Baked Goods & Desserts, Cake, Recipes

Gluten-Free, Vegan AND Refined Sugar Free Strawberry Shortcake


Finding a delicious dessert that is gluten-free, vegan AND refined sugar-free can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Well, look no further because I have you covered with this Strawberry Shortcake recipe!

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The Basics: How, What, When, Where, Why

I know what you’re thinking… a dessert that doesn’t have gluten, dairy, eggs OR sugar? Does it even taste good? It is still a dessert? I’m here to answer all of your questions and put your mind at ease. The answer is YES, this Strawberry Shortcake recipe is light, fluffy, and absolutely delicious. With homemade frosting and juicy strawberries to top it off, this dessert is not only one of a kind but also much easier to make than you would think.

I’ll be the first to admit that making gluten-free desserts can be a challenge. So, when I decided to take on trying to make a cake that was also vegan and refined-sugar free, I was definitely a little worried. While it took some trial and error, I can say with complete confidence that this Strawberry Shortcake is AMAZING. And that’s coming from someone who’s favorite dessert growing up was strawberry shortcake (instead of birthday cake, I always wanted strawberry shortcake as a kid). So, clearly I’m well versed in my strawberry shortcake knowledge! 

No Need for Gluten

As a gluten-free food blogger, I have a whole shelf in my pantry dedicated to flour alone. With other baking, you typically use one kind of flour, but when it comes to gluten-free baking, there’s so many different options. So, let’s break down the different types of flour:

  1. Almond Flour: Almond flour is a great low-carb and paleo substitute to all purpose baking flour. It’s a very fine type of powder so it’s best used together with another gluten-free flour.

  2. 1 to 1 Baking Flour: This kind of flour is used in replacement of whole wheat or all-purpose flour. It usually contains xanthin gum, which is a binder in place of gluten. 1:1 Baking Flour is a great gluten-free substitute for cookies, brownies, and other baked goods.

  3. Paleo Baking Flour: This grain-free flour is great for muffins, breads and pizza making! It has a bit of a thicker consistency and doesn’t yield very fluffy baked goods.

  4. Coconut Flour: Often used to make pancakes, coconut flour is another great grain-free alternative. Like almond flour, it’s very light and fluffy, so it is best used with a heavier baking flour.

  5. Tapioca Flour: This starchy flour has a bit of a sweet taste to it and is a great flour to use as a thickener. While it’s not the best baking flour, it’s perfect for soups, sauces, and fillings!

  6. All-Purpose Flour: Free of xanthin gum or other thickeners, this flour is great for making pizzas and other breads. Because it doesn’t use a thickening agent, it’s best not to use this flour for baked goods.

  7. Oat Flour: Like almond and coconut flour, this fine flour is great for baked goods when combined with a heavier flour like 1 to 1 Baking Flour.

While there’s many more gluten-free flours like chickpea, brown rice, and potato, these are the most basic gluten-free flours that are typically used in baking. For this Gluten-Free, Vegan and Refined Sugar Free Strawberry Shortcake, I used 1 to 1 Baking Flour because I need four cakes that would be fluffy yet firm. While you can use a flour mixture, be careful using other flours without xanthin gum for the shortcakes.

How To Make a Good Vegan Cake

In my opinion, the biggest difference when baking vegan is the lack of eggs. I often use dairy-free alternatives like almond milk, coconut oil and coconut yogurt in my baking, so that wasn’t a big change. Can I tell you a secret, though? I had never worked with vegan eggs before and it was quite… an experience. If you’ve never had the pleasure of working with vegan eggs, allow me to describe it to you. Vegan eggs come in a powder form that you are supposed to combine with cold water, then mix together to create a beaten egg like consistency. All of that is fine and easy, but I was not expecting the smell of the powdered eggs. It basically smells like rotten eggs, so I would highly suggest breathing through your mouth when combining the powder and water.

What Does “Refined Sugar Free” Mean?

So, what exactly is refined sugar? Refined sugar is any sugar that has been processed that is not naturally found. So, this means anything from cane to coconut sugar qualifies as refined sugar. When baking refined sugar-free, the alternatives are natural sugar, such as honey and maple syrup. While I was a little apprehensive about how this would taste, I honestly couldn’t tell a difference! The sweetness of the honey and maple syrup together was the perfect amount of sweetness.

Tips & Tricks for Easy Baking

Before we jump into the recipe, allow me to share some tips that I learned along the way.

  • Preparing the Pans: Unless you want to use parchment paper, be sure to generously prepare your baking pans by pouring a teaspoon of melted coconut oil in each. Then, wipe away the excess oil and sprinkle with baking flour. Dusting the pans prevents the cakes from sticking to them which is a lifesaver when it comes to removing the cakes from the pans.

  • The Shortcakes: Trust me when I say, for this recipe alone it’s worth investing in four of the same sized cake pans. If you only have one or two cake pans, not only will this take much longer but you’ll also probably end up with different sized shortcakes.

  • The Frosting: Make the frosting the night before and allow it to sit in the refrigerator overnight. Because this frosting is both vegan and refined sugar free, it doesn’t have the same consistency as store-bought frostings. While it tastes great and works well to spread between the cakes, it’s not thick enough to spread over the entirety of the cake.

  • Serving: Unless you’re serving this cake right away, be sure to refrigerate it before serving. This will allow the frosting to better set between the layers of shortcakes.

Gluten-Free, Vegan & Refined Sugar Free Strawberry Shortcake

Recipe by Arianna Negri Course: DessertDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time




  • For the Cake
  • 6 cups gluten-free baking flour, plus more for coating

  • 2 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 cups coconut oil, melted

  • 1 cup honey

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

  • 2 1/2 cups almond milk

  • 4 vegan eggs

  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Strawberries for garnish

  • For the Frosting
  • 1 cup raw cashews, presoaked

  • 1/4 cup water, reserved from soaking the cashews

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 


  • For the Cake
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease four 8” round cake pans, then
    lightly dust with almond flour to prevent the cakes from sticking to the pans
  • In a medium bowl, combine the baking flour, baking powder, and salt
  • Next, add the melted coconut oil, honey and maple syrup to the dry ingredients
  • Use an electric mixer to beat for 2 minutes until smooth 
  • Then, add the almond milk, vegan eggs, and vanilla extract
  • Beat for another 2 minutes until creamy
  • Pour the batter until the prepared baking pans, distributing evenly
  • Bake for 25-28 minutes, then allow the cakes to cool for 15 minutes
  • Run a clean knife along the edges of the pan to release the cakes
  • Allow the cakes to cool outside of the pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes before frosting 
  • For the Frosting
  • After soaking the cashews in warm water for at least one hour, add the cashews and
    1/4 cup of the water to a blender
  • Next, add the rest of the ingredients and blend for 1 minute
  • Then, use a spatula to scrap down the sides of the blender
  • Blend again for 1 minute, and repeat this process until smooth
  • Store in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before frosting, ideally longer for best
  • To Assemble the Cake
  • After the cake has cooled and the frosting has been refrigerated for at least an hour,
    start by spreading an even amount of frosting on the top of one cake
  • Then, add the next cake and repeat the process until finished
  • Top with fresh strawberries and store the cake in the refrigerator until ready to


  • Frosting is best used to spread on top of stackable cakes. The consistency may not be thick enough to frost the whole cake in its entirety.


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