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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 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, European
Servings 6 slices
Calories 196 kcal


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.



*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. 


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!


  1. Linda Franklin says:

    5 stars
    Just wanted to share, I hope this helps others. I made this recipe as cupcakes for my Keto pals and at work. For the sweetener I only had the Pyure stevia erythritol blend. Paola was right in saying this does taste different and I think it may have been partly why they were dry. They were still good but when I took them to work I got feed back that they were too sweet. Also I did not think they looked done after 15 min. It was still really soft inside so i baked another 5 and they ended up really dry on the outside, but when you bite into them they seam moist. So just remember to follow instructions ! Don’t over bake and use the xylotol.

    • Sevrina Fernandes says:

      This recipe lists baking power but forgot to mention it in the instructions. Add it to the dry ingredients at the beginning.

      Another tip is to use the back of a wet spoon to spear the batter evenly.

    • Rita says:

      I don’t understand as I just made this and it is almost perfect. I say almost as I don’t care for artificial sweeteners but this was pretty good. I made this for my husband’s birthday and he thinks it is perfect.

  2. Sue says:

    When my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday I told him I wanted this cake. It was an excellent choice. The cake was flavorful and moist. The icing was the perfect for extra flavor and moistness. You would never know this was a keto cake. I will ask him to make it again!

  3. Elaine says:

    I plan on making this cake for my daughter who is on the Keto diet but want to give her the correct carb information.

    In your directions at the end you say “Please note that nutrition facts were calculated per slice (1/6th of a layer), which is the equivalent of 1 cupcake.”

    So do you mean 1/6th of ONE layer of cake? Or is it 1/6th of the CAKE?

    To me, one slice of cake contains two layers, not one. Should I be doubling the carb number if you actually mean 1/6th of ONE layer, not TWO?

  4. Lillian says:

    If I omit the chocolate and add vanilla flavoring will it be a white cake? A friend changed her mind to white cake, but I already bought the ingredients

  5. Payana says:

    Will it give the same result if I grind up whole golden flaxseeds (in Denmark we have something called yellow flaxseeds, I guess it’s the same)?

    • Paola van der Hulst says:

      You know Payana, I’ve found that regrinding flaxseeds at home doesn’t quite result in the same fine grind of store bought (its the same thing with almond flour really) xo!

    • ELAINE SMITH says:

      There are wheat mills, electric and hand models, that grind seeds….I have one. I think the yellow seeds are the flax she is using.

  6. Sally says:

    5 stars
    Hey Paola, I’ve just attempted this cake and it came out AMAZING!! I followed the recipe closely and added 3/4 cup xylitol (Australian cup measurement) for a 2 layer cake. Your notes were really useful – after 15 mins I was worried that the cakes weren’t quite done, but took your advice about being careful not to overcook so I took them out anyway. They ended up being perfect! The leftovers taste so good even after being frozen, so it’s handy for portion control.

    I’m planning to make your brownie recipe next…oh and the cinnamon scrolls too 🙂

  7. Lori says:

    OMG!!! I just made this recipe, and did cupcakes instead of flat cakes. I did add a tablespoon of coconut oil to this just because I didnt want to take a chance on accidently leaving them in a little too long and having them come out too dry. I LOVE THEM!!!! <3 FINALLY I can have chocolate cake again… and relatively GUILT or consequence FREE!!!! LOL I also made the buttercream frosting linked here (chocolate version) only I added two tablespoons of REALLY good natural peanut butter! I mean… Who DOESNT love chocolate and peanutbutter together right??? Hahaha. LOVING this!!! THANK YOU for giving me a little sweet joy back to my tastebuds and feild testing so many amazing recipes for us! I REALLY appreciate you. AND this website. Life just got a little better today.

    • Paola van der Hulst says:

      What do you mean Darren? They’re made out of chocolate! :-S

      What sweetener did you use? Anything with stevia would mean bitterness, and erythritol would mean a minty after taste xo!

  8. Cindy says:

    Mine didn’t rise very much. In an 8″ cake pan about how thick should it be. At this rate I’d need 4-5 layers to really be able to decorate. I’m sure I did something wrong. Batter tasted delicious! Can’t wait to try when done.

  9. Pamela says:

    5 stars
    Another home run Paola! Muchas gracias! I have baked cupcakes with this recipe twice. Both times they came out great and the non-veto, gluten eaters including little kids loved them! They freeze well also!

  10. Laura says:

    Hahahaha, this is so funny, I just made this cake for my birthday yesterday and thought the flavor was great but it was too dry!!! Now I will have to try the updated version 🙂

  11. Brian says:

    I would love to make this cake for my wife’s birthday this month, but she is allergic- violently allergic -to flax seed. In other recipes, I’ve had some success substituting with xanthin gum, or additional egg, even wheat gluten (we are diabetic, not gluten intolerant). But this is a cake, and should have a finer crumb…

    Im leery of going with xanthin gum 1:1, just because of the quantity that would involve in this recipe. A friend suggested whipped egg white maybe. What would you suggest? Thanks for your help!

  12. Lauren says:

    Oh my goodness this recipe looks SO STUNNING AND DELICIOUS! Unfortunately, according to my doctor, as funny as it sounds, I can’t have cocoa right now, but I can have cacao. I know you say that it won’t have the same results at all if you use cacao, but if I used that in place of the cocoa would it still be good?


  13. Marilyn says:

    5 stars
    The recipe looks awesome. Just need to know if I can substitute BochaSweet for the xylitol? I love your recipes, Paola, and thank you for them. I want to make this cake for a special dinner with three other couples who are not on Keto or Paleo, to show them how delicious a low carb dessert can be.

    • Anna D'Andrea says:

      I’m not Paola, but no. Coconut flour absorbs way more than almond flour. If you’re allergic to almonds you could make a walnut or hazelnut flour that would work just as well

  14. Nadine says:

    4 stars
    It worked out great for me, only kept it in the convection oven for 11 minutes. I didn’t add as much sweetener as I don’t like overly sweet but I found the flax to be an overpowering flavor, albeit it did add to the texture. I would cut the flax amount down next time. I also used an avocado cream cheese frosting and it was delicious!

    Thanks 🙂

  15. Julia says:

    Is it possible to substitute almond+flaxseed with low-carb baking mix? How would this affect the proportions?

  16. Maria says:

    I used stevia and everything turned out too sweet, is there a reason why you can’t use it? What’s the difference ?

    • Emily f says:

      Stevia is MUCH sweeter than xylitol, around 200+ times sweeter, so you would need to find the ratio vs xylitol for the correct amount to use. However as Paola always says, stevia doesn’t really work well with anything chocolate as it can make it taste bitter

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