Olive Oil Orange Chiffon Cake Recipe That’s Nut-Free, Dairy-Free

slices of orange chiffon cake on a white cake plate with a fork

I’m sharing my award winning Olive Oil Orange Chiffon Cake recipe that is nut free and dairy free that won 1st place at the San Mateo County Fair previously! Be sure to read all of my cake baking tips in the post before you start baking. This is moderately difficult recipe but bakes a light, fluffy, and moist cake for me everytime.

I’ve also included an ingredient list at the bottom due to multiple requests. I’ve created a post about what’s in my cupboard as well. This post was originally published on June 2, 2015 and updated on December 19, 2023 (minor edits to the recipe and new photos).

Disclaimer: I am a brand ambassador for Rodelle and receive products to use and review. Please check that all ingredients are suitable for your allergies and be sure to ask your medical care team regarding any allergy related questions (I do not share medical advice). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Recipes Adaptations and Baking Tips:

This recipe as written is peanut, tree nut, milk, soy, fish, and shellfish. Since this cake is light and airy and does not rely on gluten formation, is possible to make this cake wheat free by using a safe gluten free mix. I haven’t tried this recipe by Serious Eats, but I think it has great potential with lots of tips on how to adapt any chiffon recipe to be gluten free. 

Egg is a key ingredient that defines this cake as a chiffon cake, so while it’s always possible to make an egg free cake, I don’t think that it will be a chiffon cake.

Cake Pan Tips:

  • Clean pan: The cake pan must be absolutely clean and free of residues in order for the cake to rise well.
  • Right tube pan: If you have a tube cake pan already, I think a light colored 10 inch angel food pan with prongs/feet will work the best for this recipe. I bought the worst one for myself when I first got married. It was dark colored (can never get the timing right), “non-stick” (it stuck anyways, but the cake needs to cling to the pan as it rises, so it’s an unnecessary feature), and didn’t have feet to help keep the cake balanced and level when cooling upside down. My mom gave me hers (pictured below) but if I ever needed a replacement, I would buy something like this Wilton cake pan (affiliate link).
  • Contingency plan: Sometimes the cake rises taller than the tube which makes it challenging to cool upside down. So before you start baking, I recommend that you can prop the pan up by the prongs by using upside-down cups or bowls of equal height. Try it out before you’re dealing with a very hot cake in the pan.

Tried and True Cake Baking Tips:

  • Egg temperature: Eggs straight out of the refrigerator are easier to separate, but room temperature eggs are easier to whip up and aerate, so I separate the eggs first and let them hang out while I work on other steps.
  • Pure egg whites: The egg whites must be completely free of any debris or liquid in order to form stable foam. Be sure that the bowl and whisk are clean and dry and that the egg whites are free of egg yolk and shells.
  • Separate the whites and yolks: If you have trouble with separating eggs, separate the egg whites into a small bowl and transfer them one at a time into your large mixing bowl so that if an egg yolk accidentally breaks, you can avoid contaminating all the egg whites. You can use the egg whites with broken yolks for other purposes but you’ll need extra eggs on hand as back ups.
  • Why EVOO: Extra Virgin Olive Oil is my oil of choice for health reasons and it tastes fine in this recipe. The original recipes use vegetable oil, which could mean soy, corn, or canola. I don’t like that soy turns rancid quickly, corn seems inflammatory as I feel a lot of aches and pains when I use corn oil, and I can’t find a non-GMO canola oil that I can trust to be nut-free.
  • Less sugar: I’ve also reduced the amount of sugar in the recipe by 1/2 cup (33%) to suit the preferences of my mom and mother in law. I also use organic sugar which seems to taste sweeter and allows me to use less sugar in most recipes.
  • Light touch: Be gentle when folding the egg white into the egg yolk mixture, the resulting batter should become lighter in color and foamy.
  • Check ingredients: Check your baking powder, drop a spoonful into an ounce of water, it should fizz otherwise replace it. Check your cream of tartar, it has a long shelf life and should look dry and powdery. Test the cream of tartar by adding a spoonful to half cup of water and adding a spoonful of baking soda, it should fizz vigorously.
  • Read first: This is a no-fail recipe for me but it is a moderately difficult recipe. Be sure to review each of the tips above and the recipe below before you start.

Top Left: This is how the cake looks out of the oven in the pan, as you can see the rise is very tall and nearly reaches the top of the pan! Top Right: I run a thin spatula (used for frosting) around the edge of the pan twice, then I push the bottom up and out of the pan. Not pictured: I use the spatula to loosen the bottom of the cake from the base. Bottom left: Transfer the cake into a cake platter (here I used a relatively flat dinner plate!). Bottom right: This cake serves 12! I usually serve it plain, but you can definitely top it with some whipped cream and serve with fruit.

Baking with Dad: Cake Mix Magic

Making cakes with my parents was a magical experience as a little girl. My dad was influenced by his experience as a U.S. Army cook during the Korean war and I remembered he used boxed cake mixes to make a cake. I was amazed by the transformation of powder plus water turned into a thick liquid which went into the oven and came out as cake, pure magic to a 3 year old. I abided by his reminders to walk softly and be quiet. Now that I am a parent, I wondered if baking a cake was how he gained my cooperation for some peace and quiet.

Baking with Mom: Traditional Chinese Recipe & Method

A few years later, my mom wanted to show me something after dinner and with a little bit of excitement in the air, she cleared the table and brought out some eggs, flour, and sugar, a couple of mixing bowls, a cake pan, a spatula, and a pair of chopsticks. I watched her carefully separate the egg yolks from the egg whites, mix the flour, sugar, and egg yolks together, and then use chopsticks to beat the egg whites until they were glossy foamy peaks. Take a moment to think about that, my mom beat egg whites with chopsticks, she’s amazing. Then she showed me how to fold the egg whites into the batter, transferred everything into a cake pan and steamed the cake. The cake tasted just like the Chinese steamed cakes from dim sum restaurants and Chinese bakeries and we made this together often.

Baking by Myself: I Baked A Lot of Cakes

Fast forward a few more years and my mom took me to her friend’s house to play with her daughter, Nancy. I can’t remember much of the play date and not sure if I ever saw Nancy again. But I do remember I came home with a recipe for Orange Chiffon Cake which I probably made hundreds of cakes throughout my teen years. I always had to make two, one for our family and one to take to an event with friends or family almost every weekend.

Over the years, I varied the recipe upping the orange flavor, reducing the fat, reducing the sugar, and played around with the technique. I could make the cake from memory and shared the recipe with anyone who wanted it.

half of a cake displayed with a county fair
Blue Ribbon, 1st Place award 2010 San Mateo County Fair

I Won A Blue Ribbon with this Chiffon Cake Recipe

Several computers and many years later, I wanted to enter the San Mateo County Fair’s baking contest and enter the chiffon cake category because I knew I had a great chance of winning. But I couldn’t remember my version of the recipe and couldn’t find a copy either. So I had to start over with a new recipe. I learned that a man named Henry Baker invented the chiffon cake, which was a cross between an angel food cake and a pound cake, and used oil.

I decided to adapt two orange chiffon cake recipes from Joy of Baking and Epicurious’s Gourmet Magazine (March 1992 edition) and incorporated some of the techniques that I’ve learned from baking so many cakes. My cake won first place in the 2010 San Mateo County Fair, so you can be sure that this cake recipe is a keeper!

Olive Oil Orange Chiffon Cake, NutFreeWok.com
Egg whites are gently folded into the batter.
slices of orange chiffon cake on a white cake plate with a fork
5 from 3 votes

Olive Oil Orange Chiffon Cake Recipe

This recipe is adapted from Joy of Baking and Epicurious/Gourmet Magazine March 1992.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Chinese
Keyword olive oil orange chiffon cake, orange chiffon cake
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Cooling time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 278 kcal
Author Sharon Wong, NutFreeWok.com


  • 9 eggs (room temperature) you’ll only use 7 yolks, reserve 2 yolks for other purposes
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • OR 2 1/4 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup sugar divided
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large oranges (or 3 medium oranges) zest and juiced (need 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar


  1. Wash, towel dry, and air dry a two piece 10 inch tube cake pan and, for beating the egg whites, a large mixing bowl and whisk (or whisk attachment).
  2. Position your lower oven rack so that the cake will be in the center of the oven and check that your upper rack is high enough so that you can easily place the filled cake pan later. Preheat oven, 325 °F.

  3. Separate the egg yolks and egg whites, place 9 egg whites into a freshly washed and dried mixing bowl for your electric mixer and 7 egg yolks into a second large mixing bowl.

  4. Whisk together or sift the flour, cornstarch, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt into a medium sized bowl.

  5. Wash and dry two oranges and zest the oranges over the flour mixture.
  6. Use a fork or wire whisk to stir the flour for 30 seconds to break up any clumps of zest or baking powder, set aside.
  7. Juice the oranges and add 3/4 cup of orange juice to the bowl of egg yolks.
  8. Add oil and vanilla extract to the egg yolks and use a whisk or fork to mix until blended.

  9. Add the flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture and mix with a spatula until just combined, do not over mix, and set aside.
  10. Use your electric mixer to beat the egg whites on the high for about 2 to 2.5 minutes (or use a clean and dry whisk) until the eggs have soft peaks.

  11. Add the cream of tartar and 1/4 cup of sugar to the egg whites and continue beating for 1 minute if using a mixer or until there are stiff glossy peaks, with a pointy tip when you take the whisk out of the egg whites.
  12. Use a spatula to transfer 2 large scoops of egg whites (up to 1/3) to the flour and egg yolks mixture and gently fold in the egg yolk by using the spatula to “cut” into the center of the ingredients, scraping along the bottom, up the side of the bowl, lifting the thick batter from the bottom to the top, and turning the bowl as you go with each fold.
  13. Fold in the remaining batter until there are no more clumps of egg white, be gentle and patient.
  14. Gently tap the bowl on the counter to release any large air bubbles.
  15. Transfer the batter into the tube pan, use a spatula to even out the batter, and a damp paper towel to wipe up any drips.
  16. Bake for 50 minutes (up to 1 hour, time may vary). The cake is ready when golden brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

  17. Flip the cake and allow it to cool upside down in the cake pan, allow 1-2 hours.
  18. When cooled, insert a long thin knife in between the cake and the pan and carefully run the knife along the edges of the pan and the tube.
  19. Hold the tube from the bottom and use your other hand to twist the pan away from the cake.
  20. Slide a knife in between the bottom of the cake and the base, carefully lift the cake out of the tube base and transfer onto a cake platter.
  21. Serve plain, with a scoop of fresh cut fruit, or with a dollop of whipped cream.

My Favorite Brands:

Many readers have asked about which brands I buy and use, which I believe are peanut and tree nut free. Please note that we all have different allergies and what works for me, might not work for you. You are responsible for verifying allergen safety before using or consuming by reading the labels, contacting the manufacturer, and/or discussing with your medical care team. If you are interested in what other products that I like to use, please check What’s in My Cupboard.

All Purpose Flour: Gold Medal or King Arthur

Cornstarch: Rapunzel Organic Corn Starch, allergen advisory on the box: produced in a facility that also processes wheat, gluten, dairy, and soy

Sugar: Kirkland Organic Sugar

Baking Powder: Clabber Girl Double Acting Baking Powder

Olive Oil: Kirkland Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Vanilla Extract: Rodelle Vanilla Extract 

Cream of Tartar: Spicely Cream Of Tartar – Glass Jar, I actually have the tin but the tin is very hard to open and close, I’m sure I will spill it all over myself one of these days. I recommend the glass jar instead.

Other Nut Free Cake Recipes You Might Like:

Carrot Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting – Nut free with an irresistable frosting

Easy Lemon Cake – Nut free, egg free, fast and easy

Aunty Karen’s “Ma Lai Go” – Nut free, Chinese steamed sponge cake, it’s a dim sum classic

Chocolate Wacky Cake – Nut free, egg free chocolate cake

Easy Apple Pear Spice Cake Recipe and That’s It Review – nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free and a tiny bit spicy

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About Sharon Wong 273 Articles
Welcome to Nut Free Wok, a blog about Allergy Aware Asian Fare. I hope that you will find my food allergy mom experiences helpful and enjoyable to read as I write about recipes, cooking techniques, Asian ingredients, and food allergy related awareness and advocacy issues. My professional experiences include education, teaching, and a little bit of science and computers. Thank you for visiting! ~Sharon Wong, M.Ed.


    • Thanks Alisa, I’ve had a lot of practice with chiffon cakes. I also make a pound cake, but it’s hit or miss because it ends up tasting fluffy. Some cookies tastes like cake too. My habits die hard! LOL

  1. I love chiffon cake, but I am always intimidated for making it. I guess I will give it a try soon. Thanks for sharing this recipe. 🙂

  2. I haven’t had an olive oil cake in too long! The sounds of this orange chiffon one sounds absolutely scrumptious!! So refreshing too can’t wait to whip one up!

  3. I’ve been wanting to attempt a chiffon cake & this one sounds delicious. I love lemon. Have you ever done this recipe with lemon? Also thanks for all the baking tips.

  4. 5 stars
    Absolutely fantastic! Made it in 2 x 9inch pans and still worked. Get out of pans immediately and cool with bottom facing down. Lovely that its not overly sweet. I’m going to scour your site for more gems. Thanks for sharing this fantastic cake, great success for mums 70th birthday!

    • I haven’t personally tested a gluten-free version of the recipe, however if you search for “gluten free chiffon cake” you will find a recipe posted by Elizabeth from gluten free baking.

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