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. Is it possible to use warm water or just water from the tap instead of hot boiling water?
    My measurement cups are all made of plastic and I understand that high heat can cause some poisonous stuff(eg BPA) leach from the plastic which I want to avoid. My normal cups are either glass or ceramic and from my experience they have cracked due to sudden high heat.

  2. I don’t normally leave reviews, but oh my goodness! This recipe was amazing! I only used the cake recipe, as I was using it for a base for a “Black Forest” cake. I did cut the sugar back, but ONLY because my 10 year old doesn’t like sweet cake ( weird I know lol). But the whole family loved it! Definitely recommend this cake!

  3. I made this for a small party because one person at the party is vegan and I wanted them to have a dessert to eat. This cake was so delicious and moist. Several people who are not vegan told me it was the best cake they’ve ever had.

  4. Hi Nora. I want to make a Yule Log for Christmas. Do you think this sponge would work as a Swiss roll for the Yule Log as I love the taste of this chocolate cake. One of the great things about it is that it is very moist so not sure if you think it would work. Also I have a Swiss roll tin that is 33.5cm x 23.5 cm. Would the cake mixture fit ok in the tin or what size would you suggest? Thanks for your help as always. You really are my go to for recipes and help ❤️

    1. I wish I could tell you I’ve tried this but I haven’t! One of these days… I feel like it will work though! I think you may want to cut the recipe in half for that size pan, but I’m not totally sure.

      1. Just to let you know I did make your cake for the Yule Log. I made 2/3 of your mixture and cooked for about 17 minutes. It did break a little when I rolled it initially and then when I filled it but it was easy to put back into shape. The icing covered a multitude of sins and i them sieved icing sugar on top and it looked great. Proof will be in the eating but that will have to wait till tomorrow. It’s currently in the fridge. I would send a photo but can’t work out how to.
        Thank you again for all your help and wonderful recipes. Merry Christmas.

        1. Hi Louise. I wish I could see a picture as well! It sounds beautiful, and I know it was made with lots of love! Thanks for sharing your idea and wonderful review!

  5. Hi,

    My son is allergic to eggs and dairy and we love this cake. Can it be made in 1 tin and cook for longer? I am going to try a unicorn cake with it for my daughter.

    Thank you!

    1. You can make it in a 9×13 inch pan instead, just bake for longer, around 35-40 minutes. Hope that helps and glad you love the cake!

        1. Hi Kathy. I have never used whole milk in this recipe, however, that should work fine! Happy cooking!

  6. The title says it all. It really is the best vegan chocolate cake. Frosting is particularly difficult to get fluffy and not crumbly without dairy. This is the first recipe I’ve tried that nails it. My kids and I have made this cake three times and it’s now our go-to when we want something delicious and easy that will last a few days in the fridge as a nice dessert during the week. Last time, we put fresh raspberries between the layers before baking and it came out fantastic.

  7. This is THE best cake I’ve ever had…vegan or not. And it is so easy to make in one bowl. This recipe is my go-to anytime I need to make a cake for an event. Definitely a crowd pleaser! Thank you.

    1. I have no experience with high altitude baking, but you probably will need to adjust. I think there is a lot of general advice out there for high altitude baking.

    1. Hi Emily. I have not added chocolate chips, however, other bakers have indicated that they have and it turned out great! Happy cooking!

      1. Hey, I can’t wait to try this recipe! I wondered if the baking soda could be substituted for extra baking powder?

    1. You will love the cake! I usually store the cake in the refrigerator, as right out of refrigerator is my favorite way to eat it! The cake will last for 3-5 days, longer if refrigerated. Happy baking and enjoy!

  8. I’ve made this cake so many times and I absolutely love it. Seriously cannot mess up! I’ve even used pumpkin instead of apple sauce and it worked great. Does anyone know if I can make it gluten free as well? If so what did you use?

  9. Hi Nora,

    This is my favorite cake recipe! I wanted to try to make it gluten free, do you have any suggestions for swapping out the flour but maintaining the texture? Thank you!

  10. I have made this cake countless times. It is my husband’s favourite and I made one yesterday for his birthday. I have run out of superlatives to say how wonderful it is. You are a genius Nora.

    1. Happy birthday to your husband! I am so glad you are loving the cake! Thanks for sharing your fabulous review and feedback! I appreciate you using my recipes! Happy cooking!

    1. You can do either. If you enjoy cake that is cold straight from the refrigerator, you can do that. It will also last a few days longer in the fridge. But I often leave it on the counter, with the cut part covered of course. On the counter it will last about 3 days.

  11. Thank you for this recipe! My son is allergic to eggs, dairy, and wheat. I swapped for gf flour, and traded the boiling water for hot coffee. It was amazing for his birthday! No one would have known!

  12. Hi Nora! This recipe looks great and I can’t wait to try to make it in a few days! Quick question: i only have 8 inch cake pans, do you think the recipe would still be ok? How full should each 8 inch cake pan be with batter? I was thinking of doing it 2/3-3/4 of the way full in each and then putting the remaining into 1-2 cupcakes if there was extra batter (so that the actual cake pans don’t overflow).

    1. Hi Sarah. This is a well loved cake, for sure! 8 inch pans work just fine for all of the batter, and the cakes might need an extra 5 minutes in the oven. Same temperature. Enjoy!

    2. Finally got my lazy self to make this recipe! I had to make a rectangle cake. Used about the entire new container of Hershey’s powder. Loved that applesauce is an ingredient! Cake was moist…buttercream was spoon-licking good! Thank you for sharing, Nora!

      1. You are welcome, Julie! Glad you tried the chocolate cake and loved it! Thanks for your fabulous feedback and review!

  13. I am trying this recipe for the first time. I have heard great reviews from my sister. I have one question. What difference is there between the good earth butter in stick form to tub, for the icing?

    1. I can’t wait for you to try it! The baking sticks tend to yield a stiffer icing. You could use the butter from a tub, too, but you might find that the icing is softer (just let it chill in the fridge to help it firm up).

      1. Would love to try this for my daughter’s birthday. However my husband is powdered sugar averse. Is there a way to adapt this with maple syrup, coconut sugar or some other natural sweetener so it holds the texture? Thanks!

  14. Recipe turned out great but would like a bit more chocolate. Any advice for adding mini chocolate chips or chopped up baking chocolate?
    Thank you

  15. This cake is absolutely amazing. I made it for my sister’s 50th birthday party for non-vegans and everyone loved it. At least a quarter of the cake is left. Can I freeze it?

      1. I make these once or twice a year and they’re always a hit. Today I made cupcakes for my son’s bday party. Most people there are not vegan and everyone raved about them. I’m always told I should open my own vegan bakery. Don’t worry, I make sure to give you all the credit. It’s crazy how watery the batter looks before it goes in. It doesn’t seem like it should create a solid food in 20 mins. But they are so moist and delicious every time. Fun story, I accidentally doubled the recipe thinking it would make 24 cupcakes and it made 60 regular sized ones and 12 minis. 😅 thank god for a deep freezer.

        1. Hi Allyson. Happy birthday to your son! I’m thrilled the cupcakes were a hit, and it’s always great to have some of these in the freezer! The batter is indeed baking magic! Thanks for your fabulous review and fun feedback!

  16. Turned out perfectly. Question for you. Can this recipe be used for a Yule log cake. Would the cake crack if I baked it using a jelly roll pan? Yours is my go to website and this is my go to chocolate cake recipe, moist, delicious and EASY.

    1. Hi Maria. I’m glad you’re loving the cake! I have never tried to make this as a sheet cake. This cake is moist and delicate, so I’m not sure that it would work to make a Yule log. If you try it, let me know how it works for you!

  17. Hi Nora, thank you for the recipe. I followed the recipe but with half the quantity. The batter tasted bitter and I have put it in the oven. I used 1tsp baking powder and 3/4 tsp baking soda.

    Is that too much? Not sure how the cake will taste!

      1. Hi Nora, thank you for your reply! I realized I forgot to add sugar and that the baking soda and powder for more than 1 year old. So I baked for a 2nd time and the cake was absolutely delicious. I think this is the best chocolate vegan cake I have baked.

        This recipe is a keeper for sure. Thank you so much.

  18. Hello Nora! I was wondering if you’ve ever made this batter ahead of time and stored it in the fridge. Would this defeat the purpose of the boiling water? Thank you!

  19. Hi,

    If using a traybake tin what would the bake time and temp be?

    What about for a loaf tin? Limited in supplies!

    1. Hi Nicole. I have never made these in a loaf pan, however, I think it should work. I recommend filling the pan about 2/3 full. Bake as indicated in the recipe. It will probably take a little longer to bake. Happy baking!

      1. Thank you!

        So would it likely still require the same amount of ingredients or halved? Thinking I might try the traybake approach so it doesn’t take too long to cook, and imagine this will be the full recipe

        1. I think you would need to cut the recipe in half for one standard loaf. Is a traybake a square baking dish? You’d probably also cut the recipe in half if it’s like a 8×8 or 9×9. A 9×13 inch dish would work for the whole recipe.

  20. Hello! I am making this cake and wondering which brand of butter you are using for the frosting. I am looking at Miyokos or country crock plant butter with with avocado oil, but can’t decide which would be better. Thanks!!

  21. so easy. was able to taste by scraping the little bits left on bottom of pan absolutely delicious!! have yet to frost but iam waiting until next week. iam going to freeze and pray my vegan will be here at that time.

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