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Two slices of lemon cake on white plates

Vegan Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

This vegan vanilla cake is unbelievably delicate and moist. Made with applesauce for an easy and delicious cake that everyone will love and NO ONE will believe is vegan. Fail-proof and a total crowd pleaser.
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 16 people
Calories: 287kcal
Author: Sarah McMinn


Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 3 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cup non-dairy milk, I use almond
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ cup apple sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 1 cup vegan butter, at room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon non-dairy milk
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract


To make the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. line (1) 8” or 9" cake pan with parchment paper. Spray with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl combine the non-dairy milk, oil, apple sauce, water, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently whisk together until the batter is evenly hydrated and fairly smooth.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes before removing it from the cake pan. Let the cake continue to cool on a wire cooling rack.

To make vanilla buttercream

  • In a stand-up mixer, using your paddle attachment, cream the vegan butter on high for 3 minutes, scraping down the sides as necessary. Turn mixer to low and slowly add powdered sugar with motor running, again scraping down the sides as necessary. Once the powdered sugar is incorporated, turn the mixer back up to high and beat for another 3-5 minutes until thick and creamy. Turn down mixer, add non-dairy milk and vanilla extract and beat until combined. 

Decorate the Cake

  • To assemble the cake, carefully cut it in thirds. Once your cake is cut into layers, place about 1 cup of buttercream on the bottom layer of the cake, smooth evenly with an offset spatula, and top with a second layer. Repeat one more time and then coat the entire cake in the frosting.


Serving and Storing - Serve this cake immediately or place it in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Store the cake for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This cake can also be store in the freezer for up to 2 months. When ready to serve, simply pull out and let thaw at room temperature.
Make in Advance – If you want to make this recipe in advance, make the cake and buttercream separately. Store the cake according to the instructions above. Buttercream should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. When ready to use, pull it out of the fridge and let it come back to room temperature. Whip it for 2-3 minutes before piping it onto the cake.
Recipe Tips
  1. Do not overmix. Overmixing allows the gluten strands to develop making the cake gummy. Mix until just combined to ensure a light, delicate crumb.
  2. Do not open the oven door while the cakes are baking. This causes the structure to fall leaving you with a dent in the middle of your cakes. You can check for doneness after 50 minutes.
  3. Let the cake completely before decorating to prevent the buttercream from melting.
  4. For a helpful tutorial on how to trim and cut a cake, here’s a helpful video tutorial.
  5. Make sure to let the melted chocolate cool for at least 5 minutes before adding it to your buttercream. Otherwise the heat from the chocolate may cause your buttercream to break.
  6. For a gluten-free option, use Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour.
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Can this recipe be made into cupcakes? Yes! This recipe will make 24 cupcakes. When making cupcakes, line the muffin tin with baking cups generously spray the cups with cooking spray. Bake the cupcakes for about 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Can I make this recipe gluten-free? Yes. I have had a lot of luck with Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Baking FlourThat is the only gluten-free flour I’ve tried for these cupcakes but I’m sure other 1:1 ratio flours would work as well.


Calories: 287kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 155mg | Potassium: 145mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 40g | Vitamin A: 340IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 1mg