Amazing Quinoa Chocolate Cake

Gluten free Quinoa Chocolate Cake

Quinoa Chocolate Cake ~ naturally gluten free and one of the moistest, fluffiest, most delicious chocolate desserts I’ve ever had ~ and it’s all due to an unlikely ingredient. This super food cake also happens to be super easy, just whip it up in the blender and enjoy!

A decadent chocolate cake with a secret healthy ingredient!

Gluten free Quinoa Chocolate Cake

This chocolate cake challenges a lot of what we think we know about cake. There’s no flour whatsoever in this recipe, but it does include an unusual ingredient…quinoa! By now I’m sure you’ve had quinoa in a salad or a side dish, but I’m guessing you’ve never considered it as a dessert ingredient. Here it takes the place of flour and gives this cake a moist, fluffy texture ~ it was a huge hit with my family of taste testers, and not one of them suspected there was anything unusual in this luscious chocolate cake, until I let them in on the secret ~ who knew?

cutting a slice of quinoa chocolate cake

Quinoa is referred to as an ‘ancient grain’, but it’s really a seed, so, quinoa is naturally gluten free. Like all seeds, it’s a nutritional powerhouse ~ high in fiber and protein, in fact it’s one of the few plant foods on earth that contains all 9 amino acids. It’s a true super food.

For this recipe you’ll need 2 cups of cooked quinoa. (You can use the leftovers from dinner!)  Quinoa needs to be rinsed thoroughly before cooking, but after that it cooks up just like rice. It has a light nutty flavor that is lovely in savory dishes but takes a backseat in this chocolaty recipe. The plumped up grains give it a wonderful light texture that you normally don’t get in a flourless cake.

To cook quinoa: (this will yield about 3 cups cooked quinoa)

  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a pot.
  • Rinse 1 cup of quinoa well under cold water.
  • Add the quinoa to the boiling water, with a dash of salt
  • Boil for 15-20 minutes.

quinoa chocolate cake just out of the oven

This cake is a breeze to throw together ~ just combine the quinoa, milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla in a blender or food processor and pulse until everything is combined. It’s that easy! The cake bakes up beautifully, the texture is dense but very moist, and the top is flat, perfect for frosting.

a slice of quinoa chocolate cake with fork

Speaking of frosting, as you can see, I didn’t skimp on it, so I can’t make any health claims for this dessert.

TIP: You can skip the frosting and give the cake a sprinkle of powdered sugar for a lighter version.

Quinoa Chocolate Cake with fluffy frosting

Try this Quinoa Chocolate Cake on your friends and family without telling them that there’s anything unusual about it at all ~ then get ready for the rave reviews. You can let them in on the secret…or not!

Once you realize how great this cake is, you might want to try my quinoa BURGER ~ that’s right, my Red Quinoa and Black Bean Veggie Burger is made with it too!

Reader Rave ~

“I made this cake last night – without the frosting. It is divine! Have shared it with friends who couldn’t believe that it is made with quinoa and not flour. I love the light texture and moistness. It tasted perfect with an espresso mid-morning today too.” ~ Madhavi

*This recipe is adapted from my friend Mary at Barefeet in the Kitchen ~ Mary has lots of great gluten free desserts on her blog, so check it out!

gluten free quinoa chocolate cake
4.09 from 34 votes

Delicious Quinoa Chocolate Cake

Quinoa Chocolate Cake ~ naturally gluten free and one of the moistest, fluffiest, most delicious chocolate desserts I've ever had!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Yield 8 servings
Author Sue Moran



  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/3 cup almond milk or dairy milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoon confectioner's sugar sifted
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder sifted


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray and line a 9-inch nonstick cake pan with a round of parchment paper at the bottom.
  • Melt butter.
  • Put the quinoa, milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse to combine and then process until smooth, this will only take about 30 seconds or so.
  • Add the sugar, 1/2 cup of the cocoa powder, baking powder, soda, and salt to the bowl and pulse to combine well.
  • Turn into the prepared pan and bake for about 40-42 minutes until a toothpick comes out without wet batter sticking to it. Remember that if your pan has different dimensions, your cooking time will vary.
  • Let the cake cool on a rack for about 15 minutes before turning out of the pan. Be careful when you flip the cake over as it will be delicate. I like to place a plate over the pan and then gently flip both over together.
  • When the cake is completely cool, frost.
  • To make the frosting whip the cream until it is starting to thicken, then add the sifted confectioner's sugar and cocoa powder. Continue beating until thick and spreadable. Don't over beat!
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.


  • Quinoa comes in red, white, and black varieties. I used the common white variety here, but you can use any of them.
  • You can double this recipe to make a layer cake, or bake this up into cupcakes.


Don’t forget to pin this Amazing Quinoa Chocolate Cake!

Quinoa Chocolate Cake

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    January 21, 2021 at 6:16 am

    5 stars
    Delicious! I (and my husband) was pleasantly surprised by this cake, and we don’t usually eat GF. I couldn’t get the batter very smooth, so there are still a lot of whole quinoa grains in it, but they’re not as noticeable as I would have thought. Next time, though, I might try cooking them longer and putting them through the food processor alone before adding everything else. I did substitute 1/2 c. of yogurt for two of the eggs, since I only had two left in the carton.

    • Reply
      April 10, 2021 at 7:13 pm

      5 stars
      I just made this cake and had the same result! I wasn’t sure if I cooked the quinoa incorrectly but it looks and feels like all quinoa I’ve had …
      Have you tried this a second time yet? I’d love to try this cake without the feeling the “pearls” LOL

  • Reply
    August 4, 2020 at 12:06 am

    cam we use quinoa flour instead of cooked quinoa.. if yes do all other ingredients remain same?

    • Reply
      August 4, 2020 at 5:05 am

      I really haven’t tried that but I suspect that its the actual quinoa that makes this cake work so well. If you try with the flour, please let me know how it works out for you.

  • Reply
    January 23, 2020 at 2:48 am

    Can you tell me nutritional value.
    Thank you

  • Reply
    Hannah E Rousseau
    May 12, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Do you know the nutritional value? Protein, sugar, etc.?

  • Reply
    December 21, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    Hi Sue
    When measuring for the cocoa, did you shift it first?

    • Reply
      December 21, 2018 at 6:51 pm

      No, I just scoop it, Al.

  • Reply
    Madhavi Shilpi
    December 20, 2018 at 2:56 am

    I made this cake last night – without the frosting. It is divine! Have shared it with friends who couldn’t believe that it is made with quinoa and not flour. I love the light texture and moistness. It tasted perfect with an espresso mid-morning today too.
    I did reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup – and it turned out great.
    That you for sharing.

    • Reply
      December 20, 2018 at 8:24 am

      Isn’t it fun to serve and then let everyone in on the secret? I never thought to try it without the frosting, sounds good!

  • Reply
    Michelle C.
    April 5, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Hi Sue!
    Ok. I am a very experienced baker and just pulled this baby out of the oven. I did bake it in a pyrex square pan and I used cashew milk in place of dairy though other nearly identical quinoa cake recipes I googled said any dairy or nut milk would work. Anyhow… was very delicate and springy and fell a bit sort of like a flourless chocolate cake. I haven’t tasted it or pulled it out of the pan yet (thank goodness I used parchment!!) because I think cooling it in the pan longer might help. Soooo… question is does your cake fall at all? I left it in a bit longer but there were still a few crumbs on the toothpick though they were still there even 8 min. later so I removed the cake because it was really cracking all over the top.
    Any input would be greatly appreciated. I am crossing my fingers….

    • Reply
      April 5, 2018 at 4:26 pm

      It’s definitely not a tall rising cake, Michelle, so you’re probably fine, and technically this is a flourless cake, so it will behave somewhat like other similar cakes would. The texture is dense but not heavy, if that makes sense, so as long as yours cooked through you should be good!

  • Reply
    March 10, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    Great recipe. I served it with peanut butter whipped cream and we all know how delish peanut butter and chocolate is! The second time I made it I used a blender instead of a processor because I wanted to smooth out the cooked quinoa completely-I liked the texture better.
    Can the cooked quinoa be replaced by quinoa flour, if yes, how much flour?

    • Reply
      March 10, 2018 at 5:36 pm

      Oh man you’re killing me…peanut butter whipped cream sounds incredible! Not sure about how to switch out the recipe for quinoa flour, I imagine that would change the recipe pretty dramatically.

    • Reply
      December 8, 2018 at 7:31 pm

      Let me know if you try it with quinoa flour, since I have a bag and would love to use it. Thanks!

  • Reply
    September 9, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Made this last night for a group of friends…not sure if all loved it, but they all cleaned their plates. I did love it, and had 2 pieces left over. Had one today…I think it was even better the 2nd day. Other one will eat tomorrow. Love that I can have healthier chocolate cake (protein!)

    • Reply
      September 10, 2017 at 9:14 am

      I remember loving it the next day, too Kim! Thanks for the feedback 🙂

  • Reply
    [email protected] Good Dinner Mom
    July 27, 2017 at 9:33 am

    Very familiar recipe here. Quinoa a great secret to gluten-free

  • Reply
    July 26, 2017 at 12:00 am

    Help Sue? I made this and used an 8in pan instead. I’ve never made a quinoa cake before and I baked it for an hour and it still has this custard like texture. Toothpick cane out clean when I was testing for doneness. Any ideas why? Or is this the expected texture?

  • Reply
    Sandra Ruiz
    July 21, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Wondering if I could use regular milk instead of almond milk. We have nut allergies. Excited to try.

    • Reply
      July 21, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      Yes, I think that would be fine, Sandra.

  • Reply
    June 19, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Do you need to keep the cake in the refrigerator once it is iced? How long would you bake if making cupcakes?

    • Reply
      June 19, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      I would keep it in the refrigerator if you need to store it because of the cream in the frosting, Erin. If you bake cupcakes, I would check them at 15 minutes, and go from there.

  • Reply
    June 11, 2017 at 11:07 am

    So, my family Birthday Cake is Angel Food with chocolate whipped cream. I’ve been eating it for decades. I want to share a secret for the frosting. Combine the cream, sugar, cocoa and a touch of salt and vanilla in a bowl. Whisk well. Refrigerate overnight. The cocoa “blooms” in the cream overnight and makes your resulting frosting thick, rich and amazingly creamy. Don’t over whip it as it will break.

    • Reply
      June 11, 2017 at 11:14 am

      That is such a great tip, Diane, I’m going to use it next time I make a chocolate whipped cream, it’s brilliant!

  • Reply
    June 10, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    Do you have any nutritional info… calories, carbs, protein, sugars? I’m definitely making this regardless of the stats, but probably good to know in case I’m too tempted to eat the whole thing!

  • Reply
    Carol Brown
    May 29, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Could you possibly use an alternative sweetener such as swerve?

    • Reply
      May 29, 2017 at 2:09 pm

      I’m not an expert on alternative sweeteners, Carol, but I would think that any granulated sweetener would be ok to swap for the granulated sugar in the recipe. Let us know if you try it!

  • Reply
    May 28, 2017 at 7:51 am

    I made this recipe as cupcakes. I baked them 15-17 minutes. I had 18 small cupcakes. I only made half of the icing to use today, the other half I will make and serve tomorrow.
    Delicious! My first quinoa as flour recipe was a success. Thank you!

    • Reply
      May 28, 2017 at 8:22 am

      That’s so great to know, LaQuita ~ I was thinking of doing that myself! I’m so glad you had success, and thanks so much for coming back to let us know :)) Have a great weekend.

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving Room for Dessert
    May 24, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Such a terrific recipe! I love the quinoa and am so intrigued. This is a must make. Pinning and sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    May 24, 2017 at 10:23 am

    HI, I just made this and I’m pretty sure it’s amazing….as I was taking it out of the oven, the pan caught an edge and yup, you guessed it, half the cake came tumbling out in a mess! Still, I managed to salvage some (and scoop up some of the messy bits in the oven!) and plopped a couple of pieces in my mouth – truly amazingly light and delicious. So. Instead of cake, I guess it’s gonna be trifle. Who cares? Delicious is delicious! Will definitely make again and hopefully, it’ll come out in one piece – thank you!

    • Reply
      May 24, 2017 at 10:38 am

      Oh gosh, I was cringing as I read this Rose…I’ve been there and done that many times! And you know, quinoa chocolate trifle doesn’t sound half bad 😉

  • Reply
    May 24, 2017 at 4:43 am

    Thank you for the recipe, I tried it and it was delicious. Nice chocolate flavor and moist.

    • Reply
      May 24, 2017 at 6:59 am

      Thanks Lynn, it’s great to get reports back on this cake because I think a lot of people can’t quite believe it can be so fabulous!

  • Reply
    Dawn - Girl Heart Food
    May 23, 2017 at 4:11 am

    I’ve never seen anything like this before – what a brilliant idea putting quinoa in the cake. It’s so much healthier than traditional chocolate cake so I wouldn’t mind eating an extra piece 😉 Looks so moist too!

  • Reply
    [email protected] is How I Cook
    May 22, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    Ok! I will try it. It is hard for me to resist anything chocolate!

  • Reply
    May 22, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    I’m completely blown away by this cake Sue — I’ve never thought to use quinoa in baking like this! This is sheer genius and I would never guess by looking at this cake that it’s gluten-free — it looks so moist! Chocolate is something I need daily and I’d love to try this cake. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    May 22, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Wow! I am so intrigued by this cake. It’s looks so perfectly moist and delicious. And that frosting is a perfect topping 🙂

  • Reply
    Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary
    May 22, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    This looks beyond amazing! So incredibly light and fluffy!! I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that there is quinoa in here!! Mind blowing, girlfriend! This is the end all, be all of chocolate cakes! Cheers!

    • Reply
      May 22, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      I don’t think anyone would ever guess in a million years if they didn’t know!

  • Reply
    Matt @ Plating Pixels
    May 22, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Wow amazing indeed! Totally pinning this and looking forward to trying it

  • Reply
    May 22, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    I had no idea you could use quinoa in baking, in fact I hadn’t even come across the fact you can get quinoa flour, so this is quite a revelation for me. And it looks fabulous!

    • Reply
      May 22, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      You can buy quinoa flour, but what makes this cake really special is that you use the simple cooked grain, and that gives a really lovely texture to the cake.

  • Reply
    May 22, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    What a great idea to incorporate quinoa is a cake! It’s healthy and this means I can have an extra slice, right?;)

    • Reply
      May 22, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      Kinda sorta, wink wink 🙂

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    May 22, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Wow. This sounds incredible. I would have never thought you could make cake with quinoa. This is something I need to try soon!

  • Reply
    Liz @ I Heart Vegetables
    May 22, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Ok this HAS to be the absolute most delicious way to use quinoa, haha. This sounds awesome!

  • Reply
    May 22, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    Does this cake actually have a ‘cakey’ texture? I just can’t believe you can substitute quinoa for flour, it’s mind-blowing!

    • Reply
      May 22, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      Yes, it really does, and it is mind blowing. The texture is very moist, though, like a typical flourless cake.

  • Reply
    Joyce Gibson
    May 22, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    Dear Sue,
    I just printed the recipe, however, the actual recipe didn’t put in the 2 cups of cooked Quinoa. I nearly missed it but was thinking about making this for some friends and it has quinoa in the name. =}

    • Reply
      May 22, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      It’s been corrected, Joyce, the recipe calls for 2 cups of COOKED quinoa. Sorry about that!

  • Reply
    Cathleen @ A Taste of Madness
    May 22, 2017 at 11:15 am

    No flour AND quinoa in this cake?? Wow, this is something I DEFINITELY need to try!

    • Reply
      May 22, 2017 at 11:20 am

      I told you it was amazing, lol! I got it in there now ~ I guess I needed a second cup of coffee when I was writing up the recipe 😉

  • Reply
    May 22, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Have re-read recipe more than twice, and can’t find the quinoa in the ingredients….how much?? My blender is out, and ready to go!! thanks!!

    • Reply
      May 22, 2017 at 10:48 am

      Look in the written part on how to prepare the 2 cups quinoa needed.

    • Reply
      May 22, 2017 at 10:59 am

      Same here! I printed the recipe and scrolled up and it says 2 cups boiling water and 1 cup quinoa…So 1 cup uncooked is 2 cups cooked.

    • Reply
      May 22, 2017 at 11:13 am

      So sorry, fixed now!

  • Reply
    Karen @ Seasonal Cravings
    May 22, 2017 at 9:36 am

    I love making cakes with quinoa. Isn’t it the most amazing ingredient ever? This one looks delicious and that frosting! Wow!

  • Reply
    Joyce Gibson
    May 22, 2017 at 9:11 am

    GOTTA TAKE THIS TO MY NEXT POT LUCK!! Wow that looks lovely!

    • Reply
      May 22, 2017 at 11:20 am

      Thanks Joyce!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    September 6, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Sue this is a wonderful recipe! I am so intrigued and love that it’s still moist and delicious. I have to try this cake – love the icing – I’ll take a thick slice please!

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    September 5, 2015 at 6:38 am

    This cake looks delicious! So intrigued by the quinoa. Must try 🙂

  • Reply
    Joan Hayes
    September 4, 2015 at 7:53 am

    That quinoa cake, that icing, oh man! Haven’t tried quinoa in a cake, but I just might have to now!

  • Reply
    Maria | Pink Patisserie
    September 4, 2015 at 6:04 am

    So intriguing!! Love that it’s got quinoa..I agree with Laura, perfect texture!

  • Reply
    Vicki Bensinger
    September 3, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Wow I’ll have to try this. I love quinoa and if you can make a cake healthier by using it I’m all for it.

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    September 3, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    Heading over but I have to say I’m hoping the quinoa might just make this legal for breakfast!!

  • Reply
    Susan L.
    September 3, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    You rock! (as they say)

  • Reply
    September 3, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Hi Sue, this cake looks so decadent, I never would of guessed there was quinoa in here. Pinned.

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    September 3, 2015 at 11:20 am

    I would have never guessed there was quinoa in this cake; the texture looks perfect!

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