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


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. Hi Lisa. There are several things that causes this to happen. Your oven might run hotter than others, which can cause a cake to crack. You also may have needed to bake it longer, as it may have been undercooked. You definitely have to handle this cake very gently as this one is quite moist, tender and light. It’s kind of hard to know without being there, but those are some ideas! Sorry that happened to you. I hope it turns out right next time!

  1. OK SO, I have been vegan for 6 years. I used my favorite gluten free flower and PRAISE YOU FOR THIS. Thank you thank you thank you! The ease! The moisture! The smiles! 

  2. Hi Nora! This cake has been the bomb! I made it for my partner and now my bestie wants it too! 

    We are wondering: can we freeze the cake-y part? Not the frosting!

    Ant advice? 

    We will try the cupcakes today 🙂 Thank you! 

    1. Hi Anna. How nice of you to make cakes for your loved ones! This cake freezes really well. Wrap and freeze each cake, then bring to room temperature before frosting. I hope this helps!

  3. Super great! Made this for a friend’s baby shower and it got rave reviews! It is so moist and delicious. Thanks, Nora!

    1. You are welcome! I’m glad the cake was a hit! It makes me so happy it was enjoyed at the baby shower! Thank you for sharing!

  4. I made this cake for my friend’s birthday, and SHE LOVES IT!!! <3 (My friend is vegan.)

    Thanks for the recipe Nora! I want to try the cake, so can I substitute the unsweetened almond milk for whole milk? (I'm allergic to almonds.)

    ~ Gaby J.

    1. What a wonderful thing to do for your friend! I am glad she loves the cake! Any plant based milk will work. Dairy milk should work fine as well! Happy baking1

  5. I’m actually not vegan but, I made this for the first time for a vegan friend years ago and it was phenomenal.  I’ve stuck with this recipe all these years for birthdays and celebrations because I can’t find a chocolate cake recipe that is better! 

    1. I’m so happy you are loving the cake! Thanks for your wonderful feedback! May you enjoy all your future celebrations – with chocolate cake!

  6. This cake is amazing! I’ve tried many vegan cake recipes and this one is the best hands down! I made it with ‘black coco’ that gave it an ‘oreo’ like flavor. Very dark, but super tasty. Have you used an egg replacer such as Bob’s in place applesauce? Did it rise well or change the texture of the cake?

    1. That’s wonderful to hear, Heidi! So happy you loved the cake 🙂 Yes, I have used the Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer here instead of applesauce and it worked very well!

  7. Love, love, love this chocolate cake recipe, vegan and eating no dairy.  The cake is moist and tastes so good!

  8. My frosting is dark chocolate colour where yours is caramel colour?
    I’ve followed the recipe . The cake is so light and fragile it was difficult icing it without pieces breaking off.
    I’ve put it in fridge to firm up.
    Where have I gone wrong?
    San. Somerset. NJ

    1. The cake is very delicate but you made the right decision by placing it in the fridge to firm up! The color of the icing can depend on how much icing sugar you added and the type of cocoa powder you’re using (natural is lighter than Dutch process cocoa powder). It doesn’t sound like you made any mistakes – there just happen to be a few minor differences between mine and yours 🙂

  9. Wow. Just wow. Delicious, moist, easy AND vegan? This recipe is a keeper for any one wanting a chocolate cake. 

    1. No, sorry! The only other flour alternative you can use is a gluten free flour blend (I’ve had success with King Arthur Flour and Bob’s Red Mill).

  10. Hey Nora, this reciepe was great. The cake was really moist and tasty. I had a question if we wanted to do a moist vanilla cake would we follow the same steps and use the boiling water trick and just omit the Coco powder?

  11. I made this cake and a traditional chocolate cake, which I usually get rave reviews for. While both were hits, there was a little of the traditional cake left over at the end of the office party. Everyone raved about this one…and ate it up.

    I made this cake twice – once for practice. The only issue I had was that all of the rounds sink a little in the middle while cooling. I doubled the amount of Bob’s Red Mill Egg Substitute on the second cake and it helped a little.

    In any case, it was delicious and a huge hit!

      1. Hi Nora! I was wondering if I could use hot coffee in place of the boiling water? I made your chocolate Bundt cake with the coffee and it was phenomenal!

  12. This was delicious! I made it with the kiddos on a dreary day and this was a ray of sunshine! Subbed the flax egg for the applesauce and it was lovely.

    Is it best to store the cake at room temperature?

    We had a lot of frosting left over so I’m going to pop it into the refrigerator.

    Thanks for a great recipe!

    1. I’m so happy you and your kids loved the cake, Kim! You can store it at room temperature for a few days or even longer in the fridge. Just cover it in plastic to maintain freshness.

  13. Hi – can this be made as a sheet cake/tray bake do you think? My son wants a square Minecraft cake! Thanks!

    1. Hi Rhianna. I have never made this as a sheet cake, however others have commented that they have with success. Have you seen my Vegan Sheet Cake recipe? It’s nearly identical but made for a sheet cake pan. Cook for 20-25 minutes.

  14. This really is THE best chocolate cake, regardless of it being vegan. It’s our go-to for every birthday or other cake occasion! Thanks, Nora! 

    1. Hi Alison. You are welcome! I’m so glad you are loving the cake for all of your cake occasions! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback and review!

  15. Wow! What a super easy and delicious chocolate cake! It whipped up in less than 10 minutes with a handheld mixer and made for a perfect 2 dozen cupcakes (baked for 22-24 minutes). The batter was loose and ribbony after the boiling water went in—really lovely. We will be coming back to this one often! Thank you!! *Ps, love that this is egg and nut free, as we manage those food allergies*

    1. Hi Sara. I’m so happy to hear you loved the cake! I appreciate you taking your time to share your wonderful feedback and review!

  16. I bake a lot and the one thing I’ve yet to find is a moist chocolate cake. Holy cow this cake is SUPERB!!!!!!!! It’s far more moist than ANY non-vegan cake I’ve ever baked. Unreal! I made today for my niece’s birthday who’s recently gone vegan due to health issues. Thank you thank you thank you!!

    1. Hi Meera. You are welcome! I’m so happy to hear you loved the cake! Happy birthday to your niece! Thank you for sharing your fabulous feedback and review!

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