The Best Classic Vegan Chocolate Cake

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 many times now 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 vegan chocolate cake is moist, chocolatey and so simple.

Close up image of a woman holding a three-tiered vegan chocolate cake with fresh berries and a lit candle on a rustic grey plate


I’ve eaten some cake in my time and this chocolate cake is up there in my top 5. The crumb is delicious and tender and it is fantastically chocolatey without being overwhelming. It also keeps for up to 5 days and 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.

It’s also super basic. No beaters, no mixer, just you, a whisk and a spoon.

Close up image of three-tiered vegan chocolate with chocolate frosting and blueberries and strawberries on a rustic grey plate


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

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

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. We simply stir and bake.

A slice of vegan chocolate cake on a white plate sitting on a rustic white table with the remaining cake on another plate in the background.

Whether you want to swathe your classic vegan chocolate cake in swirls of chocolate frosting 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 super close full-frame image of swirls of chocolate frosting

The Best Classic Vegan Chocolate Cake

This vegan chocolate cake is chocolatey, moist and so simple to make. Vegan or no, this chocolate cake recipe is a crowd-pleaser.

  • 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
  1. 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.

  2. Combine the milk and apple cider in a mixing bowl and set aside.

  3. In a large mixing bowl mix together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, cocoa powder and sugar.

  4. Gently whisk the sunflower oil and vanilla extract in to the milk/vinegar mixture.

  5. Add the milk and oil mixture to the dry ingredients and lightly whisk before adding the boiling water and whisking gently until combined. Be careful whisking the boiling water.

  6. 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.

  7. Pans in the oven and bake for 23 – 25 minutes for the 3 x 18 " pans or 30 – 32 mins for the 2 x 22 " pans or until a skewer comes away from the centre cleanly.

  8. Remove from the oven and sit the cakes for 10 minutes before turning them out to cool completely.

  9. 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.


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