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The Ultimate Vegan Chocolate Cake

Rich, decadent, and totally egg and dairy-free! This vegan chocolate cake is made with two layers of deliciousness slathered and stuffed with luscious vegan chocolate buttercream frosting. It’ll knock your socks off!

Slice of Vegan Chocolate Cake on its Side on a Plate with Cake Dish in the Background

Dessert is my favorite meal. Admit it: it’s yours too! Even if I don’t have it every day, dessert totally counts as a meal. And chocolate cake has been my lifelong favorite dessert. So you better believe that when the time came for me to create a killer vegan chocolate cake recipe, I took the task VERY SERIOUSLY.

I crushed it.

I could eat this dairy-free chocolate cake for breakfast, lunch, dinner AND dessert. It’s that good!

Not only that, but the recipe is super simple! You don’t need any weird ingredients and this vegan cake doesn’t even contain an egg substitute (sometimes you don’t need one! Check out my guide to learn all about that). It makes a perfect vegan birthday cake or an impressive dessert for special occasions. Nobody needs to know how easy it was!

Everyone I’ve served this vegan chocolate cake to has commented on how rich and chocolaty it is. You’d seriously never guess it was vegan.

Let’s talk about how it’s made!

Jump to:

What You’ll Need

Vegan Chocolate Cake with a Large Wedge Cut Out
  • Non dairy milk. You can use just about anything that’s unsweetened and unflavored. Soy milk, almond milk, and cashew milk are all good choices.
  • Coconut oil. Or use your favorite oil for baking — canola oil, vegetable oil, or corn oil all work.
  • Vanilla extract.
  • White vinegar. Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice can be substituted if you’d like.
  • Flour. The recipe calls for all-purpose wheat flour, and that’s the only thing I’ve tested it with. Use another variety at your own risk!
  • Granulated sugar. Use organic sugar to keep the recipe vegan.
  • Cocoa powder. Make sure it’s unsweetened.
  • Baking powder.
  • Baking soda.
  • Salt.
  • Frosting. I like this recipe with my vegan chocolate buttercream frosting. You could also use my vegan vanilla buttercream frosting. You’ll need about 4 to 5 cups of frosting (about 1 full batch if you use either of my frosting recipes).

How to Make Vegan Chocolate Cake

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this cake. Scroll down if you’d prefer to skip right to the recipe!

Make the Cake

  1. Mix your liquid ingredients in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup: milk, oil, vanilla, and vinegar. Tip: Warm your milk up to room temperature if it’s been in the fridge — this will prevent the coconut oil from solidifying.
  2. Stir your dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture and beat everything together with an electric hand mixer (or a stand mixer, if that’s how you roll) for about 2 minutes.
  4. Divide the batter among two oiled and parchment paper-lined 9-inch round cake pans. Tip: If you have a food scale, weigh the batter as you add it. This will ensure that your layers come out even.
Collage Showing Steps for Making Vegan Chocolate Cake: Mix Liquid Ingredients, Mix Dry Ingredients, Beat with Mixer and Place Batter in Cake Pans

Pop your layers in the oven to bake. Make your frosting in the meantime.

Frost and Fill the Cake

  1. Invert one of your cooled vegan cake layers onto a dish, then peel off the parchment paper. Tip: Line the dish with a couple of strips of parchment paper, placed so that they sit just under the edges of the cake. This prevents you from getting frosting on the plate. You can remove them after you’re done frosting the cake.
  2. Spread a generous layer of frosting over the top of the layer.
  3. Now invert the second layer over the first, peel the parchment, and spread frosting over the top.
  4. Spread frosting around the sides of the cake.
Collage Showing Steps for Frosting a Vegan Chocolate Cake: Invert First Layer on Dish, Top with Frosting, Top with Second Layer and Additional Frosting, and Frost Sides

Tip: If you have time, do a crumb coat. This basically means starting the process of frosting the outside with a thin layer to smooth out the imperfections and trap crumbs. Chill the cake for a bit to set that layer of frosting, then apply a second, thicker layer of frosting over the crumb coat.

Variation: Vegan Chocolate Sheet Cake

Hand Using a Spatula to Frost a Vegan Chocolate Sheet Cake.

Prefer to make a sheet cake? No problem! Just pour all of your batter into a 9 x 13 inch pan that’s been lined with parchment paper and lightly oiled. Bake the vegan chocolate cake for 25 to 27 minutes at 350°F, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

You’ll only need about 3 cups of frosting for a sheet cake (about ⅔ of a batch if you use one of my recipes — you can freeze the leftovers for later!).

Shelf Life & Storage

Seal up any leftover vegan chocolate cake and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Pro-Tips

  • Be sure you let your vegan chocoalte cake cool completely before frosting it. Rushing this can result in your frosting turning runny and sad. Cakes can take up to 3 hours at room temperature. If you want to speed up the process, try sticking it in the fridge after the first few minutes (even better — on a cooling rack in the fridge if you’ve got room!). This can cut the cooling time in half.
  • Vegan chocolate cake is a bit more delicate than traditional chocolate cake, because it’s egg-free. Be mindful of this when cutting it. I prefer a large, non-serrated knife for cutting, and I find that a chilled cake cuts easier (and goes great with a cold glass of almond milk!)
  • Make sure to measure your ingredients properly. Use liquid measuring cups for the milk and oil, and dry measuring cups for the flour and sugar. Absolutely make sure not to pack flour into the measuring cup (which will result in you using too much flour). If in doubt, check out this guide on how to measure flour correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can this cake be made gluten-free?

I’m not sure! I haven’t tested a gluten-free version of the recipe, but I have had luck with similar cake recipes using Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Flour.

My cake didn’t rise. What happened?

Most of the time this is due to old baking soda and/or powder. To test your baking soda, sprinkle a bit in a glass of vinegar. To test your baking powder, sprinkle some in a glass of water. In either case, it should fizz. If it doesn’t, time to toss and replace it!

Why does the sugar need to be organic?

In the U.S., most sugar is processed using animal bone char, so it’s not vegan. Organic sugar is processed differently, without animal bones.

Can I make this into cupcakes?

I’m sure you can with modifications, but I haven’t tested it so I can’t give you exact instructions. Instead, I recommend following my vegan chocolate cupcakes recipe.

Can I taste-test raw vegan chocolate cake batter?

Unfortunately, no. Raw flour can contain contaminants that can only be destroyed by cooking, so you’ll need to hang in there and wait for your finished cake before taste-testing!

Close Up of a Slice of Vegan Chocolate Cake Standing Upright on a Plate

More Vegan Cake Recipes

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Slice of Vegan Chocolate Cake on a plate

The Ultimate Vegan Chocolate Cake

Rich, decadent, and totally egg and dairy-free! This vegan chocolate cake is made with two layers of deliciousness slathered and stuffed with luscious vegan chocolate buttercream frosting. It’ll knock your socks off!

Ingredients

  • 1 ½
    cups
    unflavored and unsweetened non-dairy milk,
    room temperature

  • cup
    coconut oil,
    melted
  • 2
    teaspoons
    vanilla extract
  • 1
    teaspoon
    white vinegar
  • 2
    cups
    all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½
    cups
    organic granulated sugar
  • ¾
    cup
    cocoa powder
  • 1 ½
    teaspoons
    baking powder
  • 1 ½
    teaspoons
    baking soda
  • ¾
    teaspoon
    salt
  • Vegan Chocolate Buttercream frosting
    (or your favorite frosting)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  2. Lightly oil and line the bottoms of two round 9-inch cake pans* with parchment paper.

  3. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, stir together the milk, coconut oil, vanilla, and vinegar.

  4. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

  5. Use a spoon to make a well in the center of the flour mixture, then pour the milk mixture into the well.

  6. Beat the ingredients together using an electric mixer at high-speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat until the ingredients are completely mixed, about 2 minutes.

  7. Divide the batter among the two prepared cake pans.

  8. Bake for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each layer comes out clean.

  9. Remove the cake pans from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

  10. To frost the cake, invert one of the layers onto a plate, then peel off the parchment paper.

  11. Smooth a layer of frosting over the top of the cake.

  12. Invert the second layer over the first layer and remove the parchment paper.

  13. Slather a layer of frosting over the second cake layer.

  14. Cover the sides of the cake with another thin layer of frosting.

  15. Cut the cake and serve immediately or chill for later. 

Recipe Notes

Nutrition information does not include frosting. Why? Because it depends on what kind of frosting you use and how much. If you use my chocolate frosting, you can add the correct nutrition info for the amount of it you use.

*If you prefer to make a vegan sheet cake, use a single 9 x 13 inch rectangular pan instead. Line the bottom with parchment paper and lightly oil both the pan and paper. Bake the cake for 25 to 27 minutes at 350°F.

Nutrition Facts

The Ultimate Vegan Chocolate Cake

Amount Per Serving

Calories 292
Calories from Fat 120

% Daily Value*

Fat 13.3g20%

Saturated Fat 10.9g55%

Sodium 328mg14%

Potassium 227mg6%

Carbohydrates 44.3g15%

Fiber 2.2g9%

Sugar 25.2g28%

Protein 3.3g7%

Calcium 70mg7%

Iron 2mg11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



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