Chocolate Vegan Cake | Sugar-Free

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This beautifully decadent Chocolate Cake recipe is not only amazingly delicious, but it also happens to be vegan and completely refined sugar-free. It’s perfect for birthdays, parties, and holidays!

healthy chocolate cake with slice missing on silver plate topped with berries

When you think about a cake being vegan AND free of refined sugar, you might think that it will be dry and dull, but I promise that’s not the case with this scrumptious chocolatey piece of heaven.

You’ll love this refined sugar-free vegan cake because it’s…

  • Naturally sweet
  • Moist
  • Diary-free & egg-free
  • Loaded with healthy ingredients
  • Cupcake-ready
  • Perfect for birthday cakes
  • Romantic enough for a Valentine’s Day dessert
  • Decadent
  • Delicious!
homemade sugar free cake being sliced on silver plate with cupcakes in background

What is this chocolate vegan cake made of?

I know it is hard to believe that this masterpiece has absolutely zero refined sugar in it, but it’s true! Neither the cake or the icing has any refined sugar included (unless you want it).

For those who are not sugar-free, unrefined sugar can be substituted for the dates, and measurements are included in the recipe card below.

What’s in the cake?

The cake ingredients include whole-wheat flour, unsweetened baking cocoa powder, baking soda and powder, applesauce, vanilla, and vinegar. What makes it taste sweet is Date Paste!

date paste in green bowl with bent spoon

Date Paste is a healthy natural sugar substitute that’s the perfect solution for baking deliciously sweet desserts, and it’s so easy to make with only two ingredients–water and dates!

What’s in the frosting?

The icing for this cake includes wholesome simple ingredients like sweet potatoes (yes, you read that right), cocoa powder, almond butter, whole dates, plant milk, and vanilla. That’s it!

ingredients for sugar free chocolate icing on counter sweet potatoes dates

The inspiration for this sweet potato icing came from Dreena Burton’s Sweet Potato Cake recipe that I have been making for years because it’s amazing!

Dreena’s recipe calls for coconut sugar or other unrefined sugar, so I decided to see what would happen if I tweaked a few ingredients and substituted dates for the sugar. I have to tell you that I was amazed that the frosting tasted every bit as good as Dreena’s original!

The recipe card at the bottom of the page has the full list of ingredients with measurements and instructions.

How to make this chocolatey wonder

This dairy-free and egg-free chocolate cake recipe is so easy, I know you’re going to be amazed. I think it’s a great opportunity to get those reluctant cooks and even the kids in the kitchen for this.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and make some date paste.

Date paste is super simple to make in a blender or food processor. One great thing is that once you make it, any leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. It freezes well too!

I have written an entire article–How to Make Date Paste–if you want to take a look, but it is super easy. Just add dates and water to a blender or food processor and mix well.

Once the date paste is ready, set it to the side to be added to the wet ingredients shortly.

Making the cake

Place all of the dry ingredients–flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder–in a large mixing bowl and whisk together well.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients–applesauce, plant milk, vanilla, vinegar, date paste–and whisk together thoroughly.

Next, pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk together well. It should be nice and thick as pictured below.

sugar free chocolate cake batter in bowl with whisk

Decide which size and type of pan or pans you would like to use. Personally, I like to use non-stick silicone baking pans because they don’t require any oil and work perfectly for baking.

You can choose to use a number of different sizes of pans including round 8″ or 9″, or even square or rectangle pans. I love my heart-shaped pan for Valentine’s Day and other special occasions. The batter will make approximately two 8″ round cake pans.

sugar free chocolate heart shaped cake in silicone pan

Muffin pans are also a terrific idea for making cupcakes. I’ve put some cooking time adjustments for pans in the Tips section below.

Bake at 350°F for approximately 30-35 minutes for circular 8-9″ pans.

Oven temperatures vary, so around the 25-minute mark, remove the cake from the oven and test for doneness. To do this, insert a toothpick into the center point. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done, otherwise place back into the oven and test again in 5-10 minutes.

Once the cake and/or cupcakes are done, remove from oven and allow to cool before frosting.

vegan chocolate valentine dessert in red baking pan on cooling rack

These heart cupcake pans are also great if you would like to make cupcakes instead of cake. They are silicone and non-stick.

Making the frosting

This frosting is so easy, it doesn’t even require a bowl! While the cake is cooking is the perfect time to make the frosting.

I like to take the easy way out and cook my sweet potato quickly by poking a few holes in it with a knife, wrapping it in a wet paper towel, and placing it in the microwave for about 5-6 minutes depending on the size of the potato.

Once it’s done, remove the peelings and use the potato flesh in this frosting recipe.

Simply place all the frosting ingredients–including the cooked sweet potato– in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

I use my Vitamix blender, and it works like a charm because it has a tamper that allows for keeping the ingredients moving in thick recipes like this vegan chocolate icing. However, if you have a less powerful machine, you’ll definitely need to stop, scrape the sides down, and continue to blend until smooth.

chocolate icing in blender with top off

Once the cake and/or cupcakes have fully cooled, it’s time to frost and serve!

I love to add a few strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or a combination of them to this cake because it makes a beautiful display. If you want to really take it over the top, sprinkle a little Homemade Powdered Sugar over the top.

vegan heart shaped chocolate valentine cake topped with berries

Tips for making vegan chocolate cake

  • This recipe is very versatile and can be made into a cake or cupcakes.
  • Cooking times will vary with the size of the pan used. Cupcakes should take about 25 minutes and 8″-9″ pans will cook the cake in about 30-35 minutes. Oven temperatures vary.
  • When making this into cupcakes, an ice cream scoop with a trigger is perfect for scooping into muffin cups without having to scrape a spoon or fingers.
  • To check for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake or cupcake and remove. When it comes out clean, the cake is ready.
  • This cake recipe is not gluten-free, but Minimalist Baker has a great GF Baking Guide that can help convert this cake.
  • The frosting is already gluten-free.
  • For those not doing sugar-free, unrefined sugar can be substituted. Measurements are included in the recipe card below.
vegan chocolate sugar free cake on silver plate with one slice out

Other great chocolate desserts

For those of you new to the whole food plant-based lifestyle, we’ve created a FREE 7-Day Plant-Based Menu Planner to help you get started!

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vegan chocolate sugar free cake on silver plate with one slice out
4.46 from 334 votes

Chocolate Vegan Cake | Sugar-Free

This beautifully decadent chocolate cake recipe is not only amazingly delicious, but it also happens to be vegan and completely refined sugar-free (unless you don’t want it to be).
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 10 servings

Ingredients 

Cake

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup date paste or 3/4 cup unrefined sugar for those not doing sugar-free (my preference)
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1-1/4 cup plant milk
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Frosting

  • 1 cup cooked sweet potato peeled
  • 1/2 cup almond butter or cashew butter
  • 3/4 cup dates pitted (3/4 cup less refined sugar for those not doing sugar-free)
  • 1/4 cup plant milk
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Instructions

Cake

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and make some date paste (if using).
  • 2. Date paste is simply 1 cup pitted dates and 3/4 cup water blended well in a blender or food processor. For more instructions, please see notes in the article above. Once the date paste is ready, set it to the side to be added to the wet ingredients shortly.
  • 3. Place all of the dry ingredients–flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, (granular sugar if using)–in a large mixing bowl and whisk together well. If you're using sugar instead of date paste, add the dry sugar in this step.
  • 4. In a medium-sized bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients–applesauce, plant milk, vanilla, vinegar, date paste (if using) and whisk together thoroughly.
  • 5. Next, pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk them together well. 
  • 6. Pour the cake batter into a silicone baking pan (or line a regular pan with parchment paper to prevent sticking) and bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes. This recipe will make two 8" round cake pans.
  • 7. Oven temperatures vary, so around the 25-minute mark, remove the cake from the oven and test for doneness. To do this, insert a toothpick into the highest center point. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done, otherwise place back into the oven and test again in 5-10 minutes.
  • 8. Once the cake or cupcakes are done, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool before frosting.
  • 9. The heart cupcake pans are also great if you would rather have cupcakes.

Frosting

  • 1. I like the take the easy way out and cook my sweet potato quickly by poking a few holes in it with a knife, wrapping it in a wet paper towel, and placing it in the microwave for about 5-6 minutes depending on the size of the potato.
  • 2. Once it’s done, I simply remove the peelings and use the potato flesh in this frosting recipe.
  • 3. Simply place all the frosting ingredients–including the cooked sweet potato– in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth. More frosting tips can be found in the article above.
  • 4. When the cake or cupcakes has cooled, frost and serve!

Video

Notes

Detailed instructions, in-process photos, and my personal helpful tips can be found in the article above.
Tips for making vegan chocolate cake
  1. Date paste can be used in the cake to make it completely sugar-free. My personal preference is to use a glandular sweetener such as sucanat or pure cane sugar. 
  2. This recipe is very versatile and can be made into a cake or cupcakes.
  3. Cooking times will vary with the size of the pan used. Cupcakes should take about 25 minutes and 8″-9″ pans will cook the cake in about 30-35 minutes. Oven temperatures vary.
  4. When making this into cupcakes, an ice cream scoop with a trigger is perfect for scooping into muffin cups without having to scrape a spoon or fingers.
  5. To check for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake or cupcake and remove it. When it comes out clean, the cake is ready.
  6. This cake recipe is not gluten-free, but Minimalist Baker has a great GF Baking Guide that can help convert this cake.
  7. The frosting is already gluten-free.
  8. For those not doing sugar-free, unrefined sugar can be substituted. Measurements are included in the recipe card below.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 236kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 6g | Sodium: 275mg | Fiber: 6g

Disclaimer

To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

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About Terri Edwards

Hi guys! I am the content creator behind EatPlant-Based and a licensed Food for Life instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. I am passionate about sharing healthy recipes and tips to empower others to get healthy.  I’m so glad you’re here! Read More…

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118 Comments

  1. How long does this last and how to store? I need to make a birthday cake two days before the birthday hooking it will last ok in the fridge for two days?

  2. Would replacing almond butter with pecan butter on the frosting still work?
    I am challenged because my 4 year old is highly allergic to all tree nuts, peanuts except pecan.
    And I am using date syrup, would it be same measurement?
    My partner is sugar free, whole wheat only so I am trying to bake his Bday cake that will work for both, and this recipe sounds amazing.
    My daughter is also allergic to; Eggs, Soy, oats, coconut, tree nuts, sesame, sunflower, onion garlic

    1. Melissa- You do have your work cut out for you cooking for two with different allergies. Pecan butter will work just fine in place of the almond butter. You may need to add a little extra date syrup to get the sweetness desired. I hope you all enjoy this recipe with your tweaks.

  3. I made this recipe as a healthier alternative for my kids and they absolutely loooooved it!! I used date syrup instead of date paste and worked perfect. Stuck the left overs in the fridge and they were even better the second day out of the fridge. Such a great recipe!!! Will definitely make again.

    1. Hello Tina! I would be interested to know : how much date syrup did you put? The same amount than the quantity indicated for the date paste? Thank you for your reply!

  4. Thanks for the recipe! I needed it to be gluten free too so I used 1 cup GF flour mix and 1 cup oat flour blitzed from oats, plus 1 tsp xanthan gum to reduce crumbling. I also added 2 tsp ground cardamom as I thought it would be nice with the chocolate and dates (it was!). Very successful results and the frosting is a glossy, clingy marvel! I did need to double the plant milk in the frosting so that the Nutribullet could cope with it but it will still good and thick. The cake looks so sweet and chocolatey your brain kind of fills in the difference – still tasting good 4 days later 😄

  5. I used wholemeal spelt flour, added extra mylk and it came out great. love using dates as a sweetner as I prefer to keep my baking least processed as possible and this was just the right amount of sweetness! frosting is amazing. cooked sweetpotato in airfryer – easy! served with a dollop of coconut yogurt and strawbs 🙂

  6. Frosting is very good but the cake is not good in texture or flavor. I followed the directions exactly and am a good baker with experience in both vegan baking and no sugar baking

    1. I am sorry that you didn’t like it. Did you use date paste or another type of sugar? I personally use pure cane sugar or succant when I make it with great results. I agree with you that the frosting is the best part for sure. The sweetener used in the cake can make a big difference, and that’s why I like to use glandular sweetener and not date paste. We include the date paste option for those completely avoiding sugar. After reading your comments, I added a note to the recipe that my preference is glandular sugar so others may take that into consideration when trying the cake. The good news is that if you store the leftover cake in the refrigerator, the frosting seeps down into the cake and sweetens it up even more. Leftover cake is my favorite! Thank you for your input. You might want to try this single-serving chocolate mug cake that only takes about a minute in your microwave. It’s really good and chocolatey, and you don’t have to make so much at one time. Wishing you all the best!

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