Walnut cake

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This beautiful walnut cake is moist, rich yet light, and full of walnut flavor. It’s so simple, amazingly delicious, and perfect for birthdays or holidays!

The best part? It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, and requires 5 ingredients only.

Top view of a round walnut cake cut into slices over a white background.

Today, I’m so excited to share an incredible walnut cake inspired by a recipe created by Pellegrino Artusi, a gastronomist and legend of Italian cuisine from the late 19th century.

Yes, that was a long ago, but his cake is still one of the best walnut cakes ever.

It’s absolutely delicious, nutty, moist, and perfect for any occasion. It’s also gluten-free and dairy-free, and the low-calorie count per serving makes it “almost” guilt-free, too. I mean, what’s not to love?

First, there’s no butter, flour, or ultra-sweet frosting here—this one’s made with a combination of simple, wholesome ingredients. The recipe perfectly combines rich walnuts, good-quality dark chocolate, sugar, and eggs, which act as binders and help the batter rise.

The simplicity and short list of ingredients might surprise you, but you’ll love the deep walnut flavor and the perfectly tender crumb.

Give this walnut cake recipe a try and impress your family and friends with this simple yet fabulous treat!

List of the ingredients

  • Walnuts
  • Good-quality dark chocolate
  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Honey (optional)
Top view of the walnut cake ingredients over a white background.

How to make this walnut cake

(Note: This is a quick description; the full recipe is at the bottom of the page.)

  • Using a food processor, grind evenly the walnuts with some sugar. You don’t need a fine powder but a grainy texture. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Next, grind the chocolate evenly and set aside.
Two images showing a food processor bowl with walnuts and with chocolate.
  • Beat the egg yolks and the rest of the sugar until pale and fluffy. I recommend using a stand mixer or an electric beater.
  • Add the ground walnuts, chocolate, and vanilla extract to the bowl and mix until well combined.
Two images showing a glass bowl with egg yolks and sugar before adding  the rest of the ingredients.
  • Beat the egg whites until firm and stir them gently into the batter.
  • Transfer the batter to a cake tin and bake for 30 minutes.
  • I LOVE serving this cake brushed with honey and sprinkled with chopped walnuts. But you’re welcome to dust it with icing sugar or even cover it in chocolate ganache if you fancy a more decadent dessert!
Two images showing a glass bowl full of batter and a walnut cake after baking.

Recipe Notes

Walnut cake ingredients

Walnuts: The stars of the show! They taste delicious, but they also add texture, nutrients, and healthy fats!

Dark chocolate: Better quality ingredients, better results! I recommend using good-quality dark chocolate for this recipe; either a 70% or 85% dark chocolate bar or chocolate chips work.

Sugar: Either superfine / caster sugar or ordinary granulated sugar is fine.

Eggs: They give structure and are also essential leavening agents in this recipe as they incorporate air into the batter, making the cake rise.

Vanilla extract & honey: Vanilla extract adds extra flavor. Honey adds delicious floral notes and a thin, sticky glaze; I LOVE it, but I leave it optional.

Close-up of a walnut cake slice served on a white plate.

Tips for making the best walnut cake

  1. For this recipe, you need an 8-inch round cake pan with a loose base, parchment paper (or these pre-cut parchment paper rounds), a food processor, an electric hand beater or stand mixer to whip the white eggs, a bowl, and a spatula.
  2. Grind the walnuts and chocolate until evenly ground but still a bit coarse (you don’t want a fine powder.)
  3. Make sure your bowl, beaters, and spatula are clean and dry. Any egg yolk, water, or grease will keep your whites from beating to peaks.
  4. Beat the egg whites until uniformly white, forming soft peaks. Don’t overbeat them.
  5. Don’t add all the whipped egg whites to the batter in one go; start with only a 1/3 and mix gently until combined before adding the rest.
  6. Brush generously the cake with honey while it’s still warm, then top with chopped, crispy walnuts.

Storage Tips

To store this walnut cake, cover it and refrigerate for up to 4 days. To freeze, wrap it in plastic film, place it in a freezer bag or airtight container, and freeze for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to serve it, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and then let the cake come to room temperature before serving, or microwave for 10-15 seconds until warm and soft.

Close-up of a delicious, crumbly walnut cake over a white background.

More delicious desserts you’ll love!

Lastly, if you make this scrumptious walnut cake or have any questions, just let me know in the comments or rate the recipe. I would love to hear from you!

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Walnut Cake

This beautiful, rich walnut cake is moist, light, and full of walnut flavor. It's so simple, amazingly delicious, and perfect for birthdays or holidays! It's also gluten-free and dairy-free.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: walnut cake
Servings: 8
Calories: 230kcal
Author: Katia


  • 1 cup (3.5 oz/100 grams) walnut halves
  • 1 bar (3.5 oz/100 grams) dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • ½ cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs

Honey glaze (optional)

  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup (2 oz/60 grams) walnut halves, chopped


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/355°F and line an 8-inch loose base round pan with parchment paper. Alternatively, you can grease the side and bottom of the cake pan with butter. Set aside.
  • Grind walnuts and chocolate: Add the walnuts and part of the sugar to a food processor. Grind the walnuts evenly, but stop before they turn into a fine powder. Transfer to a bowl. Next, add the chocolate to the food processor, and grind. Set aside.
  • Separate the eggs: Divide the yolks and whites into different bowls. Add the remaining sugar to the yolks, and using an electric beater or stand mixer, beat until fluffy and pale. Next, add the walnuts, chocolate, and vanilla extract and mix with a spatula until well combined.
  • Beat the egg whites: Make sure the paddle attachment of your beater or stand mixer is clean and dry, then beat the egg whites until soft picks form.
  • Combine eggs white and batter: Add ⅓ of the whipped whites to the batter and mix with a spatula until combined, then fold the rest gently until the batter looks fluffy and well combined (a few lumps are fine).
  • Bake: Transfer the batter to the cake pan, level with the spatula, and bake for 30 minutes. After this time, insert a toothpick in the center, if it comes out clean, the cake is done. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack, let it cool for 5-10 minutes, and then remove it from the pan.,
  • Glaze (optional): Microwave the honey for a few seconds until runny, then brush the cake while it's still warm and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Alternatively, dust it with icing sugar. Enjoy at room temperature.


Nutrition facts: The nutrition values are for one serving (without counting the glaze and chopped walnuts on top), and are based on an online nutrition calculator. It’s an estimate only, and it should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice. Please see my disclosure policies


Calories: 230kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 63mg | Potassium: 168mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 96IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 2mg

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