Vegan Chocolate Cake with Oreo Buttercream

Vegan Chocolate Oreo Cake recipe by Sugar and Sparrow

I’ve been wanting to create vegan versions of my cake recipes for awhile now, but vegan baking is one of those fascinating things that takes a ton of research. It felt a bit intimidating to scour the internet for the dairy-free substitutes, so I just kept putting it off. But with ingredients like eggs, milk, and butter in short supply due to the pandemic, I think now is the perfect time to offer you a cake recipe that uses ingredients you can (hopefully) find! Whether you’re vegan, dairy-free, or you simply need a cake recipe with limited ingredients, this Vegan Chocolate Oreo Cake is so easy to whip up and tastes amazing! Perfect for celebrating a #QuarantineBirthday or just making a cake for the fun of it. 

vegan chocolate cake recipe with vegan oreo buttercream

First, let’s talk about this ultra-moist vegan chocolate cake. It turned out so decadent and chocolatey with that melt-in-your-mouth crumb you need in a chocolate cake. I was so surprised at how much of it I ate during my testing sessions (could be pregnancy, but also, it’s just a great chocolate cake)! It’s truly the perfect rival to my favorite one-bowl chocolate cake recipe, only you don’t need eggs or buttermilk for this one. Instead of adding moisture with buttermilk, vegetable oil takes care of all that. And instead of creating structure with eggs, structure and rise are created by the chemical reaction that happens when the vinegar, baking soda, and cocoa powder in this recipe react (science, y’all). 

vegan chocolate cake recipe by sugar and sparrow

Because of this amazing chemical reaction, it’s super important that you don’t use Dutch Process cocoa powder because the process for making it involves washing cocoa beans in an alkaline solution of potassium carbonate. All of that neutralizes the acidity and cancels out the reaction between the cocoa powder and the baking soda, which in this case can result in a deflated cake. To prevent this, be sure to use a natural, unsweetened cocoa powder for this recipe. I use Hershey’s, but any brand will do. 

vegan chocolate oreo cookies and cream cake
vegan chocolate cake with oreo buttercream

*UPDATE* When I set out to create the perfect vegan buttercream to compliment this cake, I thought Oreos would be perfect! I have tons of vegan friends who enjoy Oreos because they do not contain animal-derived ingredients. However, according to Oreo’s website, they cannot call these cookies truly vegan because the equipment they come in contact with may have cross-contact with milk. If that is concerning to you, you can sub any of your favorite vegan cookie crumbs into this buttercream recipe.

To pair with this cake, I altered my Oreo Buttercream recipe to work with vegan ingredients like Earth Balance butter and coconut milk and it worked like a charm. I have yet to try other butter alternatives, but I love that Earth Balance comes in sticks and behaves a lot like real butter. I’m pretty convinced you could substitute it into any of my buttercream recipes and create a vegan version. So if you’d rather have a straight up (dairy-free) chocolate buttercream for this cake, you can totally use my favorite chocolate buttercream recipe, sub in an equal amount of Earth Balance and dairy-free milk, and you’d be good to go. 

vegan chocolate cookies and cream cake

To decorate, I added some crushed Oreos to the sides of the cake, then topped it with some swirls using Wilton Tip 4B. I thought it would be fun to add a little pop of color to the swirls, so I sprinkled them with the Fancy Sprinkles Birthday Balloons mix before placing whole Oreos in between. Side note: this sprinkle mix is not 100% vegan, but Fancy Sprinkles has an entire collection of vegan sprinkles you can shop here. I love how it all turned out, especially the little flecks of cookies throughout the buttercream! 

vegan oreo cake recipe by sugar and sparrow
vegan oreo cookies and cream cake recipe

I’m so fascinated by the science of vegan baking that I’ll be venturing on a quest for the perfect vegan vanilla cake next, so stay tuned! In the meantime, I cannot wait for you to try this Vegan Chocolate Oreo Cake and hope you love it as much as I do. 

Vegan Chocolate Oreo Cake recipe by Sugar and Sparrow
5 from 12 votes
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Vegan Chocolate Cake with Oreo Buttercream

Layers of moist, decadent vegan chocolate cake filled and frosted with Oreo buttercream. The ultimate dairy-free cake for Oreo lovers!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

Vegan Chocolate Cake

  • 3 Cups (400g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 Cups (410g) granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 Cup (45g) natural, unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch Process)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 Cup (180ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Cups (480ml) water, room temperature

Oreo Buttercream

  • 2 Cups (452g) Earth Balance vegan butter, room temperature (4 sticks)
  • 6 Cups (720g) powdered sugar
  • 4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp coconut milk, room temperature or any non-dairy milk
  • 18 Oreo cookies, filling removed

Instructions

Make the Vegan Chocolate Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare three 6-inch or two 9-inch cake pans by spraying the sides with cooking spray and fitting the bottoms with a wax paper or parchment cake circle. 

  2. Place all of the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer and stir on low for 30 seconds to fully combine them. Add the vegetable oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water and mix on low until combined.

  3. Pour into prepared cake pans no more than 2/3 full and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely.

Make the Oreo Buttercream

  1. After removing the filling from the Oreo cookies, use a food processor to blend them into a fine crumb. Set aside.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the vegan butter on med-high until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes), scraping down bowl and paddle a few times in between. Add powdered sugar a few cups at a time, scraping down bowl and paddle between intervals.

  3. Add the vanilla and coconut milk, then mix on medium for one minute. Scrape down bowl and paddle and add the Oreo cookie crumbs. Mix until incorporated.

Assembly

  1. Once the cakes are Vegan Chocolate Cakes are cooled and leveled, fill and frost with Oreo Buttercream. To create the same look as pictured, press some Oreo cookie crumbs to the bottom third of the cake after frosting. Pipe swirls of buttercream around the top edge of the cake using Wilton Tip 4B, then sprinkle the swirls with colorful sprinkles. Finish by garnishing with whole Oreos.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead tips: 

  1. The Vegan Chocolate Cake can be made ahead and stored at room temperature, covered tightly in plastic wrap, for up to two days. Alternatively, you can cover with plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to two months before thawing to room temperature. 
  2. The Oreo Buttercream can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you’re ready to use it, bring it back to room temperature and re-whip with your stand mixer to bring it back to frosting consistency. 

Did you make this recipe? I want to know how it went! Let me know in the comments below and feel free to tag @sugarandsparrowco on Instagram to show me. I love to see what you’re caking!

94 Comments

  1. Two questions! Should we not use cake flour for this recipe? Should we still add extra powdered sugar for the piping on top of the cake?

    • Hi Camilla! I wouldn’t recommend cake flour for this recipe, because the crumb would be too fine. The cocoa powder already works with the all purpose flour to produce a perfectly soft/fine crumb, which is why I always use all purpose flour in chocolate cake recipes. And I didn’t add any extra powdered sugar for the piping on top of the cake, but if you feel the frosting is too thin for piping, you can add just a little bit more powdered sugar to thicken it up.

  2. This is awesome! If I want to make this a vanilla cake, how do I substitute? Just leave out the cocoa powder?

    • Hi Cathy! I’m not sure if leaving out the cocoa powder would result in a good vanilla cake, especially since the cocoa powder is part of the chemical reaction (along with the vinegar and baking soda) that causes this cake to rise. I am working on a vegan vanilla cake recipe next though, so stay tuned!

  3. Hi…I love all your beautiful cakes and admire your artistry …just a FYI, the birthday balloon sprinkles contain bee wax, which is not strictly vegan. I’m not vegan, but bake a lot for a niece who is and she would not eat any animal product. That being said, there are many sprinkle options that are vegan.

  4. 5 stars
    Hi, I made this cake today, 6/6/20. I made it for my mother-in-laws birthday. The cake came out soo good! It was so moist. I’ve never made buttercream until today. I felt like the buttercream was a bit too sweet.. if I were to add only 4 or 5 cups of powdered sugar would the frosting still come out ok? Or do you have to add the exact amount of powdered sugar that buttercream recipes call for?
    Thank you for sharing this great recipe!

    • So happy you loved this cake recipe, Syndy!! To make the buttercream less sweet, you can try reducing the powdered sugar by 1/2 to a full cup and/or adding a pinch or two of salt to taste at the end. Just keep in mind that the less powdered sugar you add, the thinner the consistency of the buttercream.

  5. I am making this cake today for my son with a milk allergy. He can have eggs however, how do you recommend changing this to use eggs instead of the baking soda and vinegar combination? Can I just leave out the vinegar and add 2 eggs? Do I leave the baking soda in?

  6. Hi. I am having trouble tracking down natural cocoa powder. I have done some research and found that if i use a dutch processed cocoa powder instead, then i should sub out the baking soda with twice as much baking powder. I was just wondering if the vinegar would also affect the result of the cake. And if so, what would you suggest.

    • Hi Meagan! I’m not entirely sure how that will affect the chemistry of this cake, as I haven’t ever tried to sub dutch process in this recipe for regular. Let me know if you try it though – now I’m curious!

  7. Louise Thompson

    5 stars
    I made this on the weekend and my picture looks like yours! So happy with the result. Thank you.
    The buttercream was perfect and the instructions were foolproof.

    • So happy to hear that, Louise!! I’m glad the recipe was a hit and thanks so much for taking the time to let me know!

    • Hi there, not sure what you mean by “deep” pans. How tall are the sides? Since this recipe is written for a three layer 6 inch cake (used in pans that are 2 inches tall) I would recommend doubling it to accommodate your larger pans and then finding some instructions on how to alter a cake recipe to be baked in a deeper pan.

  8. 5 stars
    HOLY SMOKES! This recipe is a winner – THANK YOU! I made it for my daughter’s 4th birthday using a 9 x 13 pan and it was a huge hit. Kids, adults, vegans, and non-vegans all loved it. No one believed it was vegan. Since I did not make multiple layers, I had a ton of frosting left over so I ended up making the cake a 2nd time in one week it was that good! Thank you again for sharing this fantastic recipe!

    • Yay, Kelly!! I am so happy to hear that this recipe was a hit and loved by all! Thanks for taking the time to let me know, it truly makes my day 🙂

  9. Hi there! Is it possible to sub 1:1 all purpose gluten free flour for this recipe? Thanks!

  10. Hi, I am just wondering roughly how tall the cake will end up being ? in inches or cm? I will be transporting the cake for my friend, and want to make sure that it fits in a box so it isn’t damaged & will not crush the top of the cake! Thanks & looking forward to baking this recipe! 🙂

    • So happy you love this recipe, Lissa! I’ve been meaning to work on a vegan vanilla cake recipe for quite some time now, hopefully will have one soon!

  11. Hello, I was just wondering if you could/would incorporate the filling of the Oreos into this recipe? Thanks

    • Hi Emma! The reason I left the filling out of the frosting is because it would have gummed up the food processor when trying to reduce the cookie part to a fine crumb. That said, you can certainly try to incorporate the filling in some way, perhaps by adding it into the buttercream recipe separately. My only thought is that it might not fully become uniform with the mixture, but you never know until you experiment!

    • Hi Rhonda! I don’t use the filling, I only use the cookie part of the Oreo. This is only because the filling would gum up the food processor when reducing the cookies to a crumb.

  12. Stephanie

    Hi, I’m from the UK, what’s the equivalent here to ‘white vinegar’? Is it distilled malt vinegar?

    • Hi Stephanie! I’m not sure what the equivalent would be in the UK, but from what I’m reading on Google it sounds like malt vinegars are made using a different process and might not be the best substitute. Since the chemical reaction between the vinegar and baking soda is so essential to the rise of this cake, a better substitute would be an equal amount of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Hope that helps!

  13. Emma Fuller

    5 stars
    Hi there,
    Just made this cake for my husband’s birthday with the kids. Super easy & came out beautifully. This is the only Vegan cake mix that has worked for me, credit to you!! I will use this again & again!
    thanks so much,
    Emma

  14. Hi! Do you think it would turn out ok if I substituted half the vegan butter for shortening??

  15. Joyce Brown

    Have you ever made the whole cake and froze it assembled. I want to make it for my daughters 21st birthday and let it defrost while traveling to see her. Thanks so much, excited to make it – looks delicious.

  16. 5 stars
    made this cake today for my sons birthday, the batter was yummy, will
    keep you posted!!!

  17. Hi! I’m from the uk. Would all purpose flour be. self raising or plain flour?

  18. Thank you so very much, Whitney! This cake was a great hit for my daughter’s birthday yesterday! I made Oreo whipped cream frosting as I am not vegan but wanted to bake an eggless chocolate cake!

    • Hi Emory! It usually takes 2-3 hours to cool the cake layers to room temperature. Just be sure that there’s absolutely no warmth left inside the layers and you’re good to move on to decorating!

  19. Crystal Haymond

    Hi! I’m going to make this cake.. when you say white vinegar is white distilled vinegar the same thing?? Thanks:)

  20. I plan to try this for my daughter birthday, looks amazing.
    For your buttercream storage you say leave on counter at room temp and then bring up to room temp when ready to use. I am assuming you meant keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks?

    • Hi Niki! Yes, you are correct and that is a major typo (just fixed it)! If you’re making the buttercream ahead you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, then bring it back to room temp and rewhip when you’re ready to use it. I’m so excited for you to make this for your daughter’s birthday! Enjoy!

  21. Hi! I want to make this cake but was wondering if I can use another oil beside vegetable oil? I’ve made your vanilla and buttercream cake and it was a winner, eve one raves about it! Thank you for sharing your recipe and talents!

    • Hi Joyce! You can use whatever oil you prefer, but just know that if you use an oil with a stronger flavor (olive oil, coconut oil, etc) it will alter the flavor of the cake. The best oils to use for this recipe are canola oil or vegetable oil because they don’t have much flavor.

  22. Roopa Dewan

    Hi I plan to make this cake for my daughter who Is allergic to gluten and is vegan as well . Can I use gluten free flour instead of all purpose flour ? Thanks in advance

    • Hi Roopa! You totally can use GF flour. I’ve tried this recipe with GF all purpose flour and it worked just fine!

  23. Hi sorry if this is a stupid question, but when you said 18 Oreos , filling removed, is that 18 pairs of cookies, as in 36 cookies total? Or 9 Oreos separated into 18 cookies?

      • Palak Shah

        Hi
        I baked this cake today. I really love the taste of this vegan cake.
        But i would like to use less sugar what measurements should I use to still get this consistency in the frosting with less sugar?
        Besides that the color of my frosting was brown instead of white.. I added 18 pairs of Oreo cookies with no filling gave my frosting a chocolaty color, why do u think this would have happened?

        • Hi Palak! If you use less sugar in the buttercream, it will be more runny in consistency (the sugar helps thicken/stiffen it). You might be able to get away with 1/2 cup less sugar, but since I haven’t tried it, I can’t say for sure if it will be thick enough. As far as the color, the only thing I can think of is maybe you ground the cookies up too finely and/or mixed the cookies in for too long. You’ll want to mix in the cookies at the end just briefly so that the crumbs spread throughout the buttercream but don’t start to affect the overall color too much. You could always try folding them in with a spatula at the end instead of using the stand mixer.

  24. Hi! I love your recipes and will be making this for vegan friends. Would you recommend using hot coffee in place of all or some of the water to enhance the chocolate flavor of the cake? Thanks!

    • Hi Dominique! You can totally use coffee in place of the water in this cake, but just make sure it’s the same amount and temperature as the liquid in this recipe (room temperature). Enjoy!

  25. Hi, ready to put the cake in the oven. Just wanted to check, do you use a fan oven or normal? so difficult to assume when converting from US to UK. much appreciated for the recipe, can’t wait for the finished product!thanks

    • Hi Olivia! I use a conventional oven, so if you’re using a fan assisted oven you’ll want to follow the adjustments you would make when using a recipe that uses a conventional oven. Hope it turns out beautifully!

  26. 5 stars
    I made this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday yesterday and it went down a treat! I also learned something new about Dutch Process vs natural cocoa powder. Will definitely be using this recipe again, thank you.

  27. 5 stars
    This is an amazing recipe. You do not miss the dairy or eggs. I did leave the cream in the cookies for the frosting and I added about 9 crushed oreos to the cake batter. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

  28. My batter and icing taste delicious. I let my cake sit for 3 hours and after it was completely cooled I went to decorate it with the icing. My icing was too runny, I left at room temperature. Should it be put in the fridge after making it to thicken? Before decorating? I left at room temperature because I read how the icing is good for two weeks in fridge but when ready to use bring to room temp and rewhip.

    • Hi there! If your environment is on the warmer side it might be a good idea to store your icing in the refrigerator until about an hour before you need it. Otherwise the vegan butter in this recipe can end up melting a bit and make the buttercream runny. To combat this you can put the buttercream in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour or so to stiffen it up before rewhipping with your mixer or add more powdered sugar to thicken it up.

  29. 5 stars
    Made this cake for work. It was a huge hit. One of the best scratch cakes I have ever made. In fact, my coworkers didn’t believe it was vegan or homemade. Hoping you have a vanilla vegan cake recipe.

    • I’m so happy this recipe was a hit with your coworkers! I actually JUST wrote a recipe for vegan vanilla cake (been testing all week!!) and I’m so excited to release it next week. Stay tuned!!

      • Ohhhh can’t wait. Send me a notification or message when you have it listed. .

  30. Le'Ann L Solmonson

    5 stars
    This cake is delicious and so easy to make. The family loved it. This was the prettiest cake I have ever made.

    • Yay, Le’Ann! I’m so happy to hear that this cake was so loved and that it turned out just as pretty as it was tasty!

  31. Hello, really want to bake this cake in 2 days for my son’s birthday. How many grams in 1 cup? I’m confused as recipe lists
    3 Cups (400g) all-purpose flour
    2 Cups (410g) granulated white sugar
    1/2 Cup (45g) natural, unsweetened cocoa powder
    2 Cups (480ml) water, room temperature
    2 Cups (452g) Earth Balance vegan butter, room temperature (4 sticks)
    The flour is more in cups than grams, the sugar is less cups but more in grams than the flour. Also the sugar and butter is 2 cups but in grams totally different. Are both cup and gram measurements correct for this recipe as not sure which one to use?

    • Hi Angela! The gram measurements are different because grams go by weight instead of volume. For example, sugar weighs more than flour, so the same volume (1 cup) of sugar will end up weighing more than that same volume of flour. Does that make sense? Hope you enjoy this recipe and feel free to just go by the cup measurements if the weight measurements are confusing!

  32. Hello is it possible to substitute apple cider vinegar for the white vinegar and brewed coffee for the water?

    • Hi Girasol! Both of those substitutions will work just fine, just make sure that the coffee is room temperature!

    • Hi Sharon! I have never tried this recipe with the spread, but it looks like the ingredients are similar to the sticks (not exactly the same though). It would be an experiment, but I think it would work!

  33. Hey! I wanna make this delicious looking cake for my birthday 🙂
    What do you do with the oreo filling as you don’t use it in the recipe?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Kerry! I’ve never made this recipe as cupcakes, but I would bake them at the same oven temp and check at around 15 min to see if they need more time from there. Let me know if you make them as cupcakes and how they turned out!

  34. Sharon Dawe

    I have just made this cake and it turned out perfect. So easy to make. I decided to use the butter instead of the spread.Can you please tell me how to store it overnight for our Easter dinner tomorrow. Thank you and Happy Easter!!

    • So happy to hear that, Sharon! I always store my frosted cakes in the refrigerator and take them out about an hour or two before serving to bring it back to room temp. Cakes store great in the refrigerator, but taste a thousand times better at room temp! If you want, you can also just keep the cake out at room temp and store it that way, as the frosting acts as a barrier to keep all the moisture inside the cake.

  35. This cake looks so cool and i am excited to try it out. I have three seven inch pans. Do you think they would work or should i only use two?

    • Hi Lilah! You could use three 7 inch pans, but the layers will be shorter and probably won’t need as much baking time (probably 25-30 min but not entirely sure). If you’d rather have taller layers and aren’t concerned about the number of layers then I would just use 2 pans, or make 1.5x the recipe to accommodate 3 pans. Hope that helps!

  36. Sophia

    Hi Whitney,
    I have a fan oven, is the oven temperature for this cake for a fan oven or non fan oven?
    Thanks,

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