Healthy Chocolate Cake

by Erin @ Food Doodles on September 8, 2019

This healthy chocolate cake is super moist, made a little healthier with whole wheat flour and is honey-sweetened. It can also be made gluten-free and vegan!

It’s seriously super moist and is whole grain and honey-sweetened. If you prefer, you can make it gluten-free or vegan!  

I list a lot of options for the flour, sweetener and eggs. Each version is just as delicious but you can tell a difference between the version with 1 cup of honey versus 2 cups of granulated / coconut sugar.

The honey version is clearly less sweet than the other one, but under the frosting, I think it’s still sweet enough!

I’ve also tried this healthy chocolate cake with chia eggs, in case you’d like to make this cake egg-free or vegan! It worked great.

Additionally, there are several choices for the flour. Whole wheat, white whole wheat, whole spelt or all-purpose flour all work. I’ve tried them all.

For a gluten-free version, I used my favorite gluten-free baking mix, this one from Bob’s Red Mill. Other brands might work in this recipe but I can’t guarantee it. 

Healthy Chocolate Cake (gluten-free, vegan options)

There’s a huge difference in baking times depending on what combination of flour, sugar and egg you use. The whole wheat / egg / honey version took 48 minutes. The gluten-free / chia egg / honey version only took 22 minutes.

I was so surprised and sure that I had made a mistake that I baked the cakes a second time in one night. It was correct!

The sprinkles I used definitely aren’t healthy. I’ve read about ColorKitchen Rainbow Sprinkles from Nature but haven’t tried them (we don’t have them in Germany so I’d have to order them from the US). If you have tips on good naturally colored sprinkles please send them my way!

Some natural topping ideas would be fresh berries or dried raspberries. 

For the topping, I used a mix of cocoa powder, honey or maple syrup, coconut oil and nut butter to create some healthy chocolate fudge frosting.

I actually prefer this healthier cream cheese frosting on this chocolate cake. But I prefer that frosting on everything, so that’s not a big surprise!

The amount that the cream cheese frosting recipe yields is perfect for this cake. I hope you’ll enjoy this cake should you try it! I’d love to hear how it goes. ๐Ÿ™‚


5 from 2 votes
Healthy Chocolate Cake (whole wheat, gluten-free, vegan options)

This healthy chocolate cake is super moist, made a little healthier with whole wheat flour and is honey-sweetened.ย Can also be made gluten-free or vegan!

Author: Erin @ Food Doodles
  • 1 cup (320 grams) honey* or 2 cups (400 gram) granulated sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups (210 grams) whole spelt flour, whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour or 1 3/4 cups (236 gram) Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour for a gluten-free version
  • 3/4 cup (85 grams) cocoa powder (I prefer Dutch-process)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs (50 grams each, out of shell) or 2 chia eggs** for vegan
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) milk of choice***
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) olive oil (or another neutral-tasting vegetable oil that's liquid at room temp)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) boiling water (this is not a typo!)
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 ยฐF (167 ยฐC). If not using honey (which bakes quicker than sugar, hence the lower temperature), preheat to 350 ยฐF (175 ยฐC).

  2. Line a 9"x13" pan with a piece of parchment paper.

  3. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar (if using honey, donโ€™t add it yet), flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

  4. Add eggs, milk, honey (if using), olive oil and vanilla. Mix for 2 minutes on medium and then stir in the boiling water. The batter will be almost as thin as water. If you taste it, it will NOT taste good! But don't worry. It tastes great after baking. Pour into the parchment-lined pan.

  5. The bake time will vary widely depending on what combination of sugar / eggs / flour you use. The whole wheat / egg / honey version took 48 minutes. The gluten-free / chia egg / honey version only took 22 minutes. For the gluten-free or egg-free versions, I recommend to start checking at 20 minutes and then every 5 minutes after that. Otherwise, start checking at 30 minutes and every 5 minutes after that. Bake until a toothpick comes out with some moist crumbs, but no liquid.

  6. Let cool completely before frosting (frosting recipe is down below).

Recipe Notes

* If using raw honey that's crystallized, you can just measure it out into the bowl where you're mixing all the liquids, and let it sit for 5 minutes. That worked for me.
** To make the chia eggs for this recipe, mix together 2 tablespoons of ground chia seed with 6 tablespoons of water until well combined. Let sit for about 1-2 minutes or until goopy like regular eggs.ย 
*** You can use whatever type of milk you'd like. If you use canned coconut milk, water it down using 1/3 cup coconut milk and 2/3 cup water so that it's runny like regular milk. If you need this cake to be dairy-free or vegan, make sure to use dairy-free milk.

5 from 2 votes
Chocolate Fudge Frosting
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) refined coconut oil*
  • 1/2 cup (128 grams) natural peanut butter or another nut / seed butter (use the kind with just nuts / seeds and salt)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (72 grams) cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • salt to taste (be sure to add this! It really brings out the flavor)
  • 1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • if using sunflower seed butter: coconut sugar to taste (I used 5 teaspoons)
  1. Melt the coconut oil in a small pot or pan over low heat. Add the nut butter, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and salt and stir together. When itโ€™s completely smooth, take it off the heat and add the maple syrup and stir until well combined.
  2. If using sunflower seed butter, add coconut sugar to taste. Put the pot back on the burner and set to the lowest setting. Stir until the coconut sugar is dissolved.
  3. If using another type of nut butter, you don't need additional sugar. Let cool until room temperature and then spread over the cooled cake.

  4. Store the frosted cake in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Recipe Notes

* If you use unrefined / extra virgin coconut oil, the frosting will probably have some coconut flavor to it. With refined coconut oil, there's no coconut taste at all.
You can't taste the olive oil once the cake is baked!ย 
Adapted from Hershey's One Bowl Chocolate Cake.

Leave a Comment

{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Colette March 4, 2021 at 21:28

I made this recipe for my nephews birthday, It was a hit! Everyone loved it.
My sister now has a copy of the recipe.
Now a family favorite.
5 stars


2 Erin @ Food Doodles March 6, 2021 at 13:00

I’m so glad to hear that everyone loved it! I hope your nephew had a great birthday. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks a bunch for your feedback! And thanks for sharing the recipe.


3 Donna October 5, 2020 at 15:22

Hi I will be making this today can’t wait!! Im just wondering for the frosting can I use butter instead of coconut oil? Thank you!


4 Erin @ Food Doodles October 6, 2020 at 20:21

I’m so sorry for just now seeing your question! Yes, that should work. I hope you’ll enjoy it! ๐Ÿ™‚


5 Erin @ Food Doodles October 6, 2020 at 20:21

Oh, and it should be melted.


6 keshel jeena October 1, 2020 at 13:54

I made the cake it was absolutely delicious. A perfect chocolate flavor.


7 Erin @ Food Doodles October 1, 2020 at 19:31

I’m so glad to hear that! Thanks for your feedback. ๐Ÿ™‚


8 Teresa September 18, 2020 at 17:10

I normally don’t read commentary with recipes but I really appreciated yours! I am always trying to make recipes healthier for my 3 toddlers but they don’t always turn out. I made your cake recipe for my daughter’s birthday and did 1/2 cup honey and 2/3 cup sugar and it turned out perfectly delicious!
I frosted it with a chocolate black bean spread (1 can of black beans, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup nut butter, and 1 scoop vanilla protein powder) and it was a huge hit! I put a thick layer of spread on and was happy letting the kids chow down.

Thanks for posting this great recipe!


9 Erin @ Food Doodles September 21, 2020 at 10:26

You’re welcome! And thank you for taking the time to read the post and for leaving feedback. ๐Ÿ™‚ Your chocolate bean frosting sounds really interesting! I’ll have to try that. Thanks again!


10 Sonal R K September 17, 2020 at 07:30

The flavour and texture was nice thank you for the recipe


11 Erin @ Food Doodles September 21, 2020 at 10:24

You’re welcome! I’m really glad that you enjoyed it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for your comment!


12 Chelsa September 12, 2020 at 16:26

Hi! Iโ€™m curious how this cake recipe would do if I used Agave in place of honey/sugar? and Can coconut flour be used or should I stick to spelt flour?
TIA excited to try!


13 Erin @ Food Doodles September 13, 2020 at 12:51

Hello! Thatโ€™s an interesting question! Iโ€™ve never tried it but Iโ€™ve always found that agave is less sweet than honey (even though everything tells you that a 1:1 sub is possible). So I think itโ€™d work structurally โ€“ itโ€™d probably just be less sweet. Coconut flour isn’t at all interchangeable with wheat flour so definitely look for a coconut flour recipe if you prefer to use that. ๐Ÿ™‚ Iโ€™d love to hear how the agave goes!


14 Louise Singleton September 9, 2020 at 03:28


Im thinking of making this cake for my sons 2nd bday, looks delicious and i love moist spelt choc cakes. Ive made some good ones before but I always forget my recipes and dont have time to stuff this up ๐Ÿ˜‚ Just wondering if you think i can make it as nice without electric mixers cos I dont have any ๐Ÿ™ only a handheld mixer/blender

Thanks in advance


15 Erin @ Food Doodles September 10, 2020 at 11:34

Hello! You can actually mix it by hand. There’s not really any need to mix for 2 minutes. It just needs to be totally combined. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope your son will enjoy it and have a happy birthday!


16 Shonali Bose September 8, 2020 at 19:42

Hi Erin
Thanks so much for your prompt response. One more quick question. I am having trouble finding a 9 by 13 by 2 inch cake pan in India believe it or not! That is what you said in the recipe that one should pour the batter in. We are still in lockdown and shops are not fully open. On Amazon (India) there are mostly circular pans – 7inch/7.5/8 inch by 2 inches. That would probably be too small for the batter in your recipe? Rectangular I am finding 8.5 x 4.3 x 2 inches. So also much smaller. The 7 inch circular pans make 1/2 kg (1,000 gram) cakes.
I currently own 2 square pans – 8 by 8 inch pan and 7 by 7 inch pan.
A lot of math!
Any suggestions?
Thanks a ton.


17 Erin @ Food Doodles September 10, 2020 at 14:27

Ah, sorry for just now seeing this! You can divide the batter in half and bake each half for 20-25 minutes. Or maybe even more depending on the combination of ingredients! We don’t have 9×13 pans here in Germany, either. I have to order it all from the US so that 90% of my readers have the correct baking times. Ugh.


18 Fran September 8, 2020 at 10:41

Hoping to make this for my kid’s bday party! What do you think about using maple syrup instead of honey/sugar in the cake?


19 Erin @ Food Doodles September 10, 2020 at 14:10

That’s an interesting question! I’ve never tried it but I’ve always found that maple is less sweet than honey (even though everything tells you that a 1:1 sub is possible). So I think it’d work structurally – it’d probably just be less sweet. I’d love to hear how it goes!


20 Shonali Bose September 5, 2020 at 17:30

Hi Erin
I live in India and this will be my first time baking a cake ever! I’m excited to try this. I just had a quick question – is it okay to do a combo of spelt flour and whole wheat flour or should one just stick with one type of flour. I ask this – because i have 180 grams of spelt flour (Bob’s Mill) left over from making bread and would like to use it for this cake. (I successfully made my first loaf of bread ever following a recipe verbatim and am feeling empowered by that to try cake!)
Or can one halve your ingredients and bake a smaller cake?
I am only one person and since I might screw up the first time making a smaller one might be better!

Also I found this healthy recipe for the frosting. In your experience – would this be okay on this cake? Simply a mixture of cocoa powder, greek yoghurt and honey.

Thank youuuu.
And I’ll write a review once I make the cake. ๐Ÿ™‚


21 Erin @ Food Doodles September 6, 2020 at 20:52

Hi Shonali! Yes, you can use that mix. It should be no problem. The healthy icing should work fine. ๐Ÿ™‚ Halving the cake is also no problem. I have no idea of the baking time, though. Or you could make the whole thing and freeze the leftovers. It freezes great! I hope that you’ll enjoy the cake and I would so love to hear how it comes out. Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚


22 Katie August 7, 2020 at 15:00

Thanks so much for this Erin,.I have just made this for my son’s 2nd birthday. I split the mixture in 2 and made a 2 layer cake and will make some frosting for the middle.

My cakes did come out a little bit more soft than I’m used to so were a bit tricky to place on top of one another. I wonder if they needed longer to cook? I tested with a skewer and there was no liquid.

I used coconut sugar, normal flour, eggs and semi skimmed milk.



23 Erin @ Food Doodles August 16, 2020 at 06:14

You’re welcome! I hope that your son had a happy birthday and that he liked his cake. ๐Ÿ™‚ Since the cake is so super moist, it’s pretty fragile, making it a little more cumbersome for layer cakes but I’ve done it often with good results. If there wasn’t any liquid, it was done. But if you thought it was too difficult to stack the layers, you could bake the cake a few minutes longer next time. Thanks for your feedback! ๐Ÿ™‚


24 Erika August 6, 2020 at 04:01

Great easy to follow recipe and tastes amazing โ€“ made it for my wife and she loved it ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป


25 Erin @ Food Doodles August 6, 2020 at 11:29

I’m so glad she loved it! Thanks for your feedback. ๐Ÿ™‚


26 ROBYN August 5, 2020 at 09:02

It looks so great! One of the prettiest cake Iโ€™ve ever done! But I am even stop my son for it because he love it much.


27 Erin @ Food Doodles August 6, 2020 at 11:30

I’m really happy that you and your son enjoyed it! Thanks for your comment. ๐Ÿ™‚


28 Juliana July 23, 2020 at 05:27

Hi! Do you know about how many slices this cake yields? Just wondering about calories and stuff.

Thank you for the recipe! Itโ€™s amazing


29 Erin @ Food Doodles July 27, 2020 at 21:47

I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’m sorry for just now seeing your question. It yields about 12-16 but it depends on how you cut it. ๐Ÿ™‚


30 Fitria July 15, 2020 at 13:46

Hey. If I substitute the milk with greek yogurt, will it change the consistency? Thanks


31 Erin @ Food Doodles July 16, 2020 at 20:13

It would! I think it might make it a bit dense, but I’m not totally sure. If you try it anyway, I’d love to hear how it comes out.


32 Sonakshi Saxena May 11, 2020 at 02:02

Hey.. thanks for the recipe. Going to try it out! Can we use honey instead of maple syrup in the frosting?


33 Erin @ Food Doodles May 16, 2020 at 13:27

I’m sorry for just now seeing this! Yes, that should work but the frosting may have some honey taste to it. Not that that’s a bad thing!


34 Elizabeth McKevitt Perez February 1, 2020 at 16:35

I am SO very impressed!! This cake was fluffy and moist and with great flavor! The combo I used was regular flour, olive oil, honey and eggs. I used a food scale for the first time, instead of just measuring cups. Baked it at 325 for 40 minutes. To be honest I was a little thrown by the not so great flavor of the liquid batter, with the olive oil. But! After baking you couldn’t taste the olive oil at all. My high school sons gobbled up half the cake before I had even put the frosting on, they said it didn’t need any. I had to agree! We left the frosting on the side. I’m personally not a huge fan of chocolate with peanut butter (gasp – I know) so the frosting wasn’t my most favorite, but it still was pretty yummy. This surely will be a recipe I will use again and again! Thank you!!


35 Erin @ Food Doodles February 7, 2020 at 05:46

I’ve been meaning to add a note about how the batter doesn’t taste good. Thanks for the reminder! I just added it. I’m so glad that you and your boys enjoyed the cake! And how awesome that you’ll make it again and again. That’s always nice to hear! Thanks a bunch for your feedback. ๐Ÿ™‚


36 Kristin January 7, 2020 at 05:06

I rarely comment on these recipe blogs, but I wanted to let you know I made this and itโ€™s delicious! Used whole wheat flour and raw sugar. So satisfying, filling, moist, and chocolatey. Thanks for posting!


37 Erin @ Food Doodles January 13, 2020 at 12:34

You’re welcome and thank you for taking the time to leave feedback! I really appreciate it. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so happy you liked the cake! Thanks again.


38 Holly November 9, 2019 at 17:57

Just made this last night. It is excellent! I didnโ€™t make the icing and it doesnโ€™t even need it. I used coconut sugar and avocado oil. SO GOOD!


39 Erin @ Food Doodles November 11, 2019 at 02:10

Yay! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it! Thanks a ton (as always!) for leaving feedback. ๐Ÿ™‚


40 Holly December 8, 2019 at 20:26

Hey Erin, I just made this for the fourth time and this is the first time Iโ€™ve done the vegan version. I donโ€™t know what happened but I had to throw the whole thing out. Iโ€™ve used chia eggs so many times in different baked goods and have had great success. This was a suuuuper gummy and wet and just basically not edible. I know itโ€™s not your recipe it has to be something I did although Iโ€™m a pretty experienced gluten-free/Paleo baker (but not like you ๐Ÿ˜‰). I didnโ€™t do anything different than I have all the other times accept losing the eggs and I always weigh everything in grams according to your recipe. I used BOBโ€™s 1:1 for gluten free plus coconut sugar as I have the other times. Your recipe called for two eggs so I made two chia eggs. I used 4 TBS ground chia and 12 Tbs water doubling your instructions for one chia egg ( because the recipe calls for two eggs). Did I do something wrong there? It seemed like a lot of liquid to be adding. Iโ€™m so bumbed that I had to toss this ๐Ÿ™ Hoping you can shed some light for me. By the way, I subscribed to food doodles but I havenโ€™t received anything. Iโ€™m also subscribed to Texanerin but I donโ€™t get emails for new recipes or anything from there either. It just dawned on me so I thought I would let you know so maybe you could check. Thanks so much and happy holidays! I made your gingerbread cookies and pecan bars from the other site for Thanksgiving and they were delish!!!


41 Erin @ Food Doodles December 15, 2019 at 11:25

Hi Holly! I’m sorry for just now seeing this. That’s the amount for both eggs – I’m so, so sorry! You should have used 2 tbsp chia + 6 tbsp water. I feel absolutely sick about this. If I didn’t live in Germany, I’d try to send you a replacement cake. ๐Ÿ™

I’m subscribed to both email lists with different accounts and always get them. Have you checked your spam? If on Gmail, you should check your Promotions tab because they land there. I’m glad that you liked the pecan pie bars and gingerbread cookies! Thanks for letting me know and a thousand times sorry about this cake. ๐Ÿ™


42 Holly Sale November 7, 2019 at 17:37

Erin, Iโ€™m such a tastebuds would follow you anywhere! I checked this site from the link I received because Iโ€™m subscribed to Texanerin. Do I need to subscribe here to receive your new posts or will I get them because Iโ€™m subscribed to your other site? Looking forward to trying this yummy cake and all your other amazing concoctions!


43 Erin @ Food Doodles November 11, 2019 at 02:12

Thank you for coming over here to check out the site! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so happy you’re interested. You won’t get posts from Food Doodles without signing up for the newsletter first. I should have mentioned that in my post on Texanerin Baking! Thanks for pointing that out. On the right side of any page on Food Doodles, at the top of the sidebar, there’s a place where you can put in your email address to sign up for the newsletter. Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚


44 heather September 13, 2019 at 09:48

I wonder if I could use almond flour in this…and maybe sub erythritol? I think I need to go to the store and get some ingredients here… It sounds amazing!!!


45 Erin September 17, 2019 at 04:29

Almond flour isn’t really interchangeable with non-nut flours / meals. :/ And I don’t have any idea about the erythritol. Sorry about that!


46 Zuzana September 13, 2019 at 09:10

Happy you are here Erin. Looking forward to so many wonderful recipes


47 Erin September 17, 2019 at 04:35

Thanks so much! ๐Ÿ™‚


48 linda spiker September 12, 2019 at 17:10

What a gorgeous cake! I would drench it in cold milk!


49 jenna | the urben life September 12, 2019 at 11:41

I love chocolate cake!! Love the vegan options ๐Ÿ™‚ Bob’s Red Mill products are the best!


50 paleoglutenfreeguy September 12, 2019 at 10:14

That looks like the perfect chocolate cake but what I really can’t wait to try is that frosting!


51 Cheryl Malik September 12, 2019 at 09:29

This is such a beautiful cake. Oh, wow! Yummy!


52 Hope September 11, 2019 at 18:27

Congratulations on taking over a new blog Erin! What better way than with a chocolate cake. Love how moist this looks and all the different options you have given – thanks. I will be trying the gluten free option!


53 Raia Todd September 10, 2019 at 15:16

Looks so delicious! I bet I could eat that frosting with a spoon, too… ๐Ÿ˜‰


54 ChihYu September 10, 2019 at 12:41

Healthy chocolate cake that’s delicious and moist? Sold!!


55 Jean Choi September 10, 2019 at 10:39

Drooling over this cake! So moist and perfect. Also, your kiddo is so cute!!


56 Joni Gomes September 9, 2019 at 16:28

Omg the texture of this cake was amazing!! At first I wasn’t sure about the olive oil but it worked out perfectly!


57 Megan Stevens September 9, 2019 at 15:07

Wow, super excited for your recipes and congrats on the new blog. Your photos are gorgeous, and I can tell your recipes are indeed tested and tested and perfect! Cheers!


58 Charlotte Moore September 9, 2019 at 07:33

WOW!! What a surprise! I am so surprised it is someone I already follow. CONGRATULATIONS!!!


59 Erin September 9, 2019 at 12:30

Haha. Hi Charlotte! I was betting I’d hear from you. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (I’ve seen your comments over here before!) Thanks so much! I’m glad you’re still reading. ๐Ÿ™‚


60 Heidi September 8, 2019 at 20:07

Oh my goodness, this looks amazing! Perfect celebration cake ??. Your little guy is so cute! I can hardly believe heโ€™s almost 2 already! Thatโ€™s a great picture of you two ? โค๏ธ


61 Erin September 9, 2019 at 12:29

Thanks so much! I’m so happy you like my first post. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks again for everything! <3


Previous post:

Next post: