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

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. Is oat milk ok to use instead of almond? If so I assume it needs to be unsweetened? Also is all Dutch process cocoa unsweetened? I was going to buy the sprouts brand but it doesn’t say if it’s unsweetened or not.

    Thanks so much!
    I’m so excited to make this cake for my dad (non vegan) dad’s birthday. I love so many of your recipes 🖤

    1. Hi Steph. Unsweetened oat milk works fine in this recipe. Also the cocoa used does need to be unsweetened. How kind of you to make this for your dad. I’m sure he will love it! Happy birthday to your dad, and enjoy the cake!

  2. In the process of making this cake! How long does it take for the almond milk to curdle? I think I’ve been waiting for 15 min now. Helpppppp

    1. Hi Andrea. Sometimes the milk and vinegar combo doesn’t look curdled but I promise you it’s still good to use in the cake after sitting for 10 or 15 minutes!

  3. Hi Nora,
    I have been making your chocolate cake for years, and everytime I serve it, it gets rave reviews! I should have reached out long ago. But as I sit here today, perusing my pins, I am making it again today, for a birthday dinner this evening. It has become my go to recipe because I always have the ingredients on hand. Not to mention how delicious it is.

    I thought I should finally tell you, after all these years.

    Kudos and thank you! It’s wonderful. 😋

    1. Hi SuzyQ. Your feedback means a lot to me! Thanks for sharing your wonderful words! I am so glad you are enjoying the cake for your special occasions!

  4. Amazing! Moist and not too sweet. Made with my 9 year old daughter to celebrate her last chemotherapy session. She loved it! I don’t love baking, and was thrilled that this not only tasted perfect, but came out just like the pictures. Thank you for sharing your kitchen masterpieces for others to enjoy!

    1. How wonderful, Reni <3 I'm so happy you and your daughter loved the cake, and a HUGE congratulations to her for finishing chemo!! Thank you for the fantastic review 🙂

  5. Can this cake be frozen after it’s baked? I’m making this cake for a birthday that I won’t be in town for but I wanted to make it ahead and freeze it so it’s still ready for the party

    1. Hi Tiff. This cake freezes really well. Wrap and freeze each cake, then bring to room temperature before frosting. Enjoy!

  6. Rich and delicious! I made this for my non vegan husband’s birthday! I wanted one cake we can all eat. He loved it! We all enjoyed this cake! Definitely a lot of frosting, I cut it in half only because I didn’t have enough sugar. I had plenty. Very rich!

  7. This recipe is amazing!!!!!!!! I made it for my niece’s 1st and everyone was raving how delicious it was. Thank you for perfecting this recipe and sharing it. Made my life so much easier. For reference Wilton has a set of pans for a 6 inch layered cake which essentially are small thin cake pans; I used those and then also got a dozen cupcakes as well from this batter. Thank you again!!!

    1. You are welcome! I’m so glad the cake was a hit at your niece’s birthday! Thank you for your great feedback and ideas!

  8. I just wanted to thank you for this amazing recipe! It really is THE BEST vegan chocolate cake. I had ready made the cupcake version and they came out delicious. But I made the cake yesterday for my 4yo bday (she attends a vegan school) and it was a HUGE success, for kids and grown ups alike. So yummy, rich, moist! Even better then the cupcakes. And i didn’t even do the frosting! Thank you!!!

  9. Made this for my dad’s birthday today, and he says this is the best cake he’s ever had!! He especially loved how moist it is. I followed the recipe almost exactly, just used dutched cocoa instead of regular for the frosting to create a smoother less acidic chocolate flavor, and decorated with pomegranate seeds for a fruity pop 🙂 Thanks so much for this recipe!

    1. Hi Andrea. Happy birthday to your dad! I’m so glad he loved the cake! I bet the pomegranate topping was fantastic! Thanks for your delightful feedback and ideas!

    2. My granddaughter made this cake for her cousins(8 and 6 year olds) who cannot have eggs and milk. It was a success. Everyone enjoyed it!! Her dad owns a sweet shop and I am sure this will be added to the menu! Love it!!

  10. Hi Nora,

    My friend made this cake for NYE and I sincerely think it’s the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. 😵 It is soooo delicious – moist and the perfect sweetness. Obsessed and can’t wait for her to make more. Thank you for sharing with the world!

    1. Hi Lauren. I’m so glad you loved the cake! Thanks for sharing your great feedback! How nice to have a friend who makes you cakes!

  11. I was skeptical about the wateriness of the batter (I’m glad you had the reassuring note) but it turned out perfectly moist and fluffy. I used flax eggs and a little soft brown sugar as I ran out of white sugar. Filled with a buttercream and cherry jam and dusted with powdered sugar.
    I had many non-vegans ask where I bought the cake from because it was so good.

    1. Hi Sophia. Your cake filled with buttercream and cherry jam sounds delicious! I’m so glad it turned out great for you! Thanks for your terrific feedback and review!

  12. Hi! The cake looks amazing! Have you ever tried to make it with natural sweetener?
    My husband shouldn’t eat sugar but loves chocolate cake.

  13. Made this with vegan chocolate chips and marshmallows with your vegan brownie recipe on top with the frosting all over for my daughters sixth Birthday. It was one of the best cakes ive made. Super filling and a fantastically well put together cake. Thank You for sharing your skills with everyone❤

    1. You are welcome! I’m impressed with your skill in combining the cake and brownies into a w wonderful cake! Happy birthday to your daughter! Thanks for sharing your terrific feedback and idea! Happy cooking!

    1. Vinegar (or acid) is necessary to make the vegan “buttermilk”. If you don’t have ACV at home, use lemon juice or white vinegar instead.

  14. I apologize if this has already been asked, but are you able to make this cake into mini cupcakes? How would that change the bake time if so?

      1. Update: I made this for my husband’s birthday so that my son, who has severe allergies to dairy and eggs, could have cake. It was amazing and everyone loved it. It’s my new go-to chocolate cake recipe! Thank you for all your vegan dessert recipes — you are not just helping vegans, you are helping families with kids like mine and it makes such a huge difference in their lives to be able to enjoy what everyone else can eat.

        1. Hi Sara. Your words really mean a lot to me. I love knowing that my recipes are helping lots of people enjoy delicious foods! I love creating these recipes! Thank you for sharing your terrific and heartfelt feedback. Happy cooking to you!

  15. Just made this cake for my daughter’s birthday. She’s a vegan. It came out delicious!! Thank you so much for the recipe.!! Happy New Year!!

    1. You are welcome, Ellyn! Happy birthday to your daughter! I’m glad the cake was loved! Thanks for your terrific feedback!

    2. Delicious recipe, thank you! Having a child with severe dairy /egg allergies and vegan family members, it’s a win-win cake. Everyone loves it.

  16. Soooo tasty! I made this for my daughter‘s birthday and everybody loved it! I couldn’t stop eating it! Best and easiest chocolate cake!

    1. Melissa. I’m thrilled that you guys loved the cake! Happy birthday to your daughter! Thank you for sharing your terrific feedback!

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