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. The best cake ever! I actually used grapeseed oil ( usually use coconut oil and it worked great! And added a glaze that just poured on
    1/2 Cup powdered sugar
    1 TB Cocoa
    Mix, add 1 Tb melted butter, or coconut oil, 1 Tb water, 1/4 tsp. Vanilla or almond extract..mix with beaters..it was so good

  2. I’ve made this cake a few times and it is great! Instead of doing boiled water, I put in espresso! It makes it a little richer!

    1. This is the BEST vegan chocolate cake recipe ever! It came out so good, and all the family loved it.

      Do you think I can switch out the cocoa powder for extra flour, and add vanilla bean for a vanilla cake?

      1. I’m glad you loved the cake! Unfortunately, I’ve tried the vanilla version you’re talking about and it flopped big time. It just doesn’t work. I do have a vegan vanilla cake that is incredible, but the recipe is completely different.

  3. Best vegan chocolate cake recipe I’ve tried and it always goes down a treat with everyone who has it… you really would not know it’s vegan!

    Could you please let me know if I can make and freeze the cake a week before I need it, then ice it on the day to save time?

    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!

  4. Hi Nora! Thank you for your fabulous recipe!! This has become our family’s cake recipe for every birthday, and every birthday we can’t believe how good it is.

    Thanks again!

  5. Hi! I’m looking forward to trying this cake recipe, but wondering if you think avocado oil would work in place of the canola/coconut oil? Or maybe melted vegan butter?

    Thanks!

  6. Hey Nora
    thank you so mush for the lovey chocolate cake.
    I made this cake for my daughters Birthday.
    it taste AMAZING.
    but it crumble when we cutting the cake. i am sure i follow the recipe.
    can you help please.
    i have birthday coming, I would like to make it again.
    many thanks.

  7. I had this cake for my son’s birthday party last year and it was a big hit! I plan to use the cake recipe again, but do you have suggestions to make a blue colored frosting? It’s a space themed party. Thanks!

  8. Hi Nora. This looks wonderful! My grandson is allergic to almonds. Could I use full fat coconut milk in lieu of almond milk?

    1. I would not use full fat coconut milk as it will make the cake too heavy, but you can use soy, oat, rice milk, any other plant milk is fine. Enjoy!

  9. Love this amazing recipe! I make it every year for my husband’s Thanksgiving birthday. I make it gluten-free for us. Wondering for this year…do you think Miyoko’s butter would work as well? Have you tried it by chance?

    1. I’m so glad you love the cake recipe! Yes, I use Miyoko’s butter often these days for all my baking. I love the flavor. Enjoy!

    2. Hi Karen! Could you please share which GF flour you use to make this gluten free? I have a hard time finding things that work both GF and egg free! Thank in advance!

  10. thank you so much for all your hard work and years of experiments.
    I have made this cake now 6 times. I have tweeked the recipe a little as the first 2 times I made it it came out a little dry.
    I. must have not done something right!!?🤷🏾‍♀️
    I must say adding the hot water at the end makes all the difference .
    For all my vegan recipes I look you up first.👍🏼

    Thank you so much.
    May you continue to be blessed and stay in good health.

    1. I think if the cake came out dry you might have missed an ingredient or added too much or too little of something, as this cake is always super moist. Are you making substitutions of anything? Thank you for your kind words, I’m so glad you are enjoying the recipes here. 🙂

  11. I used this recipe for my son who has dairy egg and peanut allergies. I’ve had to search high and low for essentially vegan recipes for him and I to eat while I nurse him. This cake was absolutely amazing! I made cupcakes as a trial run, then for his 1st birthday party and again for my husband’s work team. Every person that had one has loved it!
    After cruising through your website, I will be exploring and experimenting with so many of these recipes! So thankful that resources like you and this site are available. I don’t know what I would have done navigating the dairy and egg free life for this past year!

    1. Hi Gloria. Allergies are difficult to navigate through, and I am so glad to know that my recipes have helped you! Welcome to my site, and enjoy your journey through my recipes! I appreciate you taking time to share your valuable feedback and fabulous review! Happy cooking!

  12. This review is long overdue! I’ve made this recipe soooo many times already and turns out so perfect each time. My MIL is vegan and that’s the reason I made it the first time. This is the recipe I make for birthdays when there is someone with a vegan diet. I dare to say that it’s better than a lot of chocolate cakes I’ve tried. Thank you.

  13. This recipe is so delicious, my non- vegan neighbor asked me to my make it again for his birthday. They said it’s the best chocolate cake they have had.

  14. OHHMMMGGG! I’m not crying, I’m cutting onions! This is perfect to appease your chocolate craving & than some. This layered cake is fabulous Nora! It is decadent, rich, & a chocoholic dream for anyone who loves a deep dark chocolate cake! I have not had any vegan purchased chocolate cake that has tasted soooo good or even hold a candle to this recipe you’ve shared, most bought vegan cakes are dry, weird after taste/horrible. I made in my almond cow (almond & coconut nut milk a day ahead) My grandson (8) & I made this after he got out of school today & the house smelled heavenly! This is such a easy recipe to follow (I didn’t have 9” round cake pans but substituted with 8” glass pans- cooking time was a few minutes longer for us) baked wonderfully, we sped up the cooling of cakes in the fridge & there was a lot of left over frosting, will cut in 1/2 like your suggestion next time so the extra does not go to waste! Thank you Nora for another wonderful recipe! Grateful in Southern California!

    1. I so enjoyed reading about your baking experience! What a fun memory for you and your grandson! I’m thrilled you guys loved the cake! Thanks for your fabulous review and feedback! Happy cooking!

  15. Hands down the best vegan cake I’ve ever had. Even if it wasn’t vegan it’s still the best. I make this every birthday for vegan or non Vegans and no one can believe it! So moist and if you love chocolate this is it!

  16. I made this cake for a vegan friend and a small group of people at a dinner gathering. Everyone said it was absolutely delicious! And I must agree, it was decadent. This will be my go-to chocolate cake recipe from now on. Thank you Nora.

  17. Hi this cake looks amazing can k make the cake ahead of time , freeze it without the icing if travelling for Xmas and then defrost and add frosting ? Has anyone tied this ?

  18. Thank you so much for this recipe !!!

    The first time I baked it I forgot the almond milk with lemon I had left on the side and realized 15 minutes after the cake was baking ! I thought the cake was going to be very bad but it actually turned out great!
    The next time I made this cake I was sure to use the almond milk but I didn’t think the cake would turn out as delicious as it did the first time. It was actually amazing !
    I’m not vegan but my boyfriend is and I have to say that everyone who has tried this cake (vegan and non vegans) absolutely love it 😍

  19. Absolutely phenomenal every time! This has become my signature birthday cake and family members often beg for it. The last time I baked it, I forgot the cup of hot water at the end, and didn’t realize it until the cake was almost fully baked. It was still good, just slightly less fluffy and tender. Once I added a layer of raspberry jam in between layers. The frosting freezes well.

    1. Hi Robin. Glad your family is loving the cake! Thanks for your awesome feedback and review! Happy cooking!

  20. I make this cake all the time and it’s to die for! Turns out perfect every single time!!! Ive used applesauce and flax as the egg (used Nora’s note for egg replacement suggestions), and both cocoa and Dutch processed cocoa. I’ve also made it as a cake (rectangle and round) and cupcakes. I Always, always come to Nora Cooks for baking recipes. Her peanut butter swirl brownies are also to die for!!

    1. Hi Kelsey! I am thrilled you are loving the cake, and my other baking recipes! I appreciate you using my recipes, and sharing your fantastic review! Wishing you happy cooking!

      1. If making a 9*13 sheet cake, do I halve the recipe?

        Could this be adapted for a silicon loaf tin? Sometimes I find recipes don’t cook well in the middle in this…but I only have a loaf tin or traybake tin

        1. I would not halve the recipe for a 9×13 inch cake, unless you want it to be real thin. It will just need longer to bake. I haven’t tested this recipe in a loaf pan, so I’m really not sure if it will work or not, sorry!

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