Quinoa Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

Quinoa Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

This decadent quinoa gluten free chocolate cake super moist and fudgy, flourless, and not too rich. Plus, it’s naturally dairy free and gluten free!

This decadent quinoa gluten free chocolate cake super moist and fudgy, flourless, and not too rich. Plus, it's naturally dairy free and gluten free!

Flourless is fine. But quinoa?

Everyone loves a flourless chocolate cake for that dense fudginess that can’t be beat. But this cake is different.

It’s not only because its texture is more like a more traditional chocolate cake. Or because it’s naturally dairy free, made with oil instead of butter.

I’ve made this cake so many times over the last week or so, and I broke the cardinal rule of making someone else’s recipe. The first time I made it, I did the very thing I always say you should never, ever do. I made it with my own special changes.

But to be fair, since the first time I saw this recipe for a naturally gluten free chocolate cake on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (hi, friend!), I was super curious to see if you could substitute the cooked quinoa for a cooked grain or alternative porridge-like food. And I’m happy to report that… you can!

This decadent quinoa gluten free chocolate cake super moist and fudgy, flourless, and not too rich. Plus, it's naturally dairy free and gluten free!

Cooked quinoa or cooked teff

I’ve made this cake with cooked quinoa (white, red, rainbow, you name it) and cooked teff. The original recipe has a tendency to sink as it cools sort of like a soufflé, so I removed some moisture and changed a few other ingredient proportions.

Making this quinoa gluten free chocolate cake as I’ve specified below (no milk, more cocoa powder, oil instead of butter) not only made a similarly moist and tender cake.

It also made a chocolate cake that rises without sinking very much at all. And it doesn’t matter whether you make it with cooked quinoa or cooked whole grain teff, made on the stovetop according to the basic package directions with water.

This decadent quinoa gluten free chocolate cake super moist and fudgy, flourless, and not too rich. Plus, it's naturally dairy free and gluten free!

If you’re using teff

If you do decide to use cooked teff instead of cooked quinoa, you should know a few things about whole teff. The individual grains of this ancient nutritional powerhouse are super tiny, but you’ll need the whole grains and not teff flour for this recipe.

When you cook the teff in water, you’ll a ratio of 4 parts water to 1 part whole grain teff. For example, if you’d like to cook 1/2 cup of whole grain teff (raw), you’ll need 2 cups of boiling water. You’ll find that it cooks like porridge, and becomes firm as it cools like polenta.

You can crumble the cooked and cooled teff or you can let it take the shape of the bowl that it’s in, and throw that right into your blender to make the cake batter. 

I’ve also recently discovered that you don’t even need to cook the quinoa. You can just soak it in water for about 12 hours and blend away. Amazing!

Ingredients and Substitutions

This cake is already dairy-free by nature. Let’s take a look at the other potential allergens you may need to avoid.


That is a tough one. There are two eggs in this cake, and you can try a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel), but the eggs are very important in this cake.


I haven’t tried this recipe with any other cooked seed or grain, but I suspect that it would work with anything that cooks in water like a porridge. Feel free to experiment!

Try to steer clear of anything that has a very strong flavor and that doesn’t pair well with chocolate. Teff and chocolate are very compatible. Or just make one of our other gluten free chocolate cakes, if you can’t have teff or quinoa.


This decadent quinoa gluten free chocolate cake super moist and fudgy, and not too rich. Plus, it's naturally dairy free and gluten free!

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 8-inch cake


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

6 tablespoons (84 g) neutral oil (like sunflower, grapeseed, canola or vegetable oil)

1 cup (165 g) cooked and cooled quinoa or whole grain teff, cooked in water according to package directions*

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (50 g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

*To make 1 cup cooked quinoa or whole grain teff, you’ll need about 1/2 cup raw quinoa or teff.


  • To make a layer cake, multiply every ingredient by two and bake the batter in two separate 8-inch round cake pans.

    Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan, and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Set the pan aside.

  • In a blender or food processor, place the eggs, oil, cooked quinoa or teff and vanilla, and blend or process until smooth. The mixture should become lighter in color. You will still see flecks of the cooked quinoa or teff, but process until it’s as smooth as possible. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the eggs and oil mixture, and mix until well-combined. The mixture will be thick.

  • Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan, and smooth into an even layer with a wet knife or offset spatula. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the cake is set in the center and springs back when pressed very gently in the center (about 28 minutes). A toothpick shouldn’t come out wet, but it won’t be completely clean.

  • Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. The cake will sink a bit as it cools, particularly when made with quinoa, not teff, but it should mostly maintain its shape. Frost as desired and serve. The finished and cooled cake can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen for storage of up to 2 months. Allow to thaw at room temperature before serving.

  • Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.


Comments are closed.

  • Debs
    August 23, 2017 at 10:29 AM

    I make a version quite similar to this one. It does call for 3/4 cup melted butter which I halved by using tangerine purée. ( boiling them in water then processing them) . Nothing like orange and chocolate! So good

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 23, 2017 at 3:35 PM

      Wow that’s a lot of butter! Your version sounds lovely.

  • Criselda DOMINGUEZ
    August 23, 2017 at 8:22 AM

    I made this for my son’s birthday and IT WAS DELICIOUS!! I did not have enough cocoa powder, so i used melted chocolate chips instead and it turned out great! I only made one layer and it was gone in less than 30 minutes. I will be making another one next week and will do 2 layers with raspberry filling. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 23, 2017 at 8:34 AM

      So glad you loved it, Criselda, and that your substitution worked out!

  • Mare
    August 23, 2017 at 12:25 AM

    Nicole, Amazon just let me know you ate putting out a 2nd Edition of your first book! Is it different from book 1?

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 23, 2017 at 8:33 AM

      Hi, Mare,
      Yes! It’s significantly different than the first edition. It has full color photos throughout the book, and many, many new recipes. It’s available for preorder and on sale officially on Oct. 10! :)

  • Karen O'Sullivan
    August 22, 2017 at 8:06 AM

    I love this cake !
    I will double the mixture next time .
    Very moist not too sweet.
    So easy to make.
    Thanks Nicole.

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 22, 2017 at 12:35 PM

      I’m so glad, Karen! Thanks so much for letting us all know. And definitely double it! It keeps really really well in the refrigerator or the freezer.

  • Mikki
    August 21, 2017 at 11:51 AM

    This looks very interesting! I’ve been wanting to know how to use teff for more than just a mush, even though the mush tastes good. If you have more teff recipes then perhaps you could make a category for them? Looking forward to trying this one out. Thanks.

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 21, 2017 at 2:13 PM

      I use teff in a brown bread recipe here on the site, Mikki. But no, I don’t have a category.

  • Antonia Sheldrake
    August 21, 2017 at 11:35 AM

    Would this work as a small tray of brownies?

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 21, 2017 at 12:40 PM

      Hi, Antonia,
      This is a cake, not brownies. I have some flourless brownie recipes as well, like my Black Bean Brownies. Just use the search bar to find the recipe here on the site.

  • Cathy
    August 20, 2017 at 8:08 PM

    Do you have a recipe for that delicious looking chocolate frosting?

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 21, 2017 at 7:41 AM

      Hi, Cathy,
      If you’re looking for the poured chocolate recipe from the video, it’s a chocolate ganache. For the chocolate frosting in the photographs, I recommend my whipped chocolate ganache. Both recipes are included in my One Bowl Gluten Free Chocolate Cake recipe. Hope that helps!

  • Holly
    August 20, 2017 at 8:05 PM

    Nicole, can you describe the texture of this cake? Is it lighter crumb or heavier and more dense? It’s so helpful when bloggers give their opinions or input as to the recipes taste/texture etc…
    Sometimes I find myself looking for a certain type of cake or whatever the recipe is if that makes sense. This sounds like it would pair well with your no churn ice cream recipe!! Mmmmmm! So good. Thanks so much!

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 21, 2017 at 7:39 AM

      Hi, Holly, As I explain in the recipe, it’s super moist and not incredibly rich. It’s not as fudge-like as a traditional flourless chocolate cake. Hope that helps!

  • Katie Beth
    August 20, 2017 at 4:30 PM

    Hi! Been following here for ages and love the idea behind this cake. Thinking of making it for an event next weekend. In the picture of the double-layered cake, is the outside frosting the same chocolate ganache that you use between the layers? Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to trying this!

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 21, 2017 at 7:44 AM

      For the look of the frosting in the photos, Katie, use my whipped chocolate ganache from my recipe for One Bowl Gluten Free Chocolate Cake.

  • June
    August 20, 2017 at 2:42 PM

    I have not heard of whole grain teff before. Never seen it at our grocery stores. Will I be able to get it at health stores as in Victoria, BC, we do have lots of specialty stores.

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 21, 2017 at 7:47 AM

      I’m afraid I have no way of knowing what’s available to you in your local stores, June, but if you can’t find whole grain teff, I’d just go with cooked quinoa!

  • Julia
    August 20, 2017 at 2:00 PM

    THANKS FOR SHARING – I think this can be made eggless using tofu sub for the yolks and aquafava for the whites. It sounds yummy. I’ll put it on my list.

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 21, 2017 at 7:46 AM

      Interesting idea, Julia. Let us know how it goes if you try!

  • CJ McEwen
    August 20, 2017 at 1:50 PM

    Love all your recipes and I have all your books. Your cookbook is what helped me get started on my gluten free life. Thank you for all your work and wonderful recipes

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 21, 2017 at 7:46 AM

      I’m so glad, CJ. Thank you so much for the kind words, and if you’re interested, I’m coming out with a completely revised version of my first cookbook in less than 2 months! I just haven’t spoken about it at all but it’s available for preorder on amazon if you search by my name. :)

  • Julie
    August 20, 2017 at 1:50 PM

    Awesome! I am going to make this for my GF peeps. I wonder if Millet would work. May try that too. Just for fun. ;) Thanks for your work for all the GF folks.

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 21, 2017 at 7:45 AM

      I thought about cooked whole grain millet, Julie. I even thought about trying it with polenta, since cooked whole grain teff has the texture of polenta. I bet it would all work, but be sure to measure by weight after it’s cooked in water.

  • Gail Ferraiolo
    August 20, 2017 at 9:52 AM

    Can this recipe be made in vanilla? I can’t have chocolate.
    Thank you

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 21, 2017 at 7:47 AM

      I’m afraid this is by its very nature a chocolate cake, Gail. Sorry!

  • Rosemary
    August 20, 2017 at 9:12 AM

    Could you use quinoa flour or would that not work? Do you have a dairy free cream recipe I could use for a filling please?

  • Sherry
    August 20, 2017 at 8:28 AM

    Hi Nicole,
    When you mention trying teff, do you mean teff flour, or does teff come in a whole grain form? I’ve used teff flour in chocolate cake and chocolate chip cookies with wonderful results. But I’ve never seen whole teff.
    Thank you!

  • Stacey McGregor
    August 19, 2017 at 4:50 PM

    Excellent recipe! I make a similar quinoa chocolate cake, but I do not blend everything together, instead leaving the quinoa whole, it has a fantastic dense almost crunchy texture which is surprising. It is not a sweet cake but decadent in that wonderful way only a good dark chocolate is.
    It is just 2 cups of cooked quinoa (slightly cooled), mixed with 3 egg yolks and 1 cup of chopped pecans (or other nut as you prefer, or even dates for a bit is sweetness) and then stir in 200g of melted dark chocolate (I like 70%, but you can use any %, the darker the less sweet the cake is). Then fold through 3 eggs whites that have been whisked to to soft peaks. Bake in a tin at about 180 Celsius for around 30mins. You can split between 2 x pans to make multiple layers and sandwich together using more melted chocolate, or sprinkle with some icing sugar if you like, but it is nice as it is. Sorry to ramble but wanted to share :-)

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 19, 2017 at 6:07 PM

      Wow, Stacey, that does sound surprising! Thanks for sharing.

  • Eileen
    August 18, 2017 at 11:55 PM

    How do you make it sugar free as well?

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 19, 2017 at 8:38 AM

      Hi, Eileen,
      I’m afraid I don’t know of a way to make this recipe sugar free.

    • Krista
      August 20, 2017 at 10:34 AM

      Try coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup.. … I am going to try this with coconut sugar and coconut oil ?

  • Dorothy
    August 18, 2017 at 11:19 PM

    Why when I go to print your recipe from your website that it takes two pages to print it? I think that is a waste of paper since it should only take one page for most of the recipes.

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 19, 2017 at 8:39 AM

      Hi, Dorothy,
      You can select to print the recipe without the photo. Perhaps that would help. Or just print double sided!

  • Sharon
    August 18, 2017 at 2:05 PM

    This looks so good. What did you use to top it with in the video?

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 18, 2017 at 3:38 PM

      Hi, Sharon,
      Good question! That’s just a simple chocolate ganache, like in my one bowl gluten free chocolate cake. It’s made with 3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream and 8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped. Hope that helps!

  • Amy
    August 18, 2017 at 2:01 PM

    Do you have a recipe for the chocolate sauce you show drizzling on top in the video? And wondering if there are any changes you would recommend for high altitude?

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 18, 2017 at 3:40 PM

      Hi, Amy,
      In the video, it’s just a simple chocolate ganache, like in my one bowl gluten free chocolate cake. It’s made with 3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream and 8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped.
      I’m afraid I don’t know anything about high altitude baking except to suggest that you use whatever adjustments you usually use when baking!

  • Dee
    August 18, 2017 at 2:00 PM

    Is this 1 cup quinoa, cooked, or 1 cup cooked quinoa?

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 18, 2017 at 3:36 PM

      Hi, Dee,
      Just as it says, it’s 1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa. You cook, and then measure by weight.

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