Chocolate Lemon Trifles (Vegan Gluten-Free)

These Chocolate Lemon Trifles are light, chocolatey and fruity made with a homemade vegan gluten-free lemon sponge cake, lemon and chocolate custards and topped with a whipped coconut cream. These are perfect for the Jubilee celebrations.

The Platinum Jubilee to celebrate 70 years of our queen falls this weekend and the winning pudding as named by the national competition is the Lemon Swiss Roll and Amaretti Trifle. It’s quite a combination and not an obvious choice of dessert, so I made a few twists and adjustments to bring this vegan, easy and impressive Chocolate Lemon Trifles to you and your guests for the weekend parties.

Chocolate Lemon Trifles
Chocolate Lemon Trifles

What are these desserts like?

These Chocolate Lemon Trifles are so fun to make and very easy, too. They are:

  • Lemony, fruity and light
  • Chocolatey and rich
  • Sweet but not too sweet
  • Fluffy, creamy and a little crunchy
  • Great for all the family and your friends
  • Easy to make in a few steps
  • Use easy to find ingredients
  • Naturally vegan and easily gluten-free
  • Nut-free, egg-free and dairy-free

If you are already to make these desserts ahead of this weekend’s celebrations, read on for the recipe card below. First, let’s discuss the recipe in more detail.

Chocolate Lemon Trifle on a small white plate
Chocolate Lemon Trifles

What ingredients do I need?

These trifles are made up of three key components: the lemon sponge; the lemon and the chocolate custards; and the whipped cream.

For the lemon sponge which is adapted from my Vegan Strawberry Lemonade Cake:

  • Plant-based milk: any milk like oat, almond soya or coconut (from the carton).
  • Lemon: juice and zest for flavour and for aiding the binding of the cake batter.
  • Caster sugar: or you can use golden caster or coconut sugar for a richer flavour and colour.
  • Sunflower oil: this lends a super fluffy and light texture to the sponge. Light olive oil will also work, and melted and cooled coconut oil should work although I would stick to sunflower or olive oil.
  • Vanilla essence: for flavour.
  • Self-raising flour: or your preferred GF self-raising blend of flour with xanthan gum inside. This makes the sponge cake light and airy.
  • Bicarbonate of soda: for a little extra rise.
  • Salt: for flavour.

As for the custard fillings:

  • Shop-bought vegan custard: to keep this recipe easy and accessible, I use a ready made custard as there are some delicious vegan ones. My favourites is from the Natures Charm and you want one that is naturally thick and creamy at room or fridge temperature.
  • Cacao or cocoa powder: for the chocolate custard mix.
  • Lemon zest: for the lemon custard.

Finally the topping:

  • Amaretti or other biscuits: I actually used Biscoff sandwich cookies for these as the flavours work so well but any crunchy, vegan and gluten-free (where needed) cookies will work.
  • Coconut cream: chill 1 tin of full-fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight, then, without shaking the tin, scoop off the solid cream part and weigh out 200g. Use the cream for the coconut whip and save the liquid for smoothies, curries etc.
  • Icing sugar: for the whipped coconut cream.
  • Dark chocolate: to keep this Chocolate Lemon Trifles really chocolatey, I decorate each jar with a square of 85% dark chocolate from Divine but any chocolate will work.
  • Lemon zest: for some extra lemony goodness.
The tops of three jars of Chocolate Lemon Trifles
Chocolate Lemon Trifles
Chocolate Lemon Trifles with a spoon
Chocolate Lemon Trifles

How do I make these?

These trifles really are easy to make and as they make 3-6 single-serve jars, they are even easier, I think.

  • Make the sponge cake: whisk together the wet ingredients then sift and fold in the dry ingredients and spread out into a shallow dish.
  • Bake the lemon cake: till golden and risen. Allow to cool fully then chill until needed.
  • Prepare both custards: half the tin of custard and stir together with the cacao/cocoa powder and the lemon zest in two separate bowls.
  • Make the whipped coconut cream: add the solid coconut cream to a bowl and beat till creamy. Then beat in the icing sugar till thick and fluffy.
  • Use a cookie cutter or glass jar: to cut out rounds from the cake to match the size of your serving jars. Or you can cut it into squares and add these to the jars.
  • Assemble the trifles: start with a layer of cake.
  • Add on some crushed cookies: to cover the cake.
  • Pipe on some of each custard: to make lovely layers.
  • Repeat the process: till you reach the top of the jars (I have two laryers of each).
  • Pipe on the whipped coconut cream: and decorate with extra cookies, chocolate and lemon zest.
  • Chill until needed: and dig in!
Taking a spoon of Chocolate Lemon Trifle from the jar
Chocolate Lemon Trifles

Are these gluten-free and nut-free?

Yes, to keep these gluten-free make sure you use a GF self-raising flour for the sponge cake and then check that your cookies are gluten-free. This recipe is free from nuts, but please check your chocolate, custard and plant-based milk.

Can I use other cream rather than coconut cream?

Yes, if you don’t like coconut cream or want to make these Chocolate Lemon Trifles even simpler to make, use a double whipping cream – of which there are a few vegan options to choose from.

Can I make this into one big trifle?

Yes, you can. Use the same method as detailed below and assemble the dessert in a larger jar or bowl.

How long will this last?

Once made and layered, these Chocolate Lemon Trifles will keep for 2-3 days covered well in the fridge. You can make up the sponge cake 2-3 days beforehand and keep in the fridge and then enjoy the desserts on the same day.

Close up of a jar of Chocolate Lemon Trifle
Chocolate Lemon Trifles

I love this fun dessert, what else can I make?

I hope you are going to love these Chocolate Lemon Trifles and for more showstopper dessert ideas, how about my:

Chocolate Lemon Trifles (Vegan Gluten-Free)

  • Servings: 3-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

These Chocolate Lemon Trifles are light, chocolatey and fruity made with a homemade vegan gluten-free lemon sponge cake, lemon and chocolate custards and topped with a whipped coconut cream. These are perfect for the Jubilee celebrations.


    For the Lemon Sponge:
  • 120ml plant-based milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ lemon, zested
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 40ml sunflower oil
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 105g self-raising flour
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • A pinch of salt
  • For the Custard Fillings:
  • 1 x 400g tin vegan custard, chilled
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ lemon, zested
  • For Serving:
  • 3-6 crushed amaretti or regular biscuits
  • 200g coconut cream, from 1 tin of full-fat coconut milk, chilled*
  • 100g icing sugar*
  • 3-6 squares dark chocolate
  • Lemon zest


  1. Place the tin of coconut milk for the topping in the fridge overnight. For the lemon sponge: preheat the oven to 160Fan/180*C and line a 10×7-inch tray (or similar) with baking paper.
  2. Whisk together the plant-based milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, oil and vanilla till smooth. Sift in the flour and bicarbonate of soda and add the salt. Whisk to a smooth batter. Pour into the tin and spread out evenly.
  3. Bake for 13 minutes, or until golden at the edges and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  4. Cool for 10 minutes then lift out to cool fully on a wire rack. Chill in the fridge until needed (this makes cutting the cake easier and neater).
  5. When you are ready to serve, prepare the custards. Divide the custard into two bowls and add the lemon to one and the cocoa powder to the other and whisk/stir till smooth.
  6. For the cream: scoop off the solid part (the cream) from the chilled tin of coconut milk and weigh out 200g. Add to a bowl and beat with an electric whisk for 30 seconds. Now add the icing sugar and beat for 1 minute till smooth and fluffy. (or you can whip up the vegan whipping cream, if using). Keep in the fridge till ready to use.
  7. Cut out 6 circles from the sponge cake, the same size as your serving jars. Or, you can slice the cake into whatever shapes/sizes you like.
  8. To assemble: lay some cake at the bottom of each jar. Top with some crushed cookies, some lemon custard and some chocolate custard. Repeat each layer once more then pipe on the whipped cream.
  9. Top with some a square of chocolate, some lemon zest, extra crushed cookies and cake crumbs.
  10. Enjoy straight away or keep for 2-3 days in the fridge, covered well.
  11. *or use 200-250ml of vegan whipping cream.
Square photo of a pot of Chocolate Lemon Trifle
Chocolate Lemon Trifles

I look forward to hearing what you think of these Chocolate Lemon Trifles so please let me know in the comments below. If you do make them, I’d love to see so please tag me in your desserts, I am @nourishing.amy on Instagram and use the hashtag #nourishingamy. I’m also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest  – please say hello!

With Jubilee trifles of love x

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