The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake is pure perfection! Moist, rich, decadent, and only one bowl needed! Paired with a vegan chocolate frosting.
This is hands down the best vegan chocolate cake that we have ever made.
We set out for a goal to make the best chocolate cake, vegan or not, that we have ever tasted. But, it had a stipulation also. We wanted it to be easy.
A lot of bakery-style recipes are not easy and we wanted something that was easy enough for the everyday baker but those who are intimidated by baking also.
Next, we wanted this to be allergen friendly. Everyone deserves cake that wants it and chocolate cake at that.
Even though this vegan chocolate cake recipe has no eggs and no milk, you will absolutely agree this is the ultimate chocolate cake recipe.
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Why You’ll Love This Vegan Chocolate Cake
This recipe is made in one bowl and takes no time to throw together which means that you can have the ultimate vegan chocolate cake.
While this cake simple – both in that it’s easy and quick – it’s also very decadent. The luxuriousness of their cake will have people thinking you paid a high end baker a lot of money for it!
One of the things I really love about this cake is that even though it’s a chocolate cake, there’s still a lot of variations that can happen.
Since this is a from scratch chocolate cake, we can switch up the frostings – maybe with vanilla frosting or with cream cheese frosting.
We can also do a chocolate cake with strawberries or raspberries on top. Or even do it as part of the filling in the middle, so a chocolate cake with raspberry filling for example.
What Ingredients do you need to make the best vegan chocolate cake?
Below are notes about the main ingredients before we get into the full recipe located lower in this post on how to make vegan chocolate cake.
While this dairy free chocolate cake does need what seems to be a lot of ingredients, it’s still an easy chocolate cake recipe. In order to make this cake without eggs and without dairy, you need a bit of creativity and chemistry. The end result is so perfect. For this cake you’ll need:
- Dairy Free Milk – Use either unsweetened plain or unsweetened vanilla flavored milk, but you don’t want any sweetened milk in this already sweet recipe.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Since there are no vegan buttermilks on the market, we use acid to mix with the dairy free milk to make a vegan buttermilk. Acid helps tenderize gluten and therefore making a softer cake.
- Flour – The star of the show, we only used all-purpose flour here because we wanted this recipe to be as accessible as possible for everyone.
- Vegan Cane Sugar – Cane sugar is what we are using. If you want to learn more about why your sugar may not be vegan, you can learn more by clicking on the link.
- Water is boiled and then added to the batter to aid in blooming of the chocolate.
- Cocoa Powder – Obviously needed to make a delicious chocolate cake. You want to use an unsweetened cocoa powder here.
- Oil – You want to use a neutral oil – canola or vegetable. Oil helps the moisture in your cake but also helps by slowing down the formation of gluten that yields a very tender and fluffy cake – isn’t that what we all want!
- Baking Soda and Baking Powder – both act as the leavening agent in our cake which causes the cake to rise while baking. Both are added to not only help with the rise, but flavor as well.
- Vanilla and Salt – are added for flavor in this cake recipe
- Vegan Butter – you ideally want to use vegan sticks of butter like Country Crock Plant Based. Margarines are usually water based so try to find something that lists oil as the first ingredient. You’ll always want to stay away from soft vegan spreads like Country Crock in the tub.
- Vegan Powdered Sugar – traditionally used in frostings and what we are using here to give that sweet yet fluffy texture
SUBSTITUTIONS AND VARIATIONS:
- Dairy Free Milk – Any dairy free milk that you like can be used in this. The important thing is just not using a sweetened milk in this already sweet recipe.
- Acid – You can use white vinegar or lemon juice if that’s all you have
- Flour – Cake flour could be swapped for all or half of the all-purpose flour. Also an all-purpose or 1:1 gluten free flour could be used.
- Vegan Cane Sugar – While we haven’t tried, you could replace this with a coconut sugar or date sugar
- Oil – Melted coconut oil could also be used here and it is normal for it to resolidify when mixing. It will melt back down again when baking. Alternatively, you could use applesauce (same amount) of even half oil, half applesauce if you are trying to reduce your oil consumption.
- Chocolate Chips – If you wanted to make a chocolate chip chocolate cake, you could mix in 1 – 1 ½ cups of vegan chocolate chips to the cake prior to baking.
- Vanilla – you can get creative with variations and do something like a peppermint cake by adding in addition or swapping out half or all of the vanilla. Try this with other extracts too like raspberry, orange, or cherry.
Step by Step Instructions:
The first step is to combine dairy free milk, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract to make vegan buttermilk. Set aside for 10 minutes. While waiting, continue with the recipe. When ready, the mixture will appear curdled.
Next, using a large bowl, add all your dry ingredients into the bowl. This would be flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Then, whisk together.
Next add oil, boiling water, and vegan buttermilk (the vinegar mixture you made in Step 1). Mix with a spatula until just combined.
You want to make sure that you don’t overmix your batter. Important note that batter will be loose and thin but this is 100% supposed to be this way.
Once your batter is together, evenly split up the cake batter into the prepared pans and bake them together for about 33 – 37 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
You are going to want to let your cakes cool on a cooling rack for 15 minutes in the pans, then remove and let cool to room temperature before frosting.
In a large bowl, add the vegan butter and cocoa powder. Use a mixer to cream this together for about a minute until combined.
Add about half of the powdered sugar and half the of milk with all the vanilla extract. Then mix again for another minute. Repeat adding the rest of the ingredients.
Now check the consistency of the frosting. If it’s too dry, add a tablespoon at a time more dairy free milk until it reaches your desired consistency. If it’s too wet and does not a shape, add a tablespoon more powered sugar at a time until it reaches the right consistency to hold its shape.
Spread or pipe onto your cake as desired.
Tips for how to make the best vegan chocolate cake:
See below tips and tricks for making this vegan chocolate cake perfect!
- Follow the instructions pretty please. Cake baking is a science, especially when making a dairy free/vegan cake. Every step has a purpose to ensure the perfect vegan chocolate cake.
- While we don’t do it in the video or the recipe, if you are not comfortable baking, we highly recommend sifting the ingredients into the bowl. This loosens the ingredients and make sure there are no clumps leading to a more airy cake.
- Use vegan butter sticks, not spreads. Ideally choose a vegan butter that has oil (NOT WATER) as the first ingredient. We like Country Crock Plant Based sticks.
- Make sure to line with parchment paper and grease your pans. No one likes a cake that can’t come out of the pan. It’s one of the most frustrating things and doing these two things will helps.
- Make sure that you evenly distribute the cake batter into the three cake pans. You can use a scale to make sure that they are all within a small range of each other.
- When the cakes are cooked, remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to allow the cakes to cool evenly.
- Let the cakes cool to touch. DO NOT RUSH. Let it cool completely.
- When ready to make the cake – use a cake leveling tool to make sure there’s no uneven tops.
- Place a small amount of frosting down first on a rotating cake stand, then your first layer. The frosting acts as a glue so the cake won’t slip.
- Use a piping bag and a large round tip and pipe frosting in a circular motion from the outer edge completely in to the middle.
- Use a cake spreader to gently even out layer of frosting. Place next layer and repeat. Step back and see if there is any gaps in between the layers. If there are, place enough frosting in those areas to get frosting to the edge.
- Use a cake scraper to go around the cake and ensure evenness around the entire cake. This step is really important. Place frosting on the top of the cake and more on sides if needed and frost evenly. Using a spreader on the top and the scraper to even evenness.
- Get creative. If you can’t get as smooth as you want or even as you want – you can also add toppings like crushed nuts or chocolate shavings, or drizzle chocolate syrup along the edge so people focus on that. Plus it looks better either way.
- *Bonus Tip: If you want to frosting the cake but keep a clean cake stand, cut four 7″ pieces of wax paper and overlap them before placing the first layer on the cake stand. When you are completely done frosting the cake, carefully remove the four pieces of wax paper.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Absolutely! Did I just make your day? You can swap out the vegan all-purpose flour for Gluten Free Cup for Cup flour. You can also swap out the cake flour with a gluten free version. All the other ingredients that we use in this recipe are naturally gluten free and no swaps are needed.
Besides the flour, that you can use gluten free as recommended above, the only other ingredient is the vegan butter which typically contains soy.
Just choose a soy free vegan butter like Earth Balance soy free sticks. Any dairy free milk can be used that is safe for your allergens.
This vegan chocolate cake is rich in chocolate while still remaining moist. The right amount of fat (oil) combined with making our own dairy free buttermilk (acid) and adding in leavening agents (baking soda and baking powder) all act together to insure this will not be a dry vegan chocolate cake.
Also, the importance of minimally processing the ingredients together. We only mix until combined. We do this because the longer you mix flour, the more gluten forms making for a not so great cake.
You can absolutely make this into dairy free chocolate cupcakes. Simply make the recipe as normal and then instead of greasing cake pans, spray a cupcake pan or liners. Fill each one up ¾ of the way. You’ll want to reduce the cooking time to 15-20 minutes.
By adding some acid to your batter, you are creating a vegan cake that is moist and delicious. It helps to break down the tough gluten strands, yielding in the most delicious vegan chocolate cake recipe. Don’t skip this step!
Yes. You can make this oil free. Replace the full amount of oil for applesauce. It is very important to know that using applesauce does lead to a more dense cake.
A vegan chocolate cake is better for animals and the environment; however, we still use flour, sugar, and oil in this recipe. We are not claiming that this is a healthier alternative to a cake that contains dairy based milk and traditional eggs.
We’ll let you in on a little secret. You can’t even tell the difference. In fact, we’ve served vegan cake to many non-vegans and they had no idea!
When you get to the step about boiling the water and adding, you may be tempted to skip that step, but don’t. It’s very critical to do so in order to make this perfect vegan chocolate cake.
You add the boiling water in order to help the cocoa power “bloom”. When cocoa powder is mixed with a hot liquid (you can do this with water, coffee, milks, etc) it allows the powder to dissolves and release flavor particles. Essentially, it brings out all the flavor in the cocoa powder, ensuring you have the best vegan chocolate cake ever.
We know that not everyone has the desire to make a layered cake. Fortunately, we have great news! You don’t have too and we have two options for you!
First – you can make the recipe as directed and then freeze one layer so you have a cake already ready the next time you want cake. We’d recommend eating within 3 months of freezing. To do this, when the cakes are cooled to touch but still slightly warm, remove from the pans and wrap them with plastic wrap. Wrapping them while warm allows the moisture to continue to stay inside the cake and not be dry. Place in a freezer safe container or bag after wrapping in foil.
Alternatively, you could just reduce all the ingredients in half to only make one layer.
Yes! If you want a one layer chocolate cake, you can use a 9×13 cake pan in order to make this cake. The batter should work well to fill the cake pan but keep in mind that you should not fill the cake more than ¾ way full. If you have too much you can use for mini cupcakes!
What other frosting ideas could I use on this vegan chocolate cake?
We highly recommend use our vegan chocolate frosting recipe below; however, we know that some people want other options than chocolate on chocolate. Other ideas for how to frosting a dairy free chocolate cake are:
- Using Dairy Free Whipped Topping (Homemade “Cool Whip”)
- Vegan Vanilla Frosting
- Vegan Strawberry Frosting
- Vegan Buttercream Frosting
What are other dairy free chocolate desserts I can make?
Whether you are having a chocolate bar of delicious at your next get together, or you just want to have even more amazing chocolate dairy free desserts, we recommend you trying out some of these delicious non-dairy desserts:
- Vegan Brownies
- No Bake Vegan Chocolate Fudge
- Vegan Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Vegan Chocolate Mug Cake
- No Bake Vegan Smores Bars with Dark Chocolate Mousse
- Vegan Chocolate Cookies and Cream Milkshake
- Easy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
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The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake
For the Cake
For the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and prep two 9″ cake pans with nonstick spray or vegan butter and parchment paper. Combine non-dairy milk, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract to make vegan buttermilk. Set aside.
- Use a large bowl and whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Carefully add boiling water, oil, and vegan buttermilk (vinegar mixture from Step 1). Mix with a spatula until just combined. *Note: Batter will be loose and thin but this is 100% supposed to be this way.
- Evenly split up the cake batter into the prepared pans and bake them together for about 33 – 37 minutes (start checking at 30 minutes) or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes in the pans, then remove and let cool to room temp before frosting.
For the Frosting
- In a large bowl cream together butter and cocoa powder for about 1 minute until well-combined.
- Add about half of the sugar, about half the of milk and all the vanilla extract. Turn mix on low to combine, then on high to whip the frosting together for about a minute. Repeat adding the rest of the ingredients.
- Now check the consistency of the frosting. If it’s too dry, add a tablespoon at a time more dairy free milk until it reaches your desired consistency. If it’s too wet and does not a shape, add a tablespoon more powered sugar at a time until it reaches the right consistency to hold its shape.