This dairy free chocolate cake has a deep chocolate flavor, and is also made without eggs and oil. Top this healthy vegan and gluten free cake with chocolate buttercream for the perfect dairy free birthday cake.
This is a dairy free chocolate cakes uses pantry ingredients and has a velvety devil's food texture. It tastes better than boxed cakes, and even people who don't need dairy free, gluten free or vegan love this cake!
This gluten free chocolate cake is decadent, rich, and will have your friends and family asking for the recipe. Frost this chocolate cake with my fudge frosting or cookie dough frosting or my fluffy white frosting.
Why You'll Love This
This cake is dairy free and vegan. It is free of all things dairy, but it is also eggless and oil free, making it vegan also. Instead of eggs, I use canned pumpkin puree, applesauce and lemon juice to create an incredibly fluffy texture. And it is gluten free if you use a gluten-free baking flour.
The cake is delicious. The flavor of this nondairy cake is soft and deeply chocolatey with ingredients similar to my other dairy free cakes including my chocolate tuxedo cake, and my fudgy healthy chocolate cake.
Easy to make. This chocolate cake uses one bowl, and a short ingredient list so you can have a cake on the table in about half an hour.
flour - use all purpose or a gluten-free mix or even oat flour, although you'll need to increase flour to 2 cups.
sugar - use organic cane sugar if you can for the flavor.
cocoa - use unsweetened, dutch process or cacao powder.
dairy-free milk + lemon juice - a mixture that helps the cake rise.
pumpkin puree - used here as an oil and egg replacer.
unsweetened applesauce - used here as an egg replacer.
supporting ingredients: baking powder, baking soda, salt, vanilla, coffee
Step by Step Instructions
Here are general steps but you can find the complete detailed recipe for this dairy free chocolate cake in the recipe card at the bottom of this page.
Preparation. Preheat your oven to 350 F (180 C). Be sure ingredients are at room temperature. Measure out ingredients, activate your dairy free milk by adding lemon juice and stirring, coat pans with butter or cooking spray and dust with cocoa powder. You can also add a circular parchment to the base of each pan but if you grease and powder well enough you won't need it.
Step 1: To a large mixing bowl, add sugar and wet ingredients and mix until combined, about 2 minutes to be sure the sugar is dissolved.
Step 2: Through a sifter or strainer, add dry ingredients. Sift in the flour and cocoa to be sure there are no clumps. Then use a hand mixer or whisk to combine these dry ingredients.
Step 3: Mix until just combined, under a minute if possible, to avoid a rubbery texture.
Step 4: Divide the batter evenly between prepared cake pans and bake according to times in recipe card below. Remove cakes when a tester comes out clean. I used a long toothpick.
Step 5: Let the cakes cool for ten minutes in pans, then put cakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
Pumpkin puree. You can replace with sweet potato puree, butternut squash puree or unsweetened apple sauce.
Unsweetened applesauce. You can replace with aquafaba (liquid from a chickpea can) or a flax seed egg.
Flour. Use all-purpose flour, or a gluten-free baking 1 to 1 mix.
Cocoa. Use Dutch processed for a darker cake, or cacao powder for a healthier option.
1. Be sure to buy canned pumpkin puree with only pumpkin in the ingredients, no added sugar. Don't mistakenly buy pumpkin PIE puree.
2. Be sure all ingredients are at room temperature.
3. Be sure to measure the flour and cocoa carefully, using the fluff and spoon method which means you fluff the flour or cocoa in their container with a fork, then you spoon into measuring cups, and level off with a knife.
4. Sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients to prevent clumps.
5. Use baking strips if you can to keep the layers flat. Buy the baking strips here. Soak them in ice cold water while you mix up batter. Squeeze dry a bit. Wrap the strips around the pans before you put in the batter, but after you have greased and floured the pans. Pour in the batter, bake and you will have nice flat layers.
Make Ahead & Storage
Make ahead. Perhaps you want to make a dairy free chocolate birthday cake in advance. You can make this cake in advance as much as 3 days. Bake the layers, let them cool entirely. Wrap each separately in cling wrap and slide into a storage bag or container. Then refrigerate. When you are ready to frost, remove and unwrap and frost while still cool.
Storage. Store the cake unfrosted as described in make ahead. But once frosted, keep the cake loosely covered at room temperature. It will last about 48 hours before it tends to dry out or become overly moist.
Freeze. Wrap the unfrosted cake layers in cling wrap and put into storage bags or a container and freeze for up to 3 months.
Yes, triple the recipe and follow the baking instructions as is.
Yes, because no eggs are used it is vegan as is. To make it gluten free, be sure to use a gluten free flour. My chocolate fudge cake and my chocolate tuxedo cake are both also vegan and gluten free as well as dairy free.
Yes, but the top won't have the gloss and the cake might be drier - reduce to ¾ cup.
No, it will taste rich and chocolatey, but be of a heavier texture, kind of like the gourmet tortes you get at a restaurant.
In the recipe, I provide baking instructions for a two layer cake using 6-inch round pans, 8-inch round pans, and cupcakes.
Not in this recipe because the egg has been replaced by a delicate balance of buttermilk made by putting lemon juice into milk, applesauce which has pectin which mimics eggs, and pumpkin puree for moisture.
More Healthy Cake Recipes
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Dairy Free Chocolate Cake (vegan, gluten free)
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour or a GF mix like Bob's Red Mill's 1 to 1 baking flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao powder which is healthier but more expensive
- 1 cup cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dairy free milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- ⅓ cup pumpkin puree (or unsweetened apple sauce)
- 3 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce (or aquafaba or flaxseed egg)
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoon brewed coffee (optional to deepen chocolate flavor. Or leave off or add 2 tablespoon of milk instead)
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. Be sure all ingredients are at room temperature.
- Activate your milk by adding the vinegar or lemon juice to it and stirring so it curdles. This creates a mixture that activates the baking soda and creates a lovely moist crumb.1 cup dairy free milk, 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Measure out all ingredients.
- Coat the inside of two (6-inch round) cake pans or 1 (8-inch square) pan with butter, coconut oil or a non-stick spray. Dust with cocoa powder.
- To a large bowl, combine the sugar and wet ingredients, mixing well, about 2 minutes to be sure sugar is dissolved.1 cup dairy free milk, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ⅓ cup pumpkin puree, 3 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce, 2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 tablespoon brewed coffee, 1 cup cane sugar
- Through a strainer or sifter, add dry ingredients to avoid clumps.1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt
- Mix with a hand-mixer or hand whisk until combined, but don't overmix, try to mix under a minute or the cake texture can turn rubbery.
- Divide the batter evenly between prepared cake pans.
- Bake 2 (6 inch round) cakes for 25-30 minutes. Test at 25 minutes.Bake (8-inch square) pan for 35-40 minutes. Bake cupcakes for 18 minutes. Or until tester comes out clean.
- Let cool for a ten minutes in pans, then put cakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
- Add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vegan butter, vanilla extract and 2 tablespoon of the milk to a large mixing bowl.3 ¾ cups powdered sugar, 4 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, 3 tablespoon dairy free butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 5 tablespoon almond milk
- Use a hand-mixer or an electric mixer to combine. Add the remaining 3 tablespoon of milk gradually until you have a creamy consistency. You can add more or less milk, but be careful, it can turn too runny very fast.
- If your frosting seems too runny, add powdered sugar, if it too thick, add milk a teaspoon at a time. The final frosting should be spreadable.
Assemble the cake
- Frost cakes or cupcakes
- Once frosted, the cake or cupcakes are fine at room temperature for about 2 days and then they begin to dry out.