This moist chocolate wacky cake recipe is so good! It’s basically a simple vegan cake that’s been around for nearly a hundred years. If you’re into chocolate, you’ll love this light and fluffy goofy cake that’s topped with a rich, indulgent, wacky cake frosting.
We are loving this chocolate wacky cake because it’s rich and delicious, but oh-so-easy to make. If you haven’t guessed by now, I love a good cake!
What’s surprising is just how moist this cake is considering the limited ingredients and the minimal steps involved. Did you think the only way to a great cake was through a mixer? Think again!
When my mom first started talking about wacky chocolate cake recipe I was like, Wahhh??? Or, actually, I might have been a little more like, yeah, yeah, whatevs. But then one day my mom gave me her old recipe book, the one she’s been using for years. And then I started flipping through it and sure enough, there was a recipe for Wacky Cake and there it just so happens to be vegan!
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- No eggs or dairy are used, but you’d never know it because the flavor and texture is delicious
- Super simple ingredients make this a go-to dessert any day of the week
- Apple cider vinegar makes for a tender, irresistible chocolate cake!
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.
You’ll need these ingredients for your wacky cake:
- Flour — I typically use all-purpose flour, however, you could also use whole wheat pastry flour (not the same thing as whole wheat flour). If you want to use whole wheat flour, just do half and half with all-purpose flour. Alternatively, you can sub gluten-free flour as well.
- Cocoa powder — I use natural cocoa powder for this cake, but you can use dutch-processed flour for a darker cake.
- Sugar — You can use granulated sugar, raw sugar, or even coconut sugar here and all will work fine. I have experimented with reducing the sugar to 3/4 of a cup and it still works. Sugar plays a role in building structure and creating a more moist cake, so reducing it too much can make a dryer cake.
- Baking soda — The only thing I have to say here is to make sure your baking soda is fresh. You can test it by adding a bit of vinegar to it in a small bowl. If it bubbles, you’re good to go.
- Water — Are you surprised to see water in the list of ingredients? You may think you need to use something like a creamy plant-based milk. But, this cake gets its moisture from vegetable oil, so using water is just fine. In fact, it’s preferable.
- Vegetable oil — Any vegetable oil should do here. I typically use canola oil. You can substitute melted coconut oil.
- Apple cider vinegar — If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, white vinegar will work as well. The purpose of vinegar is to interact with the baking soda and create rise in the cake as it bakes. I would call it a miracle, but it’s actually science.
How to Make Wacky Cake
- Stir together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, such as flour and sugar.
- Mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
- Make the batter by pouring the water mixture into the flour mixture and stirring until just combined.
- Pour the batter into a prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes before inverting it onto a serving plate.
- Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar or a layer of vegan chocolate frosting..
I couldn’t believe how easy it is to make this wacky cake chocolate. No mixers, exotic ingredients, or even egg replacers. Just mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another bowl and then combine them together and, Eureka! You’ve got a rich, moist, and delicious vegan chocolate cake!
Step One: Combine Dry Ingredients
To begin, stir together in a large mixing bowl the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, and baking soda. Set this aside.
Step Two: Combine Wet Ingredients
In a smaller bowl stir together the vegetable oil, water, vinegar and vanilla.
Pour the water mixture into the flour mixture and then stir until combined. This recipe is so simple, it doesn’t even require a mixer!
Step Three: Pour and Bake
Pour the batter into a prepared pan and bake for 30–35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
You can either serve the cake in the pan or allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes and invert it onto a serving plate. Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar or top with vegan chocolate frosting.
- Make wacky cake cupcakes by lining a cupcake pan with papers and filling each with the batter until about 3/4 full. For cupcakes, I bake them for about 20 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- For a 9×13 wacky cake, double the recipe, pour the batter into a prepared 9×13 cake pan, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Make a layer cake by doubling the recipe and baking the cakes in two round pans for 30 minutes.
You can store a frosted, cut cake in an airtight container for up to 4 days at room temperature. Longer than that and it will begin to lose its freshness. Store the cake in the fridge for up to 10 days. Individual slices can be stored in freezer containers and frozen for up to 2 months.
What is wacky cake?
The wacky cake has an interesting history. It’s been around since the Great Depression of the early 1900s, which is why it’s also referred to as Depression Cake. During the Great Depression, people didn’t have access to milk and cream, eggs, and even sugar, so they made do. The wacky cake is made without eggs or milk, and yet it’s moist and delicious.
What makes wacky cake so moist?
The combination of vegetable oil and vinegar added to the cake batter is what makes the wacky cake so moist. The vinegar helps soften the protein in the flour, making for a moist and fluffy cake.
Why do you put vinegar in chocolate cake?
There are two reasons to add vinegar to chocolate cake. First, the vinegar reacts with baking soda and produces a chemical reaction that creates a rise in the batter as it bakes. Second, vinegar helps soften the protein in the flour, creating a fluffy, moist cake!
I’ve made this cake so many times — it is definitely a go-to favorite! Here are some tips and tricks along with variations to make your vegan wacky cake recipe extra special:
- Be sure to prepare your pan before you combine the wet and dry ingredients. This helps take advantage of the chemical reaction of combining the acid from the vinegar with the baking soda to make the cake nice and fluffy
- You can add a piece of parchment paper to the bottom of the pan to make removing the cake from the pan easier. However, if you intend to serve the cake in the pan, you won’t need parchment paper
- You can add chocolate chips to the batter to make a double chocolate cake
I think the key to a great cake lies in its frosting. I’m a corner-piece, frosting loving gal! So, if you’re looking for the best frosting for this cake, here are my favorites:
More Vegan Cakes
I hope you enjoy this wacky cake as much as we do!
Chocolate Wacky Cake
- Heat your oven to 350°F. Spray a round cake pan with vegetable spray. You can also place a piece of parchment paper at the bottom of the pan and spray the sides with vegetable oil.
- Combine in a large mixing bowl the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Stir to combine.
- In a smaller bowl combine the vegetable oil, water, and vinegar. Stir to combine.
- Pour the water mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until combined.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Bake for 30–35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar or top with Chocolate Frosting.
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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.
No eggs cakes recipes are pretty amazing! Here are some other delicious vegan chocolate cakes to try:
- Vegan Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Ganache by Vegan Richa
- Simple Vegan Chocolate Cake by Joy the Baker
This post was originally published in 2016 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2020.