Wacky Cola Cake with Cola Fudge Frosting


I am not a coke drinker.  Okay, very rarely, say with Mexican food, I MIGHT crave a diet coke (sorry!), but it’s been ages. However, I LOVE Coca Cola Cake, and hadn’t thought of one in years until recently.  I had my first taste at an Academy Awards party years ago when I lived in Nashville, and it was one of those “love at first bite” moments.  A guilty pleasure for sure.

Wacky Cola Cake with Cola Fudge Frosting Recipe - dairy-free, egg-free, vegan friendly - can use Coca-Cola or natural cola

Baking Up a Wacky Cola Cake for Vegan Cravings

Recent news clips about the upcoming Academy Awards must have triggered that culinary memory because I started craving Coca Cola Cake.  Are you familiar with this southern staple?  The non-vegan versions are moist sheet cakes--ultra moist sheet cakes–topped with marshmallows and a fudgy frosting–the kind that gets ever-so-slightly crusty–and a layer of pecans, toasted for extra flavor.  And my “wacky” vegan version is too!

I made this wacky cola cake for a “Critique Treat” last week in my AP Studio Art class.  My students LOVED it and some even asked for the recipe.  I have one adorable gal who is allergic to all nuts–think Epi-Pen allergic–so I left off the pecans and passed them separately.

Veganizing cola cake was simple. I used the wacky cake technique – substituting baking powder for eggs, vinegar and dairy-free beverage for the buttermilk, and I opted to use a mix of buttery sticks and oil. Using just oil (1 cup) and omitting the buttery sticks would probably work well, too. I also opted to omit the marshmallows. I know vegan marshmallows are available, but they are expensive and I haven’t seen them locally, so I was content just to leave them out.  We didn’t miss them and neither will you!

Editor’s Note: Betsy has created a new version of this recipe, but since many of you love the original, we’re keeping this wacky cola cake online. Try both recipes and see which one you like best! 

Wacky Cola Cake with Cola Fudge Frosting Recipe - dairy-free, egg-free, vegan friendly - can use Coca-Cola or natural cola

Special Diet Notes: Wacky Cola Cake with Cola Fudge Frosting

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

Wacky Cola Cake with Cola Fudge Frosting
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The fizzy carbonation and deep caramel notes of the cola do magical things to the texture and taste of this cake.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1 (9 x 13-inch) cake
Wacky Cola Cake
  • 2 cups natural sugar
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I like white whole wheat)
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup dairy-free buttery sticks or spread
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 cup Coca-Cola (not diet; can use a Natural or Organic Cola Brand)
  • Scant ¾ cup (11 tablespoons) dairy-free milk beverage
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cola Frosting
  • 1 pound confectioner's sugar, plus additional as needed to yield your desired consistency
  • ½ cup dairy-free buttery sticks
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons Coca-Cola (not diet; can use a Natural or Organic Cola Brand)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted if desired (optional)
Wacky Cola Cake
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F, and grease a 9x13-inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda.
  3. In a 1-quart saucepan, combine the buttery sticks and oil. Bring just to a boil and pour over dry ingredients. Add the cola to the batter, and whisk well to combine. Add the milk beverage, vinegar, and vanilla, and whisk until just combined. The batter will seem a bit thin.
  4. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. While the cake bakes, make the frosting (below).
  5. Remove from the oven to a wire rack and frost immediately.
Cola Frosting
  1. Place confectioner's sugar in a medium bowl.
  2. In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa powder, and cola, and bring just to a boil. Pour over the sugar, and whisk to combine well.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and pecans (if using), and stir to evenly distribute (or reserve pecan pieces or halves and sprinkle/arrange over the top of the frosted cake).
  4. Spread the frosting over the warm cake. When cool, cut into squares and serve.
Fudgier Option: Add 2 tablespoons of additional cocoa powder to the cake and 2 tablespoons of additional cocoa powder to the frosting.

Half Batch: I sometimes make the Fudgier Option above as an 8x8 cake. Simply half all the ingredients, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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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.

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