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. This is the best chocolate cake recipe ever. I have made this cake and the cupcake version exactly to recipe MANY times and everyone who has tried it LOVES it. I recommend leaving the batter to rest for 10 minutes before baking the cake because it prevents the cake from sinking/forming that dense layer near the bottom (this isn’t necessary for the cupcake version). I think this cake tastes even better once refrigerated!

  2. Hello, i’m sorry to ask an awkward
    question as I’d like to make this cake but have no dairy alternatives at home! Might I be able to use water instead? 😬😢

  3. This Australian loved your recipe that met all the dietary requirements of my family – GF, DF and Vegan. I used gluten free all purpose flour. I made less icing (2/3 of recipe due to low supplies) and I still had some left over. After this success I’m eager to try your lemon cake. Thank you!

    1. I love your story! Thank you for taking time to share your stellar review and encouraging comments! I think you’ll love the lemon cake! Wishing you lots of happy baking!

  4. Hi
    I’m 9 years old and I tried this recipe out and all of 4 times I’ve made it it was delicious.
    Thanks very much.

    1. Thank you for the comment Avaani! I’m so happy you are enjoying the chocolate cake and I’m impressed you’ve made this at just 9 years old, wow! 🙂

    1. I use a variety – Earth Balance, Melt, Country Crock, but my favorite, especially for frosting is probably Miyoko’s. It has the best flavor to me. But I will use all of them depending on what I have.

  5. Absolutely loved this recipe and everyone who tried said the same! Have you ever tried baking it in one pan and cutting it in half instead of using two baking pans? I’m struggling with the logistics of fitting two in my oven haha

  6. I made this cake twice now. While I love the frosting, I find the cake itself tastes one-dimensional and just lacks some depth and complexity.
    The next time I will try to use (cultured) vegan butter instead of coconut oil in the cake batter, as the butter as least has some flavor whereas the coconut oil is just tasteless. I also substituted dark brown sugar for the white sugar in the batter, and added a bit of freeze dried coffee powder to both the batter and the frosting to make the chocolate more intense. Hope that third experiment will be the charm!

    1. Try dutch cocoa rather than regular. And underbake just slightly. Makes a big difference. I’ve made this cake 3 times in the last month. My favorite cake regardless of dietary restrictions

    1. Hi Elena. 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!

  7. My boyfriend absolutely loves this. I made a three layer cake and to much apple sauce is the key for really good texture . I put two cups in and it turned out to be really spongy on the first layer 10/10

  8. I can always trust your recipes!!! And this was no different. A friend mentioned her favorite dessert is Black Forrest cake. I’ve never made one so searched “Best Vegan Chocolate Cake” & this was #1. I used Trader Joe’s Amarena Cherries (drizzled some of the cherry syrup on the cakes as they were cooling) & their Vegan Heavy Whipping Cream as the frosting. It was magnificent!!!!! Thank you for helping my friends birthday the sweetest it could be!

    I’ll be posting pics on IG tomorrow (her actual bday)

  9. Absolutely delicious! I’ve just make the base, and used a different too, but it’s worthy to bake it!

  10. Hi, I was just wondering if I could either leave out the applesauce or substitute it for something else as it is not that widely available in the uk and I don’t have it to hand

    1. Sure! You could use a couple of flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds mixed with 5 tablespoons water). Or probably mashed banana or another egg substitute. Vegan yogurt also works.

  11. Hi Nora, Do you have any suggestions on replacing cane sugar with date sugar? Can I replace some of the all-purpose flour with almond flour? Thanks

    1. I’m not sure how date sugar will work here, but it might. Replacing flour with almond flour will make the cake dense and heavy, unfortunately.

  12. Nora,
    Thank you for this amazing recipe. I have to say I never did a vegan cake and I was bringing this cake to a birthday celebration. I was a bit nervous of how it will taste and if it was going to be moist. This cake was the talk of the celebration. You cannot tell is a vegan cake. The only different thing I did was lessen the powder sugar for the frost as I don’t like the taste of too much sugar. Great work Nora. God bless.

  13. This is my FAVOURITE chocolate cake. A lot of recipes online claim to be the “best” of this or that, but this really is the BEST chocolate cake. Possibly the best part is that it is SO easy and made with no fancy ingredients. I have baked this cake many times over the last few years and have never had to make any tweaks – this recipe is perfect exactly as written (the recipe gives a choice for oil and I always choose to use coconut because that’s what I have on hand).

    Nora, over time, so many of your recipes have become my absolute favourites. Your blog is one that I really feel I can trust to give me truly delicious, uncomplicated vegan treats. I love to bake but I have no idea how to create recipes. You have become the secret to much of my success! Thank you!

  14. I was in search for a chocolate vegan cake recipe to make for a birthday party and came across yours. I read all the reviews and decided to make it. Boy am I glad I did. Excellent cake. Everyone loved it and couldn’t believe it was vegan. It was very easy to make in a no fail way.

  15. I messed this recipe up. I’m not 100% but I think it was when I forgot the vinegar mix. I had to add it in after I already added the boiling water. The consistency of my cake came out more like a dense brownie. Very sad for me 🙁

    I ended up adding peanut butter to the butter cream bc the consistency felt too much like eating butter for me.

    I’m gonna have to try this one again.

    1. Happy birthday to you! I’m so glad you are happy with the cake! Thanks for your awesome review and feedback!

  16. THAT’S GREAT
    I tried this recipe yesterday
    It was actually my first cake EVER
    I was so afraid to fail but your recipe is just perfect
    Everyone enjoyed it so much
    I was vegetarian for years and finally decided to go vegan a month ago
    And this whole month I was craving a good vegan cake
    Sadly it’s pretty hard to find decent vegan cakes where I live so I tried to make one by myself
    Now I literally feel unstoppable and that is because of you and your recipe
    Thank you so much
    Your website is so great
    Can’t wait to try one more of your cake recipes

    1. You have REALLY made my day, Alexandra! Thanks so much for your fabulous feedback and review! I hope you’ll check out my other cakes and recipes! Wishing you happy cooking!

      1. I made this cake yesterday and it is truly delicious.
        Was so easy to make.
        I used olive oil because it’s the only oil I had and it turned out great.
        Instead of the butter cream I made a simple coconut and dark chocolate ganache.
        Thank you for this receipe.

  17. My GD’s are vegan and this has completely upended baking for them until I made this cake! So moist and delicious!! I’ve made this and also cupcakes. The frosting is light but still has that great buttercream taste! I was wondering if you also have an amazing yellow cake recipe as good as the chocolate?

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