Perfect Dairy-Free Pound Cake (Optionally Gluten-Free)


This is a guest post and dairy-free pound cake recipe by my friend Shirley Braden of Gluten Free Easily. Shirley has been gluten free since June 2003, allowing her plenty of time to perfect countless delicious recipes. Her passion is educating folks on gluten issues and showing how eating gluten free can be easy and delicious.

Since I eat gluten free, I love making and enjoying recipes that are naturally gluten free. That’s the backbone of my gluten free easily (gfe) approach. When eating dairy free, I like to do the same. So I cook and bake dairy free easily, or dfe, if you will.

When I was growing up, pound cake was a family favorite. Bake a good pound cake and you were loved by all! Seriously. There was no gift I could give my grandmother (my dad’s mom) that she would have preferred over my pound cake. Grandma loved pound cake, and she said mine were the best.

Shirley's Perfect Pound Cake - Dairy-free and optionally Gluten-Free

You see, before going gluten free, I made all kinds of pound cakes. There were classic pound cakes, orange pound cakes, lemon pound cakes, cream cheese pound cakes, chocolate pound cakes, and marble pound cakes, just to name a few. Some were baked in tube pans, and others were prettiest if cooked in Bundt pans. Some were 8-inch squares, but others were baked in loaf pans. Some were served plain, but some required a dusting of powdered sugar or a thin drizzle of icing. But, one thing they all had in common was how good they were. Everyone in my family and circle of friends had their own personal favorite of my pound cakes.

Shirley's Perfect Pound Cake - Dairy-free and optionally Gluten-Free

I had been gluten free for well over 6 years and had not found a really good gluten-free pound cake before I adapted this recipe from the Filippo Berio site (which, incidentally,  was also the source of my gluten-free, dairy-free Mediterranean Chocolate Cake). Coming from a 150-year old olive oil company, olive oil was an obvious choice for the shortening. The other step to making this cake dairy free was equally obvious to me and actually ensured the success of this pound cake. I used full-fat coconut milk instead of dairy milk.

The first time I made this dairy-free pound cake was for my dad’s birthday a few years ago. Good thing the recipe made two loaves …

Shirley's Perfect Pound Cake - Dairy-free and optionally Gluten-Free

My son was home for the weekend and ended up eating almost one entire loaf by himself, and then even more later. He told me I should sell this dairy-free pound cake in individual slices for $4 or $5! “Mom, I’m serious. You could make a fortune,” he said.

Before my son headed home, he asked me to slice the remaining part of the loaf into individual pieces as a “to-go package” for easy eating while on the road. Then, he offered to deliver the remaining dairy-free pound cake loaf to Dad when he stopped by to say hello on his way out of town. Do I need to tell you what happened? He ate all of his to-go package before he arrived and then ate some more of Dad’s dairy-free pound cake when it was offered. In case you need any more endorsement than that, please know that this cake is very easy to make and both delightfully moist and dense. In a word, it’s perfect!

If you are a not a fan of pound cake as a dessert by itself, feel free to top a slice with some fresh fruit (e.g., strawberries for a strawberry shortcake-type dish). Or you can drizzle it with your favorite chocolate or fruit syrup. Another option would be to make an elegant pot of dairy-free chocolate fondue. It’s easy to cut pound cake into squares, skewer with a toothpick, and dip into thick chocolate fondue. Whichever way you decide to eat your dairy-free pound cake, enjoy!

Special Diet Notes: Perfect Dairy-Free Pound Cake

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, and vegetarian.

4.0 from 1 reviews
Perfect Dairy-Free Pound Cake (Optionally Gluten-Free)
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I don't taste either the coconut milk or orange juice in this recipe. Perhaps they balance each other out, because all I taste is "good." I also just love the crunchy edges of this pound cake recipe. The end pieces are my absolute favorite.
Serves: 2 pound cakes
  • 2¼ cups gluten-free flour (see the Flour Note below)
  • 1½ teaspoons xanthan gum (optional; see the Flour Note below)
  • 1¼ teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup light olive oil (can sub coconut oil)
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I use my homemade vanilla extract)
  • 3 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup full-fat coconut milk (another non-dairy milk may be used, but full-fat coconut milk is by far the best choice in this recipe)
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (375ºF at higher altitude).
  2. Combine flour, xanthan gum, sea salt, and baking powder in an extra large measuring cup or separate bowl.
  3. Pour olive oil into large bowl, and slowly mix in sugar, orange juice, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition.
  5. Add milk. Mix 2 minutes. Gradually add dry ingredients into wet ingredients, mixing well.
  6. Pour batter into two greased loaf pans (see the Pan Note below).
  7. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into one of the pound cakes comes out clean.
Flour Note: I can’t tolerate many of the healthier, gluten-free flours; e.g., sorghum, buckwheat. Therefore, my gluten-free flour mix is 3 parts Asian white rice flour and 2 parts cornstarch. I gently mix three one-lb bags of the Asian white rice flour and two one-lb boxes of cornstarch in a very large bowl and then store the mix in several airtight containers (like large glass jars). No refrigeration is needed. But feel free to use whichever flour mix you use most often for baking. If you're not gluten free, you may use all-purpose flour and omit the xanthan gum.

Pan Note: The pans can be greased with whichever oil you use or sprayed with a non-stick spray. Two loaf pans are what the original recipe calls for and what I used. Don't worry too much over the size of the pans, although you may have to adjust cooking times. The original recipe called for 6¾" x 3½" x 2" loaf pans. I used 8½" x 4½" x 2⅝" pans.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


    • If you want to sub a liquid sugar for a granulated one, I would look up a conversion for it. I think it’s something like 2/3 to 1, but I’m not 100% sure. We haven’t tested this recipe with a liquid sweetener, so I couldn’t give you an exact amount or confirmation that it will work well.

  1. The flavor of this cake was amazing but mine turned rubbery. Any ideas on why? I followed the directions without xanthum gum (my flour blend already had it) and with the coconut oil option. I’m still new to gf cooking – any help is appreciated 🙂

    • Hi Ariel, it sounds like your flour blend probably has a high ratio of xanthan gum and/or other binders. Two things can make a baked good rubbery: not enough fat (but this cake has enough) and too much gluten-free “binder.” Unfortunately, some premade blends have too much for a good texture with muffins and cakes.

  2. I am anxious to try this recipe. I will be using coconut flour, so do I still use corn starch, and what is the purpose of the corn starch?

    • Hi Anne, coconut flour is not an even swap for white rice flour. If you use coconut flour, you will need to make quite a few adjustments to the recipe as it is much dryer than most gluten-free flours. I can’t make any recommendations in this case without quite a few tests myself!

    • Hi Nancy, Do you mean that you are making it with wheat flour? See the Flour Note – the last sentence is the wheat flour option. You just omit the xanthan gum. If using wheat flour, then you aren’t using cornstarch, that’s just the gluten-free version. If gluten-free, you can sub any starch for the cornstarch with slight variations in the results. If using the gluten-free version, I recommend using the xanthan gum. If you choose to omit it, then you might need to experiment with other binders or just enjoy a more crumbly loaf!

  3. I am going to try making this recipe. I am going to use Betty Crocker Gluten free all purpose flour blend so then I just add everything else since the flour has rice flour, potato starch, pea fiber, tapioca starch and xanthan gum in the blend? Why can’t we print this recipe?

    • Hi Judy, this is an older recipe, so it isn’t in our newer printable format yet. I just updated it so that you can print it! If you are using a mix with xanthan gum in it then you should be able to omit the xanthan gum in the recipe.

    • Make a flax “egg”! It doesn’t hold things together quite as well as an actual egg, however, lb cake is fairly dense so it may work well. If I’m using flax eggs, I use one more “egg” and is required for extra durability in baking. This requires 3 large eggs so I’d make 4 flax “eggs”.

  4. After making this gluten free and with coconut oil twice with great success, I decided to try making it chocolate. I switched one quarter cup of the flour for one quarter cup cocoa, rum for the orange juice and hazelnut flavoring for the vanilla. My husband and I loved it!

  5. I made this yesterday with all purpose flour. It is SO AMAZING. My friends and I just could not believe it was dairy free. The texture and taste mimics the real thing so perfectly! Thank you!

  6. Pingback: Dairy-Free Pound Cake for My Annual Flag Cake!

    • Hi Shary, you could go with one egg and one egg white or egg yolk. since it is a pound cake, I would err on the side of more eggs, and go with 2 if you want to use whole eggs.

  7. This looks like an interesting recipe, but I can’t use xanthan gum. I’ve used agar-agar as a substitute in other baking recipes before–would it work in this too? Thanks.

    • I’m sorry, but I haven’t tested agar in this way or in this recipe, so I couldn’t confirm. If it has worked well for you with other baked goods, then it might be worth a shot in this one!

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