Holiday Recipes / Vegan Baking / Vegan Desserts and Sweets

The Best Classic Vegan Chocolate Cake

Last updated on January 9th, 2020 at 08:59 am

Yup, it’s a big call – the best classic vegan chocolate cake? It’s a bold position but I’m confident. I have made this cake so many times and each time it knocks my wee socks off. My non-vegan people love it too, what’s more. Inspired by a Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe I came across BIWV (before I went vegan), this chocolate cake is moist, chocolatey and so simple.

overhead image of a freshly frosted vegan chocolate cake sitting on a white plate with a grey textured napkin nearby

I’ve eaten some cake in my time and this vegan chocolate cake is up there in my top 5.  I am telling you, this cake is AWESOME. 

  • It has a delicious and tender crumb.
  • It is fantastically chocolatey without being overwhelming.
  • The recipe is super basic – no beaters, no mixer, just you, a whisk and a spoon. 
  • The finished cake keeps for up to 5 days so if you’ve made a three tiered cake just for the heck of it – not for a party – you are going to need a few days to polish it off.

Or not. No judgement.

A super close-up image of vegan chocolate cake batter swirls


I created this recipe because I wanted to bake a plant-based chocolate cake that is just a simpleclassic chocolate cake. I’ve made nut-free, sugar-free and gluten-free desserts and they are great but sometimes you just want a traditional chocolate cake. This is it.

Based on Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake recipe I made a few vegan tweaks, added a little wholemeal (wholewheat)  flour (I think it gives this cake the best crumb), and played with the ratios a little and voila, a classic chocolate cake.


The recipe for this cake is so simple. Are you ready? Here we go:

Step 1. Combine the vinegar and dairy-free milk in a jug or bowl to make a buttermilk.

Step 2. Whisk your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. 

Step 3. Add the remaining wet ingredients to the buttermilk.

Step 4. Whisk the wet and dry ingredients together and add boiling water (the batter is thin, don’t worry, it’s supposed to be).

Step 5. Pour the batter in to lined cake tins and bake for some 20 + minutes

Step 6. Cool, frost, devour. Simples!


The original recipe and this vegan version work perfectly for two main reasons 

No. 1. BOILING WATER  | the trick to this cake’s gorgeous flavour is the boiling water. While some recipes call for adding espresso to highlight chocolate notes, this cake does the same by adding hot water. It blooms the cocoa making its flavour more intense. Clever, yes?

And No. 2. OIL |  the cake is made super moist by using oil instead of butter. The bonus is that if there is no butter, there’s no creaming.

A front-on image of a slice of frosted vegan chocolate cake laying on a white plate on a grey napkin with another pslice on a plate sitting off to the back right

Whether you want to swathe your chocolate cake in swirls of my Basic Chocolate Frosting | Vegan or simply dust it with icing sugar, it will work perfectly. Dress it up, dress it down, the choice is yours.

It’s perfect for birthdays and holidays but simple enough you can make it everyday. I am going to call it – this is the only vegan chocolate cake recipe you will need. Enjoy, x.

A front-on image of a frosted slice of vegan chocolate cake being cut in to with a fork.

If you are after a nut-free dessert, try the [Loved Up] Nut-Free Raw Chocolate Cake. If it’s sugar-free you’re after check out my easy Avocado Chocolate Mousse or for gluten-free try my Wicked Vegan Chocolate Beetroot Cakes.

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5 from 6 votes


This vegan chocolate cake is chocolatey, moist and so simple to make. Vegan or no, this chocolate cake recipe is a crowd-pleaser.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Vegan
Keyword vegan chocolate cake, Vegan Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Cooling Time 25 minutes
Servings 10
Calories 302kcal
Author Amanda at MGK


For the Vegan Chocolate Cake

  • 1 and 1/4 cups soy milk or dairy-free milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 3/4 cup wholemeal flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 and 1/4 cups raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup boiling water

For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 3 cups confectioners sugar (Icing Sugar)
  • 3-4 tbsp vegan buttery spread
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • 3 tbsp dairy-free milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


For the Vegan Chocolate Cake

  • Preheat oven to 165 degrees C (330 degrees F) fan-forced or 180 degrees C (355 degrees F) conventional and line 3 x 18cm (7-inch) cake pans or 2 x 22 cm (9-inch) pans with grease-proof or baking paper.
  • Combine the milk and apple cider vinegar in a mixing bowl and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl mix together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, cocoa powder and sugar.
  • Gently whisk the sunflower oil and vanilla extract in to the milk/vinegar (buttermilk) mixture.
  • Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and lightly whisk before adding the boiling water and whisking gently until combined. Be careful whisking the boiling water.
  • The batter is thin so I pour it in to a large pouring jug and distribute it evenly between the cake pans - up to around 3/4 of the pan height.
  • Pop the pans in the oven and bake for 23 - 25 minutes for the 3 x 18 " pans or 28 - 30 mins for the 2 x 22 " pans or until a skewer comes away from the centre cleanly.
  • Remove from the oven and sit the cakes for 10 minutes before turning them out to cool completely.
  • Place one cake, flat side up, and top with your favourite frosting. Place another cake on top, add more frosting followed by the last cake and - you guessed it - more frosting. Decorate with fresh fruit to serve.

For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • Add the icing sugar, vegan butter, cocoa and sea salt to a large mixing bowl.
  • Using a hand-held beater set to low, beat the ingredients together on a low until combined to a rough sand consistency.
  • Add the dairy-free milk and vanilla and beat until well-combined and fluffy. Add a touch more milk if needed.
  • Use immediately or cover and store in the fridge for up to 2 days. If refrigerating, give the frosting a quick stir before use.


Chocolate Vegan Frosting recipe
Wholemeal flour is known as wholewheat in the US. 
The Nutritional breakdown is for the vegan chocolate cake only. 


Calories: 302kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 387mg | Potassium: 268mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 115IU | Vitamin C: 2.1mg | Calcium: 90mg | Iron: 1.6mg



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About Author

Amanda Logan is a published cookbook author, recipe developer and food photographer based in Australia. She is a contributor to Nourish Australia magazine and has appeared in Thrive Magazine, Vegan Food and Living, The Zoe Report and The Australian Vegan Magazine.

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Can I just double the recipe & get the same results?

Cindy Wall
Cindy Wall

5 stars
So good! And easy! 🙂 Perfectly moist. Perfect crumb. I did double the frosting.

Erin Walsh
Erin Walsh

Hi, Do you grease or flour the pans at all?

Debra Murphy
Debra Murphy

5 stars
I have made a few vegan chocolate cakes and none come to this one. It is the perfect balance of moistness, sweetness and decadence. By FAR the best recipe I have tried. Brilliant!