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. Turned out beautifully. Came out of cake pan without falling apart even a little—that’s a first for me! Allowed me to make a perfectly frosted cake for once. Bravo, Nora! Great recipe!

    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. Happy baking!

  2. Amazing! I used boiling coffee instead of water, I don’t know if it makes a huge difference, but it was so rich and fudgy and absolutely delicious. I’m not even vegan and I prefer this over any other chocolate cake, thank you SO much for this recipe!!❤️❤️

  3. Made this for my non-vegan adult son’s birthday and the whole crowd (99% omnis) raved about it. It’s a wonderful recipe!

  4. Pretty sure I commented before but here I go again. I have made this recipe at least 3 times. It turns out perfectly every time! I have used all purpose gluten free flour in place of regular and it still turns out fantastic! No one can tell that it’s egg free. It’s so good! Seriously, the best chocolate cake of the many I’ve tried!

  5. I have now made this Vegan Chocolate Cake 2 times. I have an 11 year old grandson who is allergic to just about everything. He is the ONLY vegan in his home. I adore my grandchildren so I really look for things to make that they each will love. He doesn’t get to eat many sweet things, he never complains about it and he is just the best kid ever. The first time I made this I did NOT follow the recipe exactly. Big Mistake on MY PART. It was good, but I knew my mistake. So for his birthday he asked for it again. This time I followed the recipe (almost) exactly. It is perfect EXCEPT I should have bought better Powdered Sugar (I went cheap and I should have bought the more expensive), but other than that, this cake looks bakery ready and tastes it too. Baking Vegan takes a little more work, but if you have someone you love that needs Vegan….than this is the recipe that will work for you. Note: I use OAT milk, not Soy or Almond due to allergies…Oat seems to curdle a little better and also I do a crumb coat icing and then refrigerate just to make icing simpler…but its up to you how you do your own icing and decorating.

    1. Hi Elaine. It really makes me happy when I read that kids with allergies are able to enjoy a yummy dessert! Happy birthday to your grandson! Thanks for taking time to share your wonderful review and feedback! Happy cooking!

  6. We’re vegans from South Africa and we’re very pleased with how this cake turned out. It was deliciously moist and chocolatety. We set the oven (fan assisted) at 180°C and baked it between 40-45 minutes. Will be using this recipe again, thank you.

  7. Hi Nora

    The cake didn’t raise as expected , what could the reason be?
    The icing was amazing though

    1. Hi Paula. If the cake layers came out flat, it’s likely that the batter was overmixed and all of the air was knocked out. Did you make any substitutions to the recipe?

    1. Hi Randi. Cover the cake and keep it in the refrigerator for 4-6 days or on the counter for 3-4 days.

  8. Hi! Love this recipe, so delicious! However, everytime I make it, the cake seeps excess oils when it is fully cooled. Which makes the icing not stick to the cake. What would you recommend to reverse this problem?

  9. Nora, this is THE BEST chocolate cake recipe I’ve ever tried. I’m currently sitting at a friend’s place celebrating a birthday, enjoying this cake. We included raspberries in the centre, as they’re in season, and it was delightful. Thank you for your prompt responses to your followers. You’re truly an inspiration to the movement.

  10. Hello Nora…
    Frosting calls for 1.5 cups of vegan butter, would that be the same in vegan stick butter (1.5 sticks) please?

    1. There is usually 1/2 cup of vegan butter in one stick. So you would need 3 sticks. Though I think Miyoko’s block is 1 cup, so then you would need 1 and 1/2 blocks.

  11. So for some reason mine took much longer to cook (45 min), but tasted great. My icing was pretty saucy, added more than a cup of extra icing sugar. Top still slid off (thought the layers were flat).

    Still tasted great and will make again, but as a single layer cake. Non vegans loved it too.

    1. This happened to me too. I followed the recipe exactly, and when I went to check if it was ready after 35 mins, it was still runny in the pan. It took almost an hour to cook! Haven’t had any issues following other cake recipes with this oven (made a different one today that turned out perfect), but since others have had great success with this one, it must’ve been something I did wrong but didn’t realise at the time 🙁 I’ve had great success with other NoraCooks recipes.

  12. For some reason this took a lot longer to cook, closer to 45 minutes. Had an oven thermometer so it was the right temperature.

  13. Delicious chocolate cake! My (non-vegan) mom found this recipe and wanted to try to bake it with me at Christmas, so my husband and I (vegan) had a nice dessert.

    It was super easy! I made just two small changes. I cut the icing by 1/3, as I don’t like thick icing, and I made a quick blackberry jam with a punnet of blackberries some sugar and water and a splash of lemon juice to put in the middle layer.

    Just made it again tonight in a different oven in different a different region of the us and it was just as good as the first time, and the oven timing was still spot on.

  14. Just made this and it is delicious!! I’m always weary to try vegan recipes bc some carry weird after tastes but this was spot on. I also made your pumpkin pie which got me hooked to your page. Thank you for being vegan with a great pallet.

    1. Hi Emily. This recipe will work for three 6 inch pans. They will probably only need about 20 minutes in the oven, so watch them closely. I hope this helps, and happy cooking!

  15. This cake is fantastic! We only need to be dairy free in my house so I did use eggs instead of applesauce. Doubled the recipe made a three layer cake and froze a layer for future use. The single recipe of frosting easily covered three layers. Just perfect!

  16. Absolutely Delicious. I cut the recipe in half and made one round 9 inch cake. Both the cake and the frosting were very easy and absolutely delicious. Another great recipe from Nora – thank you!

  17. I made this last year but over cooked it – still delicious. I want to make it again with drying it out. I have a fan forced oven, should I cook it at a lower temperature than recommended? I think that’s where I went wrong.

    1. A lower temperature sounds like it will help or you can keep the temp the same and bake it for less time (check it after 20 minutes). Hope this helps!

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