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The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake

December 27, 2022
Recipes - Dairy-Free - Dessert - Gluten-Free - Vegan Dessert
The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake is full of rich chocolatey goodness. It's dense, super fudgy, and completely dairy-free and egg-free; no one would even guess it's completely plant-based! The perfect treat for any celebration and Kid-approved + adult-approved!

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake

This is the easiest and The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake, made with plant-based pantry-staple ingredients for a dense, rich espresso-spiked chocolate flavor with a secret ingredient----sweet potatoes and topped with light and fluffy chocolate buttercream frosting. Just delicious! Gluten-free, Cake Mix, + Cupcake options.

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links via Amazon for products that I wholeheartedly love.

Who doesn't love chocolate cake? Especially when it's totally mouthwatering with ultra-rich chocolate. Whether it's for a birthday, Valentine's Day, or a regular Tuesday night, it's never a bad time for a slice of fudgy cake with plenty of frosting and this Best Vegan Chocolate Cake. This recipe is Dairy-free, Egg-free, and has a Gluten-free option- Trust me, even 'non-vegans' are totally fooled, licking their fingers and asking for seconds after they taste this vegan cake!

And let's not forget that if you're looking to have a festive occasion, then this How To Make the Best Charcuterie Board post comes in handy!

Be sure to follow me on Instagram for all Reels and content.

Where To Buy Vegan Chocolate Cake

Depending on where you live, typing "vegan bakery near me" in the search bar might not come out with the best search results. That's why this easy Vegan Chocolate Cake recipe comes in handy---you can make it in the comfort of your home without too much fuss. The delectability of the espresso-spiked chocolate cake and decadent chocolate buttercream frosting is guaranteed to be a great celebration treat!

Okay, I know what you are thinking. A LOT of recipes claim to be 'the best' I get that. I tested it at multiple birthday and dinner parties, and with one bite of this decadent, moist vegan chocolate cake, every single person around commented that this was The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake they’d ever tasted, so that's enough proof for me! It's totally kid-proof and family-friendly!

How to Make Decadent Vegan Chocolate Cake

This vegan chocolate cake as I’ve mentioned before is super easy to whip together and doesn’t require anything special when it comes to ingredients except for the espresso powder, if that's a specialty for you. To start, you simply create the buttermilk by adding the milk + apple cider vinegar or lemon juice together and letting it sit for a few minutes. Then add together the wet ingredients, followed by the dry ingredients and mix until smooth---using a wooden spoon (and a bit of arm strength) or a hand-mixer for ease.

Divide the batter into prepared cake pans, bake, and let cool completely. Make the frosting, assemble by frosting, decorate as you feel, and wallah. Slice and enjoy!

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake

What Is Vegan Chocolate Cake Made Of?

Specifically, this vegan chocolate cake is made using common cake ingredients like all-purpose flour, baking powder, vanilla extract, and sugar. Though eggs are frequently used in baked goods like cakes, this chocolate cake recipe is totally egg-free and plant-based. Don't worry, it's still got that most rich cake-y texture.

How To Make Vegan Chocolate Cake Without 'Milk'

There are many kinds of non-dairy vegan-friendly alternatives to cow's milk you can buy in most stores these days. Or you can make your own. Try my Easy Homemade Coconut Milk recipe or my Homemade Creamy Oat Milk recipe!

For this tasty vegan chocolate cake recipe, I've used almond milk as a dairy-free alternative to replacing dairy milk. Almond milk is a light plant-based 1:1 alternative to dairy milk that does not carry an overpowering taste of almonds that translates into the finished cake product.  

Perfect Occasions For The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake 

These events are a great excuse to eat cake!

  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Barbecues
  • Potlucks
  • Kids Sleepovers
  • Holiday Gatherings
  • Graduations
  • Baby Showers
  • Dinner Parties
  • Actually, any time is a good time for cake, right? Bake away for a little weekday pep-up!

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake

Ingredients for Vegan Chocolate Cake

Start making this recipe with the vegan chocolate cake batter. Here's what you need to make it:

  • All-purpose flour. I use organic flour from Bob's Red Mill.
  • Cake flour. You can also use all-purpose four if you don't have cake flour.
  • Cocoa powder. I like to use organic cocoa powder. Cacao powder will also work.
  • Cane sugar. You can ensure that this is vegan-friendly by it being certified organic.
  • Baking powder and baking soda for leavening.
  • Cinnamon. To amplify the rich chocolate flavor a bit. 
  • Sea salt
  • Instant espresso powder. This won't add much caffeine to your cake, but adds a delicious bitter quality and heighten the chocolate flavor.
  • Sweet potato puree. I like to make this advance by roasting sweet potatoes, removing the insides, and mashing them until pureed. You can also use a canned organic version.
  • Vanilla extract. This complements the flavors. Purchase pure vanilla.
  • HOT water. This will be mixed with espresso powder and adds great moisture to cake. Also, helps amplify chocolate flavor.
  • Almond milk. Choose unsweetened. Feel free to use a different plant-based milk if you like. I recommend making easy homemade almond milk (my recipe doesn’t require soaking!)
  • Oil. This adds moisture to this cake. I sometimes use organic canola for a healthier option, however, you can sub with coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, or melted butter.
  • Apple cider vinegar. To help the baking powder activate with a bit of acid and creates the "buttermilk" when mixed with the milk.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

The frosting on this cake is an airy, light, and fluffy chocolate dairy-free buttercream. Even without any dairy, it's incredibly rich and airy. You'll want to keep this frosting on hand for all of your vegan baking projects. Here's what you need:

  • Powdered sugar. If you use granulated sugar, your frosting will have a gritty texture, so I highly recommend organic powdered sugar.
  • Cocoa powder. Cacao powder also works!
  • Vegan butter. Let it soften to room temperature for the easiest blending. 
  • Vanilla. To contrast some of the decadent chocolate flavors. 
  • Almond milk. Any dairy-free milk works. 
  • Cinnamon. To amplify the rich chocolate flavor a bit. 

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake

Tips for Making The Best Moist Vegan Chocolate Cake

Because this cake doesn't rely on eggs or dairy, there are a few steps that are slightly different from your typical cake-making process to ensure that this vegan chocolate cake comes out completely MOIST + SOFT:

  • Start by making vegan "buttermilk". Combine the dairy-free milk with the vinegar and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes to sour a bit. 
  • Use melted butter for easier blending if not using oil. Otherwise, always use a high-quality canola oil or the other alternatives (coconut or vegetable oil).
  • Make sure you let the cakes cool fully before trying to frost them. Otherwise, the frosting will melt right off. 
  • Always add a 'puree' for the greatest moistness such as sweet potato puree, applesauce, mashed banana, etc.
  • Adding HOT does help and is important. Always together the espresso powder with the HOT water until it dissolves. This not only adds moisture, but it heightens the chocolate flavors.
  • Always use a high-quality cocoa powder for a rich flavor profile. 
  • For extra softness + fluffiness, sift your dry ingredients together. 

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake

Cake Flour vs. All-Purpose Flour.

When it comes to the main ingredient of this entire chocolate cake recipe—-the flour, I enjoy using organic Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour, which is ideal for all kinds of baking, including this one.

However, I do occasionally use Super-Fine Cake Flour which adds a nice airiness and fluffiness to your cakes as well.

How To Make This Cake Gluten-Free

If you would love to make this vegan chocolate cake gluten-free, then substituting all-purpose flour with Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour is the easiest option. It’s a special blend of gluten-free flours, starches, and xanthan gum, which makes this cake just as soft, fluffy, and airy as the original! They also have a great All-purpose GF flour that works great as well.

So, What Does It Taste Like?

Just like a delicious vegan chocolate cake should! It’s:

  • Fluffy and tender
  • Generously frosted
  • Sweet & chocolatey flavors melt in your mouth
  • Moist and dense
  • Totally decadent, and did I mention delicious?

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake

How to Make Your Own Sweet Potato Puree

If you're thinking about making your own sweet potato puree instead of using a store-bought canned version, then you'll be happy to know that it is rather simple:

  • Step 1: Gather about 3-4 medium sweet potatoes, rinse the skins, and poke a few holes all around them using a knife or fork.
  • Step 2: Prepare a baking sheet with foil or parchment and place the sweet potato side-by-side. Rub each sweet potato with olive oil until fully coated.
  • Step 3: Roast in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40-45 minutes or until their insides begin to bubble outwardly and they become super tender once tested with a fork or knife. Let cool until easily handle when cutting them open and scooping out the flesh.
  • Step 4: Using a food processor or blender, puree the flesh of the sweet potato along with water or veggie stock, until smooth. You can either use this immediately in whatever sweet potato recipe you'd like, store it in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake

How to Make Vegan Chocolate Cake with Cake Mix

Whether you choose to make the batter of this chocolate cake from scratch or with cake mix, you won't be disappointed. Simply implement a few teaks and you'll enjoy this cake as if you made it entirely without a mix! If using your favorite box of dairy-free chocolate cake mix, simply turn it into this SUPER MOIST Chocolate Cake by purchasing TWO boxes and:

  • Instead of using vegetable oil, substitute with the canola oil or other subs as listed in this recipe.
  • Add a little baking powder and baking soda to the mix (perhaps 1-teaspoon of baking powder + ½ teaspoon baking soda or so per box).
  • Use organic cane sugar instead of standard white sugar.
  • Add 1 cup of all-purpose flour + ¼ cup cocoa powder (per box) to the cake mix to add more "body" to your cake.
  • Replace the water with the dairy-free 'buttermilk' and still add the 1 cup of HOT water + 1 ½ tsps espresso powder.
  • Add in the sweet potato puree (or it's alternatives) to the mix as well.
  • Be sure to add the cinnamon as this recipe states.
  • Make the vegan chocolate buttercream and add it to the layer + top of the cake per usual along with garnish, if desired.

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake

Cacao vs. Cocoa.

Did you know that Cacao AND Cocoa are the same thing?

Chocolate is actually made from Cacao beans (or seeds). It's said that companies who use the term 'Cacao' are referring to the beans, pods, or ground-up version of the beans. However, the term Cocoa is often referred to as the powdered version of it all (which is formed after the fat is pressed out of the bean).

Of course, there's a whole process that happens, and you can find out more about that here.

Note that to make cocoa powder, the fat must be removed from the chocolate. This means that cacao or cocoa powder is lower in fat and calories than regular chocolate.

So, of course, it's always best to go with a brand of Cacao that contains those nutrients and are premium to ensure that your body actually receives all of those boosters. Navitas Organics' version of Cacao not only does that, but it's so delicious as well! You can always purchase it on their site or through a large retailer like Amazon.

Cacao has a host of health benefits which include:

  • Antioxidants
  • Heart health
  • Anti-cancer properties
  • High in iron and tryptophan (which is an amino acid that helps the body make serotonin---a relaxing chemical).

Yup, you heard us right. Chocolate is GOOD for you... Any excuse for more vegan cake, right? Haha

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake

Assembling the Layer Cake

When your cake layers and frosting are ready, you can assemble this vegan chocolate cake. 

Start by trimming the cake. The goal is to make as flat a surface as possible. The best way to do this is with a serrated knife. 

You can make two or three layers with this cake. 

If frosting the cake gets difficult, you can pop the whole thing in the fridge for a few minutes to help firm up the frosting. 

On top, I like to make cute little decorations with a piping bag. And of course, chocolate sprinkles, chopped chocolate, or cacao nibbles, because there's never too much chocolate. Elegant chocolate shavings will also work beautifully!

So to those of you who need a chocolate fix right about now or who are new to the plant-based world and missing the taste of rich, decadent cake, give this recipe a try. You can't really go wrong! I tried to make it as fool-proof as possible!

OR, if you want something a little more bite-sized, try my plant-based dairy-free Fudgy Vegan Brownies recipe. Or you're sick of chocolate and looking for something new, try this Vegan Funfetti Cake + Vanilla Buttercream or Vegan Gingerbread Cake + Chai Buttercream----they're a few of my go-to dessert recipes since it never fails to wow guests!

Can I Make Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes?

Sure! To turn this chocolate cake recipe into individual cupcakes, simply divide the batter between about 30 cupcake wells. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the centers are set. 

Storing Leftover Vegan Chocolate Cake

Keep cake leftovers stored for up to 4-5 days in the fridge. Keep it in an airtight container to keep the cake from drying out. You can also freeze the cake tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost the cake on the counter.

If you're making the cake ahead of time to serve for a party, I recommend frosting the cake just before serving. 

More Decadent Vegan Chocolate Recipes To Try

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If you make these Best Vegan Chocolate Cake, be sure to Tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea!

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake

5 from 11 votes
The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake is full of rich chocolatey goodness. It's dense, super fudgy, and completely dairy-free and egg-free; no one would even guess it's completely plant-based! The perfect treat for any celebration and Kid-approved + adult-approved!
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
Serves: 8 servings

Ingredients

CHOCOLATE CAKE:

  • 4 cups organic all purpose flour (See Notes!)
  • 1 cup organic cocoa powder (You can also use Cacao powder as well!)
  • 2 cups organic cane sugar
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsps dissolvable espresso powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup HOT water (Boil the water and let it cool slightly until just hot in temp.)
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Almond milk (You can use your fave plant-based milk!)
  • 1 ½ Tbsps apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup organic canola oil
  • 1 cup sweet potato puree, homemade or store-bought (See Post for More info)

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM:

  • 5 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup organic cocoa powder
  • 1 cup vegan butter, softened at room temp. (You can sub ¼ cup with organic vegetable shortening for a smooth frosting)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup Almond milk (You can use your fave plant-based milk!)
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon

OPTIONAL GARNISH:

  • Chopped vegan chocolate or cacao nibbles

Instructions

TO MAKE THE CAKE:

  • Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease (with butter) AND line with parchment paper the bottoms of THREE 8-inch cake pans or THREE 6-inch cake pans (This makes thicker slices) or TWO 9-inch cake pans.
  • In a bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the milk and apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) and set aside for 5-10 minutes until everything "activates" to create the dairy-free "buttermilk".
  • In a separate measuring cup, stir together the HOT water and espresso powder until completely dissolved.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt until combined.
  • In a bowl, add in the milk-ACV mixture, oil, sweet potato puree, and vanilla, whisking together until combined and smooth. Add int he dry ingredients and using a wooden spoon or hand-mixer, mix together until combined. Pour in the hot espresso mixture and continue mixing until batter is combined and smooth.
  • Divide the batter evenly into each of the cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick or butter knife comes out clean when tested in the centers.
  • Remove cakes from the oven and let them rest in the pan for 10 minutes or so before removing the cakes and placing them onto a cooling rack to fully cool. NOTE: Let them cool for at least 1-2 hours in a cool place.

TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM:

  • Simply beat the softened butter in the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand-mixer) on medium-high speed, until smooth and pale. Add in the cocoa powder, powdered sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and milk, continuing to mix on medium-speed until you reach the desired consistency----smooth and fluffy. NOTE: Add more milk (1 tablespoon at a time if too thick) or powdered sugar (for more thickness).

ASSEMBLY:

  • Place the first cake layer on your cake stand and evenly cover the top with buttercream. Now, top with 2nd layer and add more buttercream atop that layer, spreading it over the tops and sides of cake, evenly and thinly. NOTE: If making a 3-layer, be sure to repeat step 1 of assembly once again before getting to the final layer.
  • Once fully frosted, add small little designs of the buttercream using a piping bag + tip around the sides and top of cake. Chill for 5 minutes to ensure that buttercream sets. Top with chopped chocolate or cacao nibbles, if desired. NOTE: For a fancy moment or occasion, add florals or greenery atop cake for a Fall/Winter/Holiday vibe or sprinkles for a Birthday vibe!
  • When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator. Slice and enjoy!
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Keep cake leftovers stored for up to 4-5 days in the fridge. Keep it in an airtight container to keep the cake from drying out. You can also freeze the cake tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost the cake on the counter.
  • FLOUR: You can also use cake flour in place of all-purpose flour for a fluffier texture. 
  • CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES: This recipe yields about 30 cupcakes. Simply bake for 18-20 minutes instead, until centers come out clean.
  • BUTTERMILK: For a dairy-free 'buttermilk', use 2 cups Almond milk + 1 ½ Tablespoons apple cider vinegar.
  • GLUTEN-FREE VERSION: To make this cake GF, I recommend using a GF Flour Blend (Bob’s Red Mills has a great version!). **NOTE: If the cake mixture is too ‘thin + runny’, simply add additional GF flour, ¼ cup at a time.**
  • EQUIPMENT: Here, I’ve curated a list of cooking + baking essentials that I use to achieve my favorite baked goods or cooked meals, especially with this Best Vegan Chocolate Cake. Everything from my fave cupcake pans, mixing bowls, hand-mixers, wooden spoons, and more.
  • OIL: Instead of organic canola oil, you can always use coconut oil (melted), olive oil, avocado oil, or melted vegan butter, if preferred.

Nutrition

Calories: 898kcal | Carbohydrates: 190g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 54g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 15g | Monounsaturated Fat: 30g | Trans Fat: 4g | Sodium: 671mg | Potassium: 427mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 51g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 193mg | Iron: 6mg

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The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake + Chocolate Buttercream.

ORCHIDS + SWEET TEA

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  1. hello I would like to make this cake, how many grams of chocolate are in a cup please 😊?

    • Hi Claudia! For the copped chocolate, it's about 128 grams. I can't wait to hear what you think! 🙂

  2. Would never have guessed this was a vegan cake! Definitely looks delicious and all that chocolate is my kind of cake!

  3. What a stunning looking cake. I have used that brand of cacao powder. It works well in so many recipes.

  4. This is such a wonderful recipe and tastes so amazing! I made it for a vegan friend and she absolutely loved it. Thanks so much!

  5. This is one of the most beautiful cakes that I have ever seen! It not only looks delicious but it looks like a piece of art. What a great treat for the Fall!

  6. Omgosh this recipe is going into my staple vegan cake collection! Can't wait for everyone to try it! Thanks for sharing 🙂