Gluten Free Devil’s Food Cake | The just-rich-enough cake

Gluten Free Devil’s Food Cake | The just-rich-enough cake

Rich, but not too rich; sweet but not too sweet. This moist and tender gluten free devil’s food cake can easily be made into cupcakes or a layer cake.

A piece of devils food cake on a white plate with fork and white plates in back

What is devil’s food cake?

Devil’s food cake is similar to red velvet cake, but not quite the same. It’s one of the very best gluten free chocolate cakes, mostly because it’s just enough—but not too much of anything. 

I decided to make this as a layer cake, since making a cake is easier than making cupcakes. This is a robust recipe that will make a full 24 cupcakes.

You can also make 48 mini cupcakes, if you’re making this recipe for a school birthday party, as I once did way back when. It will also make two reasonably-sized 8-inch round cakes that are perfect for layering.

But when it comes to all the leftover confections, cookies and cakes we always have at my house, cupcakes are much simpler to store. Just pop them in an airtight container, squeeze all of the air out and freeze.

A close up of a piece of devils food cake with bite out of it on white plate and fork

Simple vanilla buttercream frosting

For a frosting recipe, I made the simplest vanilla buttercream ever. Here’s the recipe:

  • 16 tablespoons (224 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups (460 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon milk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until very light and fluffy (at least 2 minutes). Add the sugar and salt, and beat on medium speed until just absorbed.

Add the milk and vanilla and continue to beat, on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. The frosting should hold its shape easily when scooped with a spoon. To adjust the consistency of the frosting, add more milk very, very sparingly and beat to combine.

For an extra special vanilla frosting, add the seeds of a half a vanilla bean before the final mixing. Nothing says “I love you a little extra” like those seeds!


Rich, but not too rich; sweet but not too sweet. This moist and tender gluten free devil's food cake can easily be made into cupcakes or a layer cake. It might just be your new go-to chocolate cake recipe! Be sure to watch the short video that proves just how easy it is.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 2 8-inch cakes or 24 cupcakes


2 cups (280 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

3/4 cup (60 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed)

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups (327 g) packed light brown sugar

1 1/3 cups (10.6 fluid ounces) warm water

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream, at room temperature

2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease 2 8-inch round cake pans, or line 2 standard 12-cup muffin tins with liners, Set the pans aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the brown sugar, and whisk again to combine, working out any lumps in the brown sugar. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the water, butter, sour cream, eggs and vanilla, mixing to combine after each addition. The batter will be soft and relatively thick. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared baking pans, or fill the wells of each muffin cup about 3/4 of the way with batter. Smooth the tops of the batter.

  • Place the baking pans at the same time, or the muffin tins one at a time, in the center of the preheated oven. If making cakes, bake for 15 minutes, rotate the pans and continue to bake until the tops spring back when pressed lightly and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached (about another 10 minutes). If making cupcakes, bake until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when pressed lightly (about 22 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Originally published on the blog in 2012. Recipe ingredients and method unchanged; instructions added for baking 2 round cakes; photos all new; video new.


Comments are closed.

  • karen_303
    December 24, 2016 at 11:50 PM

    i made this for christmas and it is sooooooooo good! did a square cake pan for dessert and 6 cupcakes for later (to the freezer as soon as cool), i did a cream cheese icing and it is so yummy, thanks nicole. happy holiday to everyone!

  • Kathleen
    December 24, 2016 at 10:44 PM

    Made this for Christmas with peppermint chocolate ganache and peppermint whipped cream and it was fantastic! My new go-to cake recipe, no one will know it’s gluten free! Thanks!

  • Jonas White
    December 17, 2016 at 10:26 AM

    Hi Nicole….going to make this Devils Food cake for a friend today. Can I cream the butter with the brown sugar first and then rotate/incorporate dry and other wets until the batter is made? Seems probable, but thought I’d ask. My friend has Celiac’s and she loves Junior Mints Candies, so I thought I’d make this cake and frost it with Peppermint buttercream and some chocolate ganache. Thanks for providing the GF community some “doable” alternatives!

  • Shannon
    November 25, 2016 at 1:16 PM

    I made this with Cup4Cup and it turned out amazing. My family has been GF for 5 years now so family and friends know what I make is GF. However, last night I still had several family members ask if the cake was GF. They could not believe it. Thank you again for such wonderful recipes!

  • Yvonne Kadelski
    November 7, 2016 at 8:50 AM

    My husband is diabetic. Can you use sugar-free brown sugar? Thanks in advance.

  • Notenell
    November 6, 2016 at 7:32 PM

    Is there a difference in baking time if you use a convection oven? I forget, so don’t like to rotate baked goods in the oven. My convection oven moves the heated air so things tend to cook in a shorter time period. Is this ok?

  • Mesti
    November 1, 2016 at 11:24 AM

    Could this cake be made dairy free? I’m super new to my new lifestyle brought on my serious health issues and I can’t have gluten or dairy

    • Mare Masterson
      November 1, 2016 at 12:34 PM

      Google vegan sour cream, Mesti. There is also Earth Balance that could be used for the butter substitution.

      • Mesti
        November 1, 2016 at 12:46 PM

        Ok, I was wondering if I could replace coconut oil for the butter, just wasn’t sure about the sour cream…Thank You!!! I’ll check it out…like I said I’m in my infant stage with all this, so I’m trying to learn all I can!!!

    • Laurel Atkinson
      November 6, 2016 at 1:02 PM

      I have dairy and gluten and corn allergies. Instead of sour cream try a goat or sheep’s milk yogurt. The yogurt gives a sour flavor like the sour cream.

      • Mesti
        November 6, 2016 at 1:42 PM

        Ok!!! Thank You I didn’t realize goat milk was lactose free

        • Natalie
          November 14, 2016 at 1:34 PM

          Goat Milk is NOT lactose-free. That is a misconception. It actually has more lactose than cow milk, but because the fat molecules are smaller, it is sometimes easier to digest that cow milk. Just an FYI.

        • Mesti
          November 14, 2016 at 2:14 PM

          I didn’t think so but thought I might have missed something…I have to be absolutely lactose free!!!! Thank You for clarifying ?

  • Carole
    October 31, 2016 at 5:50 PM

    I now own all five of your books and love them.
    Please tell me how to eliminate the If you liked this recipe you’ll love this book at the end of each recipe I copy. It’s wasting a lot of paper.

    • Gillian
      November 7, 2016 at 6:43 AM

      Download a free pdf app then you can copy just the pages you want and print them out after. I use foxit phantom PDF printer (Firefox), but there are many others, this copies the recipe to your pc, (you decide which pages) and then you can print it out afterwards.

  • karen_303
    October 31, 2016 at 5:35 PM


  • Lorraine
    October 31, 2016 at 4:33 PM

    love this! thanks. and oh, so timely!

  • Jennifer S.
    October 31, 2016 at 1:06 PM

    I love love love your devil’s food cake recipe (is this the one used in the floor trials?). I make it for every birthday and people RAVE about it!!! Thanks for being so good to us!

    • October 31, 2016 at 1:58 PM

      It sure is, Jennifer! I can’t believe you remember the flour test!! Isn’t this your “baby Jesus” cake? ?

      • Jennifer S.
        November 1, 2016 at 10:29 AM

        It sure has been in the past because it’s easy and super yummy!!! :)

      • Kylah Arias
        November 10, 2016 at 8:50 PM

        With either the vanilla and devil’s food GF cake recipes, I’m looking to make a 12×18″ sheet cake and a Wilton cross cake (which states it takes any two layer cake batter/recipe). How much should I increase the ingredients by for each cake?

  • […] Devils food cupcakes with chocolate glaze. […]

  • Cindy
    October 16, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    Well, I don’t know about anybody else but I love hearing about your kids and family. Mine are all grown and I have grandkids. It’s pleasant reminders of when they were in school. And these cupcakes look awesome! You are the best mom!

    • October 17, 2013 at 1:59 PM

      Thanks so much, Cindy. That is so sweet of you to say. I try to keep the family anecdotes to a minimum, mostly because I find that so-called lifestyle blogs that post a lot of photos and stories of their families end up painting an idyllic, unrealistic picture of their lives (who wants to see the ugly bits anyway!), and readers end up feeling worse overall, not better. But gentle inserts about the 8th birthday of my youngest seems light enough to be okay. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Martha Barr Horne
    October 16, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    My grandchildren are allowed to take b-day treats, but nothing homemade. So Little Debbie cakes, candy or whatever junk food is OK, as long as it is wrapped and the ingredients do not list peanuts. Not only the school, but the little league concession stand and the H.S. sports concessions are all about keeping “peanut free” for the kids who have peanut allergies. I would personally bet there are more kids in this school system who have celiac as there are kids with peanut allergies. And no one does anything for the celiac kids, that’s totally up to the parents.

    • October 17, 2013 at 1:57 PM

      So true, Martha. But since a peanut allergy can cause anaphylaxis, it makes sense that it is treated differently. I do wish there were more awareness of celiac disease in the school, but the truth is I’m okay with sending my son in with someone of his own from home so I know exactly what he’s getting!

  • Jennifer Sasse
    October 16, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    Ok – will you move back to downtown or to FL? I hear NYers love their FL. :)
    Thanks for a great recipe! Have you ever heard of a cooked sugar frosting? My mom used to boil this great sugar concoction that she would pour on a chocolate cake and then it would harden into this awesome yumminess on the cake. I miss that and I have no idea where the recipe is or if she even had one.
    I just got done with b-day stuff for the 9 yr old and after 5 dozen of GF cupcakes, I need a break – so maybe in a couple of weeks, I’ll make these for the kiddos!

    • Martha Barr Horne
      October 16, 2013 at 3:31 PM

      Jennifer, The frosting you are longing for is Fudge Frosting and I make it like this: 2 c. sugar, 1/2 c. cocoa, 1/2 c. milk and 1/2 c. butter. Cook, stirring constantly over low heat to the soft-ball stage. Remove from the stove, add 1 t. of vanilla, set the pan in a larger pan of cold water and beat until it starts to get hard. This frosts a 9 x 13″ cake or 2 layers. (Also makes great fudge.) It takes a lot of stirring, but is really worth it for a special treat. It’s great on either chocolate of yellow cake. My mother in law made this all the time without a recipe, so chances are, your mom did too. I haven’t made it for a while, but it is still my grown son’s favorite.

      • Jennifer Sasse
        October 17, 2013 at 10:45 AM

        Thanks for the recipe Martha – but this isn’t it. It is white and is not whipped with anything (i.e egg whites). Just boiled and poured on. I called my Dad last night to ask him and he remembers it but of course has no clue how Mom made it. He said his mother made it too but of course his mother and sisters are gone as well. *sigh* I’m still going to search – it has to be out there somewhere!!!

        • Martha Barr Horne
          October 17, 2013 at 1:45 PM

          Ah, so sorry that wasn’t it, Jennifer. But when you find the one you’re looking for, let us all know so we can try it too. (My M.I.L. also made “sea foam” frosting, a cooked egg white frosting, like divinity, only with brown sugar. It is to die for, too.) But, until you find yours, try the fudge frosting on something and let me know if you like it. Marty

        • October 17, 2013 at 1:55 PM

          Jennifer, it sounds like the frosting you make by cooking evaporated milk and sugar until the sugar reaches the softball stage (between 235°F and 245°F), then allowing it to cool and whipping it until it’s spreadable. You can also add some cocoa powder and/or some pure vanilla extract before beating it, too. Does that sound about right?

  • Cinji
    October 16, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    How did you get your school to agree to the homemade treat? Most schools require store-bought items.

  • Cinji
    October 16, 2013 at 9:34 AM

    How did you get your school to agree to the homemade treat? Most schools require store-bought items.

    • October 16, 2013 at 9:38 AM

      I didn’t get them to do anything, Cinji. They allow it. I don’t ask to bend rules like that unless it’s for my celiac son!

      • Jennifer Sasse
        October 16, 2013 at 9:58 AM

        wow – that is amazing, I had the same question! We have to bring store bought everything. Actually for b-days, we are not allowed to bring treats at all. We have a b-day book program in which you send $ to buy a new book for the library in which they put your child’s name and b-day in the front cover. I think it’s kind of sad actually.

  • Donia Robinson
    October 16, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    Happy birthday to her!

    Whenever you post about birthday celebrations in the classroom, I’m simultaneously jealous and relieved. Schools in our district conform to the Michelle Obama rules of no food in the classroom (because it tends to be unhealthy, like cupcakes ;) Maybe Illinois has to be extra on-board because the Obamas are from here. So I’m relieved, because my daughter with celiac disease doesn’t feel like she’s missing out. But I’m jealous, because a cupcake at school is a nice thing once in a while! Instead, kids bring in little bags of junk, er, stuff. We have more decorative pencils than Carter had little pills. People can only use so many pencils!!!!

    • October 16, 2013 at 9:39 AM

      Seriously, I so wish they didn’t allow food in school. It would be SUCH a relief! And I wouldn’t have to constantly send in a “special snack” for my son nearly every week, at least once, when someone is having a birthday in his class (7 times already in 5 weeks of school so far!).
      xoxo Nicole

    • Jennifer Sasse
      October 16, 2013 at 9:59 AM

      Donia – MN is the same way – see my post about re: the birthday book. Though I tried to send bananas last year for snack and my daughter said it was a HUGE flop so please mom, do not send fruit again – ever.

    • Anneke
      October 16, 2013 at 4:18 PM

      Donia — we collected so many decorated pencils that one year I didn’t buy any pencils for school, the kids split up the fancy ones and used those. The girls did agree to let the one boy in the family pick first, so he wasn’t stuck with the pink hearts from Valentine’s Day!

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