This gluten free olive oil cake has a bright, lemony flavor, just enough sweetness, and a richness unique to baking with olive oil. It stays fresh on the counter for days, and you make it dairy free with ease!

What is an olive oil cake anyway?

An olive oil cake is just a simple cake made with olive oil instead of butter. The liquid in the cake is usually buttermilk, which helps provide structure and extra tenderness.

Olive oil has a distinct flavor, so it’s not commonly used in baking sweets. In fact, even oil-based cakes, like our gluten free carrot cake, are typically made with a neutral-tasting oil, like canola, vegetable, grapeseed, or peanut oil.

In this gluten free olive oil cake, we fully embrace the flavor of good olive oil. We work the whole recipe around it, to brighten and enhance its flavor, so use an olive oil that you really enjoy tasting.

The best gluten free olive oil cake recipe — I promise!

This gf olive oil cake is not only full of flavor with a tender, springy crumb, it’s also super easy to make in one bowl. You’ll need a mixer to beat the olive oil with sugar, and then eggs, until creamy, but then you’ll sift the dry ingredients right into the same bowl.

Beyond the flavor of good olive oil, we also add vanilla extract and the finely grated zest of a whole lemon. But instead of giving the cake a strong lemon flavor, the zest just serves to enhance the brightness of the cake.

If you don’t have a lemon to add the zest, you can leave it out and the recipe will still make a super moist cake with a perfect crumb. The overall flavor will simply be a bit muted.

Slice of olive oil cake on white plate with toppings in background

Gluten free olive oil cake ingredients

The ingredients you’ll need to make this olive oil cake are similar to those we use in most of our cakes, with a few notable exceptions:

  • Gluten free flour – I made this recipe with a combination of Better Batter gluten free flour and cornstarch, but Cup4Cup would work well in place of both, by weight. And yes, you have to sift it!
  • Olive oil – You don’t need to spend a ton on olive oil, for this or any other purpose. Just use one you like the smell and taste of, for all your purposes. Baking will only intensify the flavors, like with wine.
  • Buttermilk – Be sure to use real buttermilk, or a real buttermilk substitute (half milk, half plain yogurt by volume), not milk with a bit of lemon juice, which doesn’t mimic the texture properly.
  • Lemon zest – The finely grated zest of 1 lemon is essential to the balanced flavor of this cake.

Tips for making the best gluten free olive oil cake

Trust in the kitchen scale

Measure as many ingredients as possible by weight with a scale, not by volume—especially your gluten free flours. Otherwise, you’re very likely to measure improperly, and your cake may be dense (too much flour) or oily (too much oil).

Make sure to use fresh olive oil that smells and tastes good to you

You don’t need a fancy olive oil for this cake. You only need to really like the taste and smell of the oil you choose. If you like your olive oil on a salad, you’ll like it in this cake. I use extra virgin Spanish olive oil from Trader Joe’s.

Beat the olive oil, sugar, and eggs really well

Don’t stop beating your olive oil, sugar, and eggs at the beginning of the recipe until the batter has increased in volume. It will also become pale yellow in color as you work to incorporate air into it. This step is part of what helps keep the cake from leaking oil, or tasting oily.

olive oil cake collage, raw in pan and baked

Gluten free olive oil cake serving suggestions

I love this simple cake with simple fruit and cream toppings. Here are some more serving suggestions to turn a simple cake into a tiny celebration:

  • Serve each slice with berries and fresh whipped cream, like you see in the photos here
  • Serve with a fresh sprig of mint and some grapefruit or orange slices, supremed (with the entire membrane and pith cut away)
  • Plain, with a hot cup of coffee or bright lemony tea

How to store gf olive oil cake for later

One of the best parts about this gf olive oil cake is how well it stays fresh at room temperature for at least 3 days. Just wrap it tightly in individual slices or the unsliced remainder of the cake, and store on the counter.

Freezing gluten free olive oil cake

For longer storage, I don’t like refrigerating cake, as I find the refrigerator can dry out baked goods. Instead, wrap each cooled slice tightly in freezer-safe wrap and place in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Defrost at room temperature, or by unwrapping, sprinkling with water, and in a 275°F toaster oven until fragrant and defrosted in the center.

Overhead image of slices of olive oil cake with berries and cream on small white plates

Gluten free olive oil cake substitutions and variations

Dairy free, gluten free olive oil cake

It’s quite easy to make this oil-based cake dairy free. You only need to replace the buttermilk with a nondairy alternative. I recommend using half nondairy milk (my favorite is unsweetened almond milk) and half plain nondairy yogurt.

Vegan, gluten-free olive oil cake

To make this into a vegan gluten free olive oil cake, you’ll need to replace the buttermilk as instructed above, plus the eggs. You can try replacing the eggs with a “chia egg” each (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel).

Check your other ingredients carefully, too, if you’re a strict vegan. Granulated sugar is often made using bone char.

Gluten free, corn-free olive oil cake

If you can’t have corn at all, you’ll need to replace the cornstarch in this recipe. You can try arrowroot or even potato starch in its place. Avoid Cup4Cup gluten free flour entirely, as it’s made with quite a bit of cornstarch.

Sugar free, gluten free olive oil cake

Since this olive oil cake is already so moist, I think it might work quite well with a granulated sugar alternative, like Lankato monkfruit. Watch the texture of the batter, though, as sugar alternatives tend to be drying and you may need to add a bit more buttermilk to compensate.

More GF olive oil cake ideas

This cake recipe, as written, is a beautiful blank canvas for your favorite toppings, as discussed above. For a little variation, try one of these flavor twists:

Gluten free lemon olive oil cake

To add a true lemon flavor, add another tablespoon of finely grated lemon zest, and replace 3 tablespoons of your buttermilk with freshly squeezed lemon juice. You can also use the easy lemon glaze from our gluten free lemon pound cake recipe.

Gluten free chocolate olive oil cake

To add a chocolate flavor to your olive oil cake, top your cooled cake with the simple chocolate ganache topping from our peanut butter pie. To keep things even simpler, make a simple chocolate sugar glaze.

Whisk together 1 cup (115 g) confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons (10 g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder. Drizzle in milk or water by the drop, and mix until you have a very thick paste. Add more liquid by the micro-drop and mix until thickly pourable, and pour over the cooled cake.

Powdered sugar topping

Skip the extra granulated sugar on top of the raw cake; instead, dust the top of the cooled cake with powdered sugar.

Three-quarter image of slice of olive oil cake with berries and cream


Is olive oil gluten free?

Yes, plain olive oil is safely gluten free, as it’s made from a single ingredient: olives. Beware olive oils with added ingredients for flavor (which aren’t appropriate for an olive oil cake anyway).

What does olive oil do for a cake?

Olive oil adds flavor and tons of moisture to this cake, without making it taste or feel “oily” like baking a simple vanilla cake with oil would do.

Is gluten free olive oil cake healthier than other cakes?

It’s still cake, made with sugar and fat, but the fats in olive oil are much healthier than many other oils, as they’re monounsaturated and olive oil has lots of antioxidants.

What’s the best olive oil for this gluten free olive oil cake recipe?

Extra virgin olive oil is made with cold-pressed olives, unlike regular olive oil which is made with a blend of more highly processed oils and cold-pressed oil.

What’s the best gluten free flour for olive oil cake?

To ensure the most tender crumb, I really like to use something like gluten free cake flour for this recipe. To achieve that, I use a combination of Better Batter classic blend gluten free flour and cornstarch—measured by weight, of course!

Can I make gluten free olive oil cake with almond flour?

If you’d like to. make an almond flour olive oil cake, you’ll need a separate recipe. Almond flour can’t be used in a recipe like this, which is developed for a rice-based all purpose gluten free flour blend.

I recommend trying extra virgin olive oil in place of the coconut oil in our Paleo chocolate cake. For a plain almond flour cake, our almond flour sponge cake won’t disappoint!

Can I make this gluten free olive oil cake in advance?

Yes! This cake will stay fresh for up to 3 days on the kitchen counter, when wrapped tightly. If I know I’m going to serve this cake in 5 days, though, I’d wrap the cooled cake very tightly and freeze it.

How do I know when a gf olive oil cake is ready?

This cake is ready when a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached (no moist batter!). The cake will also appear set all the way to the center, and will spring back when pressed gently with a fingertip in the middle.

Do I have to refrigerate gluten free olive oil cake?

No! I don’t like to store cakes in the refrigerator, which tends to dry them out. And this cake is so moist that it stays fresh for days, covered, on the counter.

Closeup image of slice of olive oil cake with berries and cream

How to make gluten free olive oil cake



Gluten Free Olive Oil Cake | So Moist & Airy

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Prepare this gluten free olive oil cake for an incredibly airy, moist treat that might just become your favorite. Give this gf olive oil cake recipe a try today!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 1 8-inch cake
Author Nicole Hunn


  • Handheld mixer
  • Flour sifter


  • ¾ cup granulated sugar plus more for sprinkling
  • 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil at room temperature
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose gluten free flour blend
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum omit if your blend already contains it
  • cup buttermilk at room temperature
  • ¼ cup 36 g cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest from 1 large lemon
  • Fresh whipped cream and berries for serving (optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and line an 8-inch round pan, and set it aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, place the sugar and olive oil. Using a handheld mixer, beat the mixture together until creamy (about 1 minute).
  • Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and salt, and beat until lighter in color and the mixture falls off the beater in ribbons (at least 2 minutes more).
  • Into the large mixing bowl, sift the flour blend and xanthan gum and beat until just combined.
  • Add the buttermilk, and beat again until just combined.
  • Sift in the cornstarch, baking soda, and baking powder into the large mixing bowl, and beat again to combine.
  • Add the lemon zest and mix to combine, breaking up any lumps in the zest. Be sure to scrape down and mix in any unincorporated flours on the side of the mixing bowl. The batter should be thickly pourable and pale yellow in color.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Spread into an even layer with a moistened silicone or offset spatula.
  • Sprinkle the top of the cake lightly with about another 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar in an even layer. This step is optional.
  • Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven. Bake until the cake is lightly golden brown all over, has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes away with a few moist crumbs but no wet batter (about 35 minutes).
  • Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack until ready to serve.
  • Slice and serve with fresh whipped cream and berries.


Adapted heavily from Serious Eats Olive Oil Cake recipe.

The post Gluten Free Olive Oil Cake | So Moist & Airy appeared first on Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

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