Easy Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

Gluten-free baking is the most challenging part of being gluten-free. It’s the gluten in flour that makes baked goods delicious–and it holds things together, helps them to rise, and creates that chewy texture in bread.

You can’t just take a regular recipe and swap out the flour cup-for-cup with say, rice flour. Your final result will be dry and chaulky. So, to create a gluten-free flour, you need a complex mix of gluten-free flours, including rice flour, brown rice flour, buckwheat, corn flour, sourgum, quinoa flour, arrowroot, cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca and many, many more.

gluten-free chocolate cupcakes.jpg

Except for this recipe.

I got it from Chef Craig Sherer, who is the Sous Chef at Italian Kitchen. He made this at The Wellness Show in February as part of a cooking demo, but I’m just getting around to sharing it with you now.

This is a dead simple recipe, and it involves quinoa. Not quinoa flour, but actual quinoa.

There are two ways to make quinoa. The first is similar to how you make rice: you put a certain proportion of quinoa to a certain proportion of water in your pan, and cook it down until all the water is absorbed. The second way of cooking quinoa is like pasta. You put too much water in the pan, and cook the quinoa in it, and then drain the quinoa in a sieve. You’ll want to use the latter method for this recipe, making sure the quinoa is well cooked and soft. Oh–this recipe also requires a good blender.

You can make this as a cake in a regular cake pan, or as cupcakes, as I’ve done here. Easter is coming, and I thought it might be fun to make some Easter-themed birdsnest cupcakes.

Easy Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake


  • 2 c cooked quinoa
  • 1 c agave syrup
  • 1/2 c buttermilk
  • 1/2 c oil (you could use canola, coconut, or flax)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp  baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1c good quality cocoa powder


  1. Cook the quinoa well in boiling water, then drain well. Add the quinoa to the bowl of your blender and blitz well.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blitz thoroughly until all combined and smooth.
  3. Spoon into lined cupcake pans, or into a parchment-lined cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out holding just a few crumbs.
  4. Ice or decorate as you wish. Here, I’ve made a buttercream icing and decorated the cupcakes with little candy Easter eggs.

If you don’t want to make your own, find a list of the gluten-free bakeries in Vancouver here.

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  1. Keira-Anne says:

    I may have to try this recipe next week! When you “blitz” the cooked quinoa, what kind of consistency are you looking for?

    • Rebecca Coleman says:

      Basically, you want to try to get it as blended as possible. The final batter is pretty moist–probably more like a pancake batter than a cake batter. It takes a bit longer to bake, but the final result is pretty great! If you have a decent blender, you should be fine, you just want to blend it so that it’s a smooth as possible, so you don’t have too many quinoa chunks in your cupcakes.

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