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 (1703 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. Hello,

    Could I use margarine for this cake instead of butter? And if yes, would it be the same proportions?

    Thank you.

    1. Best cake ever! My husband requests this cake every year for his birthday. And he eats the entire thing himself! Thanks for creating such a delicious vegan option for us!

  2. I have made a few of your other recipes and they are always great. so I was so excited when my 17yr old requested chocolate cake and I saw one of your recipes. Oh my gosh! It was so beyond easy to whip up and everyone in the family couldn’t believe how perfect it was. From the cake to the frosting it tasted like we ordered it form a high end bakery. Amazing!!!

  3. I made this cake I was wondering way it was so low as it didn’t raise to the size of a regular cake i normally bake

    1. I think something went wrong; the cakes should rise a lot, up to the top of the pan. I actually just made it yesterday for my twin’s birthday party. It should raise nicely. Make sure you don’t over mix the batter, measure everything accurately, don’t make substitutions and ensure your baking powder and soda are fresh.

      1. I noticed that your ingredient list calls for sugar and powdered sugar and I just wanted to highlight that a turbinado or a beet sugar should be used to ensure that the cake is vegan. Regular processed granulated sugar and powdered sugar both use bone char in their processing. Thanks for the recipe!

        1. Hey Jay, thanks for the input but actually there are many regular, even white sugars that are vegan friendly and don’t use bone char. In the U.S., any organic sugar is vegan friendly. This largely depends on where you are in the world, but I assure you it’s entirely possible to use granulated sugar (that is not beet or turbinado) in vegan baking.

    2. I’m going to make this cake for my granddaughter’s birthday and I wondered if it needs to be refrigerated after it’s done whatever isn’t eaten at the party

    1. I had a party for my vegan friend and this cake was the showstopper dish of the evening. A complete hit. She even brought some to her work at Trader Joe’s the next day and both vegan and non-vegans raved about it. One non-vegan apparently claimed it was the best cake he ever had in his life! Moist, dense, and rich with delicious, abundant chocolate frosting.

  4. I made this cake yesterday for a visiting niece who is vegan. It was absolutely delicious, so moist and flavorful. It was an hit with everybody in the group vegan and non raved about this cake. It was super easy. I had all ingredients on hand and I loved the one bowl prep. Thank you

  5. Hi there! I am wanting to bake this for my daughter‘s 40th birthday. Can I substitute olive oil instead of the other two oils recommended?

    1. Hi Jennifer. Olive oil or another neutral vegetable oil should work. The olive oil may change the flavor of the cake slightly, though I am not sure. Happy birthday to your daughter, and happy cooking!

    1. Hi Ane. I’m glad you are loving the cake! If you are talking about an 11×17 inch pan or something similar, the recipe as written will work for that, for a thin sheet cake. You can also see this recipe for Vegan Sheet Cake, which I essentially created from this recipe. Enjoy! Thanks for your positive review!

      1. This is so delicious! Can you please clarify what the serving size is? Like how many servings per cake and how many slices or grams is 1 serving please? Thank you!

  6. Oh. My. God. This recipe… I actually used Oatly, not almond milk, and 2.5 cups of confectioners sugar for the frosting. This cake KILLS! It baked well, it was moist as… The only thing I would change is to hunt down Earth Balance unsalted baking sticks. I can’t use any other vegan butter as I have to avoid coconut products. So, the frosting was saltier than I would have liked. But, still. I was licking the beaters, and eating the cake residue from the pan. Also, I used dark cocoa, so the frosting was nearly the same color as the cake. That’s my jam. Thank you!

  7. Incredible – my go to chocolate cake recipe. Substitute the boiling water for a cup of hot coffee or espresso if you want to give it that extra kick!

  8. Hi Nora, yes this is truly the best chocolate vegan cake! Do you think I can change the flour in order to make this Passover friendly? Maybe using Matsoz flour?

  9. OMGoodness!! Best Vegan Chocolate Cake is the truth! In fact, Best Chocolate Cake even works 🙂 Following the directions, I almost cried when these came out of the pans flawlessly. There was no sinking of the layers, they cooked evenly, super moist and oh-so-chocolatey! Perfection. I made this for my husband’s birthday (he is not vegan) and he loved it. I used a vanilla frosting instead of the chocolate buttercream per his request and it was fantastic. Can’t wait to make it again with the chocolate buttercream frosting. Thanks Nora! Every recipe I have tried from you has worked out perfectly and has been so easy and flavorful. You are my goto resource. Keep up the fantastic recipes! Best Vegan recipes on the internet!!

    1. Hi Deborah. You have made my day with your encouraging and wonderful words! Thank you so much for sharing your review and feedback! Happy birthday to your husband! I’m glad he loved the cake. This cake is definitely a favorite around our home! Wishing you lots of happy cooking!

  10. Great recipe! This is my second time making it. My question is how do you suggest storing it? I’m baking today to serve at a dinner party tomorrow night. Should I refrigerate or not?

    1. Hi Laura. I’m so glad you are loving the cake! The cake will last about 4-6 days when stored in the refrigerator and about 3-4 days if left out on the counter. Either works. I love eating it after it has been cooled in the refrigerator!

  11. I absolutely love this recipe.
    I have had a request for a gluten free cake. Is it possible to use gluten free flour for this one or do you have another recipe for gluten free and vegan cake?

    1. You can substitute gluten free flour (a quality mix) which works pretty well, but sometimes it can come out rather dense. I created a very similar recipe for Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Cake, which is better in my opinion. Mostly, you are controlling the amount of xanthan gum, which helps make the cake fluffy instead of dense.

  12. Forget Vegan for a minute. This is the best chocolate cake, period! The fact that everyone can enjoy, no matter if they are vegan or not, is the bonus! Thank you for this recipe. It is the greatest gift for my vegan friends and always requested by everyone!

  13. I made this cake for one of my vegan friends and he and my husband said this was the best chocolate cake he has ever had… I have made it twice and it comes out every time. My best friend is vegan and wanted the recipe for her recipe collection. Thank you for sharing this recipe with all of us….❤️

  14. Just made this with my dad for the second time and it turned out perfect again, I really recommend this cake, it’s tasty and doesn’t even taste vegan! Thank you so much for this recipe!

  15. I made this today for my son’s birthday and it was delicious! I added a cup of brewed hot coffee in place of the hot water for added flavor. I forgot to add in the milk/vinegar mix until after the hot ingredient so my cake came out more dense like a brownie; however it was easier to pick up and eat with your hand instead of using a fork, and it came out of the pan perfectly smooth and clean. I’ll be using this recipe again for sure. Thank you, Nora! 😊

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