Incredibly moist and intensely chocolatey, this is the ultimate paleo and keto chocolate cake. Whether you layer it up with our sugar-free buttercream frosting or simply do it sheet pan style with ganache, its bound to please the entire crowd!
Note: this recipe post was first published on June 24th 2018, and has since been updated (slightly!) to yield a muuuch more moist crumb!
The Ultimate Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake
Intensely Chocolatey ‘N Ultra Moist!
Think of this chocolate cake as first cousin to our suuuper fudgy keto brownies (easily the most popular recipe on the site). They both bloom the cocoa with melted butter, leading to that beautifully intense chocolate kick.
Did you also know that chocolate cakes around the world are often made with an almond flour base? Yup! Think luxurious Italian chocolate cakes, where the almond meal is considered a prime pantry ingredient. So don’t think of this keto chocolate cake as second-best to the traditional wheat versions, but as a beautiful cake in it’s own right.
It’s incredibly moist and with a tender crumb. And while the cake is ideal for layering, you can always whip up just one layer (or even as muffins!).
p.s. this is also my chosen birthday cake year after year. It’s just so good and a true crowd pleaser!
Oh! And yes, you can totally whip up some keto chocolate cupcakes with this recipe too!
You guys will essentially be following our super easy brownie methodology (see video for reference). The ratios are a little different though, and there is some added flaxseed and coconut flour for a more crumb-like texture.
The most important thing though? The baking time! You’ll want to bake it until just set and a toothpick inserted comes out barely clean (roughly 15-18 mins). As any chocolate cake, baking too long will dry out the crumb.
You’ve got plenty of options for this stellar chocolate cake, but do know that they’ll affect the texture quite a bit. Think xylitol and allulose (no aftertaste, softer and fluffier texture), Lakanto (barely any aftertaste, denser texture).
And do note that xylitol and allulose take (much) longer to dry out though so your cake will be extra delicate right after baking. So allow it to cool in the pan for about 30 mins.
Fun fact: it might also be my taste buds here, but I’ve noticed that stevia-based sweeteners (such as Pyure) don’t work so great when chocolate is involved as the aftertaste is accentuated. So I cannot recommend enough that you don’t use stevia-based sweeteners here.
Oh, and if just paleo or gluten free (or not restricted by sugars), simply sub 1-to-1 with coconut or regular sugar.
And if using xylitol, make sure to be careful if you have a pup or little animal around the house, as it’s highly toxic to the little guys! 🐕
To turn chocolate cupcakes keto you’ll need some super fine almond flour (Anthony’s is my favorite!),golden flaxseed meal (make sure it’s golden!)*, coconut flour (again Anthony’s by a mile!),and a touch of xanthan gum.
*Just keep in mind that for best texture and rise, you’ll always want to regrind your flaxseed meal in a dry blender or bullet.
You’ll want to use a Dutch-processed alkaline cocoa here. As there’s baking powder involved, using cacao won’t give the same results (at all!).
In terms of brands, my favorite will forever be Valrhona, known to be one of (if not the) best cocoas in the world. That said, as long as it reads cocoa and not cacao you’ll be good to go!
(The Ultimate!) Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake
- 48 g almond flour
- 18 g golden flaxseed meal finely ground
- 8 g coconut flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum or 2 tsp more golden flaxseed meal
- 56 g unsalted grass-fed butter or 4 TBS coconut oil + 1 TBS coconut cream
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream or coconut cream
- 40 g cocoa powder **
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee (optional)
- 1/3-1/2 cup xylitol *or coconut sugar if paleo (we use 1/3 cup)
- 2 eggs at room temperature***
For the frosting (not paleo)
For the chocolate cake
- Each batch of cake is good for one 8-inch layer of cake (or 6 cupcakes). If you're building a two-layer cake adjust serving size to 12 and for three layers to 18. You guys will essentially be following our super easy brownie methodology (see video for reference). The ratios are a little different though, and there is some added flaxseed and coconut flour for a solid crumb.
- Position a rack in the lower third of your oven and preheat to 350°F/180°C. Grease, dust with cocoa powder, and line an 8-inch cake pan, set aside.
- Add almond flour, flaxseed meal, coconut flour, baking powder and xanthan gum to a medium bowl. Whisk until thoroughly combined, set aside.
- Add butter, heavy cream (or coconut oil and cream), cocoa powder, salt and espresso powder (optional) to a large heatproof bowl. Melt over a water bath whisking constantly (or use the microwave in small bursts). Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
- Add in the sweetener and one egg at a time, whisking well after each one until completely incorporated. The texture should appear smooth and thick, with all the sweetener dissolving into the mixture (if using erythritol, some granules may remain). Add the flour mixture, whisking vigorously until fully blended (about a minute). Pour batter into prepared pan.
- Bake for 15-19 minutes, or until set and a toothpick inserted comes out just clean. Check often after minute 15 to ensure your cake doesn't dry out, and always keep in mind, however, that your cake will continue to cook while cooling!
- Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes in the cake pan, before transferring to a rack. It'll be particularly fragile right out of the oven if you made it with xylitol or allulose, so you need to let it set.
- If you're building a layer cake, you'll want to chill the layers (well wrapped) once they've come to room temp. Because of this, I always bake the layers the day before, chill overnight, and make the frosting and layer up the cake the-day-of.
For the cream cheese buttercream frosting (not paleo)
- One batch of frosting is enough for roughly two layers (or 12 cupcakes!).
- Piping the frosting between the layers (no tip needed), ensures the most even distribution of frosting. And you could even do it with a ziplock bag!
- The cake keeps well, stored in an airtight container in the fridge, for about 3 days. And it also freezes beautifully, just thaw it out in the fridge overnight.
If using psyllium husk as alternative to flaxseed meal, is it same measurement?
Pleae advise! Thanks😊
Could I use the batter for cupcakes? I have relatively low spoons (low energy) and find cupcakes much easier to make then layering a cake.
Definitely Miah! I batch yields 6 cupcakes (just be sure to check on them from minute 12 to make sure they don’t dry out!) xo
Can I use Swerve confectioner’s and Swerve granulated sweetener instead of xylitol? I have animals in my house so don’t keep xylitol here.
Yeah definitely Victoria! Your batter will likely end up thicker, but don’t worry it doesn’t affect the final result (just keep in mind the slight cooling effect) xo!
OK. Thank you.
What if I don’t have the type of cocoa you are suggesting just the regular cocoa powder is there a way to make this using that, would I need to add xanthan gum or is it only doable with that type of cocoa?
Hi Catherine! It’s not about the brand or adding xanthan gum, it’s about the reaction with the leavening agent. You just want to be sure to use an alkalized cocoa xo!
So would this explain why mine came out flat? I used regular cocoa as well.
Maybe? The cake also doesn’t rise A LOT, but it shouldn’t stay flat
Couldn’t we just add a touch of baking soda with cacao? I don’t have any cocoa either.
Unfortunately it’s a little more complicated than that 🙈
I see many videos with this recipe for everything but this cake. Is there any video that was made particularly for this cake and how would I access it?
Hi is there a other to use golden flaxseed meal instead? And how much?
You say the xylitol must be powdered for the icing. For the actual cake, should it be powdered as well? Or granular?
Also, is the icing recipe enough for just ONE round 8 in cake, vs a layered one?
And finally, why do you add the flaxmeal?
Thank you for this post. I only had stevia based sweetener, however, I made veriations on this recipe without chocolate. The crumb is amazing. I made a coffee, lemon ginger, and red velvet cakes with the base recipe and they were fantastic!
Hi Rose, what variations have you made? I’m very interested in have a base cake recipe!
Can you please share how you used the stevia based sweetener and made this successfully?
HOLY GUACAMOLE, this cake is legit!! I just made this for my friend’s birthday, as she is very strictly keto per the doctor’s guidance, and it was a HIT! 😀 Best cake ever, and everyone at the party had it, despite there being a second regular cake! Will be making this for all birthdays (including my own coming up in a few days haha!). Thank you so so much for this recipe! I did two layers, but definitely doing three next time! I also used an avocado mousse as the frosting and WOW! Thank you, thank you!
Super awesome to hear Britt! And I totally get you- this is my bday cake year after year 😉 xo!! ps. happy early bday!
Can you share a link of the avocado mousse?
I’m looking forward to making this cake tomorrow for my boyfriends birthday. I’m a little confused with the Cocoa. I have a Hershey’s brand that says “Hershey’s Cocoa” but right underneath it says 100% Cacao. The ingredients read: “Cocoa: Cocoa Processed with Alkali”.
What’s your advice?
Also was considering making a Carmel sauce to add..let me know if you have any recipes.
Thank you in advance!!!
Hi Annie! You’re good to go as it is alkali processed cocoa 😉 regarding the caramel sauce, I’m still working on one that’s good enough to share…
Happy birthday to your bf! xo
Does the nutrition information include the frosting?
I made this today for first time for my husbands birthday and didn’t want to kick us out of ketosis. It was wonderful but didn’t come out of the pan well and ended up breaking and coming out in pieces. Very sad! Did all directions exactly and used xylitol as sweetener. Did a double recipe for two 9inch pans and would change to a smaller plan in the future. How do you suggest I do it next time to ensure it coming out of the pan easier? I saw it said grease, dust with cocoa but didn’t know what line the pan meant. Maybe that was the problem.
Hi Renee! I’m sorry it crumbled on you! In baking terms, lining the pan means cutting out (or purchasing) a circular piece of parchment to line the base of your cake pan to ensure the layers come out in one piece.
And yup, for 9-inch I would do the equivalent of three 8-inch layers. Hope this helps! xo
I made a double batch for a 2 layer cake. And they didnt rise at all. The dough wasn’t pourable either. Just wondering what I could have done wrong??
What sweetener did you use Jenn? I’ve found that some erythritol based sweeteners can make the batter seize up? Any other changes?
I used erythritol. Instead of flaxseed meal(didnt have any) I used the amount of it in additional almond flour.and instant Decaf coffee instead of espresso.
OK yes, I think the erythritol accounts for the batter being thicker and the subbing of the flax would account for the change in texture. Grain free baking is a bit more sensitive to subs (most unfortunately!)
If I use Erythritol, should I use less?
Hi! Isn’t there another kind of sugar substitute I can use instead of xylitol for a Keto diet?
Erythritol is a second option, see the section on sweeteners xo!
I’m thinking about using monk fruit, what do you think?
you can use coconut sugar
Just keep in mind it’s not keto (don’t know what diet you follow!) xo!
Xylitol is much too high in carbs for my daughter’s medical keto diet. Any substitute that’s lower in carbs?
Wow. Easily my favorite Keto dessert I’ve ever made. For those of you debating whether or not to put the extra work in to make a 3 layer cake rather than 1, DO IT! I will make this cake for my families birthdays for the rest of our lives, and they won’t complain about it either!
Lol that’s great advice Stephanie, so awesome to hear 😂
I didn’t have any flaxseed, so I tried tapioca flour instead. It turned out very well, can’t wait to make it again.
Hi! I love your recipes and can’t wait for this one! My birthday is on Tuesday and I’m wanting to make a 2-later 9 inch cake. How much do you think the baking time would differ?
That’s super awesome to hear Hailee! I would probably triple the recipe and divide the batter between the two 9-inch pans. Baking time in all honesty can vary a lot from oven to oven with this cake, but for instance in my oven it would likely be 5-8 mins more xo and happy birthday!!
Hi Paola ,
This looks heavenly and I am dying to try it .one question,can I use mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese.
Definitely Sweta! The taste will change as mascarpone is a bit less tangy, but still delicious xo!
I need help. I need to make this cake in a 12×18 cake pan. How do I adjust the servings for a cake to fit in that size of pan?? I need it for a birthday party for about 20 people. I hope you can help. thank you
Please someone help me…. How much of this do I need to make for a 12×18 cake pan?? For a birthday crowd. Thanks!
I need to bake this for a crowd, using a 12″x18″ cake pan. Can you tell me how many servings I need to adjust this to for it to be enough for that size of pan? Thank you.
Do the nutrition facts shown include the frosting for the single layer, or is it just the cake?
Just the cake, and do keep in mind that the more layers you add the more slices you get. xo!
So if I did a 3 layer cake, would a 6th of a cake equate to 3 slices worth on the nutritional side? I’ve gotta stay under 20g of carbs!
Looking forward to trying this for my son’s birthday cake. I plan to cover it with modelling chocolate. Do you think I should add some tapioca to the cake mix perhaps (not concerned if non keto) to make it not so fudgey ?
Definitely! You can prob sub 2TBS of the flax and 3-4TBS of the almond flour, but because I haven’t tried it myself I would suggest doing a test batch as it’s for a special occasion 😉 happy birthday to the little (or big?!) guy!
I only have 9 inch cake pans. Do I bake it for less time?
My son requested this cake for his 21st bday. I made cupcakes which turned oit beautifil. The whole family has converted to keto here and we love it. Visiting relatives who eat sugar daily tried these and said thesee were really good. I feel I should have cooked a little less as you suggested because I think they were a bit dry. Otherwise everything else about this recipe tastes perfect. I made the cinnamon rolls 3 days ago. They were so good, only lasted 2 days! Love your recipes thank you for your creativity.
Hi! Thanks for the recipe! I made this cake tonight and it was really delicious (I have to admit I was terrified to taste it even though the reviews were amazing). It tastes just like brownies, it was very dense and gooey. Question though, the numbers displayed in the recipe, does that include the cake and frosting? Or are the numbers just for the bare cake? When I say numbers I am talking about the nutrition chart.
Hi, just curious before I attempt this as I don’t want to waste any ingredients, what do you mean no cocao? I don’t have the same brand of coco powder you use, I know you highly recommend, but can I still use the coco powder (made from cocao) I have or will it not turn out? I also have the regular Hershey’s brand on hand. Thanks 🙂
Cacao and cocoa are different ingredients (cacao is raw, cocoa is alkaline). You want to make sure you use a cocoa here (if your Hershey’s says cocoa you’re fine, if it says cacao it’s a no). xo!
I did not know the difference between CACAO and COCOA, interesting. Every day you learn something.
My question is regarding Almond flour. I usually prepare it at home, can I use mine or should I buy the one that is already industrialized?
Hi!! I made this cake today! The frosting tastes amazing! We havent had the cake yet,but Im so excited! My layers came out really thin–I did use a 9 inch cake pan but it looks like it didnt rise at all…Im not sure why. Was the xylitol for the cake supposed to be powdered or just as it comes in the bag? When I put everything in the hot bath the batter was kind of thick. I didnt need to pour it, but instead I had to spoon it into cake pans. lol! Also, wheb the recipe says 1-1.5 cups of xylitol is that for the level of sweetness that I want?What do you use? Let me know your thoughts!
I’ve recently made this cake and I can’t believe how good it tastes and that it tastes as good as a usual chocolate cake if you know what I mean…the only thing is I gave my sister a piece and it kicked her out of ketosis…any reason why?
I’m following a keto diet maybe not as strictly so I wouldn’t know if I was affected. Any suggestions as to why this happened? Thanks
Hi Maz! Awesome you guys enjoyed it so much, but oh no on the ketosis issue! I don’t see how that could happen with the ingredients in the cake… but what sweetener did you guys use? Could it be that overall in that one meal too many carbs were consumed all at once?
For instance, I do carb ups 1-4 times a week. But sometimes my carb-ups are simply more of higher carb keto foods? I’m fat adapted by now, so I’ll be out of ketosis for a few hours and back in by evening/next morning. I hope this helped, otherwise be sure that your sweetener is a pure sugar alcohol (no hidden maltodextrin etc). xo!
I am trying to make this cake for the first time and used the microwave method first to melt the butter and incorporate the sweetener. It didn’t seem to work to melt the xylitol so I then switched to water bath and I now have a ball of sticky solids that will NOT incorporate at all into the melted butter! Help!!!
Hi Andrea! Not all the sweetener dissolves into the butter, it’s just sort of shaggy (you can see it in the video). Once you whisk in the eggs it becomes smooth
I absolutely love baking and honestly all keto cakes recipes I tried before were crap. This is an amazing chocolate cake independent of being keto or not!!! I may try to make a vanilla version of it.
Just one question about the nutritional info. Does it include the frosting? I have a lot to lose so I’m watching my macros closely.
Thank you! 😊