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 (1344 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. Loved this cake!!! It was so delicious and moist. 

    If I needed to make a certain cake shape though, would this cake recipe work for carving. It seemed like it may not be sturdy enough for that. But I’d really like to have a chocolate cake for that one. 

    1. I’m so happy you loved the cake, Kita! Unfortunately, I think this cake is much too moist and delicate to be carved into shapes. My chocolate sheet cake might be a better fit depending on the shape you’d like to carve.

  2. This cake is outstanding! The texture and taste is perfect. I did add a homemade flaxseed egg(flax+water)! The icing is super creamy! And… it was easy! 

  3. Hello Nora,
    I can’t wait making this cake.
    I never used canola oil and I try to find alternatives to coconut oil since it’s very expensive to get a brand that don’t exploit monkeys for the coconut .
    Is it possible to use sunflower instead?
    I tried to find on Google why it’s important to use canola oil but no answer.
    If it’s used to stick everything together, maybe flaxseed eggs do the job?
    Thanks for your time !

  4. And yes this cake is incredible. My sister made it twice for my allergic son and EVERYONE was blown away. It’s even better the next day. Freezes so well. It’s just a win win win. 

    1. Hi Mita. Thanks for sharing your great feedback! I love this cake after it has been in the refrigerator overnight!

  5. Havent made yet. I will be making this week for  my daughters birthday. Her family is vegan. Can I use cake flour instead of all purpose flour? 

    1. Hi Judy. I would not use cake flour for this recipe, because it’s too light. Typically I use it in other cake recipes, just not this one. Hope that helps, and that your cake turns out great! This is well loved cake! Happy birthday to your daughter!

  6. Hello,

    I only have one pan. Is it possible to bake the cake 1 pan at time (after making the full portion of batter)? Can I put the rest of the batter in the fridge for the 35 minutes that the first layer bakes?
    Or for a bit longer if I wanted to make 3 layers?
    Or would it influence the boiling water properties? Thanks!

  7. I always forget to rate everything but I came back to rate this recipe specifically because I thought it deserved it! It really is the best vegan chocolate cake… I didn’t have applesauce on hand so I added extra coconut oil which made it very moist and delicious… Adding the boiling water at the end made the recipe runny as was mentioned and I worried it was too runny but it turned out incredibly well that I am definitely saving this for future birthdays and other occasions ! 

  8. Made this cake yesterday for my mom’s birthday. I’m not really a baker so I always try to find easy recipes. this cake was so easy to make and the results were outstanding Everybody said it was absolutely delicious the best cake ever!. I have to be honest and say that I did not use your chocolate frosting I used a recipe from “The Minimalist Baker” she uses less powdered sugar and less butter and it adds melted dark chocolate … But the cake was moist fluffy and again absolutely delicious
    Thank you.

  9. What an absolutely amazing cake! Thank you so much for the recipe. It’s like a gooey chocolate heaven. I just have a question which is maybe a bit silly but what size is the cup you use? I think the one I used was too small as I really noticed the bread soda taste so I think I put in too much.
    And just out of curiosity why do you added the vinegar?
    I’ll be trying some more of your recipes and sharing them with friends. You rock xxxx

    1. You’re welcome! So 1 cup (in the United States anyhow) equals 125 grams of flour. The vinegar mixed with the milk creates vegan buttermilk, which helps the cake rise and be very moist. Hope that helps!

  10. Best recipe ever! I use this recipe over and over again. I’ve made cupcakes with chocolate buttercream then I switch it up using raspberry buttercream. I’ve also made a double-layer chocolate cake with a raspberry filling and chocolate buttercream with fresh raspberries on top. So many variations can be made with this recipe. Thank you so much as the end result is moist chocolate decadence! I and everyone I’ve ever shared it with – LOVE IT! xo My next change-up will be with a lemon filling and lemon buttercream. 🙂 🙂

    1. Hi Shelley. I LOVE all the cake variations you have baked using my chocolate cake recipe! They all sound so delicious!
      Thank you for taking time to share your amazing feedback and ideas! Happy baking!

  11. hello Nora,

    Thanks for you beautiful recipes.  The Best Vegan Cake did not rise,  Did everything you explained in recipe.  Any ideas for the next time.  It is very dense looking.

    Only change was pan size I used a 21cm. In Europe now.  
    M

    1. It’s hard to know what went wrong without being there. If the cake didn’t rise and it has a dense texture, then it could be because the batter was overmixed, your baking powder or baking soda was expired, or the oven wasn’t hot enough. I hope this helps for next time!

  12. Hello!! Question – should I take the cupcakes out of the cupcake pan to cool after about 10 minutes as well, like the cake? I’m making these for a vegan co-worker’s birthday and I kind of want to prove to some of the folks at work that being vegan doesn’t have to mean sacrificing taste, so I want these to be perfect!

      1. Hi Nora! Thank you for answering so quickly! These cupcakes were a hit! I wound up making one batch of these and one batch of “traditional” cupcakes and let many folks try them. You were right! A lot of people PREFERRED these!!! Making another batch now for a Murder Mystery Party tomorrow and I’m sure they will be a hit!! Thanks again!!!

        1. Hi Roni. You are welcome! I’m glad the cupcakes were a hit! Have fun at your party! Thanks for sharing your wonderful feedback!

  13. It is the best chocolate cake ever. All my non vegan family and friends have devoured this cake and prefer it to any other chocolate cake they’ve ever had. 
    My non vegan sister in law makes it now too for her  family.   No one can even know it’s vegan. 
    So delicious. 

  14. Absolutely delicious.
    Made this for a family member who came to town who is vegan (I don’t normally bake vegan). The cake turned out fantastic. Super moist and flavorful. Very similar to the chocolate cake I usually make.
    I didn’t try the frosting; I did coconut cream, powered sugar and Mexican vanilla for a frosting.
    Easy to follow recipe

  15. Oh my goodness where has this recipe been all my life. thank you this is amazing I made cake and cupcakes from it superb highly recommend ??

    1. LOL! I’m glad you finally found it! I’m thrilled you loved the cake! Thank you for your wonderful feedback!

  16. Do you know whether this recipe would still work replacing almond milk with whole milk?
    (Made it a bunch of times and it is always a winner! But now making it for almond, soy allergic)

  17. Let me just say that I don’t want to discourage anyone from making this cake and I don’t want to be a hater. I recently went vegan and for my birthday I decided to make this cake. The cake turned out very nice and I was pleased with it. However the frosting was a nightmare it was a weird texture had a hard time getting stiff and the butter was separating from the rest of the frosting. I was very disappointed in the frosting and the look of it on the cake. I was especially mad because nobody else in my family is vegan or vegetarian and I wanted to make this cake a good experience for them to show them that vegan food can be just as good, but this frosting ended up making me feel embarrassed with my cake and failing to show them that vegan foods can be just as good.  Sorry you had to read this whole comment and I do recommend that people use the cake recipe but in the future I will find another frosting recipe. Thank you for the time you put into this cake recipe and the video. Any idea what I did wrong?

    1. Hi Ava, I’m sorry you had trouble with the frosting. Frosting can be tricky because you have to get the temperature of the butter just right. It sounds to me like the butter you used was far too soft and melty, which made it separate and not get spreadable and fairly thick like it should be. A few tips: Don’t microwave vegan butter to get it softened, and do not melt it at all. Let it sit at room temperature until it’s just softened, but not so soft it starts to melt. Use vegan butter sticks, not the tub which is greasier and softer. Perhaps try not adding any milk at all at first, and only add it as needed to thin the frosting. That said, I always use these proportions with properly softened vegan butter and it works perfectly every time. I hope that helps!

    2. Hi Ava,
      Don’t think people will think people will criticize you for not liking the frosting. Actually when I saw the ingredients of the frosting I decided not to make it with a frosting. I have a really good recipe from The Minimalist Baker see below:
      FROSTING
      1 cup vegan butter (softened)
      2 ½ – 3 cups powdered sugar
      2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
      1/4 cup dairy-free semisweet chocolate (melted and slightly cooled)
      2 tsp pure vanilla extract
      ~1/4 cup unsweetened original Almond Breeze Almond Milk.

      You can find this frosting on her website within a recipe for One bowl chocolate cake. However Nora’s cake is a thousand times better.
      I hope this helps

  18. Hi Nora! Love this cake, made it a bunch of times and everyone always loves it. So much so that a friend asked me to make this cake my gift for his birthday this weekend and I accepted of course 🙂 But I just learned now that there will a be a GF guest… Can I make this cake replacing the flour with a normal baking GF flour or does it need complicated amount of coconut, almond and buckwheat flavor ??

    1. Hi Mika. Thank you, I’m so glad you are loving the cake. What a great gift for someone! It can be made gluten free, though it turns out better if you make my Gluten Free Chocolate Cake. It’s almost exactly the same but made perfect gluten free. ?. Thanks for sharing your great feedback, and happy baking!

  19. When she said it was the best vegan chocolate cake ever SHE WAS NOT LYING!! Im not even vegan and this cake is better than any cake I’ve had, when I was making it I was a bit skeptical with the boiling water and when I tasted the batter it did taste a little weird but when after i cooked it, it turned out sooo good, and the frosting is literally the best thing I have ever tasted in my life omg it’s soo good from now on I’ll be making vegan frosting instead of regular frosting. I made this for my dads friend for his birthday because he’s vegan and everyone that was at dinner kept complementing me and saying how delicious it was and someone even told me I should own a bakery because I was gifted in baking loll so yeah this was soo good thank you for this recipe

    1. Hello! Your positive feedback just thrills my heart! I’m so glad the cake was a hit! We just LOVE this cake at our house! Thank you very much of taking time to share your fantastic feedback and review!

    1. You should end up with more than enough batter for 3 pans if you double the recipe. Extra batter can always be stored in the fridge or used to make cupcakes 🙂 Happy baking!

  20. This is the first recipe that made a “vegan” cake truly delicious.
    My son wanted one for his birthday but I was thinking no one else will want it .
    Oh boy ….was I wrong !Everyone can enjoy .
    I want to Thank you for creating a recipe that definitely delivers.

    1. I’m so happy to hear that everyone loved the cake! Sounds like a birthday full of joy! Thank you for sharing your great feedback!

  21. I’m so new with the vegan bake goods. I was looking for a birthday cake for my son. He allergic to a lot of things. I’ve tried couple recipes, not every recipe work. This recipe is the best! It is so moist and delicious. I reduced a little bit of sugar on the cream. 
    Everybody love them so much especially my son of course.
    Guests was saying that they don’t even know the cake is vegan. 
    Thank you so much for this great recipe. It’s mean a lot to me that my son be able to enjoy some cake on his 1st birthday for the first time! 

    1. Hi Nancy. Happy birthday to your son! I’m so happy he was able to have a birthday cake he loves! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback! Happy baking!

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