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. Truly the best! This is the first vegan cake I have made, and it got rave reviews from the people I served it to – none of them vegans! It was so easy to make and it came out beautifully!

  2. This really is one of the best tasting cakes! I am not a vegan but was requested to make a vegan birthday cake for a friend and tried out this recipe. Since then I have been requested to make it probably 10-15 times and its always a major hit.
    Wish I could give it more than 5 stars!

  3. I made this for my support group and only one of the 20 women were vegan. They loved it. I also let my husband, sis in law and mother in law taste it. They said it was absolutely delicious. Thank you for this recipe. I bake and ever since I became vegan, I have been nervous to make any vegan cakes. This recipe gets an A++++

    Too bad I can’t post a pic. 

    1. Hi Nina. You are welcome! I’m thrilled the cake was a hit! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback! I know your cake was beautiful!

    1. Hi Mel. You could try lowering the amount of sugar called for, or you could replace it with coconut sugar in the cake itself. This will affect the flavor, but if you don’t mind that I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. I would not sub maple syrup as it’s a liquid and would affect the overall structure of the cake. The frosting is more difficult, as powdered sugar is essential to thicken the frosting.

  4. I am not a vegan but I made this cake for my vegan daughter’s birthday.  I was very skeptical as I have made quite a few vegan cakes in the past only to be deeply disappointed. It seems they are either dry or way too sweet.  I followed this recipe to a tee and it turned out superb.  The cake was soft, moist, flavorful and the frosting was a silken, chocolatey dream.  I was shocked at how incredible this cake tasted.  It is time consuming but worth every single minute!  Thank you Nora!  

  5. I made this cake for my daughter’s birthday a couple of months ago and have become obsessed. I’ve made it quite a few times now and I freeze it in slices so that I always have some available for guests or if I need a chocolate fix! It is delicious warmed up with some raspberries on the side.

    1. Thank you for sharing your fantastic feedback and ideas! I’m so glad you are loving the cake! It sounds delicious with raspberries!

  6. Oh my goodness! I made this cake for my daughters blessingway celebration  and  everybody  loved it ? It was very rich and chocolatey And also moist. About to make it again for a family dinner tomorrow. We’re not all vegan but it suits all. Thank you so much ? 

  7. I made this cake for a group and only one person besides me was vegan. Everyone asked for the recipe and couldn’t stop talking about how delicious and moist it was. The chocolate frosting was easy to make and was so rich. No one could believe the cake was vegan! I also line my pans with parchment circles and
    used unsweetened cocoa rather than flour to coat my pan because I didn’t want any bit of white flour against the deep chocolate cake.. Also, I use a very good quality cocoa powder that is darker than Baker’s brand. It’s worth it with the intense chocolate flavor. This is now my “go to” chocolate cake. THANK YOU for the amazing recipe!!

    1. Hi Margo. I’m thrilled the cake was a hit! Thank you for taking time to share your wonderful feedback and ideas! I’m happy to learn this is your new go to chocolate cake! Happy cooking!

    1. Yes, that’s correct! It’s hard to know exactly why the cakes didn’t rise without being there, but it could be because your BP is potentially expired or the batter was overmixed.

  8. Made this in 3 8” pans. Delicious. The frosting was just the right amount for 3 layers. Added 1 tsp espresso powder each to thre cake and the frosting. My vegan friend loved it and I thought it was amazing too!  This is a great recipe!

    1. Hi Todd. I’m so glad the cake was a hit with your friend, and that you loved it as well! Thanks for your fantastic feedback!

    1. Hi Susan! I appreciate you and your wonderful review! Thank you. I’m thrilled you loved the frosting, and that it is your go to!

  9. Love this chocolate cake and frosting. Made it into cupcakes a few times and. Have made it gluten free when I had to. No one knew it was vegan. Always was raved wherever I brought it the best chocolate cake!  

    1. Hi Naomi. You can cover and store the frosted cake at room temperature for 1 or 2 days, or in the fridge for longer. I love it after it has has been refrigerated! Happy baking!

  10. I just made this for the first time, and it was absolutely perfect! So moist, and delicious. I made it Gluten Free and the only change I made to the recipe was to use the GF flour mix (I used Cuisine Soleil All Purpose Organic GF Mix with Chickpea flour. It was my first time baking with this brand and it worked perfectly. Everybody loved the cake and frosting – no one was vegan and some were not GF and it was a huge hit. Thank you – loved it!!

  11. I made cupcakes and they came out delicious! A few little modifications I made:

    1) Instead of boiling water: I poured a double shot of espresso into a cup measurer and then filled the rest of the cup with the boiling water. Coffee really brings out the depth of flavor in the chocolate so it’s a must whenever I bake a chocolate cake.

    2. I was out of apple cider vinegar and used a little rice vinegar instead – no difference in taste and it worked in a pinch!

    If you are making these into cupcakes I would advise filling the cups 3/4 full rather than half. The first batch I made by filling 1/2 full came out very short. 3/4 full gave me the height I was looking for!

  12. Hello- I am going to make this for a vegan friends birthday in two weeks. Im inspired by all the amazing reviews and I like that it looks very similar to my other favorite cake….the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake.
    There looks to be a generous amount of frosting. I would like to bake it in 3 8″ pans to be able to use up all that frosting. What would the bake time be?

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