This Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Dirt Cake recipe is a Midwestern dessert favorite. Layers of crushed chocolate sandwich cookies with a vanilla pudding layer for an easy no bake dessert. Add your favorite seasonal decorations!
Dirt cake has to be one of my favorite childhood desserts.
A Midwestern favorite, made in a casserole dish or served in flower pots, it's a semi-homemade recipe that is so much fun.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Simple ingredients
- No bake dessert
- A fun treat the entire family will love
What is dirt cake?
Dirt cake is a playful dessert resembling soil in a pot. It's made with layers of crushed chocolate cookies for the "dirt," alternating with a creamy mixture of cream cheese or pudding. Gummy worms are added for a whimsical finishing touch.
Ingredients and substitutions
Here are a few quick notes about the ingredients in this recipe. You can see a complete list of ingredients and instructions in the recipe card below.
Gluten-free chocolate sandwich cookies - Gluten-free Oreo cookies or any other gluten-free sandwich cookie will work. Most are dairy-free and/or vegan too, but check the packaging to be sure.
Dairy-free cream cheese - Vegan cream cheese options vary from nut-based cream cheese to tofu-based.
If dairy is not a concern, regular cream cheese works as well.
Powdered sugar - To keep things vegan, opt for organic powdered sugar.
Coconut milk - The richness of full-fat coconut milk transforms into coconut cream and helps give us a creamy pudding.
Prepared canned coconut cream can be substituted.
Almond milk - Any non-dairy milk, like soy milk or cashew milk, including additional coconut milk, can be substituted here. This may leave a hint of coconut flavor.
Arrowroot starch (or cornstarch) - Also known as arrowroot powder, this helps thicken our pudding.
If you need a substitute, tapioca starch or corn starch would be your best bet.
Maple syrup - This natural sweetener adds a flavor profile closer to brown sugar but keeps things unrefined.
Gummy worms (optional) - Make sure you are using vegan gummy worms, gluten-free gummies, or both depending on your dietary needs.
With a gluten-free, dairy-free diet, the dirt cake recipe of childhood was no longer an option. A more allergy-friendly version was due.
Before you start: Get out all the ingredients to make the vanilla pudding recipe. Grease a 9x13 baking dish.
Step 1: In a small saucepan, add coconut milk and almond milk over medium heat. Whisk in arrowroot starch until completely dissolved, followed by maple syrup and salt.
Step 2: Once at a low boil, let it bubble and cook for about one minute more, then remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract. Transfer to a glass bowl and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes.
Step 3: Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the pudding as you cover the bowl. Refrigerate until pudding has completely set (at least 1-2 hours).
Step 4: Add chocolate sandwich cookies to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until you have a crumb mixture. Set aside.
Step 5: In a large bowl, place powdered sugar and cream cheese. Scoop out the hardened white coconut from the top of the coconut milk can and add to the bowl.
Using a hand mixer, beat until the ingredients are smooth and have a whipped cream texture. Add chilled pudding.
Step 6: Take about ¾ cup of the cookie crumbs and spread them in the prepared baking dish. Spread the pudding mixture over the crumbs in an even layer.
Then spread the remaining cookie crumbs over the pudding mixture. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight.
- If you don't have a food processor, place the gluten-free chocolate cookies in a ziploc plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
- You can use whatever kind of serving container fits your needs. Small mason jars, individual cups, flower pots, square pans, to rectangular ones. This will determine how many layers are needed.
- This is an easy prep-ahead dessert to make the day before.
This vegan dirt cake can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
This kid-friendly dessert (for all ages!) can be customized and is perfect for birthdays, Earth Day, and other celebrations. Here are some ideas:
- Serve in flower pots with edible flowers or a fake flower.
- Instead of gummy candies or worms, use toy construction trucks or dump trucks to top your cake.
- Stick mini carrots on top for a spring or Easter-themed cake.
- Use vanilla sandwich cookies and sealife-themed gummies and make a sandy beach cake.
- Fold in extras like chocolate chips.
Absolutely! This dirt cup or cake recipe is easily made ahead of time. The longer it chills, the better!
Edible flowers, chocolate shavings, toy animals or figurines, candy rocks or pebbles, or meringue mushrooms are all fun toppings to customize your dirt cup recipe.
More vegan pudding recipes
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Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Dirt Cake
- gluten-free dairy-free chocolate sandwich cookies like K-Toos or Glutinos
- ¾ cup organic powdered sugar
- 8 ounces dairy-free cream cheese
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight or canned coconut cream
- In a small or medium saucepan, add coconut milk and almond milk over medium heat. As the milk starts to warm, whisk in arrowroot starch until completely dissolved. Whisk in maple syrup and salt. Stir mixture frequently until it comes to a low boil. The mixture should start to thicken.
- Once at a low boil, let it bubble and cook for about one minute more, while stirring, then remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract. Transfer to a glass bowl and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes.
- Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the pudding as you cover the bowl. Refrigerate until pudding has completely set (at least 1-2 hours).
- Add chocolate sandwich cookies to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until you have a crumb mixture. Set aside.
- Once pudding has set, it is time to assemble dirt cake. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. In a medium bowl, place powdered sugar and cream cheese. Scoop out the hardened white coconut from the top of the coconut milk can (stop scooping when you hit liquid) and add to bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on low and increase to medium speed, until ingredients are smooth and evenly combined. Add chilled pudding and mix on low to combine.
- Take about ¾ cup of the cookie crumbs and spread them in the prepared baking dish. Spread the pudding mixture over crumbs in an even layer. Then spread remaining cookie crumbs over the pudding mixture. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight.
- Serve in bowls, cups, or flower pots. Top with gummy worms or other decorations as desired.