Whacky Vegan Chocolate Cake

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(from 45 reviews)
vegan chocolate cake

This vegan chocolate cake recipe has been around for decades. It’s also called the Whacky cake or the Depression cake. But let me tell you, the taste and texture of this chocolate cake are definitely not whacky or depressing. It’s unbelievably moist and tastes like any regular chocolate cake especially with the frosting.

At first, I didn’t tell my husband that it was a chocolate cake with vinegar, so he was not able to tell any difference. He liked the cake very much even after I told about the secret ingredient.

But since I knew about the vinegar I was able to feel a very very very mild smell/after-taste. I guess it’s psychological. I have to stress here again that when eaten with the frosting this chocolate cake without eggs or dairy is so delicious.

This vegan chocolate cake recipe is definitely a keeper. I’m already thinking of the variations I can make each time.

I also wanted to prepare a vegan frosting for this cake, but I didn’t have confectioner’s sugar. Actually, I have it somewhere but was not able to find it.

I have made a pact that I won’t be buying anything other than dairy products, vegetables, fruits and other extremely necessary groceries for the next 2 months.

Vegan Chocolate Cake For Valentine's Day

Recently I did a pantry audit and was overwhelmed by the things I had accumulated in the past months, especially after starting this blog. I didn’t even know that I had bought so much baking/cooking stuff.

That’s why I didn’t want to buy confectioner’s sugar, even though I was so tempted to run to the grocery store. So that’s a cool think about this vegan chocolate cake recipe too.

You really don’t need to have any special ingredients. Not even eggs, butter or milk. If you bake regularly you would definitely have cocoa powder at home.

Vinegar is also a very common household ingredient. A chocolate cake with vinegar can be baked in no time without much ingredients.

I read in a couple of recipes that this vegan chocolate cake tastes good by itself or just sprinkling confectioner’s sugar on top should be good enough. I was wondering what to do for the frosting without the sugar because all the recipes I had called for confectioner’s sugar.

Since I was baking it for a special occasion I wanted to frost it. I had a few packs of instant pudding mixes and thought how it would be for a frosting.

I googled and found that pudding mix frosting is very common. Luckily I had the Cool Whip topping which is required for the frosting. Even though I was skeptical, I had to proceed with it anyway because I had no other go. Surprisingly it did turn out good. So the frosting is not vegan.


Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe

Prep TimeCook TimeMakes
15 Mins32 Mins + 1 Hr CoolingOne 8 or 9 Inch Cake OR 8 Cupcakes.
Whacky Vegan Chocolate Cake
5.0 from 45 reviews
Are you looking to make a very easy eggless chocolate cake? This chocolate cake recipe is not just eggless but vegan too. Don’t worry hearing the word vegan, because it doesn’t call for any special ingredients or difficult process. This is the easiest cake you will ever bake whether egg free or otherwise. Seeing the ingredients you might wonder, “what? chocolate cake with vinegar?” Try it for yourself and be ready to be surprised.
Ingredients for Cake:
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour (I used Bleached)
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (I used Hershey’s)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1/3 cup Canola Oil
  • 1 tablespoon White Distilled Vinegar
  • 1 cup Cold Water
Ingredients For Pudding Mix Frosting:
  • 1 cup Cold Milk
  • One 4oz Pack Instant Pudding Mix, Any Flavor (I used Oreo’s cookie flavor)
  • One 8oz Container Thawed Cool Whip (I used Fat Free)
Cake Procedure:
  1. Preheat the oven at 350F/180C for 15 minutes. Lightly oil the cake pan you are using.
  2. Stir together all the dry ingredients (flour to cocoa powder) and create a well in the center.
  3. To the well add all the wet ingredients one by one. Mix until just combined. Don’t over-mix. It’s OK to have some lumps.
  4. Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Mine was done by 24 minutes. If baking cupcakes, check around 13-15th minute.
  5. Cool completely on a wire rack. I left it for an hour.
  6. To remove the cake from the pan, run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake.
  7. Cool completely before frosting. Actually frosting is not even necessary for this moist cake. You may simply dust with confectioner’s sugar and top with fresh raspberries.
Frosting Procedure:
  1. For vegan frosting recipes, Check out Vegan Butter-cream Frosting and Vegan Cream-cheese Frosting.
  2. Pour milk into a large bowl. Add the pudding mix. Beat until fluffy for 2 minutes.
  3. Blend in the thawed Cool Whip thoroughly.
  4. Frost the cake/cupcakes and refrigerate it at least for 3-4 hours before serving.
My Notes:
  1. For Cake: I read that apple cider vinegar is better than white distilled vinegar when it comes to baking, because you will not even have that very mild smell or after taste I was referring earlier.
  2. For Frosting: This frosting is not very sweet, but it was perfect with the cake and for us. We don’t like overly sweet cakes and frosting.
  3. For Frosting: This measurement will be right for a 13×9 inch cake or a layer cake. I had at least a cup of frosting left over, which I intend to serve in ice cream cones for my son.
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Whacky Vegan Chocolate Cake

Also check out the delicious eggless chocolate cake recipe.

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  1. Joy's Mom

    Hi Madhuram,

    What size pan did you use for this cake?

    • Madhuram

      One 8 or 9-inch cake pan will be perfect.

  2. Laurie Totaro

    This is my family’s favorite cake!

    • Madhuram

      Thank you, Laurie.

  3. rani

    hi madhu

    if i am not making vegan cake. can i use whole milk instead of cold water?


    • Madhuram

      Yes, you can, Rani.

  4. Reena

    Your recipes are the best

    • Madhuram

      Thank you very much, Reena.

  5. Gail

    What size baking pan did you use? Would like to make a double layer cake with aluminum nine inch pans? And how long would it take to cook this?

    • Madhuram

      This measurement will be good enough for one 8 or 9 inch pan. So you will have to double the ingredients for two layers. The time should be more or less the same because it also depends upon the oven.

  6. Kathy

    Hello Madhuram and THANK YOU! I stumbled upon your site and now it’s one of my favorites. My best friend has an egg allergy so it’s difficult finding “good” recipes but I keep trying! Her birthday was Monday and I wanted to make her a birthday cake, but one that tasted good. I tried literally 5 recipes over the weekend and every one of them were just OK but nothing I really wanted to give her and finally Monday morning I thought I would give it one more go and I landed on your site. I made this Chocolate cake with only one difference – I used apple cider vinegar instead of white distilled (didn’t have any) – it was the best cake and she LOVED it! This cake really is GREAT and it made her day since it’s been a very long time since someone has baked her a birthday cake that she could actually eat. Thank you for posting such great recipes, I can’t wait to try a few others.

    • Madhuram

      You made my day Kathy! Thank you very much for taking the time to leave a detailed comment and I’m very happy for your friend too.

  7. Shan Kettle

    I came across your site looking for answers. I have made this very cake for years, always in an aluminum pan but this time I made it in a Corningware baking pan. The cake turned into a very dense, rubbery, “eggy” texture. Do you have any idea as to why this would happen?
    Thank you!

    • Madhuram

      I’m guessing the baking time/temperature for such ceramic and glass pans are different.

  8. Natcha

    Made this today. Though I increased a lil bit of cocoa powder and canola oil, it turned out wonderfully. This will be my go- to recipe from now on. Thanks for sharing Madhuram. Your fan from Thailand.

    • Madhuram

      You’re very welcome Natcha. Thanks for the feedback. 🙂

  9. Jeyasri Venkatachalam

    Baked this cake today for my son’s birthday and its a hit… Thanks Madhuram atlast I found a perfect eggless choclate cake recipe..

    • Madhuram

      You’re very welcome Jeyasri.

  10. Deb

    The cake was delicious. I took your suggestion and used apple cider vinegar.

    • Madhuram

      That’s great Deb.

  11. MR

    How is this Vegan if you are using milk?

    • Madhuram

      The cake is only vegan not the icing.

  12. Gudrun Skaaluren

    i have tried it with apple juice works well ,use it in other recipes insted of milk .

    • Madhuram

      That’s great.

  13. Adriana

    Delicious, I did it yesterday for my husband�s birthday
    Have you tried juice or anything else instead of water?

    • Madhuram

      Great Adriana. I haven’t tried with anything else.

  14. Angela

    Excellent recipe, the best vegan chocolate cake ever.
    I used cider vinegar and there was no vinegar taste what so ever! I also used Gluten free self raising flour and I just used a vegetable oil. Amazing results! I have just eaten a quarter of the cake. oh and for the icing, I just used icing sugar and water. Thank you for sharing.

    • Madhuram

      Nice to know that it works with gluten-free flour too.

  15. Rashmi

    Hi� I made this cake.. it was very soft and moist�
    but it smelled funny..
    I used canola oil for the first time, thought it could be the culprit.. but you used it too..reading so many good comments, wonder what could have gone wrong..??

    • Madhuram

      I’m guessing it’s the vinegar.

  16. vrunda

    Hi, what will be the baking temperature ? will it be same as preheating oven temperature or less than that ?

    • Madhuram

      Yes Vrunda.

  17. Vidya

    Hi, I’m so glad i found an eggless recipe for chocolate cake. I can’t wait to try it out. Thanks a lot. I will let you know how it turns out!

    • Madhuram

      Thanks Vidya. Hope you will like it.

  18. Tara

    I just made this recipe as cupcakes, definitely a new fave & might even be better than normal cake. They turned out really moist & nice & rich, so I didn’t ice them. My vegan housemate loves them too!!! 🙂

    • Madhuram

      You’re welcome Tara.

  19. Terri

    Hi. If I make cupcakes, will they stick to the paper? I had that problem once before on a vegan recipe.

    • Madhuram

      Grease the liners with non-stick cooking spray and do not try to peel the paper while the cupcake is still warm.

  20. A Vegan

    Um….. Hate to break this to you, but a real vegan cake doesn’t have dairy (or honey), it’s not just egg-less.

    • Madhuram

      The cake is vegan but not the icing.

  21. Helen

    Hi,great recipe, thanks! The cake was very moist and yummy but how can I make it more light and spongy? Would it make a difference if I used baking powder instead of baking soda? Also, can i replace some of the oil with unsweetened apple sauce? Would it make a difference? Thanks so much for your help, will definitely make this cake again =)

    • Madhuram

      Hi Helen, if you add unsweetened applesauce the cake will become even more dense. Switching baking powder and soda does not work out always. I guess you can use another 1/4 teaspoon of vinegar. That might help.

      • Helen

        Thanks, just wondering if I can use cake flour for this recipe?

        • Madhuram

          You could Helen.

  22. Wendy

    This recipe is perfect. I’ve made it twice and always taste great. Thanks Madhuram!

    • Madhuram

      You’re welcome Wendy.

  23. Marilyn Bickler

    One of my grandsons has an egg allergy but this cake beats them all. I baked in a heart shape and topped with ganache and strawberrIes

    • Madhuram

      Thanks Marilyn.

  24. SP

    This is not a vegan recipe. It has milk in it.

    • Madhuram

      The cake is vegan but not the frosting.