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. I love this recipe! It’s my go-to for chocolate cake! Question, whats the best way to store the frosted cake or cupcakes? On the counter for a couple of days?

    1. Hi Kim. It’s so great you love the recipe! These can be stored either way. They last a bit longer if stored in the refrigerator. I love to store mine in the fridge, as I love this cake cold! Happy cooking!

  2. would i be able to use unsweetened chocolate almond milk? and is it okay to use vegetable oil? im just looking to use what i have on hand

    1. Vegetable oil will work. I think the chocolate almond milk will work as well, but I’ve never tried it so I can’t say for sure.

  3. Have made this twice and it’s truly amazing! A friend said it’s the best cake she has ever tasted! So glad I found your recipe and site.

  4. Hi Nora. My son wants a rich chocolate cake with raspberry filling for his birthday. Can you advise me on how to add that flavor, and how that might alter this recipe?
    Thanks a bunch.

    1. I haven’t tried it, but I would try following the recipe for raspberry filling from Sally’s Chocolate Raspberry Cake, and layer it in as she suggests in the instructions. Using my vegan chocolate cake recipe. Hope that helps!

  5. hi, this came out perfect-except it tastes a bit eggy! i used a flax egg so i’m not sure how that happened. does anyone know what might’ve happened?

    1. Hmm, that’s odd! The cake has only been chocolatey and rich when I’ve made it. I’m not sure what could have happened to make it taste eggy, sorry!

  6. I just made this cake for my fiancés birthday. I’ve never baked a cake from scratch and it turned out epic. I took it up a notch and put a layer of your edible cookie dough recipe in the centre of the cake, with cookie dough balls on top. It was a 12/10.

    1. OMG Ashton! That sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing your fantastic ideas, feedback, and review! Happy birthday to your fiancé!

    1. Hi Eden. You can likely substitute more oil or butter for the applesauce but the cake could turn out pretty heavy.

  7. This cake is amazing!!! I have made the recipe at least 6 times! It is a family and friend favorite. Most compliments I have ever gotten!
    Because of conflicts I am making it 2 nights early before the birthday party.
    Do I need to refrigerate it? Please let me know ASAP. Thank you!

    1. Hi Susan. How awesome you are loving the cake! I would recommend that the cake be refrigerated. It helps it last longer, and I really love the cake after it has been the refrigerator (personal preference)! Thanks for sharing your fabulous feedback and review! Happy baking!

  8. Making this for a second time because we loved it so much the first time! Do you think the frosting will be okay in the fridge over night? I’m wanting to bake the cake and make the frost the night before, and transport it to my destination before frosting it the next day.

    1. Hi Melinda. I’m thrilled you all love the cake! Yes, you can keep the frosting in the fridge overnight. Just be sure it comes to room temperature before frosting. Thanks for your great feedback and review!

  9. This is the third time I’ve made it and I love it! I substituted oat milk and rapeseed oil as that was what we had and it was amazing. Definitely a keeper. And one bowl is always a total winner!

  10. Best chocolate cake ever!!! Myself and my young kiddos are vegan and this has become a birthday staple 🙂 everyone asks for the recipe and is shocked when they find out it’s vegan!! Nora is simply the best!

    1. Hi Lauren! How fun this is your birthday go to cake! I’m thrilled everyone loves it! Thanks for your great feedback and review! Happy cooking!

  11. Just curious as to what an apple cider vinegar is for? How does it help the overall structure of the cake?
    Can’t wait to try this one out!

    1. Hi Tayla. When the vinegar is mixed with the non-dairy milk, it becomes buttermilk. This adds to the flavor and texture of the cake. If you have white vinegar, you could sub that, or lemon juice. The It vinegar can also be left out, if needed. The cake will still be good!

  12. Hi Nora,
    Hoping to make this for my daughter. Will it come out okay in a glass baking dish also?

    1. Hi Margot. I’m not sure what size dish you are planning on using. You can make it in a 9 x 13 glass 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. Enjoy!

      1. Yes please. He loves it. Can’t stop talking about it. Please 🙏🏼

        Hi Nora
        I made this cake for a client and this is his comment.
        Clare from South Africa

          1. I am making this cake for my son’s birthday because my grandson can’t have dairy. Can’t wait to try it. Could you tell me how long I leave the almond milk and cider vinegar to curdle.

          2. Hi Jo Jo. It needs to sit for about 10 – 15 minutes. If you mix the milk and vinegar when you start the recipe, the mixture will be ready by the time that item is added. Sometimes the milk and vinegar combo doesn’t look curdled but I promise you it’s still good to use in the cake after sitting for 10 or 15 minutes! Happy birthday to your son! I hope everyone enjoys the cake!

    2. Hello! I’m also a big fan of this recipe. I’d like to make a multi tier cake. Any idea how long to bake for a 10 inch cake and an 8 inch cake?? Thanks so much.

  13. So excited to be making this for my girlfriend right now! Can I substitute maple syrup for the sugar? If so, do I need more of other ingredients?

    1. Your girlfriend is in for a treat! I would not sub maple syrup as it’s a liquid and would affect the overall structure of the cake. You could try lowering the amount of sugar called for, or you could replace it with coconut sugar in the cake itself. This will affect the flavor, but if you don’t mind that, it should work. Happy baking!

  14. Hello! I was just wondering about this. My father and I want to make this, but the only oil we have is vegetable oil. Will that work, or does it have to be one of the others?
    Thank you!!

  15. Hi,
    I don’t much like the taste of oil in cakes. Would it work to use melted Earth Balance Vegan Butter in place of the oil/coconut oil? I prefer a “buttery” cake.
    Thanks

    1. Hi there! I’ve never tried using vegan butter in place of the oil, so I’m not sure how the cake will turn out. It will probably be fine using melted butter, but I can’t say for sure. You can likely substitute more oil or butter for the applesauce but the cake could turn out pretty heavy.

      1. Thank you, one more question: I don’t have almond milk, only oat milk. Can I use that, or does it have to be almond?

  16. I’ve made this recipe several times and every time people are drooling over how good it tastes. I’m hoping to make some for a birthday party this weekend but I’m trying to make as much as possible beforehand. Do you think I could put the unfrosted cake in the freezer for a couple days and then frost it the morning of?

    1. You totally can! This cakes freezes really well. Just bring it to room temperature prior to frosting. Thanks for your fantastic feedback and review! Enjoy!

  17. I need to make a 3-layer 6” cake. do you think this amount of batter will suffice? Thank you. I originally made this recipe into cupcakes as a sympathy gesture. I make jumbo cupcakes, the woman shared with my coworkers and I received a lot of orders from that original gesture. So thank you so much!!!

    1. Hi Susan. I’m glad the cupcakes were a hit! Thanks for your great feedback! Yes, one recipe will work for three 6 inch pans. They will probably only need about 20 minutes in the oven, so watch them closely. I hope this helps, and happy cooking!

  18. I made this for a birthday—and no one would have guessed it was vegan! (I didn’t tell.) My daughters happily shared it with their friends :).

  19. This was an easy recipe and quite honestly the best chocolate cake I have had in years. I got race reviews from the vegans and non-vegan alike and it’s definitely getting tucked away for the future!

  20. Hi Nora! I made this cake for my husband’s birthday and it was a hit with his work mates. Some of them had even gone for 4 servings of the cake! Thank you for the recipe!

    I was wondering if I am to make the cake taste a bit more like coffee, is it alright to add some coffee to the boiling water at the end to get a mocha flavour in the cake? Would it still be a moist cake?

    1. Hi Melissa. How terrific the cake was a hit! Happy birthday to your husband! Hot coffee is wonderful in this cake! You can replace the boiling water with coffee. Thanks you for sharing your wonderful feedback and review! Enjoy!

  21. I’ve made this cake several times & most recently this week to take into work for my non vegan colleagues & everyone couldn’t believe it was vegan & not from a bakery! I’ve gotten several requests to make it for future birthday celebrations!

    I’ve made countless recipes from your page & I haven’t been disappointed once. Thank you for always bringing new ones & showing my non vegan friends/family that we don’t eat boring food!

    1. Hi Amy. How awesome the cake was a hit with your co-workers! I’m thrilled you are loving my recipes! Thank you for sharing your fantastic feedback and review! Wishing you lots of happy cooking!

    2. I made this cake (with regular butter), and I just realized today (one week later) that I forgot to add the applesauce! But everyone and myself loved it still! I wonder how much better it could possibly have been had I remembered to add the applesauce! Lol

  22. If you double the recipe are you still using two 9” rounds then cutting them in half, or are you making 4 cakes total?

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