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 don’t use oil in my cooking. Is there anything that I could use instead of oil? Like more applesauce and/or almond flour?

    1. You might be able to use more applesauce, I don’t think almond flour will work here in place of oil. But the frosting can not be oil free, so you’ll have to use something else for that part.

  2. I loved the texture and how moist the cake was! I substituted white flour for buckwheat and added xanthin gum and it was still nice and fluffy. I also used regular white vinegar. My only issue with it was a bitter/tangy aftertaste. I’m wondering if that is due to the use of white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar?

    1. I think the aftertaste you experienced has more to do with using buckwheat flour instead of regular flour, not the vinegar. It changes the recipe quite a lot to use buckwheat, and will certainly affect the taste. Glad it still came out moist and fluffy though!

  3. Hi!
    I literally made this today for my sister’s bday dinner tomorrow evening. I can say the frosting is simply delicious, and the cake looks and smells amazing , but tasting will have to wait for the bday girl. Question, will this cake sit well overnight on the counter covered or will the fridge be best?
    Thank you for the info and for the recipe Nora!

    1. As long as it isn’t really warm in your house, it can just sit on the counter overnight. If it’s warm or the frosting looks really soft and melty, stick it in the fridge instead. Hope everyone enjoys the cake!

  4. Hi There

    What can I use in place of applesauce, I’m based in South Africa, we dont have that here unless we have a different name for it…I’m not sure…

    1. Hi Martika. 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 Nora! Already tried this cake and it’s absoluty delicious!
    Was wondering if you can sub the coconut oil for regular oil.
    Thanks!

  6. Amazing cake! Love it and the frosting too. Before going vegan my husband would order chocolate cake from every restaurant that had it and could be said to be and “expert”. And he loves it!

  7. This is an amazing cake recipe! I followed it exactly except for the icing where I made halfe which worked perfectly for me taste wise. Definitely my ‘go to’ recipe from now on – so thankful to you for sharing it!

  8. This cake was absolutely the best!!! I would recommend this cake to everyone vegan or not. Very easy and delicious, Thanks so much for this recipe Nora.

  9. Hi Nora, I just made this cake and am wondering why the cakes are so short. They are only about an inch or so high.
    Could it be because I didn’t sift the fry ingredients as the recipe didn’t say to use a softer?

    1. I have never used a sifter for this recipe, so I don’t think that’s the problem. What size pans did you use? They shouldn’t be that short!

  10. Amazing!! I’ve made it twice and got rave reviews from family and co workers. I followed the cake recipe exactly. I did modify the icing to reduce the amount & richness. I used 1 1/2 sticks of plant based Country Crock w/ avocado oil. 1 1/4cup powdered sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk. It was just right on the sweetness.

    1. I’m so glad you and your co-workers loved the cake! Thanks for sharing your baking experience, as well as your fantastic review!

      1. Perfect chocolate cake. My bf wanted a fluffy (not fudgy) chocolate cake for his birthday and after looking at a bunch of recipes I settled on this one and it’s the one I’ll use forever. I used black bean Aquafaba that I whipped a bit with the mixer instead of the applesauce and I added maybe 2 tsps of instant espresso powder to the boiling water. Baked in a 9×13 metal pan at 350 for 32 minutes and it’s got an amazing rise and beautiful texture. This is the kind of cake I expect at restaurants and bakeries, but get served dense or dry blahness instead. Fantastic recipe Nora! Thank you!

  11. Fantastic cake, followed the instructions as read and everyone was so impressed with this vegan cake, it’s hard to believe it’s even vegan!

    1. Hi Pam. 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. You may want to check out my gluten free chocolate cake! Enjoy!

  12. This is (and always will be) my go to cake! It’s incredible. Every time I make it I get asked for the recipe. It’s super moist and gooey and all I hear when it is being eaten is ‘mmmm’. Follow the instructions to the letter and you can’t go wrong. Thanks so much for this, can’t wait to try your lemon cake next 😊

    1. You are welcome, Daisy! What a wonderful compliment to my cake recipe! Thanks for sharing your awesome review. Wishing you lots of happy baking!

    1. No, that would not work. The flavor will be very off and it’s too much liquid. I think the cake would come out dense and mushy.

  13. This cake is the BEST vegan cake! My whole family is so obsessed, even the ones who refuse to eat vegan. So happy I found this recipe and will be using it for many occasions in the future! Well done, Nora! It is magnificent 👏👏👏

  14. Hello,

    What is the best way to cool this?
    I read that you should cover the cake with plastic wrap after taking it out of pan.
    I also read not to cover it, so I don’t know which is best.
    Thank you

  15. Made this for a family birthday. Everyone raved about it. Even two days later being in the fridge. Said, it’s restaurant quality. This will be a favorite in our house 👍🙌

  16. I’m very thankful you wrote that the batter will be runny because I had my doubts but watched magic happen. I’ll never eat box cake again! This was fantastic!!!!!

    1. This cake is life-changing. 🎂❤️🌿 Made it for my (Chocolate Fiend) Mom’s birthday, adding a little rum into the frosting for an added celebratory touch. 🔥(Made half the amount of frosting. Cannot imagine making the full amount.) Spectacular, thank you!

    2. This cake is amazing I did some substitutions but tried to keep the liquid ratio and when I tasted the batter I knew it was going to be good. When I sliced through the cake I was amazed because I have never made a vegan cake with this fluffy texture! It must have been the boiling water so I was just curious – what exactly does it do to make it so fluffy do you know? And thanks a million again for this recipe

      1. Thank you so much for your fantastic feedback! The boiling water heats up the baking powder in the batter and, in addition to the heat from the oven, produces a stronger leavening reaction. The result is a super fluffy cake! Hope this helps 🙂

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