Molten Lava Cake

What’s better than a cake with a gooey molten chocolate center? This molten lava cake is rich and fudgy with no refined sugar; it’s sweetened with maple!

Molten lava cake

But really: what’s better than a chocolate cake with a gooey molten center? Alex and I don’t make many of desserts in our household, but we’re all about an occasional splurge. And, we love a challenge: here we tried to come up with a molten lava cake that uses no refined sugar but still tastes amazing. And we think we did it! Keep reading for the molten lava cake recipe.

Making molten lava cake

This molten lava cake turned out is ultra delicious, using nothing other than maple syrup as a sweetener, and a small amount of coconut oil as the fat. It also has a very low amount of flour per serving, and uses only cocoa powder to make the chocolate: not actual melted chocolate! Even though it’s a molten lava cake with a healthy spin, it still tastes fudgy and chocolatey.

The most important part of making molten lava cake is liberally butter or oil the ramekins! You can make these cakes in either 2 8-inch ramekins or 4 5-inch ramekins. It’s important to butter or oil the ramkins because once they are baked, you’ll need to invert them onto the plate. If any part of the ramekin is not buttered, you’ll have a lava cake catastrophe! Of course, you can eat them in the ramekins too! But they’ll be hot so you’ll have to wait for them to cool down a bit before you try.

The only other thing to note with this recipe is that the bake time can vary based on the size of the ramekin and your exact oven temperature. We’ve listed the timing in the recipe below, but you’ll have to check because every oven is different. Bake the molten lava cakes until the top is just set but the inside is gooey — you can check using a toothpick.

If you make the full recipe for four servings, it’s decadence at a minimal calorie count. But more importantly, it’s a quick and easy treat to throw together using natural ingredients that you might already have in your pantry.  Give it a try for an upcoming special meal – and try to use local eggs and honey if they are available to you!

Molten lava cake

Looking for easy desserts?

Outside of this molten lava cake, here are a few more easy desserts:

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Molten Lava Cake

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (9 votes, average: 4.11 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 or 4 1x


What’s better than a cake with a gooey molten chocolate center? This molten lava cake is rich and fudgy with no refined sugar; it’s sweetened with maple! 



  • 2 8-ounce ramekins (or 4 5-ounce ramekins)*
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup milk (almond milk for dairy free)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg (local, if possible!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon coconut or vegetable oil (or substitute 1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature)


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, baking powder, kosher salt, and cocoa powder. Then whisk in the milk, maple syrup, egg, vanilla, and coconut or vegetable oil. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Liberally grease the inside of the ramekins with oil or butter, especially the bottoms (don’t forget this part – it helps the cakes will easily slide out after baking!). Divide the mixture evenly between the ramekins.
  4. Here’s the hard part: bake the ramekins until just hardened on top, but still liquid in the center – between 12 to 15 minutes for larger ramekins, and around 10 minutes for smaller ramekins. The top should be just solidified (not jiggly). Test with a toothpick to make sure it is cooked but that there is still liquid on the inside. When you remove the ramekins from the oven, let them cool for a bit, then run a knife around the edge and carefully invert them onto a plate (using hot pads, as they’ll still be quite hot!).Tip Don’t worry if you overbake or underbake on your first try – we had to play with it a bit to get the right timing with our oven, but in either case they are still delicious! (Underbaking will end up with a lot of liquid whereas overbaking will have very little “lava”.)
  5. Serve immediately, sprinkled with powdered sugar. If desired, serve with ice cream, crème fraiche, or sweetened whipped cream.


*We’ve made this recipe using either 2 8-ounce ramekins or 4 5-ounce ramekins; you’ll just need to adapt the baking time (see below). The trick is to bake the cakes so that the outside is baked but the inside is still liquid. The timing is hard measure since all ovens and ramekins are different, so you’ll have to give it a try and adapt accordingly to your oven! You’ll want to remove the cakes when they have just solidified, but before they are cooked through. The liquidity of the honey also affects the runniness of the dough, which in turn affects the cook time.

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Molten lava cake, Chocolate Desserts, Healthy Dessert Recipes, Lava Cake,

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    February 12, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Love this! Just out of curiosity, did you find you had to adjust your liquid ingredients to make up for using honey? I’m trying to use more natural sweeteners but I’m never sure how to adjust for using liquid or dry sweeteners!

    • Reply
      February 12, 2012 at 10:33 pm

      Good question! We developed this recipe specifically for using honey, so we didn’t adapt it from an original recipe with sugar.

      But yes, I think you generally have to adjust the liquid in a recipe for adding honey (try this link: Let us know if you give it a try!

  • Reply
    February 13, 2012 at 4:38 am

    It looks very delicious and elegant.
    Simple things (with honey) are the best :)

  • Reply
    February 13, 2012 at 5:47 am

    I love a good lava cake, especially when it’s made perfectly like these. Great how you turned it into a healthier version, can’t wait to try this recipe!

  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    February 13, 2012 at 6:02 am

    This sounds sooooo freaking yummy!

  • Reply
    Simply Tia
    February 13, 2012 at 7:15 am

    Beautiful lava cake. Those things are sinfully delicious and yours look like no exception!! Yum.

  • Reply
    Lauren @ Healthy Food For Living
    February 13, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Simply fantastic! This is my kind of dessert: whole wheat flour, unrefined sweeter, low fat… can’t wait to make these molten lava cakes!

  • Reply
    Mara @ Elemental Custard
    February 13, 2012 at 8:11 am

    Wow delicious! I was just looking up a recipe for molten lava cakes and clicked on your blog to check the newest posts and voila! Perfect timing!

    • Reply
      February 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      Funny! Anything else that you need us to make for you?

  • Reply
    Brooke (The Flour Sack)
    February 13, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I opened my e-mail, died, went to heaven, and now I’m sitting here STILL staring at these gorgeous cakes! I love, love, love that you’ve made these lava cakes with whole, natural ingredients. I’m anxious to get in the kitchen and give them a go! Thank you for the wonderful inspiration. I appreciate your approach to food – it’s much like mine – and adore your blog. :)

    • Reply
      February 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      Haha. Thanks! You’ll have to let us know if you try them — we are hoping that our recipe works for anyone’s oven…

  • Reply
    Heidi @ Food Doodles
    February 13, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Beautiful! I love this healthier version of a molten lava cake!! And I really love that you put special emphasis on using local eggs and honey – both of which I use regularly and love. I’ll be trying this recipe for sure!

    • Reply
      February 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      Thanks! Of course, healthy is a relative term, but you can never go wrong with fresh local ingredients :)

  • Reply
    [email protected] in the Sink
    February 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    My husband and I used to go to a local restaurant and enjoy this dessert when we were dating! I’ve thought of making it at home but haven’t gotten around to it! It gives me a great idea for Valentine’s Day though!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2012 at 5:50 am

    All – I have updated the recipe to correct a typo and add a note about substituting butter, based on some reader feedback. Just a note in case you’d already looked through the recipe! :) Happy Valentine’s Day!!

  • Reply
    March 28, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    Do you happen to know the calorie count/nutritional facts on these delicious little cakes?

    • Reply
      March 28, 2012 at 7:29 pm

      You can punch the ingredients into this calculator if you like: Recipe Analyzer

  • Reply
    May 11, 2012 at 6:13 am

    Those look wickedly amazing. The photos with the chocolate oozing out nearly finished me off :)

  • Reply
    May 11, 2012 at 6:13 am

    Those look wickedly amazing. The photos with the chocolate oozing out nearly finished me off :)

  • Reply
    July 7, 2012 at 7:14 am

    is there any risk of salmonella?

    • Reply
      July 7, 2012 at 9:22 am

      This is the standard procedure for making molten lava cakes. The internal temp gets quite warm, but I’m not sure if it reaches a full 160 degrees. So, I’m not sure if there is a small risk or not.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    A very good alternative recipe for the health concious. I made some chooclate sauce to go on top using some dark chocolate chips and coconut oil. Ate these molten lava cakes with ice cream and they tasted great. Every one in my family including kids loved them. Thank you for this great recipe!

  • Reply
    December 17, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    This looks and sounds so delicious. It makes me want to make it today. To bad I need to go to the store to get some of the ingredients before I make it!

  • Reply
    February 16, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Are these made with unsweetened cocoa powder?

  • Reply
    February 11, 2015 at 6:43 am

    OMG, I just discovered your beautiful site. And I had no idea this blog existed . I hope my blog name doesn’t sound ripped off from yours, coz its not :(

    On an aside, what a beautiful blog. I am drooling on my laptop! :)

  • Reply
    May 21, 2015 at 11:43 am

    These look fantastic – any idea if they can be made ahead and cooked from chilled or even frozen?

    • Reply
      May 21, 2015 at 1:02 pm

      Hi! I think you could make the batter ahead (and then bring to room temperature when ready). I wouldn’t try baking them until you are ready to serve, because getting the molten chocolate just right is a little tricky.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2016 at 8:25 am

    Oh yeah! Get into my belly! This is on the top of my to-bake list! Thanks!

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