Brownie Pudding Cake (Gluten and Dairy Free)

This dessert has a chocolate cake layer and a rich chocolate sauce underneath. It was a favorite recipe of ours growing up and is still a favorite. I knew I had to make a gluten/dairy free version for my family. It turned out sooo good. Here is my honey sweetened, dairy free version. I promised to share this version on my facebook page. And it’s worth sharing!

Now that  I’m “all grown up” (or at least mostly), this is a favorite not only for the flavor, but also for how frugal it is to make for a crowd.

I don’t know about you, but it’s always hard for me to decide when making desserts for a large crowd whether to use more typical ingredients, such as white flour and white sugar, or whether to fork out the extra dough for more expensive ingredients to make a “healthier” dessert (even though the guests could probably care less). This dessert helps me with that decision as it’s quite frugal to make, even with high quality ingredients.

I made a quadruple batch yesterday (using buttermilk and whole wheat pastry flour), as well as a single batch of the following gluten and dairy free version for Elena and I to eat. You see, it was a special day as it was Elena’s first piano recital. She played very well in a combined recital of some of my husband’s students and a few of mine. It’s been very fun to teach Elena piano. I hope that she continues to enjoy being taught by her mother! And I think that the wheat/buttermilk version was a success with the rest of the students as well.

Brownie Pudding Cake
I have used honey to sweeten this in the past, but this time I used a “dry sweetener”. If you do use honey, use scant measurements, otherwise it will be too sweet.

1 cup of brown rice flour
1/2 cup of thin coconut milk (about half full fat coconut milk and half water)  or coconut kefir (I tried out store bought by the So Delicious Brand)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar (omit if using coconut kefir)

1 tablespoon chia seeds
3-4 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil/butter
½ cup of whole cane sugar, coconut sugar, or sweetener of choice.

1 1/2 cups of boiling water
1/3 cup of cocoa powder
dash of salt
½ cup of whole cane sugar, coconut sugar, or sweetener of choice.

1-Mix together the flour , cocoa powder and coconut milk and apple cider vinegar, if using. Leave covered in a warm place for 12-24 hours.

2-When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chia seeds in the water and let sit for 15-20 minutes, until thickened. Put the water on to boil. Then mix the baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract and salt, oil or butter and sweetener, and the chia seed mixture in with the soaked flour mixture.

3-In another, heat safe bowl, combine the boiling water, cocoa powder, dash of salt and honey. Mix until combined.

4- Scrap the batter into the pan 8 x 8 x2 or pie dish. Then pour the boiling water mixture over it.

5-Baking for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked into the cake topping. Then remove from the oven. Let rest at least ten minutes and up to 45 minutes before serving. The longer it sits the thicker the sauce will become.  My husband actually likes this best cold. But most enjoy it warm with some ice cream on top.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!


  1. Megan says

    Ah, so you understand. That’s where it gets hard for me to spend the extra money, when I know the people eating it couldn’t care less. I go back and forth but I do make the effort to feed people as healthfully as I can.

    • KimiHarris says

      I know! It can be challenging, especially if you are on a limited budget. I should make up a list of some of the dishes that are frugal, healthy, and feed a crowd too. 🙂

  2. Linda says

    Can you leave out the chia seeds? Also, I buy SO Delicious Original Coconut Milk. Do I need to water it down?


    • KimiHarris says


      In this case I used the chia seeds to help hold the cake together since it was gluten free. However the first recipe didn’t contain any eggs in it, and it is cooked almost more like a pudding, so it may turn out without it. You don’t need to water down the SO delicious coconut milk, however the original is sweeten, so it will make it slightly sweeter.

      • Linda says

        Thank you. Often times seeds come with a label saying may be contain traces of peanuts and tree nuts and we must avoid those.

  3. says

    Am I missing something or is this not also egg free? Which by the way I am jumping for joy if this is also truly egg free! Gluten free, dairy free, soy free and egg free recipes are hard to find in baked goods/sweets that actually taste good!

  4. AmyM says

    This looks amazing! I’ve been collecting recipes for “crowd-friendly” desserts. Would it work to raise the oven temperature and bake it for a shorter amount of time?
    Also, when is the chia seed mixture added? Is it with the baking powder, soda, etc? I didn’t see it in the recipe.

    • KimiHarris says


      I updated the recipe to include more clear directions. Hope that helps!

      I wouldn’t raise the temperature as it could cook to quickly on the top before the rest is finished. 🙂

  5. says

    I think I love you! I am gluten, dairy, soy and egg free and desserts are the hardest for me to find. Thank you so much, can’t wait to try it 🙂

  6. says

    Oh, wow, just awesome! I was sitting here thinking of making brownies and watching Paula Deene make hers and your post showed up in my inbox. I love the way you made this with healthy ingredients. It looks SO good!

  7. Sharon says

    Hi Kimi,
    Would you still need to add the apple cider vinegar if using ww pastry flour/buttermilk version?

  8. Mary P. says

    Funny…I was just thinking of your ww pastry flour version. I made it for Father’s Day a couple years ago and it was so good. I have since found out that I am gluten intolerant. This made my day to see your gluten free version!! This is a treat I will have to make! Thank you for the recipe!

  9. Angela says

    I’m gonna try it with carob instead since we’re chocolate free around here. Thanks for the great idea. I too grew up with this type of pudding cake!!

  10. says

    You are not alone in questioning the purchase of more expensive ingredients especially when guests couldn’t really care. The up side of course is your own conscience won’t stalk you and the guests may ask for the recipe and realise that things don’t have to be made out of refined nutritionally void ingredients to taste good. You have done a beautiful job here. Well Done!

  11. Samantha says

    I too struggle with buying/using better ingredients for guests when I know they do not care! This recipe looks easy though and has nothing pricey in it. The boys & I are going to try to whip it up this week – maybe for Father’s Day! 🙂

  12. Brenda says

    Thanks, Kimi! I have made your original recipe for this quite a few times, and now I have some gluten-free family members, so this is really great! I think I’ll make one to take camping with us!


  13. Rebecca says

    It sounds like this is a common struggle! It is fun when we bring nourishing snacks to school or playgroup and other moms ask for recipes, leading to conversations about the surprising ingredients list. But we also host our church frequently, and it’s a difficult decision to make. Last Sunday I made one loaf of sprouted sourdough and used a grocery store coupon to get a free loaf of white French bread. I somehow burned the bakery loaf to a crisp, and then only had my small loaf of homemade to serve as garlic bread to 30 people. That’ll teach me! 🙂

    • KimiHarris says

      When I was making it, I was thinking that almond flour would work well in this recipe. But I haven’t tried it yet. Let me know if you do!

  14. says

    I have to take snack next week to our small group and this may end up being it. I’ve never done anything with chia seeds so we’ll see what I end up with. I may do the non gluten free version since that’s not a necessity however it’d be fun to do gluten free just to surprise people.

  15. says

    I made this recipe for my baby’s 1st birthday, actually. And shared it with my in-laws that don’t eat very healthy and think I’m a nut sometimes. And it turned out pretty good with strawberries on the top. They ate it right up.
    I was just wondering if you’ve tried anything as a substitute for the brown rice flour?

  16. says

    that looks tastee. It reminds me of the chocolate lava muffins my mom used to make for me as a kid. Its like one giant lava muffin 😉

  17. says

    that looks so tastee. It reminds me of the chocolate lava muffins that my mom used to make for me and my brother as a kid. Its like one giant lava muffin 😉

  18. Amelia says

    I made this this weekend and it was FABULOUS!! Chocolate Upside Down Cake has long been a family favourite but since having to go gluten and dairy free due to my son, we haven’t been able to have it. My husband was skeptical but all it took was one bit and even he was completely sold!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

  19. Lindsay says

    Could I use Almond milk instead of coconut milk? I have all the other ingredients but coconut milk. I do have almond milk, though.

  20. says

    Oh my Kimi! You have outdone yourself! This was amazing! I made it for my 27th birthday last week. I’m making it again in the morning for some gluten free ladies in my Bible Study. I don’t need to be gluten/dairy/egg free but I would make this anyday over most other cakes!

  21. Beverly says

    Oh my! sinful, sinful……guess everybody needs a break from strict paleo every now and then…..I only had rice flour pancake mix with some of the baking soda/powder and a few other ingredients already added in, so I was a little shy with these ingredients. Smells awesome, crust is awesome and is in the process of cooling as I type….thank you…..

  22. Rachael says

    You can use flax seed and a bit of water instead of chia seeds. I like them more and they add a touch of a nutty taste.

  23. Jessica O says

    Just tried this…I used almond flour instead of rice and I’m not sure if that was the ‘problem’ or not but it didn’t turn out like your picture-not really a cake part on top, but it was a delicious chocolate pudding with traces of thicker brownie-type pieces. I know I mistakenly put in too much coconut oil and I used a combo of sweeteners to try and make it lower carb (coconut sugar/stevia/Just Like Sugar) but otherwise I followed recipe exactly. Maybe it needed more almond flour? Anyhow, though not what I was expecting, it was still good!

  24. Stephanie says

    Looks yummy! I just found out I am allergic to both wheat and rice and don’t have experience with subbing different flours yet. Do you think coconut flour might work?

  25. Katie McChesney says

    Have you tried with almond flour in place of Brown rice? Or could it possibly work with spelt or einkorn? Thank you!

  26. MM says

    We have made this recipe.

    There were multiple steps, including a step that had to be done the day before, which made this recipe seem time consuming.

    However, the family is sitting around eatng the pie now and we all feel it was worth the time and effort.

    The chia seeds made the cake have a rice krispy taste.

    We wouldn’t make it weekly, but maybe forba special occasion.

    Goes great with ice cream- vanilla bean!


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