This EASY gluten-free chocolate sheet cake turns out moist and delicious every time!

This recipe is our family-favorite! It makes a perfect 9×13 cake – plus the chocolate frosting has a SECRET ingredient that makes it extra delicious!

gluten free chocolate sheet cake in glass baking dish topped with chocolate frosting
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I love a good, simple sheet cake! They’re easy-to-make, portable and basically fool-proof. This rich chocolate cake makes a delicious special occasion cake when you want a no-fuss, delicious recipe that everyone will love.

Sour cream and buttermilk make for the best chocolate cake for chocolate lovers! (Dairy-free option if needed.) Plus, a secret ingredient in the frosting takes it to the next level.

You could also make this into a layer cake if you want to take the presentation to the next level. (But I think the simplicity is the best part about this recipe!)

VIDEO: How to Make It

Much like this amazing gluten-free carrot sheet cake, gluten-free birthday cake and this gluten-free vanilla cake, nobody will be able to tell this cake is gluten-free. These gluten-free cupcakes and gluten-free chocolate cupcakes are also delicious options!

You also might like this gluten-free cookie cake, gluten-free red velvet cake or this chocolate orange cake!

Why You’ll Love this Easy Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • Rich chocolate flavor
  • Easy to make
  • Simple ingredients
  • Moist, light, and fluffy crumb

Ingredients You’ll Need

A few ingredients make this gluten-free cake especially delicious. Here are a few notes on the key ingredients:

overhead shot of ingredients used to make chocolate cake
  • A high-quality gluten-free 1:1 baking flour: I like to use gluten-free measure-for-measure flour blend like King Arthur Flour in my baked goods. It works best to use a blend that contains xanthan gum in this recipe.
  • Oil: I prefer to use oil for this gluten-free chocolate cake rather than butter. Oil allows for a light, moist crumb that doesn’t clump up as it tends too with butter.
  • Buttermilk: This chocolate cake uses buttermilk for acidity and added moisture. 
  • Sour cream: Using part sour cream in place of what would usually be more buttermilk gives this cake stability. It also gives it a delicious flavor and richness!
  • Hot water: Hot, boiling water (or hot coffee) allows the cocoa powder to absorb and the batter to hydrate properly. It also enhances the cocoa powders flavor!

Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake

You can easily make this gluten-free chocolate cake dairy-free with a few substitutions. I like to use Kite Hill dairy-free sour cream and almond milk mixed with a little apple cider vinegar. You can also use vegan butter in the frosting.

How to Make Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

step by step photos of how to make gluten free chocolate cake
  • Whisk together the dry ingredients.
  • In the large bowl of a stand mixer, add the wet ingredients, including sugar, coconut or vegetable oil, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Mix on medium-high speed until totally combined.
  • With the mixer running on low, slowly add the dry ingredients in 3 additions. Mixing after each addition.
  • Slowly pour in the hot water. Mix on medium for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides once until smooth and incorporated.
chocolate cake batter in glass pan before baking
  • Pour the batter into a 9×13 prepared cake pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely before frosting the top of the cake.

Ingredients for the Chocolate Buttercream

overhead shot of ingredients used to make chocolate frosting

The chocolate frosting is rich and fluffy and made with simple ingredients that are pantry staples. Here are a few notes on the key ingredients:

  • Cocoa powder: You can use any kind of cocoa powder. I usually use Hershey’s but Dutch-processed or natural cocoa powder will work as well. It will make for a richer frosting.
  • Almond extract: This is the secret ingredient! I think it really makes the cake. A little almond extract compliments the rich chocolate flavors so well.
  • Butter: I like to use salted butter in frosting. That little bit of salt cuts through the sweetness.

Make the Chocolate Frosting

step by step photos of how to make chocolate frosting
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer or using an electric mixer and large mixing bowl, add the cocoa powder. Mix to smooth any lumps.
  • Add the butter and mix until smooth.
  • Add the powdered sugar and other remaining ingredients and mix on low until incorporated.
  • Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy.

This easy gluten-free chocolate sheet cake would also be divine topped with this chocolate cream cheese frosting!

baked chocolate cake topped with frosting
  • Top the cooled cake with the frosting. Swirl and spread the frosting evenly over the cake. Slice and enjoy the rich chocolate flavor of this delicious cake!
chocolate cake on white plate with fork taking bite

Storage Instructions

Store any leftover cake covered tightly with plastic wrap at room temperature, or in an airtight container. This easy gluten-free chocolate cake will stay good for up to 2 days.

FAQ



How do you keep a gluten-free cake moist?

Oil and buttermilk are two of the key ingredients to rich, moist chocolate cake.

How do you make gluten-free cakes better?

Gluten-free cakes taste better when they’re made with high-quality gluten-free flour and use oil instead of butter, which produces a lighter, moist crumb.

Why do gluten-free cakes not rise?

A gluten-free cake may not be rising because of low-quality, dense flour, or because the mixture is beaten longer than instructed.

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Almond extract is the key to a delicious chocolate cake! Just a little gives the cake an unmistakable gourmet flavor.
  • Want to make this easy gluten-free chocolate cake dairy-free? No problem. You can substitute Kite Hill dairy-free sour cream and almond milk mixed with a little apple cider vinegar, along with vegan butter in the frosting.
  • Be sure to use high-quality gluten-free flour for this recipe. It makes all the difference when you’re wanting the absolute best gluten-free chocolate cake!

More Gluten-Free Cake Recipes

I hope you love this easy gluten-free chocolate cake recipe as much as we do! If you try it be sure to leave me a comment and star rating below. I’d love to hear from you!

chocolate cake on white plate with fork taking bite
5 from 39 votes

Easy, Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake (9×13!)

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 12 servings
This fluffy, moist gluten-free chocolate cake piled high chocolate buttercream frosting is so easy to make! It's sure to become your new go-to recipe.
Sour cream and buttermilk make the cake especially delicious (dairy-free option if needed) and a secret ingredient in the frosting makes this cake the best.

Video

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 cups gluten-free 1:1 baking flour 310 grams
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder 50 grams
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Other:

  • 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar 350 grams
  • ½ cup oil vegetable, canola or coconut oil will work (melted if using coconut oil)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup hot water

For the Frosting:

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 35 grams
  • ½ cup butter softened to room temperature
  • 3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar 340-450 grams
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
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Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9x13inch pan with cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the sugar, coconut oil, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Mix on medium-high speed until totally combined.
  • With the mixer running on low, slowly add the dry ingredients in 3 additions. Mixing after each addition. Slowly pour in the hot water. Mix on medium for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides once until smooth and incorporated.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.

Make the Frosting:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the cocoa powder. Mix to smooth any lumps. Add the butter and mix until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on low until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy.
  • Top the cooled cake with the frosting. Swirl and spread the frosting evenly over the cake. Slice and enjoy!

Notes

Ingredient Notes
For the Cake:
  • A high-quality gluten-free 1:1 baking flour: I like to use gluten-free measure-for-measure flour blend like King Arthur Flour in my baked goods. It works best to use a blend that contains xanthan gum in this recipe.
  • Oil: I prefer to use oil for this cake rather than butter. Oil allows for a light, moist crumb that doesn’t clump up as it tends too with butter.
  • Buttermilk: This chocolate cake requires the moisture and acidity from buttermilk. 
  • Sour cream: Using part sour cream in place of what would usually be more buttermilk gives this cake stability. It also gives it a delicious flavor and richness!
  • Hot water: Hot water allows the cocoa powder to absorb and the batter to hydrate properly. It also enhances the cocoa powders flavor!
For the Frosting:
  • Cocoa powder: You can use any kind of cocoa powder. I usually use Hershey’s but Dutch-processed will work as well. It will make for a richer frosting.
  • Almond extract: This is the secret ingredient! I think it really makes the cake. A little almond extract compliments the rich chocolate flavors so well.
  • Butter: I like to use salted butter in frosting. That little bit of salt cuts through the sweetness.
Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake
You can easily make this cake dairy-free with a few substitutions.
  • Use Kite Hill dairy-free sour cream in place of the sour cream.
  • Use 1/2 cup almond milk + 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar in place of the buttermilk.
  • Use vegan butter in the frosting.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice (of 12 pieces) | Calories: 509kcal | Carbohydrates: 80g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 524mg | Potassium: 184mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 60g | Vitamin A: 352IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 2mg

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Hi, I'm Erin!

BS Food Science,

MS Nutrition

I believe you can make amazing, gluten-free food with everyday ingredients that everyone will enjoy. I'm here to share my tried-and-true recipes with you!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe is outstanding!! I made a couple of changes by using espresso instead of hot water, and adding mini chocolate chips to the batter. This will absolutely be my new go-to cake recipe

    1. Hi Anna, thank you for sharing your experience and tips! We’re happy to hear you loved the recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    This is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had! I took it to Bible Study and they couldn’t believe that it’s gluten free. Well done meaningful Eats!

  3. 5 stars
    I love this as a cake. Can this be used for cupcakes? I’ve tried the cupcake recipe and it wasn’t as good as this cake.

    1. Yes you can make this into cupcakes! Just reduce the baking time – I would guess 20-25 minutes but keep an eye on them!

  4. 5 stars
    This cake is delicious! You can’t even tell it’s gluten free. It tastes almost exactly like the chocolate cake my grandma used to make for me when I was a kid, so it’s nostalgic for me as well 🙂 I used a little less cocoa powder in the frosting as I like a bit of a lighter flavor, but it turned out great still! This is the best gluten free cake recipe I’ve found so far since going gluten free years ago!

  5. 5 stars
    We made this for Christmas! Absolutely delicious! Very moist and great frosting-not too sweet. We want to use this recipe for a layered birthday cake. Would this work? What would the cook time be? Thank you!

    Ps: we bought your cookbook and love it!

  6. 5 stars
    I was diagnosed with Celiac 10 years ago after MANY years of regular eating. Knowing what foods taste like with gluten and then without has been a challenge, until now! Thank you SO much for thus awesome chocolate cake recipe. I found the key was measuring using grams. It was SOOO good. My family, not GF, LOVED IT and said they would eat it daily! I changed NOTHING. Thank you so much!

    1. I totally understand that struggle! I’m so happy your whole family enjoyed the chocolate cake! Using grams is always the best way.

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