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 (1729 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. Very delicious cake and the icing is out of this world – I will use that recipe for all my buttercream type icings from now on! The amount of icing this makes is very generous, I had plenty left over despite slathering it on thickly. I’ve given 4 stars rather than 5 overall, as the bottom 1/4 inch of both cakes hadn’t risen and was a bit dense as a result – though not really a problem as it just tasted like brownies. I wondered if the recipe just had slightly too much boiling water (I followed the recipe, so added 1 cup) and may reduce this a little next time to see if that fixes it.

  2. Hello Nora, I feel such joy that my cake (under your supervision) was my first real success. My husband has & is enjoying with me equally. The cake seemed to rise and then cracked on top which I suspect was one of a few reasons but I’ll be more careful with heat setting and baking soda next time.. Otherwise “OMG So Happy”

  3. I saw in a previous comment that gluten free flour could be used. Is there a certain kind of gluten free? Could I use Bob Mills 1-1 gluten free flour? When reading about it, it seems it’s perfect for baking.

    1. That will work pretty well but for the best gluten free version, I suggest making my Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cake. Through testing I found it best to use a gluten free flour without xanthan gum added, and then add in your own. It gives you more control and the result is a fluffy gluten free cake. Just substituting Bob’s gluten free flour can make the cake dense. It works, but there is a better way.

  4. I adore this recipe! Just wondering if you think the cake itself would be fine to make 2 days prior and stored in an air tight container in fridge? 🙂 thanks

    1. Hi Dana. I’m thrilled you are loving the cake! Yes, this should keep fine in the refrigerator for 2 days! Thanks for your fabulous review!

    2. I absolutely love this recipe. My youngest has numerous allergies and this is the best recipe I have found to accommodate his needs whilst also not short changing any other family members. Everyone loves it and I’ve made it at least 20 times in the last year! Thank you!

      Quick question; I would like to try and adapt to make a black forest cake (obviously not in the true sense, but a chocolate Cherry cake in the basic sense). Any suggestions of how to adapt? I’m wondering if I could sub some of the hot water for kirsch liqueur? And maybe adding some tinned cherries? Any advice would be gratefully received 😆

      1. I’m so glad you have been enjoying the cake, thank you! I honestly haven’t tried making a black forest cake before, though it’s on my list. I’d probably make a cherry filling/topping, but I’m not sure what else. I’d have to do some testing and probably post a new recipe. But this would be my base for sure!

    1. You could use a recipe for applesauce, but you could also use something else to make it easier. If you have ground flaxseeds, you can use 2 tablespoons ground flax mixed with 5 tablespoons water. Or mashed banana, plant based yogurt, or possibly even more oil to replace the applesauce. Hope those ideas help!

  5. Hi 🙂 I know this wouldn’t make it vegan but can I just add 2 eggs instead of applesauce? Or 2/3 cup of banana?

  6. This is absolutely the best cake that I have ever eaten–it is SO delicious! I would go as far to say that it is spectacular. Hands down, all your recipes are the best that I have ever made. One question–it is so light that I have trouble handling it. Am I doing anything wrong? Or is this normal?

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake! Thank you so much. This cake is quite light while being super moist, so you certainly need to handle it carefully. A well greased pan with parchment paper on the bottom will help the cakes pop right out. Then let cool and very carefully move to a cake plate or stand, frost and serve.

      1. Instead of the boiling water, add strong boiling coffee… then it will be the ULTIMATE vegan chocolate cake.
        Thank you for sharing your amazing recipe!

  7. I make this cake for my brother so many times i see you mention about the vegan lemon cake do you have a recipe? Im in the uk

    1. Hi Keren. I’m glad your brother is loving the chocolate cake! I do have a lemon cake recipe! I have more than one. I hope you check them all out!

  8. Hi Nora, I love your recipes. I’ve made this cake many time and every one loves it. I’d like to make it in a 10.inch pan. Any advice on amount of batter to use and baking time?

    1. I’m so glad you are loving my recipes, and the cake! I haven’t tried this in a 10 inch pan, it so it’s hard for me to say for sure. There probably is too much batter for a 10 inch cake pan and I would probably cut the recipe in half. I hope this helps!

      1. Hi Nora,
        I have made this cake twice now. Both times it is a light texture on the top part of the cake but denser on the bottom, it’s almost like a brownie texture. It’s super tasty but I’m just wondering what I might be doing that’s causing that to happen . I use the 2X8” pans and bake at 350 for 35 minutes. The toothpick does come out clean when testing. Thanks for all the great recipes. You’re my go to for great meal ideas 😊😊

    2. This is the most delicious and super moist chocolate cake, vegan and otherwise. No one will know it’s vegan. I make it several times per year.

  9. I made this recipe 1 million times and it’s so great! I was wondering if I could substitute oil for more applesauce?

    1. It might be okay but it could make the cake heavier, I’m not sure though as I haven’t tried it personally. So glad you have been loving the cake, thank you!

      1. Hi,
        The first time I made this cake it was magic, the second and third time it was very dense. What could I be doing wrong?

  10. Hey Nora, I’m looking forward to making this recipe. I’m not sure about the butter. Can you say the amount in grams please?

    1. I don’t recommend it. I’m afraid the chocolate cake will be too delicate using cake flour, as it’s already so moist and fluffy.

    1. That will work with the ingredient amounts listed. The cake will likely need 40-45 minutes or so in the oven. Do a toothpick check; when inserted in the middle of the cake and no wet batter is stuck to it, then the cake is done. Thanks!

  11. Hello! I have a question. Do I have to use earth balance vegan butter sticks for the frosting, or can it be another brand like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! Baking Sticks?

    1. Hi Kat. I’ve used many different brands, such as Melt, Country Crock, Earth Balance, Miyoko’s, Trader Joe’s and more! They all work well. Happy baking!

  12. Hiya! Is there a step missing from #3 or do we only ever add half of the almond milk?

    “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.”

    1. Hey Lisa! What I mean is to start making the buttercream with only half of the almond milk, then add the rest a little at a time to thin out the frosting (as needed). You might not end up using the full amount – it depends on how thick and creamy your buttercream is. Adding all of the milk at once could result in a too-thin frosting. I hope this helps!

  13. Made these for my grandson’s 16th birthday. They tasted good but was really disappointed as to how they came out of the oven. They all were flat.
    Had to pile the icing on to help them “stand out”.
    Not sure if it was something I did or didn’t do.

    1. Hi Liz. If the cake layers came out flat, it’s likely that the batter was overmixed and all of the air was knocked out. Did you make any substitutions to the recipe?

    1. Hi Amy. You can refrigerate the frosting for 2 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer. It will still taste amazing after being frozen!

  14. Cake was fantastic! House full of non vegans who said it was the best cake they had ever had. Had to make another one today.

  15. I’d like to make this using almond flour and coconut flour. I don’t like gluten-free flour. What can I do to swap out the regular flour?

    1. Hi there! 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. You can use a gluten free flour mix if you’d like, it works quite well. Hope that helps!

    2. Hi Nora, I’m making this cake as a tray bake, 4 times a week for my sons restaurant. Literally everyone is raving about it and people come for miles to eat them.

      No one believes it’s vegan.

      Thank you so much for this recipe.

      Anna

  16. Just wanted to say that the cake is amazing! We did a test try yesterday and are excited to make a big cake for a birthday party this weekend.

    I wasn’t understanding your instructions. For a quarter sheet 9×13 cake do I double the recipe?

    1. I’m so glad you loved the cake! No, you don’t need to double the recipe if you’re making it in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Hope this helps!

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