This is the best vegan chocolate cake recipe with a moist crumb and a chocolatey, light texture. If you love chocolate cake, you don’t have to give it up because of your egg-free, dairy-free diet! Top this with a creamy vegan chocolate buttercream frosting for even more fudgy chocolate flavor.
I’ve got a reputation for having a sweet tooth. But I’m picky about my sweets. If I’m going to spend my calories on it, I want it to be good! Do you know what I mean?
But chocolate is my true love, and I confess, this rich, decadent chocolate vegan cake with thick, fluffy chocolate frosting is the ultimate.
This is the BEST vegan chocolate cake made with minimal ingredients and lots of flavor!
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Adding coffee flavoring is a chocolate flavor boost, providing a more intense chocolate taste in every bite.
- Adding hot water blooms the cocoa, to bloom the cocoa powder, giving the cake a more robust chocolate flavor.
- Using applesauce creates a super moist cake with a tender crumb!
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.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
- Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
- Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
- Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
- Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
- Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
- Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
- Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
- Granulated sugar
- Brown sugar — Use light or dark or homemade brown sugar.
- Flour — I recommend all-purpose flour for this recipe. You can substitute gluten-free baking flour to make a vegan gluten-free chocolate cake.
- Cocoa powder — Use unsweetened natural (not dutch processed) cocoa powder.
- Baking soda + Baking powder — Using both baking soda and baking powder means a loftier cake with a light texture.
- Salt — A little salt adds depth of flavor
- Plant-based milk — I prefer soy milk, but almond milk works well too (plain or vanilla-flavored)
- Coconut oil — Use refined coconut oil for a more neutral flavor or virgin coconut oil if you don’t mind the coconut flavor
- Applesauce — Use unsweetened applesauce
- Coffee extract — If you can’t find coffee extract, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of instant coffee
- Vanilla extract
- Hot water — Your water should be hot, near-boiling, but not quite.
How to Make Vegan Chocolate Cake
If you’re curious about how to make a vegan cake, this recipe will provide the answers!
I worked to create the perfect mix between a moist, delicious, indulgent cake, and a super-easy vegan chocolate cake. Because if it’s an overly complicated recipe, it can take the fun out of the entire experience. I’ve been there before so I know!
And I’m a certified vegan dessert creator, so I know the pleasure of making a complicated recipe. It’s just I prefer the KISS principle when it comes to my day-to-day baking (Keep It Simple, Silly!). 🙂
Here are detailed, step-by-step instructions:
Step One: Mix the Dry Ingredients
Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. I used a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, but any mixer will do. Either stir this by hand or use the mixer at low speed.
Step Two: Combine the Wet Ingredients
In a separate bowl, combine the milk, melted coconut oil, applesauce, vanilla, and coffee extract.
Give it a stir and then pour it into the flour mixture. Mix on low speed for a few seconds and then use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl. Then mix on medium speed for up to 1–2 minutes.
Step Three: Add Hot Water
Heat one cup of water in the microwave for about one minute to get it good and hot, but not boiling. I prefer using a pyrex measuring cup because it has a handle. A coffee mug works great here too.
Then carefully pour the hot water into the mixing bowl with the rest of the cake batter. This helps to bloom the cocoa, giving your cake a very rich, chocolatey flavor. Beat the batter some more.
Step Four: Pour and Bake
Pour the batter in equal amounts in the two prepared cake pans. Place these in the oven and bake for 25–30 minutes, until the edges of the cake pull away from the side of the pan and a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Once the cakes are done, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Then place a plate or wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert it so that the cake falls out of the pan and onto the plate or wire rack.
Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.
This is my favorite cake to make for special occasions. It’s so moist and everyone loves it!
New to Vegan Baking?
The idea of making cookies, cakes, or muffins without eggs or dairy can seem like a hill too tall to climb. But with the simple tips in my Guide to Vegan Baking, you’ll be baking like a vegan pro in no time!
Vegan Chocolate Frosting
You want a dairy-free chocolate frosting that’s light and fluffy on top of that delicious chocolate cake. The frosting for this cake needs to be nothing short of fabulous!
Vegan chocolate buttercream frosting is a favorite frosting for that very reason. Make sure you use a mixer to get that frosting nice fluffy! For a change of pace you can make this avocado chocolate frosting (complete with avocado chocolate cake).
Want more vegan frosting options? Try these:
Store this cake in a sealed container. It will keep at room temperature for up to 3–4 days. Store it in the fridge for up to a week. You can cut slices, store in freezer bas or freezer-safe containers for up to 2 months.
You can make this cake ahead of a big event, like if you’re making a vegan birthday cake.
- Make the cakes and then allow them to cool completely. Learn more about freezing cakes and which types freeze best.
- Make the frosting and add a crumb coat (a thin layer of frosting) to the tops and sides of both cakes. The frosting will seal in the cakes’ moisture.
- Place the frosted cakes on a tray and place the tray in the freezer for about an hour, or until the cakes are frozen.
- Remove the cakes from the freezer and wrap them in plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil.
- Return the cakes to the freezer. They will keep for up to a month. You can also freeze the remaining frosting.
When your big day comes, remove the cakes (and frosting) from the freezer and allow everything to thaw. Frost the cakes and then you’re ready to serve!
That’s it for this simple vegan chocolate cake!
Best Vegan Chocolate Cake
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural, not dutch processed)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup plant-based milk (see note)
- ⅔ cup melted coconut oil (see note)
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 teaspoon coffee extract
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 batch Vegan Chocolate Frosting
- Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Coat 2 8 or 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable cooking spray. Cut parchment paper into two circles. Place the round parchment paper in the bottom of the pans. Spray papers with vegetable cooking spray. Set aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer) mix the sugars, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix until combined.
- In a separate bowl combine, milk, melted coconut oil, applesauce, and extracts. Stir to combine. Pour this into the mixer with the flour mixture. Beat on low until combined. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl. Then beat on medium speed for about a minute until combined. Add the hot water and mix on low until combined. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then beat on medium for a minute. This batter will be runny.
- Pour half the batter into each of the prepared pans.
- Bake for 25 to30 minutes until the edges have pulled away from the sides of the pan and the center of the cake is set. A tester inserted in the center should come out clean.
- If using a 9×13 cake pan, bake for approximately 40 to 45 minutes.
- Remove cakes from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Then invert the cakes onto wire racks and cool completely before frosting.
For the Cake Assembly:
- Place one of the cakes on a serving plate. Top with nearly a cup of the frosting, spreading it out evenly over the cake. Add the other cake and top with similar frosting. Use the remaining frosting to frost the entire cake. Refrigerate for at least an hour (or even overnight) to let the frosting set.
- Store leftover cake in the fridge.
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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.
This post was originally published in 2019 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.