Vegan Chocolate Cake
This easy Vegan Chocolate Cake recipe has been a reader favourite for years, and it’s one of mine too! It’s moist, decadent, fluffy, and made with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.
In my previous life, before I became a vegan food blogger, I had my own baking company—and that means I’ve baked more chocolate cakes than I can count over the years. Everyone wants chocolate cake, so needless to say, I learned how to make it flawlessly.
Now, making a flawless vegan chocolate cake? Well, that was a little bit trickier. Swapping out the dairy milk for a plant-based alternative was easy, and using vegan butter instead of regular was a no-brainer. But what about the eggs?
A lot of vegan chocolate cake recipes call for flax or chia seeds, which contain protein to provide a structure that allows cakes to rise, just like eggs. It works well, but not everyone has easy access to ground flax and chia. So instead, I chose to use vinegar.
Vinegar works a little bit differently from flax and chia; it reacts with the baking soda in the recipe to create extra lift, resulting in the lightest, fluffiest vegan chocolate cake you’ll ever have. And no, you won’t taste the vinegar—it simply enhances the overall flavour of the cake without distracting from it.
Notes on Ingredients
Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.
For the Vegan Chocolate Cake:
- Apple cider vinegar – You can also use white vinegar if that’s what you have on hand.
- Soy milk or another vegan milk – Be sure to use unflavoured vegan milk.
- All-purpose flour – To make a gluten-free vegan chocolate cake, you’ll need to use a measure-for-measure gluten-free flour substitute.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Baking powder
- Baking soda – Baking soda is critical for the leavening of this cake, so be sure yours isn’t expired.
- Sea salt
- Oil – Any neutral-flavoured oil you like to use for baking.
- Vanilla extract
- Boiling water and instant coffee –This is the secret to really amping up all the chocolate flavour in this recipe.
For the Vegan Chocolate Frosting:
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Unsalted vegan butter – Earth Balance works quite well; if you live in an area that doesn’t have vegan butter at the supermarket, try my homemade vegan butter.
- Vanilla extract
- Sea salt
- Powdered sugar – Also known as confectioners’ sugar.
- Vegan milk
What Can I Substitute for Instant Coffee in Baking?
If you don’t have instant coffee on hand, no worries—you don’t need to buy it! Substitute one cup of boiling hot, strongly-brewed coffee instead of the instant coffee and water.
How to Make Vegan Chocolate Cake
Not only is this the tastiest vegan chocolate cake you’ll ever have, it’s also the easiest you’ll ever make! Here’s what you’ll need to do.
Start With the Cake:
Prepare. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and line them with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C.
Make vegan “buttermilk.” In a small bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar and soy milk. Set aside while you work on the next step of the recipe; the mixture will thicken and curdle during this time.
Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
Add the wet ingredients. Add the buttermilk mixture, oil, vanilla extract, and the brewed instant coffee. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until all of the ingredients are just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Bake. Divide the batter into the cake pans and bake for 35 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans on wire racks for 30 to 60 minutes, then carefully turn the cakes out onto the racks to finish cooling.
Make the Frosting:
Combine the ingredients. Add the cocoa powder, vegan butter, 2 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, sea salt, and half the vegan milk to the bowl of a stand mixer or a hand mixer.
Beat. Begin mixing on low speed, then gradually increase the speed until the frosting is thick and smooth. Beat in the remaining powdered sugar a little at a time until the frosting reaches your desired consistency; you can also add the rest of the milk for a thinner frosting.
Frost the first layer. Place one of the cooled cakes on a platter, lazy Susan, or cake stand and spread half of the frosting over the top and sides.
Add the second layer. Carefully set the other cake upside down onto the first cake layer and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides, blending the upper and lower layers as you go.
Garnish and serve. Decorate with chocolate shavings or dust with cocoa powder, then slice and enjoy.
Tips for Success
This vegan chocolate cake recipe couldn’t be easier to whip up, but I still have some simple tips for you to make it even better!
- Weigh the batter. If you want to make sure your layers are even as can be, you can weigh your mixing bowl while empty, then after the batter is done. The difference between the two numbers is the weight of the batter. Divide this by two, then pour that amount of batter into each pan.
- Level the cakes if needed. A two-layer cake can often be assembled without leveling, but if you notice your cakes are taller in the middle, you can use a serrated knife to trim the tops a bit.
- Use an offset spatula for frosting. A butter knife or rubber spatula will work in a pinch, but an offset spatula will help you get a professional look on your vegan chocolate cake.
White chocolate shavings—or a combination of white chocolate and dark chocolate—are an excellent substitute for chocolate shavings on this vegan chocolate cake. Fresh raspberries and strawberries are beautiful as well, or you can switch things up and use vegan cream cheese frosting instead of chocolate.
How to Store
Store this vegan chocolate cake in an airtight container at room temperature for about 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you refrigerate the cake, let it sit on the countertop for a few minutes so it comes to room temperature before serving.
Can I Freeze This Recipe?
Yes, this chocolate cake freezes beautifully! If you have leftovers, cut it into slices, wrap the slices in foil, and place them in a zip-top bag if you plan on freezing them for over a month.
To freeze a whole cake, I recommend placing it on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freezing the cake until the frosting is hardened. Then, wrap the cake in a layer of plastic wrap, followed by foil. The vegan chocolate cake will keep for up to 2 months this way.
Thaw the whole cake and cake slices at room temperature or in the refrigerator before serving.
Enjoy friends! If you make this vegan chocolate cake, please snap a photo and tag #jessicainthekitchen on Instagram! We’d also love it if you would leave a comment below, and give the recipe a rating! Thanks so much!
Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup soy milk or other vegan milk, (240mL)
- 2 cups sugar, (400g)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, (240g)
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, (60g)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons oil , (100g + 2 teaspoons)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water + 1 tbsp instant coffee mixed in until dissolved , (243mL) stir these together right before you need it so it's still hot
Vegan chocolate frosting
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, (80g)
- 1/2 cup unsalted vegan butter, (softened)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch sea salt
- 2 1/2 cups to 3 cups powdered sugar , (390g for 3 cups)
- 1/3 cup vegan milk, + 1 tablespoon extra if needed
Vegan Chocolate Cake
- Grease and flour two 9” cake pans and line with parchment paper. It’s essential so that the cake doesn’t stick. If making an 8" cake, check the notes.
- Heat oven to 350°F/180°C.
- In a small bowl, add the apple cider vinegar and the soy milk together and stir to combine. It will curdle. Set aside.
- Whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. Add milk mixture, oil and vanilla and the coffee water. Beat with an electric whisk on medium speed for about 2 minutes until everything is just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir one more time to ensure everything is incorporated.
- Pour the batter equally into the cake pans and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour in the pan on a wire rack before removing from the pan and to the wire rack to cool completely.
Vegan Chocolate Frosting
- Add the cocoa powder, vegan butter, 2 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, sea salt and half the vegan milk to the bowl of an electric stand mixer or a hand mixer. Start mixing it together at slow speed, gradually increasing speed until it’s very thick and smooth. Add the 1/2 cup of the extra powdered sugar at a time until it reaches your desired thickness and consistency. If needed, add in the other half of the milk about 1 tablespoon at a time.
Putting it All Together
- Frost cakes and decorate. The frosting will set at room temperature. Enjoy!
- Place 1 of the fully cooled cakes on a platter (or any plate wide enough) and dollop half of the frosting on top. Cover the top and the sides, distributing it equally.
- Place the remaining cake upside down on top of the frosted cake and spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides, blending the upper and lower portions of the sides as you go.
- If you're using 3 layers, do the same, but split into thirds instead.
- Decorate with some shaved chocolate or extra cocoa powder! The frosting sets at room temperature perfectly. Slice and enjoy!
Disclaimer: Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.
Recipe by: Jessica Hylton – Jessica in the Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats