The Ultimate Vegan Chocolate Cake

This is the ultimate vegan chocolate cake recipe with a moist crumb and a chocolatey, light texture. If you love chocolate cake, you don’t have to give it up because of your egg-free, dairy-free diet! Top this with a creamy vegan chocolate buttercream frosting for even more fudgy chocolate flavor.

A thick slice of chocolate layer cake on a plate in front of the rest of the cake.

I’ve got a reputation for having a sweet tooth. But I’m picky about my sweets. If I’m going to spend my calories on it, I want it to be good! Do you know what I mean? Well, it doesn’t get much better than this — a rich, decadent vegan chocolate cake with thick, fluffy chocolate frosting.

This vegan chocolate cake is made with minimal ingredients and lots of flavor!

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • Adding coffee flavoring is a chocolate flavor boost, providing a more intense chocolate taste in every bite.
  • 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!

Ingredients

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 — Use light or dark or homemade brown sugar.
  • Flour — I recommend all-purpose flour for this recipe.
  • Cocoa powder — Use unsweetened natural (not dutch processed) cocoa powder.
  • Baking soda + Baking powder — Using both baking soda and baking powder means a loftier cake with a light texture.
  • Salt — A little salt adds depth of flavor
  • Plant-based milk — I prefer soy milk, but almond milk works well too (plain or vanilla-flavored)
  • Coconut oil — Use refined coconut oil for a more neutral flavor or virgin coconut oil if you don’t mind the coconut flavor
  • Applesauce — Use unsweetened applesauce
  • Coffee extract — If you can’t find coffee extract, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of instant coffee
  • Vanilla extract
  • Hot water — Your water should be hot, near-boiling, but not quite.
A slice of cake on a plate with a fork beside it sits in front of the rest of the cake.

How to Make Vegan Chocolate Cake

If you’re curious about how to make a vegan cake, this recipe will provide the answers!

I worked to create the perfect mix between a moist, delicious, indulgent cake, and a super-easy vegan chocolate cake. Because if it’s an overly complicated recipe, it can take the fun out of the entire experience. I’ve been there before so I know!

And I’m a certified vegan dessert creator, so I know the pleasure of making a complicated recipe. It’s just I prefer the KISS principle when it comes to my day-to-day baking (Keep It Simple, Silly!). 🙂

Here are the steps:

Step One: Preparation

Preheat your oven to 350°F, because once the batter is ready, you’ll want to bake the cakes immediately to take advantage of the power of the baking powder and baking soda to add lift to your cakes.

Prepare your baking pans by coating two, 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 and spray the papers with vegetable cooking spray.

Step Two: Mix the Dry Ingredients

Flour and cocoa powder have been mixed in a mixing bowl in a stand mixer.

Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. I used a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, but any mixer will do. Either stir this by hand or use the mixer at low speed.

Step Three: Combine the Wet Ingredients

In a separate bowl, combine the milk, melted coconut oil, applesauce, vanilla, and coffee extract.

Wet ingredients are in a bowl and poured into a mixing bowl of a stand mixer with dry flour ingredients.

Give it a stir and then pour it into the flour mixture. Mix on low speed for a few seconds and then use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl. Then mix on medium speed for up to 1–2 minutes.

Step Four: Add Hot Water

Heat one cup of water in the microwave for about one minute to get it good and hot, but not boiling. I prefer using a pyrex measuring cup because it has a handle. A coffee mug works great here too.

Hot water in a pyrex measuring cup is being poured into a mixing bowl of a stand mixer with chocolate cake batter in it.

Then carefully pour the hot water into the mixing bowl with the rest of the cake batter. This helps to bloom the cocoa, giving your cake a very rich, chocolatey flavor. Beat the batter some more.

Step Five: Pour and Bake

Pour the batter in equal amounts in the two prepared cake pans. Place these in the oven and bake for 25–30 minutes, until the edges of the cake pull away from the side of the pan and a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Once the cakes are done, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Then place a plate or wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert it so that the cake falls out of the pan and onto the plate or wire rack.

Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.

A slice of chocolate cake sits on its side with a bite cut out with a fork.

New to Vegan Baking?

The idea of making cookies, cakes, or muffins without eggs or dairy can seem like a hill too tall to climb. But with the simple tips in my Guide to Vegan Baking, you’ll be baking like a vegan pro in no time!

Vegan Chocolate Frosting

You want a dairy-free chocolate frosting that’s light and fluffy on top of that delicious chocolate cake. The frosting for this cake needs to be nothing short of fabulous!

Vegan chocolate buttercream frosting is a favorite frosting for that very reason. Make sure you use a mixer to get that frosting nice fluffy!

A chocolate cake has frosting on the top and between the two layers, but no frosting on the sides.
This is referred to as a Naked Cake, because the sides are not frosted.

Storage Tips

Store this cake in a sealed container. It will keep at room temperature for up to 3–4 days. Store it in the fridge for up to a week. You can cut slices, store in freezer bas or freezer-safe containers for up to 2 months.

Make-Ahead Tips

You can make this cake ahead of a big event, like if you’re making a vegan birthday cake. Simply make the cakes and then allow them to cool completely. Learn more about freezing cakes and which types freeze best.

Go ahead and make the frosting and add a crumb coat (a thin layer of frosting) to the tops and sides of both cakes. The frosting will seal in the cakes’ moisture.

Place the frosted cakes on a tray and place the tray in the freezer for about an hour, or until the cakes are frozen. Remove the cakes from the freezer and wrap in plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil. Return the cakes to the freezer. They will keep for up to a month. You can also freeze the remaining frosting.

When your big day comes, remove the cakes (and frosting) from the freezer and allow everything to thaw. Frost the cakes and then you’re ready to serve!

More Vegan Cake Recipes

If you love vegan cake recipes, try these on for size:

That’s it for this simple vegan chocolate cake!

A thick slice of chocolate layer cake on a plate in front of the rest of the cake.

Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake

You will love this easy vegan chocolate cake recipe! This recipe provides some important tips to make a perfectly delicious, soft, and oh-so moist chocolate cake. Forget vegan, this is absolutely the best chocolate cake ever!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Resting time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 14 slices
Calories: 293kcal
Author: Marly

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural, not dutch processed)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plant-based milk (see note)
  • 2/3 cup melted coconut oil (see note)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon coffee extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 batch Vegan Chocolate Frosting

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. 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 runny.
  • Pour half the batter into each of the prepared pans.
  • Bake for 25–30 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 40–45 minutes 
  • Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Then invert the cakes onto wire racks and cool completely before frosting.

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Notes

This cake is divided into 14 slices. The nutrition estimation is based on one serving without frosting.
I have used both a thick, creamy nut-based milk and a more “watery” almond milk for the plant-based milk ingredient in this recipe and both have worked great!
You can substitute vegetable oil in place of melted coconut oil, but I find coconut oil yields the best results.
Nutrition Facts
Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 293 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 9g45%
Sodium 297mg12%
Potassium 169mg5%
Carbohydrates 48g16%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 31g34%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 66IU1%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 58mg6%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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.

A slice of chocolate cake on a plate with a fork beside it. The text reads: Best Vegan Chocolate Cake.

Enjoy this dairy free chocolate cake recipe!

One Response to The Ultimate Vegan Chocolate Cake

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly Reply

    As the author of this vegan chocolate cake recipe, I’m pleased to report that it has been tested many times and shared with vegans and non-vegans alike who all gave it glowing reviews!

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