Wacky Cake Recipe — Easy Chocolate Cake

This moist chocolate Wacky Cake recipe is basically a simple vegan recipe 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! See below for wacky cake variations like peanut butter and more.

A slice of vegan chocolate wacky cake sits on a plate with a bowl of chocolate frosting behind it and the rest of the cake.
This wacky cocoa cake is topped with a generous portion of chocolate frosting!
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We are loving this chocolate wacky depression 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!

What is Wacky Cake?

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!

If you’re curious about the wacky cake history, this cake is also referred to as a Depression Cake. Why? Because it’s been around since the Great Depression of the early 1900s. People didn’t always have access to milk and cream, eggs, and even sugar, so they made do.

Interestingly enough, it’s the combination of vegetable oil and the gluten in the flour that gives this cake such rise and keeps it moist too! Of course, you could add up to a half cup of applesauce to make it even more moist. I’ve done that from time to time myself, but mostly, I find this cake is plenty moist exactly as is!

My mom tells me how sometimes for Christmas they’d get an orange and that was really special. It certainly makes me look at the oranges I eat differently. We have so much to be thankful for.

Anyway, my mom and I took that recipe from her book and adapted it a little bit.


How to Make Wacky Cake

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!

You’ll need these ingredients: all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, salt, water, vegetable oil, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla.

To begin, stir together in a large mixing bowl the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and baking soda. In a smaller bowl stir together the vegetable oil, water, vinegar and vanilla.

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 the vegetable oil, so using water is just fine. In fact, it’s preferable!

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!

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 Chocolate Frosting.

For an even more elegant presentation, prepare a chocolate ganache. Here’s how: place 1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl, add 1/2 cup rich, creamy plant-based milk (like coconut milk or thick and creamy creamer). Heat this in the microwave for about one minute. Allow it to sit for another minute or so.

Then stir until all the chocolate is melted and the milk is incorporated into a creamy, chocolate mixture. Pour this over the cake and allow it to sit until the chocolate has firmed up. Or, you can eat it while the chocolate is still warm — it’s great that way too!

Expert Tips

I’ve made this cake so many times — it is definitely a go-to favorite! You could also create variations of the vegan wacky cake recipe by adding:

  • Chocolate chips could turn this into a Double Chocolate Cake
  • Chopped Walnuts to add a little extra flavor and crunch
  • Peanut Butter frosting could turn this into a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
  • Add a mashed banana to make a banana wacky cake recipe
  • To make a lemon wacky cake, add 2 teaspoons of lemon extract to the vanilla wacky cake recipe
  • For a gluten free wacky cake, substitute gluten free baking flour for the all purpose flour. I love using Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten free flour.
  • 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 about 20 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • This recipe is for a single round cake pan. but if you want to make a wacky cake 9X13 size, simply double the recipe, pour the batter into a greased 9X13 cake pan, and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • To make a spiced crazy wacky cake, add 2 – 3 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice to whatever version of wacky cake you’re making.

Personally, a cake has to have amazing frosting to make my list, so I was sure to add this to the recipe as well. But if you want to skip that step, you can always just give it a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Also, I love using coconut oil in this Chocolate Wacky Cake recipe, but you can use vegetable oil in place of that if you can’t find coconut oil. Any vegetable oil will do, even olive oil! However, generic vegetable oil works just fine.

Serve this with Vegan Chocolate Frosting, or it makes delicious cakes without frosting too! However, I think a sprinkle of powdered sugar over the top is a nice touch.

Another great wacky cake icing is to combine 1 cup powdered sugar with a tablespoon of vanilla infused plant-based milk. Stir it all together and drizzle this wacky cake glaze over your baked cake.

Love Vegan Cake Recipes?

Sure you love chocolate wacky cake recipes! But doesn’t that leave you wanting more vegan cake recipes? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

Looking down on a round chocolate wacky cake with a slice cut and ready to be removed. A stack of forks sit beside it along with more chocolate frosting in a bowl.
The original wacky cake recipe was vegan by accident, so it works in your vegan diet!

I hope you love this recipe as we do! Have you tried it? Be sure and leave a comment and a rating of this recipe below and then take a quick photo and share it with me using #namelymarly on Instagram. I love seeing your creations!

Vegan Chocolate Wacky Cake - a super simple, delicious chocolate cake that will leave you ready for another slice of this delicious chocolate dessert.

Chocolate Wacky Cake Recipe

Vegan Chocolate Wacky Cake – a super simple, delicious chocolate cake that will leave you ready for another slice of this delicious chocolate dessert.
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chocolate Wacky Cake Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 9
Calories: 240kcal
Author: Namely Marly


  • 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
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Powdered sugar or Chocolate Frosting (see below for topping


  • Heat your oven to 350F. 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, vinegar and vanilla. 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*


*Make chocolate frosting by combining 2 tablespoons vegan butter, 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa powder. Stir to combine. It will be crumbly. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla-flavored plant-based milk. Stir to combine. Continue adding 1 teaspoon of plant-based milk at a time until you get a spreadable consistency.
Nutrition Facts
Chocolate Wacky Cake Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 240 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 6g30%
Sodium 252mg11%
Potassium 70mg2%
Carbohydrates 40g13%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 22g24%
Protein 2g4%
Calcium 7mg1%
Iron 1.4mg8%
* 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:

Whatever cake you’re polishing off, enjoy!

Updated by Marly · Permalink