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A truly decadent dessert – this Vegan Chocolate Cake is rich, moist, and fudgy! It has a tender crumb with a silky-smooth, buttery frosting that is hard to resist. Plus, it's easy to make and requires simple ingredients.
Sometimes we just need to indulge a little and a slice of this Vegan Chocolate Cake is the best way to do it. It pairs nicely with a movie and a cold glass of my Cashew Milk, or Chocolate Hazelnut Milk. It'll satisfy your sweet tooth and brighten your day!
You don't need a special occasion to make this fabulous dessert. It's the perfect treat for birthdays, potlucks, holidays, and more. Almost everyone loves cake, so it'll be a winner every time!
Plus, the deep chocolate flavor of this cake will keep them coming back for more. It's deliciously addictive!
Why you'll love this Vegan Chocolate Cake
This cake is rich and decadent from the Dutch-processed cocoa powder. It provides an intense dark chocolate flavor that'll turn an ordinary cake into an extraordinary one. It's a chocolate lover's dream!
It's perfect for baking, but it won't work in every recipe because of its neutral PH, so you won't be able to use it interchangeably with regular cocoa powder which is more acidic. So make sure the recipe you're making specifically states which one to use.
However, you can use regular cocoa powder for this recipe if you want and it'll still turn out chocolatey and delicious!
The batter requires just 10 simple ingredients. Here are some notes and substitute ideas:
️🌟 This is a quick overview with step-by-step photos. For the complete ingredient amounts and instructions, scroll down to the recipe card below.
All-Purpose Flour - you can also use cake flour if you have it for a super tender crumb. I haven't tried making this recipe gluten-free, but I think a 1.1 all-purpose gluten-free flour should work.
Soy Milk – yields a consistency that is similar to dairy buttermilk when an acid is added. If you can't have soy, you can use any non-dairy milk. It won't thicken or curdle much, but the recipe will still work fine.
Apple Cider Vinegar – you can also use freshly-squeezed lemon juice.
Granulated Sugar – I've also tried this cake with 1 cup of granulated sugar and ¾ cup of brown sugar. It tasted slightly less sweet, but it had a moister crumb.
Apple Sauce - yields a moist and tender crumb, but If you don't have it, you. can use non-dairy coconut yogurt.
Neutral-Flavored Oil - such as sunflower, canola, grapeseed, or avocado oil will work.
Dutch Process Cocoa Powder - It yields an intense chocolate flavor that is just perfection, but the recipe will work with regular cocoa powder and it'll still turn out delicious!
Vanilla Extract - this complements the overall flavor, so I wouldn't skip this.
How to make Vegan Chocolate Cake
The batter will come together very quickly and you'll be ready to bake. Here's what you'll need to do:
- Make the vegan buttermilk by combining the soy milk and apple cider vinegar in a medium bowl and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Sift the cocoa powder in a large bowl, then whisk with the remaining dry ingredients. Set aside.
- Add oil, applesauce, sugar, and vanilla to the bowl of buttermilk and whisk to combine.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and whisk together until just combined. Divide batter evenly into cake pans. Bake them in the oven for 30-35 minutes
How to make the frosting
You'll need a stand or hand mixer for this frosting. It'll whip up fast! Here's a step-by-step visual on how it's done:
- Add softened vegan butter to a bowl. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer beat on medium until fluffy. About 2-4 minutes.
- Add the vanilla extract and mix until incorporated (about 30-60 seconds)
- Add the powdered sugar and cocoa mixture, 1 cup at a time over low speed until it's mostly incorporated. Scrape down sides as needed. Now turn up to medium-high speed and mix until smooth and fluffy. Repeat until the mixture is gone.
- At medium speed, add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
Here are a few important tips to help you with the batter and frosting:
- When you're transferring the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, use a spatula to scrape out as much as possible. You don't want to lose that moisture!
- Don't overwork the batter or the cake will be dense and chewy. Mix the wet and dry ingredients until just combined. A few small lumps are fine.
- Let the cake completely cool before frosting or it will melt.
- You can apply a crumb coat to prevent loose crumbs from getting into the frosting. Here is a quick tutorial on how to apply a crumb coat.
- If you're adding sprinkles to the top, add them right after frosting so they stick.
- To prevent frosting from getting on the serving plate, you can place a few pieces of parchment paper on the edges of the plate before placing the cake base on top. Now frost the cake entirely, then carefully remove the pieces.
Yes, it freezes really well for 2-3 months and will be perfectly moist and tender after thawing. Just make sure the cake is completely cooled and wrap each piece really well before storing it.
Yes, you can frost a cake straight out of the freezer without thawing. Freezing a cake makes it sturdier and the frosting glides on easily without crumbs getting in the way. Just give it an hour before serving it.
If you have leftover cake that is already frosted, you can still freeze it. I like to cut it into slices and freeze each piece separately. Then you can have a piece of cake any time you'd like. It'll only take 10-15 minutes to thaw.
Yes! It'll make about 18 cupcakes, so you'll need two 12-cup cupcake tins. Fill each slot with cupcake liners and pour the batter about ¾ of the way into each one. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean
Alternative frosting options
This vegan chocolate cake goes perfectly with chocolate frosting, but If you want to change things up you can swap out the chocolate frosting for my Vegan Buttercream Frosting, this Vegan Strawberry Frosting, or Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting. They are all tasty choices!
More dessert recipes to enjoy
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Vegan Chocolate Cake
- 1 ½ cups soy milk
- 1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar (sub lemon juice)
- 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons avocado oil , or any neutral-flavored oil (grapeseed, sunflower, vegetable, etc.)
- ½ cup applesauce
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (*see note about measuring)
- ¾ cup dutch processed cocoa powder (sub unsweetened cocoa powder)
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup vegan stick butter , slightly softened at room temp
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3-4 tablespoons non-dairy milk
- ½ cup dutch processed cocoa powder (sub unsweetened cocoa powder)
- Preheat your oven to 350 °F (177 °C). Lightly grease two 8-inch cake pans for easy cake removal. (9-inch pans can be used too)
- In a large mixing bowl with a mesh strainer on top, sift the cocoa powder into the bowl to break up clumps. Remove strainer and add flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine well. Set aside.
- In the medium bowl with the buttermilk, add the oil, applesauce, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk to combine well.
- Now slowly pour the wet ingredients into the larger bowl of dry ingredients. Scrape the sides of the bowl so you get all that moisture. Whisk together until just combined. Small lumps are fine. (*Don't over mix or it can create a dense and chewy cake)
- Divide batter evenly into each cake pan. Bake them in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (some dry crumbs are fine, just not wet batter). Don't overbake or the cake will be dry.
- Let the cake cool in the pans for 15-20 minutes before removing. Then let them cool on a rack completely before frosting.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- In a medium mixing bowl fitted with a mesh strainer on top, add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and sift together to break up clumps then set aside.
- Add the softened vegan butter to the bowl of a Stand Mixer (or use a Medium/Large Stainless Steel Bowl with a Hand Mixer). Beat until pale and fluffy for 2-4 minutes.
- Add the vanilla extract and mix until incorporated (about 30-60 seconds)
- Now add the powdered sugar and cocoa mixture, 1 cup at a time over low speed until it's mostly incorporated. Scrape down sides as needed. Now turn up to medium-high speed and mix until smooth and fluffy. Repeat until the mixture is gone. Taste and add more sugar if needed.
- On medium speed, add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
- If the cake is not cool yet, store the frosting in the fridge in an airtight container. It may harden a little in the fridge. Just give it a good stir and let it sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature.
- Measuring Flour: For accurate results, don’t scoop the flour with a measuring cup directly from the flour container. Instead, Aerate the flour first, then scoop the flour out of your container with a spoon and then into a measuring cup. Don’t pack or tap the cup. After filling, lightly sweep a butter knife across the top to remove the excess flour.
- Stand Mixer: you can use the paddle or balloon whisk attachment. The whisk adds more air into the frosting which gives it a slightly whipped texture. If you want a more traditional buttercream, use the paddle attachment.
- Frosting: it can stay out at room temperature for quite a while without melting, so you can leave the decorated cake out. However, if it's too warm, the frosting will start to soften. I prefer to store the decorated cake in the fridge and take it out an hour before serving. This also helps set the frosting and prevents it from getting too soft.
- If you'll be adding sprinkles or decorations on top of the frosting, make sure to do so right away or they won't stick.
- If you're using regular cocoa powder for the frosting, you may want to add ¼ cup more to the recipe. Taste before adding more.
- Use organic powder sugar to ensure that it's vegan.
Which granulated sugar do you use? Our sugar is cane sugar or raw sugar can i use either one? My cakes never come out fluffy they are dense and flat. I will try this recipe.
Hi Jazzelle, the cane sugar will work well. I haven't tried it with raw sugar. To avoid a dense cake, make sure to measure all ingredients accurately and be careful not to overmix the batter. Stir just enough to combine. Also, make sure your leavening agent is fresh. I hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by 🙂
This the best chocolate cake I’ve ever tried! I followed the instructions exactly and it came out so moist and rich. The chocolate flavor was incredible. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!
Hi Sharon, I'm so glad you loved the recipe. Thank you for trying it out and sharing your feedback! 🙂
Does it have to be soy milk or can you use oat milk? I don't have any soy on hand and was wondering if oat milk would work or if I need to run to the store because soy milk is a must. Thanks, can't wait to try this cake!
Hi Kara, I prefer soy milk because it curdles the best and it's closest to dairy buttermilk when mixed with vinegar or lemon juice. However, any plant-milk will work in this recipe. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂