Gluten Free Tangerine Cake

a slice of whole tangerine cake

Gluten Free Tangerine Cake ~ this flourless cake is such a wonderful surprise, made with whole tangerines and almond flour in the Italian tradition ~ it’s impossibly moist and bursting with citrus flavor,  just like biting into a fresh tangerine! (It’s dairy free and oil free, too.)

Gluten Free Tangerine Cake with slice taken

My gluten free tangerine cake is made without any flour or oil ~ yet it’s fluffy, moist, and fabulous!

This is one of those times you just have to take my word for it, and give this unique cake a try. The minute you spot great tangerines, put this cake on your to-do list, you won’t regret it.

Slicing a Gluten Free Tangerine Cake

This cake is made with whole tangerines, peel and all!

Cakes made with whole citrus fruits have always fascinated me. The concept comes from the sunny island of Sicily, where citrus trees grow like weeds. The fruit is boiled, de-seeded, and processed into a brilliant orange puree. The puree is blended with eggs, sugar, and almond flour, poured into a tart pan, and baked into the moistest, most delicate, tangerine cake you’ve ever tasted. This is an experience not to be missed.

Boiling tangerines for a Gluten Free Tangerine Cake
Cut tangerines for a Gluten Free Tangerine Cake

I use a high speed blender to make the golden tangerine puree

It’s hard to believe that the boiled tangerines, above, will magically morph into such a delightfully fluffy cake with so few ingredients and such minimal effort. It blows my mind every time. I used my Vitamix, which does an amazing job blitzing the tangerines into a silky puree, but any good food processor will work.

Tangerine puree for a Gluten Free Tangerine Cake

The right pan for this recipe

I bake it in a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom so I can lift it out for serving and cutting. (You can also use a cheesecake pan.) The cake bakes up moist and dense, but with a light, almost sponge cake texture. I know it sounds strange, but it really is light and dense at the same time.

Gluten Free Tangerine Cake in a tart pan ready for the oven

This tangerine cake is moist enough to make ahead

The cake slices like a dream, and will stay most for several days at room temperature. If you’d like to make it a day ahead, dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

Gluten Free Tangerine Cake with cake server

TIP: To get the pretty lace effect lay a doily or piece of lace on top of the cooled cake and then sift powdered sugar over all. Carefully life off the lace and voila! Don’t be afraid to try, you can always cover up with a solid layer of powered sugar if necessary.

See my post on How to Decorate a Cake with Lace for detailed instructions on how to achieve this pretty and surprisingly easy look. The technique is so versatile and can be used for all kinds of special occasion desserts from the winter holidays, to Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, etc.

Gluten Free Tangerine Cake on a wooden table

Sometimes the message of a post can get drowned out by all the text and photos…so I’ll just put it here in plain black and white~

Try this, it’s sensational.

A slice of Gluten Free Tangerine Cake

After making this cake in 2012 I went on to make a FLOURLESS WHOLE MEYER LEMON CAKE in 2013 which is wonderful, too. I’m already experimenting with pink grapefruit and blood oranges ~ I’ll keep you posted 😉

Reader Rave ~

“What a wonderful cake! My daughter couldn’t stop eating another slice. It came out just like your photo, and tastes like a fresh orange pound cake. I’m in love! We enjoyed it for dessert, followed by breakfast and lunch the next day. Pairs equally well with wine and tea. This is a keeper, for sure..” ~ Lilly

Tips for making the perfect gluten free tangerine cake~

  • use good, sweet, seasonal tangerines…your cake will be as good as your fruit, so choose the best!
  • Since you will be using the whole fruit, I recommend organic tangerines, if possible.
  • Weigh the puree so that you get the proper amount in your cake. It should be 11 1/2 ounces.
  • You can experiment with flavoring this cake. I added Amaretto on a whim, and you could use other spirits like Grand Marnier. You could also leave out the alcohol and use some vanilla or almond extract.
a slice of whole tangerine cake
3.70 from 221 votes

Gluten Free Tangerine Cake

Gluten Free Tangerine Cake ~ this flourless cake is such a wonderful surprise, made with whole tangerines and almond flour in the Italian tradition ~ it's impossibly moist and bursting with citrus flavor,  just like biting into a fresh tangerine!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Yield 12 servings
Calories 258kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 9 inch spring form pan or tart pan with removeable bottom


  • 1 pound tangerines to make 11 1/2 ounces of puree approximately 5-6, but weigh them
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups almond meal or almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp Amaretto, optional
  • confectioner’s sugar for dusting


  • Set oven to 350F Butter a 9 inch spring form pan
  • Step one is the only time consuming part of this cake. Wash your tangerines and put them in a saucepan covered with cold water. (They’ll float, but don’t worry about that) Bring to a boil, and boil for a full 15 minutes. The boiling removes the bitterness in the citrus skin.
  • Drain and let the tangerines cool for a bit. Slice them in half, and then in half again. Remove any seeds and discard, but do this on a plate so you don’t lose any juice or pulp. Put it all in a food processor and process until completely smooth. You may have to stop and scrape down the sides a few times. My finished puree weighed 11 1/2 oz, (about a cup) and I highly recommend weighing the puree and only using the 11 1/2 ounces. Too much puree will throw off the balance of ingredients in this cake.
  • Set aside, or refrigerate until the next day if you want to do this ahead.
  • The rest is a one bowl deal: Beat the eggs and sugar until light and creamy. Fold in the almond meal, orange pulp, baking powder, and Amaretto, if using. Mix until well combined.
  • Pour into your prepared tart pan and smooth out evenly.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes, until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If the cake is browning too fast, cover loosely with a sheet of foil.
  • Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan to finish cooling.
  • Dust with confectioner’s sugar. Decorate with some citrus zest if you like.


Calories: 258kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 17mg | Potassium: 118mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 309IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 1mg
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.

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    April 25, 2022 at 11:59 am

    Has anyone tried using almond extract instead of amaretto and if so, how much?

    Thank you!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      April 26, 2022 at 6:42 am

      Almond extract would be great, and I’d use a teaspoon.

  • Reply
    March 1, 2022 at 8:41 pm

    5 stars
    I made this for my niece, who is ‘vegan’ and my sister who has celiac’s… variances from your recipe is that I used Coconut Sugar and JU.ST Egg Substitute. Everything looked perfect and seemed to bake well, however it turned out very dense & moist – not able to really slice it.

    The taste is still phenomenal so am going to make it again, this time with regular cane sugar & real eggs…..curious if when you whip the eggs & sugar ‘until light and creamy’ that my substitutions did not allow for that texture / airiness (???).

    Anyway – thank you, as always, for fabulous recipe ideas….I WILL conquer this recipe and make it look as fabulous as yours ;D

    Take care & happy baking!

  • Reply
    February 22, 2022 at 11:29 am

    OK, so for this dummy, you purée the tangerine peel along with the insides minus any seeds and tough stuff?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 22, 2022 at 11:32 am

      Not a dumb question because this is an unusual recipe! And yes, the whole tangerine, peel and all, minus the bitter seeds.

  • Reply
    February 12, 2022 at 4:28 pm

    5 stars
    Just made this cake for the second time, and again, it came out perfectly. I’ve never liked a cake I made as much as I like this one. When you have a crumb this rich and a flavor so vibrant, icing is an unnecessary indulgence and almost a distraction. A slice of this cake and a large espresso and I am in heaven. Also, the cake freezes very well. It’s simply divine!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 12, 2022 at 5:37 pm

      Thanks for the glowing review!

  • Reply
    January 8, 2022 at 12:10 pm

    5 stars
    We just moved to a house with a tangerine tree! Perfect recipe. Pretty moist and dense and full of tangerine flavor. You really must like tangerines, which we do. It’s quite rich from that flavor and really a slice is all you need to feel satisfied. I froze extra slices a couple of weeks ago and we had them today and they held up really well in the freezer in a glass container.

  • Reply
    November 29, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    5 stars
    Have anyone made this with an egg replacer? Looking for an alternative due to allergies.

  • Reply
    November 25, 2021 at 10:00 pm

    5 stars
    I made this and your harvest wild rice salad to bring to Thanksgiving dinner at our friends’ home. They were both a huge success and everyone there wanted the recipes for both. Many thanks for the delicious recipes!

  • Reply
    November 14, 2021 at 7:39 pm

    5 stars
    I must admit, I wasn’t at all sure about this recipe, but since it’s the kind of cake I love, I decided to give it a try. It is unbelievably good! I followed the recipe exactly and it came out perfectly–so moist, and the tangerine flavor is really intense and delicious. I got lucky, buying tangerines–I got the stem-and-leaves tangerines and found…NO SEEDS! I used about two-thirds of the very thin peel, and it was perfect. Thank you, Sue, for another winner!

  • Reply
    November 13, 2021 at 1:59 pm

    4 stars
    This cake is wonderful! Thank you, Sue, for a “naturally” gluten-free dessert option that is so tasty and so easy to put together. I used seedless Mandarin Cuties because that’s what was available (and what a lovely bonus that I didn’t have to remove any seeds!) I made the tangerine purée the day before, which made the one-bowl assembly really easy the day of baking. I made two full recipes in the same day. For the first run through, I used a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and included 2 Tbs. Grand Marnier. For the second, I used 4 individual tart pans with removable bottoms plus 13 silicone muffin cups and included 1 Tbs. vanilla. I was nervous about the latter, but the mini tarts and muffins worked well. Two of the muffins didn’t come out of their holders cleanly, but the chef (ahem) and her partner were pleased to consider those an opportunity for quality control 😉 before sharing the smaller portions with neighbors. In future, I plan to use other commenters’ suggestions about serving with whipped cream on the side and pomegranate arils, although the cake doesn’t really need anything. I am also thinking it would be delicious for breakfast (as someone recommended) toasted with butter and some Maldon sea salt.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    I would like to know if I can use my organic oranges from my tree or would it come out too bitter? Thanks Sue.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      November 11, 2021 at 7:21 pm

      It’s really hard to say, Darlene, it depends on the actual fruit. If the skins are thick then I would not use them, but if they’re thin, it should work.

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