Decadent Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

This cake has taken over my mind and soul since I spied it on Sally’s blog. Sally promised me it would be lifechanging. That it is super moist and absolutely rich and decadent. The thing that intrigued me the very most about it, though, is that it is made with quinoa. No flour! Just quinoa and a bunch of other basic cake ingredients. Quinoa? In a cake? No flour? Huh?

Nothing against gluten-free cake recipes but usually they call for special flour mixes that I never have on hand and can’t access in my small town; I’ve never seen one with cooked quinoa as a base. but since this cake was calling to me and I always have quinoa in my pantry, I decided to do an experiment. I made this lovely cake one Saturday afternoon when Brian was entertaining the kids. None of them knew I was frolicking in the kitchen blending up quinoa and eggs for a cake of all things. Brian and the boys kept sneaking glances at the finished masterpiece (because, while rustic since I didn’t frost the sides, it was quite the impressive piece of chocolate decadence) begging for a taste. Shockingly it stayed safe for an entire night, and Sunday afternoon, I pulled out the beauty, divvied up the slices and we all dug in.

Decadent Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

After a few bites (of which I was completely overwhelmed with utter chocolate cake bliss), I said to the crew, “So I’ll give you a second piece if you can guess the secret ingredient.” We play this game a lot so I wasn’t surprised to hear guesses like “coconut oil” and “spinach” and “black beans.” With a smug smile (mostly smug because I was going to get to claim the second piece as my own) I told them the cake was made with quinoa, and seriously, Brian almost fell of his chair. I should have had a video camera going. I could have won a lot of money on AFV for his reaction. I mean, the guy likes quinoa ok but not necessarily in a chocolate cake or so he thought.

You know how things taste “normal” until you find out there’s something unusual that you weren’t expecting in them and then you swear you can taste “it” whatever “it” is? I thought for sure that would be the case but I cross my heart and swear to die, we could not taste the quinoa. Not me who knew it was in there initially and not Brian and the kids who were licking their plates. It’s like a magical substitute for flour in baked goods. (And I apologize if I’m announcing to you something that has been, like, common knowledge for years; clearly I’m late to the quinoa-in-cakes party.)

This is definitely one of the most decadent, rich, moist cakes I’ve ever tasted. Of course it doesn’t hurt that the cake is slathered in fluffy billows of whipped chocolate cream. But in all honesty, I would have eaten this cake top to bottom if it was drenched in mud, it is that good. Ok, I take that back. Not mud. But I’d eat it plain for sure. A dusting of powdered sugar? No doubt.

Even if you haven’t converted over to quinoa for savory dishes and salads, I promise you that this cake will win you over. If it doesn’t, feel free to ship the leftovers to me. I’ll polish them off for you. But hang on to that frosting because holy moly, you’ll be eating it by the spoonful.

Decadent Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

One Year Ago: Skillet Cilantro and Lime Fish Tacos
Two Years Ago: Grilled Steak Burgers
Three Years Ago: Savory Spiral Stuffed Rolls

Decadent Chocolate Cake with Whipped Chocolate Frosting

Yield: Serves 12

Decadent Chocolate Cake with Whipped Chocolate Frosting

You'll need about 1/2 cup (maybe a bit more) dry quinoa for 2 cups cooked. Make sure to measure the quinoa for the cake recipe after it is cooked and cooled. Also, make sure to cook the quinoa in water not broth.


  • 2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (see note above)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Frosting:
  • 2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips


  1. For the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Process just until combined. Add the cooked quinoa and the butter. Blend well until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the contents from the blender and mix with a wooden spoon or whisk until combined.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake on a rack in the middle position for 28-30 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto cooling racks (remove the parchment paper stuck to the bottom of the cakes).
  5. For the frosting, place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Heat the whipping cream in a saucepan until it gently simmers. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and let the mixture sit for five minutes. Whisk to combine until it is glossy and smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled and cold (2-3 hours). You can speed up this process by placing the bottom of the bowl in an ice water bath and stirring until cool. When fully chilled, use an electric mixer (stand mixer or handheld) to whip the mixture to soft peaks.
  6. Place one cake layer upside down on a serving platter or plate. Top with a generous portion (about half) of the whipped frosting, spreading to within 1/2-inch of the edge of the cake (it will press to the edge when the top cake layer is put on).
  7. Gently put the other cake layer upside down on top of the frosted layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top of the cake. You could definitely frost the sides, too, but I like the more rustic look for this cake - frosting just the middle and top.
  8. Chill the frosted cake in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving to let the frosting set up a bit.

Recipe Source: cake from Good Dinner Mom (love Sally!) and frosting adapted from Sips and Spoonfuls

278 Responses to Decadent Chocolate Cake with Whipped Chocolate Frosting {Gluten-Free!}

  1. Annie says:

    Mel, this is the best gluten free cake that has ever happened to me!!!! I’ve made it several times, and I’m a little ashamed to admit that I completely ruined the frosting every time. I used regular vanilla frosting in its place and it was great, but I really want to try the chocolate whipped cream! It keeps turning into a globby-watery mess. Any thoughts? Whipping too long? Not long enough? I feel like I should be able to handle this, but alas… Not so much. 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Ugh, how frustrating! Let’s see, I bet we can troubleshoot this. What brand of chocolate are you using? Chocolate chips or baking chocolate bars? Are you letting it cool until absolutely, completely chilled? You might try refrigerating it overnight just to see if that makes a difference. It needs to be as cold as possible without being frozen. 🙂 It sounds as though you might be over whipping…but it’s hard to know. Does it every thicken at all?

      • Annie says:

        I’m sorry I forgot to come back and thank you for your help! I tried it again, but refrigerated the cream over night, and watched it more carefully when I whipped it. It was amazing! I’ve now made it more times than I want to admit with perfect success. This is our new family favorite! When I sent it to my husband’s office for a pot luck last week the gluten free ladies asked if I would make it for their birthdays. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe! I love this blog.

  2. Sarah says:

    Wow, I’m gonna have to try this!

  3. Chantelle Ivie says:

    I made this frosting once and it was perfect and wonderful. The second time however, I must not have waited long enough for it to chill, though it was more than 2 hours, because it separated and was a watery mess. So sad!

  4. Ulla says:

    What a wonderful cake! So moist, did a slightly different frosting, especially young guests loved it!

  5. Kat says:

    I made this cake for my mother-in-law’s birthday, since she has to eat gluten free. Everything turned out well, and it tasted alright, but not amazing. I put the leftovers in my fridge, and when I pulled them out the next day, an incredible change had taken place. The cake tasted divine. So much so, that my friend (who was very skeptical about “quinoa cake” and said she would have just one bite to be polite) and I both ate huge pieces. We then sat staring at the remaining cake, wondering if we should throw all self control out the window and polish it off then and there. We did. Now I’m making it this weekend for her birthday 🙂 And you better believe that I’m baking, cooling, and frosting it the day before. Thanks for the life-changing chocolate cake recipe that even my gluten free friends can enjoy!

  6. Amy says:

    I am going to have to try this. Ironically, I have everything on hand. Looks like cake baking is in order for tonight.

  7. Maranda says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe!! I have already made it twice and making it a third time this week! I just have one qustion dose rise good in a 9×13 pan?

    • Mel says:

      I haven’t made it in a 9X13 so I don’t know for sure but I believe others in the comment thread have if you want to read through to see their results.

  8. Bailee says:

    Love this cake! But do you have Any suggestions on making this as a vanilla cake?

  9. Jessika, BC Canada says:

    This looks amazing!
    Have you tried using coconut sugar in place of granulated sugar (I’m assuming that you’re referring to typical white sugar here) and if so, how did it turn out?

    Thank you!

  10. Karen says:

    I have celiac disease and gave had gluten free chocolate cake beifre but within a day it’s dry and crumbly. I have to say this is one of the best cakes I have had and can not believe its only bi ding ingredient us the quinoa. The icing is amazing and I felt that the longer it sat the better it tasted. I made this cake for a couple of friends for their birthday…they loved it and thought it was moist and delicious!

  11. Jessie lake says:

    Okay so the first time I made this is was PERFECT! And I literally told everyone I knew to make it asap!

    I made it again today and the cake is too crumbly (but still moist) to even take out of the pan. It just cracks and crumbles. Needless to say I’m eating it with a fork because I can’t let it go to waste!!

    BUT what did I do wrong??

    • Mel says:

      Hi Jessie – honestly, I wouldn’t be able to guess what went wrong without more details. Is it possible the cake was overbaked at all?

  12. Cynthia says:

    I’ve made this twice. Well worth the effort. Frosting was a bit too sweet for us so I toned it down the second time.

  13. Karen says:

    Is this cake best stored in the fridge?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *