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 (1596 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 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
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 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 Gabrielle. Eight inch cakes work well. They will take a bit longer to cook, perhaps 10 minutes more, depending on your oven. Enjoy!

  1. When double or tripling the batter is it always just 1 cup of milk mixed with the vinegar? Each time I’ve looked that amount doesn’t change in the directions.

    We love this cake, it’s super moist and delicious!

    1. Hi Leah. The amounts should change. I tested it and they change when I click the 2x or 3x tab. Having said that, I’ve never tried doubling the recipe. Instead, I make the recipe in two separate bowls, or in two separate batches, if that makes sense. I think the cake comes out better that way. I hope this helps!

  2. This is, hands-down, the most delicious chocolate cake, vegan or not. Everyone who tries it (and I have made it lots of times) asks for the recipe.


    Could you use this recipe to make a Yule Log? I’d like to try for this Christmas.

    1. Hi Christine. I’m glad you’re loving the cake! I have never tried to make this as a sheet cake. This cake is moist and delicate, so I’m not sure that it would work to make a Yule log. If you try it, let me know how it works for you!

  3. It really is the best chocolate cake ever, vegan or otherwise. I made it tonight in a single layer with vanilla buttercream frosting and rainbow sprinkles (3 year old granddaughter) for Chanukah dinner at my vegan daughter and SIL. It was phenomenal and we all had seconds (some had thirds). I used a cup of hot coffee instead of plain water. It was fluffy, tasty, and just mouthwatering. I’ve been trying to make a decent vegan cake unsuccessfully for several years. Last week my daughter told me about Nora Cooks – a lifesaver! This one is a keeper. I’m making another tomorrow for a dinner at my house and no one coming is vegan. So looking forward to trying more of your awesome recipes!

    1. Hi Joan. Welcome to Nora Cooks! I’m thrilled your daughter introduced you to my site! I’m glad that everyone loved the chocolate cake, it is a well loved cake for sure! I hope you’ll explore my other recipes as well. Please reach out with any questions. Wishing you lots of happy cooking!

  4. Hi! I am making this at night, then driving 8hrs to family the next morning. I’ll have the cake in a cooler in the car but in your opinion, should freeze it overnight or just leave it in the fridge? Thanks!

  5. Is it possible to make this cake two days ahead? If so, how should it be stored? It’s one of my favorite recipes but I need to make it well ahead of time. Would freezing be best? How would it be stored in freezer? Defrost it in the fridge the night before? Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Cristin. Yes you can definitely make this cake a couple of days ahead! Just cover and wrap the frosted cake and store it in the refrigerator. It’s stores beautifully in the refrigerator, and I love it after it has been refrigerated! Happy baking!

  6. Could I use half brown sugar, half white sugar, instead of all white?
    I like the flavour of brown sugar in a chocolate cake recipe.

    1. Hi Susan. I have never made this cake with half brown sugar and half white sugar. You could probably use brown and white sugar in the chocolate cake. If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

    2. Have made this cake numerous times. My sons partner is vegan tge rest of us (7 of us) are not and we all love it. Only chocolate cake I now make. Thank you

  7. Hi Nora, making this for the first time in a different oven. Always made it in my cottage oven, always Bundt pan. And it was perfect, and a huge hit with everyone. Thanks!
    Today, it’s been baking in my home oven for more than 55 minutes now – I’ve been checking every five minutes since 40-min mark – and the tester is still coming out with batter on it, although the top is cracking. Thoughts? Suggestions? Temp is 350°. TIA

    1. It’s possible that the new oven isn’t as hot as the one you’re used to and baking the cake in such a deep pan will cause it to take longer. You can try covering the top of the cake with a layer of foil if it’s browning and/or turning the temp up to 375ºF. I hope this helps!

      1. Thanks, Nora. I finally took it out after 60 minutes. It looks good, though not as tall as I remember. That could be from my opening the oven door every 5 mins after the initial 40 min. We’ll eat it tomorrow, and I’ll let you know how it tastes. 🙂

  8. This recipe is a hit!! I had people request this cake to be made this year and had some awesome reviews!! Thank you for this recipe!!

  9. This is the best chocolate cake recipe! My sister has even requested I make it for her baby shower! Can you please tell me how long I would need to bank this for a half sheet? Also would you recommend doubling the recipe to do two half sheets (for a two layer cake)? Thank you!

    1. 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. I would recommend that you double the recipe if you use this recipe and want to layer the cake. Cook at 350 for about 40 minutes. I would suggest checking the cake at about the 30 minute mark. Hope this helps!

      1. Hi Nora,
        Thanks for the tips! I tried your advice but unfortunately the cake didn’t rise as much once I doubled the recipe and used the sheet cake pans. I am going to check out your sheet cake recipe instead and see how it goes! Had no idea you had one. Thank you!

  10. Hi Nora – I am thinking about making “half” your chocolate cake recipe, and marbling that batter with your vanilla cake recipe – do you think that would turn out?
    I did try just using your vanilla recipe, and take some of the batter and mixed it with an emulsion of cocoa and water/tiny bit of oil.
    It was OK, but just wondered if actually using a true chocolate cake recipe for the chocolate batter would be more flavourful and moist? Do you think the two batter textures would still rise properly and not end up dense?
    I also use some brown sugar with white sugar in my non-vegan chocolate cake; do you think I could substitute some here as well? It really makes chocolate cake delicious in a non-vegan version.
    Appreciate your thoughts.

    1. Hi Sue! I think making a marble cake out of both recipes will work, but I can’t say for sure as I haven’t tested it. You could probably also use some brown sugar in the chocolate cake if you want. If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

  11. THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE. I’ve made this recipe so many times and it’s always a huge hit. Truly love all your recipes!

    1. Hi Marlene. I have used a variety over the years, as I have made the cake more times than I can count. 🙂 More often than not, I use regular non-dutch processed cocoa powder (unsweetened), but sometimes I use dark (dutch processed). Both work very well! I’ve used all sorts of brands. Enjoy the cake!

    1. You can refrigerate the frosting for 2 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer. It will still taste amazing after!

  12. Amazing! Allergy baby’s first birthday coming up. Do you know if this cake can be frozen ahead? I usually make birthday cakes ahead of time and defrost overnight to ice them on the day.

        1. I’m really not sure. Maybe date sugar or coconut sugar, if you are okay with those. Otherwise, I don’t know that it will turn out good at all. More applesauce will not work, it will just add more moisture which you don’t want.

          1. This is the BEST chocolate cake I’ve ever had. I made it for my son’s second birthday and everyone was raving. My family enjoys so many of your recipes, thank you so much!

          2. Hi Diana. I’m so glad the cake was a hit for your son’s birthday! Thanks for your encouraging words – it’s wonderful you are loving the recipes!

          3. Coconut sugar works great, I have used this fantastic recipe many times and always with coconut sugar. Actually I just made it for the first time with mascabado sugar and i’m gutted it didn’t turn out well (first time ever), but I think it’s because I couldn’t get hold of my regular flour so had to buy “wholewheat white”, whatever that is… It really changed the consistency and flavour, i’m gutted! Thank you SO nuch for this and your other recipes. Yours are my favourites! Always my go-to page!

          4. Hi Cath. How great you are loving the cake! Thanks for sharing your helpful tips and great feedback! I appreciate you using my recipes!

  13. I love this recipe…. but instead of using boiling water I use brewed hot coffee… it adds a bit more depth in the chocolate flavor…. and I add vegan dark chocolate chips. I made a vegan and a regular chocolate cake and the vegan one was the winner hands down…. It is really fantastic. I do not do frosting… It is great on its own without it! But you can mix cocoa powder and powdered sugar and dust it too with a design if you want to make it pretty

    1. Can’t wait to make this! Could I use loaf pans? I have two, and they are 10.5 x 6. If so, how full would I fill them?

      1. Hi Sandra. I have never made these in a loaf pan, however, I think it should work. I recommend filling the pan about 2/3 full. It will probably take a little longer to bake. Let me know how it works out!

        1. This is my go to vegan chocolate cake recipe! I’m wondering how long to bake it in a sheet pan (for Yule log cake!)

          1. Hi Penny. Thanks for your positive feedback! I’ve never made this cake in a sheet pan, however, I’d say between 30 – 40 minutes! Hope your Yule log cake turns out great!

  14. I’ve made this cake too many times to count. It is full proof and tastes amazing!!! I’ve used both oat milk and almond milk and both work well. I also recently made it using olive oil for my daughter’s birthday and it was amazing. Everyone thought I had ordered the cake because it’s so gooey and chocolatey and good!!!

  15. Do you know, can oat milk be substituted for the almond milk? I cannot have almond milk… it looks delicious and I’d like to give it a try. Thank you!

    1. Hi Terry. I’m not sure as I’m not familiar with high altitude baking. Maybe finding some general instructions for cooking at high altitude may be helpful. I haven’t tested it though! Sorry.

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