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Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe (No Weird Ingredients!)

Question: Do you like chocolate cake?

What about healthy chocolate cake?

I know some of us are all about making real food desserts that taste indulgent.

And some of us would rather we not mess with their classic chocolate cake.

But what if you need someone to mess with your dessert?

When my boys were little, they had a dairy-allergy and were gluten-sensitive. This meant that all of our desserts needed special attention. You can’t make a normal birthday cake without gluten or dairy. You can hardly make any convenient dessert without gluten or dairy.

dairy-free chocolate cake

But here’s the thing.

We were on a really tight budget, and all those convenient gluten-free and dairy-free alternatives? Not an option.
So instead, I found ways to make dessert work in our budget and with our food allergies.

This chocolate cake is the perfect answer.

It’s so easy to make dairy-free without buying really expensive, weird ingredients.

If you’re just baby-stepping into real food and baking from scratch, you can make it with all the normal ingredients – white flour, regular sugar, etc. It’s still a very delicious, no-fuss, homemade chocolate cake.

But it also tastes amazing if you make it with more real food ingredients. The recipe already calls for healthy oils. Try it with whole grains. We love soft white wheat; and spelt makes an excellent low-gluten, dairy-free chocolate cake. If you prefer natural sweeteners, substitute the sugar with maple syrup (I show you how in the notes – it’s a surprisingly easy swap!)

You get to decide how far you take it.

It is your chocolate cake, after all.

Dairy-free chocolate cake

What’s the Best Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe?

This chocolate cake recipe was originally from my grandmother. We don’t know where she got it, but it’s our classic family chocolate cake.

In fact, we love it so much, it was my brother’s wedding cake. 

Grandma used to make it with “salad oil,” which back in the day just meant vegetable oil. When we started learning about real food, we replaced the salad oil with olive oil.

RELATED: Is it safe to saute with olive oil?

Typically, for dessert recipes, olive oil does NOT work. Its flavor is too strong, and it makes you wonder if you’re eating dessert or an Italian side dish.

But this recipe is different.

Olive oil tastes great in it.

If you’re on a budget, this is great news, because olive oil is one of the cheaper healthy fats. It’s easy to find at any grocery store, and it’s completely dairy-free.

No special ingredients required.

Smart Sweets

The goal of Smart Sweets: 30 Desserts to Indulge Your Sweet Tooth is to give you options that are way better for you than you’ll find in the grocery store, usually better for you than another homemade version, and sometimes downright good for you.

You’ll find less sugar, healthier sweeteners, whole grains, soaked and sprouted grains, no grains, probiotics, and even some vegetables in these dessert recipes.

If you always feel guilty when you give into sweet things, this book is definitely for you.

Healthy Chocolate Cake Recipe

The healthy part is completely up to you.

Whole Grain Chocolate Cake

This dairy-free chocolate cake tastes amazing if you make it with plain unbleached white flour.

However, if you grind your own grains, you can use soft white wheat to make a whole grain, real food, indulgent version.

If you’re like us, and you’re dealing with gluten sensitivities, you might want to try it with spelt flour.

Spelt is an ancient form of wheat that has far less gluten than modern wheat. So while it’s not good for those of us with Celiac disease, many people with gluten-sensitivities do just fine using spelt flour instead of regular wheat flour.

RELATED: Einkorn is also an ancient wheat with a weaker gluten structure.

Dairy-free chocolate cake

The great news is that it functions more or less like wheat – not like gluten-free flour blends. If you grind your own grains, you can buy the spelt berries in bulk, making it far more affordable than a lot of gluten-free blends or pre-packaged spelt flour from the store.

Spelt flour is more delicate (that’s a nice word for crumbly) than modern wheat and has a slightly nutty flavor, which makes it really delicious for baked goods! The “delicate” aspect makes it a little more difficult to work with if you’re trying to frost your cake. We prefer it plain or with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. It is, after all, supposed to be a more “healthy” chocolate cake. 

That all being said, use whatever flour you like! It’s your cake. 

Naturally-Sweetened Chocolate Cake

This recipe works great with white or brown sugar. But if you’re trying to avoid processed sugars, use maple syrup!

All you need to do is substitute the sugar with the same amount of maple syrup, then use 1/4 cup of hot water instead of 1/2  cup. Since maple syrup is a liquid, it’s important to decrease the liquid somewhere else in the recipe – in this case, the hot water. I included these directions in the recipe notes!

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dairy-free chocolate cake

Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake Recipes

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  • Author: Steph Jenkins
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 9 servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked


This is our family’s favorite chocolate cake and it’s dairy-free!


Units Scale
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. almond milk
  • 1/2 c. olive oil (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3 Tbs. cocoa powder (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (Use the code kitchenstewardship for 15% off of your first purchase)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 c. hot water

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  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat well. Sift the dry ingredients over the top of the wet ingredients and stir together until it just forms a batter. Stir in the hot water, until the batter is smooth and uniform, but do not overmix.
  3. Grease and flour an 8×8-inch cake pan or round, 9-inch cake pan. Pour the batter into the pan, and bake for 40-50 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Let the cake cool on a cooling rack. Then serve it plain, or dust it with powdered sugar, or drizzle on a quick glaze made with powdered sugar and a little bit of almond milk. 


For cupcakes: bake for 10-12 minutes

If Using Maple Syrup: Substitute the 1 cup sugar with 1 cup maple syrup and add the syrup with the wet ingredients. Decrease the hot water to 1/4 cup. 

If Using Freshly Ground Flour: Add 3 tbsp of flour 


  • Serving Size: 1/9th pan
  • Calories: 298
  • Sugar: 22g
  • Sodium: 277mg
  • Fat: 15g
  • Saturated Fat: 4g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 40g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Cholesterol: 18mg
  • Need a little help getting healthy food on the table every day? Real Plans takes the stress out of meal planning and puts the nourishing food BACK on your table. There’s a plan for every diet type, including GAPS, Paleo, AIP, Whole30, vegetarian and more! You remain totally in control: use your own recipes, accept theirs, and teach the system what your family likes…Check out how powerful it is here!

Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake for Valentine’s Day

This dairy-free chocolate cake makes an excellent real food treat for Valentine’s day, birthdays, or a quick and simple dessert for special occasions. Even people without food sensitivities will love it.

I like to decorate it with a light dusting of powdered sugar or a thin glaze and top it with strawberries. Or serve with dairy-free strawberry sorbet!

What are you waiting for? Have your dairy-free cake and eat it too!
Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

1 thought on “Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe (No Weird Ingredients!)”

  1. This recipe looks great! I need to make a dairy-free egg-free dessert soon. Would I be able to substitute something else for the egg? Also, I already have coconut milk, can I use that instead of almond milk?

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