Wacky Cake Recipe

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.

Be sure to use this amazing vegan chocolate frosting on top or go for something different with this vegan cream cheese frosting.

A slice of chocolate wacky cake has a fork with a bite taken out sitting in front of it. There's another slice sitting behind it.

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!
A slice of chocolate cake has frosting and sprinkles on top. Another slice sits behind it.

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

  1. Stir together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, such as flour and sugar.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
  3. Make the batter by pouring the water mixture into the flour mixture and stirring until just combined.
  4. 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.
  5. Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes before inverting it onto a serving plate.
  6. 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.

Ingredients for a cake are in a mixing bowl.

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!

A hand holds a bowl of wet ingredients pouring it into a bowl with cocoa infused flour ingredients.

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.

Baking Variations

  • 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.

Storage Tips

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!

A fork sits beside a slice of wacky cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. Another slice of cake sits on a plate behind it.

Marly’s Tips

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

Vegan Frostings

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

A hand holds a fork digging into a slice of chocolate cake.

I hope you enjoy this wacky cake as much as we do!

A slice of chocolate wacky cake has frosting and sprinkles on top.

Chocolate Wacky Cake

This tasty Chocolate Wacky Cake is a super simple, delicious cake that will leave you amazed thanks to a simple list of ingredients. This cake is perfect for a simple, weeknight dessert, or serve it all dolled up for a fancy weekend gathering!
5 from 16 votes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 9
Calories: 239kcal
Author: Namely Marly

Ingredients

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Vegan Chocolate Frosting

Instructions

  • 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.

(The products above contain sponsored links to products we use and recommend)

Notes

The nutritional estimate for this recipe is for the chocolate cake without frosting.
Nutrition Facts
Chocolate Wacky Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 239 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 7g35%
Sodium 254mg11%
Potassium 71mg2%
Carbohydrates 40g13%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 22g24%
Protein 3g6%
Calcium 7mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* 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.

No eggs cakes recipes are pretty amazing! Here are some other delicious vegan chocolate cakes to try:

This post was originally published in 2016 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2020.

44 Responses to Wacky Cake Recipe

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyElla Hunt Reply

    Lovely recipe! As a sworn vegan, my mom will definitely appreciate it. Will share it with her right away 🙂

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Thanks, Ella! I hope your mom loves it as much as my mom does…and me too! 🙂

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyCrazy Baker

      Since white sugar is filtered through charcoal made from cattle bones, what sweetener do you recommend?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Some vegans elect to not eat white, refined sugar. Not me. I decided a long time ago that it felt too restrictive. First of all, there are some sources of white refined sugar that are not made via the process you describe, and it’s not always easy to tell which kind you’re getting. I wrote a post on 10 Ways to Be Vegan where I point out that you cannot be 100% animal cruelty free, so somewhere along the vegan spectrum, you are making choices. I respect people and the choices they make for the degree of veganism they choose for their lives. I’m sure you already know, Ella, there are lots of choices for sweeteners, including coconut sugar, sugar in the raw, etc. It’s typically sold in health food stores or in the health food sections of most grocery stores.

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyCynthia Reply

    Can I use gluten-free flour?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Cathy! I made this cake using an all-purpose gluten-free flour last week and it worked fine. The batter was a little thick so I added an additional quarter cup of water. Make sure to include that chocolate frosting. It’s so good!

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyElizabeth Reply

    Hi…What can I use instead of sugar that is Low GI….thanks….

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      You could try using coconut sugar which has a lower GI. I haven’t tried this myself but am a big fan of Truvia. Just a note though, whenever I’ve used sugar substitutes in a recipe, it tends to make it a little dry, so be aware of that. Let me know how it goes!

  4. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyE Reply

    What do you mean by, “Powdered sugar of chocolate frosting…” (In the ingredients list)?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyJorina

      I think it’s supposed to say ‘or’ not ‘of’.

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      That’s exactly right, Jorina. Dang fingers! It’s fixed now. 🙂

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      That’s my silly fingers getting carried away. It should say Powdered sugar OR chocolate frosting. I eye roll myself. :\

  5. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyLynn Reply

    I just made this cake……. it’s just gone in the oven, yum!!!!!!!!! I can’t eat chocolate so I substituted the cocoa powder for carob powder & it tastes amazing. Thank you for sharing this recipe!!!!! I look forward to cooking more of your recipes

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Oh, I’m so excited…and kinda of jealous too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made this recipe…and now I want to make it again! 🙂 Also, great idea for the carob powder. Check out my Peanut Butter Wacky Cake recipe too – where I used peanut butter powder instead of cocoa! 🙂

  6. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyGoda Reply

    Hi Marly! Thanks for the recipe, I baked it just now, haven’t tasted yet, but I have a question. I followed your recipe, really tried to get the measurements just right, but when I took the cake out of the oven – it was risen unevenly and had deep cracks all over. Do you maybe know what could have caused this? Thanks!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Goda. Thanks for your comment. Typically deep cracks in a cake can indicate the oven was too hot. And if it is raising unevenly it can be another sign of issues with the oven. Here’s a link to an article I found on cake baking issues and tips for resolution. We’ve enjoyed this cake recipe so many times – my mom makes it for us too – and haven’t experienced cracks or uneven rising. I even made a gluten-free version of the cake (using all purpose gluten-free flour) and it turned out great as well. I hope this is helpful. https://thelavonneblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/basics-of-baking-with-chef-avin/

  7. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyGoda Reply

    Thank you for the reply! I really loved the cake (had icing sugar on top instead of the frosting), so I’ll have the oven issue in mind next time I’m making it (with the frosting). By the way, I used coconut sugar instead of usual sugar and the taste was lovely!

  8. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMegan Reply

    Love this cake for my son who has many allergies. Will definitely be making it for his birthday!
    Have you used this recipe for cupcakes? Wondering how it changes the cooking time?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      I’m so glad to hear this cake will work for your son and his allergies, Megan! I would set the timer for 18 minutes or so and then check the cupcakes by inserting a toothpick (or piece of spaghetti) in the center of one of the cupcakes to see if they’re done. Hope you love them!

  9. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyLulu Reply

    I have made this cake twice in a week. The second time I tripled the recipe because someone wanted a vegan cake for a graduation. I substituted the water with unsweetened almond milk and used 3/2 c of date sugar instead of regular sugar. The first one I made I followed your recipe but used less sugar since I used frosting. It was delicious!!

  10. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyShilpa Reply

    The cake looks so delicious!! Can i use this recipe for cup cakes??

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Sure, this wacky cake recipe works great for cupcakes!

  11. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyYukti Arora Reply

    Wow so classy and mouth watering chocolate cake i loved it and please keep posting such tempting cakes because i am Lerner of making new and different cakes

  12. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyHimani Reply

    I made this chocolate wacky cake and it was a hit! Everyone in my family just loved it and is waiting for the next one!!! Thanks for such mouth-watering recipes.

  13. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlySamia Ahmed Reply

    Thanks, Marly for this awesome and delicious recipe. Chocolate Wacky Cake is one of my favorite cake. It is very yummy.

    After switching to veganism, I have faced many problems like what to eat or what to not. Especially some foods taste are not satisfactory.
    I have made the cake by following your recipe. It tastes awesome. I just love chocolate cake.

    Thanks for sharing!!!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Thanks, Samia! I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe. I experienced the same thing — my taste buds changed so much after switching to a vegan diet. In fact, one of the things I hated giving up was mozzarella. But after awhile eating vegan mozzarella, then one day I ordered a pizza with vegan mozzarella, but they accidentally brought me a pizza with cow dairy mozzarella. It was gross! I couldn’t stand it! So, I get what you’re experiencing. Finding good vegan recipes helps so much. Sending you hugs and happiness!

  14. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMelissa Weimer Reply

    Hey, Marly. I really love the vegan Chocolate cake. I have made the cake by following your recipe. I wish I could send you the pic. It looks amazing. It was delicious.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe!!!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Melissa! Thanks for your comment — I’m so glad you like this recipe! It is definitely my go-to favorite too!

  15. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlySandra Smith Reply

    Hi, Marly. Wow, awesome tasty recipe. I am doing a vegan diet and facing a lot of problems. I am being confused about what to cook cause I don’t want to compromise with my taste bud.
    Your recipe is fantastic. I love chocolate, I can’t think to quit this!
    I am bookmarking the article.
    Thanks a lot for your recipe!

  16. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyLorraine Reply

    This was outstanding. Super easy and budget friendly.

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Thanks, Lorraine! So glad you liked it! Easy and budget-friendly are some of my favorite ingredients! 🙂

  17. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyGhulam Mohyudin Reply

    Good to know that works too! I learn so much from you as well! Keep it up great post.

  18. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyHannah Flack Reply

    This is a great cake. I have friends and family with allergies and its great to know there is a cake I can make that we can all celebrate with. Thanks for a brilliant recipe.

  19. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyAnand Reply

    I loved this recipe. I made this cake using an all-purpose gluten-free flour last week and it worked fine.

  20. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyAnn Reply

    Hello Marly,
    I so appreciate your simple and affordable recipes for the alternative eater. My cake is cooling and the chocolate frosting came out awesome.
    Thanks

  21. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyOnline Rakhi Delivery Reply

    Thank for the best and Easy Chocolate Cake recipe

  22. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyIndia Flowers Reply

    Hey Marly, must say i love all your recipes but this one is really unique and delicious looking. Will definitely give it a try and make it the way you instructed. Thanks for sharing the recipe with us. Keep up the good work. Cheers!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Thanks, India! I hope you enjoy this wacky cake as much as we do!

  23. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlySethu Reply

    Tried out this recipe today and turned to be a awesome one. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Sethu. So glad you liked this wacky cake!

  24. Avatar thumbnail image for Marlydiwali gifts Reply

    I love when you do these roundup posts. There’s always a recipe that I discover that goes on my must-make list.

  25. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMary Reply

    I think this is my favorite chocolate cake of all time. Thank you so much for this recipe!

  26. Avatar thumbnail image for Marlyvalentines day roses Reply

    Thanks for the vegan chocolates wacky cakes recipes. keep updating

  27. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyTribbiani Reply

    Wonderful!

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