The best vegan chocolate cake recipe! No weird ingredients, just simple pantry staples to make a rich chocolate cake topped with a creamy chocolate frosting. This cake tastes so good I can’t wait for you to tell people it’s vegan!
Perfect for birthday parties, special occasions, or just because you feel like chocolate cake (because I’m always wanting a slice of some). The inside stays moist for days with just the right balance of chocolate and sweet.
Plus, it mixes together in one bowl with just a whisk and you can make this into a layer cake or cupcakes. Want a sheet cake? Check out my easy vegan chocolate sheet cake recipe here!
For the full list of ingredients, plus recipe measurements, please see the recipe card below.
There is something special about a cake made from scratch and honestly, it 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 great in this cake. I’ve also make it with cake flour and had fantastic results.
- Sugar: Simple granulated sugar. Just make sure it is vegan by buying organic sugar or beet sugar.
- Plant Based Milk: I love to use unflavored and unsweetened soy milk the best in this cake. It reacts the best with the vinegar to make a vegan “buttermilk”. I’ve also used coconut milk with great results. For the total best results, the dairy free milk should be room temperature.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: This is what makes the magic in this cake. The apple cider vinegar combines with the plant milk to make a vegan buttermilk that gives the cake lift and volume. It won’t taste like vinegar at all, I pinky promise! If you are out of vinegar, you can swap out fresh lemon juice in a pinch.
- Neutral Oil: Canola oil is my favorite here and typically what I reach for. Refined coconut oil also works great. If you are looking to lower the fat amount you can reduce the oil by half and add ¼ cup of apple sauce.
- Vanilla Extract: I know it’s a chocolate cake but adding vanilla really brings a depth of flavor to the cake that chocolate alone won’t achieve.
- Cocoa Powder: You can use either natural cocoa powder (like Hershey’s cocoa powder) or something a little darker like a Dutch processed cocoa powder. Both work great!
- Baking Powder + Soda + Salt: To help the cake rise and have good flavor.
Make sure to check out the recipe card below for the full recipe and ingredient list.
Begin by preparing your pans with a light spray of oil and flouring two 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and grease and flour again.
Start the cake with adding the (room temperature) plant based milk to a large mixing bowl and whisking in the apple cider vinegar. Give it a stir and let it rest for 5 minutes to make the buttermilk.
After a few minutes, it’s time to add the remaining wet ingredients: Sugar, oil, and vanilla extract. Whisk this together until it is combined.
Now, sift the dry ingredients right into the same bowl on top of the wet ingredients: Flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
At this point you can switch to a spatula to combine it all together or stick with your whisk. Just make sure that you scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl so all the ingredients are well incorporated.
When the cake batter is fully mixed, pour the batter into the prepared pans. Pop them into the preheated oven and bake for around 35 minutes.
Tip! Don’t open the door of the oven for the first 30 minutes of baking!! This is when the leavening agents are reacting to the heat of the oven and it’s important to not disturb that process. If you open the door and let the heat out, your cakes can 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.
Substitutions + Variations
- Need to make this gluten free? You can! I recommend that you use King Arthur Measure for Measure gluten free flour blend – it’s the one I’ve always had the best success with. You can also make this dedicated gluten free and vegan chocolate cake recipe here.
- Mocha Flavored: Add 1 tablespoon instant coffee or espresso powder to the batter when combining the wet ingredients. Bake as directed.
- Double Chocolate Chip: Add 1 cup chocolate chips to the batter before adding to the prepared pans. Bake as directed.
- Peanut Butter Chocolate: Add 1 tablespoon of peanut butter (or sunflower seed butter for a nut free version) to the wet ingredients and bake as directed. Top with peanut butter frosting.
How to Store
Unfrosted Cake: if you have an unfrosted cake, you can store this cake on the countertop in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, the unfrosted cakes will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow them to thaw before frosting and serving after freezing.
Frosted Cake: Store any leftover frosted cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. The cake may start to dry out after 3 days.
Vegan Cake Recipes
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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 soy milk or coconut milk or other plant milk
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180℃. Grease, flour, and line with parchment paper two 8-inch cake pans. See note for other cake styles to bake. Set aside.
- Mix the Cake. In a large mixing bowl, combine the non-dairy milk with the apple cider vinegar. Stir and let rest for 5 minutes. In the same bowl, combine the milk mixture with sugar, oil, and vanilla. Whisk well, making sure it is fully combined. Finally, sift the dry ingredients into the same bowl: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk well making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl so all the ingredients are incorporated.
- Transfer. Pour the finished batter into the prepared pans, dividing the batter equally between them.
- Bake. 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.
- Cool, frost and enjoy! Let cool before frosting and serving. Enjoy!
- More Cake Sizes
- To make cupcakes: Line 24 cupcake tins with liners or spray with light cooking oil. Fill each cupcake about 2/3 full. Bake for 23-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center pulls out clean. Let cool completely before decorating.
- To make three 6-inch cakes: Prepare three 6-inch cake pans in the same manner, greasing, flouring, and with parchment paper. Divide the batter equally between the three pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cakes are done. You’ll know when a toothpick inserted into the center pulls out clean. Let cool completely before decorating.
- To make an 8.5×11 inch cake: Prepare a baking pan in the same manner, greasing, flooring, and lining with parchment paper. Pour all the batter into the single pan, using a spatula or spoon to gently even out the batter. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cake are done. You’ll know when a toothpick inserted into the center pulls out clean. Let cool completely before decorating.
How to Store
- Unfrosted Cake: if you have an unfrosted cake, you can store this cake on the countertop in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, the unfrosted cakes will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow them to thaw before frosting and serving after freezing.
- Frosted Cake: Store any leftover frosted cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. The cake may start to dry out after 3 days.