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 (1709 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. Hello
    Great recipe. I have one question though. Is it possible to substitute the applesauce for something else. I would bake this for someone who can not eat fruits

    1. I’m glad you are loving recipe! You can 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). Hope this helps!

    2. Hey Nora
      I LOVE this cake. It is my go-to chocolate cake no matter the occasion as it’s just SO GOOD. I first discovered this recipe when making birthday cakes for my nephew who is allergic to eggs, dairy, and soy. However, he’s thrown a spanner in the works this year and has asked for a rainbow cake, which means no chocolate! Do you have any advice? Is there something I could simply sub in rather than Cocoa powder to make the cake light in colour so I can dye it?

      1. Hi Amelia. I’m glad you are loving my chocolate cake recipe! I recommend you try my Vegan Vanilla Cake. You could divide the batter into bowls – as many bowls as the desired number of layers you are going to bake (so 5 bowls for 5 layers). Color each one as desired. I would use 8 or 9 inch round cake pans, the layers should be quite thin and will only need to cook for 15 minutes or less. Let all layers cool, and frost. I’m guessing you will need to double the vanilla frosting, because you will need a lot to frost in between all the layers. Hope that helps and it works out!

  2. We have made this several times. I use super-rich organic cocoa from Whole Foods. Also like to add some vegan chocolate chips. It is a very moist pudding-cake texture. You do have to cook it fully, so 35 minutes is what it typically takes. I have done birthday cupcakes with it, and today, halved the recipe for an 8X8 square for my “personal use.” Cause, who needs a holiday??

  3. Hello! I’m excited to make this this week—just one question! I live in Colorado, do you have a suggestion for adjusting for high altitudes? Thank you!

    1. For high altitude cooking, I’d suggest calling the King Arthur baker’s help line! They’re so great. The number: 8553712253

  4. Hi
    When you wrote that this could be made in a bundt pan, did you mean the double recipe or half single pan recipe?

  5. Best chocolate cake recipe! So moist and so flavorful! I always bake this cake for all birthdays and special events and get complimented on it. Nora never disappoints!

  6. Made the recipe exactly as written, and it was amazing! Delicious! I will absolutely save this recipe to make again!

  7. I’m more of a vanilla person and not a vegan but tried this and it’s the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. I’m not much of a baker and was surprised that I actually mad such a great and super moist cake for the first time ever. Thank for the recipe! Question, I’m doubling the recipe and want to use a 9×13 in pan. Do I use 1 pan for each doubled amount or 1 9×13 for the original (not doubled Thanks!

    1. I’m thrilled you loved the cake! As-is, the recipe should make enough batter for one 9×13 pan but if you want a layer cake, double the recipe and use two pans. Happy baking!

  8. Hi Nora, if I’m doubling the recipe to make a 3 or 4 layer cake, do I double all the ingredients including the cup of boiling water? Thanks!

    1. Yes, exactly! Doubling the recipe (hit the 2x button on the recipe card for accurate measurements) will make enough batter for 4 layers and will call for 2 cups of boiling water. I hope this helps!

  9. Nora, thanks for your prompt response earlier this month on freezing the cake layers; it worked great. OMG, the cake was fabulous! Even my husband who is not a big fan of chocolate cake raved about it! I agree with some of the other reviews, that half of the frosting recipe was plenty in our opinion. My vegan daughter and I have a message for you – our taste buds thank you but our waistlines curse you for such a great recipe, 😂!
    Thank you so much for sharing this.

    1. Hi Shawn! Got your message! I’m saying “You are welcome! Glad you enjoyed the cake!” I’m thrilled that the cake turned out fabulous. It is a very loved cake amongst many! Thank you for getting back to me about how it turned out for you! I appreciate your stellar review and feedback!

  10. I’ve made this many times and everyones LOVED it- even non vegans have said it’s the best cake they’ve ever had!

    I’m making it tonight and the recipient of the cake can’t eat apples- what can I substitute with? can I use eggs? Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Emily. I’m really glad to hear the cake is a hit each time you make it! You could substitute more oil or butter for the applesauce but the cake could turn out pretty heavy. Hope this helps some!

  11. I’ve just trialled this for my son’s birthday. It’s way better than another vegan cake recipe I trialled last week!

    The only problem I came across was that it didn’t rise that much (not a major issue) and stuck to the cupcake liners, so half of each cupcake is lost. I would really like to fix this so I can use it for my son’s birthday party next week.

    I did use oat milk instead of almond milk, but other comments I read said this shouldn’t affect it.

    Any advice on how to correct this?

    1. Hi Dom. I’m glad you like the cake! If the cake isn’t rising properly, it’s possible that the batter was overmixed, the cake was underbaked, or the oven temperature is off (all ovens vary in temp). One of the most important things is not to overmix the batter because if the air is knocked out, then the cakes will fall instead of rise. A simple fix to keep the cake from sticking to the liners is to spray them with a little oil. I hope this helps for next time!

  12. My cake turned out with more of a brownie-type of consistency. I’ve made it in the past and don’t recall this happening. I also had to leave it in the oven way longer as the toothpick test wasn’t coming out clear at all. So odd but I’m hoping my friend still loves it.

    1. Hi Vern. It’s hard to know what went wrong without actually being there. Did you make any substitutions? Did you use extra flour or oil? Was the batter runny? Every time I’ve made this, the cake is rich and chocolatey but never fudgy like a brownie.

  13. Hi, I’m not vegan but my son is. I always hated chocolate cake, but this! WOW!!! The Best Ever chocolate cake, I actually really love it! So this is huge for me. So now I only make this recipe, but I substitute vegan butter for chocolate muss and ganache made with heavy cream. Vegan butter is not really good for you, it is only one molecule away from Plastic.
    Thank you so much for this awesome recipe!

    1. No, many vegan butters are just a recipe made with plant ingrediants.Really just read the back labels and look each ingrediant up. Just Plants no plastic ingredients

  14. I love your cake recipes! They haven’t failed me yet.

    I’ve taken to using 6″ cake tins for layered cakes, as they work well for my needs. When I made your lemon cake (simply amazing) I asked how I would modify for 6″ tins and you said:

    “Bake at the indicated temperature. They will probably take more time, maybe 10-15 minutes longer to cook all the way in the middle. I would check with a toothpick or sharp knife. When it comes out clean, they are done.”

    This worked well (although perhaps a lower temp or covering them with foil for the first little while may have helped). Would you recommend I follow your previous advice with this recipe?

    Is there are ‘rule’ I should be following when converting a recipe to 6″ tins (so I don’t have to keep bothering you)?

    Thanks 😊

    1. Thanks! Generally, I would use the same temperature and just check for doneness with a toothpick. It’s hard to say exactly without testing each recipe, there is no hard and fast rule that will apply to every recipe.

  15. Can this caked frosting be frozen ahead of time?I have an event I am going to 3hrs away and the following day and want to make ahead but want it fresh

  16. You are a lifesaver! My son has food allergies, including eggs, and this was the perfect birthday cake for him! Thank you for all the great recipes

    1. You do not have to. It will keep for a couple of days at room temperature – unless your room is really hot! It will last 4-5 days if you refrigerate the cake. My favorite way to eat this cake is after it has been refrigerated!

  17. Hi, Nora! Excited to make this cake for a vegan friend. Can I make it one day ahead, and if so, how best to store it? Also, wondering if I could add a bit of peanut butter either to the cake or frosting? Thanks!!

    1. Yes, you can! The cake (frosted or unfrosted) can be kept covered and in the fridge a couple of days before serving. I’m not sure about peanut butter in the cake but it should work well in the frosting. Happy baking!

  18. Hi Nora- thanks for all the great recipes! I’m going to make this for my daughters birthday, but she has allergies to soy and nuts. The earth balance sticks you use in the buttercream have soy- any other brands that have worked? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Tina. You can use any other vegan butter you like. I like the flavor of Earth Balance but have also had great results using Trader Joe’s vegan butter for buttercream. I believe it’s nut and soy free, too.

  19. Thank you for this delicious recipe. I have made it quite a few times now and it has always been a hit! I wanted to make it for a friend’s birthday coming up but she has a nut allergy. Any recommendations for dairy free substitutes for the almond milk? Thanks!

  20. Hello! I’m going to give this cake a try for a friend who is allergic to eggs. Just wondering if I can sub out the almond milk for regular dairy? She also has a gum/guar intolerance and without making the milk myself it’s hard to find one without those things.

    Thanks!

  21. hi! i would love to make this recipe for my best friend who’s allergic to eggs, dairy, soy, and gluten. have you tried making this with a gluten free flour? if so do you have one you recommend? thank you!

  22. Hi, could you please tell me if you think these cake layers could be frozen for a few days and then thawed out to be frosted? I can’t wait to try this recipe for my vegan daughter’s birthday!

    1. Hi Shawn. This cakes freezes really well! When ready to frost and serve, let the cakes thaw overnight. Hope that helps! Happy birthday to your daughter!

      1. I made this for my daughter’s first birthday. Let’s just say I’ll be making it for her birthday every year for now on. Simply delicious! ❤️

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