The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake- A quick and easy recipe, made in 1 bowl! This really is the best chocolate cake ever, vegan or otherwise. It’s super moist, rich and full of chocolate. 

slice of vegan chocolate cake on a plate

My birthday was a few weeks ago, so what did I do? I asked my mom to watch all 3 kids for a few hours so I could create and photograph the BEST EVER Vegan Chocolate Cake. Pretty great birthday if you ask me! 😉

For some reason, every time I get a vegan piece of cake out (such as at Whole Foods or elsewhere), I am disappointed. The frosting is usually yummy, but the cake part is either 1. strange tasting OR 2. super dry, not moist at all. Seriously disappointing.

I’ve also made a few of the vegan chocolate cake recipes out there, but even those weren’t quite moist enough or perfect enough for my taste. So I did a little thinking and experimenting and I finally came up with the best, most perfectly moist and delicious vegan chocolate cake recipe!

vegan chocolate cake with a slice taken out of it

The frosting is a mouthwatering, ultra rich chocolate buttercream. I recommend using earth balance vegan buttery sticks, I haven’t found another brand that tastes quite as good.

If you are looking for a lighter alternative, check out this Chocolate Cake with Cashew Vanilla Frosting. There is nothing “light” about this Chocolate Cake! It is a full on indulgent recipe. And I’m okay with that.

 

 

vegan chocolate frosting in a bowl with a whisk

What is the secret to a super moist vegan chocolate cake?

A couple of things make this cake super moist. The applesauce helps (don’t worry, you can’t taste it). But the BIG secret is to add a cup of boiling hot water to the cake batter right before baking. It makes such a difference!

The batter will appear runny when you add it, but don’t worry, that is completely correct and exactly what it should be like. It results in the most moist, delicious chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted!

vegan chocolate cake frosted close up

If you are craving a chocolate fix about now, or are new to being vegan and miss good tasting cake, give this recipe a try! It’s easy to make and hard to mess it up.

OR if you are wanting to try something other than chocolate, give this Vegan Lemon Cake a go! It’s one of my most popular dessert recipes, and impresses people every time I make it.

slice of vegan chocolate cake with a fork taking a bite.

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Recipe inspired by Add A Pinch.

slice of vegan chocolate cake with a fork taking a bite.
4.96 stars (1717 ratings)

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake- A quick and easy recipe, made in 1 bowl! This really is the best chocolate cake ever, vegan or otherwise. It's super moist, rich and full of chocolate. 
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings: 16 servings

Ingredients 
 

Chocolate Cake

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil OR melted coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups vegan butter, softened baking sticks preferred
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

Instructions 

For the Chocolate Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease two 9-inch cake pans. I also line them with parchment rounds and lightly flour for easy removal of the cakes later.
  • Measure 1 cup unsweetened almond milk and add the tablespoon of vinegar to it. Stir slightly and set aside to curdle.
  • In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk well to combine.
  • Now add the oil, applesauce, vanilla and almond milk/vinegar mixture. Mix on medium speed with a hand mixer (or stand mixer with the paddle attachment) until well combined. 
  • Lower the speed and carefully pour in the boiling water, continuing to mix into the cake batter until combined. The batter will seem very runny at this point; that is how it should be, trust me!
  • Divide the batter evenly between your cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. After 10 minutes of cooling in the pan, carefully remove the cakes from the pans and let cool completely before frosting.

For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • Add the cocoa powder to a large bowl (I just wipe out the cake bowl and use it for the frosting). Whisk well to remove any clumps.
  • Add the softened vegan butter and mix with a hand mixer until creamed and well combined.
  • Add half of the powdered sugar and half of the almond milk, and mix until combined. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Mix starting on low, and turn to high. Mix until fluffy and combined.
  • If the frosting seems too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon or two at a time. If the frosting seems too wet and doesn't hold it's shape, add more powdered sugar until it thickens up. 
  • Frost the cake using an icing spatula or just a butter knife.

Video

Notes

  1. For cupcakes, fill liners half full and bake for 20-25 minutes. The whole recipe will yield approximately 24 cupcakes.
  2. Double the recipe to make a 4 layer cake, or cut in half to make a 1 layer round cake. You can also make a bundt cake, simply bake for 45 minutes. Or a 9 x 13 inch cake, baking for about 35-40 minutes.
  3. Don't like a lot of frosting? Cut the frosting ingredients in half. The recipe as written makes enough for thick layers of frosting.
  4. Nut allergy? You may substitute soy milk or another milk for the almond milk, any non-dairy milk will work here.
  5. No applesauce? Substitute 2 flax eggs (2 tbs ground flax + 5 tbs water), whipped aquafaba or another egg replacer such as Bob's Red Mill (2 eggs worth). 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 496kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 408mg | Potassium: 222mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 53g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!
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Comments

  1. Hi Nora,
    I love your recipes but I have a silly question: What is the difference between using a flax/water vs. applesauce for a binder replacement? My breads come out gummy using flax so perhaps I am using it incorrectly.

    Thank you in advance 🙂

    1. Flax + water as an egg replacement works well in many instances but it’s not my first choice *usually* in cake recipes. It tends to provide a chewy texture, while applesauce is lighter and you can’t taste it. Flax eggs work well in cookie recipes though. It’s also a matter of preference. I’m not sure it’s the reason your breads come out gummy though, it’s probably more about the recipe or perhaps over mixing or substituting another ingredient. Are you talking about this cake, or other recipes in general?

  2. Nora, This cake was so moist and yummy. I want to make these into cupcakes. Would you suggest I follow this recipe or should I do the chocolate cupcake recipe? I just want to make sure I get the same results with the moistness and chocolate goodness. Which recipe do you prefer for cupcakes? I am making these for a gathering so wanted to really nail this.
    Thanks for awesome recipes!

    1. Either is great in my opinion, but if you love the cake I’d just make cupcakes from this recipe. 🙂

  3. I’m making a vegan wedding cake, using all recipes from you! One layer will be chocolate, one will be vanilla, and one will be lemon. It’s my first time making a wedding cake, and with the added challenge of it being vegan, I’m even more grateful for your easy recipes! The bottom layer is chocolate, 3 layers in a 10″ pan. I doubled the recipe and it’s working out well. Please let me know any tips you have for baking a wedding cake and transporting it– I have to bring the cake on a 3.5 hour long car ride. I’m thinking I’ll assemble and frost it at the location and just freeze the layers beforehand to prevent damage to the cake. Thanks so much for the recipes!

  4. My friend loves this cake. I make it for her every year for her birthday. Instead of hot water I add hot coffee like you do in that mint Christmas cake, that is the only change I make. I’m curious, the recipe asks for almond milk however my bf is allergic to nuts, what would be the alternative you would use?

    1. Hi Heather. How wonderful that you make your friend this cake every year for her birthday! I’m thrilled she loves it! Any plant based milk can be substituted in the recipe. Thanks for your fabulous review! Happy baking!

  5. Indeed the best vegan chocolate cake! It is moist, fluffy, does not require weird ingredients, everyone loved it!
    I baked in 9.5 inch square pan, after 30 minutes on 350 F, lowered it to 320 F for 30 more minutes, turned out great!

    1. Hi Danielle. I’m glad the cake was a hit! Thank you for your wonderful review and feedback!

  6. This IS THE best choco cake recipe ever. Made it twice and shared widely and veg and non-veg folks couldn’t believe how moist and rich it was. The only change I made was the icing. I reduced icing sugar to make it more butter cream and it was still sweet enough.

    1. Hi Neluka. Thanks for your stellar review and feedback! I’m thrilled the cake was a hit with all!

        1. Hi Ashleigh. If you have ground flaxseeds, you can use 2 tablespoons ground flax mixed with 5 tablespoons water. You could also use mashed banana, plant based yogurt, or possibly even more oil to replace the applesauce. These subs could cause the cake to be a bit heavier. Hope these ideas help!

    2. I couldn’t agree more. I always shock people with this cake. They can’t believe how good vegan can be. The only change I make is that I add a Tablespoon of Folgers crystal instant coffee to the one cup of boiling water. Oh, and I also do not frost the cake – it is lovely as is.

    3. Nora,
      This cake is an absolute hit for vegan friends and non vegan friends. I make this cake almost twice a month!
      I have now been asked to make this as a wedding cake, my question is can i make this cake 3 or 4 days ahead of time and leave in the fridge or freeze… and how do I prevent the icing from melting quickly?

      1. I’m glad you are enjoying the recipe! I wouldn’t make it that far ahead of time for a wedding unless you can freeze it. 2 days perhaps, but by 3-4 it will dry out some and not taste nearly as good. You could freeze the whole cake if needed. I haven’t found the icing melts more quickly than a regular cake. Though with Miyoko’s butter that is largely coconut oil based, it may melt more quickly so perhaps avoid that and use another brand of vegan butter, such as Earth Balance. Hope that helps and everyone enjoys!

      1. Hi Mandy. I”m sorry, almond flour won’t work in this recipe. Almond flour does not absorb liquid the same at all, so you will end up with a soupy cake. I don’t think the other flours will work either. You can use a gluten free flour mix if you’d like, it works quite well. Hope that helps!

  7. I tried baking this cake in a metal 9 x 13 pan at 350 (confirmed by oven thermometer). Baked on a rack in the lower third of the oven.

    The top of the cake cracked a bit around 35 min and the toothpick test was wet. After 80 min it was still slightly wet with slight traces of batter. I pulled it out. The cake ended up being very soggy.

    I tried a new cake again at 325. Top cracked again and toothpick still wet after 50 min so I increased the temp to 350. After 90 min the toothpick still isn’t clean.

    1. Did you make any substitutions at all? I don’t know why the cake wouldn’t bake if your oven truly is accurate, unless you left something out or made adjustments. A 9×13 inch cake usually takes 40ish minutes to bake at 350, and I’ve done this myself many times. It’s best to bake in the center rack of your oven, but this won’t make the cake never cook through… I’m not sure what happened here.

      1. No substitutions. Every measurement was triple-checked and measured precisely. The first cake was baked in the middle rack, then I read that you should put it in the lower third of the oven to avoid cracking, so I did that the second time.

        I have a fan oven which I use to bake a lot of cakes. Yesterday I made a perfect orange Bundt cake and just now a perfect pan of brownies and some vegan chocolate cupcakes from another recipe.

        I used Dutch process cocoa (Green and Black). Since there was 1 Tbsp of vinegar in the recipe I didn’t think that would matter to the cake rising properly, as it wasn’t specified in the recipe. Could that have been the problem?

        1. Quite a mystery. I don’t have experience using anything other than a conventional oven, but I have read that fan ovens typically cook things faster, and it’s often recommended to lower the temperature. I don’t know if that could be part of it, or if something else is off. I don’t usually use dutch process cocoa, but natural cocoa powder. But I have a few times with success. Wish I could help more!

      2. Correction: I did substitute white vinegar for cider vinegar and I used soya milk, which I have successfully used in another vegan chocolate cupcake recipe. I also used light olive oil, which I also used in the cake and cupcakes I just baked.

  8. Hi, I would like to make this cake as my grandson is allergic to egg. But I am allergic to almonds. Do you think this cake will work well with normal milk or maybe coconut milk?

  9. Deserves 10 stars! This is the most delicious chocolate cake I have ever had! I made it for my birthday. The only thing I subbed was coffee instead of the water (like many others have) and Oh My Goodness….10 out of 10! Definitely will be “my” birthday cake every year! Thanks for sharing this recipe – and all the other yummy ones, too! Nora…You’re the best! ♥

    1. Aww, thank you! Happy birthday to you! I am thrilled that you loved the cake! Thank you for your wonderful review and feedback!

  10. Hi Nora- My kids always loved my chocolate cake recipe (always the birthday request) but when they got older, 2 of my kids became vegan. Since then I was on the hunt for a good vegan chocolate cake recipe….. Your recipe is THE BEST. It tastes so much like my traditional chocolate cake that now it’s the only recipe I use. I only have 1 thing I change and I’ve been meaning to send this suggestion a long time ago. I always use 1 cup of strong hot coffee in the recipe INSTEAD of boiling water. Try it…. The coffee enhances the chocolate flavor incredibly!!! I hope you give it a try!
    Btw……I now use YOUR recipes ONLY as my “go to” vegan recipe site. I can always count on delicious tasting vegan recipes ! Thank you!!!

  11. This cake is amazing!!! I’ve made it twice. Second time I added 4 packs of Starbucks via instant coffee (2 in the cake and 2 in the frosting) then I added toasted hazelnuts to the top and inside frosting layer. BEST CAKE EVER!!! Making the coconut cake soon. I hope it’s just as incredible!

    1. Hi Jackie. I love your ingredient additions! Sounds amazing! Thank you for sharing your stellar review and ideas, and I’m thrilled you loved the cake! Happy cooking!

  12. I’ve been baking family member’s birthday cakes for the past three years – this was the first vegan cake recipie I tried and it was a HUGE hit! This cake is SO MOIST and delisous! 😋

    1. I’m thrilled the cake was a hit! Thanks for sharing your awesome review and feedback!

      1. I’ve made this recipe in the past and was extremely successful with the recipe. I followed the instructions to a T. I’ve also shared this recipe for friends looking for a yummy chocolate cake. I would like to remake this cake but this time around, I would like to use gluten-free flour because I’m making the cake for someone who has sensitivities to
        gluten and sensitivities to sugar. Which sugar substitute would you recommend? Erythritol, monk fruit other?

        1. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the recipe in the past! I have a slightly different recipe for gluten free chocolate cake that does turn out better than just subbing gf flour. As far as a sugar substitute, I have zero experience baking with any sugar alternatives so I’m not much help there unfortunately! I’d go for one that says it can be subbed 1:1 for sugar in baking, and hope it works.

    1. Hi Emily. I’m so glad you loved the cake! Yes, you can get a nice, pipe-able frosting. Make sure your vegan butter is not too melty when you start, just barely softened is all that is needed, and then add less liquid if needed, or more powdered sugar until you reach the right, thick consistency. I almost always use Earth Balance plant based butter. I hope this helps!

  13. Nora, this cake truly lives up to its name! I made it for Mother’s Day and my family was delighted. I added one teaspoon of instant coffee powder to intensify the chocolate flavour. It rose perfectly in the oven and was moist and rich. I decorated it with the frosting and rose petals and raspberries which worked so well. I then brought the leftovers to my musical theatre class and my friends were blown away and all requested I share the recipe. Thank you SO much, it’ll definitely be my go to chocolate cake for future bakes!

    1. Hi Jasmine. I am absolutely thrilled to hear that the cake was such a hit! Your decoration idea sounds beautiful! Thank you for taking time to share your fabulous feedback and positive review! Wishing you lots of happy baking!

  14. Hi Nora, I made this cake yesterday to take to our friends for dinner. I followed your recipe to a tee and it came out perfect! My husband and our friends loved it. I was so impressed by the taste, texture, and the frosting was ethereal. I have purchased vegan cakes in the past and they were always a big let down for taste. This will be my go to cake from now on. Thank you so very much! You truly are a Chef to come up with this creation!

    1. Hi Sandy. Your feedback is so encouraging and makes my day! I am thrilled that the cake was a hit! Thanks for sharing your stellar review and feedback! Happy cooking!

  15. Nora this cake has always been a hit with my family! Thank you so much for sharing! Plan on making one soon for a party, do you know if I am able to freeze the cake?

    1. Yes, you can freeze the cake, no problem. I’m happy you’ve enjoyed it in the past, thank you!

    1. The amount of batter will fit well in 3 6-inch round pans. Just divide and bake until done, around 25-30 minutes, but check with a toothpick to know for sure there is no wet batter in the middle.

      1. I would wrap the cakes very well and either refrigerate or maybe freeze them since it will be 3-4 days. I’m afraid it will dry out too much if you don’t. Then thaw, frost and serve on Friday.

  16. Nora!! Your recipes have never steer me wrong! After reading the ingredients, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, especially at the step where the batter was super runny…. I knew, I KNEW, the recipe would turn out amazing! -And of course it did! I did one tiny swap- used 1c white sugar + 3/4c coconut sugar + 2tsp instant coffee (trader joe’s) The cake turned out amazing! I didn’t have 9” pans so I just used what I had and turned the rest into cupcakes. 6” spring form, 9” pie tin (with 6.5” base and trimmed the cake down). Baked for 20, rotated +15 min. The cake turned out super bouncy and moist, rich & decadent, full of chocolate flavor. My bf is a chocolate lover and I’m hoping to wow him with this cake. For the frosting I actually made Pinch of Yum’s Mind Blowing Chocolate Cake (which is more like a mousse tart) and lathered the cake in that goodness. Your recipes always knock it out of the park. Thank you for sharing your talents with the world!

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