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 (1394 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 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 55 mins
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 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

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. I’ve made this cake several times and have had many compliments. I made it today and this time also made your buttercream recipe. I followed it exactly and it is gritty, won’t spread and no matter how many adjustments I make with almond milk or confection sugar uts an absolute disaster! I’m not sure what went wrong but I’ve now wasted an entire cake and am out of ingredients for another go. 🙁

    1. What brand of vegan butter did you use? That has never happened to me, did you make the chocolate buttercream or my vanilla buttercream?

  2. My entire family was seriously impressed with this cake! Due to nut allergy, I substituted unsweetened oat milk for the almond milk.

  3. This is seriously the best chocolate cake I have ever eaten, including my pre vegan days. Moist, rich and chocolatey and the frosting is ridiculous in the best way. I discovered this recipe about four years ago and have not made another chocolate cake since.

    Now, with a gluten allergy in the family, I tried substituting the flour for all purpose gluten free flour and it still came out amazing. If you’re a chocolate cake lover, constantly disappointed by dry cakes lacking flavor, this is the recipe for you. It will not disappoint.

    1. Thank you, Shaina, for your wonderful feedback and review! I’m thrilled you discovered my cake and it’s your go to for chocolate cake! Wishing you happy cooking!

  4. Made this spectacular cake for family everyone loved it! Have nut allergies so subed 1/2/& !/2 for almond milk! Sooooo delish! Will make again! TU!

    1. Hi Michelle. Sometimes the milk and vinegar combo doesn’t look curdled but I promise you it’s still good to use in the cake after sitting for 10 or 15 minutes!

    1. Hi Chloe. 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. I hope this helps!

        1. Hi Chloe. Eight inch cakes will take about 10 minutes longer to bake, depending on your oven. I hope this helps!

  5. Fabulous cake! No one can believe it’s vegan! Thank you for the recipe
    Question..do you think it will hold if covered in fondant for a special occasion?

    1. Thank you for your wonderful feedback! I’m so glad you love the cake! The cake keeps well for 1 or 2 days when covered and refrigerated, but I haven’t tried decorating it with fondant so I can’t be 100% sure.

  6. Used this recipe with dairy products but it is hard to find good recipes without eggs. Took a few tries ti get it just right but it is a delicious cake! I leaned after several attempts that you have to just barely mix the liquid with the dry, super easy to over mix and get a dense cake. Great flavor and has been requested again!

  7. This cake is amazing!! I made only the cake portion for my partner’s birthday (we chose a different flavor frosting), and I couldn’t be more happy with how the cake turned out.

    I still consider myself a beginner vegan baker, so I was nervous that my first homemade cake had to be perfect on the first try, making it the morning-of. I substituted flax eggs instead of applesauce (per the Notes). The cakes rose beautifully in the oven, removed easily from the pans, and were wonderfully moist when we cut into the cake in the evening! The taste was very chocolatey and sweet, which we loved! Seriously, my partner kept repeating how friggin good the cake was with every bite lol. 

    10/10 would recommend this chocolate cake for any occasion! I now have it bookmarked as my new go-to. Thanks, Nora! 

    1. You are welcome! I’m thrilled to read about the wonderful experience you had with my chocolate cake! Thank you for taking time to share your great feedback! I’m so glad the cake was a hit! Happy cooking!

    2. This is now my go to chocolate cake recipe. It always turns out great. I have had so many good comments. Thank you.

      1. You are welcome! I’m thrilled this is now your go to chocolate cake! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback!

  8. This is my go-to cake for all occasions!  My grandkids refer to it as ridiculous cake because it’s ridiculously good and now all my friends are requesting it for every gathering. It is simple and amazing!! Thanks Nora! 

    1. I’m glad you and your family and friends are loving the cake! Thank you for your fun and wonderful feedback!

    1. I followed the directions exact except I used whole wheat flour for a Bundt cake. I ended up cooking it for about an hour but the middle still felt a bit soft and the cake ended up falling apart while coming out of the (well greased) pan. I’m not sure if it was an issue due to the type of flour, or maybe the cake needed more cook time, but I will try the recipe again as a layer cake. It tasted great! 

  9. Hi there! I would love to try this recipe as a bday surprise for a vegan friend, but I live at 9000ft. Any idea whether I need to make adjustments to ingredients or cook time at altitude?

    1. Hi Amanda. I’m not familiar with high altitude baking. Maybe general instructions for cooking at high altitude could be helpful. I haven’t tested it though! Sorry.

  10. After trying seven different recipes for vegan chocolate cake, I finally found the one that hit the spot! I’m not vegan but I sell my baked goods to a coffee shop and won’t supply anything that is not 100% delicious!  This is the one guys!
    Thanks so much!

  11. THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE RECIPE. Very moist. I used Bob’s vegan egg instead of apple sauce and used a homemade hazelnut butter between the layers. Non-veg friends were impressed.

  12. Absolutely delish!! Moist, chocolatey, light and fluffy! My family couldn’t believe it was vegan! Thanks so much!!!

  13. Hi Nora – Love your recipes! Could this chocolate cake work with a vanilla buttercream frosting? My daughter insists she wants chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream for her upcoming 9th birthday. Thanks.

    1. Thank Kevin! This cake could be delicious with vanilla buttercream frosting! I love that your daughter know what she wants! I do have a buttercream frosting – check it out! I have several different frostings if you do a search! Happy birthday to your daughter!

  14. Absolutely delicious. Not a fan of vegan bakery but this blew my mind. My daughter is vegan and i have found it difficult and intimidating to cook or bake dishes for her. This is as easy as pie (or cake) 🙂 Frosting makes a lot, I prefer to use less as it is rich. Very yummy, but rich.

    1. Hi Deb. I’m so glad you found the cake easy and delicious! We sure love it at our house! Thanks for your wonderful feedback!

  15. Hi Nora, Looking forward to trying this recipe! I’ve made a few from your site.
    I was wondering if I’d be able to use smaller tins for this recipe? I’ve only got  a 6 1/2” tin?
    If so would the cooking time and temp change?

    1. This recipe will work with smaller pans. It should make 3. They will probably only need about 20 minutes in the oven, so watch them closely. I hope this helps, and happy cooking!

  16. Hi Nora. I’ve made this cake a million times but for the first time I wonder if it would be ok to make the cakes the day before and frost on the day. Will there be any loss of flavour do you think and if ok should I store them in the fridge or just in a sealed cake container? It really is the best cake ever!

    1. Hi Louise. You can totally make the cake the day before and frost the day of the event, or you can frost the day before as well if you like! I think the flavor is even better! If you wait to frost the cake, store the cooked and cooled cakes in the refrigerator, wrapped up. Ensure the frosting and cake are room temperature before frosting. I usually store the frosted cake in the refrigerator. I hope this helps! I’m glad you love the cake!

  17. Sorry me again, can I substitute the apple cider vinegar for lemon juice? Really want to make this cake ASAP it looks gorgeous!

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