This is the best vegan chocolate cake recipe! No weird ingredients, just simple things to make a decadent + rich chocolate cake, topped with a creamy chocolate frosting. This chocolate cake tastes so good no one will believe it’s vegan!
Perfect for birthday parties and special occasions, or just because you want some cake! The inside is moist and stays that way for days. Rich chocolate with just the right amount of sweet. This cake makes a perfect layer cake, lots of cupcakes, or an easy sheet cake.
Free from: dairy, casein, eggs, fish, shellfish, soy, sesame, peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, corn, celery, and more
This is the best cake for making a vegan birthday cake. It has a rich flavor, tender crumb, and is so easy, I recommend people to make this for their first time making a vegan cake!
Plus, it makes amazing cake pops! You’ll love this cake with my chocolate buttercream or vegan vanilla frosting.
There is something special about a cake made from scratch. And this one isn’t that much more work than a store-bought cake mix! For this chocolate cake, you will need:
- Flour - Regular all purpose flour works fantastic in this cake. No need for cake flour! I recommend King Arthur flour because they are dedicated to allergy friendly facilities so no cross contamination of dairy or eggs in their flour.
- Sugar - I used regular granulated sugar but caster sugar will also work perfectly.
- Non-dairy milk - I strongly recommend that you use rice milk (my favorite), soy milk, or almond milk in this recipe. I’ve found that coconut milk and oat milk are too heavy and don’t allow the cake to rise up enough. For best results, the milk should be room temperature.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - This is what creates the magic in the cake! The apple cider vinegar turns the dairy free milk into buttermilk. This then reacts with the leavening agents to give the cake lift and volume. It won’t taste like vinegar, I pinky promise! If you don't have apple cider vinegar, you can swap out lemon juice in a pinch.
- Neutral Flavored Oil - Canola is my favorite here, but you can use any neutral flavored oil that you like. Refined coconut oil should also be okay. To lower the fat amount, you can reduce by half and add ¼ cup of apple sauce.
- Vanilla Extract - I know it’s a chocolate cake, but adding some vanilla really helps to give this cake a depth of flavor that chocolate alone can’t bring to the party.
- Cocoa Powder - The star of the show! For a lighter, more traditional chocolate cake, use something sweet and natural, like Hershey’s cocoa powder. For something a little darker and fudgier of a cake, use a Dutch processed cocoa powder, like Rodelle or Double Dutch Dark from King Arthur.
- Leavening agents - To help the cake rise, naturally.
- Frosting - For adding on top!
The full instructions with all the measurements are written in the recipe card below so make sure to check that out! But here is where I will get into the nitty gritty of making this delicious dessert.
For this recipe you don’t need a stand mixer or hand mixer - I almost always make this in a large bowl with just a whisk! However, if you like you can use the stand mixer with the whisk attachment to make this cake a breeze to mix up.
Begin by preparing your pans by greasing and flouring two 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and again grease and flour.
Start with a small mixing bowl or measuring cup. Add the apple cider vinegar to your milk of choice. Give it a stir and let it rest for 5 minutes to curdle.
Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, sift together your dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
Remember, no matter if you are using gluten free flour or wheat flour, make sure you use the scoop and level method for measuring out your flour. This will produce a more accurate amount of flour than if you just scoop the measuring cup directly into the bag.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the non-dairy milk mixture with the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract. Whisk this together until it is homogenous.
Now, add the dry ingredients into the wet in two batches. Make sure to whisk it well and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl so all the ingredients are incorporated!
When the cake batter is fully mixed, pour the batter into the prepared pans. Pop them in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes.
Pro tip! Don’t open the door of the oven for at least the first 30 minutes of baking! That is when the leavening agents are reacting to the heat of the oven and it’s important to not disturb that process. Otherwise your cakes may fall flat.
The cakes are done when they have pulled away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center pulls out clean.
Let them cool on the countertop before frosting.
Mocha - Add 1 tablespoon instant coffee to the batter when combining the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. Bake as directed. Top with chocolate buttercream or mocha buttercream.
Double Chocolate Chip - Add 1 cup chocolate chips to the batter right before adding to the prepared pans. Bake as directed.
Peanut butter Chocolate - Add 1 tablespoon of peanut butter (or sunflower seed butter) to the cake and top with peanut butter frosting.
To make this corn free, make sure that you are using corn free powdered sugar in your frosting. I recommend the Wholesome Powdered Sugar that uses tapioca.
Cake Decorating Ideas
My favorite part of cake making: Decorating! I love putting the finishing touches on a cake. I use a small round cake turntable to help me get frosting on all the sides. Then, I use a small offset spatula to apply the frositing and use a bench scraper to smooth it all out.
Here are a few other ideas you can try:
Make it swirled (like seen in these photos!) - Using your small offset spatula or a small spoon, gently swirl back and forth. There is no rhyme or reason to it. Just keep going and twisting your hand and the spatula until you get a pattern you are happy with.
Press Sprinkles into the sides - This is waaaay easier than it looks! When the frosting is still wet (aka before it chills in the fridge) press some vegan sprinkles into the sides of the cake. Place a baking tray under the cake stand so that it can catch the fallout.
Pipe decorations - This may be my favorite method. Using a variety of piping tips, you can decorate a cake in just about any style!
Can I make this gluten free?
However, there is a dedicated gluten free and vegan chocolate cake recipe which is just perfect! I would take a look at that one first!
Can I make cupcakes with this batter?
Yes you can! Pour the prepared batter into lined cupcakes about ⅔ of the way full. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center pulls out clean. Makes 24 cupcakes.
What other cake sizes does this make?
This cake makes enough for two 8-inch rounds. It will also make 24 cupcakes, two 9-inch rounds, or one 9x13 inch sheet cake.
Can I freeze this cake?
Yes! Freeze fully baked but unfrosted cakes in the freezer. Make sure you wrap them up in an airtight container, if possible. They should last about 3 months. Allow them to thaw before frosting and serving from frozen.
How to Store
If you have an unfrosted cake, you can keep it on the countertop for up to 3 days.
If you have a frosted cake, you’ll want to keep it covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.
More vegan cake recipes you’ll love
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- measuring spoons
- measuring cups
- mixing bowls
- mixing spoons
- flour sifter
- cake pans or cupcake tray
- parchment paper
- oil for greasing
- 2 cups non-dairy milk soy, rice, or almond work best
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ cups white sugar
- ½ cup oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup cocoa powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease, flour, and line with parchment paper two 8-inch cake pans. See note for other cake styles to bake. Set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the non-dairy milk with the apple cider vinegar. Stir and let rest for 5 minutes.
- In a medium sized bowl, sift together the dry ingredients of flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk mixture with sugar, oil, and vanilla. Whisk well, making sure it is fully combined.
- Now add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches. Whisk well making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl so all the ingredients are incorporated. Pour the finished batter into the prepared pans, dividing the batter equally between them.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until done. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake pulls out clean. The cake will also have slightly pulled away from the edges of the pan.
- Let cool before frosting and serving. Enjoy!