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 (1385 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. My friend made this cake for my birthday and it was amazing!  I would like to make this myself but was wondering if there is a substitute to reduce the amount of fat in this recipe.
    Thank you 

    1. Hi Stella. This is definitely an indulgent cake! I would not omit the oil, as the cake will taste rather “fat free” and gummy potentially. If you really wanted, I would replace the oil with more applesauce, but it will greatly change the taste of the cake itself. Happy baking!

    2. Hey! I have a question, I would like to make this recipe as one 8-inch cake. How would I have to devide the ingredients?  
      Thank you so much in advance!
      Kind regards from Belgium
      Rania
      btw I’ve made this maaany times before and it’s my go-to recipe for chocolate cake

      1. Yes, you would need to cut the recipe in half. It should work pretty well! Thank you, so glad you enjoy the cake. 🙂

  2. Haven’t made this yet but plan to for my daughter’s birthday this week. Is there any other flour that will work?

    1. Hi Joanne. The only other flour that will work with success is a gluten free flour mix. I have used King Arthur Flour and Bob’s Red Mill with success. If you are interested in making a gluten free chocolate cake, you may want to check out my gluten free recipe! I hope this helps! Happy birthday to your daughter!

  3. This is the best chocolate cake recipe vegan or not. We went vegan for a year or so and decided it wasn’t for us but this cake recipe is still my #1 requested cake from everyone. It’s delicious. I was told by my partners mom, whom bakes constantly that it was the best chocolate cake she has ever tasted. The icing isn’t overpowering, the cake is moist without being too dense and it bakes so beautifully. 10/10

  4. This cake blew me away.  We are staying with friends who are vegan and I have been enjoying finding vegan recipes and cooking for our hosts.  This cake lives up to every single star.  It’s super moist and chocolatey and oh so rich!  (I learned a small slice goes a long way because it’s so decadent.) This is my new go-to celebration cake for any and every occasion.  

  5. Hello from New Zealand….This is such a moist delicious cake.. I finally have a recipe to make for all our celebrations.. Thank you

  6. Hi – any tips on getting a white and a blue frosting without ruining the taste? I would like to make this for my son’s hot air balloon themed birthday but would like the frosting to be another color and I am not a baker – this is a first time diy everything for me (he’s turning 1, so new mom here lol) 
    thanks!

    1. Hi Vanessa. That’s so amazing that you’re making everything from scratch for his big day! I would ice the cake with vanilla buttercream instead of chocolate so the blue color comes through easily. You can separate the frosting into two batches – one white (or vanilla) and one blue – and decorate the top with one color and the bottom with the other. Also, use gel food coloring for the blue batch. You only need a small drop to get the color you want, and it won’t affect the flavor! I hope this helps 🙂

      1. Thank you! The big day is coming up. I can’t wait to make this and then leave an actual review lol. Quick question – is Soy Milk ok for this vegan cake and the Chocolate frosting rather than almond milk? Or will that change the taste or consistency at all? I will be doing the cake, chocolate frosting and the vanilla buttercream frosting that you linked in the previous comment to me. For the vanilla buttercream the recipe encourages Soy Milk – but curious if for these two it will work as well. Thank you. 

  7. Hi! My family loves this cake and its at every special occasion. Do you think I can use Almond flour in this recipe?

    Thank you!

  8. What cake pan did you use to bake this cake? I used a Pyrex dish and it took an extra 20-minutes to cook. It also sunk unevenly and thus the layer is very thin. I only made half the recipe to test it out.

    1. Hi Kris, I used two 9-inch metal cake pans. The Pyrex dish might have caused the problems here. I always have the best results when I use metal cake pans because the cake is so delicate.

  9. This cake is amazing. This is my 1st attempt at making this type of cake ever and I am impressed. I made this cake for my God daughters. They are vegan and asked me if I could make their bday cake. Thank you very much for this recipe. It was such a great help!

    1. Hi Veronica. Happy birthday to your Goddaughters! I’m so glad that you loved the cake! Thanks for sharing your great feedback!

  10. Yesterday, a neighbor, who is not vegan, made this cake and then sent a slice over to us. It may be the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had and I’m not vegan. The icing, especially, is to die for.
    I found that it holds together better if refrigerated on a hot day. I’ll be making this soon.

    1. Hi Peggy. I am thrilled that you love the cake! My favorite way to eat it is after it has been in the refrigerator! Thanks for taking your time to share your wonderful feedback!

  11. I’m not vegan myself but have a friend and a family member that can’t do dairy. In particular, my sister is breastfeeding and her baby reacts if she has any dairy or soy, which is hard as a lot of vegan products have soy! And my sister knows what she’s missing… So I’m happy to say this recipe is up to par, if not better.

    I made this for my sister’s birthday and for my friends birthday (coincidentally 2 days apart, hah). It was a hit both times. I’ll be making it again tonight for baby niece’s first birthday and I’m sure it will be a hit once again.

    Its an exceptionally moist cake that somehow still feels light (like an actual cake, not a brownie) despite having a bit of a fudgy element, and it actually tastes strongly of chocolate. The buttercream is also delicious and I found myself eating a lot of it with a spoon…

    I use the Soy-Free Earth Balance (thank god that exists) and Barista Oat Milk instead of almonds as someone else has a nut allergy. The second time I made a cake I made some finely ground coffee (like a powder) and put a bit in the frosting (1/2 tsp to 1 tsp depending on your tastes), which was a delicious addition.

    One guest, who I’ve never before seen shocked by anything, blurted out “this is vegan?!” when she found out.

    Thank you so much for this recipe!!

  12. The cake is as fabulous as all the reviews had said. I made it to take to a 75th birthday celebration for a vegan friend. I made a recipe and a half so I would have 3 layers. I made a whole recipe of the frosting but used pistachio creme which I had bought in Sicily between the layers. Dotted raspberries around the edge for color. Everyone raved and raved. Even my husband who thinks if it’s vegan, it can’t be good!

  13. Literally, the best chocolate cake EVER! We have made this cake numerous times. It has always been delicious. We use less than half of the delicious buttercream frosting for a full cake recipe.

  14. I made this for a friend’s birthday and it was amazing, seriously SO good. Very rich and fudgy. Everyone absolutely loved it. I’m not vegan, and couldn’t tell the difference. 

    1. T Hi Anna. They say the 3rd time is a charm! You can cover and store the frosted cake at room temperature for 1 or 2 days or in the fridge for longer.

    1. Hi Josie. Yes you can definitely substitute oat milk. I’ve used all kinds of plant based milk with no problems.

  15. This cake recipe is delicious and I will not bake any other chocolate cake  recipe for my family because it’s that good!!!  Thanks!

  16. Wonderfully rich cake! Just wondering how to store the cake? Does it need refrigeration or is the counter just fine?

    1. I’m so happy you loved the cake, Ellen! You can cover and store the frosted cake at room temperature for 1 or 2 days or in the fridge for longer.

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