This gluten free orange cake is moist, tender and so easy to make. It’s topped with a fresh orange buttercream frosting and is a total crowd pleasing recipe. Plus, you can easily make it dairy free!
My gluten free lemon cake is one of my most popular and favorite recipes from the blog, so this Summer I wanted to create a fresh variation!
This gluten free orange cake is packed with fresh and bright flavor. The cake is moist and tender with a delicious orange buttercream.
We’ll be using orange juice, orange zest and orange extract to ensure a really well rounded flavor.
This cake is not like a Mary Berry orange spice cake, but if you want to add some additional spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. If you love this recipe, try my carrot cake next!
What are gluten free cakes made of?
Flour. For this recipe, we’ll use a mix of gluten free all purpose flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour) and almond flour.
If you need to make it nut free, you can sub the almond flour with an additional 1/2 cup of GF all purpose flour, so use 3 1/4 cups total.
Sugar. I highly recommend just regular old white sugar for this cake. You can try subbing for a refined sugar free option like coconut sugar, but that will make the color very dark and can change the texture.
Eggs. You need 4 large room temperature eggs for this recipe. Be sure they are at room temperature or the cake can get clumpy when you mix the butter and eggs.
You cannot sub the eggs for an egg replacer to make this vegan. But yes, butter, eggs and vanilla are all gluten free.
Butter and oil. I love using a mix of butter and oil for cakes because it creates a light and fluffy texture but also a rich flavor.
Orange. You’ll need fresh orange juice, orange zest and orange extract here. If you do not have orange extract, you can sub for more orange zest.
How to make orange cake
Prepare cake pans. Grease and line two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans or three 6 inch cake pans and set aside. Please be sure to grease and line as you do not want the cake to stick!
Preheat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix wet ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients.
Add dry ingredients. Add in the dry ingredients, making sure to spoon and level the flours, don’t scoop right from the bag. Whisk until smooth.
Taste. Give a quick taste and add more orange zest or extract as desired. Do not add more orange juice.
Add to pans. Transfer to your prepared cake pans, trying to fill each as evenly as possible.
Bake. For 8 or 9 inch pans, bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean, for 6 inch pans, bake for 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
Beat butter. To make the buttercream, add your softened butter to a bowl or bowl of a stand mixer and beat for 2-3 minutes.
Add sugar. Add in the powdered sugar in 2-3 batches. Beat until smooth and creamy.
Add flavor. Add in the orange juice, zest and vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy.
Adjust. If it is too thin, add more sugar, if it’s too thick add in more orange juice or a splash of milk. For a stronger orange flavor, add in more zest or some orange extract.
How to store and freeze
How to store after baking and decorating. Once the cake is frosted and decorated, be sure to keep it covered either on a cake stand with a cover or in a container if it’s sliced.
You can store at room temperature or in the fridge, but if you store in the fridge, the texture will firm up a bit.
How to freeze. You can freeze this gluten free orange cake after it bakes and before you frost it. Simply bake the cake as usual, let it cool completely, then wrap each layer in plastic wrap.
Place each layer in a freezer safe bag and freeze until you’re ready to frost.
Why did my cake sink in the middle?
The main reason this may happen with this recipe is if you underbake it. Be sure to keep the oven closed while baking and check with a toothpick.
The toothpick should come out clean with a few moist crumbs, but it should not be wet.
Frequently asked questions
Are gluten free cakes healthy?
They can be! But they can also be loaded with just as much refined sugar and oil as a regular gluten filled cake, so don’t be fooled.
This recipe is totally gluten free and safe for Celiacs, but I would not classify it as healthy because of the high sugar content.
Do gluten free cakes taste different?
If done correctly, no, and I’m not just saying that! A gluten free cake can be just as moist, flavorful, tender and delicious as a regular cake.
The key is to follow the recipe as written because each ingredient was chosen with care!
Why is it dry?
Gluten free baked goods have a (not so accurate) reputation of being dry, but when made correctly, this cake should be anything but dry!
One reason it may turn out dry is if you measure the flour incorrectly. You want to be sure to spoon and level the flour into your dry measuring cups. Don’t scoop from the bag or you may end up with more flour than you actually need.
More cake recipes you’ll love!
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Gluten Free Orange Cake
by: claire cary
- 4 eggs room temperature
- 1 ½ cups fine white sugar
- ⅓ cup oil any plain oil will work
- ⅓ cup melted butter
- ⅔ cup milk room temperature
- 1 cup fresh orange juice room temperature
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1-2 teaspoons orange extract
- 2 ¾ cup gluten free all purpose flour
- 1 cup blanched almond flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks butter
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- Grease and line two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans or three 6 inch cake pans and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients.
- Add in the dry ingredients, making sure to spoon and level the flours, don't scoop right from the bag.
- Whisk until smooth.
- Give a quick taste and add more orange zest or extract as desired. Do not add more orange juice.
- Transfer to your prepared cake pans, trying to fill each as evenly as possible.
- For 8 or 9 inch pans, bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean, for 6 inch pans, bake for 40-45 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
- To make the buttercream, add your softened butter to a bowl or bowl of a stand mixer and beat for 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the powdered sugar in 2-3 batches, beating until smooth and creamy.
- Add in the orange juice, zest and vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy.
- If it is too thin, add more sugar, if it's too thick add in more orange juice or a splash of milk. For a stronger orange flavor, add in more zest or some orange extract.
- Once the cake has cooled completely, frost and enjoy!
This cake is unreal! I made it for my son’s first birthday party this weekend and everyone loved it! I love baking cakes and I was told that it is the best cake that I’ve ever made. Soo delish. I can’t wait to use this recipe again and again!
Claire Cary says
Just made my day, thanks Erica!
How many grams is a stick of butter?
Claire Cary says
About 113 grams!
Summer Behling says
Can you use a non dairy milk here?
Claire Cary says
Yes, any milk will do!
Elizabeth Midence says
I made a two layer version of this DELICIOUS cake. My main tip with this cake is to choose a quality gluten free flour – I used Pillsbury and do not recommend for this cake. I loved the potent scent of orange that filled my kitchen with joyness ☺️ I added a few drops of orange essential oil ( only recommend Young Living Vitality oils for consumption) –
For me what makes this cake SOOO good is the orange buttercream icing- wow!!!! Since I made a 2- layer instead of 3 there was plenty left over icing which I used to ice fresh made croissants 🥐 the next day- crazy delish! I took cake to a church social and everyone who got a piece( it went fast) loved it. 🧡
Claire Cary says
Amazing! Makes me so happy to hear, thanks Elizabeth!
Catherine Stofferahn says
Looks so delicious! Is there a substitute for the almond flour as I cannot have almonds?
Claire Cary says
Yes, I explain all subs in the recipe card!