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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. Bounlieng says:

    5 stars
    I did a trial run of this cake for a birthday cake at the end of the month and O.M. DELICIOUSNESS it is so yummy and moist! My question is, an I freeze these cake layers and if so, how long can I freeze them for? I’m planning on making a layer cake and would like to bake the cake layers ahead of time.

    • Paola van der Hulst says:

      Great to hear you enjoyed (I make this cake yearly for my birthday!!). Yes, freeze away, up to three months.

      IMO (and also according to everyone who I’ve fed it to over the years), this cake is better the day after. So I like to bake the layers, frost it and then refrigerate it overnight. It becomes even more moist and flavorful, and it’s also a good hack in case you over baked it (been there, some that!). Xo and happy bday!

  2. Renee says:

    5 stars
    I’ve been trying to find a good lower carb chocolate cake for awhile. I am not on any diet, just trying to find healthier options to help with cravings. I made this but used a little regular sugar to offset the sweetener taste and extra flaxseed for coconut flour because I hate the taste no matter how little is in a recipe. I forgot I don’t like chocolate with cream cheese for the frosting so I tweaked it a bit after I made it. Not only where these delicious, but as an avid baker it’s one of the better chocolate cake recipes I have ever made.

  3. Kyla says:

    Do you think it would work if I doubled the recipe and made it in a bundt pan?? I tested the recipe out as cupcakes tonight and it is delicious! Wanting to make it as a cake for my brother’s birthday next month but I don’t haven any small cake pans to make a layer cake..

  4. Kathy Cooke says:

    5 stars
    Really delicious! Made the dairy version with nearly a cup of allulose and the optional instant coffee, which really added a lot of flavor. Doubled the recipe to make 12 cupcakes. Baked for 17 minutes, but should’ve just done 15 for extra moist cupcakes. My husband said they reminded him of Hostess chocolate cupcakes. Frosted with the buttercream frosting, to which I also added about 1/2 tsp of instant coffee, and these were just scrumptious. I had probably half of the frosting left over, so next time I’d make half a batch unless I was frosting a cake instead of cupcakes. No one would ever know this was a keto recipe; it tastes like the chocolate cake of your dreams.

  5. Lisa says:

    5 stars
    Novice keto cake baker – made this for my daughter’s birthday and it was amazing ! Even my fussy 11 year old enjoyed it. 3 tiered with frosting, thank you for sharing!

  6. Lynn B. says:

    5 stars
    Yummy!!! I made cupcakes for my birthday today. Had one before the frosting and it was delicious as is. Just made the frosting and it is just as good if not better than regular sugar recipes. I used powdered Lakanto monk fruit and some allulose along with some espresso powder. Thank you for the recommendation of Valrhona cocoa powder. I love chocolate, but since going Keto haven’t found a chocolate recipe that tastes right. This definitely made the difference.

  7. Jen Renton says:

    5 stars
    Outstanding. My keto-husband said, “Don’t bother” when I asked him if he wanted a keto birthday cake this year. But he couldn’t believe it when I made it. And our kids, who are not at all keto, also ate it with gusto! The frosting was delicious, although I definitely felt that it needed more sweetener than originally called for, and I was glad that I piped it rather than trying to apply with an offset spatula. Tender crumb, outstanding flavor, a true winner. Thank you, thank you, Paola, for developing these magical recipes.

  8. Holli Hayes says:

    I’m new to this low-carb keto thing and I’m curious about the carbs per serving math. It seems like that should be much higher. I’m doing this for weight loss, not blood sugar, so should I not be counting every carb regardless of whether or not it is a sugar alcohol? I’m still in the beginning stages and keeping my carbs under 20 grams. Also, I take it the nutritional info doesn’t count the icing?

    • Kathy Mayes says:

      To keep losing weight, you prolly shouldn’t incorporate this into your diet quite yet. It’s more for when you’re in maintenance.

  9. Toni says:

    5 stars
    I just made this cake and all I can say is “wow.” I have made lots of keto-friendly cakes hoping to find one that actually tastes like a regular sugar/white flour cake and I have always been disappointed. I finally found the recipe. Thank you! I did use a 1/4 cup xylitol and a 1/4 cup allulose for the sweetener and it was perfect. I have never left a comment for any recipe, but I felt I had to encourage other people who are debating about buying the specific ingredients to make this cake. Also, using a food scale to weigh your ingredients is critical to a perfect result.

  10. Rich Harriman says:

    5 stars
    My wife flipped over this recipe! Celebrating her birthday while limited by gestational diabetes had her all kinds of sad until we found this dessert and she sank her teeth into the first bite. Highly recommend!

  11. Joanne says:

    This has become a new family favourite. My grandkids love this made into bite size cupcakes with a dallop of chocolate icing on them. Thanks, you’re recipes are great.

  12. Ivana Maznev says:

    5 stars
    Very good recipe an instructions. Made 2 layer cake with xylitol and everything came perfectly. I didn’t have xanthan gum so I added 2 additional tbs flaxseed meal which I grinded by myself. The chocolate buttercream frosting was also fabulous.
    Thanks for sharing!

  13. Wally says:

    5 stars
    Amazing recipe, it was delish.

    Question… In order to make a layer cake do I have to double the recipe?

    Made it in small 6″ and it turned out cute without frosting the middle. Now I want to try a double layer and see😁

  14. Yvonne Mann says:

    5 stars
    OMG! Made this cake to celebrate mom’s 90th birthday. It was a big hit – everyone loved it, especially using keto/paleo ingredients. Taste better than regular cake mix recipes. And I’m not much of a baker to start with, and yet it came out perfect in taste & texture (except my piping needs a lot of work). Thank you for sharing!

  15. Anita says:

    I made this cake yesterday for my son and his girlfriend. – their birthdays are about a week apart. Anyway, I have a quick question: is the nutritional info for just the layers or does it include the icing as well? Thanks!

  16. Anita says:

    Just made this recipe for a three layer cake and after the first two had to be cut out of the pan to get them out I used parchment paper on the bottom for the third and it worked like a charm!
    The cake is delicious, though, and I’m gonna use them even though they’re partially cut – no one will see it anyways! Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  17. Suzi says:

    5 stars
    Just made a double batch of cupcakes with the buttercream. Followed recipe exact and it turned out DELICIOUS. I can’t wait until tomorrow as anything with almond flour is better the next day. I used So Nourished brand powdered erythritol/monkfruit blend.

  18. Pam says:

    Im confused by the weird amounts. Do you have weigh the ingredients on a scale or would 48g of almond flour just be 1/3c (43g) plus 1tsp (5g). Seems like a really small amount.

    • DeAnna Carter says:

      I was thinking the same thing about the almond flour. Is it really only 1/3 cup? The recipe sounds delish though.

      Also does the owner of this site ever answer the questions?

    • Cheryl Feiling says:

      My daughter also has coconut allergy and her husband is diabetic and allergic to some nuts so when I made a carrot cake just subbed coconut for cake flour was only 2 tbsp. The cake was delish and added cashews for a crunch.

  19. Angelina says:

    5 stars
    Happy Birthday to meeee. I was sad bc I thought I wouldn’t be able to have cake on my bday. But then I found this lovely recipe. Delicious. When she says take it out of the oven to cool and set before you take the cupcakes out of the pan, make sure you don’t leave it on top of the oven to cool! It continues to bake!
    Tastes amazing !

  20. K says:

    5 stars
    It looked really stiff before adding it to the pans to bake so I added (read:eyeballed) a bit more heavy cream to loosen it for my two round 9 inch Calphalon pans. Big mistake! It essentially crumbled right out of them (30 minutes definitely wasn’t enough time to solidify!)….. Delicious crumbles nonetheless but trying to salvage into an intelligible shape for a two layer cake with the buttercream in the morning. Otherwise I have just been eating all the unusable bits and it’s utterly decadent!

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