side view of dark chocolate cake without slices visible creamy frosting

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Why I love this dark chocolate cake

This dairy free chocolate cake is the best thing in the entire world. Yes, I realize I said last week that my favorite thing in the world was birthday cupcakes.

I’ve said a lot of things were my favorite, but I’ve decided I’m not going to choose anymore. This cake has made me realize that it’s more than okay to love all desserts equally, especially rich, moist dark chocolate cake.

This cake is made without butter and the results are unbelievable. Moist chocolate cake, made even better with the intensity of dark chocolate, topped with chocolate dairy free frosting.

closeup of the top of a chocolate cake decorated with frosting rosettes

Here’s what you’ll need to make this it

side view close up of creamy dark chocolate cake slice with visible cake layers

How to make dairy free chocolate cake

Mise en place. Preheat oven to 350˚F, and grease/ flour your cake pans.

Mix the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir until combined.

Add the wet ingredients. Next, stir in the oil, warm water, eggs and vanilla and mix until the batter is smooth.

Bake. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool completely before removing from pan (don’t rush this or you’ll break your cakes!).

serving a piece of cake

How to make vegan chocolate frosting

Mix the base. Beat the vegan butter, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and salt with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Add the sugar. Mix in about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar at a time, until you use it all up. If necessary, add water or milk to reach your desired consistency.

overhead image of chocolate cake on a marble platter

FAQS and tips for making moist dark chocolate cake

Which dark chocolate is best for cake?

For this recipe, we used dark cocoa powder. It’s the best choice for a dairy free cake, since we don’t have to worry about milk being in the chocolate, but it’s also a great option for making cake in general.

Can I use dark chocolate instead of cocoa powder?

Yes. That’s what we’ve done in this recipe. Just make sure you don’t mix up Dutch process with regular cocoa powder, because that can make a difference in the final outcome of the cake.

Why is my chocolate cake not dark enough?

If your cake didn’t turn out dark enough, you probably mis-measured one of the ingredients. The two that make the biggest impact in this recipe are the cocoa powder and the sugar.

Why does my chocolate cake taste bitter?

Chocolate cake can taste bitter if you use too much cocoa powder or too much baking powder. It can also happen if you don’t use enough sugar, so double check your ingredients before starting next time!

close up of dark chocolate cake slice on a white plate with visible cake layers

More dairy free cake recipes:

More dessert recipes you’ll love:


Dairy Free Chocolate Cake

This dairy free chocolate cake is a chocolate lovers dream! Full of rich, dairy chocolate flavor with dense, moist cake layers and creamy, homemade frosting. This recipe is made from scratch and super easy! With one simple swap, it can also be made vegan.

  • Author: Melissa Belanger
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American



For the cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water
  • 2 large eggs (or 2 prepared flax eggs)
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup dairy free butter (1 stick)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch coarse salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 12 tablespoons water or milk


To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Stir in the oil, warm water, eggs and vanilla extract, whisking until smooth.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans.
  5. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing from pan.

To make the frosting:

  1. With an electric mixer, beat butter, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and salt until light and fluffy.
  2. Add salt and powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, until incorporated. Add water or milk until desired consistency is reached.


  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 454
  • Sugar: 50.3 g
  • Sodium: 696.2 mg
  • Fat: 16.1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 76.7 g
  • Fiber: 3.2 g
  • Protein: 5.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 46.5 mg

Keywords: dairy free chocolate cake, dark chocolate cake, best chocolate cake recipe, moist chocolate cake

Last Updated on October 24, 2021 by Melissa Belanger

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Recipe rating


  1. This cake was delicious! However, the dough very watery, so I added more flour. Is it supposed to be this watery? Thanks!

  2. The cake was soooo good!! But when I took it out of the oven it had a crust around but not to worry since I cut it of while leveling with a serrated knife. Also I had to keep it in the oven for 15 extra minutes.

  3. Hi, Melissa! Thank you for this recipe. I compared your recipe to a similar one I have for dairy-, nut-, and egg-free chocolate cake (not dark chocolate). It used twice the amount of flour, but the same amount of sugar. Is that because of the dark chocolate cocoa powder? I want to use regular cocoa powder, so can I half the amount of sugar for this recipe? I want to use eggs.

    1. I really can’t tell you if you I don’t see the recipe. For this recipe to work, you really need to use the ingredients listed in the correct amounts. Different types of cocoa powder react differently in baking recipes.