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 (1694 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. Hi Nora. When making the cupcakes, can you add a filling, such as raspberry jam? If so, could you add it before baking?

    1. Absolutely! That sounds delicious 🙂 You can add it after baking the cupcakes (scoop out some of the cake from the top of the cupcake, then fill with jam and cover with icing). Enjoy!

  2. hey Nora or anyone else,
    I am planning to bake this cake this week. I am trying to see if I can sub the following and curious if anyone has tried either of the options.
    1) Sub with whole wheat or whole wheat cake flour instead of AP.
    2) Sub sugart with date syrup and/or paste.
    Thoughts??
    Thanks
    Pav

    1. Hi Pavan. 1. Whole wheat flour should work, although it may give the cake a more rustic flavor (do not use cake flour), and 2. it’s best to use granulated sugar rather than a liquid sweetener to maintain the structure of the cake. I hope this helps!

  3. Hello! I made this cake once before, and it was incredible! Vegans & non-vegans devoured it. BUT I have a bit of an upcoming dinner party challenge with a hefty amount of dietary restrictions. Gluten free, vegan, sugar free (yikes) I feel confident as using monk fruit for the sugar substitute in the batter & swerve confectioner sugar in the icing. But how do you think this recipe will hold up if I used almond or coconut flour, or a combination of the two as the flour substitute? I’m trying to think of ways to make it work! Any ideas would be greatly appreciated 🙂

      1. Oh perfect! I was looking to see if you had a gluten free option, but couldn’t find it. Thank you so much for your reply – I’ll let you know how it goes with the sweetener substitutes 🙂

  4. Made this on a whim tonight to satisfy a dessert craving and it was DELICIOUS. I only used 1 cup granulated sugar in the cake because I figured the applesauce would also sweeten it. I don’t even normally like chocolate cake but it was sooo good with a glass of almond milk. My daughter usually hates icing too but loved this and ate it with a spoon. Thank you! Every recipe of yours is amazing!

    1. You are welcome, Mary! I’m so thrilled you and your daughter loved the cake! We sure do love it at our house! Thank you for your fabulous review and feedback!

  5. Apologies – I just realized the aquafaba is for the lemon cake. I made that too for our ski team and that was absolutely gorgeous! Thank you for sharing such great recipes!

  6. I made this last year for my son’s ski coach who is vegan and the whole cake was devoured by so many people!
    My question – I remember it had aquafabar in it but I don’t see it in the recipe this time around? Has the recipe changed? I want to make it again this weekend.
    Many thanks in advance!

  7. Hi Nora,

    If I added stuff in the wrong order and the sugar hasn’t fully dissolved (I can still feel the crystals).

    Do you have any recommendations for reducing the crystals?

    Thank you in advance.

    1. When you add the boiling hot water they should surely dissolve, if not I wouldn’t worry because they should when baking. But also next time, don’t use coarse sugar, it should be fine and dissolve quickly.

  8. I love this Recipe so much. In a time crunch ahead of my daughter’s birthday – have you ever:

    1. Frozen the cake (uniced) for a week ahead?

    2. Created a four layer cake?

    Did it work out?

    Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Elizbeth. I’m so glad you are loving the cake recipe! Thanks for the fab review! I’ve made it into a triple layer cake before and it worked well! It think it should work as a 4 layer cake (you would need to double the recipe), and do handle the cakes very gently. Also, this cake freezes very well. A very happy birthday to your daughter! Happy baking!

  9. I made this cake for my wife’s birthday, with the chocolate ganache icing. We both agreed: this was unquestionably the BEST chocolate cake we’ve ever had. Like, you’d get this cake for dessert at a restaurant, then you’d go BACK to that restaurant just for the cake. Unbelievably moist, sweet enough but not cloyingly so, and would satisfy both vegans and non-vegans. Next time I’ll add walnuts or pecans to the batter. This will forevermore be my go-to chocolate cake recipe. Thank you for this wonderful recipe. It’s a keeper for sure.

  10. Excited to try this recipe, thank you! Is it possible to add melted pure chocolate to the cake? Or is it not worth it?

    1. Hi Mike, I hope you love the cake! I would definitely NOT add melted chocolate to the cake, it will come out dense. It’s already super moist and chocolatey as is, and more added chocolate/liquid will overwhelm it.

  11. This recipe rocks! Made it with gluten-free flour and it is the moistest chocolate cake ever, even on day 2. My kids keep asking me to make it again, and again, and again. To make icing that is a little lighter, I started to experiment and made a vegan chocolate pudding for the filling, and that turned out great too! Thank you for a winner recipe!

  12. The icing is incredibly sweet. Not only that I had left-over icing after icing the cake. I would say that 3/4 ,maybe even 2/3 of the recipe listed would have done the job. There were no instructions for what to do after the 2 cake layers had cooled. I guessed you combine the 2 layers with a layer of icing on top of the lower layer. Somewhat self evident I suppose. The cake was quite good, the vegan I made it for had a couple of slices.

      1. Hi Beth. The cake will last about 4-6 days when stored in the refrigerator and about 3-4 days if left out on the counter. Enjoy!

  13. Tastes good. But the instructions didn’t list the sugar when you’re mixing the dry ingredients. And I was working on three things at once. Luckily I tasted the batter. The 9” cake pans were waaay too big and my cakes are less than an inch high. The frosting was so thin it ran off the cake. Not pleased with the instructions at all

    1. Hey there, the instructions DO say to add the sugar in step 3 alongside the other dry ingredients…. “In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk well to combine.” It sounds like several things went wrong here, as you can see from over 1500 comments and ratings, this cake works pretty well for nearly everyone. But things can go wrong in your kitchen, especially if you are stressed and working on a lot at once.

      1. My bad, you’re correct it was listed. Cakes were still super thin, 8” cake pans would’ve been better, but maybe that was operator error too. And I had a lot of frosting left over.
        BUT, it tasted delicious.

  14. We have meat and vegan family members but good food is good food and so the non vegans still look forward to our shared holiday meals at our house which feature mostly all of recipes I use from your website. I however have a delicious vegan chocolate cake recipe I’ve used for years so this is the first year I’ve tried this one. It was chaos in the kitchen on Christmas and my school age niece asked to help. I had everything for this recipie so amid the Chaos one niece aided in baking this and another made your cranberry jalapeño dip. Both were so simple and delicious and both girls felt so proud to contribute. That’s what it’s all about. I hate kitchen Chaos except on holidays when the chatter and insanity is familiar from holiday baking from childhood. Thank you so much for simple delicious recipies that helped to add two more bakers to the holiday kitchen mayhem.

    1. I’m so glad all turned out well! I appreciate you using my recipes! Thank you for sharing your wonderful review! How fun to have new bakers joining in!

  15. Hi Norah
    I did everything the recipe said to do but my cake is like lead. Flat and dense. What do you think has happened?

    Thank you
    Shelly

    1. Oh no! I’m sorry that happened. I’m not totally sure, it could be a problem of over mixing or baking powder/soda that didn’t work well.

    1. Yes, that works just fine. Just add a few extra minutes baking, maybe 5-10 but check with a toothpick. When it comes out clean in the middle, the cakes are done.

  16. I have made this in the past and could not believe how good it was! I forgot if I used dutch processed cocoa or not. Which is better?

    1. Glad you love the cake! More often than not, I use regular non-dutch processed cocoa powder (unsweetened), but sometimes I use dark (dutch processed). Both work very well! I’ve used all sorts of brands. Enjoy the cake!

  17. This cake was the bomb dot com.
    I halved the frosting recipe and the resulting amount was perfect.
    Cake tasted better the next day after sitting in the fridge overnight.

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