all-purpose gluten free flour.

gluten free cake with cut out

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are frequently asked questions for making gluten free chocolate cake. If you have a question that’s not answered here, feel free to drop it to us in the comments box below and we’ll be happy to answer it.

Is cake gluten free?

Cake is not naturally gluten free. It needs to be made specifically with gluten free flour in order to make it gluten free. 

Is cocoa powder gluten free? 

Yes, cocoa powder is naturally gluten free when it’s pure and unaltered. Be sure to confirm that it’s produced in a facility where no gluten contamination takes place. 

Does gluten free cake taste different?

When using a good recipe that’s been tested, gluten free cake shouldn’t taste any different than a cake made with regular flour.

Why is my gluten free chocolate cake cracking on the top?

If your gluten free chocolate cake is cracking on the top, chances are that you cooked it in too hot of an oven, which caused the baking soda to make the cake rise too quickly and caused your cake to crack.

Why did my gluten free chocolate cake sink?

There are two possible culprits that could be the cause of your gluten free chocolate cake sinking.  If you over mixed your cake, it puts a lot of air bubbles into the cake and when it’s baked it causes your cake to sink.

The other possibility is that your cake wasn’t quite done and when it cools the center sinks.

Can I make this gluten free chocolate cake without any flour at all?

No, sometimes people confuse a gluten free cake with a flourless cake. This recipe is not a flourless cake and won’t work without flour.

Can I make this a dairy free, gluten free chocolate cake recipe? 

Yes, if you need a dairy free, gluten free chocolate cake recipe, the best way to accomplish this is to use nondairy yogurt as a substitute for the sour cream and your favorite nondairy milk should be used in place of the milk called for. This will still give you a moist cake without compromise.

Can I use cacao powder?

You can use cacao powder in place of the cocoa powder if preferred, however your cake will turn out lighter and will not have as dark of a chocolate flavor. And if that is in line with your personal preference, then using cacao powder will work just fine for you.

Can I make this cake without milk? 

Yes, you can make this cake without milk. But rather than leaving it out completely, we recommend using your favorite dairy free milk such as almond milk or soy milk in its place. This will allow you to maintain the nice moisture that the milk provides in your gluten free chocolate cake. 

Can I replace the flour with almond flour or coconut flour?

We don’t recommend using a grain free flour such as almond flour or coconut flour as they don’t work well. Rather, just use a good all-purpose flour such as Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur gluten free flour.

gluten free chocolate cake slice with frosting

Can I freeze the cake?

Yes, wrapping and storage is the key for shelf life. Be sure to seal your gluten free chocolate cake in an airtight container or freezer bag, removing as much air as possible. Then place it in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Can I use this recipe for cupcakes?

Yes, this recipe works well for cupcakes, shorten the baking time for the smaller cake size according to the recipe instructions.

Can I use this recipe for a 9×13-inch cake?

Yes, you can bake this gluten free cake in a 9×13 pan.

Can I make this gluten free chocolate cake dairy free? 

Yes, if you have dairy free eaters who gather around your table, just use your favorite dairy free milk, dairy free butter, and dairy free yogurt in place of the sour cream.

Can I make this gluten free chocolate cake egg-free?

Flax egg is the best substitute for egg free baking. To see our full list of egg substitutes, see our Best Baking Substitutes for Egg article here.

Does baking powder have gluten?

No, baking powder doesn’t have gluten. It’s typically made from a combination of baking soda and cream of tartar. However, it could be produced in a facility where gluten products are processed so you’ll want to check for that if you’re someone whose dietary restrictions are highly sensitive.

gluten free chocolate cake whole

How to Make the Best Gluten Free Chocolate Cake, Step-by-Step

Following are our step-by-step instructions for how to make the best and most moist, gluten free chocolate cake.

Equipment

2, 8-inch round baking pans
Parchment paper
Mixing bowl
Electric mixer

Ingredients

2 large eggs
1 ¾ cups gluten free all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
¾ cup cocoa powder
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup coffee, hot
1 cup buttermilk

For the Frosting

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup sour cream

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease 2, 8-inch round baking pans and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

2. Mix the dry ingredients for the cake together and whisk well in a large mixing bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients except the coffee.  

4. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Once fully incorporated, add the hot coffee. This will make the batter very thin.

5. Divide the batter evenly between both cake pans. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

6. Allow the cakes to cool completely, then turn them out onto a cooling rack. Make sure the cakes are fully cooled before adding the frosting.

For the Frosting

1. Melt semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler pan. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat to cool.

2. Beat the room temperature butter with an electric mixer and paddle attachment until noticeably paler in color. Slowly add powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla on low speed until it’s completely smooth.

3. Whisk the sour cream into the chocolate until fully incorporated.

4. Add the chocolate and sour cream mixture into the butter mixture and beat on low speed until everything is fully combined.

5. Frost the cake and then place in the refrigerator to keep cool until serving.

Flour Options

There are two kinds of gluten free all-purpose flour options that we recommend for the best baking experience.  King Arthur gluten free all-purpose flour and Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all-purpose flour will provide an outcome so delicious that you won’t be able to tell that your chocolate cake is gluten free. 

How to Serve / Topping Ideas:

There are a variety of toppings that you might like to try out on your delicious gluten free chocolate cake.

For a punch of color, add berries on top such as raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries.

For a simplistic, yet sophisticated appearance, leave the cake plain and dust it with powdered sugar rather than adding buttercream frosting.

If you like heavy whipping cream, mixing a batch up and drizzle it with chocolate syrup or hot fudge can make for a show stopping dessert.

Sprinkles, nonpareils, and glittery sugar in any flavor or color are always and option.

And yes, there is of course the wonderfully creamy buttercream frosting recipe that we’ve provided that makes a great topping.  

Using Other Pans

When making a gluten free chocolate cake, you don’t have to use 8” round pans like we’ve used. You can use whatever size or shape pan you wish. Here are some other possibilities:

Cupcake pan
Line your cupcake pan with cupcake papers and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Bundt cake pan
Be sure to thoroughly grease your Bundt cake pan before adding the cake batter. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

9×13 cake pan
If you prefer the traditional 9×13 cake pan, there’s nothing wrong with that. Your cake will still have the same delicious outcome. Just grease the pan and bake for approximately 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

9×9 square pan
A 9×9 square pan works well for a smaller cake. If you’re only making one 9×9 square pan, you can cut the cake recipe in half to have the appropriate amount of gluten free cake batter to fill just one pan. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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