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Gluten-free chocolate mug cake (vegan)

An aerial view of a gluten free chocolate mug cake in a white speckled ceramic mug atop a white marble table. The mug cake is topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, which have melted together to form swirling pools on top of the cake. A spoon sticks into the cake from the right side of the image.

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Ironically, this gluten-free chocolate mug cake was inspired by having too much chocolate cake in the house. It’s hard to imagine having too much chocolate cake in the house. Yet this is something I experienced firsthand while developing my gluten free chocolate cake recipe recently. Along with my gluten free sourdough brownie recipe. Along with every other recipe I have ever made. There’s something incredibly practical about a single serve recipe that satiates a craving in the moment. With that in mind, let’s chat more about this gluten-free chocolate mug cake.

Gluten-free chocolate mug cake that is vegan

This gluten-free chocolate mug cake is vegan, nut free, FODMAP friendly and ready in three minutes. It is made without eggs, without dairy and without xanthan gum. The mug cake uses a simple mix of rice flour and tapioca flour for the perfect chocolatey crumb.

Speaking of, It is incredibly chocolate-y in flavour thanks to a quick process of blooming the cocoa in boiling water. The cake is also very easy to make, using inexpensive and pantry friendly ingredients. Can it get better though? Why yes, it can! By microwaving it for less time, you’ll end up with a chocolate mug self saucing pudding. Honestly, it’s an all round offensively good cake.

A gluten free vegan chocolate mug cake topped with a big scoop of chocolate ice cream atop a dark grey metal backdrop

Recipe notes and substitutions for your gluten-free chocolate mug cake

  • You can use either Dutch processed cocoa or regular cocoa. In terms of taste, Serious Eats tells me that Dutch processed has a deeper chocolate flavour, while regular is more astringent or floral.
  • You can use an oil that you have on hand. I actually really like olive oil in sweet baking, which is why I used it. Avocado, vegetable or canola would work. Coconut oil is also an option, if you’re open to a hint of coconut flavour.
  • The potential for experimentation with different gluten free flours is high. Because they’re not deeply important to the structure here, feel free to mess around. After all, the waste potential for failure is incredibly low.
  • A caveat to the above: the 1 tablespoon of tapioca flour is not optional. In the absence of eggs, it binds the cake together. I have found that omitting it results in an overflow of cake in the microwave.
  • Almond meal is not an appropriate option here – for whatever reason, it results in a volcano of cake. If you want a grain free cake, you can use two tablespoons of tapioca flour. It’s a little chewier than the grainy option, but is still delicious.
  • In terms of flour experimentation, I’d recommend softer flours like toasted quinoa flour, buckwheat flour or millet flour. You can use rice flour (I tested a batch with it) but you might find a hint of grittiness in your mug cake. 
An aerial landscape view of a gluten free, vegan chocolate mug cake in a white speckled ceramic mug. The mug cake sits atop a white marble table and is topped with melting chocolate ice cream.

Unrefined sugar options

Since posting the recipe, I have been asked a lot about unrefined sugar alternatives. Personally, I have finally come to the realisation that sugar is sugar. However, I am all about catering to everyone’s dietary needs without judgement. So if you’re an unrefined sugar kind of person, the following are suitable 1 to 1 replacements for the brown sugar:

If you want to use maple syrup or another liquid sweetener, please see my recipe that caters specifically to liquid sugars. It will not work in this recipe as there will be too much liquid in the batter to form a coherent cake.

An aerial view of a gluten free chocolate mug cake in a white speckled mug atop a white speckled plate. The mug cake is topped with melting vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Things to add to your mug cake

  • A tablespoon of peanut butter, nut butter of any kind inserted into the middle before cooking.
  • Some Nutella (or vegan nutella aka vego) inserted into the middle, as above (alternatively, melted with a little coconut oil and poured over the top)
  • Some vegan chocolate (I like Lindt 70%) chopped and added to the batter. This or chocolate chips.
  • A tablespoon of vegan protein powder in place of the flour. This additive/swap will make the mug cake grain free, but it does come with a few caveats. Firstly, the result will depend on the type and brand of protein powder. I used plain brown rice protein, and it was a tiny bit gritty but definitely served it’s purpose. Secondly, the mug cake will be a little more chewy than the grain based version. Again, nothing offensive, just a tinge of chew.

How to cook your gluten-free chocolate mug cake in the oven:

Little did I know that mug cake would be do damn popular when I pressed publish on this recipe. A lot people have asked me for instructions on how to mix up this mug cake in different ways. If you don’t have a microwave and you need to bake this gluten-free chocolate mug cake in the oven, this section is for you.

Firstly, you’ll need to choose a vessel that is oven safe. I’ve found that the cake doesn’t rise and fall as dramatically in the oven, so it doesn’t need to be huge. However, it does need to be able to withstand the oven. Generally speaking ceramics will say on the bottom if they’re oven safe. Personally, I recommend using a ramekin or a little oven dish (I have a mini casserole dish, because why wouldn’t I?) I wouldn’t recommend cooking it in your favourite, artisan ceramic mug. If yours are anything like mine there are no mass produced labels on the bottom, and I don’t want to risk you ruining your favourite one-off piece.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c or 356F.
  2. Once the oven is ready, prepare the mug cake batter as per the instructions in the recipe card below.
  3. Use a silicon spatula to decant all the batter into the oven safe, small vessel of your choosing. I used a mini ceramic casserole dish which has a 1 1/2 (Australian) cup capacity.
  4. Place the cake in the oven for 10-20 minutes. 10 minutes will result in a very gooey, self saucing pudding, whereas 20 minutes will result in a fully fledged cake. For me personally, I’d say somewhere between 13-15 minutes would be my own personal sweet spot.
  5. Sprinkle with a little icing sugar and/or top with some cream, ice cream or yoghurt. Best served immediately but keeps well in the fridge if you can’t finish it.
An aerial, sunlit image of a chocolate and pumpkin swirl mug cake topped with melting vanilla ice cream. The mug cake sits in a white speckled ceramic mug on a white speckled ceramic plate. Two textured glasses sit to the left of the image, casting light and shadow across the plate.

To make pumpkin and chocolate marbled mug cakes (serves two)

  1. Make one batch of this chocolate mug cake, and one batch of the pumpkin mug cake.
  2. Alternate spoonfuls of each mixture into two microwave safe mugs. I haven’t tried this in the oven, but as with each mug cake recipe, I’m sure it would work. See the section above on oven baking for more information.
  3. Proceed with the recipe as written.
An aerial image of a vegan, gluten free microwave cinnamon scroll in a white speckled ceramic mug. The scroll is oozing cinnamon sugar and topped with melting vanilla ice cream. It sits atop a light grey stone backdrop

Other vegan, gluten free dessert mug cake recipes

An aerial image of a gluten free pumpkin mug cake in a white ceramic speckled mug atop a white speckled ceramic plate. The mug cake has a spoonful removed and is topped with melting vanilla ice cream and cinnamon sugar. A bottle of maple syrup extends over the right side of the image to pour syrup over the ice cream. The syrup and ice cream mingle together in the crevice left from the eaten cake.

Have you tried this recipe? Let me know in the comments!

An aerial view of a gluten free chocolate mug cake in a white speckled mug atop a white speckled plate. The mug cake is topped with melting vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Gluten free vegan chocolate mug cake

Gluten free, nut free, vegan, adaptable to be grain free, FODMAP friendly
4.50 from 8
Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 1 min
Course Dessert
Cuisine Food Intolerance Friendly
Servings 1 person

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons cocoa dutch processed for a deeper flavour, regular for a more floral chocolate taste
  • 3 tablespoons (60ml) boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons (40ml) olive oil or oil of choice
  • 1-3 tablespoons light brown sugar depending on your sweet tooth
  • 1 tablespoon finely milled quinoa sorghum or buckwheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract optional, for depth of flavour
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten free baking powder

Instructions
 

  • Whisk together the cocoa and boiling water in a small bowl before adding the remaining ingredients. The boiling water will bloom the cocoa and result in a deeper chocolate flavour.
  • Whisk well until a smooth batter forms and pour into a large mug. You want the batter to go up about halfway – any fuller and it will overflow in the microwave.
  • Place the mug in the microwave for 1 minute for a self saucing mug cake with a chocolate sauce down the bottom. You can cook it a little longer if you’d prefer a fully set cake, but it’s vegan so you don’t need to do this for food hygiene purposes.
  • Every microwave is a little different in terms of power, so you might need to cook yours a little less or more than mine.
  • Serve on it’s own or with a scoop of ice cream – regular, vegan or lactose free.

Notes

You can halve the ingredients for a smaller mug cake. Microwave for 20-30 seconds. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

17 Comments

    1. I think you’d be better off googling a recipe with regular flour – I haven’t tested it but generally gluten free absorbs a lot more liquid so the ratios would be off

    1. Hi Barbara, I’m going to work on an oven version ASAP! I didn’t realise the recipe would be so popular but I’ll update the post as soon as I have tested an oven version 🙂

    1. Coconut sugar is a higher fructose sugar which isn’t suitable for me anymore so I haven’t tested it. You could certainly try it – I don’t see why it wouldn’t work 🙂

  1. This was the best chocolate mug cake I’ve ever had! Thank you for sharing this recipe! I only added one T of olive oil and it was moist and delicious!

  2. I followed the recipe exactly, using sorghum flour, and while they took a lot longer to cook (almost 5 minutes for two mug cakes at once) they were absolutely delicious. Rich, fudgy, decadent; everything you want in a quick to make mug cake. I know I’ll be making these often

  3. A very quick cake i really liked it i never tried mug cakes but definitely i will thanks for the recipe please share more of gluten free &vegan cake recipes

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve had many GF Vegan baking flops. This was absolutely delicious and so easy! Thank you ❤️

  5. 5 stars
    I’ve made a lot of mug cakes and this one is definitely my favourite recipe. Very forgivable as well, I used GF plain flour and some vegan egg replacer instead of the quinoa and tapioca – still turned out great!

  6. Georgia you are absolutely the best! Trully. You know your stuff! You are a chemist and an artist . . . and let’s not forget a wonderful author. I used your instruction for sourdough starter and it was a success! Your way of teaching takes the stress of “getting it right” (recovering perfectionist here). Thank you fpr blessing us with your amazingness.
    My first boule of sourdough bread is in process today. And I’m making your discard crackers today also. I will bake this mug cake tomorrow!

  7. 5 stars
    This was hands down the absolute best chocolate mug cake I’ve ever made. And I’ve made so many, non vegan, non gluten free. I’m not usually gluten free or vegan but I was just trying it out for a few weeks and wanted something quick and chocolatey. Came across this recipe and it will definitely be made even when im not on a dietary restriction. Soooo yummy. Thank you!!

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