Gluten-Free Vegan Upside-Down Sticky Toffee Pudding

Martha would be impressed with this free-from version of her Upside-Down Sticky Toffee Pudding. It's drizzled with a decadent dairy-free toffee sauce.


Upside-Down Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe - Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, and Soy-Free! Also optionally refined sugar free.

When mom and I get on the phone, inevitably the conversation turns to what Dr. Oz talked about on his latest show or what Martha has been whipping up in the kitchen. I don’t have a television, so thankfully she keeps me in the loop! The other week she gave me the mouth-watering play-by-play of Martha and Nora Singley making Upside-Down Sticky Toffee Pudding. I had never had sticky pudding—much less heard of it. My interest was peaked. I had to investigate.

Scanning the recipe over, I had a good feeling that it could be modified to be free of egg, gluten, dairy and refined sugar without a hitch. Three sticky pudding’s later I think I have it. And, so without further ado, here is my holiday gift to you—Upside-Down Sticky Toffee Pudding.

If you make it, I’d love to know how it measures up to other sticky puddings you’ve had. The first rounds were just a bit too sticky for my taste. This one is a bit more sticky-bready. Thank you Nora and Martha for the inspiration. And thank you my beautiful readers, my heart swells with gratitude for you … it’s been a great year!

Upside-Down Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe - Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, and Soy-Free! Also optionally refined sugar free.

Recipe Tips: Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Upside-Down Sticky Toffee Pudding

  1. This moist sponge cake is best served warm. But if you have any leftovers, store them covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Ingredient Notes & Substitutions

  • Chia Seeds: I use white chia seeds because their lighter color blends into most recipes, but this is a darker recipe, so it’s fine to use black chia seeds. You can grind them in your spice grinder or blender to make chia seed meal. If you only have flaxseed, you can make “flax eggs” instead. I haven’t tested it, but if you tolerate eggs, you should be able to use 2 eggs in place of the chia seed meal and water.
  • Sugar: Coconut sugar tends to be coarse, so I usually powder it to ensure it dissolves properly into the cake. Like the chia seeds, you can simple grind the coconut sugar in your spice grinder or blender for about 10 to 20 seconds. If using brown sugar, you don’t need to grind it. It dissolves just fine!
  • Flour: The ingredient that really makes these cookies is the superfine brown rice flour. This is “the Cadillac” of rice flours. But this recipe will work just fine if you don’t have superfine, or if you opt to substitute an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend.
  • Butter Alternative: Most brands will work just fine, but I use a salted version. As noted, add a little salt if using an unsalted buttery spread or sticks.
Upside-Down Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe - Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, and Soy-Free! Also optionally refined sugar free.

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Upside-Down Sticky Toffee Pudding

Serves: 12 servings Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )


Toffee Sauce

  • 1/2 cup dairy-free buttery spread (I use Earth Balance soy-free)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar, powdered (see post above)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons pure gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 1 small (5.46 fluid ounces) can coconut milk (about 2/3 cup)

Sticky Toffee Pudding

  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons ground chia seeds (chia meal)
  • 4 ounces pitted medjool dates (approximately 4-5 large)
  • 3/4 cup superfine brown or white rice flour
  • 1/4 cup potato starch (not flour)
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free buttery spread (I use Earth Balance soy-free)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar, powdered (see post above)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon pure gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or macadamia nuts (optional), reserve 1/4 cup for garnish


For the toffee sauce:

  1. Melt buttery spread in medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar and maple syrup.
  2. Bring to boil and immediately reduce to simmer. Cook for 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
  3. Add vanilla and coconut milk. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until a thick sauce forms, about 5 minutes. Keep warm until ready to use.

For the pudding:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Oil one 8-inch cake pan.
  2. To make the chia eggs, whisk water and ground chia seeds together in a small bowl. Let sit.
  3. Simmer dates with 1/2 cup water in small saucepan until dates have softened and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Transfer dates to food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine flour, starches, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cardamom, and cloves.
  6. In a large bowl, beat butter alternative, powdered coconut sugar, and chia eggs on high for one minute. Add maple syrup, vanilla, and date mixture; beat to combine. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Batter will be thick and sticky.
  7. Pour 1/2 cup toffee sauce into bottom of prepared cake pan; sprinkle with nuts. Dollop batter over toffee and nuts and smooth top with wet fingers or spatula.
  8. Transfer to oven and bake until deep golden and a bamboo skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

To assemble:

  1. Remove pudding from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes.
  2. Run a small knife around edge of pan and invert pudding onto serving plate.
  3. Top with 1/2 cup of additional toffee sauce; allow to cool slightly. Some of the nuts and toffee may stick to the bottom of the pan when inverted. This extra drizzle of toffee sauce and sprinkling of reserved 1/4 cup nuts will cover any boo boos.
  4. Serve warm with coconut cream whipped topping and drizzle of remaining toffee sauce.


Sugar Alternative: This recipe should work fine with brown sugar in place of coconut sugar.

Flour Replacement: Any xanthan-free gluten-free all-purpose flour blend should work as well. Replace the rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour with 1-1/4 cups of your favorite all-purpose GF flour blend.

Salt: If using unsalted butter alternative, you may want to add a pinch of salt to both the cake batter and the toffee sauce.

Nutrition Facts: Calories 367, Total Fat 15.3g, Saturated Fat 4.8g, Sodium 148mg, Total Carbohydrate 55.4g, Dietary Fiber 6.9g, Total Sugars 28.1g, Protein 4.2g

Dietary Notes: Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Citrus-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Easily Tree Nut-Free | Wheat-Free |  Sesame-Free |  Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan

More Good Stuff


Ricki December 21, 2011 - 9:09 pm

OMG, Lexie, you have totally outdone yourself!! I have to make this! I've never had sticky pudding, either, but now I will. 😀

Do you think coconut nectar would work instead of maple syrup? I think that's the only ingredient I'm not supposed to have right now. What a great dessert this will be!!

Enjoy the holidays! xo Ricki

Lexie December 21, 2011 - 9:19 pm

Ricki … are YOU asking a substitution question : ) HA! Yes, I think the nectar would work fine. Probably would not need to boil the sauce as long since it is already so thick. And maybe add a tad bit of water to the batter? And I HOPE someone will play with this using coconut oil in place of earth balance. I just did not have the time. If using coconut oil, I'd add a little salt to both the sauce and pudding batter. Okay NOW … I just had an epiphany! These could easily easily be made into brownies. Oh boy … sadly, I am sooo sick of being in the kitchen. So I have closed up shop for a week!


Maggie December 21, 2011 - 11:47 pm

Oh my, what a present to your lovely readers. This looks and sounds amazing. I'm with Ricki, I think this will be made in my kitchen! Holy moly. Thanks Lexie. Here's to another fabulous year. xo

Kalinda December 22, 2011 - 1:19 am

Om nom nom. What are the chances I can get you to mail me some?

Deirdre December 22, 2011 - 3:10 am

I, am definitely making this for Christmas desert! And yes, I shall post feedback….
Cheers, and Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Enjoy the Holidays.

Deirdre December 22, 2011 - 3:11 am

oh, hehe, ty for posting it….And, you did it as you said you would…..Cheers.

Carole December 22, 2011 - 3:32 pm

I've been looking for a Christmas dinner dessert too-this is it!!

Laura @ Gluten Free Pantry December 22, 2011 - 7:37 pm

Oh my-Santa wants this pudding on Christmas Eve!!!

Holly December 23, 2011 - 2:47 am

Oh my! I LOVE sticky toffee pudding! Thank you for a great recipe! I will make this soon – and just have a quick question. Is this overly sweet? Could you cut down on some of the sugar/syrup to make it a bit less sweet?


Nancy December 25, 2011 - 8:42 pm

We are making this recipe right now. In the instructions, the recipe calls for salt but there is no salt in the ingredients list.


Carole December 27, 2011 - 7:34 pm

Made this for Christmas dinner and your mother-in-law was impressed:) I left the recipe on the counter and made sure to give you all of the credit! Was delicious and had none of the "off" flavor that sometimes accompanies alternative flours. I used brown sugar (instead of coconut sugar) and walnuts. A big hit!

Nancy December 27, 2011 - 7:42 pm

My husband and I are gluten free, dairy free, egg free and others. This recipe looked delicious so we made it for ourselves on Christmas Day. It is wonderful!! Like Carole above, we used brown sugar instead of the coconut sugar because we didn't have it. Thanks so much. It was our treat for the holidays!!

Lexie December 27, 2011 - 8:04 pm

Carole and Nancy … I loved the feedback! Thank you. It's reassuring to know that what I think tastes good others find good : ) And Carole, I am glad my MIL like it, too : ) xoLexie

Nancy Olson December 5, 2012 - 5:35 pm

So delicious!

Yum! Thanks for sharing this.


Leann Wall October 24, 2014 - 9:06 pm

Can a chicken egg replace a chia egg?

Lexie October 25, 2014 - 12:45 am

Leann, I think that would work just fine 🙂



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