Vegan Chocolate Cake

This vegan chocolate cake recipe is made with cocoa powder, vinegar, soy or almond milk, and all the other usual baking ingredients. No one will know the difference between it and regular chocolate cake. Swear.

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Here’s the thing about this vegan chocolate cake. People they love it. In fact, people who don’t even know it’s vegan love it. And we’re not exactly inclined to tell them as it somehow makes it all the more gratifying when they go back for seconds. And they will go back for seconds. Originally published February 7, 2012.Renee Schettler Rossi

Vegan Chocolate Cake

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 20 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 8 to 12
5/5 - 1 reviews
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Special Equipment: 9-inch round cake pan that's 2 inches deep



Preheat the oven to 325˚F (163˚C). Oil a 9-inch round cake pan that’s 2 inches deep and line it with parchment paper.

Dump the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the soy milk, vinegar, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a spoon until well combined.

Spoon or scrape the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake for 40 to 55 minutes. It’s done when a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out with almost no crumbs attached and the center of the cake, when pressed, springs back slightly instead of sinks. Bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes if necessary.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Slide a table knife or a paring knife between the cake and the edge of the pan to loosen, then carefully invert the cake onto the wire rack. Invert it again so it’s right-side up and let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.

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Recipe Testers' Tips

This may very well be the Platonic ideal of chocolate cake, vegan or otherwise. Almost indecently moist and tender, it also boasts a robust chocolate flavor that isn’t undermined by too much sweetness. I’m usually able to bake a cake, eat a slice, and then ignore the rest until my boyfriend dispatches it, but this cake leveled any defenses I’d like to think I possess. Needless to say, it did not cool for 1 hour, nor did it serve 8 to 10. Pure black magic. I do have one caveat here: I didn’t have enough sunflower oil, and so I blended it with a mild olive oil. The cake turned out perfectly.

This is a very good chocolate cake. It's simple to make, smells wonderful while baking, and comes out very pretty. Realizing I only had almond milk and no soy milk, I thought I would give the cake a try anyway. I opened the oven to check it at about 45 minutes, and it looked like a cupcake—the center had risen considerably, but then settled as the cake cooled. This cake is delicate and does require care while removing it from the pan and placing it on the cooling rack. I might wait 15 minutes before I remove it from the cake pan next time. It came out tender, moist, slightly crisp on top, and dense in the center. For eye appeal, I might dust it with confectioners' sugar, but it doesn't need any enhancements. My tasters all went back for seconds. No one knew, nor could they tell, that the cake was vegan.

This is a very easy chocolate cake. I followed the recipe exactly, and it took about 1 hour and 20 minutes to bake completely. The chocolate color was very dark and intense, and the cake extremely moist. The chocolate flavour was very good. I served it with plain Greek yogurt on the side but it would be very good with berries and ice cream or whipped cream as well.

This cake was easy to make and turned out quite well. This is a very moist and tender cake with a rich, dark color. I like the fact that it mixed quite easily by hand and I didn't have to take out my big mixer and deal with cleaning it. I'm glad that the amount of oil was reduced —even with only 1 cup oil, the cake came out a bit "oily." I was also happy to see that the cake could be baked at 325°F rather than at 350°F, unlike most cake recipes. I bake all of my cakes at 325°F and am able to avoid getting a crown on the top of my cake.

This was an amazing cake—rich, moist, and deep chocolate in flavor. No one would believe it was vegan. It's one of the best recipes I've come across. The recipe is easy, accurate, and simple. As the cake was cooling, the outer layer seemed to be starting to dry out; however, once I stored it covered, it was back to being moist again. This cake would work well with a nice frosting or ganache topping or simply served with crème fraîche and raspberries.


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  1. Made this cake for my vegan son’s 28th birthday. In ten years of baking vegan cakes, this is the best so far. I substituted almond milk for the soy milk, used Valrhona Cocoa Powder, and peanut oil, which is usually my vegetable oil of choice. I undercooked it just a bit–it was wonderfully moist, and the center a bit gooey, in a good way. I know my son liked it a lot because he had a second serving.

  2. what’s the purpose of the vinegar if i might inquire? i don’t usually see vinegar as an ingredient on baking recipes but i’d appreciate an explanation :)

    1. Hi Spenny, vinegar is often used for it’s leavening and flavor enhancing properties. It can boost the effect of baking powder and baking soda, as well as giving soy milk more of a dairy quality.

  3. I decided to make this cake (actually three of them) for Valentine’s. Huge, huge success. I decided NOT tell tell anyone the cakes were vegan until they had tasted them and raved about how light, moist, and amazingly chocolatey and tasty they were. Pure shock on everyone’s faces. Must say, they did not last long and will be a repeat. BTW, I used GF all-purpose flour and added 1 tbsp more as well as coconut milk. SPLENDID!

  4. The cake is baking in the oven as I type. I’m just wondering, does it pair well with icing, or does it do best standing alone? Many thanks.

  5. Sorry, but mine turned out very badly. There was way too much oil for my taste. And while it is quite dark, which I usually love, the oil drowned out the chocolate.

    1. Joan, sorry to hear that. What kind of oil did you use? Was it sunflower as the recipe suggests? I am also wondering if your oil was fresh and had not turned rancid as you had said the oil drowned out the chocolate. Could you taste and smell the oil? Perhaps we could persuade you to try it again and let us know how you make out. Thanks for letting us know.

    2. Joan, I’m really sorry to hear this. I’m a little surprised, too, as we actually tested and tweaked and retested this recipe several times, cutting down on the amount of oil in the original recipe from 1 1/4 cups to 1 cup. Our testers found the tweaked version of the recipe–the one that appears on this page–to be moist and chocolatey. May I inquire what sort of oil and milk you used? And just to confirm, you used the recipe from this site and not the book, yes? We’ll get to the source of the problem, I promise.

  6. This cake was a life saver when we were invited over to a dinner party where I knew the hostess to be vegan. I was in charge of dessert, and this recipe was a winner–moist with excellent flavor. Everyone enjoyed it, vegan or not. I served it by topping it with powdered sugar and spooning a simple berry sauce over it. I found it was best eaten the same day it was made.

  7. If you turn this into 12 cupcakes, each cupcake will have 395 calories. Not bad for a fantastic chocolate treat. :-)

    1. I highly recommend using cupcake liners when turning this cake into cupcakes! I just pulled a batch from the oven and they’re all hopelessly stuck to the pan.. :( It tasted great though ;)

      1. Hi Andrea, so sorry that you found yourself in a sticky situation. The cake calls for a buttered and parchment lined cake pan, so those cupcake liners should work great. Let us know if you make these again and whether you felt the liners needed a dollop of buttering as well.

    1. Hi Jessica,

      I asked several of our testers about substitutes for soy milk. They suggested using either unsweetened almond milk or hemp milk instead of the soy milk. Please let us know how it turns out.


  8. Three vegan recipes in this week’s post – if you count this one, the Smoky Vegetarian Chili and the Chocolate-Dipped Molasses Cookies (from a Maine writer, I noticed). Watch out! You’re moving toward the dark side.

    1. Shhhhhhhhh, Christine, you’ll ruin our surprise! Actually, it just sort of happened. We’ve all manner of recipes scattered throughout the site that just happen to be vegan…or vegetarian…or gluten-free…or diabetic-friendly…or, well, you get the idea. But many, many thanks for noticing!

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