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The Ultimate Chocolate Cake 🍫 gluten free, paleo & keto

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

Tiered keto chocolate cake with buttercream frosting
Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake (With Buttercream Frosting!)

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!

Cream cheese chocolate buttercream frosting piped as flowers
Gluten Free & Keto Chocolate Cupcakes

The Method

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.

Three layers of paleo & keto chocolate cake on a wire rack
Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake (With Buttercream Frosting!)
A bowl of keto chocolate buttercream frosting with a spatula
Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake (With Buttercream Frosting!)
Closeup of chocolate buttercream flowers on a keto chocolate cake
Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake (With Buttercream Frosting!)

The Sweetener

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! 🐕

Closeup of chocolate buttercream flowers on a keto chocolate cake
Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake (With Buttercream Frosting!)

The Flours

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.

The Chocolate

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!

Sliced paleo & keto chocolate cake with cream cheese buttercream frosting
Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake (With Buttercream Frosting!)
Taking a bite of a keto chocolate cake slice with a fork
Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake (With Buttercream Frosting!)
Overhead shot of sliced keto chocolate cake with flower buttercream frosting details
Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake (With Buttercream Frosting!)
A slice of a layered keto chocolate cake
Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake (With Buttercream Frosting!)

Sliced paleo & keto chocolate cake with cream cheese buttercream frosting

(The Ultimate!) Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake

Incredibly moist and intensely chocolatey, this is the ultimate paleo and keto chocolate cake (with cream cheese buttercream frosting!).
Oh, and if baking with cups rather than grams is your thing, just click on US Cups for an instant conversion.
4.93 from 81 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, European
Servings 6 slices
Calories 196 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

For the frosting (not paleo)

Instructions
 

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.

Video

Notes

*Please see section on sweeteners for deets and possible substitutions. Just keep in mind that stevia doesn't work (at all!) for these! 
**If measuring the cocoa with tablespoons rather than grams, be mindful of how you scoop as you can end up with a lot more cocoa powder than needed. Drop the cocoa powder into the tablespoon and level it, rather than scooping it out of the bag with the tablespoon (which can lead to overpacked tablespoons!). 
***Must use eggs at room temp. Reason being that if you add cold eggs, you'll solidify the batter and won't be able to mix the flours properly. 
Please note that nutrition facts were calculated per slice (1/6th of a layer), which is the equivalent of 1 cupcake. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 196kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 80mg | Sodium: 203mg | Potassium: 162mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 0.5g | Vitamin A: 375IU | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 1.8mg
Keyword gluten free chocolate cake, keto chocolate cake, paleo chocolate cake
Whip up this recipe?Comment below or drop me a line @gnomgnom._ and tag #gnomgnomyum!

371 comments

  1. Christy says:

    This was really great. I think I put a tad too much sweetener in my frosting, but it was still SOOOOO GOOOOD! I’m not as practiced with piping as you, but this is will be a great cake for my next keto potluck! And eventually I’ll get better with piping. 🙂

    • KatieinBoston says:

      5 stars
      Are you allergic to sunflower seeds? We are peanut and almnd allergic in our family and sucessfully made this with sunflower seed flour.

  2. Danny says:

    5 stars
    Love your website! There’s a fair few keto sites i’ve used and recipes are always hit and miss, every recipe here looks and tastes great and comes out reliably. Well done! <3
    Danny

  3. Genevieve says:

    Do you know approximately how tall the three layer cake is? I’m making it Sunday but will need to transport in and need to be sure my cake stand is big enough.

  4. olivia says:

    The cake looks good but when I doubled the recipe by putting ’12’ in the box, the coconut oil amount didn’t double. which I didn’t realize until too late. You might want to fix that

  5. Summer Delacerda says:

    Hi! I have no flaxseed meal and only cacao instead of cocoa. I just got back to the store and thought I was set! Any way I can still make this?

  6. Patty Lin says:

    OH MY LAWRD! I attempted your super flaky crust and failed miserably. I was hesitant to give this a try because I feel I can’t bake to save my life. But the holiday season is approaching and so is a friends birthday so I decided to test this! I’m so glad I did!

    I replaced xylitol with erythritol (equal parts) because I have fur babies and don’t trust myself in keeping it away from them. I only had powdered erythritol so I didn’t need to do the water bath for too long. I also baked this in a 6inch by 3 inch pan. Gonna have to make three more next time!

    This is a chocolate cake. I can now have CHOCOLATE CAKEEEEEE!!!

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  7. SABRINA says:

    Hi. I’m in the USA and will need to convert this recipe from grams into cups etc.. do you have any advice for me or a US version? Also we dont do any sweeteners wo could I reduce the sweetener so that the cake isn’t so sweet? Thanks this for a 2 year old Birthday party!

  8. Dee Gee says:

    5 stars
    Thanks so much for this recipe. I’ve been trying to find a great chocolate cake base from which to make a German Chocolate Cake for my birthday for about 3 years now. Your recipe was absolutely PERFECT!. My non-low carb hubby who can detect the taste of non-sugar sweeteners in a heartbeat said, “This cake is great!” I used your buttercream frosting for the sides of the cake. It was wonderfully tasty. It was a great birthday. Thanks so much!

  9. Amanda says:

    I was wondering if adding a little apple cider vinegar and baking soda would improve the rise a little. I do a lot of rice for based gluten free baking, and that seems to really help.

    • Paola says:

      Hi Amanda! The issue more than anything is the lack of sugar in keto baking (helps lend structure and rise). I’ve made a lot of the recipes on the site with sugar for friends parties etc (just in case as some peeps react to sugar alcohols!) and I’m always surprised how well cupcakes and cakes rise… a bit depressing, just the way things are xo!

  10. Amanda says:

    This looks so good! I am definitely going to try it for my birthday in 2 weeks! 😻 I have a question though: I have been researching oat fiber and was wondering if that could be substituted for the flax? I don’t have any problems with flax or psyllium, I’m just curious about oat fiber 😉 thanks for such amazing keto/paleo recipes!

    • Paola says:

      Hi Amanda! I’m just beginning to experiment with oat fiber so tbh I’m not sure how it works in muffins yet. BUT, I did find in our naan recipe that coconut, flax and oat fiber seem to be interchangeable there (so maybe?!) xo!

      • Amanda says:

        Ok. I’ll try it both ways since I’m making (at least 😉) a double batch. If it works I’ll let you know! Thank you!

        • Amanda says:

          5 stars
          Ok I made my cakes today and they rock! I doubled the recipe (12 servings) and I used 3 tablespoons flax meal and 2 tablespoons oat fiber. It worked! The texture is wonderful and the flavor rocks! I can’t wait till I’m off the keto diet and on the Paleo one and can try it with coconut sugar! This really is a great recipe- keto or not! 😋

          • Paola says:

            Awesome to hear Amanda! I like the idea of your subs too! And yup on the coconut sugar, I’ve made it for a friends birthday party with a mix of coconut and cane sugar (I generally don’t risk it with sugar alcohols as some peeps can get stomach cramps!), and it does come out even better (that damn sugar 😂!) xo!

    • Paola says:

      Hi Yetza! I would actually suggest you whip up the brand new hostess cupcakes instead (well just the cupcake base!). It’s a spinoff of this one, but with a couple more ingredients to make it sturdier (we want to make sure it comes out of your bundt pan in one piece 😉!) xo!

      p.s. same as this one, the 6 cupcakes are enough for a 1×8-inch pan. So depending on the size of your bundt pan you’ll want to do 2 or 3 batches.

  11. Laura says:

    4 stars
    I just made this cake! I am diabetic and I’m always looking for low carb snacks that taste amazing…. I loved this cake but I enjoyed it much better when I cut the strong cocoa flavor with frozen whipped cream. My husband, on the other hand, didn’t like the bitterness of the cocoa. Did I use too much? How can I lessen the bitterness?

    PS: I used xyletol for the first time. I was shocked that there was no after taste, just like you said. Thanx!

  12. Cindee says:

    I want to make this for Christmas so I want to be ahead of the game and do my research before starting.
    To be clear this recipe only makes one layer cake, i need to double or tripple this recipe accordingly…is this correct?
    However the recipe for the icing is enough for 3 layers?

  13. Heather says:

    I made this and doubled the recipe. It just got done and it’s terrible. I cannot serve this at my dad’s party tomorrow. I checked the recipe 6 times. I did everything it said. I substituted sucralose as the sweetener and it cannot be tasted at all. The cakes are very very thin. The icing just tastes like cheese. I don’t what went wrong or what I’m going to do. 🙁

    • Paola says:

      I’m very sorry this happened heather! But my guess is that the Sucralose is the culprit, please keep in mind that this is not one of the recommended sweeteners. It’s an artificial sweetener that doesn’t behave at all like sugar alcohols when baked. 🙁

    • FancyPants says:

      5 stars
      Weighing the ingredients and sticking to the sweeteners Paola suggests will be your best bet. Sucralose is gross and doesn’t act the same way in baking as other sweeteners.

  14. Wendy says:

    Hi, can I bake it in a loaf pan? Making the loaf with the ingredients of two 8 inch cakes, will the temperature be the same? And how long will it take to cook ? Thanks

  15. Jennifer says:

    Would this make one layer for a 1/4 sheet cake ? I am making a double layer 1/4 sheet cake for my son’s birthday using a magic line pan measuring 9x12x2. Would I double this recipe to make two layers? Also, he wants one layer chocolate and one layer vanilla…..is there a good way to adjust this recipe for making a VANILLA cake?

  16. Jedidiah Myshak says:

    Hi, I was wondering if it has to be golden flax as for some reason I can’t find golden in my town and want to make this cake for my little guys birthday party on the 27th. So no time to order online 🙁

      • jedidiah says:

        5 stars
        I found the golden seeds and ground them myself in my bullet. The cake was really really yummy but its very crumbly. I cooked it for 13mins checking after 8mins and it really didn’t and doesn’t seem over done. its moist but crumbly. should it be? I’m really not sure what I could have done wrong.

        • Paola says:

          Hi there! In my experience you never get the same results from grinding the seeds yourself vs buy-ing meal. Now, the cake is a little bit crumbly (you can see from the pics), but sounds like yours was too much and that could be the reason xo

      • 5 stars
        I just made it yesterday for my husband’s birthday. I didn’t have golden flax, only brown, and it worked just fine. The cake was awesome, dense and rich. We love dark chocolate and this cake it that. I also used raw organic cacao powder. Everyone in the family wanted seconds and no one but us is keto.
        The cheesecake is also a huge family favorite. My soon to be 10 year old grandkids have requested it for their birthday dinner.
        I really trust your site- I haven’t tried a recipe of yours yet that did not get a 👍🏻

  17. Enne says:

    5 stars
    I made this recipe today, decided to bake as cupcakes. They were amazing!! Thank you! You made my sad cupcakeless life happy again:)
    I like sweeter cupcakes so I added some pure monk fruit powder since it’s a powder and only a tiny amount is required, it didn’t affect the texture, I also beat the eggs in with a mixer, the result was fluffy, chocolatey, moist and just like the cupcakes a famous store in Seattle sells.

    • H says:

      Enne, did you use the monk fruit powder for sweetness in addition to erythritol/xylitol OR as a substitute for the alcohol sweetener?
      We cannot tolerate the sugar alcohols and want to know if pure stevia or monk fruit works in this recipe that anyone has tried successfully.

  18. Laura says:

    4 stars
    I just made this cake! I am diabetic and I’m always looking low carb snacks that taste amazing…. I loved this cake but I enjoyed it much better when I cut the strong cocoa flavor with frozen whipped cream. My husband, on the other hand, didn’t like the bitterness of the cocoa. Did I use too much? How can I lessen the bitterness?

    PS: I used xyletol for the first time. I was shocked that there was no after taste, just like you said. Thanx!

  19. Elizabeth says:

    Just an observation….I made this with xylitol and the butter, cocoa, sweetener combination was very very….well…not good when I went to add it. The butter separated. So I did a second attempt right after and I ground the xylitol in my bullet first. As soon as the sugar was mixed and melted I added in the cocoa and removed it from the heat. 100000% better. The first batch the batter was very clumpy and not good. It tasted good but fell apart and even stuck to the pan like playdough. This second try it was actual batter. I suggest grinding the xylitol first. Huge improvement.

    • Gail says:

      Oh Elizabeth! Your suggestion to grind the xylitol and just mix it with melted butter saved me. The same separation happened to me. It all seemed to turn out after reading your suggestion. My cupcakes are cooling now and they look delish!! Thank you and thank you Paola for what will be a yummy birthday treat for myself!! 🎂

  20. Tamar Noel says:

    This tasted like an iced brownie. I only made one layer and it turned out thiner than I expected. It stuck to my pan and was a mess to get out. Birthday girl was happy with it and everyone thought it tasted good.

  21. jan says:

    5 stars
    Am I understanding that this recipe makes 1 LAYER of the cake, so if I want to make the 3 layers, I would be tripling the cake recipe?
    Thanks!
    I want to try this recipe soon. I haven’t had much luck making any low carb (keto) breads or desserts yet, and I am hoping that this one actually works!

    • Kate says:

      Would be great to get a reply on this. My daughter just made the cake and followed all points and it’s unbelievably thin, and extremely strong tasting. And that’s from the top of people USED to a low to No sugar diet already. Not “sweets” people. So…. ?

    • Alfonso says:

      Go where it says servings and change the number 6 for 18 and it will change the quantities for a three layered cake. I think from the instructions you can leave the frosting at 6 servings and it will do the three layered cake. I am getting ready to do the frosting so I will find out.

  22. Joni Horton says:

    I’m sure its among the comments but there are a lot.

    What is the reasoning for the flaxseed?

    I don’t have any at the moment is there something I could use instead?

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