1-Bowl Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

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Close up shot of a slice of three layer Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Vegan Chocolate Frosting

When I was in college I worked in a movie theater diner, and my absolute favorite part of my shift was when the restaurant closed. We got to turn up the music (we had a jukebox that had really good songs on it), dance around while cleaning, laugh with coworkers about the ups and downs of our shift, and finally eat some food after all the patrons left. 

My friend Katie was a server, and I managed the dessert counter (are we surprised?). And we both had a thing for the chocolate cake on our menu. It was three layers of rich, decadent, chocolatey goodness, and every once in a while, after a particularly long shift, we’d buy a slice, heat it up, top it with fudge, take two forks, and go to town. Ah, sweet bliss. 

One bite of this homemade chocolate cake sent me right back to that sweet moment in my adolescence. I don’t remember Katie’s last name or I’d absolutely look her up and tell her that she should make this cake so we could eat some together virtually.

I’m thrilled to have created a cake that stacks up to the decadent bakery versions to help us all celebrate and commemorate the special moments in our lives regardless of special dietary needs. 

The really amazing part? This EASY 1-bowl cake is 100% vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, refined sugar-free, grain-free, and 1000% delicious. Yes, dreams do come true. Let us show you how. 

Applesauce, maple syrup, coconut sugar, cocoa powder, bananas, gluten free flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and dairy-free milk

For this recipe, we used banana and applesauce in place of eggs. They help give it a moist texture and also add sweetness. The banana taste is hardly distinguishable and the main flavor is definitely CHOCOLATE!

Vanilla extract adds a hint of vanilla flavor, while almond butter is used in place of oil to keep this recipe oil-free.

Whisking banana, applesauce, and vanilla in a mixing bowl

For sweeteners, we used a combination of maple syrup and coconut sugar to keep it refined sugar-free. The maple syrup adds moisture, while the coconut sugar adds substance.

For gluten-free flours, we went with a combination of almond flour and potato starch. This pairing gives this cake a fluffy yet crumbly texture!

Dairy-free milk adds moisture, and cocoa powder gives this cake its rich, chocolaty flavor.

Whisking dry ingredients into wet ingredients with a whisk

The batter is added to cake pans for baking. We like to use three 6-inch round cake pans for an impressive three-tier look. But we include options in the recipe for different size pans.

Three rounds of Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Cake on a cooling rack

Once your cake is baked, it’s ready for frosting!

We frosted it with our decadent, date-sweetened Vegan Chocolate Frosting (that’s also oil-free!). But our Vegan Chocolate Ganache Frosting would also be incredible. Or, if you’re not really a frosting person, this cake is still amazing without frosting!

Using a knife to spread Creamy Cashew Butter Chocolate Frosting onto a three tier Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

We hope you LOVE this cake! It’s:

Fudgy
Fluffy
Rich
Chocolaty
Naturally sweet
Easy to make
& DELICIOUS!

It’s perfect for special occasions (such as birthdays) and beyond!

Three tier Gluten Free Chocolate Cake topped with Vegan Chocolate Frosting

More Vegan Gluten-Free Cake Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Glass of almond milk next to a plate with a slice of Dairy Free Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

1-Bowl Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

The most incredible chocolate cake that happens to be vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, grain-free, and refined sugar-free. Just 1 bowl and simple methods required for this perfectly tender, moist, delectable chocolate cake that’s perfect for special occasions and beyond.
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Partially sliced oil free Gluten Free Chocolate Cake on a cake stand
4.74 from 121 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 14 (Slices)
Course Dessert
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Oil-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 4-5 Days

Ingredients

CAKE

  • 2/3 cup mashed ripe banana (~2 small bananas as original recipe is written)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (sub dairy-free yogurt for richer texture // we love Culina plain yogurt)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter (or sub peanut butter, cashew butter, tahini, or sunflower butter)
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (optional)
  • 1 ¼ cup dairy-free milk (we used boxed unsweetened almond milk // cashew or rice milk would also work)
  • 1 cup sifted cocoa powder
  • 1 cup potato starch (NOT potato flour // some readers have had success subbing 1/2 arrowroot starch, 1/2 coconut flour)
  • 2 ½ cups almond flour (not meal // we prefer Wellbee's brand)
  • 1-2 tsp finely ground espresso powder or dark roast coffee (optional // enhances chocolate flavor)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and lightly grease (avocado oil is best) two standard 8-inch round cake pans, one 9×13-inch pan, or three 6-inch round pans (our preferred) and dust with cocoa powder. Shake out excess and set aside. If making cupcakes, line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.
  • To a large mixing bowl add banana and mash (measure to ensure it’s the correct quantity). Then add applesauce (or yogurt), vanilla, almond butter, and whisk to combine. Next add maple syrup, coconut sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt (optional) and whisk to combine.
  • Next add dairy-free milk and whisk to combine. Then add sifted cocoa powder and whisk to combine. Then add potato starch and whisk to combine.
  • Next add almond flour a little at a time until the batter has reached a pourable, saucy consistency (see photo). It shouldn’t be thick like brownie batter and it shouldn’t be watery. If too thin, continue adding almond flour. If too thick, thin with a little dairy-free milk. We used about 2 ½ cups almond flour (as original recipe is written). Depending on your ingredients, you may need more or less. At this time you can whisk in some espresso powder to enhance the chocolate flavor (optional). Start with recommended amount and add more to taste.
  • Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pan(s) and bake on a center rack for 28-38 minutes (if baking cupcakes, bake time should be 18-20 minutes), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out free of crumbs (a little brown color is okay) and the edges appear dry / slightly pulled away from the pan. Be careful not to over-bake.
  • Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. To remove from pans, run a dull knife around the edge of the pans to loosen the cakes. Then place a plate or cooling rack on top and quickly invert. Let cool completely before frosting (~1 hour // expedite the process by cooling briefly in the refrigerator or freezer).
  • At this point you can enjoy your cake as is. But we recommend frosting with Vegan Chocolate Ganache Frosting or our Vegan Chocolate Frosting (Oil-Free) (pictured above).
  • Best fresh and within the first couple days after baking. The texture tends to become dried out after that (using dairy-free yogurt in place of applesauce adds more moisture!). Store cake covered at room temperature for 2-3 days* or in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Freeze up to 1 month (then thaw at room temperature).

Video

Notes

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without optional ingredients.
*Recipe adapted from our 1-Bowl Vegan Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake and 1-Bowl Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.
*We found the texture of this cake to be best when consumed within 24-48 hours. The nature of potato starch is a bit drying, so keep this in mind if making days in advance for an event or special occasion.

Nutrition (1 of 14 servings)

Serving: 1 slice Calories: 266 Carbohydrates: 38.8 g Protein: 6.1 g Fat: 12.4 g Saturated Fat: 1.4 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.8 g Monounsaturated Fat: 7.6 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 208 mg Potassium: 349 mg Fiber: 5 g Sugar: 19.9 g Vitamin A: 53.68 IU Vitamin C: 0.98 mg Calcium: 153.9 mg Iron: 1.8 mg

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  1. Leslie says

    I am wanting to make your ice cream cake recipe but saw that someone who put grated apple in their (one-bowl not GF) cake ended up with a cake that wouldn’t really thaw. If I use the coconut yogurt instead of the apple sauce do you think it will freeze ok? Or not with the bananas? Thank you!!

  2. Mollie Laurence says

    Hi! If I wanted to use oil in place of the banana or a combo of oil & flax egg, how much oil would you recommend or how much oil & flax egg would you recommend? Thanks!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Mollie, we’d suggest using our other vegan/gluten-free chocolate cake that uses oil + flax. You can find it here.

  3. Caro says

    I finally made the tweaks! In an earlier comment I mentioned that this recipe is too sweet and banana-y for my liking, so I changed the following:

    Instead of ¾ cup maple syrup and ½ cup coconut sugar, I used ¼ cup of honey (since the people I’m making it for aren’t really vegan) and ¼ cup of dark brown cane sugar (since I love molasses and how it enriches the chocolate color). The cake still turned out plenty sweet, but much more tolerable than what in my opinion was the overpowering sweetness of the original recipe.

    To compensate for the lost fluids due to using less honey, I used 1 ¼ cup applesauce. The texture turned out perfect, and surprisingly it also had the effect of neutralising the banana flavour, helping the cake taste more like a normal chocolate cake.

    I used more salt, because I’m a salted caramel and salted chocolate kind of girl. Up to 1 tsp salt is good, but most of you will probably want to use less than that.

    And not that I changed this, but YASS, please use that 1 tsp of coffee because it is good for the cake! No, you won’t taste it, and as someone who is sensitive to caffein, 1 tsp of coffee for a whole batch of cake has not been enough to trigger bad reactions.

    I used a 22 cm springform pan, so I just used a cookie sheet on the pan’s floor and dusted the walls with margarine and cocoa powder, not flour. It gives the cake a nicer rich brown colour.

    My niece wanted a drip cake so we used a frosting that was ⅓ cup whipped cream and 1 cup white chocolate chips. We both are new to decorating drip cakes, but the contrast of the white frosting dripping on this almost black chocolate cake looks divine to my 13-year-old niece who was baking a cake from scratch for the first time. So yeah, definitely recommended for quality time with a kid who’s into baking!

    The only shortcoming was that our cake felt a little short for a drip cake. If I had more ingredients, I would probably make 1½ recipes so that I could bake an extra layer or two to make the cake look taller.

    We decorated the wall of the bottom layer of our cake with halved strawberries, which not only looked pretty, but also complimented the taste of this cake with its fresh acidity. Other fruits that I believe would go well with this cake include raspberries, cherries, mandarin oranges, sour grapes and green kiwifruit.

    I believe an alcoholic version of this cake could work too! I haven’t tried it, but liquors I am considering are rum, kirsch, brandy, bourbon, nut liquor or orange liquor.

  4. Bella says

    Hands down the best chocolate cake ever! It was moist, perfectly fluffy/dense balance, and just the right sweetness. We used vanilla coconut yogurt and it worked perfectly. This will definitely be a staple celebration cake 😍

  5. Atara Dahan says

    How do I cut this recipe so that it makes like 6 cupcakes?
    I always end up making too much when I try to translate cake recipes into cupcakes.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Atara, we’re not sure how many cupcakes this makes, but you could try halving the recipe! Hope this helps.

    • Caro says

      I agree with Support that you could try halving the recipe! But man, 6 cupcakes is honestly sooo little!

      I recently made this cake using a 22 cm springform pan. I got three layers of that are each about an inch thick, and some excess batter that probably would have made ⅓ or ½ a layer. So I threw those into some cupcake foil and got four.

      Anyway I have no idea how big or small your cupcakes are because it’s not like there is a standard size. I’d like to think my cupcakes were “medium” size, but I didn’t bother measuring them so I can’t tell you for sure. But if we’re baking the same size cupcakes, I’m thinking you only need about ⅓ of the recipe in order to get 6.

      But dividing this recipe by three makes the measurements super awkward, which is why I’m wondering why you don’t you just make the whole recipe and turn it into however many cupcakes you end up with.

      I think this whole recipe would yield maybe 16-20 cupcakes, which is reasonable in most cases considering most people bake to share. I personally would not be happy with 6 cupcakes, because for me 6 cupcakes is a ration of exactly one per family member, and considering the effort I put into baking it, that is just not rewarding enough.

      Anyway, if you just made the whole thing, you could just save the 6 cupcakes you want and pack the rest to share in the office, invite friends over for a cuppa, send them as gifts to a friend who needs cheering up or whatever. Or you could hand out samplers and tell people you make cupcakes to order. In my opinion there is no such thing as “too many cupcakes” because those cupcakes always have somewhere to go and will reward you with happy friends/ neighbours/ family members/ potential customers.

  6. Caro says

    This is delicious and yielded a cake with perfect texture and balanced flavours. The texture is even better than the 1-Bowl Vegan Gluten Free Vanilla Cake recipe, which I made awhile ago.

    I made this cake for an omnivore so I decorated it with a tangy Greek yogurt and dark chocolate ganache topped with fresh strawberries, kiwifruit and blood oranges. I think this colour palette would look very good for a Christmas party, but for the time being I’m making it as a birthday cake.

    A small caveat is that this chocolate cake is a little too sweet for my palate. Nonetheless I followed this recipe because I need to first know the rules in order to someday break them.

    I think it could work out with half the coconut sugar, or substituted with dark brown sugar for the deep colour and molasses kick.

    I wonder if anyone has omitted the sugar altogether and let honey do the job? Or kept the sugar but reduced the honey?

    And has anyone made this using mocaf (modified cassava flour) instead of potato starch?

    How about swapping the proportions of the banana and the applesauce? As in using ⅔ cup of applesauce and ¼ cup of banana, instead of the other way around like in this recipe?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Caro, we are so glad you enjoyed this cake overall! We haven’t tried it with the other substitutions but let us know if you try it! Thanks you for sharing!

    • Rebecca Beck says

      We love this cake recipe! Used it many times! I always halve the sugar though and use honey (that’s my general rule of thumb!) One of my kids is allergic to eggs and this recipe is still loved by all! There is still a definite banana flavor to it but thats part of the Joy! Going to try a sweet potato frosting today!

  7. Neha says

    Hi!
    Can this cake be made with any seeds flours or completely with a Gf flour blend? Cause I need to bake a cake for a friend who needs it gluten-free, nut-free & dairy-free. Any suggestions are helpful, thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Neha, we haven’t tested it that way, but possibly with a seed meal! We think a GF blend would make it dense, but it might be okay in a lesser quantity. We’d also recommend searching the comments. Another reader (Jamita) with a nut allergy shared some modifications. Hope that helps!

  8. Kelli H says

    Made this for my husbands birthday today in a 9×13. It came out with a very obvious banana flavor and was a tad dry at 28 minutes. I will make it again because it was delicious with chocolate frosting but I’ll take it out at 25 minutes.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re glad you enjoyed this overall, Kelli! Thanks so much for sharing! Let us know how it goes. xo

    • Caro says

      Likewise, I can taste the notes of banana! Next time I might try flipping the proportions of the apple and banana, i.e. ⅔ cup applesauce and ¼ cup mashed bananas, and see how that goes. Or use ⅔ cup applesauce and ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt if I anticipate no vegans eating the cake. I think these two might work.

      The vanilla cake sister recipe uses only applesauce and vegan buttermilk for wet ingredients, and that turned out nicely. That said, this chocolate cake has better texture, so I wonder if that’s mainly what the banana is for. You can find the vanilla cake recipe at https://minimalistbaker.com/1-bowl-vegan-gluten-free-vanilla-cake/

      I made little tweaks to my chocolate cake to try to mask the banana flavour: a tablespoon of lemon juice (can be added to the plant milk to mimic buttermilk), replacing coconut sugar with dark brown sugar (because it contains this tangy molasses), adding a dash of cinnamon-allspice-nutmeg blend and about half a cup of chocolate chips into the batter.

      I decorated my cake with a two-ingredient Greek yogurt and dark chocolate ganache, as well as sour fruits such as strawberry and kiwifruit. I think the acidity of my toppings helps further in masking the banana flavour.

  9. Clara says

    Is it possible to omit the syrup, or would that affect the texture? I’m trying to cut back on sugar. This recipe is scrumptious! Love it!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Clara, sugar is an important chemical component when it comes to baking, so omitting the maple syrup would probably change things quite a bit! That said, we haven’t tried this recipe without the maple syrup, so anything’s possible. Perhaps you could increase the applesauce? Let us know how it goes if you give it a try!

    • Neha says

      Hi!
      If I want to substitute the bananas and applesauce with eggs, how many would I need for this recipe? I only need a GF recipe, hence 😊
      Thank you!

      • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

        Hi Neha, We haven’t tried this cake recipe with eggs ourselves, but we’d suggest using 3 large eggs or 4 smaller eggs. Let us know how it goes if you give it a try!

        • Neha says

          Thank you soo much for the prompt reply. I used 3 large eggs, and voila! It’s worked out great… however I do think using apple sauce makes it more softer than eggs itself… none the less it came out great and the cake was all over in no time 🤩
          Thank you once again for a fabulous recipe 👍

  10. Trista says

    I’m so sorry for asking such a specific question, but I’m having difficulty doing the conversions and hoping you can help me. Would it be possible to turn this into a 4-inch cake? I have a party where I’m baking a regular cake and then I have one friend with such severe food restrictions that he hasn’t had baked goods in years but this might be THE CAKE that he can eat!! I want to make just a little 4-inch cake for him to have separately at the party. Would you be able to help me with the conversion of the ingredients?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Trista, we’re excited he can enjoy this one! For a 4-inch pan, we’d suggest reducing the number of servings to 2 slices. The measurements will be in decimals that are a little tricky to measure though! Perhaps you could make a half batch in three 4-inch pans? Hope that helps!

  11. Sarah says

    Do you think this would work fine with roasted carob powder? I’m wanting to make it for a kids birthday party and I haven’t given my son chocolate yet. Also if I were to put a crumb coat on it leave it overnight and then frost, do you think this cake would be too dry?
    Thanks so much :)

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Sarah, we haven’t tested carob in this recipe, but it might work! A crumb coating should help keep it moist. We’d suggest storing overnight in the refrigerator. Let us know how it goes!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We haven’t tested with that modification, but we do think it could work. Let us know if you try it!

  12. Marlijn says

    This was a great recipe! I used buckwheat flour instead of almond flour and it worked great. Same amount of flour, poured into cupcake pans. They looked and tasted really great, I combined it with the vegan chocolate ganache frosting and stored some in the freezer for later.
    Gluten free and vegan, amazing, thanks for the recipe!

    • Atara Dahan says

      It wasn’t too dense/heavy like this?
      Would like to try it but buckwheat often comes out for me super dense and dry

  13. Aly Cardenas says

    Thank you Minimalist for saving my birthday. Last year I bought a very pretty, very expensive GF, vegan cake. Unfortunately it was also very dry and very sweet. When I saw this recipe I knew I was going to try it for my birthday this year. Well the party is over and everyone loved it!

  14. jill says

    Hi! My daughter is allergic to gluten, dairy AND almonds :(
    Would this cake work with any other gluten free flour in place of the almond flour?

    THANK YOU!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Jill! We haven’t tried this recipe without almond flour, but in the past we’ve recommended a blend of GF flour, oat flour and coconut flour, though we haven’t tried it. Unfortunately the almond flour is very important in this cake! Let us know how it goes if you give any subs a try!

  15. Jessi says

    How much all purpose flour would you recommend using in place of almond flour and potato starch? I don’t need a gluten free cake, but vegan for my son’s birthday party (he has allergies to nuts, but not potato..). Should I omit the potato starch if using regular flour?

    We absolutely love your vegan funfetti cupcakes! We make them for every celebration!! Thanks for your advice!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Jessi, we’re so glad you enjoy the funfetti cupcakes! We haven’t tested this recipe with all purpose flour and aren’t sure if it will work. If you try it out, we’d suggest ~2 cups in place of the almond flour and potato starch. Or perhaps check out our vegan chocolate cake recipe for inspiration. Hope that helps!

  16. Becky says

    This cake is, hands down, the best tasting vegan chocolate cake I have ever made! I made the cake in two 9″ heart-shaped pans for Valentine’s Day and it rose beautifully and had a nice crumb. I made it nearly exactly as the recipe stated with bananas and applesauce, cashew butter, maple syrup, coconut sugar, unsweetened soy milk, cacao powder, potato starch and almond flour. The only two deviations from the recipe I made were to add the baking powder and baking soda after adding the potato starch so it wouldn’t start bubbling too early. I also needed to add another 1/4 cup of soy milk after mixing in the almond flour. I baked for 34 minutes. I frosted with the oil-free vegan chocolate frosting. The frosting was delicious too! This was one of the few vegan recipes I’ve baked where I thought it was good enough to share with friends (who are all mainly non-vegan). Everyone gave it rave reviews!

    I just made another vegan chocolate cake today with nearly the same ingredients except that it called for oat flour and tapioca starch and it came out soooo rubbery with no loose crumbs. Said not to overmix and I don’t think I did. I’m thinking the almond flour and potato starch are a better combination than oat flour and tapioca starch.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, we’re so happy to hear how much you and your guests liked it, Becky! Thank you for sharing your experience! Potato starch is unique in its ability to make gluten-free baked goods light and fluffy. xo

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Nadeema, 1 cup almond flour is approximately 112 grams. You can find the metric measurements by clicking “metric” beneath the ingredients heading. Hope that helps!

  17. Abbey says

    Could I use a different egg substitute in this recipe? Flax, chia, or aquafaba instead of applesauce and banana?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Abbey, we haven’t tried with those substitutions, but they may work. The applesauce and banana add moisture, so just know it may be a bit more dry, but this is a very moist cake so that could be fine! Let us know if you try it!