the easiest chocolate cake recipe in the world

the easiest chocolate cake recipe in the world

I’ve been sharing all these fantastic birthday celebration treats and this one takes the cake (ha!) as far as ease goes. I am convinced this is the easiest chocolate cake recipe in the world. I even googled “easiest chocolate cake recipe in the world” to see what would come up and I was honestly really disappointed with the results (or pleased, I guess, because I still think I’m right).

The first recipe is from Gourmet and it calls itself “World’s Easiest Chocolate Cake” but just a quick glance at the ingredients proves that it’s not. There are not one but two kinds of chocolate that you need to chop up, there’s the butter that you also need to chop up, 2 eggs that need to be beaten, and it calls for cake flour. Now, we always have a good supply of all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and bread flour on hand because we use them all the time, but I try to avoid buying other flours unless I really need them. Even then, I try to only buy specialty flours from the bulk bins at the grocery, otherwise I find forgotten whole wheat pastry flour that’s gone rancid in the back of the cupboard months later. Anyway, all this is to say that as much as I love Gourmet and as fantastic as that recipe looks (it has bourbon in it too!) I think calling it the world’s easiest cake might be a bit of a stretch.

oil and coffee

This cake from Moosewood, on the other hand, calls for ingredients that I always have on hand. In fact, this was my go-to cake when I was in college because the ingredients are all shelf stable, so once I bought them, I could make the cake whenever I wanted to. And for that reason, it continues to be my favorite fallback recipe for any last minute potluck, dinner party, or just plain ‘ol chocolate craving. I know I won’t need to make a grocery run and it takes just a few minutes to throw it all together (it’s also known as the Six Minute Cake).

Now, if you were paying attention a minute ago, you noticed I said all the ingredients are shelf stable. Which leads us to the surprise of this cake: it’s vegan! I guarentee you, no one, absolutely no one is going to ever guess this cake isn’t full of butter and eggs and all that other good stuff. Which makes this the perfect birthday cake for my friend, Lisa, whose birthday is also in September! Lisa had been vegetarian for several years and then went vegan a few years ago. I’m incredibly impressed with her commitment to it, because honestly, I could never give up cheese and all my dairy-filled baked goods (not to mention these ribs)! This cake, however, would make that healthy lifestyle a little more doable.

easiest chocolate cake in the world

You do not, however, have to be vegan to enjoy this cake. I was over 400 miles away from Lisa on her birthday, but that didn’t stop me from making this cake even with no vegans in sight. It’s light, fluffy, moist, and chocolatey and did I mention that it’s the easiest chocolate cake in the world? And if that isn’t enough for you, this cake is low in cholesterol and is cheap to make! There’s nothing to hold you back from trying it!

Easiest Chocolate Cake Recipe in the World

Oh, wait. Ok, if you haven’t looked at the ingredients yet, you will soon and you’re going to see something strange. The thing is that eggs serve as a leavener in cakes and if you take the eggs out, you need to replace it with something else. That something else is vinegar. Yes, I know. Who puts vinegar in a cake? But trust me on this. The vinegar reacts with the baking soda, producing carbon dioxide which gives you a nice fluffy cake. I know you’re going to doubt me as you’re adding the cider vinegar at the very end because it’s going to smell pretty strong (and honestly, don’t bother tasting the batter because it’s only going to elevate your fears) and you’re going to wonder why you ever decided to try this. But the baking soda neutralizes the vinegar in the baking process and in the end there is no way to tell that you ever put it in there and I promise you, no one is going to know.

I have made this cake dozens and dozens of times and people are always shocked when I tell them it’s vegan (I never tell them until after they’ve taken a bite) and they’re even more surprised to find out about that secret ingredient. So you can either shock your friends with your incredible baking prowess, or just let them think that they’re eating a regular, decadent chocolate cake and keep the secret to yourself. It’s up to you!

Easiest Chocolate Cake Recipe in the World

The Easiest Chocolate Cake Recipe in the World (Chocolate Vegan Cake)

The Easiest Chocolate Cake Recipe in the World (Chocolate Vegan Cake)

Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts

This recipe is also known at the Six Minute Cake. You're supposed to mix the dry ingredients in your pan (rather than a bowl) to save on time and dishwashing. As hard as I usually work to prevent extra dirty dishes, I just don't think it's worth it to try to thoroughly mix everything in the pan because I tend to spill about a third of the ingredients in the process. I find it much easier to just wash one extra bowl.

If you have a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, you can measure and mix all your wet ingredients (minus the cider vinegar) right in there. I use instant coffee to make the coffee, so I just heat 1/4 to 1/3 cup of water in the microwave, mix in the instant coffee, add enough cold water to make it a full cup (helps cool it down faster this way) and then I can measure the oil right on top of that. Couldn't be easier. This coffee, by the way, does not make it a mocha flavored cake - you can't taste it at all but it does a wonderful job of intensifying the chocolate flavor of the cake.

The cake does not like to be taken out of the pan. I usually bake it in an 8-inch square pan and serve it right out of that. If you want to be able to take it out of the pan, you must line the pan with parchment paper and grease well or it will fall apart when you try to take it out (which is why I actually made two cakes that night...). You can serve the cake as is, dust it with powdered sugar, or make a simple frosting out of cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar, and water.


  • 7 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 cups) unbleached white flour
  • 1 ounce (1/3 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 ounces (1 cup) sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cold water or coffee
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar


  1. Preheat the oven to 375º. Grease a 9-inch round pan or 8-inch square pan. If you're planning on removing the cake from the pan, line with parchment paper and grease very well.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, soda, salt, and sugar directly in a medium bowl. In a 2 cup measuring cup or small bowl, measure and mix together the oil, cold water or coffee, and vanilla.
  3. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a fork or a small whisk. When the batter is smooth, add the vinegar and stir quickly. There will be pale swirls in the batter as the baking soda and vinegar react. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter and put it in the oven right away. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes and set aside to cool.


26 Responses to “the easiest chocolate cake recipe in the world”

  • Liz Says:

    This is a really useful cake to have up your sleeve. Thanks for sharing. I had it once on a weekend away with some girlfriends in a rustic, rural cabin. Not one but two of of my friends had made some version of the Six Minute Cake before, and together they found all the ingredients there in the rented cabin and made the cake. What a treat for the rest of us! I’ve always wanted to try it myself – now I can.

  • Jessie Says:

    Wow this looks delicious! I have never heard of using vinegar in a cake but now that you mentioned it as an egg substitute I wonder if it would work in other recipes as well?

  • kirbie Says:

    Well you have me sold. Now I must try this cake!

  • Rachel (teacher-chef) Says:

    I grew up calling this cake “Crazy Chocolate Cake” and I love how easy it is (I’ve even made it mixing it all up into the cake pan and only dirtying the one dish).

  • Zo @ Two Spoons Says:

    I love this recipe too! Many vegan chocolate cakes taste overly baking-soda-y or too much like whatever they replaced the eggs with, but this one is pretty much pure unadulterated chocolatey goodness. I’ve used different vinegars and lemon juice too and it’s turned out great every time, with no vinegary flavour whatsoever.

  • Bianca @ Sweet Dreaming Says:

    Yum I am definitely trying this! It looks delicious! I love your blog 🙂

  • Beth Says:

    I had a people over for dinner last night with no warning. I was able to duck away from the table, whip this up, and be back to enjoy more conversation without anyone noticing I’d been gone long. And then, surpirise! Cake for dessert. Everyone was impressed. Thank you for sharing this!

  • modgurl Says:

    Thanks for the recipe! Made it twice and both turned out looking good and tasting delicious. Quick, easy and low-fat! Love it!!!

  • Beth Says:

    I have been making this cake forevr!!! and it is really good.

    I also have a version that is a spice cake and a carrot cake that uses a jar of baby food. (I use applesause sometimes if that is what I have)

    They can all be thrown together in less than 5 minutes and are all vegan.

  • Charles McPhate Says:

    Wow. This cake is delicious! I just had my first slice…the rest of the cake won’t last long.

    I used a springform pan that I sprayed with cooking spray then floured liberally. It came out of the pan perfectly.

  • Jonathan Says:

    I’ve recently found a Chocolate Cake (Gateau au Chocolat) recipe which only uses 5 simple ingredients.
    Best of all, you can mix everything and bake it inside a RICE COOKER.
    It might be easier for an Asian household instead of Western though because a Western kitchen typically has mixers and an oven, but an Asian household would typically have a rice cooker but not an oven.
    It was by far the easiest recipe I have ever come across though.

  • Sabrina - CJ Says:

    This looks amazing! Thing is I don’t have any cider vinegar at home and I’m not vegan so can I use eggs anyway? and if yes .. how much?

    • Kristen Says:

      You can use regular white vinegar if you don’t have cider vinegar, but I would skip the eggs. The recipe is formulated to use the cider and baking soda as the leveners to make the cake rise. I promise, no one will ever guess that this cake is vegan (I make it all the time and I’m not vegan). If you want to make a cake with eggs, I would suggest using a different recipe.

  • Kimberly Says:

    This cake was called “Wacky” cake when I was growing up! YUM. My boys STILL prefer it to any other recipe I’ve ever found.

  • Beck Says:

    Hi – just wondering if the recipe calls for plain or self raising flour? I made the cake and it tasted great, however it barely rose at all? Thankyou

    • Kristen Says:

      Hi Beck! It uses regular flour. Did you make sure to use baking soda, not baking powder?

      • Beck Says:

        Yep – used Baking soda – Tried again and same results – Not much height at all. Tried it a 3rd time – this time with Baking soda and S.R Flour and finally got a bit of rising happening.
        Thankyou for your reply

  • prethika Says:


  • Brendaloy Says:

    Thanks a lot for sharing your recipe:) I’m new to baking and has encountered many times of failures in baking until I found this recipe:) I will feature your recipe in my blog:)good day.

  • Erin Says:

    Did you grease And flour pan or just grease?

    • Kristen Says:

      Hi Erin. I just grease it, but I usually just cut it and serve it from the pan. When I want to be able to take it out of the pan (like here), I grease the pan and line it with a sheet of parchment paper.

  • Sona Says:

    I just had my first attempt at making it and it was a disaster trying to convert the ounces and the cups into grams and millilitres. in the end when I added the liquid ingredients into dry ingredients I still had pretty much dry ingredients (not enough liquid). I was so upset having wasted all the organic ingredients. Next time I stick to a recipe ‘that speaks my language’. Very disappointed.

  • Arty Says:

    I just baked this cake. The amount of liquid in the recipe was not enough to get everything wet. So I added a little bit of extra water to get everything wet. Then added lemon juice instead of vinegar.
    It came out tasting very chocolaty but a bit on the gooey side. Delicious anyway!

  • sunita Says:

    Today I found this link in pinterest. i tried it today evening and it was not only one of the easiest cake recipe it was one of the best cake i ever ate. Oh my god everyone at my home just loved it. I am so thankful to u Kristen for sharing such an amazing recipe. Wow…..

  • Ania Says:

    Hi. Can I use brown sugar?

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