The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake (Ever!)

This vegan chocolate cake is super moist and has a rich chocolate taste. It’s made in one bowl – with no applesauce.

I analyzed several recipes for chocolate cake, vegan or otherwise, to create a recipe that’s:

  • quick and easy
  • turns out perfectly every time
  • tastes rich and indulgent

The main challenge when baking cakes without eggs is that they can come out gummy. With this recipe, the end result is incredibly moist – yet soft & fluffy, not gummy or brownie-like at all. Baking soda and apple cider vinegar work like magic to make the cake rise wonderfully.

This recipe uses coffee to enhance the chocolate flavor. The coffee blends in seamlessly with the chocolate flavor and can’t be detected in the final cake.

How To Make Vegan Chocolate Cake

To make this cake you’ll need a bowl to mix the ingredients in, and a pan to bake the cake in. It’s going to take about one hour and 50 minutes to make, bake, and cool the cake.

I formulated this recipe for a 7″ springform cake pan which is what I normally use. You can make the cake in other sizes including two 9-inch pans, 9×13-inch pan, bundt pan, etc. Cooking time adjustments are shown below.

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • cake flour
  • cocoa powder
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • coffee (can sub hot water)
  • maple syrup (real or flavored, can sub with agave nectar or corn syrup)
  • vegetable oil
  • apple cider vinegar

Instructions

Step 1 – Preheat oven & prepare a cake pan

The oven should be set to heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (about 175 c).

To prepare your pan, line it with parchment paper on the bottom and sides. Or, you can grease and flour it. See my tips on that further down in this post.

Step 2 – Mix dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients

Mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl. Then add in the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Don’t overmix or your cake won’t rise as much.

Step 3 – Pour batter into pan and bake the cake

The cake should be baked for about 40 minutes. Depending on the size and shape of your pan, you may need to adjust cooking time. See my cooking time adjustments in the Notes section of the recipe card below.

Be sure the cake has cooled completely before cutting or frosting it. If you try to cut it when it’s still too warm, the cake won’t cut cleanly and the cake will dry out too fast.

You can frost this cake with my vegan whipped chocolate frosting.

How to keep the cake from sticking to the pan

There are two ways you can keep a cake from sticking to the pan: greasing and flouring, or using parchment paper. I usually use parchment paper but if I’m all out, I grease and flour.

A cooked chocolate cake cooling on the stove, still in the springform pan lined with parchment paper.

How to grease and flour the vegan way

To grease and flour a cake pan without using dairy butter, use about 1 teaspoon of vegan butter, vegan buttery sticks or coconut oil (refined or unrefined both work perfectly) and smear it all around the inside of the pan with your fingers. Then, add about 1 Tablespoon of flour to the pan and rotate the pan to move the flour so that it coats the pan. Gently tap the sides of the pan to get the flour moving quicker. Make sure you grease and flour up the sides of the pan too!

How to line a cake pan with parchment paper

To line a round baking pan with parchment paper, you have to cut a circle for the bottom and strips to go all the way around the inside of the pan. To line a rectangular pan, place a large piece of parchment paper under your pan and use scissors to make a cut from the outer edge to each corner of the pan. Then place the parchment inside the pan and fold the sides neatly straight up the sides of the pan.

A slice of chocolate cake on a plate, with some of the cake cut off on a fork.

How to make it into a layer cake

When making layer cakes, you can either bake a whole cake and cut it in half or bake two separate cakes. I prefer to bake one whole cake and cut it in half or in thirds to make layers. This way the cake will have a lighter & fluffier texture since there are less crusts. The method you choose depends on which type of cake pans you have. The advantage of using two 9″ round pans to make a layered cake is that it takes less time to bake.

Once your cake is cooked and cooled, level off the round dome of the top using a cake leveler or a bread knife. Then flip it over so that you have the nice flat bottom crust of your cake as the top – it will look more level and be easier to frost than the leveled side.

Close up shot of a bite of chocolate cake on a fork, with the rest of the slice of cake on a plate in the background.
Take a bite!

Vegan Chocolate Frosting – 2 Ways

A cake as fluffy and dreamy as this vegan chocolate cake deserves a light, fluffy frosting.

I have two vegan chocolate frosting recipes you can try for this cake, made with coconut oil and no vegan butter:

Vegan Chocolate Whipped Frosting – I made a whipped chocolate frosting using coconut oil and plant based milk. To get an airy consistency, it’s important to follow the frosting steps exactly. First, the coconut oil must be melted and hardened. Then, mix in the ingredients one at a time and in the order mentioned. The final result will be light and fluffy, the perfect vegan chocolate whipped frosting!

The recipe for vegan chocolate whipped frosting is on the recipe card below.

Vegan Chocolate Buttercream – You can use my recipe for vegan buttercream frosting and use 2 cups of powdered sugar (instead of 2 2/3) and add 2 Tbsp cocoa powder to make it chocolate flavored.

Note On Chocolate Frosting Oxidation

Have you noticed that in some of the photos the frosting looks lighter, while in others it looks darker? This is because the chocolate will oxidize over time. The lighter frosting photos were taken on the day the cake was made, and the darker frosting photos were taken the day after.

So, if you prefer it looking one way or another when it’s presented, you know to either make it the day-of or the day before!

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of cocoa powder do I use?

Standard baking cocoa powder or Dutch-process cocoa powder are fine in this recipe. I prefer the darker color and taste of Dutch-processed cocoa so that is what I usually use! Non-Dutch cocoa powder will result in a slightly lighter brown color in the final cake.

Can I refrigerate this cake?

I recommend leaving this cake out at room temperature, with a cover, as it will retain its moisture better that way. But, you can also put it in the fridge if you need to – for example, it would be a good idea to chill it before transporting.

Do I have to make this cake with coffee?

In the recipe I like to use coffee – it makes for a darker cake and deepens the flavor of the chocolate. But it’s fine to use hot water instead if you don’t have coffee around. The coffee flavor is not detectable in the final chocolate cake if you do use it.

Can I use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour?

Yes. All purpose flour will work fine. Cake flour will make the cake slightly more fluffy but all-purpose flour will still give you a very good cake, just a tad less fluffy. On this page, the images of the cake without sprinkles were made with cake flour, and the image of the cake WITH sprinkles was made with all-purpose flour. So you can see that there is very little difference.

Will this recipe work for two nine-inch cake pans?

Yes. Please double the recipe in order to have enough cake batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.

Where can I find vegan sprinkles/jimmies to put on my cake?

I use and love these vegan rainbow sprinkles (amazon link).

What is vegan chocolate cake?

A vegan chocolate cake is just like a regular chocolate cake except it’s made without any animal-derived ingredients such as eggs, butter, or milk. Plant-based dairy products (such as oat milk) are used in place of traditional dairy products.

Is vegan cake healthier than regular cake?

While vegan cake is usually still made with sugar, it is slightly healthier since it doesn’t contain any cholesterol. You can use an artificial sweetener to make it sugar-free.

Where can I buy vegan chocolate?

Cocoa powder is naturally vegan. You can buy vegan chocolate chips to garnish the top of the cake from Amazon (amazon link).

How do you make a healthy chocolate cake from scratch?

You can make a healthier chocolate cake by omitting eggs and using vinegar and baking soda instead to make the cake rise.

More Vegan Chocolate Recipes

Vegan Chocolate Cake Best

Vegan Chocolate Cake

This is the BEST vegan chocolate cake recipe – it's easy to make and the result is so moist, rich, and chocolate flavored.
4.93 from 13 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Cooling Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 50 mins
Servings 8
Calories 190 kcal

Ingredients

Vegan Chocolate Cake

  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cups hot coffee can sub hot water
  • 2/3 cups maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Vegan Whipped Chocolate Frosting

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil melted and cooled
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3-4 tsp plant based milk

Instructions

For The Chocolate Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Prepare the pan by lining it with parchment paper or greasing and flouring it (with coconut oil, cooking spray or vegan butter).
  • Add the dry ingredients to a bowl, and mix to combine well. Add in the wet ingredients, then stir until just combined. This cake batter will seem very wet, this is normal.
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake for ~40 minutes **see cook times below to see how long to bake depending on the size and shape of your pan**
    Allow to cool for about 1-2 hours before cutting or frosting.

For The Whipped Chocolate Frosting

  • Melt the coconut oil in the microwave for 1 minute, then stir in any leftover solid chunks. Chill in the freezer for 15-20 minutes until partially solidified.
  • Add coconut oil to a mixing bowl and beat with a hand mixer until smooth & creamy. Add in the vanilla extract and mix until completely combined.
  • Mix in the cocoa powder, then mix in the powdered sugar.
  • If frosting is too lumpy you can push it through a wire sieve.
  • Once you have a very thick frosting, mix in the plant based milk 1 Tablespoon at a time, allowing it to become completely incorporated. The end result will be fluffy whipped frosting.

Video

Notes

Cooking size & time adjustments:

  • 7″ cake – bake for 40 minutes.
  • Cupcakes – double the recipe and bake 25 minutes for 24 cupcakes.
  • 9″x13″ sheet cake – double the recipe and bake for 35-40 minutes.
  • 2 9″ round cakes – double the recipe and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  • Bundt cake – double the recipe and bake for 50-60 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Substitutions:
Course: Vegan Desserts
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 190kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 321mg | Potassium: 66mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sharing is caring!

23 thoughts on “The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake (Ever!)”

  1. 5 stars
    Hey shan I just made this recipe for like the 3rd time today. It never gets old! So easy to make. One thing I’m not sure you mentioned in the recipe is that the batter will seem more thin than usual before it’s baked. But that seems to be how it’s supposed to be, mine turns out perfect every time!

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    My husband is turning 41 and his doctor has recommended a vegan diet. We can’t find vegan cakes in our town so I wanted to make one. It was hard to find a vegan chocolate cake recipe without aquafaba so I’m so thankful I found this recipe. It turned out beautifully!

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    my girlfriend is crazy about chocolate, and she loved this cake! made it in a 9×9 inch baking dish because i don’t have any cake pans, still turned out great.

    Reply
  4. So is the coconut oil melted and HARDENED or melted and COOLED. You say both. If it’s melted and hardened – then what’s the point of melting it if you return it to the hardened state?

    Reply
    • Hi, this is a great question! The simple answer is that by melting and quickly cooling coconut oil, we can ensure that the final frosting will be smooth and not clumpy. If we used room-temperature (partially hardened or “soft” coconut oil) to make frosting, often what happens is that you get these weird grainy clumps in the frosting that won’t go away no matter how much you mix. Melting the coconut oil, giving it a quick mix, and quickly cooling (and hardening) seems to eliminate the problem.

      The reason for why this works is a bit technical and science-y (and I am not a food scientist!) but here is some info I found on the Now Foods website that might help explain the process:

      You may see clumps in partially melted coconut oil. These clumps are simply the natural crystalline structure of the saturated fats when they’re near the approximately 78° F melting point; different fatty acids may melt at slightly different temperatures. When the temperature of the oil is above the melting point, the product will typically become completely liquid with no clumping. As the oil cools you will again see natural clumping as crystallization occurs. However, the melting point partially depends on the presence of impurities that trigger crystallization, so a virgin coconut oil may remain liquid at slightly lower temperatures when fewer impurities are present.

      Source: https://www.nowfoods.com/now/nowledge/coconut-oil-faqs

      I hope that helped answer your question, Kara!

      Reply
  5. 5 stars
    I’ve made this cake numerous times. Everyone who tries it compliments me on how good it is. Just like you said in the description, not overly sweet, just right. The texture is perfect. And the frosting is addicting!

    Reply
  6. 4 stars
    I was really pleased with how the cake turned out. I used Karo syrup because I didn’t have agave. Only thing I would do different next time is double the recipe so I can make two 9″ pans.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Got a question, comment, or review? I love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a note below and give a star rating if you tried the recipe!
Recipe Rating