Paleo Vanilla Cake

Paleo vanilla cake. Most are dense and crumbly and disappointing. Not this lovely incarnation that relies on almond flour, beaten egg whites, and baking soda for its towering stature, lovely texture, and birthday cake-worthy magnificence.

A paleo vanilla cake stacked between two chocolate cakes on a wire rack.

Say “paleo cake” and most of us think of dense, crumbly, disappointing approximations of what we know to be cake. Not this lovely paleo vanilla cake from My Paleo Patisserie by Jenni Hulet. The recipe relies on almond flour rather than coconut or grain flour and includes the notable addition of baking soda and whipped egg whites, which contribute to the cake’s lofty stature and astoundingly light texture. So much so that we’ve been hearing that folks who swore they’d never do anything paleo swear by this cake and find themselves making it again and again and again. It’s so good, it’ll even stand in admirably for any birthday cake. And if you’re also craving a paleo chocolate cake recipe, we can help you out there, too.–Jenni Hulet

Paleo Vanilla Cake

A paleo vanilla cake stacked between two chocolate cakes on a wire rack.
Paleo vanilla cake. Most are dense and crumbly and disappointing. Not this lovely incarnation that relies on almond flour, beaten egg whites, and baking soda for its towering stature, lovely texture, and birthday cake-worthy magnificence.

Prep 25 mins
Cook 35 mins
Total 1 hr
6 servings
403 kcal
4.96 / 49 votes
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  • 1/3 cup ghee or palm shortening plus more for the pan
  • 1 3/4 cups almond flour*
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda


  • Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Coat a 6-inch round cake pan with palm shortening or ghee and line it with a parchment paper circle cut to fit the pan.
  • In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the ghee or palm shortening and then set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, arrowroot flour, and salt until blended.
  • Separate the eggs and place the whites in a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and place the yolks in another bowl along with the melted shortening, maple syrup, vanilla, and lemon juice and whisk to combine.
  • Add the egg yolk mixture to the large bowl with the flour mixture and whisk till the batter is smooth and no lumps remain.
  • Using a hand mixer or the whisk attachment of your stand mixer, beat the egg whites until they look like softly whipped cream and hold soft peaks when you pull out the beaters, about 2 minutes. Set the egg whites aside for a moment.
  • Stir the baking soda into the batter and then, using a rubber spatula, immediately beat 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the batter, mixing just until barely combined and some streaks remain. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites into the batter, mixing until only a few streaks are left. Carefully pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake and turn it onto the rack. Let cool completely.
Print RecipeBuy the My Paleo Patisserie cookbook

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*What’s the difference between almond flour and almond meal?

Both are made from ground almonds and can sometimes be interchanged in recipes, so how much difference is there? Almond flour is made from blanched almonds, with skins removed, and has been quite finely ground. On the other hand, almond meal is (typically) ground with the skins still on and has a coarser grind. They both work well in baking but almond flour is preferred for cakes because it's lighter in texture and gives you a loftier rise.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1serving/sliceCalories: 403kcal (20%)Carbohydrates: 30g (10%)Protein: 10g (20%)Fat: 29g (45%)Saturated Fat: 8g (50%)Trans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 119mg (40%)Sodium: 226mg (10%)Potassium: 98mg (3%)Fiber: 4g (17%)Sugar: 18g (20%)Vitamin A: 135IU (3%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 114mg (11%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

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Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This paleo vanilla cake was delicious. It was fragrant, nutty, and amazingly moist. Whereas normally cakes made without wheat flour are very heavy, the almond flour and arrowroot flour produce a slightly dense but very moist cake. The beaten egg whites definitely contributed to the lighter texture of the cake.

I used palm shortening and honey. I think the cake would lend itself to lemon curd, chocolate glaze, or any sweetened fruit. I served it with sliced strawberries and softly whipped cream. [Editor's Note: Of course, some of these toppings aren't paleo, but those of you who do keep paleo know who are you and what to do.]

This paleo vanilla cake is fantastic. It was actually easy to make. The last-minute addition of baking soda really does create a lighter texture.

Would I make this cake again? Yes. As a personal preference, I avoid things that are labeled paleo unless I need to make something for work. But I would definitely make this again. I might try using baking powder instead of baking soda because it tends to give baked goods a more gentle rise. I'm a little unhappy about the arrowroot flour as itʻs expensive.

Originally published January 18, 2017



  1. 5 stars
    I left a comment after first making this cake years ago, but have loved it (and the chocolate version too) and made it so often since I think it has earned another positive review! This is our go-to recipe for Every. Single. Birthday!!

    I’ve found it to be fairly versatile – we typically make several times the recipe and distribute between larger cake layer pans than the 6″ this recipe calls for.

    I love rich frostings that taste like the “real” versions, and typically use my own invented frosting recipes using powdered maple sugar for the vanilla cake, and using powdered coconut sugar and a little maple syrup in the chocolate frosting – this creates an incredible, dark and fudgy indulgent frosting that pairs perfectly with these cakes. Palm shortening is the bulk of the “butter” replacement.

    1. Wow, Chloe, that is GORGEOUS! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your photo and experience with us. We’re delighted that you keep returning to this recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe. Family really loved it. I baked them into cupcakes but made a couple of recipe changes. Used MCT oil instead of ghee, coconut sugar instead of maple/honey and ACV instead of lemon juice. Also made lemon curd with monkfruit sugar to dollop on top which made these treats a gluten free and refined sugar free success!

  3. 5 stars
    This was delicious, thank you! Making a paleo birthday cake for my birthday party, wanting to find someone everyone would enjoy. This was a wonderful find.

    Some changes I made:
    -doubled the recipe for two square cake pans
    -added an extra egg since mine weren’t quite large
    -honey + date molasses for sweetener, added a bit of water to thin it out since date molasses is so thick
    -ACV in place of lemon juice
    -added a touch of baking powder, too

    It came out beautifully.

  4. 5 stars
    I made this recipe and it was all and more than I thought it would be! I put it in a 8″ square pan – I forgot to put the flour part in before I put the beaten egg white in the mixture. Then I put the flour mixture in as maybe 1/2 of the egg whites were folded into the mixture. The result was unbelievable! The 8″ pan was perfect and it was about 2″ high in the pan and so moist too. I’m not sure what made this happen but maybe because I forgot to put the flours in before the egg whites? Really not sure.

    1. We made two batches of this recipe for a 6”double layer cake. The only problem we found was that the center wouldn’t fully cook and after extending the time it still was raw just in the middle and we didn’t want to dry it out. It was delicious, but the center was uncooked. Any suggestions on what we could do different or why this may have happened?

      1. Gorgeous cake, Stacy! We’re sorry to hear that it didn’t cook all the way through. It’s difficult to know exactly what the issue might have been, but we’d recommend checking to make sure your oven isn’t running too cold or hot. There are inexpensive oven thermometers available that can help with this. In the future, if you find that the center of the cake is underbaked, try covering it with foil and continuing to bake until cooked through.

        1. Thank you! we used coconut oil instead of Ghee, upped the temp in our “old” oven a few degrees and added foil over it the last 8 minutes and it cooked perfectly.

    2. I’m not sure either, Joanne, but I’m delighted that it turned out so perfectly for you. Thanks for taking the time to let us know.

  5. 5 stars
    I doubled the recipe (instead of making two batches) to make a layer cake and worked out perfectly, the only change I made was I use melted coconut oil instead of ghee. I used half honey and half maple syrup. Just about to ice it with chocolate frosting (made with melted dark chocolate, coconut cream and icing sugar).

    1. Wonderful! I’m so pleased that this worked out perfectly for you Jessica. And we truly appreciate you taking the time to let us know.

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