Super easy to mix together, this fluffy and moist vegan vanilla cake is the best ever! Simple ingredients for an outta this world cake.
This is the ultimate vegan vanilla cake. It’s fluffy, moist, tender, totally packed with vanilla flavor, and made with super simple ingredients from your pantry.
Perfect for a birthday celebration, graduations, weddings, holidays, special occasions, or just anytime you want to enjoy a slice of cake!
Over the years, I’ve had many (many) vegan vanilla cakes. Some good, some not so good. This cake is the result of years of experimenting in the kitchen, tweaking, and perfecting a fluffy and moist vegan vanilla cake.
Made with simple ingredients like applesauce and cake flour, plus lots of good vanilla, this cake can be made by hand without a mixer and comes together in about 5 minutes.
The result is an easy vegan vanilla cake that is tender, moist, and super delicious! Top it with your favorite vegan vanilla frosting, vegan chocolate frosting, or think more outside of the box with a vegan strawberry frosting!
No matter how you slice it, this fluffy vegan vanilla cake is one that you’ll return to again and again.
Why You’ll Love this Vanilla Cake
- Simple ingredients
- Soft, light, fluffy crumb
- Sturdy enough to hold up any frosting
- No mixer required – just mix it up by hand in a bowl
- Makes the perfectly cute 6-inch layer cake
- Dairy free, Egg free, Nut free recipe!
Here is a quick rundown of what you’ll need for this yummy cake. See the recipe card for the exact measurements.
- Cake flour: I have made this several times and for the lightest and most fluffiest cake, cake flour always gives the best results. All purpose flour can work as well, the cake will just be a little less fluffy.
- Dairy free milk + Apple cider vinegar: This makes an equivalent of a vegan buttermilk which makes the cake rise and be fluffy! You can use your favorite dairy free milk here. I generally use soy milk, but coconut milk, almond milk, or any other kind will work here. I’ve tried this with lemon juice to replace the apple cider vinegar and found it to be too overpowering of a flavor so try to avoid it if possible.
- Oil + Applesauce: I’ve tried this with vegan butter and found I preferred the flavor of plain canola oil (or any neutral vegetable oil) over melted butter. You can try this with coconut oil, however, I haven’t tried that yet.
- Sugar: White granulated sugar is what I typically use in this cake. You can also use coconut sugar for a refined sugar free cake. Just know that the coconut sugar will turn the cake a slightly darker color than the one seen in these photos. But it will be just as delicious!
- Vanilla: The star of this cake! Use your favorite vanilla to make this. You need a solid tablespoon of vanilla but this cake is totally worth it
- You’ll also need: Cornstarch, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt
- Make it for a birthday by adding sprinkles! I would add about ½ cup to ¾ cup of sprinkles inside the batter for a funfetti cake. For a great selection of vegan sprinkles, check out Sweetopolita.
- If you don’t have cornstarch, you can still make this cake with an equal amount of either tapioca flour or arrowroot powder. Both work great.
Make sure to check out the recipe card below for the full recipe and ingredient list.
Before you begin, make sure that your oven is preheated and the two 6-inch cake pans are lightly greased and lined with parchment paper, as seen here. You want these to be ready to go so that you can pop the cakes into the oven as soon as they are mixed together. This will give you the best results for tall, fluffy cake.
Start by mixing together the room temperature dairy free milk with water and apple cider vinegar. Let this sit for about 3 to 5 minutes. This is essentially making that vegan “buttermilk” to give the cake a little tang and to help it rise. It will curdle the milk slightly, so don’t panic if you see lumps. You want those!
Next, in a large bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients. Start with the oil and sugar and then add the vanilla. When those are whisked, add the applesauce, whisking again. Finally, add the “buttermilk” mixture. Whisk this together really well so that it is fully combined and you can’t make out any bits of oil floating on the surface.
Next, it’s time for the dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, mix together the cake flour with cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Tip! If you are using cake flour, there is no need to sift the dry ingredients. If you are using all purpose flour, it is a good idea to sift it together.
Now, it’s time to combine! Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and carefully begin to mix them together. I like to switch to a spatula at this point.
The batter will be thick and fluffy looking. Make sure you don’t over mix so you don’t deflate the cake.
Carefully pour the cake batter evenly into the prepared pan. Try to get them as evenly as possible but don’t stress about it.
Bake the cakes for about 33 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the sides of the cake have pulled away from the pan. Let them cool in the hot pans for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
How to Make Vegan Vanilla Frosting
Making vegan buttercream frosting is really no different than making dairy based buttercream frosting. For a full deep dive into all things frosting, make sure you check out my vegan vanilla frosting post. But here is the quick rundown.
Start by making sure your vegan butter of choice is at room temperature. For making frosting, I do recommend either a stand mixer or a hand mixer. Add it to a mixer and begin to cream the butter. Add the sugar one cup at a time until you’ve added all the sugar. Finally, add the vanilla and any additional dairy free milk to get it to a nice consistency. Mix this on high for about 5 minutes and you’re done!
Tip! For a 6-inch cake, you’ll want about a ½ to ¾ cup of frosting between each layer. For an 8-inch cake, you’ll want about 1 cup of frosting between the layers.
Then it’s time to frost your cake! You can make this as simple or fancy as you like. I always suggest doing a crumb coat first. This helps not only to keep the final layer of frosting crumb free, but it also helps you to frost the cake. The cake layers chill and come together which makes them more sturdy when frosting.
Yes! These make two 6-inch round cakes, 12 cupcakes, or one 8 or 9-inch cake. To make a double layer 8 or 9 inch cake, simply double this recipe. This can also be made into a sheet cake. Baking instructions are in the recipe card below!
Yes and no. Leveling a cake is helpful so that the layers are more even, ensuring that you get more cake and less frosting in a slice. Taking a serrated knife, simply (but carefully!) slice off the tops of your rounded cakes. You don’t need anything fancy like a level or ruler or anything. Just eyeball it and you’re good.
This can happen for a few reasons. First, you used all purpose flour in place of cake flour. Using all purpose will make for a more dense cake. No problem with that as it still will taste amazing!
Another element affecting this can be that the ingredients had too much variation in temperature. If you used cold milk and warm water, for example. Try to make this with room temp ingredients.
It is totally normal for all cakes to slightly shrink as they come out of the hot oven and into the cooler room temperature air. But, if the cake has totally sunk, there could be a few things happening.
First, the oven temperature isn’t what it says it is. Try getting an oven thermometer and testing to see if you have a colder or hotter oven than what you think.
Next, the ingredients could have been under mixed. While we don’t want to overmix the cake and develop a lot of gluten, the cake still needs to be fully mixed.
- Make sure that your baking soda and baking powder are fresh. Once opened, they are only good for about 6 months and have a tendency to pick up any odors in the kitchen.
- Use room temperature ingredients. In fact, you can even warm the water and milk slightly to about 80F. The batter will better mix when all the ingredients are the same temperature.
- Fully cool the cakes before assembling the final cake. Cake needs to be cool so that the frosting doesn’t melt off.
- After frosting the cake, don’t cut it right away. Pop the cake back into the fridge to chill completely. This will give the most clean slices.
How to Store
This cake is best enjoyed the same day that it is made. To keep any leftovers:
Fridge: Wrap up an leftover cake in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezer: Freeze unfrosted layers tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and then stored in a freezer safe container for up to 2 months. Allow the cakes to thaw in the fridge overnight and then frost as usual.
More Cake Recipes
I know you are just going to love this cake recipe! I hope that it becomes your go-to for all your holidays, birthdays, and special occasions. 🙂
Want to save this recipe for later? Add it to your favorite recipe board on Pinterest!
If you try these out, please leave a comment below! This provides helpful feedback to both me and other readers. And if you want more delicious, vegan friendly recipes you can subscribe to the newsletter. Did you make these? Please tag me on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest! I love to see your creations!
- 6 inch cake pans (recommended)
- Mixing bowls
- Mixing spoons
- measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- parchment paper
- Baking spray
- ¾ cup dairy free milk soy, coconut, almond, etc
- ¼ cup water
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup oil canola
- 2 tablespoons applesauce unsweetened
- ¾ cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups cake flour swap all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups vegan butter
- 4-5 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- pinch salt
- 2-3 tablespoons dairy free milk as needed
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C. Spray and line two 6-inch cake pans. Set them aside.
- Prep the dairy free milk. Combine the dairy free milk of choice with the apple cider vinegar. Stir and set aside for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Mix the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Mix the wet ingredients. In a larger bowl, whisk together the prepared milk mixture with water, the oil, applesauce, sugar, and vanilla.
- Combine. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and using a spatula, gently stir together. Make sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans. I typically get about 370g per cake pan.
- Bake. Bake the cakes for about 33 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake pulls out clean. The cakes will also pull away slightly from the sides of the pan when they are done.
- Cool. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool slightly in the hot pans for about 5 minutes before pulling the cakes out and letting them finish cooling on a wire cooling rack.
- Frost and Decorate. When ready to frost and decorate, make the vegan buttercream frosting of your choice. Slice the cakes to be more symmetrical (if desired). Give a light crumb coating and fill the cake, letting it chill for 30 minutes before doing the final coat of frosting.
- Nutrition information for only the cake, not any additional frosting.
- Different Cake Pan Baking Information
- Cupcakes: Fill cupcake liners 2/3s full. Bake at same temperature for 22-24 minutes.
- Mini Cupcakes: Fill cupcake liners almost full. Bake at the same temperature for 12-13 minutes.
- 8-inch pans: Prep pans as directed. Bake at same temperature for 25-27 minutes.
- Sheet Cake: Prep a 8×10 cake pan. Bake at the same temperature for 35-40 minutes.
- How to Store
- This cake is best enjoyed the same day that it is made. To keep any leftovers:
- Fridge: Wrap up an leftover cake in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Freezer: Freeze unfrosted layers tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and then stored in a freezer safe container for up to 2 months. Allow the cakes to thaw in the fridge overnight and then frost as usual.