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Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake

Two slices of vegan chocolate cake on plates with espresso.
Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Rebecca Jurkevich

All too often, vegan desserts get a bad rap. So what if we told you the best vegan chocolate cake is also the easiest, generally crowd-pleasing-est, and time-saving-est chocolate cake recipe we’ve ever encountered? And what if we then added that it not only eschews eggs, butter, and milk, but a stand mixer and electric beater as well? Perhaps, like us, you’ll take special pleasure out of revealing its egg- and dairy-free nature to every non-vegan friend you serve it to. Regardless, you’ll certainly never need to look for another vegan chocolate cake recipe again.

Every ingredient for this moist, tender, sponge-style cake is shelf-stable, so it’s also perfect for dessert emergencies (we all have those, right?). Sifting the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, cane sugar, and salt ensures the dry ingredients are well-aerated and evenly mixed before you add the vanilla extract, canola oil, white vinegar, and water. Once you’ve whisked the batter together—entirely by hand!—you just bake it in buttered and floured cake pans for about half an hour (closer to 25 minutes if you opt to make cupcakes). Then assemble it with the frosting of your choice. To keep things dairy-free, consider pairing it with our vegan fluffy buttercream frosting, our vegan cream cheese frosting, vegan coconut frosting, a fudgy dark chocolate ganache frosting recipe, vegan peanut butter frosting, or whatever store-bought vegan frosting you already know and love.

Editor’s note: Cake is pictured with Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting. This recipe was originally published in ‘Organic and Chic’ by Sarah Magid and first appeared on Epicurious in June 2009. The intro has been updated.

Ingredients

Makes one 8-or 9-inch layer cake or 24 cupcakes

2¼ cups organic all-purpose flour
2 cups organic cane sugar
1 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon organic vanilla extract
⅔ cup organic canola oil
2 teaspoons organic white vinegar
2 cups cold water

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans, or place liners in 2 muffin pans for 24 cupcakes. Set aside.

Step 2

In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. Set aside.

Step 3

In a medium bowl, mix the vanilla extract, oil, vinegar, and cold water.

Step 4

Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix. The mixture will be quite wet, but this is okay.

Step 5

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. For cupcakes, the baking time is 24 to 26 minutes.

Step 6

Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool.

Cover of the cookbook featuring an array of layer cakes.
Reprinted with permission from Organic and Chic by Sarah Magid, (C) 2009 William Morrow. Buy the full book on Amazon or Bookshop.

How would you rate Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake?

  • This is a classic recipe from decades ago It was the first cake i evet made and i got the recipe from the "I Hate To Cook Book ". And they mentioned how old it was . It was on the side of some ingredient. Thst it is vegan, is just perfect. Simplest addition is powered sugar sprinkled on top. Or make two layers, fill them with Raspberry jam. Then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Many things can be done and still keep it vegan :) But it is true it lacks a certain degree of chocolateness. Still worth it !

    • Merrick Dean

    • NY, NY

    • 1/21/2022

  • This is the easiest cake I ever made. I was amazed at minimal time it took to make.

    • Anonymous

    • East Hanover NJ

    • 11/28/2021

  • Beautiful, delicious, moist, chocolatey but not too chocolatey, AMAZING cake. I put a strawberry cream cheese frosting all over it and strawberry decorations on top. A real nice touch, you should try it. Also really easy to make, my friend and I made this together! We are both kids. the sifting got a little tedious though.

    • Yummy and Friends

    • Simi Valley, California

    • 6/13/2021

  • This cake was delicious: moist, spongy, and sweet! My family and I really enjoyed it! It was super fun and easy to make (I'm 12 years old)! This is a great cake for teens to make! This is

    • Anonymous

    • Austin, Texas

    • 2/18/2021

  • This cake was so delicious and moist. It was just the right amount of sweet without being gross. Everyone in my family loved it. It was very easy to make. I made it alone with no help and I'm only 12.

    • the young baker

    • Utah, US

    • 6/17/2020

  • Made this cake last night as we had no snacks lol it was so easy and yum! Swapped the oil for butter and served with cream and jam.. so good 🙂

    • loveyou121

    • 🇳🇿

    • 4/27/2020

  • Wow tried this with Bob's GF flour mix and it was not good. Yes, bland chocolate flavor. Odd, sticky texture that completely sank in the middle. And a bad greasy feeling in mouth. Will have to try again with another recipe!

    • mkumpe

    • Tulsa, OK

    • 9/17/2019

  • I made a gluten free version of this cake using Bob's Red Mill all purpose flour. I also used 2 cups of cold coffee in place of the water. The cake is delicious! Very moist and chocolaty. I made a vegan strawberry frosting to fill it and covered it with a vegan chocolate frosting. The only thing I would do differently is wait longer before turning the layers out to cool. I know better, but was in a hurry and one of the cakes did crack a bit because it was still too hot. Will definitely make again!

    • gfwallflower

    • Millers, MD

    • 5/12/2019

  • This is a pretty solid chocolate cake. I agree that the chocolate flavor was a bit lacking, so I added a T. espresso powder to the dry ingredients and 1/3 cup brewed coffee to wet ingredients. I was feeling a bit experimental so I also combined about 1/2 cup sour cream with 1/2 cup homemade strawberry jam (with halved berries intact) and knived this mixture through the batter in both pans. Then I used a sweetened cream cheese and chocolate frosting. I'm definitely making it again.

    • Anonymous

    • Wausau, WI

    • 4/9/2018

  • I needed a simple cake for a family dinner and came across this recipe. As I was making it, it dawned on me that this is a wacky cake. It was a scaled up version of the snack cake I learned from my Mom. It was a depression era staple because it requires no dairy or eggs. I appreciated the advice to use coffee instead of water. It looked beautiful topped with raspberries and a little buttercream icing. Also, it's handy to remember if you need a lactose/nut free/vegan dessert.

    • annerodgers

    • Winnipeg, MB

    • 1/12/2018

  • I did not have cooking oil so I used butter I melted it and poured it in place of the oil and it turned out amazing!!! I'm making another later today because it's nearly gone already!!!

    • christylove1977

    • Dallas, texas

    • 11/16/2017

  • this cake has a good texture and is soft and fluffy. It is a bit dry and I would recommend it with some sort of fruit, preferably strawberries. Also I would say that in all it was a bit bland and needed more flavor. I thought it was a good cake though and would try it again because it is so easy and tasty.

    • adlairichman

    • New York, NY

    • 3/17/2017

  • I love this recipe! I make it all the time, and every time it is a big hit. I read the reviews, and I do replcae the water with coffee. Also when I make this I use whipped cream as the frosting, it makes it lighter, and I put strawberry jam and fresh strawberries in between the two layers.

    • ojcupcak

    • Oakland, CA

    • 12/8/2016

  • Easy and delicious. I sifted ingredients three times since I was using a corse organic cane sugar - I also added about a cup of semi sweet chocolate morsels to the batter. For the frosting I mixed melted morsels with room temperature tofuti sour cream - rich with a bite and put Michigan cherries (pitted) in between the layers. Great recipe

    • rammoore

    • Near Philly

    • 11/21/2016

  • Just finished baking this cake with my 6 year old grand daughter and it turned out to be so moist and delicious! After reading previous reviews, I didn't want to substitute coffee but I had some mulled apple cider in the fridge so we did half water half cider. Yummylicious!

    • reniemulock

    • Collingwood Ontario

    • 11/19/2016