Calling all peanut butter lovers! This old fashioned peanut butter cake is ultra moist and happens to be vegan. Perfect for get-togethers and easy to make with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry!
I was inspired to make this cake from a little treat I used to get at a local coffee shop. They only had a few vegan options, and one of them was this little peanut butter snack cake. It actually didn’t have frosting at all, but instead was topped with mini chocolate chips.
I decided to go all out and top my cake with peanut butter frosting, and the results are incredible!
Peanut butter desserts can be rather dry, but this cake is very moist and tender. The texture of peanut butter cake is different than other cakes; it’s not exactly light and fluffy, but once you take a bite you will be hooked!
If you love peanut butter desserts, make sure to check out any of these recipes: Peanut Butter Balls, Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars, Peanut Butter Cups or Peanut Butter Cookies.
How to make peanut butter cake
(This is simply an overview with photos, see the recipe card below for the full recipe.)
Prepare your vegan “buttermilk” by measuring the soy milk and adding the apple cider vinegar. Give a little stir and set aside. Then, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl to combine. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9×13 inch pan (or 10×15 for a sheet cake).
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the peanut butter, sugar and oil until well combined and smooth, scraping the sides as needed.
- Alternate adding the flour mixture and vegan buttermilk, in about 3 parts, until combined.
- This cake batter will be thick and not like other cake batters, but that is correct so don’t worry!
- Transfer the batter to the cake pan/dish and spread out evenly. Since it won’t pour, you will need to really spread it to all the corners.
Bake for 28-32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or with just a few crumbs. Let cool completely before frosting.
Peanut butter frosting
This frosting is so addicting, you won’t be able to get enough!
To make it, simply beat the peanut butter and vegan butter together until smooth and creamy, then add the powdered sugar, plant milk and vanilla. Beat for a few minutes until fluffy and smooth. If it’s too thick, add a bit more milk. If it’s too runny, add a little powdered sugar.
You may not use all of the frosting, so save the rest for another day. It freezes well. This stuff is totally pipe-able and would also be amazing on cupcakes or chocolate cake!
Tips & Substitutions
- Milk – I used soy milk, but another non-dairy milk will work just fine, like almond, cashew or oat milk.
- Gluten free – Try substituting a gluten free mix.
- Peanut butter – Make sure to use non-natural creamy peanut butter (like JIF). Natural possibly could work, but some brands are super oily while others are thick and dry, so for best results, just use the regular peanut butter.
- Oil – I used canola oil, but you can use another oil, like vegetable, avocado or possibly even melted coconut oil, though I haven’t tried it. If you need the cake to be oil free, you could try subbing applesauce.
- Don’t over mix the cake batter, but only mix until combined. This will help the cake be fluffy.
- Sheet cake – For a sheet cake, make it in a 10×15 inch pan, but only bake it for 15-18 minutes.
How to store the cake
Store the cake at room temperature, there is no need to refrigerate it. Simply cover once cut so it doesn’t dry out too quickly. It does freeze well, either in individual slices or whole.
More vegan cakes to love
- 1 Bowl Vegan Coconut Cake
- Vegan Vanilla Cake
- Vegan Lemon Cake
- Vegan Funfetti Cake
- Chocolate Sheet Cake
Peanut Butter Cake
- 1 cup soy milk*
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil*
Peanut Butter Frosting
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 3/4 cup vegan butter, slightly softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4-6 tablespoons soy milk, more as needed
- tiny pinch of salt, optional
For the cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9 x 13 inch cake pan (or a 10 x 15 inch jelly roll pan for a sheet cake).
- Vegan buttermilk: In a measuring cup, measure 1 cup of soy milk, then add the apple cider vinegar and give it a little stir. Set aside to curdle.
- Dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the peanut butter, sugar and oil until well combined, scraping the sides as needed.
- To the bowl with the peanut butter, with the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the vegan buttermilk, in 3 parts, ending with the buttermilk. The cake batter is thicker than most, and won't really pour like other cake batter.
- Transfer to the prepared pan and spread out evenly. Bake for 28-32 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean in the middle. For a sheet cake (10x15 inch pan), it will only need 15-18 minutes in the oven.
- Let the cake cool completely, then frost generously with peanut butter frosting and serve. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips, if desired.
For the frosting
- Using either a handheld or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the peanut butter and vegan butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
- Add the powdered sugar, 4 tablespoons of soy milk, vanilla and optional salt. Beat on low speed at first, then gradually increase to high and beat for 2 minutes until very fluffy.
- If it seems too thick, add more milk, a few tablespoons at a time. If it gets too runny, add more powdered sugar until you have a smooth, thick and pipe-able frosting.
- You can use another plant milk, such as almond, cashew or oat milk.
- I used canola oil, but any vegetable oil will work, such as avocado or maybe even melted coconut oil, though I haven't tried it.
- Gluten free: Substitute an all purpose gluten free flour.
- Peanut butter: Use the non-natural creamy peanut butter (like JIF) for best results. I haven't tested it using natural, but I'm afraid it won't work well. I haven't tried it with almond butter, but it might work though the flavor will be much different.
- Keep the cake at room temperature, there is no need to refrigerate it unless you want to. Cover after you cut it so it doesn't dry out too fast.
- For a snack cake, skip the frosting and fold in some mini chocolate chips.
I turned these into cupcakes. For anyone interested I used liners, sprayed them, filled the batter nearly to the top, and baked for 23 minutes. I then let them set for about 10-15 minutes before I took them out of the pan and let them rest on a cooling rack. They looked more like muffins in that they had an almost crust-like top but were soft and moist in the middle. They were perfect in my opinion, and the frosting is what put it over the top. Very good.
Thanks for sharing your great idea, comments, ad review! I’m thrilled these turned out wonderful for you!
Let me add to the multitudinous gushing comments for this recipe. I’ve used applesauce in the past and not been super pleased with the results. I made the cake recipe exactly as instructed for cupcakes and… amazing!
Topped with Nora’s peanut butter frosting *chef’s kiss*. Such a winner, already planning to make mini-cupcakes for a party next week.
Your wonderful feedback just brought me smiles! Thank you for sharing your feedback! I’m thrilled you love the cake. Have fun making those cupcakes!
Hi Nora! I have baked several of your cakes and they are always flawless. Thank you for sharing such detailed recipes and notes.
Do you think this peanut butter cake would work well as a layer cake? Like, pouring batter into two round 9inch pans and then cooling, frosting, and stacking? It seems like the texture of this cake is not quite like other cakes so I’m curious about your thoughts on the structure of something like this. Thanks!!
Thank you so much Amanda! Yes, I think it will work as a layer cake. It should be perfect for two 8 or 9 inch round cakes, then you can cool them, frost and enjoy. The texture is a little bit different than other cakes, but it would be good as a layered cake. Hope that helps!
Tried once. I reduced sugar. And it was too much oil in the recipe, I think. The cake was tasty and looked fluffy, but when start chewing it become sticky. I will try again with no oil:) Thank you, Nora! The taste is delisious?
Reducing sugar usually affects not only the sweetness of a dish but also the texture, so I wouldn’t recommend decreasing it. Peanut butter cake does have a different texture than most cakes though, it’s very moist and a little sticky for sure, in a wonderful way. Very unique. Hope that helps, and I’m glad you enjoyed the taste!
I cut the recipe in half and put it in a 9×9. I baked it for 24 minutes since it was a smaller batch and probably could have done a couple less minutes. I was worried I ruined your recipe, but after it had been frosted and sat for a couple of hours it was moist and delicious! I would definitely make it again!
Hi Nichol. I’m glad my cake turned out moist and delicious for you! Thank you!
Would these be okay as cupcakes or would I need to change any recipe amounts?? Looking forward to making these and your pumpkin cupcakes next weekend!
Ooooh I haven’t tried it but I’m sure they would work just fine as cupcakes. They would need a lot less time in the oven, probably only 15-18 minutes. You wouldn’t need to change the recipe amounts, unless you wanted to cut it in half for less cupcakes. Thanks, hope you enjoy these and the pumpkin cupcakes!
Another winner! Used apple sauce and no oil. This was moist and delicious. A (non vegan) crowd pleaser
Hi Mandi. Thank for trying the cake! I’m glad you love it!
Oh I am soo excited to try this!!! I have to say that EVERY recipe of yours that I have tried has been absolutely delicious! I have two vegan food bloggers that I absolutely trust, and you are one of them! If I see a recipe of yours that I want to try, I grab the ingredients no questions asked! I have never been let down by one of your recipes. Thank you so much!
Hi Danielle. Thank you so much for your kind words and your trust in my recipes and in me! I’m so glad you are enjoying them. Thank you for reaching out! Enjoy the cake!
Can this be made without apple cider vinegar?
I would use almond milk instead of soy.
It probably could be left out, yes, or you could use lemon juice instead. It does contribute to the moistness and flavor of the cake. Almond milk is fine to use. Hope you enjoy the peanut butter cake!
GOING To Try It Looks Delicious ?
Hi Mabel! Let me know how it turns out for you!
Great recipe! I made mine with applesauce in place of oil, natural peanut butter (Smucker’s Brand), and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour in place of 1C AP flour. I also reduced the sugar to ~1/2 C. It is perfect as a sweet treat! I am new to Veganism but Nora, your recipes are giving me hope that I can make the transition and stick with it! Thank you for sharing your recipes, so far everything I’ve tried has been a success. Even my reluctant husband has been a fan of all the dishes. Is there a cookbook in the future 🙂 ?
Hi Toni! I’m so glad you enjoyed the peanut butter cake, and am really happy to hear it worked with applesauce, natural peanut butter and whole wheat pastry flour. Thank you so much for your kind comment, that just makes my day. I would love to publish a cookbook in the near future! It’s not in the works yet, but maybe one day soon. 🙂