Nutella Trifle – The BEST Recipe… Gluten Free or Not


The ultimate Nutella Trifle – Layers of chocolate-hazelnut sponge soaked in hazelnut liqueur… Drizzled with gooey Nutella and sprinkled with crunchy roasted hazelnuts… Topped with sumptuous vanilla custard and lightly whipped Nutella Cream.

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Dessert of dreams… Nutella Trifle (gluten free or not)

I’ve decided to update my EPIC Nutella Trifle recipe… It’s been on the blog since 2015 and the post is well due for a tidy up. Quite possibly one of my all-time favourite trifles, it’s a dessert that gets regularly served to guests at GFHQ. Not only is it sumptuously decadent and delicious, but it’s quick to make and is ALWAYS greeted with whimpers of satisfaction. Which is how a good dessert should be… Right?

Actually, I’m a bit of a trifle queen… If there’s one thing we do exceptionally well at Gluten Free Alchemist, it’s gluten free trifles. Experimenting with different flavours and combinations, we’ve taken trifle to dizzy heights of sophistication… A far cry from the 70’s retro versions seeped in that most passé of tipples (sherry) and layered with jelly and tins of fruit. I’ve shared a few gems (with photos) at the bottom of the post… But to whet your trifle-appetites, we have everything from Banoffee Trifle made with Banana Bread and an Angelic Strawberry Trifle (made with white gluten free Angel Food Cake)… To a tangy Raspberry-Lemon Drizzle Trifle (made with pink Raspberry Drizzle Cake) and an autumnal Pear and Ginger Trifle (with Jamaican Ginger Cake and Ginger Biscuits).

My Gluten Free Nutella Trifle is however, definitely up there with the best…


The classic flavours of Nutella in one dreamy Chocolate-Hazelnut Trifle

For anyone who hasn’t had Nutella (is there anyone?), it showcases the classic combination of chocolate and hazelnut in one rich and sticky spread. And it is this immortalised marriage of flavours that is replicated in Nutella Trifle. Not just by adding a couple of spoons to the bowl though… THIS Nutella Trifle builds on the relationship between chocolate and hazelnut from the bottom to the top… A true Chocolate-Hazelnut Trifle in EVERY sense of the word.

A base of gluten free chocolate-hazelnut cake, soaked with boozy Fratello/Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)… Sprinkled with crunchy chopped roasted hazelnuts and drizzles of gooey liquid Nutella… Layered with cool, smooth vanilla-laced custard and pillowy Nutella-whipped cream… All decorated with a topping of roasted chopped hazelnuts and dark chocolate shavings.

Now THAT’s a trifle that shouts utter decadence!


What’s the best sponge for making Nutella Trifle?

When making Nutella Trifle, the sponge you use definitely makes a difference. But the first rule is that the cake MUST be chocolate and it MUST be plain sponge (no buttercreams or frostings). Over the years, I’ve made it with a variety of chocolate sponges. So, here’s the lowdown on what I think works best when making Nutella Trifle (gluten free or not).

Chocolate hazelnut vs chocolate sponge

When I first developed the recipe, it was made with my ‘go-to’ Gluten Free Chocolate Cake… A plain chocolate sponge made with a balance of flour and grounds almonds. It’s moist and delicious and worked perfectly… Until I tried making it with a Chocolate Hazelnut Cake that I created to use with Nutella Cupcakes. And WOW! That seriously took the whole Nutella Trifle experience to another level.

So… My advice is this… Yes. You can make a great Chocolate Hazelnut Trifle with any plain chocolate sponge. But if you want something that shines way beyond great, pull out the stops and make a chocolate-hazelnut cake for the occasion. For those of you who need to eat gluten free, I’ve added my recipe as a separate recipe card below.

shop-bought sponge cake?

For anyone who can’t face making a chocolate cake from scratch, it’s fine to go with a shop-bought sponge. I suspect it will be hard to source a decent plain chocolate-hazelnut sponge cake in the shops though, so a plain chocolate sponge will have to do. Something like a chocolate loaf cake is perfect.

… or make the cake ahead

When making trifle, the cake can be made well ahead of time. I have a habit of always making extra chocolate cake when baking and popping some in the freezer. That way, I always have ‘trifle cake’ at the ready for an impromptu or ‘emergency’ dessert.


Can I use an alternative Chocolate Hazelnut Spread?

Whether you use Nutella or an alternative chocolate-hazelnut spread is also a choice that is flexible. There are lots of alternatives on the market with varying degrees of ‘healthiness’ in the ingredients they use. To be honest, I don’t always use actual Nutella myself. But it is convenient and well-loved, so is the obvious choice for most people.

If you fancy trying your hand at making healthier home-made Chocolate Hazelnut Spread, click on the link and give it a go. It’s super-easy and totally delicious.


Grown up Nutella Trifle or child-friendly Nutella Trifle?

Whether you make ‘grown up’ Nutella Trifle or a version that is child-friendly depends on who will be eating it. Or… Make individual portions in glasses… Some for the adults and some for the kids.

The grown-up trifle…

A good grown-up trifle should (IMHO) have a discernible tot of booze soaked into the sponge. It doesn’t have to be swimming in the stuff… But you should be able to taste the kick it offers.

For Nutella Trifle (and in keeping with the chocolate hazelnut theme) it is best to use Frangelico (or Fratello) Italian Hazelnut Liqueur. Many supermarkets stock it these days and there are a number of different brands. It’s not cheap, but it is incredibly hazelnutty both in aroma and flavour and complements the marriage of ingredients perfectly. And trust me… It tastes incredible as a liqueur to drink poured over ice.

If you choose not to use Frangelico, that’s fine too. As an alternative pairing for a grown-up Nutella Trifle, choose Amaretto (almond liqueur), a chocolate liqueur or even Baileys (Irish Cream). They won’t be as perfect, but they will still taste great.

The child-friendly trifle…

The easiest way to substitute the alcohol for a child-friendly Nutella Trifle is to use hazelnut syrup (usually found in the coffee or cordial aisles of supermarkets). Syrups are usually sold to add to coffee and cocktails. But water them down a tiny bit and they soak flavour into trifle cakes too!

Monin is a popular make, although I used the French Teisseire ‘Noisette’, as that is what was in the larder.


Is Nutella Trifle gluten free and safe for Coeliacs (Celiacs)?

Providing Nutella Trifle is made with gluten free cake, then yes! It is safe for those with Coeliac (Celiac) disease. There are no other gluten-containing ingredients in the recipe (although it is always important to check labels, particularly for spreads and custards, etc in case of cross-contamination concern).

Is Nutella Trifle easy to make?

Oh my, yes! Particularly if you have made the cake ahead of time or choose to use one that is shop-bought, Nutella Trifle can be made from start to finish in about half an hour. It has to be one of the easiest trifles I have ever made… Yet the delight of eating it is sublime. Spongy, crunchy, liquid, creamy, gooey, chewy textural heaven… Alcohol-laced, chocolatey, hazelnutty, vanilla-sweet deliciousness. This dessert will make it look like you have slaved for hours. But Ssshhh. I promise I won’t tell. 😘


Ready to make Nutella Trifle?

And that’s all you need to know… My recipe for EPIC Nutella Trifle (with separate gluten free Chocolate Hazelnut Sponge recipe card) is below. Enjoy! It’s the perfect dinner party or Christmas dessert.

Please let me know if you make it… I love to hear from you and see your amazing foodie photos. Tag me on social media (You’ll find me on FacebookInstagramPinterest or Twitter) or leave a comment. And if you do try and love it, please come back and rate the recipe. A lovely 5* rating helps more people find the recipe and the blog. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

If you’re looking for more gluten free recipes, did you know we have a massive Gluten Free Recipe Index with over 400 recipes to choose from… All for FREE! Head over and check it out as soon as you can. Thanks for reading and happy trifling! xx

Other delicious trifles at Gluten Free Alchemist…


Nutella Trifle

The ultimate Nutella Trifle – Layers of hazelnut liqueur-soaked chocolate-hazelnut sponge drizzled with gooey Nutella and crunchy roasted hazelnuts, all topped with sumptuous vanilla custard and lightly whipped Nutella Cream.
Course Christmas, Dessert, Dinner Party, Pudding
Cuisine British, Gluten Free, optional dairy free
Keyword chocolate, hazelnut, Nutella, Trifle
Prep Time 40 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 467.9kcal


  • Glass/ clear serving dish(es)
  • measuring spoons
  • Mixing bowls
  • sharp knife
  • kettle/microwave
  • electric whisk
  • large spoon


  • 1 x 8 inch chocolate hazelnut sponge cake or alternative plain chocolate sponge (gluten free as required)
  • 5 to 6 tbsp hazelnut liqueur (Fratello/Frangelico) approx – depending on how boozy you want it – or substitute with hazelnut syrup, slightly watered down for children
  • 3 tbsp toasted chopped hazelnuts approx
  • 5 to 6 tbsp Nutella or alternative chocolate hazelnut spread
  • 750 ml vanilla custard approx weight – fresh (shop-bought or home made) – Likely to need less if making single layer trifle(s).

Nutella Whipped Cream

  • 500 ml/g double cream heavy cream (approx)
  • tbsp Nutella or alternative chocolate hazelnut spread


  • tbsp chopped/grated/shards dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp toasted chopped hazelnuts


  • Cut the chocolate sponge into smallish chunks and place randomly as a layer in the bottom of your chosen serving dish(es). Allow room for an additional trifle-cake layer (or work to proportions for a single layer as you choose/dependent on the size of the serving dish(es)).
  • Drizzle hazelnut liqueur (or slightly watered-syrup) to taste over the chocolate sponge and allow to soak in.
  • Warm the Nutella/chocolate hazelnut spread in a glass bowl in the microwave or over a bowl of boiling water until liquid enough to drizzle.
  • Drizzle the spread over the cake layer randomly (remembering to save half for a second layer if you are adding one).
  • Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts over the sponge.
  • If adding a second cake layer, spread half the custard over the first layer of cake and then repeat the layering process of cake, liqueur, Nutella and nuts (leaving room for a further layer of custard and cream).
  • Spoon the (remaining) custard over the top, evenly.
  • Whip the double cream with the additional Nutella/spread until you have soft, lightly whipped peaks.
  • Gently spoon the cream over the custard.
  • Decorate with a sprinkling of toasted hazelnuts and grated/chopped/shards of dark chocolate.
  • Store in the fridge until ready to eat.


If making this recipe with alcohol, it is only suitable for adults. 
* Note: nutritional information is an estimate & may vary according to portion size/ingredient variants.
Recipe for Gluten Free Chocolate Hazelnut Cake can be found in the same blog post as attached to this recipe (LINK)
If you prefer not to make your own chocolate cake, simply use bought plain chocolate sponge.


Calories: 467.9kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 6.6g | Fat: 34.5g | Saturated Fat: 20.8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10.1g | Cholesterol: 133.5mg | Sodium: 111.9mg | Potassium: 337.1mg | Fiber: 1.3g | Sugar: 15.6g | Vitamin A: 1091.3IU | Vitamin C: 0.8mg | Calcium: 194.2mg | Iron: 1.2mg

Chocolate Hazelnut Sponge Cake (to layer or use in trifle)

A light and fluffy chocolate-hazelnut sponge which is perfect for layering as a tea time or celebration cake or for using in trifle. Optional dairy free.
Course Cake, Dessert, Sweet Treats, Tea Time
Cuisine British, Gluten Free, optional dairy free
Keyword chocolate, hazelnut, sponge
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 16 approx
Calories 214.7kcal


  • 2 x 8 inch round non-stick baking tins
  • Oven
  • Kitchen scales
  • measuring spoons
  • Mixing bowls
  • measuring jug
  • fork
  • small sieve
  • kettle
  • teaspoon
  • electric whisk
  • silicone/wooden spoon or spatula
  • wire rack


Chocolate-Hazelnut Sponge

  • 185 g plain white gluten free flour blend eg. Gluten Free Alchemist Blend A – See NOTES
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum (leave out if using a commercial blend that already has xanthan gum added)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • tsp baking powder gluten free
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 220 ml milk dairy free if necessary
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 40 g cocoa powder
  • 75 ml boiling water
  • 105 g butter (or good quality dairy free alternative) softened
  • 280 g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs At room temperature – UK large (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 105 g ground roasted hazelnuts If unable to find in a supermarket, make your own by roasting raw de-skinned hazelnuts and pulsing briefly in a blender to make coarse hazelnut meal.


  • Base-line the baking tins with good-quality baking paper.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  • Weigh and mix together the flour, xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, and salt. TIP : weigh into an airtight container and shake well to blend. Set aside.
  • Weigh or measure the milk into a jug and add the white wine vinegar. Stir thoroughly and leave to stand at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes, until it has a slightly curdled appearance. This will make 'buttermilk'
  • Sift the cocoa powder into a small bowl. Add the boiling water a little at a time, gently stirring through until you have a smooth paste. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar using an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.
  • Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat with a fork to blend, before gradually adding a little at a time to the butter mixture, beating thoroughly between each addition.
  • Add the vanilla extract and cocoa paste and beat again, until smooth and well-blended.
  • Gently fold in the ground hazelnuts using a large spoon or spatula.
  • Finally add and fold through the dry ingredients and milk mixture, alternating a little dry followed by a little 'buttermilk' (about a third of each at a time). Fold gently to ensure as much air remains as possible and stop when the ingredients are JUST amalgamated to avoid over-mixing.
  • Split the mixture between the two prepared cake tins evenly and smooth the tops with the back of a spoon.
  • Bake for approximately 30 minutes until the tops spring back and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
  • Allow to cool completely before filling, decorating, or using in trifle.
  • Can be frozen for up to 3 months wrapped tightly in an airtight container.


* Note: nutritional information is an estimate & may vary according to portion size/ingredient variants.
Gluten Free Alchemist Rice Free Flour Blend A can be found on the GFA Flours & Flour Blending Page. If using an alternative flour blend, the texture may vary. 


Calories: 214.7kcal | Carbohydrates: 28.4g | Protein: 3.8g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 4.3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4.9g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 38.7mg | Sodium: 206mg | Potassium: 112.8mg | Fiber: 2.7g | Sugar: 18.9g | Vitamin A: 221.3IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 56.9mg | Iron: 1.2mg

Nutella Trifle shared with

  • Full Plate Thursday with Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
  • Cook Blog Share
  • Traffic Jam Linky
  • Fiesta Friday with Angie
  • What’s for Dinner with The Lazy Gastronome
  • Sundays on Silverado with the House on Silverado

The post Nutella Trifle – The BEST Recipe… Gluten Free or Not appeared first on Gluten Free Alchemist.

Nutella Trifle – The BEST Recipe… Gluten Free or Not