Rich Chocolate Quinoa Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

After my race on Saturday, we rushed home so I could make a birthday cake for my dad. One of my infamous dairy-free recipes that wins the hearts of everyone who tastes it. For real.

I had originally planned to make Angela’s no bake version of her Chilled Double Chocolate Torte, but the avocados I bought last Tuesday were still not ripe enough.

So, I decided last minute that I’d whip up a chocolate quinoa cake similar to this one, minus the Valentine’s Day theme.

It may have been a bad idea to embark on a 2 hour cake baking session after running a 10k, but I wanted to make my dad something fantastic! After all, birthdays only come once a year and fathers day is right around the corner. So I felt it was justified.


5.0 from 1 reviews
Rich Chocolate Quinoa Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Recipe type: Gluten free, Dairy free, Sugar free, Yeast free, Corn free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: Two 9 inch round pans
Rich, velvety gluten-free chocolate cake made with cooked red or white quinoa, topped with a sweet, thick frosting. Can be made vegan, too!
  • ¾ cup coconut butter
  • 1½ cup full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight – see note
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup coconut flour, sifted
  • ¾ cup arrowroot
  1. Mix all ingredients with a hand mixer or food processor.
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa and water. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat [keep covered!] and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Once complete, fluff with fork and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F
  4. Lightly grease two 9 inch round pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper [believe me, it’s worth the effort. Just DO it!]. Set aside.
  5. Combine milk, eggs, and vanilla in blender. Blend until smooth.
  6. Add 2¼ cup of the cooked quinoa, and the coconut oil. Blend until smooth [may be challenging to do, just blend it as best you can]
  7. In a large bowl, whisk together coconut sugar, cacao powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the contents of the blender to the bowl and mix well with a hand mixer.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake on the middle rack of your oven for 40-50 minutes [my cake was perfectly cooked at 48 minutes]. You can test to determine if the cake is done by inserting a toothpick in the middle.
  9. Allow cakes to cool for a couple of hours before removing from the pans and topping with icing.
I used 2 cans of organic coconut milk, chilled overnight. Pierced a hole in the bottom of each can and drained out the coconut water. Allowed the coconut cream to soften on the counter for an hour before I began the recipe.

Recipe could be made vegan if maple syrup is used instead of unpasteurized honey.
If the frosting is too soft to spread on the cake, place in the fridge for 20 minutes and retry.


View Nutritional Information (once on page scroll down)

Guess how old my dad is turning?


It’s hard to believe, really. It feels like just yesterday that I was sitting on the kitchen floor with a paper banner stretched across the room writing in the biggest letters imaginable “Happy 40th Birthday, Daddy. I love you!” We later pinned the banner over a bridge on the highway so he’d see it on his way home. That was 18 years ago? What. the. hay?!

I used unsweetened dried bing cherries for the numbers. They’re so much healthier than sprinkles, and they actually have taste to them!

The cake in action at my parents house…

Everyone really enjoyed it, especially my dad!

Thankfully, they gave us two pieces to take home so I could take pictures of them for you all to see.

And for me to eat, of course!

I may or may not have had a slice for breakfast before going to the gym on Sunday.

It may look and taste like cake, but underneath it’s just quinoa, cacao, eggs, a little bit of low glycemic sugars, high fiber coconut flour, and honey! Sounds like a good breakfast to me :D

Have you ever made a cake from scratch for someone on their birthday? This was my first time!

What’s your favorite cake flavor? As a kid I loved the vanilla with colored sprinkled! Now, it’s definitely chocolate.

How was your weekend?

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  1. Hi, I have quinoa flakes. How do we modify the recipe?

    I’m not a bonafide paleo dieter but I always try to stay away from mainstream unhealthy food, and try to substitute ingredients with healthier options. That being said, is Stevia recommendable? If yes, can I use it for this recipe?

    • I’m not sure how to adjust this recipe with the ingredients you have on hand as I have not tried it with these, sorry. If you give it a whirl, let us know what works!

  2. I made the cake for my son’s 51st bday. Everyone loved it and was impressed that it had quinoa in it. We are gluten free and this really was a satisfying cake but didn’t leave that “sugar-craving” feeling. We enjoyed it for 3 days (the 4 adults and two young kids). I wasn’t thrilled with the icing though. It tasted a lot better as it sat in the fridge until the day after I made it. I also had a lot of icing left over.
    All in all, an excellent chocolate cake I will definitely make again. Thanks

  3. This sounds and looks amazing. A healthy protein rich cake. Is it a moist cake?

  4. OMG! I looooooove this!!!! It has quinoa in it!!!!!! gaaah! Must try!!! LOL Question: I have 1 friend who is allergic to chocolate & cocoa (in her “old” age, can you imagine?) and another friend who after a few tummy problems post quinoa meals discovered he’s not handling it well. (yes, it was very well rinsed & none of us had tummy problems). Now, over to you: 1) what can I replace the cocoa with but it would still have chocolatey taste & 2) what can I replace the quinoa with? For the one, I want to make it, for the other I would send them the recipe cause they’re very far & I can’t make it for them, but would like to make that couple happy & not have only one lick the spoon & the other watch :( LOL
    P.S. I am sorry to have to do substitutions. I find once you’ve made so many the recipe doesn’t resemble itself and it’s no longer the same thing. :/

    • Hi Dina :) 1) you could try making the cake with carob powder, it’s a great cocoa substitute. 2) You could try to make the cake with cooked millet… I’ve never tried it, but I’ve wanted to! PLEASE let me know if it works out!

  5. Easy recipe to adapt to for a kosher for Passover dessert. Much better than most chocolate cake recipes. With a hint of health?

    • Hint of health at passover, I love it!

      • How would you adapt this to a Kosher for Passover dessert? I don’t think I can get Passover coconut milk…any advice?

        • Hi Deborah – sorry, I am not familiar with Kosher outlines. Please feel free to let me know your concerns and I will try to help

  6. Holy cow, this looks divine and FINALLY, a frosting recipe that sounds just as good as “real” buttercream frostings!

    Do you know if you can use regular quinoa? I haven’t ever used red, so I don’t know if there is much of a taste difference. Sorry if this was previously asked – I scrolled, but didn’t see it.


    • You can totally use regular quinoa, I’ve done it a bunch of times with great success!

    • I’m sure you can. I’ve only ever tried it with flax egg, but I don’t see why chia egg wouldn’t work. Let me know if you try it, Chris!