I can’t get enough of vegan chocolate cake. It’s definitely a favorite.
And I got all arrogant with this one and called it ‘the best vegan chocolate cake’ you know, as you do.
It’s mega-chocolatey, wonderfully moist, and supremely simple using ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. Crazy simple with a spectacular outcome.
And the frosting – oh my word – the frosting.
It’s the silkiest creamiest vegan buttercream I have ever made. And paired with this two-layer decadent dream cake and topped with chocolate shavings you’ll make every chocolate lover a very happy camper with this cake.
I have already tested this cake on some non-vegans who had no idea that it was a vegan cake and they were freaking out over it. Now that’s what I like to see.
What I love about this cake is that it’s a 9 inch two layer beauty that can also be made in 8 inch pans!
And since I get a lot of questions from readers asking for different size cake recipes, I was thrilled to discover that this is an either/or situation for 8 or 9 inch pans with absolutely no other adjustments.
Of course if you want to make it in 6 or 7 inch cake pans, then you definitely want our other recipe for chocolate cake which is more of a classic vegan chocolate sponge.
And if you’re a chocolate cake fan in general then you’ll probably also love our vegan German chocolate cake, our vegan chocolate zucchini cake, our vegan chocolate sheet cake and our vegan chocolate fudge cake.
How to make the best vegan chocolate cake
This is a simple 10-ingredient recipe that takes very little time to prepare.
Sift the all purpose flour and cocoa powder (unsweetened) into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, baking soda and salt.
Make up some vegan buttermilk by adding some lemon juice to a measuring jug and then pouring in soy milk, or almond milk, and letting it curdle into vegan buttermilk.
Add the vegan buttermilk to the mixing bowl and some vanilla, vegetable oil, vinegar and applesauce and mix in. Use a hand whisk briefly to get rid of any big lumps.
Spray two 9-inch (or you can use 8-inch) baking pans with non-stick spray and then line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper.
Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and then bake for 30-minutes. Done!
That vegan chocolate buttercream!
The frosting is an ultra rich vegan chocolate buttercream. It’s only 6-ingredients and ridiculously simple to make, but it’s extremely impressive.
You can just add all the ingredients – vegan butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla and non-dairy milk to a mixing bowl and then use your electric whisk to whisk it to a smooth and creamy vegan buttercream.
It makes quite a lot of frosting, but as you can see from the photos, probably the perfect amount really!
Unless of course you’re not a fan of frosting in which case, I don’t even know what to do with you. 😂
Only joking, if you’re not a frosting fan, this is a cake that can be served plain or with just a sprinkle of powdered sugar or with some vegan whipped cream.
Just a note that if you’re making this as an 8-inch layer cake, then it’s almost too much frosting. So you might want to reduce a little bit, or just have it on extra thick, which is what I did when I tested this for 8-inch pans.
Ingredient notes for this to-die-for vegan chocolate cake
Vegan buttermilk. This creates a super moist and tender crumb. It’s a little more moist than the average sponge cake, but not overly so.
It’s rich and decadent and exactly how you want it to be. I prefer soy milk for making vegan buttermilk because it’s thicker and richer.
Almond milk is more watery, but you can use almond milk if you can’t use soy.
Take a look at our vegan buttermilk post which also features a video where you can see the difference in texture between vegan buttermilk made with soy milk vs almond milk.
Coconut milk won’t curdle but can be used in a pinch.
Vegetable oil. I use oil rather than vegan butter in most of my cakes and I really love the result. For this cake I used canola oil, but I have also tested this with my other, rather unusual favorite, which is extra virgin olive oil.
You can really use any vegetable oil here. If you want to use coconut oil then make sure it’s melted first.
Applesauce. This creates moisture without needing to use more oil and is also an ‘egg replacement’ of sorts.
Sugar. I used regular white sugar in this cake, but any granulated sugar is going to do the job and that includes coconut sugar. A mix of white and brown sugars is also great and I do this when I want to mix it up a bit.
Flour. Regular all purpose flour is my flour of choice for this cake. I recommend you weigh it for the best accuracy.
Flour measures are tricky, and even for experienced bakers using the spoon and level method (the correct method when using cup measures for flour) it is possible to get it a bit wrong. And baking is very precise and can be a little unforgiving in that respect.
Cocoa Powder. I use ordinary unsweetened cocoa powder. This works great in the cake and the frosting.
The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake FAQ
Here is the section where I try and anticipate your questions. If I miss anything, ask away in the comments.
What is the egg replacement in this vegan chocolate cake recipe? Applesauce! But I don’t find ‘egg replacements’ to be crucial in vegan baking, though I do use them for flavor/moisture. Really it’s more the vinegar/baking soda combination that is crucial in this cake. The applesauce is more for moisture than anything else.
What is the vinegar for? It reacts with the baking soda and helps the cake to rise. I used white vinegar, but you can use apple cider vinegar too, they are interchangeable.
What can I use instead of applesauce? You can use 1 and 1/2 flax eggs. So you would mix 1 and 1/2 Tbsp of ground flaxseed meal with 4 and 1/2 Tbsp hot water and let that sit until it becomes thick and gloopy.
This works as a replacement for the applesauce and has been tried and tested for this cake.
Can I make this chocolate cake gluten-free? Adapting cakes to gluten-free isn’t quite as straightforward as it can be for other baking items.
For example if you were to just use a gluten-free all purpose flour blend – which is definitely the flour I would recommend – in a 1:1 ratio for this cake, your cake might turn out a bit dry.
This is because gluten-free flours absorb more moisture than other flours. So you would likely want to increase the oil and applesauce a bit.
I haven’t tested things with this cake, but off the top of my head, I would probably recommend increasing the oil by 1/4 cup and the applesauce by 3 Tbsp.
And let me reiterate that this is off the top of my head and not tested, but based on my experiences with gluten-free baking. Check out our gluten-free chocolate cake (it’s a 7-inch cake) for more info on why I would adapt it this way.
Can I make cupcakes with this recipe? Sure. This recipe as is will make around 18 cupcakes. If you want to make a perfect batch of 12 cupcakes though then check out our classic vegan chocolate cupcakes recipe which, as the name suggests is a classic recipe with a vegan chocolate buttercream frosting or our vegan chocolate cupcakes with mint buttercream frosting or our gluten-free chocolate cupcakes .
Can I make this cake ahead? This cake will keep covered at room temperature for 3-4 days and in the fridge for up to 7 days. It is definitely at its best in terms of taste and texture the day of baking and the following day.
Unfortunately, you can’t make the batter in advance and let it sit in the fridge for a few days as that can cause the cake not to rise. It’s a make and bake immediately situation but it does last a fair while.
Can I freeze it? Yes, you can freeze this cake. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge when you’re ready for it.
Why this is the best vegan chocolate cake!
- It’s wonderfully moist! Yes, I keep saying it but it really is.
- It’s extremely chocolatey. The chocolate flavor really pops.
- It’s so rich and decadent. You’ll be super satisfied after a slice of this.
- It’s really quick and easy. The hardest part about this cake is having the patience to wait for the layers to cool so you can frost it and eat it!
- Vegans and non-vegans are mad about this cake! Tried and tested and definitely true.
- It can be made in 8-inch or 9-inch pans! I have tried it both ways and it worked great. The photos are of the 9-inch cake, but 8-inch works perfectly as well the cake is just taller.
- The vegan chocolate buttercream is totally divine. It’s really the perfect topping for this cake, oh and don’t forget the chocolate shavings!
More vegan cakes!
You couldn’t be at a better place if vegan cakes are your thing! Here are just a few of the vegan cakes we’ve made that I think you’ll love:
- Vegan Lemon Cake
- Vegan Vanilla Cake
- Vegan White Cake
- Vegan Carrot Cake
- Vegan Apple Cake
- Vegan Red Velvet Cake
Let us know in the comments what you think of this cake. Do you agree that it’s the best vegan chocolate cake? Hahaha I hope so! Please rate the recipe too, thanks so much.
Sign up to our email list while you’re here and we’ll send you a gorgeous (and free) recipe ebook with 10 delicious vegan dinner recipes and you’ll be the first to know when new recipes are posted to the blog.
The best vegan chocolate cake topped with the richest silkiest vegan chocolate buttercream frosting. Perfectly moist and totally decadent.
For the Chocolate Cake:
- 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) All Purpose Flour
- 3/4 cup (63g) Cocoa Powder (Unsweetened)
- 1 and 1/2 cups (300g) White Sugar
- 1 and 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
- 3/4 tsp Salt
- 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) Vegan Buttermilk (lemon juice mixed with soy milk)*
- 3 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 cup (120ml) Canola Oil*
- 1 and 1/2 Tbsp White Vinegar*
- 5 Tbsp Applesauce
For the Vegan Chocolate Buttercream:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray two 9-inch* baking pans with non-stick spray and line the bottoms with a circle of parchment paper. Set aside.
- Sift the flour and the cocoa powder into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, baking soda and salt.
- Add 1 and 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice to a measuring jug and then add soy milk up to the 1 and 1/2 cup line (or 360ml line). Let it curdle into vegan buttermilk.
- Add the vegan buttermilk, vanilla, oil, vinegar and applesauce and mix in. Use a hand whisk to remove any large lumps.
- Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.
- Let the cake layers cool for a few minutes and then remove them from the cake pans and transfer to wire cooling racks to cool completely before frosting.
- Prepare your frosting by adding your vegan butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla and half the soy milk to the bowl of an electric mixer. Start off at slow speed and gradually increase speed until your frosting is thick and smooth. Add the remaining soy milk only if needed.*
- Frost the cooled cakes and decorate with chocolate shavings.
*You can also use almond milk to make vegan buttermilk.
*You can use a different vegetable oil other than canola if you prefer. If you use coconut oil it must be melted first.
*Apple cider vinegar can be used interchangeably with white vinegar.
*You can use a different non-dairy milk other than soy in the frosting if you prefer.
*This cake works in both 9-inch pans (as in these photos) or 8-inch pans. If you use 8-inch pans you just get a taller cake, everything else remains the same for the cake.
*If you make this cake for 8-inch pans then the frosting may be too much. You could reduce the frosting recipe slightly, or just have it as a thicker frosting than what you see in these photos.
*The amount of soy milk you use in your frosting will depend on the water content of your brand of vegan butter, if it’s a higher water content brand than the one I used you will be able to use less soy milk, but if it’s a lower water content brand then you might need more than the 2 Tbsp I used. If your frosting ends up too thin, add more powdered sugar until you reach the right consistency. If it’s too thick, add soy milk a tiny bit at a time and mix until you get the consistency you want.
*Nutritional information includes everything, frosting, chocolate shavings, all of it!
- Category: Dessert, Baking
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Vegan
- Serving Size: 1 Slice (of 12)
- Calories: 584
- Sugar: 60.5g
- Sodium: 473mg
- Fat: 26.3g
- Saturated Fat: 7.8g
- Carbohydrates: 86.5g
- Fiber: 4.8g
- Protein: 5.6g
Keywords: best vegan chocolate cake