This recipe for keto-friendly, Low-Carb Chocolate Lava Cakes makes scrumptious gooey cakes perfect for the chocolate lover in all of us. These quick and easy treats can be made using an Instant Pot, oven, or even a microwave! This recipe makes two rich molten chocolate mug cakes so it’s perfect for Valentine’s Day. This dessert can be part of a low-carb, keto, diabetic, gluten-free, grain-free, Atkins or Banting diet.
This post was originally published on April 9, 2018. I am updating it to upgrade the photos and include alternative cooking methods.
Low-carb chocolate lovers rejoice! I bring you the most incredibly rich, flourless lava cakes ever–And they happen to be low-carb, quick and easy with the help of an Instant Pot.
I’ve always loved lava cakes. Seriously, if a restaurant had lava cakes on the menu for dessert, I used to almost always get them. While I no longer cave in to the sugared up restaurant desserts and have a cup of decaf coffee instead. Still, deep in my heart, I love lava cakes.
I started to solve this problem when I first got my Instant Pot. There was a recipe in the booklet that comes with it for a chocolate mug cake. Of course the recipe wasn’t grain free or low-carb, but it gave me a place to start. First I simply substituted almond flour for the wheat flour and low-carb sweetener for the sugar. The end result just wasn’t chocolatey enough. I changed a few of the measurements, but shelved the idea for a while.
A bit of chocolate craving inspiration recently caused me to pull the idea for a low-carb chocolate lava cake recipe back off the shelf. I really went for it with the cocoa powder this time! In fact, I took out all of the almond flour and went for pure, rich, chocolate goodness.
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The timing of cooking them was another challenge. With the Instant Pot, you can’t just open it up and check to see how they are doing like you can with the oven. I found that a time of 4 minutes got the lava cakes to the point that they had a brownie like exterior with that lovely “lava” center. If you prefer your lava cakes a little less gooey, feel free to add an extra minute or two. The perfect time may vary slightly depending on the shape of the dish, your altitude, and how quickly you release the pressure and remove them from the pot when the time is done.
Now that this recipe has been out for a while, I keep getting the question, “What if I don’t have an Instant Pot?” I decided to do some testing and provide alternative directions to make them. I’m adding both oven and microwave directions.
How to make Keto Molten Lava Mug Cakes in the Microwave
To make these desserts in the microwave you will want to be sure to put the batter in a microwave dish or mug. Put them on a plate for easy clean up in case the lava runs over. I find that 30 to 40 seconds in the microwave works well.
One note about making them in the microwave is that this appliance cooks the inside of the cake while it cooks the outside. Because of this, you may find that the lava is not in the center of the cake as much as it is at the bottom.
How to make these Low-Carb Lava Cakes in the Oven
To make these Lava cakes in the oven, first preheat the oven to 400º Fahrenheit. Prepare the batter, like the recipe states, but, instead of putting them in the Instant Pot, put them on a rimmed baking sheet, then in the oven. Bake for about 12 minutes. The center should jiggle slightly when the container is lightly shaken.
Is it safe to eat Keto Molten Lava Cakes?
In the recipe, the centers of the cakes rise to above 160º Fahrenheit which is adequate to destroy any salmonella. I recommend using a thermometer to check the temperature if you are concerned.
Can I make Keto Low-Carb Lava Cakes ahead?
Absolutely! I recommend making the batter and pouring it in the baking dishes or mugs. Next, Instead of cooking or baking them, cover them up and put them in the refrigerator.
You can keep the unbaked batter for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator before baking. They might last longer, but 24 hours is the longest time I’ve tested it.
If you plan to make them ahead like this, be sure to use a double acting baking powder. This type of baking powder gives a leavening boost when the wet and dry ingredients are added together, then a second boost when the batter is baked. This second boost is important as the cakes will not rise properly otherwise.
Since the ingredients to make double acting baking powder aren’t easily accessible, you probably won’t make double-acting baking powder at home. Even so, commercial baking powder will only add a tiny amount of starch to the overall recipe and cause very little impact to the carb count.
Can I freeze Keto-Friendly Low-Carb Lava Cakes?
Freezing lava cakes allows you to have a treat any time. It’s also a great way for those who live alone and those who are the only ones in their family eating keto to enjoy the second lava cake–and have it be just as good as the first.
These keto lava cakes freeze incredibly well. Just be sure to use double acting baking powder and freeze the batter before baking! Be sure to put them in air-tight containers that are both freezer safe and oven safe. I love 1/2 pint canning jars for this purpose as they even come with a lid.
When ready to enjoy the frozen lava cake, uncover the lava cake and set it out on the counter, then preheat the oven to 400º Fahrenheit. The lava cake does not need to be defrosted before baking.
Place the lava cake on a baking sheet before placing in the oven. The baking time for the frozen lava cake is longer than for a fresh cake–about 19-22 minutes.
This Low-Carb Chocolate Lava Cake Recipe makes two lava cakes. If you only need one, it would be easy to cut the recipe in half. These lava cakes go great with a bit of whipped cream with a bit of low-carb sweetener and a touch of vanilla added. They would also be amazing with our recipe for low-carb vanilla ice cream to balance out the rich chocolate flavor. Enjoy!
Low-Carb Chocolate Lava Cake Recipe
This Low-Carb Chocolate Lava Cake Recipe makes a scrumptious gooey cakes perfect for the chocolate lover in all of us. These treats are made using an Instant Pot. They can still be part of a low-carb, keto, diabetic, gluten-free, grain-free, Atkins or Banting diet
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons granulated stevia/erythritol blend (Pyure)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder grain-free, aluminum free
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 medium eggs pasteurized
- 2 tablespoons butter melted
Spray two 8 ounce baking cups such as half-pint canning jars or ramekins with cooking spray. Spray them really well if you plan to turn the finished lava cakes onto a plate. If using an Instant Pot, plug in a 6 quart Instant Pot. Insert the steamer rack. Pour in two cups of water. If using an oven, preheat oven to 400º Fahrenheit.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, granulated stevia/erythritol blend, baking powder, and sea salt.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, and eggs. Stream in melted butter while whisking.
Using a mixer, blend the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Beat on high speed until smooth.
Divide batter between the prepared baking cups.
Instant Pot instructions: Gently place the uncovered filled baking cups on the steamer rack. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and turn the steam release handle to the sealing position. Select pressure cook, then use the +/- buttons to bring the time to 4:00 minutes. When the time is up, quick release the pressure (see manual for instructions). Carefully remove the lava cakes using tongs. Allow the cakes to cool for about 5 minutes or until they are cool enough to touch.
Oven instructions: Place filled baking dishes on a baking sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until sides are set, but the center still juggles a bit when the dish is gently shaken.
Microwave instructions: Place a baking dish on a plate. Microwave for 30-35 seconds.
Allow the cakes to cool about 5 minutes. Serve in their cups, or if desired, run a knife along the edge to loosen and flip them out onto a plate.
If I don’t have an instant pot and still want to make this in the oven is there a related oven time/temp.
Everyone is asking about that! I’ll work out a time and temperature in a conventional oven soon. The chocolate lover in me doesn’t mind testing this recipe a bit more.
Did you figure out how long to microwave or to do in conventional oven? I’m inquiring about the lava cakes. Would Splenda work?
I know that I did that, and I thought I updated the post with that info, but maybe I put it on the Facebook post with the recipe at the time. I’ll have to do some searching around for that info. In the meantime, you may be interested in our Low-Carb Chocolate Soufflé recipe. These are made in a conventional oven.
Hi, I would love to try this but don’t have an Instapot. I cant find where you shared how to make it in the oven?
People have report success from microwaving it for 30 seconds.
I know this is all from 2018, but if you see this, could you tell me if I could make this in egg bite molds, and if I should adjust the pressure time? Thanks in advance.
I’m not sure what an egg bite mold looks like, but if the size is different, you would need to adjust accordingly. If it is microwave-safe, you could try microwaving for short periods of time 10-15 seconds until done.
Could I sub coffee mugs for ramekins?
Ashley, I don’t think that will be a problem. Just use the same number of cups.
One of the things I greatly miss is my lemon pudding cake. I may use your lava cake as a base to try a pudding cake! They’re kind of the same thing!
Of course! Sounds yummy!
What can I use to substitute for the heavy whipping cream? Sour cream or cream cheese?
You could probably get away with coconut milk (from a can), or possibly almond milk or cow’s milk. I haven’t tried any of these options. My guess is that coconut milk would work the best as the consistency is most similar.
What can I use to substitute for the heavy cream?
Would an electric steamer work in the same way for this recipe?
I’ve never used a steamer, so I don’t know how it would work for this.
First, thank you for the amazingly simple and delicious recipe. I don’t have a mixer so I used a whisk and did it the old fashioned way. The second time I figured I would skip the whole dry and wet part and just toss everything in a bowl and whisk away. I’m probably breaking all kinds of baking rules but honestly, it turmed out exactly the same… Amazingly delicious!!!
Thanks so much for the feedback! Whisking has the added benefit of burning a few more calories as well. Glad you enjoyed it!
This is such an amazing and easy recipe! Thank you so much for sharing. Do you think it could be modified to use coffee for part of the liquid? I love the idea of a mocha lava cake
Yes! That’s an awesome idea! I feel certain it would work by simply adding some instant coffee crystals or maybe a small amount of the new liquid coffee concentrate or maybe some espresso. Regular coffee may not be quite strong enough to make a flavor impact. Have fun and let me know how it goes!
Could I put his in the oven and if so how long?
I haven’t tried this yet, but I would try 425º Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes if I wanted to use the oven. Watch them carefully and the tops should still look soft when you remove them.
Hi, I’m wondering if you can tell me where I went wrong. I doubled the recipe and put it into five 4 oz. ramekins. I put four ramekins in my bigger 8 qt Instant Pot and with the 2 cups of water and trivet set it for 4 minutes. I let it cool a lot longer than planned, maybe 10-15 minutes instead of 5 minutes. They were completely cooked through like a normal cake mix, without the “lava” unfortunately. Was it the cooling period, the smaller ramekins? I want to try again using the same ramekins, but I thought I’d see what you thought! Thank you!
My guess is that it is the smaller ramekins. The smaller quantity of batter needed less time to cook. I also wonder if it may have taken longer for the larger Instant Pot to achieve pressure. They would have been cooking as this happens. If you want to try it again with the same ramekins, you may want to set the ramekins on a cookie tray and cook them in a regular oven preheated to about 375º Fahrenheit.This way, you can check on them frequently so the get to the point you like them. To check them, you can gently wiggle them and see if the centers move. You can also insert a toothpick in the edges and the center. The ones at the edges should come out clean and the ones in the center, for this particular recipe, should have some batter on it. I hope this helps!
Laurie, did you quick release the pressure? If you let it natural release, it kept cooking and thus came out overdone.
There is nothing better than a really good lava cake, and it looks as though this one hits the mark! Can’t resist that melted chocolate. Regards Chamanicecream
Help! Followed this exactly and they were still liquid in the container, and no steam came out when I released the pressure
It sounds like you did something wrong when you set your Instant Pot. Did you forget to close the pressure valve?
Haha yes, well I forgot to put the water in. I got too excited. Your batter looks almost hard though, mine is water watery?
On no! I’m not sure why it would be watery. Mine is the consistency of fudge sauce or so. I just realized that I have a video for this recipe that I haven’t put on the site. I’ll try to get it up tonight to help you out a little bit. That way you can see each step.
Ok, Morgan, the video is up! I’m trying to do more videos because I think it’s so much easier for people to see things like the actual consistency of the batter. Good luck!
I halved the recipe and mixed it in a mug. Nuked it for 45 seconds. Yum! Thanks.
Could I use coconut flour or almond flour instead of the blend? It seems quite expensive and not available where I am.
The blend I’m using is a sweetener that is twice as sweet as sugar. You could use a different sweetener. Just be sure to adjust the amount as different sweeteners are stronger than others. Coconut or almond flour would not work for this as they would not sweeten the recipe. I hope this helps!
The recipe calls for 8oz/half-pint jars, but the photos and video clearly show what looks like half-CUP jars. So now I’m confused as to which size I should actually use, especially since someone else commented that they used 4oz ramekins and the cakes overcooked!
The jars I use in this recipe are 8 ounce, 1 cup, 1/2 pint jars. If you use smaller ramekins, they will overcook because it takes less time to heat a smaller amount of liquid. I hope this helps!
Wow!!! So delicious! Best keto dessert I’ve ever made. Lava cake is my WEAKNESS and this really hit the spot. THANK YOU!!!
Glad it hit the spot!
Can you substitute monk fruit sweetener?
Yes, just adjust the amount that you use to equal 4 tablespoons of sugar. (The sweetener I use is twice as sweet as sugar, so I use 2 tablespoons)
I used 2 table spoons of monk fruit sweetener and it came out perfectly sweet. Thank you!
I’m upset and confused. I used and trusted your macro amounts. I had to plug the individual ingredients into my macro calculator (Chronometer), the macro totals were VERY different than the amounts you supplied. Instead of 6 net carbs for the whole recipe, the carb amount came out to 24! I usedAnthony’s Premium Erythritol Sweetener. There is no fiber in the sweetener.
Macro calculations on Chronometer were
Erythritol does not get metabolized by the body and therefore I do not count it. It does not elevate blood sugar, but leaves the body unchanged. This is probably the reason for the discrepancy.
I provide the nutritional value as a service, but I always advise people to calculate their own macros.
Sugar alcohol carbs are not counted in net carbs for the reason above ^^^°.
Can I use swerve granulated sugar? I also have a stevia sweetener called Zing, would that be more like the sweetener you’re using? Thanks, can’t wait to have dessert tonight!
Yes, Swerve should work fine. Swerve is not as sweet as Pyure, so you will need to double the amount for the same amount of sweetness. I’m not sure of the sweetness level of Zing, but the sweetener I use is twice as sweet as sugar. You will just need to adjust the amount accordingly. Good luck!
Hi is there a way to cook this in the oven? I do not have a steamer! Also I have you’re organic stevia .. how much of that should I use?
People have told me they have good luck by microwaving it for 30 seconds. As for the sweetener, you will want to use the equivalent of 4 tablespoons sugar. The Pyure erythritol/stevia blend is twice as sweet as sugar, so I use 2 tablespoons. Pure stevia is much sweeter! You will only need about 1/16 to 1/8th teaspoon.
5 stars for how easy it was to make, and the small amount of ingredients needed! Loved it! I made the whole recipe in a 2 cup Pyrex. Next time, I’ll cook it for 6 minutes in the instant pot – it had too much of the ‘lava’ because of using only one dish for the entirety of the ingredients (I just stuck it in the microwave for an additional 30 secs and it was perfect). I’ll also experiment with adding cinnamon and, maybe some heat.
Great recipe, thank you!
You’re welcome! Some heat would be a fun variation!
I don’t have heavy whipping cream or coconut cream. Can I substitute it with greek yogurt or something else?
I don’t really feel comfortable recommending anything else without trying it first. I would hate to have the recipe not turn out for you.
Thank you SO much for this!!! I have a very strange relationship with food. Growing up we only ever ate fast food. Now that I am growing up and trying to eat better, I have such a hard time with so many recipes because they are overly complicated, take too much time and equipment, and are confusing and overwhelming to me. This was the perfect recipe to satisfy my sweet tooth, that I could actual handle making! I can’t tell you how much I truly appreciate it!!
A word to those as uncertain of their cooking ability as me — when I first took these out of the pressure cooker they looked at first too “wobbly” to me. I immediately freaked out, assumed I must have messed it up, and popped one in the microwave for 20 seconds. I should have had more faith — I just needed to wait for it to cool. The one I DIDNT panic microwave turned out PERFECT; the microwaved one was lavaless and sad. Trust in yourself and wait it out!
The ones in your picture look a lot firmer/crispier than mine on the outside? Mine where VERY spongy. I think my mistake may have been too much water in the instant pot (or perhaps the setting — I have an off brand that only has buttons for vegetable, cake, beans, fish. I used the vegetable setting as it was my understanding that would be similar to the “pressure cook” setting?)? I put 3 cups of water in since I have a 8 qt cooker rather than a 6 qt. I also ran out of granulated Swerve so I used 3 tablespoons granulated and one tablespoon confectioners. Still very happy with them but would love if I could get them to look like yours!
I’m so glad these turned out for you. I think it does make sense to add a little more water in a larger pot, but the timing might be slightly different as it might take a different amount time for the water to boil and for the pressure to build up. My guess is that your best bet to get the outside a little more firm would be to use the same setting and add a tiny amount of time–maybe just 15 seconds or 30 seconds. I would try 15 and if it still isn’t what you want add another 15 the next time (for a total of 30).
Good luck with your cooking adventures! It sounds like you’re off to a great start!
Thank you SO much for your advice!! I will give that a try and see how I do!! 🙂
I made these lava cakes last night, exactly as directed for two 8 oz. Mason jars, but in a 3 qt. Instant Pot. They puffed up like a souffle, dry on top, looking so promising. I removed them from the IP and allowed them to cool at least five minutes before turning them out. Sadly, I found that the bottoms and tops were cooked, but not the sides, so the middle all ran out before for the very first cut. Do you think I should have made some adjustments for the 3 qt IP? My husband and I still enjoyed the flavor but missed the fun of the lava flow.
I believe that the cooking time should have been the same. If you used the same amount of water in the pot, it might have taken longer to get under pressure. Maybe decrease the amount to one cup. Glad you enjoyed the flavor.
Just now saw this response. Thank you! Since first asking my question, I’ve bought four 8 oz. ramekins and a 6 qt. IP. Trying the recipe again (because we needed something sweet and last-minute after dinner tonight), I revisited this page to see what I could substitute, if anything, for the heavy cream. I wound up using half and half. I have to say, the lava cakes cooked up great this time, except that I left them in the ramekins for too long, so the middle, while gooey, didn’t “flow.” Oh well, there’s always the third time. 🙂
Lol!Sounds like you’ll have to make them again. Yum! Coconut milk from a can would probably substitute well for the whipping cream.
lava cake recipe
Instruction #7 for the Microwave says to cook for 30-35 minutes!!! That would really be a brick! 30-35 seconds would be much better.
Thanks for letting me know! Yes, it would have been a brick indeed. Just fixed it.
Super delicious & so easy! I whisked by hand rather than clean a mixer. Took no time. Baked 11 min in the oven yielded perfect yummy texture Was the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert. Thank you!
I made it for Valentine’s Day this year too. I doubled the batch and have two in the freezer for another “date night”.