Paleo, vegan chocolate cupcakes

We’ve been making these paleo, vegan chocolate cupcakes on repeat for the last couple of months because let me tell you- getting the recipe just right is no mean feat. Chocolate cupcakes that are grain free, oil free, egg and dairy free, cane sugar free BUT still hold together well, are moist, decadent and spongy? It takes time, but it has BEEN WORTH IT.

I have a bit of a thing for grain free baking, and it satisfies an overlap of sorts- the need for recipes that are both paleo and vegan. In many ways these two food groups seem to sit at opposite ends on the table, but for me, they still meet in the middle. You see, even though I love and appreciate grains I am acutely aware that we both over consume them and consume them ill prepared. This poses a few problems, and if you’re reading this post its likely you’re aware of them.

I’ll humour you, though.

Consuming grains in the amount (and way) that we do is problematic. In fact, as someone who follows a plant based diet (and thus usually eats more grains) I would say it is even more important that I pay attention to what sort of grains are in my diet. My philosophy is to consume grains in a traditional manner where possible which, in a nutshell, means they should be soaked and then sprouted, fermented or soured.

In some ways this is simpler than it seems (we try to only eat proper sourdough bread, for example) but in others its more difficult.

When it comes to feeding my children cupcakes, for example. Balance is key and so while they DO eat the occasional traditional (still vegan) cupcakes, I like to have recipes like these paleo, vegan chocolate cupcakes so we can enjoy cupcakes for all the other times.

For the most past, to protect my children health (and teeth) we aim to eat grains that have at least been soaked, but preferably fermented. Mastering the sourdough cupcake is definitely on my to-do list, but while we have these Paleo, vegan chocolate cupcakes up our sleeve it isn’t a pressing matter.

I hope to do a post soon giving you more details on how and why you should consider preparing for grains, nuts, seeds and legumes in a traditional manner (and I’ll provide resources on that post), but in the meantime I highly recommend this book by Holly Davis. It is not vegan, but its my bible when it comes to knowledge on traditionally preparing food. I bought mine in a book store, but if you want to support Holly you could get in touch via Instagram and see if she sells independently.

Well, anyway.

Lets talk Paleo, vegan chocolate cupcakes

Even though these paleo, vegan chocolate cupcakes are oil free, grain free, egg free and cane sugar free they are all the things you WANT them to be! They are fluffy yet moist, rich and decadent, they hold together well, they are not dry, stodgy or crumbly. In a nutshell they are GOOD and I have tested this recipe so many times to get it right!

Ingredients in the paleo, vegan chocolate cupcakes

  • Hot coffee– this is used to enhance the flavour of cacao/cocoa, but is optional. You can just use hot water if you prefer. Using hot water with cacao naturally enhances the flavour by a process known as blooming, and so step one is blooming or cocoa/cacao in boiling water or coffee for the ultimate chocolate flavour
  • Cocoa or cacao. For this particular recipe I prefer Dutch pressed cocoa. It has a beautiful flavour and also gives that dramatic midnight black colour.
  • Vanilla extract– you cannot make a good chocolate cake without it. Really, you can’t.
  • Flax seeds– they play an important role here, helping the cake to bind. I have used ground chia too which works just as well. I buy whole flax and grind them in my mini blender- it takes only a few seconds.
  • Yoghurt– this is another replacer for eggs and also helps to add to teh fat component, making this moist and decadent. I always use plain, unsweetened coconut yoghurt for baking.
  • Apple cider vinegar– when combined with baking soda the vinegar acts as an important rising agent. Do not omit vinegar- but you can replace apple cider vinegar for white vinegar.
  • Coconut sugar– or you could use brown sugar. The sugar crystals helps to create the air pockets in these cakes, balancing moist with light and airy. Also, obviously, this is our sweetener.
  • Almond meal– combined with two other flours to makes these grain free and paleo, almond flour makes up the bulk or our dry ingredients.
  • Tapioca flour– this helps the cakes to bind, and stops them from being too crumbly. Tapioca gives a nice chew to the overall result. You could perhaps sub for cornstarch or arrowroot but I have not tried it.
  • Coconut flour- Our final flour (and yes we only use a tiny amount), but an important one. This flour is very high in fibre and thus absorbs a lot of liquids. Without it the cakes will be too wet.
  • Baking soda and salt– the usuals
  • Choc chips
  • For the optional extra frosting, you will need coconut whipping cream and maple syrup.

Phew- we got through it! There are a few ingredients, but making paleo, vegan chocolate cupcakes that are grain free, moist, decadent, airy, and delicious is no easy task and it requires a fine balance of ingredients. IT IS WORTH IT THOUGH.

Paleo, vegan chocolate cupcakesA few final tips

I get it, there are lots of ingredients and you don’t want to have to buy them all and find out the recipe didn’t work (even though I tested it many times). Here are a few tips to prevent that:

  • Use scales to measure! This is a precise recipe and eye balling teh measurements WILL NOT work. If you don’t have scales please google how to measure correctly.
  • If you don’t have all the ingredients you can buy exact quantities at bulk food store. I love The Source Bulk Foods for this- it means you are not left with extra ingredients that you might not use again.
  • Be prepared. Once you have incorporated all your ingredients you want to get them into the oven quickly to maximise the chemical reactions that cause the cakes to rise. So, read the recipe prior to making the cakes, get everything ready in advance and be prepared.
  • Allow the cakes to rest. I love these cakes on day 2 the most0 they set really well and the flavours blossom. As these paleo, vegan chocolate cupcakes and grain free they are better once completely cooled. If you eat them will still warm they might seem a little too moist.

Well, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. As always, I appriciate and feedback or comments below. Enjoy!!

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Paleo, vegan chocolate cupcakes

Paleo, vegan chocolate cupcakes

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Jade Woodd
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 10 1x
  • Category: Cakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Healthy paleo and vegan cupcakes that are also oil and cane sugar free- BUT they are moist and spongy, decadent, flavoursome and will please the whole family. Topped with an easy whipped coconut cream frosting.



Paleo, vegan chocolate cupcakes

  • 2/3 cup (160g) freshly brewed coffee *(see notes)
  • 1/2 cup (50g) dutch pressed cacao or cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp (5g) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp (20g) flax seeds, ground
  • 1/2 cup (120g) vegan yoghurt (I used plain coconut)
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/21 cup (85 – 170g) coconut sugar (*see notes)
  • 1 cup + 1 Tbsp (128g) almond meal (I used activated, but glanced or whole is fine)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp (45g) tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp (15g) coconut flour
  • 1 tsp (7g) baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp (2g) fine salt
  • 1/2 cup (90g) choc chips

Easy coconut whip frosting

  • 1 x 400ml can vegan coconut whipping cream OR coconut cream (*see notes)
  • 2 Tbsp (15g) dutch pressed cocoa or cacao
  • 1 tsp (5g) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp (17g) pure maple syrup


Make the cupcakes

  1. This recipe uses very precise measurements and I do recommend using scales for this recipe. I used Australian standard cup sizes for this recipe if you do not have scales, and the spoon and scrap method to fill cups and spoons. If you’re making the coconut whip frosting set the can in the fridge the night before.
  2. Preheat the oven to 175C and set aside a 12 muffin tray. Either lightly grease the holes or fill with patty pans. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl pour in hot coffee, cocoa, vanilla and ground flax seeds. Whisk together and set aside for 5 minutes. Next, pour in the yoghurt, vinegar and coconut sugar whisk until well combined.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients (almond meal, tapioca, coconut flour, baking soda, salt and choc chips) and quickly, yet very gently, whisk until smooth. You want to move quickly here- as the baking soda and vinegar will react to help these cakes rise- but also be gentle so as not to encourage their chemical reaction. Once the batter is uniform you can divide between 10 muffin holes (I use a 1/3 cup measurement for this).
  5. Bake for 35-40 mins. When tested with a skewer you want a few moist crumbs left on the stick, but you also want to gently press the top of the cakes with your finger to feel that they are springy and cooked through. It is ok for the cakes to feel very slightly undercooked- they will continue to cook after you remove them from from the oven. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the muffin tray. I prefer these cakes the best of day 2- it seems to give enough time for teh flavours to really shine, and any fudgyiness is converted into a lighter texture. Having said that, they are perfectly delicious once they have cooled a little.

Make the frosting

  1. Scrap out the can of coconut whipping cream into a medium sized bowl and add the other ingredients. Whip with electric beaters for 5 minutes, or until stiffened. Once teh cakes have completely cooled spread, dollop or pipe on top. In warmer weather you will need to store these in the fridge to prevent the frosting from melting but in winter they keep at room temperature for hours. Dust with sprinkles (or rose powder if you’re feeling fancy, like I did).


Store cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or the pantry for 3 days. As they cupcakes are quite moist they are best on day 1-2. Even though the texture will change on day 3- they are still SO DELICIOUS.

Frosted cupcakes can be served at room temp for a few hours (ambient temp dependent) but after that MUST be stored in fridge in an air tight container.


  • You can swap brewed coffee for 2/3 cup water plus 1 tsp instant coffee, or just hot water. Th coffee enhances the flavour of the chocolate however and you cannot taste it. Totally optional though.
  • I use less sugar for this recipe, but that yields a fairly unsweet end product. This is perfect for my taste, but if you like it a bit sweeter I recommend using the whole cup of sugar.
  • You can sub coconut cream, however once you have refrigerated the can and opened it, use only the solid part of the contents. You can save the liquid and add to a smoothie, porridge, baking etc.
    1. So happy to hear that, Helen. They def don’t need any frosting, its just a nice addition if they are for celebrating!

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