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. This looks delicious! I’m only making the frosting and will try the whole GF version another time. I wanted to ask for your storage recommendations for the cake and frosting? Should they be refrigerated once made and for how long will they last? I’m thinking I may add a layer of fruit in the center, like I read on the GF cake recipe! Yum! Thank you!

    1. Hi Jennifer. It is delicious! You can store it at room temperature for a few days or even longer in the refrigerator. Just cover it in plastic to maintain freshness. I hope this helps! Enjoy the cake!

  2. Hi Nora, I absolutely love this cake ❤️ but is there any way I could use sweetened apple sauce instead I can’t seem to find unsweetened apple sauce in my area, thanks

  3. I have made this over 10 times now in various forms and it doesn’t disappoint ever! Its my favorite thing to make and impress people with!

    Quick question though- there is a lot of holiday cooking going on this week and I was wondering if there is any downside to making the batter a couple of days in advance and letting it sit in the fridge? To minimize having to make it all over again later in the week. I would wait to add the hot water just until right before baking it.

    Have you tried this before?

    thank you so much! I love this recipe!

    1. I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the cake many times! I don’t know if that would work well honestly, sorry to say! I feel like the cakes might come out dense letting the batter sit that long. I could be wrong. If you try it, let me know how it goes and have a great week!

  4. Hi Nora,

    I’ve made this cake and frosting before and it came out great! This time; however, the vegan butter in separating in the frosting any suggestions?

    1. Separation can happen when you mix cold ingredients with room temperature ingredients. So the butter or milk may have been too cold! You can mitigate this by leaving both the milk and butter on the kitchen counter for about 30 minutes or until they come down to room temp before making the frosting.

  5. This was delicious! I’ve made it a few times now and everyone devours it! I haven’t tried a recipe yet that hasn’t ended up on my favorite rotations! Thank you 😊

  6. Trying to stay away from oil (artery clogging and restricts blood flow). This cake looks amazing, but I’m disappointed to see oil in it, and the vegan butter (which is oil) in the frosting. I know the oil is what makes it scrumptiously mouthwatering; However, can you test a delicious chocolate cake without the oil please?

  7. My sister requested a very chocolatey moist cake for her birthday and this did not disappoint! I added a teaspoon of instant coffee to the boiling water and used Hershey special dark cocoa powder and it was very decadent and everyone loved it. Thank you for the great recipe.

  8. Nora, I have had this cake made by my daughter-in-law and I really want to make it but I need to know if I can cut back on the sugar in the cake.

    1. Hi Becky. Using less sugar could make the cake more moist so try not to omit too much. Coconut sugar is my substitute of choice, although it can change the overall flavor and color slightly. Hope this helps.

      1. Hi Tess. Using less sugar could make the cake more moist so try not to omit too much. Coconut sugar is my substitute of choice, although it can change the overall flavor and color slightly. Hope this helps.

  9. Hi Nora,

    I love your recipes and want to make this for my husbands birthday. Could gluten free flour be used as I am gluten free as well as vegan.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Kate. Thanks for using my recipes! I am glad you are loving them! I have used gluten free 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!

  10. This recipe is exactly what I was looking for but I have a couple questions. I’m making the cake for my mother but she is not entirely vegan. She just does not eat egg or white sugar. Can I use cane sugar? Can I still use butter and milk? And I have Mott’s applesauce, can I still use that? Again, thanks for the recipe!

    1. Hope your mother enjoys the cake! Yes, it will work with cane sugar, butter and milk. Mott’s applesauce will work just fine. Thanks!

  11. Hi Nora,
    Thank you for this beautiful recipe. Am
    Preparing the cake right now for my husband birthday tomorrow. One thing is I mixed apple cider vinegar with almond milk. It’s been 30 mins but it did not curdle and looks the same. I should have heated the milk before adding vinegar? Please help me with this. Thanks in advance!

    1. Don’t worry if it didn’t curdle, sometimes it doesn’t and it will still work fine! Hope he has a happy birthday and enjoys his cake. 🙂

      1. Hi Nora,

        Thank you so much for the wishes. The cakes tastes yummy and he loved it. No one believed it’s a vegan cake. It was very soft and turned out so good 😊. Thanks again

      1. I’m not leaving a rating so as to not mess with this super high rating unfairly.

        I’m not bad at eyeballing ingredient amounts. I fill a one-cup measure about 3/4, or about 2/3, for those measurements and it tends to work out with most recipes. With this cake, though, it came out rubbery.

        Maybe it was my measurements somehow being faulty. I suspect, however, that the odd texture resulted from my substituting coconut milk for almond milk, rather than from my measurements. Obviously, I can’t know, either is possible. There’s basically no protein in coconut milk, and several times the fat (and calories) so it may not have had the same effect in the bake.

        I don’t regret having made the cake and I’ll try other of your recipes. It may be the case that the coconut milk isn’t a great substitute in this recipe, or maybe I just measured wrong- but you’re the professional, I’m sure you know best.

  12. 4th time I have made this cake and it is the most decadent, delicious, chocolate cake ever! Vegan or not, it’s going to please everyone! Thank you, Nora

  13. I never leave a comment on recipe pages, but after eating this cake I had to. It was delicious! I made it for my husband’s birthday (no one else in my family is vegan besides me) and they all raved about it. My 8 year old even said 10/10 and my husband said I should make this cake whenever we are invited to someone’s for dinner.

    1. Hi Lori . How thrilling the cake was a hit with everyone! It is a well loved cake! Thank you for your wonderful feedback and review!

  14. Bravo, Nora! I am not exagerrating when i say this, after 20 years of a sexless marriage with my husband Paul, this cake brought the spark back into our relationship! He’s even stopped seeing his secritary!
    Who knew a vegan cake could be this impactful.
    Thank you so much Nora!❤

    1. Wtf? I hope this is a joke or else this comment makes me very sad. Leave him, you deserve better. A cake will not change a toxic persons behavior.

  15. My friend made this for my birthday and it was easily the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had, vegan or otherwise. Soooo rich and delicious 😋 and it’s still holding up on day 8

    1. I am thrilled you love the cake! What a great gift from a friend! Sounds like you’ve gotten your taste’s worth out of it! By the way, this cake freezes great! Thank you for your great feedback!

  16. I mistakingly added all wet ingredients at once and hand mixed and I believe it turned out fine but cakes are still cooling, is there any specific reason to add the boiling water last?

    1. The boiling water is added last because the heat reacts with the cocoa powder, helping the cake taste extra chocolatey, and it creates a fluffy texture and adds even more moisture.

    1. Hi Michael. I don’t think using avocado oil would be a problem at all! I use melted coconut oil sometimes as well and it’s always fine. Happy baking!

  17. I made this recipie for my vegan daughet-in-law ans it was so good I make it for church all the time and nobody knows the difference. Wondering of I can substitute Almond flour or white whole wheat for pastor with folic acid allergy?

    1. Hi Patti. Almond flour definitely does not work for this cake! White whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour would work I believe. It may alter the lightness of the cake. I haven’t tested it to know for sure. Hope that helps!

  18. Hi Nora- I’m so excited to make this for my son’s bday party this weekend! If I make this the day before, how should I store it until the party? And if it’s refrigerated- should I let it get back down to room temperature before serving? (I’ve had issues with refrigerating vegan cakes in the past that’s why I’m asking!!) thanks 🙂

    1. I think you will LOVE this cake and I hope your son has a wonderful birthday party! I would refrigerate it overnight, frosted, then let it sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours before serving. I actually love the cake cold from the fridge, but the texture is more firm rather than soft and moist. So you can do whatever you prefer really. Hope that helps!

      1. Thank you so much, it was perfect!!! So so so many compliments. This is my new go-to recipe for special occasions!

        1. Hi Kristin. I’m happy the cake was a hit! Thanks for your wonderful feedback and review! May you enjoy many future chocolate cakes!

  19. Hey Nora! I’ve made this several times in both the cake form and the cupcake form. I’ve also tried the other chocolate cupcake recipe. They are seriously the most delicious hands down. My only problem is that no matter what I make with these two recipes, the cake/cupcake sinks in the middle and pulls the sides in making it more of a mini cupcake with a sunken middle. Any idea why this would be happening or how to fix it? I am using king Arthur’s measure for measure also. 

    1. Hi Heather, thanks so much for using my recipes! There are several reasons why they could be sinking: overmixed batter, opening the oven door as they’re baking, expired baking soda/powder, or the oven temperature is too high. One of the most important things is not to overmix the batter because if the air is knocked out, then the cakes will fall instead of rise. I hope this helps for next time!

  20. Hi Nora! 

    I absolutely love this cake! If I make mini cupcakes, what baking time would you recommend? 10-12min? Thanks!

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