You need to try this ​​Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cake! It’s decadent, fluffy, and sweet – you won’t even notice it’s gluten free AND vegan. Easy to make in 1 bowl.

My Gluten Free Vegan Vanilla Cake is just as easy to make as this recipe, and perfect for anyone who may not be a huge fan of chocolate.

close up of a piece of chocolate cake on a white plate

Life is too short for dry and bland gluten free desserts. Luckily, this Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cake is just like your favorite classic cake recipe – fluffy, sweet, and moist. In fact, you may not even notice that it’s gluten free and vegan!

Just like my Vegan Chocolate Cake, this vegan gluten free cake has a rich chocolate flavor and a fluffy, light crumb. You don’t need any complicated ingredients, either. The batter mixes together in just one bowl and bakes in about 30 minutes. Easy, right?

slice of chocolate cake with a bite out of it

Ingredients needed (with substitutions)

  • Soy milk – Any unsweetened non-dairy milk will work as a substitute, like almond, oat, or coconut milk.
  • Apple cider vinegar – It’s mixed with the milk to make a vegan buttermilk substitute. The acid will react with the baking soda, creating air bubbles that help the cake fluff up. Feel free to use lemon juice instead.
  • Gluten free flour mix – I like to use a gluten free flour with no added xanthan gum because it’s easier to control when it’s added in ourselves. I always have great results with King Arthur Gluten Free Flour. Bob’s Red Mill is another good option but could make the cake more dense and less fluffy.
  • Xanthan gum – Remember to leave this out if your gluten free flour already has xanthan gum added.
  • Granulated sugar – Coconut sugar works well too. I don’t recommend replacing the granulated sugar with a liquid sweetener because the structure of the cake may not hold up as well.
  • Natural cocoa powder – Don’t replace this with Dutch process cocoa powder.
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Oil – Use a neutral flavored oil, such as canola or grapeseed. I haven’t tried substituting more applesauce for the oil, but it should work well.
  • Applesauce – You can replace the applesauce with two flax eggs or another egg replacer.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Boiling hot water – Or use hot brewed coffee or espresso. All three options will enhance the chocolate flavor in the cake – yum!
large glass bowl filled with chocolate cake batter

How to make gluten free vegan chocolate cake

Find the complete printable recipe with measurements in the recipe card below. 

Make the vegan buttermilk by adding the soy milk and vinegar to a glass measuring cup. Stir, then set aside for a few minutes while it curdles.

Meanwhile, whisk the gluten free flour, xanthan gum, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in the bowl of a standing mixer.

Add the oil, applesauce, vanilla, and milk/vinegar mixture to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix on medium speed until well combined.

Lower the speed and slowly pour in the boiling water (or coffee). Mix until the batter is runny and well combined.

Pour the cake batter into your cake pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let them cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Add the frosting and decorations once the cake is cool. Slice and enjoy!

frosting a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting

Vegan gluten free cupcakes

You can easily transform this gluten free chocolate cake recipe into cupcakes. Make the batter as normal, pour the batter into lined muffin tins, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Decorating options

You can keep it simple and decorate the cake with my Vegan Chocolate Frosting or go for a black and white effect with my Vegan Vanilla Frosting. Add a layer of chocolate ganache, berry jam or compote, or salted caramel sauce in the middle layer for a delicious surprise.

As for decorating the top of the cake, the options are endless:

spatula removing a slice of chocolate frosted cake

Frequently asked questions

  • What size cake pan can I use? This recipe makes enough cake batter for two 8-inch round cake pans. You could also use two 9-inch round pans, a 10-inch square pan, a jelly roll pan, or an 11×17 rectangular pan. 
  • Can I make this cake with almond flour? No, sorry! Almond flour (and coconut flour) don’t absorb liquid as well as a gluten free flour mix.
  • Can I leave the xanthan out of the cake? You can, but I don’t recommend it. When testing this recipe without xanthan gum, the cake was slightly dense and gummy. It was much lighter and fluffier with it added.
  • How long does gluten free chocolate cake last? Keep the frosted cake covered at room temperature for 1 to 2 days, or up to a week in the fridge. The unfrosted cake layers also freeze well for up to 3 months (wrap them individually in plastic to maintain freshness).
close up of a fork taking a bite out of a piece of chocolate cake

Want more gluten free and vegan desserts?

close up of a piece of chocolate cake on a white plate
4.90 stars (19 ratings)

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cake

You need to try this ​​Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cake! It’s decadent, fluffy, and sweet – you won’t even notice it’s gluten free AND vegan. Easy to make in 1 bowl.
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 55 mins
Servings: 16 servings

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/4 cups gluten free flour mix* I used King Arthur Flour, NO xanthan gum added
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum if using a flour with this added, omit
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup neutral flavored oil, such as canola or grapeseed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling hot water or use hot coffee
  • 1 Recipe Vegan Chocolate Frosting

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease two 8-inch cake pans. I also line them with parchment rounds for easy removal of the cakes later.
  • Measure 1 cup soy milk in a glass measuring cup and add vinegar. Stir slightly and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the gluten free flour, xanthan gum, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • To the bowl with the dry ingredients, add the oil, applesauce, vanilla and milk/vinegar mixture. Mix on medium speed with a hand mixer (or stand mixer with the whisk attachment) until well combined.
  • Lower the speed and carefully pour in the boiling water, continuing to mix into the cake batter until combined. The batter will be quite runny at this point.
  • Divide the batter evenly between your cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. After 10 minutes of cooling in the pan, carefully remove the cakes from the pans and let cool completely before frosting.
  • Only once the cake is completely cooled, frost with chocolate frosting using an icing spatula or just a butter knife and enjoy!
  • It’s fine to store the cake at room temperature for 1-2 days, or you can refrigerate it for 3-4 days. Make sure to cover any cut parts so it doesn't dry out.

Notes

  1. May substitute any non-dairy milk, such as almond, oat or coconut milk.
  2. For best results, use King Arthur Gluten Free Flour with no added xanthan gum, so we can control it and add a little on our own. You can use another mix such as Bob’s Red Mill, but the cake will be a bit more dense and less fluffy.
  3. May use coconut sugar instead of regular sugar, if desired.
  4. For cupcakes, fill liners half full and bake for 20-25 minutes. You will get about 24 cupcakes.
  5. May substitute 2 flax eggs (2 tbs ground flax + 5 tbs water) or another egg replacer if needed for the applesauce.

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 16 servings | Calories: 500kcal | Carbohydrates: 70g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 408mg | Potassium: 220mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 54g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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Comments

    1. Hi Kate. I have not used Trader Joes GF flour, so am not sure. As per the recipe instructions, check for the ingredient Xanthan gum in the flour. Leave this out if the gluten free flour you use already has xanthan gum added. I hope this helps!

  1. Hi Nora,

    I replaced a few ingredients (soy milk for almond milk, granulated sugar for coconut sugar and I used refined coconut oil in place of canola oil) and I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour. The consistency of the cake was good but not as fluffy as I was expecting and there was no flavor, or I should say there was not a chocolate flavor, it tasted very bland. I couldn’t taste coconut from the coconut oil (which was good). Which of my replacement items do you think have caused the cake not to be as fluffy or tasteless?
    Also, I used a kitchen aid stand mixer, how long should I mix the ingredients, so the cake is fluffy and not dense?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Monica, so I’ve found that coconut oil can lead to more dense cakes than desired. I prefer a different oil. I’m guessing that’s why your cake turned out dense. Also, Bob’s Red Mill flour does work, but I much prefer a different flour, like King Arthur, a flour without xantham gum added so I can add my own. The cake turns out much fluffier this way. I’m also not sure how using coconut sugar affected things, I always use regular sugar. Mix until just combined, you don’t need to keep mixing longer than that. But I think your problem was in the substitutions, especially the brand of flour and oil. Hope that helps!

  2. If I have King Arthur’s flour that has xanthan gum in it do I still need to add the xanthan gum? By the way, I tried your gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe and they were amazing!

    1. Hi Jean. If using a flour with xanthan gum added, omit adding it again. Hope this helps! Glad you loved the cookies! Thank you!

  3. Hi Nora! I was wondering if I can substitute almond flour for this recipe? Could not find the other brands at the store. Thank you so much!

  4. Oh my gosh, this IS the most amazing gluten free chocolate cake, ever! I made it for the first time last weekend for my husband’s birthday. You could serve this as a “regular” cake and no one would ever know it was vegan AND gluten-free. I also used Nora’s chocolate frosting recipe. I have had many frosting failures until I tried this recipe. It’s a smashing success! My family agreed that this cake is way better than the vegan, GF cakes from the vegan bakery near us. Thank you, Nora!

    1. You are welcome! I love reading that everyone loved the cake! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback!

  5. Hello, I made this cake this evening as a trial run for a birthday party this weekend. I followed the recipe exactly, but when I took the cakes out of the tins, they fell apart! They tasted good, but where did I go wrong? 

    1. I’m sorry to hear this, Gail! It sounds like there could have been too much flour in the batter (which can happen if you’re scooping the flour out with the measuring cup). Otherwise, I’m not sure why this would have happened. Sorry!

  6. Hi Nora, love all your recipes! Just started to get into the gluten-free side of baking though, is xanthan gum needed for gluten-free baking? I was using King Arthurs’s gluten-free flour without the xantham gum and the cupcakes came out amazing. Just curious about the benefits of xantham gum!
    Thank you!

    1. It can help with texture, and is sometimes necessary. I also tried the cake without it, and the texture came out a bit dense and gummy. It was way lighter and fluffier with it added. Hope that helps!

    1. You shouldn’t need to double the recipe. Just pour the batter into a rimmed, parchment-lined sheet pan and bake for 16 to 20 minutes.

  7. Thanks so much for this recipe! You are amazing.
    Just one quick question, Can I use Almond flour since I don’t have the one you have mentioned here.

    1. Thank you! I don’t recommend using almond flour because it doesn’t absorb liquid the same way as a regular gluten free flour mix and the cake will be soggy.

  8. How do you keep your cakes from  falling apart after they are baked.  Having trouble with gluten free baking crumbling and falling apart even cookies

  9. I made this into cupcakes tonight and it was the best vegan gf cake Ive made to date! I used bobs red mill (which I dont love) so next time Im going to try King Arthurs and the xantham gum seperate. It was great with the frosting.

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