Vegan Chocolate Cake

The BEST vegan chocolate cake recipe! It's moist and deeply chocolatey, with a rich chocolate frosting made from a secret healthy ingredient.

Vegan Chocolate Cake

This vegan chocolate cake recipe comes from my new cookbook, Love & Lemons Every Day. Today, I’m sharing it in honor of the book’s launch, but this vegan cake recipe would be perfect for any celebration. It’s moist and delicious, with a rich dark chocolate flavor. Topped in a luscious frosting, it’s a dessert that everyone will love, whether they’re vegan or not.

Spreading frosting on a vegan cake

Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe Ingredients

This vegan chocolate cake tastes rich and decadent, but secretly, it’s healthy. Healthy for a cake, that is. 🙂 Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

  • All-purpose flour and whole wheat flour – They make the cake wholesome, but still moist and tender.
  • Cocoa powder – It adds rich chocolate flavor.
  • Baking soda and apple cider vinegar – They help the cake rise.
  • Almond milk – Or any non-dairy milk you like. Soy milk or oat milk would work here too.
  • Maple syrup – Instead of using refined white sugar, I sweeten this vegan cake naturally with maple syrup.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – For moisture and richness.
  • Cinnamon and vanilla extract – They enhance the cake’s chocolate flavor.
  • And sea salt – To make all the flavors pop!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Vegan Frosting

Frosting Your Vegan Cake

But the real healthy secret to this recipe is in the frosting. Despite its creamy texture and rich flavor, it’s not made with powdered sugar or vegan butter. Instead, I use baked sweet potato!

As you blend the frosting together, the heat of the sweet potato melts chocolate chips into a smooth puree that’s finished with coconut oil and cocoa powder. While it may feel decadent, this frosting actually gets its luscious texture from a vegetable!

Of course, if you prefer vanilla frosting on your cake, that’s fine too! This vegan frosting recipe would work perfectly.

Vegan Cake with Chocolate Frosting and sprinkles

Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe Variations

You can make this vegan chocolate cake recipe three ways:

  • In an 8×8-inch square pan. Follow the recipe below to make this variation. It will yield a vegan chocolate cake like the one you see pictured here. I make this variation when I’m just baking for Jack and me.
  • As a layer cake. In the book, I make this recipe as a layer cake. To make it, double the recipe below and bake the batter in two round 8- or 9-inch cake pans. I love making this variation for parties and gatherings!
  • As a sheet cake. Don’t want to bother with layers? I get it! Double the recipe below, and bake it in a 9×13-inch pan.

All three versions are delicious!

Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe

More Favorite Vegan Treats

If you love this recipe, try one of these vegan desserts next:

Want even more vegan dessert recipes? Check out Love & Lemons Every Day!

Vegan Chocolate Cake

rate this recipe:
4.97 from 27 votes
Cook Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Serves 9
This moist, rich vegan chocolate cake is secretly healthy, made with part whole wheat flour and a chocolate sweet potato frosting. Adapted from Love & Lemons Every Day.

Ingredients

Sweet Potato Frosting

  • 1 large sweet potato, enough to yield 3/4 cups mash
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • pinch of sea salt

Chocolate Cake

Instructions

  • Make the sweet potato frosting: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Use a fork to poke a few holes into the sweet potato. Place on a baking sheet or on a piece of foil and roast until very tender, about 60 minutes. Let the potatoes cool slightly, then measure 3/4 cups of the soft flesh. In a (small) food processor, puree the sweet potato, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, coconut oil, and salt. The heat of the sweet potato will melt the chocolate.
  • Make the cake. Reduce the oven heat to 350°F and grease an 8x8 baking pan.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. To the same bowl, add the almond milk, maple syrup, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla. Stir until combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when pressed or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the pan on cooling racks and cool for 10 minutes.
  • Gently loosen the sides of each cake with a knife. Remove the cakes from the pan and place back on the racks to cool completely. Frost the cake and serve!

vegan chocolate cake

62 comments

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  1. Bre
    10.06.2021

    Hey! Looks yummy but I can’t have apple cider vinegar! Any tips on what to substitute for that?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.06.2021

      lemon juice!

  2. Madelyn
    08.30.2021

    This recipe looks delicious!
    Is there any way I could make it 100% whole grain and oil free?
    Do you have any recommendations to avoid that characteristic chewy, dense texture of low fat desserts?
    Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.31.2021

      Hi Madelyn, it’ll be much more dense with all whole wheat flour, but you could try spelt flour instead (it’s a bit lighter than ww). I don’t really have any tips for oil free baking – I went through a fat free phase once and felt super deprived, so that’s not my specialty 🙂

  3. lilliana
    08.20.2021

    oh boy, the recipe that I copied from the website did not include the all purpose flour for the cake. I thought it rather odd that the batter was so thin. It is presently in the oven without the additional flour. I decided to look it up and yes the flour should have been added.
    We shall see how this will turn out??
    let you know in 30 minutes.
    That recipe should be changed on the website.

  4. Multimeter
    08.11.2021

    5 stars
    Wow, so yummy Thank you.

  5. Natasia
    04.18.2021

    This recipe looks wonderful!! Im just wondering if I can make the frosting a couple of days in advance and keep it in the fridge because I am planning to make a layer cake with it. Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.18.2021

      You can! It’ll thicken in the fridge so just let it sit at room temp for a little while before you frost it.

  6. Becky
    04.04.2021

    5 stars
    Ever made the recipe for cupcakes? Any tips or advice? My daughter is wanting cupcakes for her birthday. Thanks.!!
    Ps- I’ve made it as a layer cake and we loved it!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.05.2021

      Hi Becky, I haven’t tried but I bet it would work. I’d bake them for less time – start checking around 18 minutes. (I’m not sure of the total yield)

  7. Leah
    03.23.2021

    Hello Hello!
    I hope you are doing well! I am making this chocolate cake for my dads 70th birthday!
    I recently made your peanut butter chocolate chip cookie bars and my dad LOVED the icing on those, with dates, walnuts and cocoa powder. Would that work on this cake as well? He doesn’t love icing that’s too sweet.

    Thank you 😊

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.23.2021

      Hi Leah, I’m so glad he loved the bars! I think that icing would be hard to frost on the cake, since it’s so thick. The cake isn’t firm like those bars so it’ll be harder to spread without cake crumbs coming up. I’d give this sweet potato frosting a go – it isn’t too sweet, in my opinion.

  8. Jasmine from Cakeandcroissants.com
    03.15.2021

    5 stars
    Hey this looks delish, can I put the sweet potato through a sieve to make it a bit smother?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.15.2021

      I think it might be too thick for that, the food processor gets it pretty smooth though!

  9. Carol
    12.19.2020

    5 stars
    Made this today and it was great! Followed the recipe exactly. Didn’t have time to make the frosting but I’m sure it would be good.

  10. Cindy Osaki
    10.29.2020

    5 stars
    Yummy vegan chocolate cake-made for hubby’s bday! I substituted dark chocolate chips since we don’t like it too sweet and it tasted great! I definitely recommend this recipe and plan to make it again! Even my non-veggie friend loved it!!

    • Namita
      07.15.2021

      Hi. What did you substitute the chocolate chips for. Can we use only cocoa powder to make this frosting

      • Jeanine Donofrio
        07.15.2021

        Hi Namita, it sounds like she used dark chocolate chips instead of semi sweet chocolate chips. They’re necessary here to make the frosting gooey and chocolatey, I don’t think it would be the same with just cocoa powder.

  11. Joka
    10.28.2020

    4 stars
    Baking soda isn’t something I can find in the store here. I replaced it with sodium bicarbonate although I know it’s not the same. The cake was falling apart, it was grainy, so it’s probably due to the lack of baking soda. Do you know with what I should replace it?
    The taste was very great and the sweet potato frosting was amaaazing!
    Thank you!

    • Evie
      11.20.2020

      Baking soda and sodium bicarbonate are actually the same thing (NaHCo3 – this coming from a baking & chemistry enthusiast). The different one would be baking powder, which usually makes cakes fluffier due to its longer reaction time with the other ingredients (but it’s not called for in this recipe, so basically you did everything right)

  12. Irene
    07.09.2020

    I’m excited to try this cake! Would the frosting still taste good without the chocolate chips? Or is there a different unrefined alternative I can substitute it with?
    Also, is there a reason you chose olive oil for the batter or would coconut oil work the same?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.10.2020

      Hi Irene, chocolate chips are necessary for the frosting, it wouldn’t be very chocolatey without them. You can use melted coconut oil for the cake batter, just make sure your almond milk is at room temp (not cold) before you mix everything together.

  13. Liz
    04.22.2020

    5 stars
    I made this yesterday and holy guacamole! It is delicious! I steamed my sweet potato in the microwave simply to cut down on time and ended up needing to add 1 tsp. of almond milk to my frosting as it was a tad thick after processing.

    Everything about this cake is fabulous but I must give special mention to the sweet potato frosting. I may never go back to anything else! A true stroke of genius. So good I contemplated not making the cake and just eating the frosting.

  14. Kavita
    04.12.2020

    5 stars
    This was so good!!! It tasted just like the Betty Crocker chocolate cake I used to love as a kid. I really loved the sweet potato frosting!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.14.2020

      Hi Kavita, I’m so glad you loved it!

      • Noah
        10.05.2020

        Hello. How much minutes to bake the cake??

        • Jeanine Donofrio
          10.05.2020

          Hi Noah, it’s in the recipe card at the bottom of the post (above the comments), in step 4.

  15. Nicola
    03.14.2020

    5 stars
    The frosting is brilliant!! It tastes amazing. I still can’t believe that there is sweet potato in it as you can’t taste it at all. It’s important to use chocolate chips that you like the taste of as that’s the flavor that comes through.

  16. Susan Caparelli
    02.08.2020

    How can I change out the flours to make it Gluten Free?

    • lee
      04.21.2020

      I also would love to make this gluten free. Can we swap out the flours listed with GF flours instead? any specific ratios?

      • Jeanine Donofrio
        04.22.2020

        Hi Iee, I haven’t tested this recipe with GF flours, so I can’t say for sure but an all purpose GF mix like Bob’s Red Mill’s or Pamela’s should work.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.