Gluten Free Sand Cake or Rice Cake Recipe

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I love sand cake. The soft grains melting in your mouth, the strong taste of butter… It tastes yummier than regular cake. And it’s so light and airy that you can’t stop at just one piece.

What is sand cake?

Well, it’s definitely not cake made of sand. Sand cake is the traditional East Indian name for a cake made from rice flour or cornflour.

But, there’s always a but, right? The traditional cake uses a mix of rice flour or cornflour with processed wheat flour. It’s easy peasy, but back to the ‘but’. My friend is on a gluten-free diet and can’t really eat too much wheat. So after a bit of experimenting, I perfect my version of the sand cake, without wheat. Yes, a perfect gluten-free rice cake recipe!

And it’s time to share it with you. Smile…

Here’s my gluten-free rice cake recipe from scratch.

What Ingredients Do You need to make Sand Cake?

All you need to make this sand cake is butter, rice flour, eggs, vanilla essence or extract, fine sugar, baking powder, and a pinch of salt.

How to make a sand cake from rice flour?

Just 7 ingredients. Cool, isn’t it?

Anyways, here’s how to make this simple gluten-free cake with rice flour.

Mix the butter and sugar together - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Mix the butter and sugar together

Mix the butter, vanilla extract, salt, and sugar together. Use a spatula or even an electronic beater. The salt is optional, but I always add salt. It just reminds me to thank Abba that we have the means to make cakes and eat them too.

Add in the eggs and beat lightly - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Add in the eggs and beat lightly

Add in the eggs and beat. Nope, I don’t do that thing where you add in the yolks first and the whites later. I just add them all in together.

Stir in the rice flour - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Stir in the rice flour

Next, and this is the important one. Stir in the rice flour and baking powder by hand. You can use a spoon if you want, but don’t beat it in. Just gently fold it in with a little TLC. This adds some air into the batter and doesn’t let it get all squidgy.

Add the batter to the lined cake tins - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Add the batter to the lined cake tins

Next, add in your food colours. I made mine cyan in colour, and filled in two small tins that I had already lined with butter paper and kept ready. That pink one in the background is my sister’s nutmeg cake. I’ll get you the recipe for that soon!

Beautiful sand cake or gluten free rice cake - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Beautiful sand cake or gluten free rice cake

And after about 50 minutes in the oven at 210 degrees Celsius, the beautiful gluten free rice cake is ready. You can see that some of the sugar has formed a crunchy layer on top. I love that. That only happens with the sugar on top. The sugar inside melts perfectly. So don’t worry about it.

We served our gluten free sand cake along with a nutmeg cake - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
We served our gluten free sand cake along with a nutmeg cake

We served my rice cake for dessert along with my sister’s nutmeg cake when we had guest’s over. And they loved it!

Time to enjoy our sand cake and nutmeg cake - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Time to enjoy our sand cake and nutmeg cake

There have also been times I’ve made rice cake madelines with an almond flavoured fondant glaze. Yeah, I thought they were petit-fours, like tiny little pieces of cakes. But nope, the French friend corrected me and said they were madelines.

Fondant glaze on the rice cake madelines - TheWingedFork
Fondant glaze on the rice cake madelines

Well, okies! Here’s some of my erstwhile rice cake madelines! I can’t find the pics of after I had decorated them with icing. But these are from just when the almond fondant glaze is dripping on the tray below.

Cooking Tips and Tricks

  • Avoiding use of maida or all purpose flour makes this recipe glute-free.
  • You can use powdered sugar, so you do not have to worry about the sugar granules melting.
  • Adding a pinch of salt brings out the flavour.
  • You can make it any colour you like!

FAQ’s about Sand Cake or Rice cake

How long can you store Sand cake?

You can store Sand Cake in a plastic wrap so it does not get dry; this will last in a refrigerator for about 2-3 days or in a freezer for about 3 months.

Why is it called Sand Cake?

This East Indian Sand Cake is called so for a very simple reason because it has a grainy texture.

Can I use wheat flour to make this cake?

Yes, you can. The original sand cake recipe does make use of wheat flour, mine does not because it is gluten-free.

Do I need to beat the egg whites and yolks separately?

If you have the time you can do this, beat the yolks and add them and then beat the whites separately and then add them. However, if running short of time, do what I do, beat both together and add them in.

Other Recipes You Might Like

You can print off the list of ingredients and instructions to follow for making this recipe via the recipe card below (for home use only).

If you really loved our recipe, please leave us 5-stars with your review below!

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Beautiful sand cake or gluten free rice cake - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork

Gluten Free Rice Flour Cake Recipe

My gluten free rice cake recipe is simply easy to make at home using gluten free ingredients like rice flour for an amazing texture. It’s a twist on the traditional East Indian sand cake.
4.78 out of 5 Stars by 9 readers!

Click the stars to add your rating!

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine East Indian, Indian
Diet Gluten Free
Servings 30 Slices


  • 375 g Butter
  • 330 g Rice Flour
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract Essence will also do.
  • 360 g Sugar Fine
  • 1 tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1 pinch Salt


  • Mix the butter, vanilla extract, salt and the sugar together.
  • Add in the eggs and beat. 
  • Gently fold in the rice flour and baking powder by hand or with a spoon. Don’t beat it or it will lose air.
  • Add in colour if you want to.
  • Add the batter to your pre-lined baking trays.
  • Bake for 50 minutes at 210 degrees Celsius. 
  • Serve. You don’t have to wait for it to cool. It tastes yummy when warm too!

Please click to rate the recipe!

If you try this gluten free rice flour cake recipe, come back to let me know how it went. Happy eating!

Gluten Free Sand Cake (Rice Cake) Recipe - By Abby from TheWingedFork

12 thoughts on “Gluten Free Sand Cake or Rice Cake Recipe”

  1. The colors are lovely and I can see the graininess in the pics. I think I’m going to make exactly the same colors. Thanks for the recipe!5 stars

  2. Sand cake! Really! I almost skipped it till I saw the recipe! Going to try this next week. I’ll let you know how it turned out.5 stars

  3. Would love to try it, but I need to make it for someone with gluten and dairy allergies, so I have try with oil. Fingers crossed that it works! FYI I’ve made Swedish sand cake with all cornmeal before, no need to add wheat flour. It works.4 stars

  4. Hi Mitali,
    Although the traditional East Indian recipe from Mumbai calls for wheat, we don’t use wheat. So it’s already gluten free. If you want to make it diary free as well, use an oil such as rice oil which doesn’t smell. If you use peanut oil, it will smell different and add a sort of different taste to it. We’ve experimented on dad, so we know. 😉

  5. I have a large stock of rice flour,I want to try this sand cake recipe, but you don’t say what size or shape baking tins?

    • Hi Jennifer,
      In the images in this post, we’ve used one round tin of 7-inches diameter and one rectangular tin that’s 8-inch by 2-inches.
      At other times, when we use square tins, it’s 2 each of 5-inch*5-inch. You can use this option.


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