Dairy-free Chocolate Cake – Super Easy, Moist, Fudgy

This dairy-free chocolate cake is ultra-rich, moist and chocolaty! It doesn’t use any specialty ingredients and can be made with all-purpose, gluten-free or whole wheat flours. It’s also easy to make vegan! With instructions for cupcakes, too.

If you don’t need your cake to be dairy-free, don’t worry – this cake doesn’t have any unusual ingredients. Just use regular milk instead of dairy-free milk! That is the only thing needed to make this cake dairy-free.

This is the same cake as my Halloween cake with eyeballs, but because it’s not Halloween season, and it seems as if most people were disgusted by it according to a poll I did on Instagram, I made a pretty design this time without any gross decorations.

This cake is too delicious to just have it seen around Halloween. It has the perfect chocolate flavor and is so insanely moist.

Plus, I thought it’d be perfect for Valentine’s Day!

This has been my go-to chocolate cake for 15 years. I’ve tried top-ranking chocolate cake recipes, just because I was curious if there’s one better than this, but this one always comes out the winner.

The yield

If you’re telling yourself that you don’t need a whole 8″ cake for just the two of you, I’d recommend making the whole thing, anyway, and freezing what you don’t want to eat within a few days. It freezes great, even with the frosting on it.

And it’s not actually that big of a big cake. I know it looks like it, though.

The amount of frosting is indeed a lot. In everyday life (so when I’m not posting a recipe on the internet), when making this cake, I never frost the sides. The cake doesn’t really need it, and it’s sweet enough without.

If you don’t want to frost the sides, then just make 2/3 of the frosting recipe. You’ll have about 1/4 cup leftover.

You could probably even make just 1/2 of the frosting recipe, and use a little less on the top.

Traditional or a healthy version

You’ve got some options here. You can make a classic non-healthy cake or a healthier cake (which tastes like the regular version!).

You can use:

  • Regular flour, whole wheat, or gluten-free flour
  • Regular eggs or chia eggs
  • Regular sugar, coconut sugar, or honey
  • Whatever neutral-tasting oil you’d like

The milk

Cashew milk is my favorite. It’s more neutral than almond milk.

Oat milk would probably also be great. I haven’t tried soy as I can’t have it but imagine that’d work, too.

If you want to use canned coconut milk, I recommend using 1/2 cup of that + 1/2 cup of water. That’ll thin it down so that it’s like regular milk.

The frosting recipe

I used my chocolate fudge frosting for this. It’s my favorite frosting recipe for good reason! It’s super easy, not overly sweet, and easy to pipe.

And just like when using canned coconut milk for the cake, I’d recommend you use half coconut milk and half water to thin it down.

Like I said above, just make 2/3 of the recipe if you don’t want to frost the sides!

The piping

If you want to make the same designs I did, you’ll need about 1.5x the frosting. The amounts for that are in the notes section below the recipe. You won’t use all of it but can freeze it without issue.

You might be able to get away with making 1.3x the recipe, but running out of frosting when you’re almost done decorating a cake is hugely annoying. So I recommend just making more and then freezing.

I used Wilton tip 6B. To see how the swirl was made, check out the video!

Topping ideas

For everyday life, I would’ve just covered this dairy-free chocolate cake with raspberries or strawberries.

I don’t normally fuss with any decorations beyond that but wanted something fancy-looking for Valentine’s Day. I mentioned this in the post about me on The Zestfull, but I’m really enjoying planning little holiday parties for our little family of three.

It gives me something to look forward to, which is especially needed these days when we don’t have much hope of things getting back to normal any time soon.

Using other pans

  • One 9″x13″ pan.

    The bake time will vary widely depending on what combination of sugar / eggs / flour you use.

    The whole wheat / egg / honey version took 48 minutes. The gluten-free / chia egg / honey version only took 22 minutes.

    For the gluten-free or egg-free versions, I recommend to start checking at 20 minutes and then every 5 minutes after that. Otherwise, start checking at 30 minutes and every 5 minutes after that. Bake until a toothpick comes out with some moist crumbs, but no liquid.

  • Two 12-mold cupcake pans (for 24 cupcakes)

    Use liners and bake for 14 – 18 minutes.

  • Two round 9″ pans

    Your layers will be thinner but it’ll work. You’ll definitely need to bake it a few fewer minutes. I haven’t tried so I don’t have the baking time.

  • Can I just pour it all in one pan?

    Only if it’s a 9″x13″ (23cmx33cm) or another pan with an area of around 117″ (297cm). If you just pour it all into a 10″ springform or something like that, it won’t bake properly and will be gooey and rubbery.

Healthier Valentine’s Day desserts

So this isn’t the healthiest treat. Even if you use honey for the cake, the frosting is sweetened with chocolate, so it’s got a lot of sugar.

For a healthier chocolate treat, try my date-sweetened paleo vegan chocolate mousse or my maple-sweetened paleo fudge.

For a sugar-free treat, I can offer you this delicious keto pudding. Plop some raspberries on top, and you’ve got yourself a super quick Valentine’s Day dessert! You can also use maple syrup if you prefer.

Let me know if you try the cake! I love getting feedback. :)

Questions about this dairy-free cake?

  • How can I make this in advance?

    Unfrosted cake layers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or refrigerated for up to 3. You can also freeze the frosted cake for up to 3 months.

  • Can I use a different egg replacer?

    I’ve only tried chia eggs in this cake and I was quite surprised that it worked. I often have problems with egg subs in cakes.

    I’m guessing that other egg replacers, that you’ve used in other cake recipes with good results, would work here as well, but I’m not positive.

  • Can I really use any type of oil for the cake batter?

    You can use any neutral-tasting oil like light olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, or grapeseed oil, etc.

    If you use unrefined coconut oil, you’ll likely taste some coconut in your cake. If you use refined, you won’t taste the coconut. So I recommend refined coconut oil (and you should melt it).

  • If you use olive oil, can you taste it in the cake?

    I used extra-virgin olive oil, which you can taste in the batter and when the cake is hot out the oven. But once it cools, you won’t taste it at all.

    I should say that I used Aldi or Lidl extra-virgin olive oil. It wasn’t a super expensive and strong one. If you’re worried about it, use light olive oil (the light refers to the taste and not calories).

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  • Can I use butter?

    You probably could but the cake won’t be as moist because butter is 80-82% fat and oil is 100% fat.

  • If I make the GF version, can I use a different gluten-free flour mix?

    I used Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-free Baking Flour and the cake was amazing. If you have found a different brand that works as a sub for all-purpose flour, then it might work here.

    King Arthur Flour Gluten-free Measure for Measure Flour is also a great option, but the cake is a bit more fragile with that one. That shouldn’t be a problem unless you’re making a special shaped cake that needs to be carved.

    I can’t guarantee others brands would be as perfect, both texturally and taste-wise, like the Bob’s version is.

    There is no way to use almond flour, coconut flour, or any other grain-free flours. And it’s just totally ridiculous that I haven’t got a paleo chocolate cake recipe. But I’m working on it!

Here are a few resources if you’re new to gluten-free eating:

  • Does the GF version taste gluten-free?

    Not at all! This cake tastes just like it was made with regular all-purpose flour. At least with the gluten-free flour mix I used and after the cake has cooled off.

  • Does the whole wheat version taste like cardboard?

    Definitely not! It tastes like it was made with regular all-purpose flour. The cocoa powder, oil and sugar cover up the wheaty taste.

  • Can I reduce the sugar?

    Reducing sugar also reduces the moisture so unless you prefer a dry cake, don’t go overboard. Don’t try reducing the sugar to 1/2 cup or some small amount.

    I think using 1 1/2 cups of sugar would be fine. The honey version is already a reduced amount (1 cup of honey instead of 2 cups of sugar) so I don’t recommend reducing it more than that!

  • Can I use something other than the listed sweeteners?

    I’ve only made this cake with the listed sweeteners and nothing else. So those are the only ones that I know will work 100%.

    I’m guessing that any liquid sweetener that you’d usually use in place of honey would probably work in place of the honey. And any granulated sweetener that you’d usually use in place of granulated sugar would probably also work.

  • Can I freeze the cake layers or the whole cake?

    Yes, you can freeze the unfrosted layers or even the whole cake! Let them thaw in the fridge overnight.

If you make this dairy-free cake, I’d love for you to share it on social with a mention @texanerin or tag #texanerinbaking so I can see your creations. Thank you and enjoy! :)

Dairy-free Chocolate Cake (gluten-free option)

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Rated 5.0 by 20 readers
Dairy-free Chocolate Cake – Super Easy, Moist, Fudgy
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Ready in:
  • Yield: 8-12 slices

Ingredients

    Cake:

  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar or coconut sugar or 1 cup (320 grams) honey
  • 1 3/4 cups (218 grams) all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour or for gluten-free, use 1 3/4 cups (242 grams) Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-free Baking Flour
  • 3/4 cup (85 grams) cocoa powder (I used Dutch-process)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large (50 grams each, out of shell) eggs or 2 chia eggs for vegan1
  • 1 cup (240ml) dairy-free milk of choice2
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) oil3
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240ml) boiling water
  • For the frosting (see notes if you want to have enough to pipe):4

  • 3 cups (510 grams) dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • 3/4 cup (180 milliliters) dairy-free milk of choice
  • 3/4 cup (168 grams) refined coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

    For the cake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 °F (175 °C). Line 2 round 8" cake pans with parchment paper on the bottom and then grease the sides of the pans.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.
  3. Mix until combined and then stir in the boiling water. The batter will be almost as thin as water.
  4. Divide the batter between the two pans.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with maybe some moist crumbs, but no uncooked liquid.
  6. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pans, and then turn out onto a rack to cool. Let cool completely before frosting.
  7. Unfrosted cake layers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for 2 days or refrigerated for 3. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
  8. To make the frosting:

  9. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, mix together the chocolate, milk, coconut oil, vanilla extract and salt. Stir until melted and completely smooth.
  10. Let the pan cool for about 15 minutes (or until cool enough to place in the refrigerator) and then place the pan in the refrigerator for about 1-2 hours, stirring after every 15-20 minutes, or until firm enough to spread on the cake. I need about 1 hour. If you forget about it and leave it in the refrigerator too long, it'll be too firm to spread, so be sure to keep checking on it. If it gets too hard, very lightly reheat it on low heat, stirring constantly, until it's soft enough.
  11. Once the cake has cooled, spread about 3/4 cup of frosting on the first layer, about 1 cup on top of the cake, and the rest on the sides.
  12. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days. You can also freeze the frosted cake or unfrosted layers for up to 3 months.

Notes

  1. To make the chia eggs for this recipe, mix together 2 tablespoons of ground chia seed with 6 tablespoons of water until well combined. Let sit for about 1-2 minutes or until goopy like regular eggs.
  2. If you want to use canned coconut milk, I recommend using 1/2 cup of that + 1/2 cup of water. That’ll thin it down so that it’s like regular milk. For the frosting, use 6 tbsp coconut milk + 6 tbsp water.
  3. I recommend something neutral like refined coconut oil, light olive oil, grapeseed oil, vegetable oil or canola oil.
  4. These are the amounts for the frosting if you want to have enough to make the same piped decorations (with a Wilton 6B tip). You'll have some leftover but can freeze leftovers for a few months.
    – 4 1/2 cups (765 grams) dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
    – 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (266 milliliters) milk of choice
    – 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (252 grams) refined coconut oil
    – 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
    – 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • To make this recipe as cupcakes (it'll yield 24):

    Preheat your oven to 350 °F (175 °C). Line two muffin pans with 24 liners. Follow the prep instructions above. Bake for 14 – 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with some moist crumbs, but no liquid.

    Let cool for 5 minutes in the pans, and then turn out onto a rack to cool. Let cool completely before frosting. They can be frozen unfrosted for about a month or refrigerated for 4 days.

    For the frosting, use 2/3 of the above recipe. That'll yield 2 cups of frosting, which is enough for 2 tablespoons of frosting per cupcake. So that's 2 cups chocolate, 1/2 cup milk of choice, 1/2 cup coconut oil, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Adapted from Hershey's One Bowl Chocolate Cake

Recipe by  | www.texanerin.com

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149 comments on “Dairy-free Chocolate Cake – Super Easy, Moist, Fudgy” — Add one!

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  • Angela says
    February 18, 2024 @ 12:01 am

    I made this for my husband’s birthday. It was so moist and tender, not to mention, delicious! The frosting was so glossy and yummy. I halved the recipe since it was just the two of us. I baked it in an 8-inch cake pan. It was perfect for us.

    Reply
  • Angela says
    February 7, 2024 @ 9:24 pm

    I’m planning to make this today for my husband’s birthday. I went to print the recipe and there’s a big gap between “directions” and “for the cake”. Can this be deleted somehow? It turns a 2 page recipe into 3 and is a waste of resources.

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Angela
      February 7, 2024 @ 9:40 pm

      I’m sorry for the trouble! I don’t have a way of fixing it, but am getting a site redesign soon that should take care of it. What you can do is select all (ctrl + A) and paste it into a word document, Google doc, or whatever you’d like. Then you don’t have the empty space, and you can change the font to be whatever size you’d like.

      Reply
  • Jackie says
    February 7, 2024 @ 12:17 am

    hello, i want to make this cake for my birthday thats coming up i need to make this a dairy free gluten free version. my question is can i use any 1:1 gluten free flour for this cake to work?
    im still fairly new to baking gluten free all the options they have on the market are pretty confusing but i prefer gluten free over regular flour.

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Jackie
      February 7, 2024 @ 12:19 pm

      Hi! Check out the questions section where it says, “If I make the GF version, can I use a different gluten-free flour mix?” I hope that you’ll enjoy the cake and have a great birthday! If you try a different brand than the two I’ve recommended, I’d love to hear the results. :)

      Reply
  • Jackie says
    February 6, 2024 @ 7:21 pm

    Hi if I don’t have Dutch cocoa is it okay if I use the regular one?

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Jackie
      February 8, 2024 @ 1:14 pm

      Hi! That works great. The original recipe I adapted it from even from Hershey’s. :)

      Reply
  • Mikaela says
    January 25, 2024 @ 7:28 pm

    Hiya! I’m making this cake for my nephew who is allergic to dairy, nuts, and coconut – could I replace any milk in this recipe for oat or soy milk? Was also wanting to add frozen cherries into the batter, do you know if this recipe will be suitable for that?

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Mikaela
      January 25, 2024 @ 7:33 pm

      Oat or soy work in both places where it says “milk of choice.” :) I haven’t tried it, but I think frozen cherries would work great! You might need to add one or a few minutes extra baking time. I hope he’ll enjoy the cake!

      Reply
  • Jocelyn Bowie
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    says
    November 22, 2023 @ 3:59 am

    i have just made this cake and cannot wait to present it to my guests tomorrow. What a spectacular recipe. Thank you for posting it!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Jocelyn Bowie
      November 23, 2023 @ 9:58 pm

      You’re welcome! I hope that they were/are impressed. :) Thanks for your feedback!

      Reply
  • Eva says
    November 20, 2023 @ 2:23 am

    Amazing!!!! Have vegan grandkids with celiac diseases so I made the vegan gluten free version and used cashew milk and came out amazing. I modified the filling , one layer instead of the chocolate cream I made a strawberry cream and layers of fresh strawberry slices . Everybody loved this cake even my husband wants this instead of the usual cake on his birthday (and he is not even vegan). Thank you for sharing this recipe with the whole world, absolutely amazing A++++++++++++ !!!!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Eva
      November 23, 2023 @ 9:59 pm

      Aww, yay! That is so wonderful to hear! And I love that your husband wants this cake now, too. Your strawberry version sounds delicious! You’re welcome for the recipe and thanks SO much for your lovely words!

      Reply
  • Sara
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    says
    August 14, 2023 @ 7:14 pm

    Fabulous cake!! I made it vegan (not GF) and used flax eggs instead of the chia eggs, and it came out wonderfully. I made it for my 1-year-old’s birthday and my 3-year old already requested the same cake for his birthday :)

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Sara
      August 17, 2023 @ 12:27 pm

      Aww, yay! I’m so glad to hear that! I hope your 1-year-old had a fantastic birthday. I love that your older one has requested the same for their birthday as well. Thanks a bunch for your feedback! :)

      Reply
  • Brittany T
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    says
    August 12, 2023 @ 1:46 am

    Made this cake and it was totally awesome. I froze part of it and I enjoyed eating that even more – the cake was so light and airy that it was pleasant to eat even after a few minutes out of the freezer! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Brittany T
      August 17, 2023 @ 1:07 pm

      You’re welcome! I’m glad that it came out so well and that you liked it even when frozen. :) Thanks for leaving feedback! I appreciate it.

      Reply
  • Sha says
    August 9, 2023 @ 3:28 pm

    Hi. The ingredient list calls for chopped dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate, but the directions say chocolate chips. I did my shopping by the ingredient list. I am praying that this turns out. I’m making a birthday cake for my daughter-in-law’s first birthday with us. This is an important cake! 😊

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Sha
      August 10, 2023 @ 4:19 pm

      Hi. Either way works! Sorry about that. I’ve updated the recipe to include both in the ingredients list and directions. I hope it worked out!

      Reply
  • Tracy
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    August 5, 2023 @ 2:07 am

    I made these in cupcake form using GF flour and oat milk. Also reduced the sugar (substituted mix of raw caster sugar and muscovado) to around 230g instead of the 400g as I don’t like too much sweetness and the icing I was using was already very sweet.
    They turned out moist and perfect.
    One question though: how can I adapt this to be a vanilla cake? Omit cocoa and replace with more flour?

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Tracy
      August 8, 2023 @ 9:37 pm

      Hi! I’m really sorry for just now seeing this. And I’m so happy that they came out well! Unfortunately, there’s no way to easily convert this recipe to vanilla. You’d have to rework the entire recipe. 🙁 I’ve tried SO many GF vanilla cupcakes recipes, including the first results when you google “gluten-free vanilla cupcakes” and while some are good straight from the oven, they get rubbery and weird when cooled. But not this recipe from King Arthur Flour! It’s for cake, but I’ve made them as cupcakes (though I don’t remember the baking time). And you need their GF Measure for Measure Flour, but it’s worth it. Definitely my favorite GF cake! Thanks for your comment and I hope you’ll enjoy the cupcakes if you try them. :)

      Reply
  • Beth says
    April 27, 2023 @ 10:14 pm

    I’ve used ‘Healthy Crunch’ Vegan Chocolate Chips (Dark) for the icing. I find it a little bitter. I’ve made 24 cupcakes that will be eaten by several kiddies.

    Can I add some icing sugar to the mixture? Help!!!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Beth
      April 28, 2023 @ 2:02 pm

      Hi! Yes, you can add 1 cup of powdered sugar. I’ve done it before and it works great. :)

      Reply
  • Lisa says
    December 2, 2022 @ 11:26 pm

    Hi! I’m baking for a dairy free friend’s bday and plan to also go gluten free for guests. I bake relatively often but don’t usually use gluten free ingredients. Do you have any suggestions for adapting to high altitude? I’m at 7,000 feet.

    Thanks for any help. Excited to make this cake! ❤️

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Lisa
      December 3, 2022 @ 7:18 am

      Hi Lisa! I, unfortunately, don’t have any experience with high-altitude baking. I found this gluten-free website with tips for baking at 7,000 feet. It seems as though you don’t have to make any additional changes to gluten-free recipes vs. normal recipes with high-altitude baking. I hope that helps!

      Reply
  • Rebecca Robertson says
    December 1, 2022 @ 5:57 pm

    I’m a little bit confused by how much flour to use. I need to used gluten free but can’t quite understand how much to use.

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Rebecca Robertson
      December 3, 2022 @ 7:19 am

      Hello! Do you see the recipe card at the bottom of the post and above the comments? It’s listed there. :) For gluten-free, use 1 3/4 cups (242 grams) Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-free Baking Flour.

      Reply
  • Karen says
    October 19, 2022 @ 9:30 am

    I made this cake a year or so ago and it was delicious! I would like to use this recipe for an iced 2 tier birthday cake and would like your advice on whether you think I could put all the mixture into a taller tin and then slice into layers? Would the cake and frosting be of suitable consistencies to put sugar paste icing on?

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Karen
      October 19, 2022 @ 1:03 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Unfortunately, you can’t bake it in one pan. It won’t bake through. I looked up “sugar paste icing,” and this seems to be fondant, right? I have to admit that I have zero experience with fondant, so can’t really advise on that. So sorry. But the cake is VERY soft and moist. If you’re supposed to use fondant with something firmer (I have no idea, I’m just guessing here!) like a poundcake, then this isn’t the right recipe.

      Reply
  • 8002arw
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    says
    September 5, 2022 @ 8:42 pm

    This cake is AMAZING 🤩 my family and I love it so much!!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to 8002arw
      September 6, 2022 @ 9:28 am

      Yay! I’m so glad that you all love it! Thanks for your comment. :D

      Reply
  • Katie says
    September 3, 2022 @ 2:02 am

    If my ganache is grainy did I ruin it? Is there a way to bring it back? I hate to waste two bags of this expensive lilies chocolate chips

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Katie
      September 6, 2022 @ 9:44 am

      I’m sorry for just now seeing this! Lily’s is sugar-free, right? I think that might be the issue. Without sugar, it could be that the chocolate isn’t combining/working the same as regular chocolate chips. I have had it turned grainy when I stepped away from the stove and the heat was too high (on 9 out of 9 🤦‍♀️).

      Reply

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