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 (1341 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 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 55 mins
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 earth balance 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! This looks amazing! Do you think it would work in two 9”x9” square pans? I’ve never made a square layer cake before, but those are the only 9inch pans I have…

    1. 9 x 9 inch square pans will actually be too big I’m afraid; they hold more than a 9 inch round pan. You can also make it in one 9 x 13 inch pan if that helps!

  2. Hi! I was just going through this recipe, which I’m going to make for my friend’s birthday this week. I was wondering if there are any substitutes for the applesauce? It’s not available where I live. Would banana puree work?

    1. You could substitute aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas), OR just use 3/4 cup canola oil instead of 1/2 cup and leave out the applesauce altogether. That will work just fine! Hope you enjoy the cake!

    2. I used banana purée and it was fantastic! Lightest, fluffiest and most delicious vegan cake I’ve ever made.

  3. Can this cake be frozen after it has been frosted. If yes, what is the method for thawing before eating? Looking forward to making this for a friend for Christmas.

    1. I think it would work best to freeze the cake part separate from the frosting. I have never tried to freeze it with the frosting, but the cakes freeze just fine, just cool completely, wrap them in plastic wrap and foil and freeze.

    2. Ohhhh my goodness! This recipe is life! I baked it for my year old nephew’s birthday. When I use a recipe for the first time I always bake one for myself. I omitted the applesauce and I used 1/4cup vegetable oil and 1/4 cup vegan butter in the batter.My family doesn’t know the difference. Wish I could post a picture.

    1. I have never tried it, so I can’t really say, but I suppose it could work. I think the coconut cream would need to be cold, hardened in the refrigerator overnight.

      1. I’m confused because you say cocoa powder, but your recipe links to cacao powder. It appears someone further down in the comments struggled when using dutch processed cocoa powder (which is what I would have used as well had I not read the comments or clicked the link). Can you clarify if it’s cocoa powder or cacao? Thanks!

        1. Hi there! I can understand why this is confusing. Cacao usually means it’s raw, and not made using heat. Natural cocoa powder has been roasted at high temperatures. Dutch is totally different, in that it is washed in a potassium solution that neutralizes it’s acidity. It’s very dark, and works a bit differently. For this recipe, I suggest using natural cocoa powder; cacao powder is just fine as well. If it doesn’t say “dutch processed” you should be safe. I usually just use good old Hershey’s Cocoa Powder. Hope that helps!

  4. This recipe is excellent! I made it for a party and everyone went nuts for it. I added a couple drops of orange essential oil to the icing (DoTerra’s are the only edible oils I know of) and I strongly recommend it for anyone that loves Terry’s chocolate oranges! This was one of three cakes at the party, one of which was made specially by a professional baker, and everyone preferred this one!

  5. I made this cake 2 times in 3days..not because I messed
    It up but because everyone loves it,ate it and wanted
    More. The only thing I did differently was used unsweetened vanilla cashew milk and lemon juice because it’s what I had!
    I am hoping o can find a white cake recipe just as wonderful!
    Thank you.

    1. 2 times in 3 days! That’s so great. 🙂 I’m so glad everyone enjoyed loved the chocolate cake! I have plans to post a white cake soon, so stay tuned. 🙂

  6. This looks AMAZING! Any chance the almond milk could be subbed with another milk, coconut? Cashew? Husband and one son are allergic to almonds,

    1. I think it would work okay if it’s not unsweetened, but unsweetened is best because you don’t want the flavor of the applesauce to stand out in the cake.

  7. This cake is delicious! It is so moist. This is the best frosting recipe I have found. It didn’t melt all over the cake like other recipes.
    so yummy!!

      1. I made this cake for International Women’s Day and it was a hit! People were going at it with their hands! Also, someone asked me to make it for their kid’s birthday because they have a non-vegan cake but some folks are fasting for Ethiopian Orthodox Lent . Thanks for this recipe!

    1. Maree did you happen to attempt to make this cake with gluten free flour? I am wondering the same thing and if it will turn out.

    2. I made one batch with Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 gluten free flour and one batch with regular flour. I honestly couldn’t decide which I liked better. This is an amazing recipe and either type of flour works wonderfully.

    1. I think coconut sugar would work, or any dry granulated sugar. It will change the flavor a bit, but if you don’t mind that it should be fine. Agave would not work because it is liquid, and would throw off the balance of wet to dry ingredients.

  8. Could I replace the applesauce with an equal amount of bean water/aquafaba? Don’t have applesauce, though I don’t want to mess with the cake’s texture. It looks amazing!

    1. I’m not sure since I haven’t tried that myself, but it may work okay. I think there is a good chance it would be fine, though it may change the texture a bit. I would whip the bean liquid first, then measure 2/3 cup once it is frothy and white.

    2. First, thank you Nora for most awesome 2 year old birthday cake surprise the surprise for me that it came out perfect and so easy to follow your recipe!! All smiles and happy tummies!! Second, I did not have apple sauce as well and used egg replacer and flax with a little water to measure 2/3 but either or would have worked I think! I thought I screwed up because I forgot to pour the curdled milk so basically I poured soy without ACV and replaced the boiled water and poured curdled one too, man I thought my guests will hate me hahah! But, in the end there were lots of compliments!! So thanks again so much my go to chocolate love cake from heaven lol

      1. So glad it was a success for you, even with a few mishaps lol! Hope the birthday was happy and fun! My little guy turns 3 in a few weeks, and I’ll definitely be making him a cake. 🙂

    3. I’m making this cake ahead of time for my friends birthday tomorrow night. Will it be fine by tomorrow? I’m making the frosting tomorrow and just letting these cool overnight. Curious to see if this is a bad idea lol

      1. It’s totally fine to make them ahead of time. I would ideally store the cakes (unfrosted) in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic wrap, then make the frosting and frost the cake when you are ready. Hope your friend enjoys the cake!

        1. Hey, would putting it In the fridge dry it out? I also am making this for a birthday tomorrow , cake is in oven.
          Haven’t made the frosting
          Question would be
          Is it okay to make it and frost it tonight ? Or in what order would keep it moist and fresh tasting ?

          1. You have a couple of options. You can frost it tonight and store it in the refrigerator overnight, no problem, it won’t dry out. Or you can frost it right before serving. It will obviously be cold if you serve it straight from the fridge, but I kinda like it that way. If you want it softer when you serve it, simply let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or so. Thanks and enjoy!

  9. I was looking for a layer cake recipe and your photos stole my heart (and my stomach). It looks really good but actually I am very curious for the frosting – it seems really fluffy OMG…

    1. Aw thank you! Oh man, the frosting is the best part for sure!! It’s very fluffy and creamy, you will have trouble not licking the bowl clean before you get the frosting on the cake lol.

    1. Yes you can make it in a 9 x 13 dish or pan. I would bake it at the same temp for 35-45 minutes. It may take a little longer to bake, especially in a glass dish, so just watch it closely after 35 minutes. It’s done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean in the middle of the cake.

    1. I use Cronometer for my nutritional information. There are approximately 538 calories in 1 slice of cake, if there are 16 slices cut. I don’t see anything about 100 grams. Hope that helps!

    1. I haven’t tried it but I think it should work out fine! I just got a bundt pan so I’ll have to try it soon. 🙂

    2. I used a bundt and it was fine, then used a chocolate glaze drizzled on top instead of the frosting. It was soooo good!

        1. It can sit out on the counter, unless it’s very warm in your house for some reason. I often do refrigerate it anyhow, because I like how it tastes cold. Once you slice into it, I would cover it so it doesn’t dry out too fast. Thanks and enjoy!

    1. You will see this cake and you`re probably wondering what cake should I choose. I`m not a vegan, this cake will probably be gross.

      I`m telling you that you most likely will underestimate this cake.

      DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THIS CAKE.

      THIS CAKE IS THE BEST THING THAT HAPPENED TO ME and tbh I`m not the biggest fan of cakes.

      Also this was super sugary so I`ll totally recommend only 4 cups definately NOT 5 cups of icing sugar in the icing. Honeslty you could probably try reducing the amount of icing sugar tbh.

      I was super skeptical about that – let the apple cider vinegar and almond milk curdle…. I`m not really sure how you tell if it curdles (I couldn`t really tell by looking at it…. but I just went with it) (PS I used chocolate almond milk because I am a student and it was on sale and tbh the store was sold out of all other almond milks… AND IT WAS PERFECT!.

      Also I had to ccok it longer because I cooked it in a loaf pan ( I`m a student and don`t have any money okay lol give me a break ahah ) BUT IT TUNRED OUT PERFECTTTTTTTTTT I can`t stress this enough
      ALSO like who puts applesauce in cakes. TRUST FAM TRUST this lady knows what the heck she`s talking about.

      I have a group of friends who don`t agree on much. But one thing was for certain. They LOVED your cake, even if it was vegan.

      THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU <3

      1. That’s probably why it is was extra sweet. Recipe calls for unsweetened almond milk, the chocolate one has added sugar.

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