Simple Chocolate Cake Without Butter

Simple Chocolate Cake Without Butter

Simple Chocolate Cake Without Butter

Enjoy a decadent, moist chocolate cake made with no butter or eggs and no mixer needed. Dust it with powdered sugar or use my butter-free glaze. (*this is the same cake recipe as my Easy One Bowl Chocolate Cake but with a butter-free glaze) - Jenny Jones

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Makes: 8 servings

Simple Chocolate Cake Without Butter


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (not baking powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup cool water
  • 6 Tablespoons oil (I use extra-light olive oil)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice or distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan.
  2. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl and set aside.
  3. In a measuring cup combine water, oil, juice or vinegar, and vanilla.
  4. Add liquids to bowl & gently stir until there are no lumps (about 30 seconds).
  5. Pour into pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool completely in the pan and add my chocolate glaze or dust with powdered sugar.

Notes: Make a glaze with 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp. vanilla + about 4 tsp. milk. I frost only the top - right in the pan.

Simple Chocolate Cake Without Butter

134 Comments on "Simple Chocolate Cake Without Butter"

  1. David

    Hello Jenny, I’ve just tried this cake this morning and apart from the usual(for me anyay) cracking on top it looks good. Hope it tastes as good as it looks.

    • Jenny

      This cake should not crack if you follow the recipe exactly, including the side of the pan. Cracks can also happen if the oven temperature is too high or if the cake is baked too high in the oven where it’s hotter.

  2. teens...

    Its difficult to make it out. But its delicious

  3. sneha motadoo


    This is the best chocolate cake recipe I’ve come across! Moist and dense. Just the way I like it!
    Thank you for this!

    • Jenny

      Please send your photo through my “Your Photos” link at the top – thanks.

  4. Christmas


    I love this cake!
    Is it possible to make it sugar-free?
    Stevia or any other natural or artificial (0 cal) sweeteners?


    • Jenny

      I do not know of any sugar substitutes that work in baking.

  5. Helen S

    Hi, I am a pastry lover for Greece… i used this recipe for a birthday cake and everybody adored it!!! Thank you so much it’s amazing and so healthy. I also love the fact that it is not so sweet …i used a semi-sweet whipped cream as a feeling plus some sour cherries and it was an amazing hit!! Thank you so much..Keep up the wonderful job you do!!

  6. aniketmakhija

    i made this cake and for decoration i put a flower on top of the cake and it was so beautiful

  7. Mahereenie

    I searched online to find a cake recipe that didn’t require butter, and I found this. I was very pleased with the way it turned out. I made two 9″ round cakes, mixing two one-time recipes rather than risking doubling the recipe. I used the vinegar rather than the lemon juice, and didn’t have vanilla extract but used half coffee and half water. Very delicious cake, very moist and wonderful texture. I put chocolate chips between the layers while it was still warm, and topped it with confectioners sugar. Perfect!

  8. Sehrish

    It is the most moist and delicious chocolate cake I baked ever!! I was always nervous about chocolate cakes but now I feel confident. Thank you Jenny 🙂

  9. Lanjelin

    So, I made this chocolate cake last night, and we had to throw it out. It was terrible. It wasnt sweet at all and the only flavor was an overpowering taste of flour. And that glaze.. .I wouldnt recommend this cake to anyone.

    • PCDude

      I wondered if this would be the case about it not tasting good. Since it’s not your standard way of making a cake.

  10. Lorraine

    Jenny, can I download this full recipe including video from my iPhone as an email to myself. Sorry if I sound stupid, I cannot see a share button. Great recipe as I don’t and have eaten butter, it makes me sick

  11. Shelob

    This recipe worked well without butter and eggs. I used a halogen over to bake it. Took about 40 mins because it has to be foiled halfway through. I find the original recipe way too sweet, instead of a full cup of sugar, you can use 2/3 cup and skip the glazing. I made the glazing with 2/3 cup of sugar it tasted awful with the cake, it was so sweet almost bitter. Skip the glazing and top it with some berries!

  12. Cinu Skaria

    Hi jenny… Your basic yellow cake had a beautiful texture… Beyond expectations for such a simple recipe.. I was wondering if 1/4 cup of the flour could be replaced with cocoa powder.. Will it turn out to be a chocolate cake?

    • Jenny

      I have never done this but it seems to me it could work. If I tried it, I would also add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Let me know if you try and we can share your results.

      • Cinu Skaria

        I tried it.. Replacing just the flour.. It seemed a bit drier and was not sweet enough.. Will try the way you said.. Thanks for replying.. 🙂

        • Jenny

          Thanks for reporting back. We can all learn from this.

    • Cinu Skaria

      Hi Jenny
      I would like to know whether all the measuring cups available online are of the same size?

      • Jenny

        I don’t think they are the same. If you plan to make American recipes, it’s best to have a set of American measuring cups, or some people cook by weighing flour, etc., but I do not.

  13. Mhartz

    Hi Miss Jenny,
    Your cakes looks amazing and very simple…this is suitable for my grandma… Can i use a 7″ baking tin?

    • Jenny

      Changing pan sizes does not always work. I have only made this in a 9-inch round pan so if you want guaranteed success, I would advise using a 9-inch round pan. I did an online search and according to the volume of a 9-inch pan, you could also use an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan. I hope that helps.

  14. Clara

    Hi there, will try as I want to bake for a friend who can’t take butter. The problem is that she also can’t take baking powder or baking soda. Any recommendation please? Thanks!

    • Jenny

      I wish I had something but I’m sorry I do not.

    • Andrea

      I’d try using self raising flour instead of all purpose and cut the baking soda …. That should make it rise

      • Jenny

        Thank you for your suggestion but self-rising flour contains baking powder so it may not be suitable.

  15. Alex

    I am 10 years old and I love baking! Do I use fresh lemon juice or bottled lemon juice? Which would work better?

    • Jenny

      Fresh will always taste better. And it’s great you’re cooking at ten. Keep it up!

  16. Jannz79

    Love this cake and it wowed my partner who was very sceptical after telling him it was dairy free & had no eggs! Have made it twice now, first with lemon juice, 2ND with ACV & without the vanilla as I had run out. Both turned out perfectly though the vinegar version was slightly lighter and fluffier. My partner loves a denser cake so preferred the lemon juice version but both were amazing! I also used coconut sugar instead & it was divine! Added dark chocolate chips to the top instead of glazing. Love this cake, will definitely be my go-to cake recipe from now on, so quick to make and bake, thank you for the great recipe!!

  17. Jessica lee

    Can I use baking powder instead of baking soda?

  18. June

    Can this recipe be tripled,or even more? I am looking for a recipe to feed 50 kids! Yours sounds delicious.

    • Jenny

      I wish I knew but I have only made it this one way. I’m sorry I don’t have an answer.

  19. Demitria

    Do i have to use the lemon juice or the vingar

  20. Nithi

    Dear Jenny
    Would this work if I used Apple Cider vinegar?

    • Jenny

      I have seen other recipes for this type of cake that use cider vinegar so I believe you can.

  21. Lynn

    Wonderfully delicious. I was amazed at the simple ingredients. I had no butter or eggs left. Found this site . Made this for my husbands birthday and he LOVED it. He loves his chocolate.
    Thanks Jenny.

  22. Arielle B.

    I made this cake yesterday and I loved it. My whole family said the house smelled so good and it tasted even better.

  23. Nina

    Dear Jenny, do i use normal sugar or castor sugar? Thank you

    • Jenny

      I use granulated sugar in all my baking unless it’s specified as brown sugar.

      • Nina

        Thank you so much for responding back to my question. Now I can start baking.

        Best wishes,

        • Jenny

          Nina, please make any future comments using the Comment links under each recipe. Thank you.

  24. Marlyn

    Hi Jenny,
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. It was my friend’s birthday and had no time to softened the butter for a recipe that’s calling for butter ingredients and when googled a recipe that doesn’t require butter I fortunately found yours. It was a saving grace, not only it was easy to make but so delicious too (my friend gave my husband and I some to taste) I tried baking it again last week on my step daughters birthday. I used a cup of plain flour and 1/2 of self raising flour and when the cake was done and cooled I halved it, sandwich it with cherry (from a jar) and frost it with chocolate ganache. It was delicious. I baked it again yesterday and gave it to a friend. I’m really, really impressed how good it is. Thanks again.

  25. Sandi

    I made this cake and it was super delicious…I did not have success with the glaze…very, very watery even when I added extra powdered sugar….used whipped cream.

    • Jenny

      You can control the thickness of the glaze by adding the milk very slowly and using as little as possible. I find that once a glaze is too thin, it’s difficult to adjust it by adding more powdered sugar.

  26. Mandy

    This is the best recipe! Made it today it was super moist. Love love love it….going to try more of your recipes

  27. aliza656

    Can I reduce the quantity of sugar?

    • Cookinglover

      You can definitely reduce the amount of sugar because I did and it was delicious.

  28. julia

    hi jenny can i bake this in a muffin pan? how much do u suggest i fill in each cup? and how long should i bake them for? thank you!

    • Jenny

      I have only made this as a cake so I’m sorry I can’t help. You may have to look online for converting a cake recipe to cupcakes.

  29. Elizabeth

    What I really liked about this cake–aside from how easy it was and how tasty–was that it lasted for about a week and didn’t really dry out. It was a satisfying dessert every single night!

  30. Hema


    Tried it yesterday. Was very easy and yummy. Just tweeted a little bit (added 2 tablespoon of milk and 1 teaspoon of coffee powder to it). Was amazing. Thanks.

  31. Visnja

    So simple and so delicious. Dziękuję bardzo for the recipe!

  32. Linda

    Hi Jenny,
    I seen this cake, I’m going to try it for my daughter’s first birthday she’s not allowed to have eggs or milk. How to make the frosting is there something else that I can use besides milk that will work just as well please help.

    • Jenny

      There are a lot of milk substitutes you can use in cooking or baking like soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, even rice milk or you can look for other recipes for frosting made without butter.

  33. Gerry

    Hi, Jenny,
    Love your site. And I really thank you for actually showing the inside of the cake. Some, not all, but some sites just show you the frosted cake; but you never get to see what it looks like inside. Even some cakes that are cut, are slyly shadowed, so you can’t really see how it looks – color, texture, crumb, moist, dry, greasy looking.
    And your recipes organize ingredients so a person doesn’t have to keep scanning to find the next ingredient. On those, I just rewrite the ingredient list in the order they are being added to the batter. Thank you! Best of everything to you. Gerry (Wybraniec) Wilcox

  34. Mary K

    Fantastic Cake and So Easy!
    I also used your frosting recipe for a vanilla cake I made, I just eliminated the baking cocoa powder and used a little extra vanilla extract. Thank you Jenny !

  35. Musliha

    Thank you Jenny for the fantastic recipe. My cake turns out so good and that my daughter love it.. Thanks again.

  36. Aliya

    Hi Jenny! This recipe looks great! I have regular unsweetened cocoa powder, would that be okay to use? Also, I don’t have a round pan to bake in, can I use a square 8×8 pan? Thanks!

    • Jenny

      The recipe calls for unsweetened cocoa powder so regular is okay but Dutch process is better. I’m not sure if an 8-inch square pan would work but a 9-inch square pan would work because it holds the same volume as a 9-inch round.

  37. Grace

    Hi Jenny. Can i use white vine vinegar or malt vinegar because those are the only ones i have at home?

    • Jenny

      I have only made it as written so I’m sorry I don’t know.

  38. Jasmeen

    DELICIOUS!!! I am soooooo pleased with the results alhamdulilah! Tip: add a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or strawberry gelato when serving!

  39. Lauren

    This right here was a god send, I just got out for Easter break from college didn’t have butter when I came home but dying for something chocolate, tried this added a small squirt of mayo to the mix and good lord this was a sweet blessing

  40. k dean

    Hi Jenny

    This recipe looks great, plan to make it soon! Thanks. P.s Caramel essence (if available) works well to enhance choc flavour, my choice as vanilla extract is so pricey here in S Africa and secondly also find mixing the cocoa with boiling water and allow to cool makes a big difference too,for enhancing flavour!

    • Cookoo

      Hi k dean,
      Where do you get the AP Flour in South Africa?

  41. xandra

    hi jenny! thanks for the recipe. but can i use any kind of oil? eg. cooking oil/veg.oil?

  42. Bubble Girl

    Hi Jenny
    I just want to ask I live in Indonesia so where do I buy the ingredients

    • Jenny

      Which ingredient is not available in your country?

  43. june

    where do you buy dutch process cocoa?

  44. Devi

    Hi Jenny,

    Tks for sharing the recipe, and it came out perfectly. I hv one question Jenny.
    Can I add egg? And hwz many egg?


    • Jenny

      This recipe will not work with eggs. It’s better to look for a recipe that is already proven to work with eggs.

  45. Devi

    Hi Jenny,

    Tks for sharing recipe , and it came out perfectly.  Thank you very much

  46. Fella

    Love at first sight and swept away on first bite. This is how good this cake is!! Simple and delicious. Thanks for his receipe.

  47. Jackie Vanderzwaag

    Wow! I just had a slice of this cake, it was perfect. This is now my go-to recipe. Love it!

  48. Tracey & Dani

    Incredibly delicious! Very moist! We made this with peanut butter icing and we are loving it! We bookmarked it and WILL be making this again!!

  49. Karina

    You’re truly amazing Jenny. What i did with the water, I did half cup water and half cup of hot coffee. It came out amazing.
    Thank you so much, this really helped me on my late night baking cravings

  50. Marianne

    Awesome! I tried this recipe today and used Bensdorp cocoa. It turned out chewy, moist, and yummy. With a bit of dusted confectioner’s sugar, my cake just had the right amount of sweetness. Thank you so much for this recipe Jenny!

  51. Menefee

    I made this cake during the east coast blizzard yesterday looking on Pinterest for a cake recipe having ingredients in my cupboard. Let me tell you my husband said it was the best chocolate cake he has ever had. I agree and has already been identified to make for his sons birthday in April who loves anything chocolate. I did not have enough of ingredients for the glaze but used some dark chocolate chips I had melted with confectioner sugar and coffee creamer and found a vanilla bean (I ran out of the extract for the batter). Very moist and fluffy cake. Thank you for posting so I had something to do during blizzard than shovel and watch TV 😊

  52. Samin

    Hi Jenny,
    I followed the recipe to dot and it turned out really moist and soft. However, I felt that there was something missing flavor wise. It was less sweet but that I can adjust. The main issue that I felt was that u can taste the bread/flour rather than rich chocolate. It was cooked properly but not sure why I felt that flour taste. Could it be that the less sugar makes u feel that way? Can you please let me know if you have any idea.

    • Jenny

      Using Dutch process cocoa makes a big difference in baking. It’s darker, richer, and less bitter than regular cocoa. Let me know what kind of cocoa you used and we’ll start there. Also, let me know if you made any changes at all to the recipe. Did you use real vanilla extract?

      • Samin

        Thanks for the prompt response. I used dutch processed cocoa that I got from world market and I also used real Vanilla extract from local Safeway. I have followed the recipe precisely. I used lemon juice and baked it in 9 inch pan. Only thing that I can think of is that my baking soda was more than a month old and Also the fact that I did not make icing. I added high quality chocolate chips on the top which really helped with the taste.

        I am really impressed with the texture of the cake I just need to fix the flavor part. I appreciate your help. 🙂

  53. Julie perry

    This recipe rocks! I’ve tried it both ways. Once with fresh lemon juice and once with vinegar. The vinegar was lighter and fluffier, while the lemon juice is perfect for volcano chocolate desert. I melted vanilla frosting and drizzled it… Perfect! Tonight I’m trying the chocolate glaze that is listed here. Will let you know how it goes over. But all in all I give it a five star for flavor and time frame! Thank you

  54. Izzaty

    Omg.. whut an easy, I love it! I’m just finish trying this recipe and it works 😉

  55. Ange

    I absolutely love this recipe Jenny! It makes it fat low for people on a diet。
    I always watch your videos for baking ideas。 I’m sorry to hear about people that complement bad stuff to you, what they type is nonsense.

  56. carlrose

    Hi jenny, im going to make this cake now for a birthday party because its simple and easy but when i read the comments i just had a second thought but im still makjng it. Wish me luck. Hope the outcome is beautiful. I love you by the way.

  57. Uzma

    Do we have to use vanilla or vanilla essence please reply 🙂

    • Jenny

      With all my recipes vanilla refers to vanilla extract, which is not the same as vanilla essence. Vanilla extract is made from real vanilla pods and has a strong, true vanilla flavor. Vanilla essence is a chemically manufactured product and is inferior in flavor. If you can not obtain extract, you should research the differences to determine how much essence you would need, which would likely be more.

  58. elaine

    I will try it and let you know the results.

  59. elaine

    Can I use sugar substitute? Hubby is diabetic but loves chocolate.
    Hope so.

    • Jenny

      I wish I could help but I’ve never baked with a sugar substitute.

    • bubbles

      Have you tried replacing the sugar with unsweetened applesauce or using an applesauce that is ok for them to eat… Applesauce is a good substitue for sugar…. I am unsure on equivalents though… good luck 🙂

  60. kat

    Omg Jenny just made this cake, it is so easy to make and absolutely delicious, thank you.

    Also Jenny I make your cabbage rolls every week, they are a big hit in my house, thanks for that

  61. akshay

    Is there no eggs ???

  62. Angie

    Thank you Jenny!
    Super easy recipe ! I just made it and came out of the oven looking amazing and with excellent taste! Fresh mom with a 4 months baby time for something more complicated! Thank you for posting this!!

  63. Amateur in baking

    Thanks for the recipe! It works and the cake looks good. 🙂 However, it doesn’t taste as soft as I thought it would be. Are there some steps that I need to take note of to ensure that the texture is soft?

    • Jenny

      This cake is very soft so I’m guessing there is something you are doing differently. Please tell me exactly what ingredients you are using, including the type and size of pan and I will try to help.

  64. Peter

    Aww!! I LOVE Jenny Jones…I missed seeing her on TV. I hope she can come back as she was such an awesome TV personality.

  65. Eleanor

    I tried this simple cake today and it came out great. I used a Loaf pan and it came out perfect. I made it my own by adding some coffee and orange extract. This will be my go to cake. I always have the ingredients in the house. It can be the base for other cake ideas. You are only limited by your own imagination. Thanks Jenny.:-)

  66. Lisa

    Fabulous cake! Who knew a cake without butter or eggs could be so delicious. Made it for my husband’s birthday. Instead of frosting I sprinkled blanched almond slices and mini chocolate chips on top. Looked very festive. Thank you Jenny!

  67. Simran Nagra

    Hi jenny,
    If I want to make a bigger cake and I double the ingredients do I have to make changes in the time .thanks

    • Jenny

      I’m not sure what you mean – use a bigger pan or make a taller cake? If it’s a bigger pan, what is the size?

  68. Ylenia Vella

    On another note… what happens if you leave vanilla out? And what can you substitute it with?

    • Jenny

      I don’t know of a substitute for vanilla and it really enhances the chocolate, which is why it’s in most chocolate recipes. The cake will taste much better with vanilla.

      • Carole

        Dear Jenny,
        Thank you for posting this recipe. I was looking for low cholesterol, healthy chocolate cake recipes. I’ll definitely try it this afternoon. In reply to Ylenia’s comment on leaving vanilla out, I absolutely love vanilla but grated orange zest might also go well with the chocolate flavor. What do you think?

        • Jenny

          Orange zest & chocolate are always good together.

  69. Ylenia Vella

    Simply fantastic

  70. pridypholar

    I did this and I felt like a genius…….. but the only issue is that the cake did not rise like when I use butter and egg for my sponge cake
    I use baking powder instead of baking soda and I also added honey to it will this affect my output

    • Jenny

      Both the changes you made caused the cake not to rise. Baking powder can not be used as a substitute for baking soda and honey is too heavy if you want a light cake. With any of my recipes, if you follow them exactly with no changes, they will always turn out.

  71. ChocolateChipCookieBro

    I have everything except the cocoa powder. -.-;; And I’m broke. But, definitely going to try this at some point.

  72. Charlene

    Baked the cake last night and it came out perfect, and I use milk instead!.

    Thanks for the easy to follow recipe 😀

  73. Chris

    Is it possible to use half the amount of oil and stevia instead of sugar?

  74. Jan

    I made this recipe yesterday, Jenny and it came out perfectly. This is the first time I have ever made my own frosting and the cake is the best I have ever tasted. My family really likes it very much too.

  75. Kayla Walters

    Your recipe has once again saved the day. So easy and simple! ☺

  76. Gean

    Hi Jenny I just finish making this cake and it is very good, thanks for the recipe.

  77. elzbieta z Łodzi

    Thank You Jenny, J like it.

  78. Peg

    This is the recipe for Chocolate Crazy Cake that I have been baking for almost 18 years. (Also known as Depression Cake when eggs & butter where hard to obtain during the war). A friend gave me this recipe when I needed a birthday cake for our food allergic son. This is a popular recipe within the food allergy community. It’s our “go to” recipe for an egg free, dairy free cake. My recipe is doubled and baked in a 13 x 9 pan or I sometimes use your measurements for an 9 x 9 or a dozen cupcakes. I’ve never had a problem with bitterness or the cake falling apart. Always perfect!

  79. Loan

    Hi Jenny,
    Tks for sharing recipe.Can I replace 1 cup of water with milk?I’d like to try making this cake.Thank you very much

    • Jenny

      I have never made this cake with milk but I will check around for a recipe similar to this that uses milk, and report back.

    • Sarah

      I have tried this cake with water, milk, chocolate milk and soy milk and they all came out beautifully. Hope this helps and Jenny, thanks for the fantastic recipe.

  80. Joseph

    I have to disagree. I have made this cake three times already (with the butter frosting) and find it perfectly moist and delicious. You can have your cakes made with 2 sticks of butter but this is my only chocolate cake now. My boys love it too! Jenny thanks for all the butter free and low-butter recipes..

  81. Ewa

    Two other cakes in your blog have exactly the same recipe: “Easy one bowl chocolate cake” and ” Healthy chocolate cupcake”. I baked both of them and I agree with the person who posted the comment before me: Mel -in a way that I will not be using this recipe again. Not because the cake fell apart . On the contrary: the cake looks and keeps the shape very good but in my opinion it just does not taste well. It has specific smell which I do not like ( maybe it’ s from baking soda). I baked it twice with fresh ingredients and it just did not work. I have already tried many of you recipes and I just simply love most of them. Thank you.

  82. Chris

    Jenny I made this cake with the frosting and it was sooooo good!! but Im going to try it this way without the butter frosting. Thanks for sharing all your baking, especially the ones without butter.

  83. Mel

    I did not like this recipe, it turned out bitter and falling apart. It didn’t hold or have the texture you expect from chocolate cake. Will not be using this recipe again.

    • Jenny

      Thank you for making it so quickly – I just posted the recipe a few hours ago. Baking is an exact science and even the slightest change can cause a recipe to fail. If you follow the recipe without making any changes, it does not fall apart and is not bitter. The bitterness may be from not using Dutch process cocoa. Please let me know what changes you made, if any, (with the ingredients, technique, or size of pan) because I’ve been making this cake for years and it’s always moist and sweet and never falls apart. I’d be happy to help figure out what went wrong so please let me know.

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