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.

Reader Reviews

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

Mary

Frequently-Asked Questions

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 18 votes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 9
Calories: 239kcal

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  • Heat your oven to 350°F/175°C. 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 to 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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Notes

The nutritional estimate for this recipe is for the chocolate cake without frosting.
Calories: 239kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 254mg | Potassium: 71mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 22g | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg

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.

48 Responses to Wacky Cake Recipe

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyCharlene Reply

    Just made this cake and it’s gorgeous! I substituted my leftover coffee for water.
    It’s super super moist. I wonder…if you go gluten free is the apple cider vinegar still needed? I know we use it in the red velvet Whoopie Pies I make since in the depression area they used beets as their sweetener and it gives the cookie a earthy flavor. Just thinking out loud I guess. Thanks!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Charlene, First, I’m so glad you liked this recipe! Second, what a great idea to use leftover coffee as it enhances the flavor of chocolate perfectly! Third, I have made this with gluten-free flour and I continued to use the vinegar as it helps create lift in the cake (interacting with the baking soda). I have tried using beets in my red velvet cake, but it is a tricky exercise getting the ingredients to play together nicely and to create a bright red cake. I understand why so many use red food coloring instead. Think out loud with me any time! 🙂

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyTribbiani Reply

    5 stars
    Wonderful!

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for Marlyvalentines day roses Reply

    5 stars
    Thanks for the vegan chocolates wacky cakes recipes. keep updating

  4. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMary Reply

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

  5. Avatar thumbnail image for Marlydiwali gifts Reply

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

  6. 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!

  7. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyIndia Flowers Reply

    5 stars
    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!

  8. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyOnline Rakhi Delivery Reply

    5 stars
    Thank for the best and Easy Chocolate Cake recipe

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