Vegan Cola Cake with Fudgy Frosting


New 2016 Recipe! Betsy is a true perfectionist. Years ago she shared her fantastic vegan coca cola cake recipe with us, which was well-loved from the get-go. But she has continued to test and tweak her formula, which she says is now EXACTLY right.

If you have ever perused a “church cookbook,” as we call them down South, then you’ve undoubtedly seen a recipe for coca cola cake.  And if you’ve been to a “dinner on the grounds” at said southern church, then you’ve surely seen such a cake, and possibly even savored a slice.

Perfected Recipe for Vegan Coca Cola Cake with Dairy-Free Fudgy Frosting!

Coca cola cake looks like a basic chocolate sheet cake, but it is oh-so-much more: dense, moist, and though it contains a small amount of cocoa, it’s very chocolaty and caramel-like from the cola.

This is my third and final iteration of trying to veganize this old classic. Why final?  Because I finally got it. I posted the previous two versions of my vegan coca cola cake because I thought I had it each time. The moistness and flavor of the most recent formula was spot-on, but it sunk a bit resulting in a layer of frosting that was as thick as the cake. Truthfully, too much frosting isn’t a huge problem in my book, but, for the sake of keeping up appearances, this new and improved recipe is perfection.

And it was an accident. In the hopes of achieving a bit more sophistication in the flavor, I planned to try my recipe with Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa. But all I had was self-rising flour; the original recipe calls for all-purpose flour and baking soda. As luck would have it, self-rising flour, which includes baking powder, proved to be the trick, along with flaxseed meal! Combining both baking powder and baking soda provided the proper lift and prevented that dreaded post-baking sink. Because most folks don’t keep self-rising flour around, I converted this vegan coca cola cake recipe based on the generally-accepted amount of baking powder in each cup of self-rising flour.

Special Diet Notes & Options: Coca Cola Cake

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, peanut-free, optionally nut-free, vegan / plant-based, and vegetarian.

For a soy-free and vegan coca cola cake, use a dairy-free soy-free buttery spread (Earth Balance has a couple options).

Though this is called a Coca Cola Cake, you can definitely use another brand of cola, such as Blue Sky or China Cola, for a natural alternative. Betsy uses a natural brand, too, instead of Coke.

3.0 from 2 reviews
Vegan Coca Cola Cake with Fudgy Frosting
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
For the most authentic flavor, I recommend using regular cocoa powder. But for a darker color and richer flavor profile, try the Special Dark cocoa, which is a blend of natural cocoa and Dutched cocoa.
Serves: One 9x13-inch cake
Vegan Coca Cola Cake:
  • 2 cups all-purpose or white-wheat flour
  • 2 cups natural sugar (such as demerera)
  • 2¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup dairy-free buttery spread or sticks
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa, natural or Hershey’s Special Dark
  • 1 cup natural cola (or if you drink Coca-Cola, by all means)
  • ½ cup dairy-free milk beverage (tested with soymilk, but a soy-free version will work)
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal / ground flaxseed
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pecan halves, for garnish (optional)
Fudgy Cola Frosting:
  • ½ cup dairy-free buttery spread or sticks
  • ½ cup natural cola
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa, natural or Hershey’s Special Dark
  • 1 box (16 ounces) powdered confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 cup broken or chopped pecans (optional)
For the Vegan Cola Cake:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the soymilk, flaxseed meal, vinegar, and vanilla.
  4. Add the buttery spread, cocoa and cola to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook just to boiling, reduce the heat and stir occasionally until the buttery spread is melted. Remove from heat.
  5. Make a well in the center of the flour and sugar mixture. Pour in the soymilk mixture followed by the buttery mixture. Whisk just until smooth and well combined.
  6. Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan and gently smooth the top. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, checking for doneness with a wooden pick inserted in the center after about 20 minutes.
  7. Place the pan on a wire rack and make the frosting and pour it over the warm cake. Smooth the frosting over top of cake. Garnish, if desired with the pecan halves.
  8. Let cool completely before servings. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature before serving.
For the Fudgy Cola Frosting:
  1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the buttery spread, cola, and cocoa to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir occasionally until all is melted.
  2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the confectioner’s sugar, one cup at a time, until smooth and completely incorporated. Stir in the pecans, if using, and immediately frost the cake.

About Author

A vegan blogger, freelance writer, and food stylist, Betsy DiJulio is the author of The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes. For her love of cooking, Betsy has worked as a caterer, taught private cooking classes, and won national recipe competitions. As a writer, Betsy focuses on vegan and organic food, art, home and garden design, and green initiatives. Visit Betsy’s website, The Blooming Platter.


    • Lauren, that’s a shame. I can’t imagine what happened, as I’ve never had that happen, nor has anyone else that I know of. Were your baking powder and soda fresh? I know they can lose their leavening power if not. as you can see from the photo, it’s not a tall cake, but it certainly should rise. 🙁

  1. Under Special Diet Notes & Options you list alternatives for vegetable oil. But I don’t see veg oil listed in the ingredients for the cake. How much as we supposed to use and when do we add it? I was getting ready to make this and had to stop…..

  2. Pingback: Vegan Coka Cola Cake–The Definitive Version (feel free to use natural cola) | The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes

  3. Tracye Bennis-Sine on

    This is excellent. My grandmother (born in 1908 in Alabama) used to make Coca Cola Cake, and I was very happy to find a good, vegan version. The frosting is absolute perfection, and very easy. My cake tasted great, but didn’t stay together quite as well as I had hoped. I cooked it for longer than the recipe stated, because I had to. Should I try increasing the flour and/or decreasing the liquid a little?

    By the way, I was bold and used Zevia cola even though the recipe said “no diet,” but the flavor was still excellent. I doubt that is what caused the slight structural problem, as any issue would surely be taste related. (Right?)

    • Tracye, I’m glad you loved the flavor–even with diet cola :)–but I am baffled as to your structure issue. I have made this cake several times never having that problem, and I checked other non-vegan cola cakes online just now and the wet-to-dry ratio was right on the money, so I don’t know how to advise you. I’d hesitate to recommend adjusting anything since it comes out just right whenever I’ve made it. Sorry I can’t be more help.

      • Tracye Bennis-Sine on

        It might be that my oven (a large toaster oven) isn’t excellent, but I was thinking that I must have been too heavy or light handed with the flour, even though I measured. I didn’t sift before measuring. Thanks for getting back to me right away. I think I will add more flour (or buy a sifter) next time, as my feeling is that my ratio must not have been perfect.

        • Tracye, if you don’t keep a thermometer in your toaster oven, you might, just to make sure that the temperature is constant because that could certainly be the culprit, although I assume you have baked in it before. As for the flour, of your two thoughts, I would think you might have been too light on the flour. And for the record, I never sift. 🙂 Baking is a pretty precise science, so I hope your next attempt is perfection.

      • Tracye Bennis-Sine on

        I live in Pennsylvania, and our indoor air feels dry in winter, but it probably isn’t a problem as big as the ones you mean.

    • Tracey,
      Me thinks you did it all right. Sometimes, and, I have done this too, was think my food needed more time to cook. But, In essence, when I would take it out of the oven and let the residual heat finish cooking it with some foil on top for about 10-15 min. it turned out perfect. It’s worth a try, Good Luck!

        • Thanks, Alisa; I just did some research and saw several on Pinterest which look lovely. Once upon a time, someone–don’t remember who–posted a beautiful looking vegan angel food cake but said she wasn’t yet ready to share as she wanted to perfect it. I’ve never seen one posted since, but I’ll have to try the meringue(s). Thanks!

  4. Betsy, thank you for converting this delicious recipe! I have one question for you though: Under “Serves” the says one 9×13-inch cake, but in the instructions you say to grease and lightly flour an 8×8-inch pan. Which should it be?

    Thank you!!

  5. Tamsen, I wouldn’t do a thing to the temperature. But if my high school math serves me well, i.e. using pi r squared to figure out the square inches in a circle, then two 8-inch round layers will be slightly thicker (because the total square inches is 12″ less than a 9 x 13″ pan), so you might need to bake them a tad longer. Maybe start with 3 minutes. On the other hand, if you use two 9-inch pans, the total square inches will be 15 inches more and the layers thinner, so you might need less time. I’d start with maybe 5 minutes less. But, honestly, I prefer a thicker over a thinner layer, as I feel they look more substantial, so I would use 8″ pans if you have them. Enjoy!

  6. Tamsen Grace on

    I’ve loved Coca-Cola cake since I was a kid. I’d like to make this a layer cake. Do I need to adjust the baking times or temp if I bake this in two round cake pans?

  7. Pingback: Vegan Coca Cola Cake Recipe with Fudgy Frosting - Go Dairy Free

  8. Chantal~Congrats on a success right off the bat! Thank you for letting me know! (You are right, that frosting is seriously sweet, but is offset a bit by the not-as-sweet cake.) I am a baker from way back and had the same fear when I converted to veganism years ago, but, as you and I both learned, there was never any reason for concern! I wish I’d done it many years before. I appreciate your taking the time to write! Best wishes with your new diet. ~Betsy

  9. this was my first vegan bake and i dont think i could have started with a better one! friends loved it and i am savouring a piece each evening as a real treat. the frosting is mega sweet but the cake is so moist and delicious its wonderful. i was a bit worried that i might not be able to convert to veganism v easily but recipies like this prove its going to be a breeze. thank you soooooo much! chx

  10. Pingback: Blooming Platter Vegan Coca-Cola Cake with Fudgy Frosting | The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes

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