Vegan Chocolate Sheet Cake

By Jessica Hylton -

Vegan Chocolate Sheet Cake with vegan chocolate frosting is a dessert recipe for all occasions! It’s fluffy, chocolate-y, tender and SO delicious! Whether you’re celebrating a birthday or just craving all things chocolate, this cake is the perfect choice.

Squares of chocolate sheet cake.

Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake

Any chocolate lovers around? If so, you’re going to LOVE this Vegan Chocolate Sheet Cake! I know the holidays are usually a time for extravagant desserts, but it’s never a bad idea to sit back and enjoy a good slice of chocolate cake. I mean, one bite and you’ll know, this was the right choice.

You guys know it’s so important to me that the vegan basics that I do are very pantry friendly and filled with simple ingredients. This chocolate sheet cake is exactly that. It’s super easy to put together, and even easier to decorate. In fact, you might want to get some little helpers involved! Sprinkles are always appreciated by the kiddos.

Notes on Ingredients

Ingredients for vegan chocolate sheet cake.

Coming back to the recipe ingredients, there’s nothing out of the ordinary here. In fact, I would bet that you probably have everything you need already in the pantry or in the fridge!

For the Cake:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar: this is for preparing the vegan buttermilk. Regular vinegar will also work if you don’t have apple cider vinegar.
  • Soy Milk: about 1 cup. Any other vegan milks would also work, but I love this for its high protein content, and because it’s thick and smooth.
  • Brown Sugar: you can also use cane sugar, which is sweeter than regular or brown sugar.
  • All-Purpose Flour: I highly recommend a regular all purpose flour. You could also make this gluten free, but it might change the texture.
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: I recommend regular high quality unsweetened cocoa powder, not dutch processed cocoa powder (it doesn’t react the same).
  • Baking Powder: will help the cake rise, and also provide a lighter texture to the cake. Always test that it’s good!
  • Baking Soda: this will also help your cake rise. Always test that it’s good!
  • Sea Salt: if you want to use regular salt, slightly reduce the amount used.
  • Oil: takes the place of butter in this cake as the necessary fat, to ensure that the cake is nice and tender.
  • Vanilla Extract: I highly recommend not skipping this because it really adds to the flavour!
  • Warm Milk + Instant Coffee: The coffee REALLY boosts the chocolate flavour. You can also use espresso powder or what you have, it doesn’t have to be instant. Or even decaf coffee! You could leave it out, but I don’t recommend it. I like to stir this into warm milk which helps to melt the ingredients, as well as dissolve the coffee.
Ingredients for vegan chocolate sheet cake.

For the Frosting:

  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder.
  • Unsalted Vegan Butter: it’s also okay if you use salted vegan butter, just skip the salt below!
  • Vanilla Extract.
  • Sea Salt.
  • Powdered Sugar: you can also use confectioner’s sugar (it’s the same thing). You can also make your own by just blending any sugar in your blender!
  • Vegan Milk.

How to Make Vegan Chocolate Sheet Cake

Mixing together this chocolate sheet cake is a breeze. Once you prep the buttermilk, all you have to do is combine the ingredients and pour the batter into the sheet pan. Cake baking has never been easier!

Preheat Oven & Line Sheet Pan: Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Prepare a 9×13 sheet pan (with sides) by greasing & flouring or lining with parchment paper (I usually just grease and flour).

Prepare Buttermilk: In a jar, add the vinegar and room temperature vegan milk together to curdle to form a buttermilk. Set aside.  

in between shots of making vegan chocolate sheet cake

Combine Dry Ingredients: In a large bowl, add the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. Using a whisk, whisk all the ingredients together, removing any clumps that may form.   

Oil added to the dry ingredients.

Mix In Oil & Buttermilk: Add in the oil, the buttermilk mix from earlier and the vanilla extract. 

in between shots of making vegan chocolate sheet cake

Warm Milk & Stir in Instant Coffee: Heat up that additional milk in the microwave for 40 seconds (or on the stovetop until warm not boiling). You want it warm enough to dissolve but not boiling. Stir the instant coffee into it with a whisk or fork to dissolve for about 15 seconds. 

Mix Everything Together: Add it to the bowl on top of everything. Beat on medium speed of electric mixer for no more than 1 minute on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl once in between to ensure that everything is incorporated. You want to mix until just combined.

Chocolate cake batter in a sheet pan.

Get Rid of Air Bubbles: Pour the batter into the pan. Tap on the counter three times lightly to remove any air bubbles.

in between shots of making vegan chocolate sheet cake

Bake the Cake: Place the pan in the middle rack of your oven and in the center of that rack. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until fully baked. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. 

How to Make Vegan Chocolate Frosting

And once you have the cake, it’s time to whip together some frosting! This recipe for chocolate frosting is like a chocolate buttercream, but made with vegan milk and vegan butter. You won’t believe how velvety and sweet it tastes! Try not to eat the whole thing before it even reaches the cake!

Cocoa powder, butter and powdered sugar in a bowl. Bowl of vegan chocolate frosting.

For the 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.

Decorate and Serve: After cooled, frost with chocolate frosting and sprinkles (optional!) Enjoy! For an even more moist cake, brush with simple syrup before putting on the frosting!

FAQ & Expert Tips for Success

Chocolate sheet cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles.

Looking for some tips on how to make the best chocolate cake? I’ve got you covered:

  • Weigh: I highly suggest using a kitchen scale for this! It gives you the most accurate results!
  • Sift the Dry Ingredients: this will ensure that you remove any lumps in the flour, etc., and that you get a smooth, tender cake!
  • Don’t Over-Mix the Batter: over-mixing the batter can make the cake too dense because of the gluten that activates in the flour – just mix enough to combine all of the ingredients together.
  • Sift Your Powdered Sugar: be sure to sift your powdered sugar before making your frosting! This makes such a tremendous difference to the consistency of the frosting.
  • To Avoid Thick Frosting: you don’t want the frosting to be runny, but you also want it to spread easily across the top of the cake. If your frosting turns out to be too thick, try adding a splash of milk to it.

Cake Decorating Ideas

Plates of chocolate sheet cake.

What’s the best way to decorate a cake? Well, you can’t really go wrong, but here’s some inspiration to get you brainstorming:

  • Sprinkles: they’re so colorful and fun! Plus, kids love to decorate with them almost as much as they love to eat them.
  • Chocolate Shavings: triple chocolate cake anybody?
  • Berries: raspberries, strawberries, and cherries all seem like great choices.
  • Chopped Nuts: I would recommend walnuts, or maybe even pecans.

How to Store Leftover Cake

Leftover cake should be stored in an airtight container. If you’re going to eat the rest of it fairly quickly, it should be fine at room temperature, but you can also keep it in the fridge for 4-5 days if you need to.

Can I Freeze Chocolate Cake?

The cake can be frozen in an airtight container, or tight layers of plastic/reusable wrap or even in parchment paper with foil covering it (I did this last part), for up to a couple of months, as long as you haven’t frosted it yet.

Square of chocolate sheet cake with sprinkles.
Squares of chocolate sheet cake.

Vegan Chocolate Sheet Cake

Vegan Chocolate Sheet Cake with vegan chocolate frosting is a dessert recipe for all occasions! It's fluffy, chocolate-y, tender and SO delicious! Whether you're celebrating a birthday or just craving all things chocolate, this cake is the perfect choice.
by: Jessica in the Kitchen
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 24 servings
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Ingredients

Vegan Chocolate Sheet Cake

  • 1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar or regular vinegar
  • 1 cup soy milk or other vegan milk (240mL), room temperature
  • 2 cups brown sugar or cane sugar (400g)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (360g)
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (80g)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup oil (150g)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup warm milk (240mL) + 1 teaspoon instant coffee mix in until dissolved – stir these together right before you need them so the milk is still warm

Vegan Chocolate Frosting

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup unsalted vegan butter (softened) or salted, but don't use the sea salt below
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 ½-3 cups powdered sugar
  • cup vegan milk (+ 1 tablespoon extra if needed)
Instructions

Instructions

For the Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Prepare a 9×13 sheet pan (with sides) by greasing & flouring or lining with parchment paper (I usually just grease and flour).
  • In a jar, add the vinegar and room temperature vegan milk together to curdle to form a buttermilk. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, add the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. Using a whisk, whisk all the ingredients together, removing any clumps that may form.
  • Add in the oil, the buttermilk mix from earlier and the vanilla extract.
  • Heat up that additional milk in the microwave for 40 seconds (or on stove top until warm not boiling). You want it warm enough to dissolve but not boiling. Stir the instant coffee into it with a whisk or fork to dissolve for about 15 seconds.
  • Add it to the bowl on top of everything. Beat on medium speed of electric mixer for no more than 1 minute on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl once in between to ensure that everything is incorporated. You want to mix until just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the pan. Tap on the counter three times lightly to remove any air bubbles.
  • Place the pan in the middle rack of your oven and in the center of that rack. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until fully baked. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  • After cooled, frost with chocolate frosting and sprinkles (optional!) Enjoy! For an even more moist cake, brush with simple syrup before putting on the frosting!

For the 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.

Video

NOTES
Always ensure your baking powder and baking soda are fresh!
Be sure that you’re starting with room temperature ingredients, except for the warm milk at the end.
Weigh: I highly suggest using a kitchen scale for this! It gives you the most accurate results!
Sift the Dry Ingredients: this will ensure that you remove any lumps in the flour, etc., and that you get a smooth, tender cake!
Don’t Over-Mix the Batter: over-mixing the batter can make the cake too dense because of the gluten that activates in the flour – just mix enough to combine all of the ingredients together.
Sift Your Powdered Sugar: be sure to sift your powdered sugar before making your frosting! This makes such a tremendous difference to the consistency of the frosting.
To Avoid Thick Frosting: you don’t want the frosting to be runny, but you also want it to spread easily across the top of the cake. If your frosting turns out to be too thick, try adding a splash of milk to it.

Nutrition

Calories: 289kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 315mg | Potassium: 164mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 218IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 80mg | Iron: 2mg
by Jessica

More Cake Recipes

Enjoy friends! If you make this Vegan Chocolate Sheet Cake, please snap a photo and tag #jessicainthekitchen on Instagram! We’d also love if you would leave a comment below, and give the recipe a rating! Thanks so much! 

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Recipe Rating




21 comments

  1. Alyssa says:

    5 stars
    This was the easiest and most delicious chocolate cake that I have ever made. My family could not believe that it was vegan. The icing is so creamy and delectable. I can’t wait to make it again!

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Thank you so much Alyssa! We’re happy that you and your family enjoyed it!

  2. Yvonne says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for this fantastic cake recipe! I needed to make a vegan cake for 30-40 people, and I have never made vegan cake before! It turned out moist and delicious. I decided to buy frosting that I will drizzle on and use sprinkles for decor. I think it’ll be a big hit! I was a little worried about altitude (I live at 5,500 ft above sea level) but it was perfect.

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Wow so happy to hear that it worked for you! Thank you so much for trying it!

  3. Tahira Akhtar says:

    I have 2 x 8inch square pan would this recipe work in these pans or would I need to convert it?

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Thanks so much for reading! You would need to do it in three 8 inch pans. I hope this helps.

  4. Anne says:

    I’m really excited to try this recipe for my son’s third birthday. In terms of oil to use, could I use refined coconut oil? I would melt it before adding it in.

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Thanks so much for reading Anne, yes you can! I hope you enjoy it.

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