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 (1656 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. Delicious!!!! First time making a vegan cake and it came out perfect. I baked it in a Bundt pan and thinned out the icing to a light glaze. I took the cake to have my friends taste test and give me feedback. Everyone loved the cake. Thank you for sharing this moist and delicious cake.

  2. Dearest Nora!

    I made this vegan chocolate cake for my wife’s birthday (she is a valentine child) and it turned out splendidly; the flavor is superb (far outflavoring generic dairy based chocolate cake);
    We took half of it to her parents house to celebrate, and her 82 year old father was over the moon about its flavor!

    Thank you so much for what I must call your ministry of transforming traditional dishes into something far superior in flavor and health;

    Blessings to you
    Best, Warmest Regards
    Jim White, Salisbury NC

  3. Can’t wait to try this recipe! Makingnit for my mom’s birthday. One question, she can’t have baking powder due to the pyrophosphate and phosphate ingredients, which I couldn’t find any that did not have that in it. Can I skip the baking powder or is there a substitute?

    Thanks Nora!

  4. I LOVE this recipe!! I substitute unsweetened applesauce for the oil and it is absolutely amazing!! I make this cake a few times a month and have made it for special occasions. Everyone LOVES it. And I love telling people it’s vegan!

  5. Love this recipe! Have you ever made this as a vanilla version? Wondering if leaving out just the cocoa would do the trick, or adding a touch more flour and vanilla would be fine.

  6. Just made this cake for my girlfriend whom is Vegan. Made it for valentines day. My first vegan cake and it came out perfectly by following the recipe and hints/tips. I used JUST EGG instead of the apple sauce and I think the tip of using the boiling cup of water really helps with the moisture level!! Only thing I struggled with was understanding when the icing was thick enough ?? “When it keeps its form” was difficult for me to translate into an understanding of when its ready. Also I was doing everything with a manual hand whisk…. no electric tools as I don’t have them… yet but…… seems that I nailed it with extra powdered sugar.

    1. YAY!! I agree – adding boiling water is the key to a moist chocolate cake! For the icing, a trick I do is hold whisk upside down- if the frosting stays and doesn’t drip down, it’s usually a great thickness. Just keep adding powdered sugar, a spoonful at a time, until you reach that point. Doing it by hand, you’ll probably notice it’s getting to that point because whisking it won’t be easy!

  7. I would like to make this cake today.
    I don’t have applesauce without sugar this time. Can I use applesauce with sugar this time? Will it turn out?
    Thank you

  8. Very good cake – my vegan partner really loved it. I’m not a fan of the “best” moniker. There are many online labeled such and is it really a competition? Maybe there’s a more creative or descriptive name you could come up with.

  9. Amazing! I made this for my kid’s birthday party and EVERYONE was asking me for the recipe. It was a hit. This is now my go-to chocolate cake recipe.

  10. This is delicious! Rich & chocolatey. Used 1/2 the frosting amount & it was more than enough to cover the 2 rounds. Thank you, We will definitely use this recipe again!

  11. As a mama with a toddler with several allergies this was the best 2nd birthday cake. Used coconut milk, baked for 35 minutes in a 9×13 & made 1/3 the icing. It was perfect. Thank you

    1. I love that your toddler had a yummy birthday cake! Thank you for sharing! Happy birthday to your sweet toddler!

  12. Hello! Do you have a preference for coca powder type / brand? When I click the link it seems the recommended product may be out of stock and a substitute is suggested. Thank you!

    1. I use either Hersey’s brand, Trader Joe’s or any other version as long as it’s natural, unsweetened cocoa powder. Though I’ve used dutch processed cocoa before for the cake and it works fine as well.

  13. I’m planning on making this cake, but want to make it the day before needed. Will the buttercream frosting hold its shape for 24 hours? Refrigerate or not?

    1. It’s stable at room temperature, and will stay more moist and tender that way. But you can refrigerate it if you want. So glad you enjoyed the cake!

      1. Nora, hi, just made the chocolate cake . The recipe for two 7/8″ cake tins. Had all the measurements changed to metric. I followed the lrecipe to the letter, except the sugar. I used 4/5 Stevia sachets of plant based sweetener.
        Is the sugar crucial in this recipe? I never use sugar when I make cupcakes, always 12 squirts of liquid sweetener for every 180 grams of rice flour. Both cakes rose in their tins , but settled down when I took them out of the oven. They are about 1″and a half tall maximum What went wrong.?

        1. Hi there! Yes, sugar is essential in this recipe, and the cakes won’t turn out the same without it. It does provide structure as well as sweetness. So using stevia instead isn’t an easy swap. You will probably have to adjust other elements, and I’d have to do a lot of testing to know what would work. You might have to play around with this yourself, as it’s going to be a very different recipe that the one I posted.

    1. You can use this recipe for cupcakes! I’m so glad you love the cake. Fill liners 1/2 full and bake for 18-22 minutes.

  14. I have made this cake 3 years in a row. My boyfriend is not vegan, and neither am I, but it doesn’t matter. Neither of us have had a better chocolate cake anywhere. The cake is just ridiculously moist and rich, no animal product needed. For the frosting, we use Myoko’s butter if we know people don’t have a nut allergy, but if we’re unsure, we use Earth Balance. Either way, the frosting is great. We put walnuts in ours. I have yet to find a better chocolate cake anywhere, vegan or not. I hope this never leaves the internet.

    1. You have made my day, Rachel! I’m so thrilled you guys love the cake! Thanks for sharing your stellar review and feedback!

  15. Sooo good. Made it for my sons birthday. Just did it in a 9×13 following instructions. Your recipes never fail me!

  16. Made this cake 3 times now, it is fabulous and people comment that it tastes professional. There ends up being literally 2 x as much icing as you need, try halving the icing ingredients if you’re making this!!

    1. Thanks for your great feedback and review, Georgia! I’m glad everyone you share with is loving the cake!

  17. Hi Nora,

    I’ve made this cake before and it is amazing! I have couple of questions. Does it need to be refrigerated right away or just completely cool even when you apply the icing? Second question is if I do a 3 layer cake what size should I use for pans and do I do the 4x recipe?

    1. I’m so glad you like it, Amira! The cake needs to be completely cool before applying the icing (popping it in the fridge can help speed this up). For a 3 layer cake, double the recipe (2x) and use three 9-inch round cake pans. Hope this helps!

      1. Hi Nora, so glad I was able to change to the metric version of your recipe, as I find it really difficult with the cup measurements.
        Just one question, can I use the apple puree in jars for babies, can’t remember the make.
        Living in the Canary Islands lots of different products.
        Or do you suggest I make my own apple sauce, if so how many apples should I use?????
        I am really hoping this choc cake will come out great. I have had bad luck withe the last two recipes from other people. Your reviews all look wonderful, so will let you know. Two to make for Wednesday
        Regards, Chris.

        1. You could probably use apple puree, no problem. You don’t need to make your own applesauce. Do you have ground flaxseeds? You could make two flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds + 5 tablespoons water, mixed). Or use vegan yogurt if you have that. I hope that helps and you enjoy the cake!

    2. This is such a great cake and as others have said I’m not even vegan. I use canned apple puree instead of apple sauce and regularly use normal milk and it turns out great. I also just use one 8 inch round pan or heart pan and it always turns out perfect to cut into layers.

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