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 (1689 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. Thank you for the delicious cake recipe! My husband loves chocolate cake and my daughter and I made it for his birthday. We added strawberries to the icing between the cakes and on the top of the cake. It was a hit! This really is the best vegan chocolate cake!!!

    1. Happy birthday to your husband! Your cake sounds beautiful and delicious! Thanks for sharing your wonderful feedback and review!

  2. I have made this cake twice in the last 2 weeks. It’s fabulous. Incredibly moist and delicious. I used the chocolate frosting the first time and the vanilla buttercream recipe for today’s celebration. It was great both times. Great Recipe !!!

  3. Hi thank you for the lovely recipe! For a gluten free, vegan and nut allergy can you recommend an alternative to the almond milk? Could I use Oat or Soya Milk? Would it taste good?
    Thank you
    Emily

  4. Hello, do you think I can use Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour instead of all purpose? Will it make it too dense?

    Thank you!

  5. This recipe lives up to its title.

    I have presented this to many non-vegans and they’re shocked at how delicious it is (clearly they’re oblivious to the fact that all vegan food is delicious). I alter the recipe to muffins, using homemade applesauce with old apples, and half the amount of sugar. Teamed with that delicious icing, 1 cup of sugar is more than enough. It’s sensational!

    Thank you for this winning recipe!

  6. I’d like to make this on Thursday for a birthday party on Saturday. Should I freeze it (I frosted)? Would the cake be ok? Thank you!

    1. Hi Heather. You can wrap the unfrosted cake layers in plastic and keep them in the fridge until Saturday. They shouldn’t dry out this way. You could also frost it the night before the party, then cover the cake loosely in plastic and keep it in the fridge. Hope this helps!

  7. Best vegan cake I’ve ever had!! I used some coffee as part of my liquid mixture for the cake to bring out more of the chocolate flavor, and I also used less powdered sugar in the frosting. I think I used 3.5 cups. I wanted more of the bitterness of the chocolate to stand out in the frosting rather than it being so so sweet. Lastly I used the new country crock plant stick butters and they taste indiscernible from regular butter. I got so many compliments on this cake! Tysm

    1. How awesome the cake turned out wonderful for you, Brittany! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback and review!

    2. The first time I made this cake, my friend and his daughters were coming over for dinner and I was in a pinch cause the girls are vegan. This cake blew their minds! (And mine!) we were all so shocked at how moist and fluffy the whole cake was! One of the girls doesn’t even like chocolate cakes (usually) and she devoured this!

      It’s been such a hit that my hubby, who is not vegan and doesn’t like cakes, specifically requested this cake for his birthday. The little girls requested one for their birthday too (same week) so I busted out two double layer cakes and everyone is happy. This one is on repeat for life! Thank you so much!

  8. dear Nora I’m vegan for 8 years i try to make other
    there recipes i dic
    didn’t like it at all but yours are number one i make lo
    all your recipes for all of my family and friends church family i tell everyone about it many thanks for the best ever recipes sincerely Olivia

    1. This looks great, and easy! Has anyone done a gluten-free version? My partner is vegan & I have celiac, and we both just had birthdays and are overdue for chocolate birthday cake! Thanksm

  9. I’ve made this cake several times and I absolutely love it! It gets rave reviews every time, no one has any clue its vegan:) I made a few substitutions just because of preference, and it turned out awesome:) Einkorn flour, grapeseed oil, and coffee in place of the boiling water. Thank you for sharing Nora!!!

  10. I make this recipe at least four times a year it comes out perfect every time! I don’t usually make it multilayer and I always add a chopped up chocolate bar (the melted bits are so yummy!!). Also I often skip the frosting because it’s too sweet for my friends and me but if I do make it I cut the frosting in half and add peanut butter.

  11. This is the best cake I’ve ever had! It is my family’s go-to recipe for every birthday. My husband is the one who discovered this recipe and he used it to successfully bake his first-ever cake!

    1. I love your story! Thanks for sharing your amazing feedback and review! It’s so great my cake recipe gets to join all of your birthdays! Happy cooking!

      1. I made a half recipe of the frosting, it was very good and I will make it again. My cake wasn’t as good. It was a little oily and way too sweet for me. I will make again and try just using 1 cup sugar. I will try coconut oil next time too.

  12. This was amazing! I have made several of your main dishes and deserts! Nora, I have not found a recipe that was not delicious 😋
    Thank you

  13. I made this yesterday. It was a HUGE hit. Not only did it bake beautifully in the oven. It was a success in the airfryer. I used coconut oil. Fantastic.
    Thank you for the recipe 😘
    I have pics if you want to see.

  14. I love all of your recipes. I notice you use E B butter and found an after taste in my cookies. I use Country Crock plant base butter and I am pleased with the results.

  15. Hi. I made this recipe many times! Heart Shaped for a Valentine Party, Shamrock Shaped for a St. Patrick’s Party and cupcakes!!!! Everyone loves this cake. Do you think I can make it into a Bundt Cake using a 9” Bundt Pan???

  16. I have made this recipe countless times and it never disappoints. We aren’t a fan of the frosting so we usually use store bought. The cake is AH-MAZE-ING. Thanks Nora!

  17. My partner made this for me for my birthday. I believe it was the first homemade cake he had ever made and it turned out amazing! He is super strict about following directions and so I can say the recipe is perfectly written as is. He used the chocolate frosting recommended on this site but did only make half a batch as he did not leave out enough butter and we did not want to wait for more to soften. That said, half a batch covered the whole cake and a layer between. I truly believe that NO ONE would know this was a vegan cake. Thank you Nora!

  18. Been making this for years at this point –and in fact, this recipe is how I found you way back in the day–so I figured I should finally comment and rate. 🙂

    As everyone says, rave reviews from vegans and omnis all around. I was completely taken aback by attendees at my daughter’s birthday party saying they don’t like chocolate cake, but enthusiastically asking for seconds of this one–multiple years in a row. It’s the cake my daughter demands each year for her birthday. It’s excellent with both raspberry and cherry frosting, too, since the 4-year old cannot *survive* without pink icing. Trying strawberry frosting next. 🙂

    If you’re in a time crunch, it tastes great with canned frosting from the store (pick a brand without dairy). But it is exponentially better with the frosting here. Thanks, Nora!

  19. I made this for my sons bday who had a ton of allergies and it was so good! I subbed ripple kids for the milk and used country crock olive oil butter. I served it with some coconut milk ice cream. It came out amazing all my guests couldn’t believe it was vegan ! Great recipe.

  20. I have no idea what happened. I followed the recipe and it just never cooked inside. After 2 hours it was still liquid on the inside and burnt all around the edges! I have no idea what I did wrong. I bake things all the time and never had a problem until today.

    1. Oh no! It’s hard to say what went wrong without being there, Yalisa. Something must have gone wrong with the batter, like too much baking powder was added or there was too much batter in the cake pan you used, or there could be a problem with your oven. I’ve never had this happen, though, so it’s hard to say for sure!

  21. Every time my son and I cook together, he eyes this recipe, so I promised him we would make it for his birthday. Wow! This cake did not disappoint! My whole family loved it. It truly made my chocolate loving six year old’s day extra special! 🙂

    Although it won’t last long, I was wondering how would be the best way to store it? Do you recommend leaving it out at room temperature or keeping it in the fridge?

    Thank you so much for all of your recipes and advice!

    1. Hi Kendra. That’s so fun that you and your son cook together! Happy birthday to him! The cake can be covered and stored on the counter or in the refrigerator. I love it after it has been refrigerated – that’s my favorite way to store it! It’s so great the cake was a it with everyone! Thank YOU for sharing your wonderful feedback and review!

    2. Quick question if I’m using the chickpea liquid instead of applesauce, how much should I use? Still 2/3? And do I need to whip it as well?

      1. Hi Katia. Whip the aquafaba until foamy and white, either with a whisk or hand mixer, then measure out 2/3 cup, just like the applesauce. Hope that helps!

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