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 (1732 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. After years of making this cake I’m finally leaving a much deserved review. I’ve probably made this cake about seven or eight times now – the first time I was trying out recipes for something to make for my vegan sister, and this was a tester that I brought to a friends house – no occasion. EVERYONE was blown away (no vegans there whatsoever) and to this day I get request for everyone’s birthday cake to be this. I made something different for a birthday last year and the person said where’s the chocolate cake?? I’m currently on this page to make this for a friend who has requested it three years in a row. Everyone who tries this says it’s the best chocolate cake they’ve ever had (and most everyone who has tried it has not been vegan). Can’t give enough good words, thanks so much for this recipe!

    1. Thank YOU, Colin! Your wonderful feedback and review definitely made my day! It is wonderful that everyone loves the cake, and that you are kind and giving to make it! I appreciate you!

  2. My eight year old son and I were watching a cake competition show. I suggested we bake brownies. He said he wanted to bake a cake from scratch! This was the recipe we tried and it was *amazing*. We used sunflower spread, not vegan butter, and sweat apple sauce, as we are in the UK.

    I am about to make it again!

    1. I’m making this cake as I type this and it’s my 3rd or 4th time. It’s a hit EVERY. TIME.

      I use a little coffee in the cake and almond extract in the frosting!🔥

  3. This truly is THE BEST chocolate cake. Made it a couple of times already. I use less sugar and instead of apple sauce I do a flax egg. Delicious!!!

  4. My family LOVES this cake! It is perfect! It is moist and so yummy! Thank you for this recipe! (I make your recipes all the times and they are all so good! Your recipes are my go to!)

    1. Hey, I havent tried making this yet, but I am super keen to try it. Can I swap out the almond milk for a different plant based milk? Oat, soy or coconut?

          1. I’m sure dairy milk would be fine here, although I’ve never tried it. Happy baking!

  5. This is THE BEST chocolate cake recipe I’ve ever made or had – vegan or otherwise. The only adjustment I make is adding the powdered sugar in the icing “to taste” as the full amount is too sweet for me.
    Also great to pair it with strawberries, as the sour balances the sweet.

    I just tried making cupcakes with it for the first time and it was a hit! Just bake them at the same temperature for 15-20 mins. I made 12 cupcakes and had batter leftover for a (thin) single cake layer.

    As a vegan it’s awesome to have a cake that’s both vegan and blasts any traditional cakes out of the water – I get compliments every time I make it!

  6. The cake was burnt but still liquid and the frosting looked more like cake batter than the actual cake batter. VERY disappointed. 🙁

    1. Gosh, it sounds like something went very wrong here! This recipe has over 1500 5-star ratings and I can tell you I’ve made it countless times over the years and never have I had anything like what you are describing happen. Make sure to follow the recipe exactly without substitutions, and measure accurately.

    1. I’m glad you like the cake, Donna! This cakes freezes really well! When ready to frost and serve, let the cakes thaw overnight. Thank you for your fabulous review!

  7. Hi Nora, my cake sunk and came out slightly uncooked when I cut into it. The flavour was amazing but wasn’t so happy with the texture. The only thing I used that was different was rice bran oil instead of canola oil.. do you think this is what caused it to not turn out perfect? I made this twice increasing the cooking time to 40 mins and got the same result.. thanks heaps

    1. I don’t really think rice bran oil would make a difference here. Did you follow everything else exactly, not using gluten free flour or any other kind of flour in place of all purpose? Lower the sugar amount or anything like that? Make sure to very carefully measure all ingredients, as too little or too much can really throw the recipe off.

  8. ALWAYS is terrific….I love this recipe and it is now my “go-to'” chocolate cake recipe now that I am unable to have dairy and eggs as a part of my diet. Thanks for posting this delicious recipe!

  9. My daughter recently had to give up eggs and dairy while nursing her allergic newborn, so I made her this cake for her birthday. I only had a little vanilla extract left so I supplemented it with almond extract and used dark chocolate cocoa powder. It was amazing, so moist and delicious! Your recipes never disappoint!

  10. So Yum Nora!! I made this for my son’s 20th birthday! We used raspberry jam as a filling and a basic homemade chocolate frosting. Soooo good!

    1. Happy birthday to your son! I’m glad everyone loved the cake! Thanks for sharing your fabulous review and feedback!

  11. nora’s recipes are AMAZING! i use her recipes for all of my vegan cooking and i couldn’t be happier with the results every time. i have made this for my birthday cake and for others the last three years and it’s always a staple :o)

  12. I’ve made this cake about 5-6 times for family birthdays and every time I get so many compliments. I’ve shared the recipe with a bunch of friends. It’s so easy to make, I always end up baking it instead of buy a store bought birthday cake as I know it’ll be more delicious and certainly cheaper. Trying the vanilla and lemon vegan cakes next. Not that anyone in our family is vegan! Thank you Nora

    1. You are welcome! I am glad you are loving the cake and having great baking experiences with it! Thanks for sharing your wonderful review and feedback!

  13. This was great! Love this recipe, and would like to make it for my grandmother, but she is diabetic and I believe there is too much sugar in this. Any thoughts about swapping the granulated sugar for coconut sugar and if that would be a 1:1 swap?
    Thank you!

  14. I made the chocolate cake few times and every time it turns out be great, thank you for awesome recipe.
    Just a quick question, do I need to refrigerate the cake if haven’t put any frosting or it can be fine outside as well for couple of days?

    1. That’s so great to hear! It should be fine at room temperature for 1-2 days, although it’s best stored in the fridge. Make sure it’s covered well or wrapped tightly in plastic so it doesn’t dry out.

  15. I just made this for the third time and it’s the best chocolate cake ever. Thanks so much for your recipes Nora. The latest one was for my own birthday and I made the chocolate cake per the recipe but with the strawberry cream from your strawberry cake recipe, as well as some fresh strawberries. The flavour combo is incredible!

    1. Happy birthday to you! It’s awesome you are loving the cake! Your choice of frosting with the chocolate cake sounds incredibly delicious! I’m going to try that! Thank you for sharing your fabulous review and feedback!

        1. Sure! You can use two flax eggs (2 tbs ground flax + 5 tbs water mixed in a small bowl) or plain vegan yogurt. You could probably use 1/2 cup of JUST Egg liquid or another egg replacer like Bob’s Red Mill.

  16. Hey Nora,
    I am just trying this recipe and I have tried a few different icing recipes by now. Can someone please tell me why my icing is always running, not enough icing sugar?
    Any advise here would he helpful.
    Thanks 🙂
    Tatjana

    1. Hi Tatjana. If the butter is too soft, it will render a soft and melty icing. Ensure your butter is not too soft (not melted), and add the milk a little at a time instead of all at once as you may not need all of the milk for the right consistency. Adding more powdered sugar will help thicken the icing. I hope this helps!

      1. Hey,
        Thanks for the quick reply.
        I do believe it is because I used margarine, (which came straight out of the fridge so not too soft) as where I live the vegan options are sadly very limited. The recipe is still banging though.
        Thanks again 🙂

        1. Just a hint for dairy free (or excessively dairy rich!) frostings and icings: a pinch or two of Xanthan gum powder whipped in the last minute or two goes a long way toward adding extra absorbency, preventing weeping or flopping, and enabling DF frostings to become a pipe-able product. 🧁

  17. This is my go-to chocolate cake recipe. I’ve baked this at least 3 times and it never fails! It’s just the 2 of us so I have to split it up and freeze part of it. But, it’s really hard to not eat it all within a short time. Next time, I’ll try it as cupcakes and give some away. Non-vegan folks are always surprised by how delicious vegan food is. And Nora Cooks does not disappoint!

    1. Hi Nicole! I’m thrilled you are loving the cake! I appreciate your fantastic review and feedback! Thank you!

      1. I’m not vegan, but I love people who are. I’ve made a lot of non-vegan chocolate cakes, because my 19-year old son loves chocolate. This is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made, by a mile. I took it to work, and all the non-vegans there were thunderstruck by how good it was. Next time I’m going to try adding boiling brewed coffee instead of water, because I’m compulsively experimental in the kitchen.

  18. SO GOOD. I made this using monk fruit sweetener and a peanut butter frosting to go with it. We might just finish it in one sitting.

      1. Can I make ahead and freeze?? Like a week ahead maybe?

        Literally my go to birthday cake recipe for my egg allergy kiddo after several failed attempts with other recipes. Thank you!

        1. Yes, absolutely! The unfrosted cake freezes really well. When ready to frost and serve, let it thaw overnight. Thank you for your fabulous review!

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