Vegan Chocolate Cake

This vegan chocolate cake is a little slice of heaven; dark, devilish, rich, and yet impossibly tender and fluffy all at once. No one will believe the recipe is so easy!
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A slice of vegan chocolate cake on a plate.
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Food trends will come and go, but chocolate cake is forever. This perennial favorite will always be the guest of honor at every party, greeted with equal enthusiasm by the young and old alike. For special occasions, fancy or informal, there’s nothing like ending on a sweet note with this classic dessert.

This little slice of heaven is everything you’ve been craving; dark, devilish, rich, and yet impossibly tender and fluffy all at once. Friends and family will be clamoring for your “secret” recipe but will find it hard to believe just how simple it is. Best of all, it’s completely vegan!

Vegan chocolate cake with a slice missing, displaying the two layers inside.

Ingredients And Substitutions

Truly greater than the sum of its parts, there’s a good chance you already have everything you need on hand to make the best vegan chocolate cake you’ve ever tasted. Believe it or not, the bulk of this batter is made with just flour and water! Beyond that, here’s what you’ll need, and what you can swap out in a pinch:

  • Flour: Unbleached white flour is ideal for a light, fluffy texture. Otherwise labeled as all-purpose or AP flour, it’s the most common and easily found type of wheat flour in mainstream grocery stores. For an even more tender, delicate crumb, you can use cake flour instead.
  • Sugar: White granulated sugar integrates most easily into the batter without leaving coarse crystals or contributing any additional flavors.
  • Cocoa powder: Natural, unsweetened cocoa powder provides a subtle hint of bitterness to balance out the sweetness of the sugar. Dutch processed cocoa powder is another great option, which has a darker color and richer, rounder chocolate flavor. Whichever you choose, quality counts! If you splurge on one ingredient for this vegan chocolate cake recipe, make it the cocoa powder.
  • Water: Yes, plain tap water is key for making this incredible dairy-free chocolate cake! No milk need apply, making this recipe lactose-free and remarkably affordable.
  • Vegetable oil: Neutral oil contributes richness and moisture, preventing the cake from drying out as quickly when cut, too. Your best bets are canola oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, rice bran oil, and other blends.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Just a touch of vinegar gives you a better rise for the cake. You can substitute white vinegar, rice vinegar, or champagne vinegar seamlessly if needed.
  • Vanilla extract: If you want to switch up the flavor, replace up to 1 teaspoon of the vanilla with any of your other favorite flavored extracts, like almond, peppermint, coconut, or orange.

How To Make Vegan Chocolate Cake

Here’s the step-by-step process for making this easy vegan chocolate cake. Just mix, pour, and bake and you’re well on your way to a delicious cake!

Whisking the dry ingredients for this vegan chocolate cake in a bowl.

Step 1: Combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl, whisking until well combined.

Whisking together the wet ingredients in a bowl for this vegan chocolate cake.

Step 2: In a separate medium bowl, whisk together water, cane sugar, vegetable oil, applesauce, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract.

Step 3: Once the oven reaches 350°F, gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined, being careful not to over-mix to avoid a tough cake.

Step 4: Pour the chocolate cake batter evenly into two oiled 8-inch cake pans or prepared cupcake tins. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting to ensure the perfect texture and flavor.

Step 5: Whip up your frosting! You can find the chocolate frosting we used here.

Tips For Success

If you can mix batter, you can make this cake! It’s a foolproof formula for kids or newbie bakers like. Just remember the following essential steps for success:

  1. Prep your pans. To prevent the cake from sticking, make sure you line the pans with rounds of parchment paper and then thoroughly grease them. If you’d like to add an extra layer of insurance, you can dust them with flour or cocoa powder, too. Alternatively, try using silicone pans, but don’t forget to grease those, too!
  2. Preheat your oven. Make sure your oven is at the proper temperature for at least 5 minutes before starting to bake. Consistency is key for predictable results. Ideally, keep a second thermometer inside the oven to verify.
  3. Don’t over-mix. Only stir the batter enough to bring it together, leaving a few lumps as necessary. Mixing too much will make a dense, tough crumb, rather than a light, fluffy, and tender one.
  4. Check for doneness. To make sure the cake is baked all the way through, insert a toothpick into the center of each layer. It should pull out cleanly, without any wet batter. It’s perfectly fine if there are a few moist crumbs clinging to it, though, because the interior shouldn’t be totally dry.
  5. Cool completely. It’s tough to wait when it looks and smells so good, but your patience will be rewarded. Removing the cake from the pans too early may cause it to crumble, and cake that’s still warm will cause the frosting to melt.
  6. Frost. We recommend this chocolate vegan frosting (which is the frosting pictured), but a vegan vanilla buttercream or vegan chocolate ganache would be delicious, too.
  7. Decorate! Unleash your inner artist and apply fillings, toppings, food colorings, and sprinkles as desired!
Vegan chocolate cake on a serving platter, topped with swirls of frosting and vegan sprinkles.

Serving Suggestions And Variations

The real beauty of this recipe is its versatility. With a bit of baking creativity, you can transform it into an endless number of unique, flavorful, and unforgettable desserts.

  • Mug cakes: When you want just a single serving of indulgence, break out the coffee mugs and spoons! Cut the recipe in half to make 8 servings or into a quarter to make 4. Microwave each mug at full power for 1 to 3 minutes, until just barely set. Let stand for another minute and enjoy warm.
  • Cupcakes: This recipe can easily make 2 dozen cupcakes instead of a double layer cake, which is ideal for potlucks, bake sales, or school birthdays. Line 24 cupcake tins with paper or reusable silicone liners and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Cool and decorate as desired. If you need more guidance, check out this vegan chocolate cupcake recipe.
  • Bundt cake: For a larger format group when you want to serve a crowd, you can bake the whole thing in one big bundt pan! Bake for 45 to 55 minutes in a thoroughly greased 10-inch bundt pan and let cool completely before turning out onto a serving platter. For a smaller yet equally delicious option, try this chocolate vegan bundt cake recipe that uses an 8-inch bundt cake pan.
  • Ice cream cake: Slice into some frozen decadence by adding a layer of your favorite ice cream in the middle of these two cakes! You can make your own from scratch or start with store-bought ice cream, set in a silicone mold. Work quickly to prevent it from melting and store the cake in the freezer until ready to serve.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you freeze chocolate cake?

Yes, vegan chocolate cake freezes beautifully! Once fully cooled, tightly wrap unfrosted layers in plastic wrap and clearly label them before stashing them in the freezer. They should keep for up to 6 months this way. When you’re ready to enjoy, let the layers thaw out overnight in the fridge, or for 2 to 3 hours at room temperature before assembling the cake.

How long does vegan chocolate cake keep?

If stored in an airtight cake carrier or a similar container, chocolate cake can last for 1 to 2 days at room temperature or up to 5 days in the fridge.

Can you make chocolate cake gluten-free?

To make your vegan chocolate cake gluten-free, simply swap out the unbleached flour for your favorite gluten-free flour blend. Our top recommendation is Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-free Flour Blend.

Vegan chocolate cake with a slice missing, displaying the two layers inside.
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The BEST Vegan Chocolate Cake

Author: Liv Samson & Allison Rivers | World of Vegan
5 from 6 votes
This rich, moist chocolate cake is perfect as a layer cake for a fancy party, as well as in the form of cupcakes topped with a decadent frosting. Each bite is a journey into a world of pure indulgence, leaving you craving just one more slice.
A slice of vegan chocolate cake on a plate.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 16 slices

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients:

  • 3 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 ½ cups cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups water
  • 1 ½ cups cane sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup apple sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Mix flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Whisk together water, cane sugar, vegetable oil, apple sauce, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract in a separate medium bowl.
  • After confirming that the oven is finished heating to 350°F, mix wet and dry ingredients. (Avoid over mixing which could result in a tough cake).
  • Pour cake batter into two oiled 8-inch cake pans, and bake for 35 minutes or when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Wait for the cake to cool completely before frosting.

Notes

• To make a single layer cake, make half the recipe.
• To make a 4-layer cake, slice both layers in half, horizontally, and fill.
• To make cupcakes, fill cupcake liners 2⁄3 full and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
• For gluten-free, substitute the flour with Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-free Flour Blend.
Tip: Put the cakes in the oven as quickly as possible after mixing the wet and dry ingredients to fully make use of the leavening effects of the baking soda.
Storage: Place the cake in an airtight cake carrier or a similar container for 1 to 2 days at room temperature or up to 5 days in the fridge.

Nutrition

Calories: 268kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 250mg | Potassium: 138mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 0.5IU | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 2mg
Course — Dessert
Cuisine — American
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Recipe Rating




6 comments
  1. Andrea White says:

    5 stars
    The best vegan chocolate cake!

  2. 5 stars
    A must-have for any vegan baker! The taste and texture are phenomenal!! Yum.

  3. 5 stars
    Wacky cake or crazy cake recipes are the best, so allergy friendly, moist, easy! Love this beautiful cake.

  4. 5 stars
    I’m not much of a baker but this recipe turned out great! Which is more than I can say at other attempts at cake in the past lol

  5. 5 stars
    This was delicious & easy to make. The best vegan chocolate cake I’ve had! Will definitely be making it again.

  6. 5 stars
    This really is the BEST vegan chocolate cake recipe out there. It turns out so moist, rich, and decadent. Highly recommend!

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