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 (1559 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


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 earth balance vegan butter, softened baking sticks preferred
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk


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.



  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). 


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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  1. This is hands down the best vegan cake I’ve ever made. I don’t know what did it, it might have been the boiling water but this was sooo very soft and moist and delicious! Most vegan cakes I’ve made tend to have too much a chew to them, while this one just melted in my mouth! I halved the icing and there was still a bunch to ice the cake all around and then some. Thank you so much for this recipe, this is my go-to chocolate cake from now on!

    1. Hi Jade. I’m thrilled this is your go to chocolate cake! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback! Happy cooking!

  2. Nora! This is the best chocolate cake and frosting recipe ever. It turned out looking just like the picture and taste even better. Thank you for sharing your gift of cooking, and now to make your lemon cake ??

    1. You are welcome! Thank you for sharing your review and feedback! I’m glad you loved the cake. I hope you enjoy the lemon cake!

  3. I never sign on to leave reviews, but I must on this one!  I have not tried the frosting as I use regular buttercream (I am vegetarian so I eat dairy and eggs, but my daughter has an egg allergy so I needed a cake without egg).  This cake (made both cakes and cupcakes with it) is truly amazing. I don’t even like cake, nor does my husband, and we were blown away at how good this was.  My daughter’s teacher couldn’t believe a vegan cupcake could taste so good. I used full fat Oatly oat milk from the refrigerated section. I also tried the vanilla cake (again, just the cake part- not the frosting) and it is really good too- but this chocolate one just can’t be beat!

  4. This is honestly the best cake I’ve ever made and eaten. It’s my go to for birthdays and any time really. Very moist and delicious. Have not tried a Nora Cooks recipe I haven’t liked. 

  5. My daughter’s comment: This cake is so good! So tasty! My comment: This cake is delicious and so easy to make my daughter can do it herself. Didn’t have applesauce so we used silken tofu instead with great results. This is now my go-to choc cake. 

  6. I’m so excited to make this for my son’s birthday! I can’t have almond milk. Is there a substitute that you would suggest?

  7. A vegan chocolate cake recipe that tastes like chocolate cake! I’m no expert baker but this came out just like the cakes my mother baked from scratch when I was a kid, and hers were made with eggs. I didn’t make the frosting because I’m not a frosting person and I really like cake. I did make one addition: I started with well-beaten aquafaba from one can of chickpeas (about a quarter cup). It’s just a thing I do routinely now. It doesn’t change the flavors, which were deep and complex, and it maybe adds body. I don’t really know. But it can’t hurt.

  8. I absolutely love this recipe! I have made it several times. Although, I keep wanting to ask one question. What size cake pans are you using in this recipe? Every time I’ve made it in two 8-in rounds, it is under done at 35 minutes. You never mentioned in the recipe what size cake pan, and I keep forgetting to ask. Clearly it has not stopped me from making this most uncuous, delicious cake!

    1. In step one I say to grease two 9 inch cake pans. 🙂 But sometimes I use 8 inch as well, both sizes work fine. But 8 inch cakes will take a bit longer to cook, perhaps 10 minutes more depending on your oven. I’m so glad you love the cake!

  9. Yep, this was INCREDIBLE!!!! Thank you so so much. Really delicious and for once I didn’t change a thing in the recipe. This will be my go to. Thanks Nora!

  10. This vegan chocolate cake recipe is by far the BEST one I’ve tried yet. I have two vegan siblings and they are always dying for a delicious vegan chocolate cake, so I was so thrilled when this cake turned out absolutely perfect for them. As a non-vegan (trying to become one), I would never be able to tell the difference from an average chocolate cake. The boiling water really did make it super moist and the frosting was very rich. However, next time for the frosting, I might use only 1 cup of butter because it was soooo creamy and buttery (which isn’t a bad thing), just not light enough for my taste. But still, I wish I could give it 6/5 stars because this vegan cake is the real deal. Thank you for this recipe!!!!

  11. I made this for Christmas and everyone like it! I used coffee instead of hot water.
    I also tried this recipe a second time to see if I can cut out the sugar. It worked! I cut the recipe in half and used date paste instead.

    1. I’m so glad it turned out wonderful, and with your changes! Thank you for sharing! Coffee is a fantastic addition to this recipe! Happy cooking!

  12. I’ve made this several times now and continue getting requests for it!
    I would like to make it this time with two different colored frostings. Can I just omit the cocoa powder for a white/light color?
    Thank you

    1. I’m so glad you are loving this cake! If you want to make white frosting, I would recommend using my vanilla frosting. You can color this frosting as desired. Thank you for sharing your fantastic review! Happy cooking!

  13. Thanks for this amazing recipe! Everyone who has tasted it loves it and I love making it! So easy to make. I have replaced sugar with coconut sugar and still tastes great!

    1. 8 inch pans are fine and I often use them for thicker cakes. They will take a little longer in the oven. You could use 3 for thinner cakes.

  14. Merry Christmas Nora! Would Vegan margarine be ok to replace the earth butter sticks?
    Thanks for all the amazing recipes:) Your site is my go to for vegan cooking

  15. I’ve been baking chocolate cake for over 50 years but now have had to go gluten, dairy, soy, egg free and lower sugar. This recipe is fabulous! My family and I loved it for the “Happy Birthday Jesus” cake. Thanks so much!

  16. Absolutely five-star recipe!!! This cake has restored my faith in my decision to be vegan. A thousand thank yous for a perfect recipe!

  17. Thank you for sharing this yummy recipe mine came out moist and delicious. I replaced flour with almond and oats flour half and half

  18. How early can I make the frosting before icing the cake?  I plan to bake the cake a day early and ice it the next day. My question is can I make the frosting in the morning and ice it later that afternoon?  Will the frosting still stay creamy until then?  I’m traveling with the cake and would prefer to quickly ice it when I arrive. 

    1. You can make the frosting earlier in the day, but if you keep it refrigerated you will need to leave it at room temperature for awhile before frosting the cake, because it will get rather hard. But if you keep it at room temperature too long, or in a warm place, in could get melty. It might be fine traveling in a fairly cool car, not by a heater. 🙂 Hope that helps! Just make sure the frosting is soft spreadable, and not too hard.

  19. I forgot the oil! it’s sitting here on the counter and the cakes have four minutes to go darn it I’ll give it a taste and tell you what happens but I’m guessing it’s not gonna be as moist or as tasty as it should be 

  20. Can hot coffee be used instead of the boiling water? I have made this two times
    with the hot water. I read that coffee will really made the chocolate flavor even
    better. We love this cake. My daughter is a vegan, but the whole family loves this.

    1. Yes! Adding coffee is really delicious! I’m so glad you guys are loving the cake! Thank you for sharing, and happy cooking!

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