Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

This vegan chocolate peanut butter cake recipe begins with a super moist chocolate cake topped with lots of creamy peanut butter frosting and topped with scrumptious chocolate ganache stars. A chocolate and peanut butter cake combines the perfect flavors, with some referring to it as a Reese’s Cake for that very reason.

A slice of vegan chocolate peanut butter cake sits on a plate in front of a plate with the rest of the cake.

There’s nothing like the flavors of chocolate and peanut butter combined. If you agree, we are so simpatico. This peanut butter chocolate cake will help you decide, in case you have any doubt at all. You’ll love the moist vegan chocolate cake topped with the creamiest peanut butter frosting. Every bite requires another!

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • Adding hot water blooms the cocoa, to bloom the cocoa powder, giving the cake a more robust chocolate flavor.
  • Using applesauce creates a super moist cake with a tender crumb!
  • Adding peanut butter powder to the frosting helps to stabilize the consistency, creating perfectly creamy frosting.

What You Need

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Flour — You can use all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, or high-quality gluten-free baking flour.
  • Cocoa powder — Be sure to use natural, not dutch processed cocoa powder.
  • Baking soda + baking powder
  • Salt
  • Plant-based milk
  • Coconut oil — Use either refined or unrefined coconut oil.
  • Applesauce — I used unsweetened applesauce.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Vegan butter — You’ll need a
  • Peanut butter — I recommend creamy peanut butter for this recipe.
  • Powdered sugar
  • Peanut butter powder
  • Vegan creamer — You can use vegan creamer or substitute soy milk.

Ingredient Spotlight

A small, white bowl holds creamy peanut butter inside.

What Peanut Butter is Best

There are three basic types of peanut butter: 1) Natural (the kind that has to be stirred, 2) Creamy, and 3) Crunchy. Some types of peanut butter work better for different recipes. Most of the time I prefer using natural peanut butter because it doesn’t have added hydrogenated oils or sugar. For this recipe, I recommend using creamy homogenized peanut butter (the kind that does not need to be stirred).

How to Make Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

  1. Mix the dry ingredients, from the four to the salt, until combined.
  2. Stir together the milk, melted coconut oil, applesauce, and vanilla.
  3. Pour the milk mix in with the flour mixture and beat.
  4. Add the hot water and mix on low until combined, followed by a minute on medium speed.
  5. Pour half the batter into each of the prepared pans.
  6. Bake for 25 to30 minutes until the cakes are done.
  7. Make the peanut butter frosting and spread over cooled cakes.

Here are more detailed step-by-step instructions:

Step One: Make the Chocolate Cake Batter

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer) mix the sugars, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until combined.
    Flour and cocoa powder have been mixed in a mixing bowl in a stand mixer.
  2. In a separate bowl stir together the milk, melted coconut oil, applesauce, and extracts.
  3. Pour the milk mixture in with the flour mixture.
    Wet ingredients are in a bowl and poured into a mixing bowl of a stand mixer with dry flour ingredients.
  4. Beat on low until combined then use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl.
  5. Beat on medium speed for about a minute until combined.
  6. Add the hot water and mix on low then use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
    Hot water in a pyrex measuring cup is being poured into a mixing bowl of a stand mixer with chocolate cake batter in it.
  7. Beat on medium for a minute. This batter will be runny.

Step Two: Bake and Cool Cakes

  1. Pour half the batter into each of the prepared pans.
  2. Bake for 25 to30 minutes until the edges have pulled away from the sides of the pan and the center of the cake is set. A tester inserted in the center should come out clean.
  3. If using a 9×13 cake pan, bake for approximately 40 to 45 minutes 
  4. Remove cakes from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes (set a timer). Then invert the cakes onto wire racks and cool completely before frosting.

Step Three: Make the Peanut Butter Frosting

  1. Make the peanut butter frosting by creaming the vegan butter on medium speed until creamy, approximately 2 minutes.
  2. Add the vegan peanut butter and mix until creamy.
  3. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing on low until it’s incorporated between each addition. 
    A hand holds a bowl of powdered sugar and is pouring it into a stand mixer with peanut butter mixture in the bottom and on the wire whisk beater.
  4. Mix in the peanut butter powder and vanilla.
  5. Add the vegan creamer one tablespoon at a time and mix on medium-high speed until light, fluffy, and spreadable.

Step Four: Frost the Cake

Spread frosting over cooled cakes, beginning with the top of the bottom cake. Place the second cake on top and spread the frosting around the top and sides of the cake.

Adding Chocolate Ganache Stars

Your cake will be delicious with peanut butter frosting alone. You could always crumble some Vegan Peanut Butter Cups on top. However, if you’d like to add some ganache stars, here’s how to do it:

  1. Using a room temperature can of full-fat coconut milk, open it and transfer it into a bowl, scooping out any of the fat along the sides of the can. Stir this until it’s nice and creamy.
  2. Measure out 1 cup of the stirred coconut milk.
  3. Pour 1 cup of stirred coconut milk into a pyrex measuring dish or another microwave-safe dish. Heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the cream is very hot, but not boiling.
  4. Pour chocolate chips into a large heat-proof bowl.
  5. Pour the heated coconut milk over the chocolate. Use a spatula to press down any chocolate that is not under the surface of the milk. Cover with a plate and set this aside for 5 minutes.
  6. Whisk the chocolate mixture until glossy and smooth. Learn more about Vegan Chocolate Ganache.
  7. Refrigerate the ganache for one hour then transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1M star tip.
  8. If the ganache is not quite firm enough yet, place the piping bag back into the fridge for another 30 minutes or so.

Why Add Hot Water?

Hot water is added to the cake batter to bloom the cocoa powder, bringing out the full flavor of the chocolate. I love these tips from the Kitchn on ways to bloom cocoa powder in baked recipes.

Peanut Butter Filling

If you’re making a chocolate peanut butter layer cake, you have options for fillings and frosting. It’s a given that

  • Peanut Butter Filling for Cake Layers — Use the peanut butter frosting as a filling between the two cake layers and top the cake with either more peanut butter frosting or Vegan Chocolate Frosting. Some other frosting ideas would be Vegan Ermine Frosting or Vegan Vanilla Frosting.
  • Chocolate Filling for Cake Layers — Use either chocolate frosting or chocolate ganache as a filling between the cake layers and spread peanut butter frosting on the top and sides of the cake.
  • Fluffy Filling for Cake Layers — Spread some Ermine Frosting between the cake layers (it’s so fluffy and smooth). Then top the cake with peanut butter frosting.
  • Forget layers and Bake it as a 9×13 Cake Instead — If you’d rather have a sheet cake, pour the batter into a greased 9×13 cake pan and bake a little longer until the cake is done. Then allow it to cool and frost with the peanut butter frosting.

How to Tell When a Cake is Done

A cake shows signs that it’s done. Here are four cues to let you know a cake is done:

  1. Color — The edges of the crust are a golden brown.
  2. Texture — When you press gently on the center of the cake, it springs back with a spongey response.
  3. Edges — The edges of the cake have slightly pulled away from the pan.
  4. Tester — A tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

More Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Recipes

If you love this vegan chocolate peanut butter cake, then get ready for even more peanut butter favorites!

The combination of chocolate and peanut butter as perfect flavors together cannot be denied!

A slice of chocolate peanut butter cake has a bite sitting on a fork resting in front. The rest of the cake is in the background.
A slice of vegan chocolate peanut butter cake sits on a plate in front of a plate with the rest of the cake.

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Make this indulgent vegan chocolate peanut butter cake with moist chocolate cake surrounded by vegan peanut butter frosting. Don't forget the vegan ganache dollops on top!
5 from 1 vote
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 24
Calories: 338kcal

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder (natural, not dutch processed)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plant-based milk
  • cup coconut oil, melted (see note)
  • ½ cup applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot water

Vegan Peanut Butter Frosting

Chocolate Ganache

Instructions

Chocolate Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Coat 2, 8- or 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable cooking spray. Cut parchment paper into two 8- or 9-inch circles. Place the round parchment paper in the bottom of the pans. Spray papers with vegetable cooking spray. Set aside. 
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer) mix the sugars, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix until combined.
  • In a separate bowl combine, milk, melted coconut oil, applesauce, and extracts. Stir to combine. Pour this into the mixer with the flour mixture. Beat on low until combined. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl. Then beat on medium speed for about a minute until combined. Add the hot water and mix on low until combined. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then beat on medium for a minute. This batter will be slightly runny.
  • Pour half the batter into each of the prepared pans.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the edges have pulled away from the sides of the pan and the center of the cake is set. A tester inserted in the center should come out clean.
  • If using a 9×13 cake pan, bake for approximately 40 to 45 minutes.
  • Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Then invert the cakes onto wire racks and cool completely before frosting.

Vegan Peanut Butter Frosting

  • Use a handheld or stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Cream the vegan butter on medium speed until creamy, approximately 2 minutes. Add the vegan peanut butter and mix until creamy.
  • Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing on low until it's incorporated between each addition. 
  • Add the peanut butter powder and vanilla. Mix until combined.
  • Add the vegan creamer one tablespoon at a time and mix on medium-high speed until light, fluffy, and spreadable.

Chocolate Ganache

  • Using a room temperature can of coconut milk, open it and transfer it into a bowl, scooping out any of the fat along the sides of the can. Stir this until it's nice and creamy. Then measure out 1 cup.
  • Pour 1 cup of stirred coconut milk into a pyrex measuring dish or another microwave-safe dish. Heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the cream is very hot, but not boiling.
  • Chop the chocolate into pieces and place them in a large heat-proof bowl. (You can substitute 6 ounces of dairy-free chocolate chips).
  • Pour the heated coconut milk over the chocolate. Use a spatula to press down any chocolate that is not under the surface of the milk. Set this aside for 5 minutes.
  • Whisk the chocolate mixture until glossy and smooth. Learn more about Vegan Chocolate Ganache.
  • Refrigerate the ganache for one hour then transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1M star tip.

Frosting the Cake

  • When both cakes are completely cooled, spoon about half of the peanut butter frosting over the bottom cake, spreading it evenly across the top. Then place the second cake on top of that. Spread the remaining peanut butter frosting evenly over the top cake. Pipe decorate dollops of vegan ganache around the edge of the cake. You can add chopped Vegan Peanut Butter Cups to garnish.
  • Cover the cake and store it at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the fridge for up to 10 days. To freeze, place individual slices on a tray and freeze for up to an hour. Then transfer frozen slices to a freezer bag and store for up to 2 months.

Recommended Equipment

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Calories: 338kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 166mg | Potassium: 215mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 205IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 2mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

This post was originally published in 2014 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.

7 Responses to Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyTrish Reply

    5 stars
    This looks fantastic. My bf has be bugging me to make him a peanut butter cake again, since I haven’t made it in over a year since I went vegan. I tried to make one cake with egg re-placer and it crumbled apart. My question for you is, what kind of coconut oil do I use? refined or virgin?

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyShirley Canfield Reply

    This looks and sounds so healthy & delicious! I want to save it for my vegan friends and my daughter who is a gourmet cook!

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for Marlymarla Reply

    Love this cake Marly!

  4. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMegan Reply

    I’m not sure if i didn’t read carefully enough but I just want to clarify, do you mix the drained black bean mixture in with the boxed cake mix? I’m assuming that’s what needs to be done but I just want to make sure

    Thanks!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Great catch! The recipe has been adapted. Thanks!

  5. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyRaia Reply

    Amazing…. I think this is going on my “make at nap time so I don’t have to share” list. 😉

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      I like it! Sharing is not required!!

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