Chocolate Depression Cake (Egg and Dairy-Free)

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Featuring no milk, butter, or eggs, this decadent chocolate depression cake recipe is magically both deliciously fudgy yet fluffy, like a devil’s food cake made from scratch.

Chocolate Depression Cake

Friends, today I have something you need in your life: chocolate depression cake. It’s something that is ridiculously simple to make and decadently delicious.

Now, you’re probably wondering why it’s called a depression cake? Well, recipes like this grew in popularity during hard times in our history like The Great Depression, when ingredients for typical cakes grew scarce. This particular depression cake recipe uses simple pantry ingredients and doesn’t need any butter, milk, or even eggs! It is kind of the dairy-free fluffy cake version of my Mama’s Chocolate Cobbler. It’s also known as a Crazy Cake or Wacky Cake, as a cake without butter is definitely a Wacky Cake, right?

Don’t let the simple ingredients fool ya into thinking this is a run-of-the-mill cake, though! With a deeply rich and fudgy chocolate flavor and fluffy texture, it is similar to a moist devil’s food cake. We like it without icing as a great snack cake, but you can add in some simple frosting to make it a dessert worthy of any table. Just note that the frosting does include dairy. If you arent in the mood for chocolate check out some of my other cake recipes like Fresh Strawberry Cake With Cream Cheese IcingEasy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, or Grandmama’s Coconut Cake With No-Fail Seven Minute FrostingIngredients For Chocolate Depression Cake

Recipe Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Sugar
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Vanilla extract
  • Vegetable oil (I regularly use refined coconut oil, which doesn’t have a coconut flavor).
  • Vinegar
  • Water

Helpful Kitchen Tools

Mix dry ingredients.

Stir together all of your dry ingredients first. 

Add wet ingredients to dry in mixing bowl.

Once your dry ingredients are mixed together, add in all of your wet ingredients. 

Chocolate cake batter all stirred up.

Give that a stir until well combined. 

Pour chocolate cake batter into cake pan.

Pour into a greased 8×8 baking dish

Batter in cake pan.

This batter is heavenly! 

Baked Chocolate Depression Cake

Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Can you smell it?  I sure can. Wish you were here!

Iced Chocolate Depression Cake

Look at that crazy beautiful chocolate crazy cake!

Chocolate Depression Cake- Cut View

 I just topped the cooled cake with a can of frosting, but you can whip up a homemade frosting, glaze, or sprinkle a little confectioner’s sugar over the top. 

Look at this pretty little slice of chocolate depression cake, just waiting for you to eat it! 

Fork Cutting Into Chocolate Depression Cake

There ya go! 

Bite of cake on fork.



  • Store cake leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  • Freeze slices of the frosted or unfrosted chocolate cake for up to 3 months.

Recipe Notes

  • Now, y’all know I’m all about dumping it all in a bowl and going for it. But in this recipe, make sure you pay attention. If you stir all your dry ingredients together first, your batter comes together as smooth as can be in no time at all. 
  • As mentioned, you can serve this chocolate wacky cake recipe in lots of different ways. Simply sprinkle a slice with powdered sugar, serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or top with icing. You will find a recipe for vanilla icing here or homemade creamy chocolate frosting here
  • To make this cake recipe into cupcakes, pour the chocolate cake batter into a lined muffin tin. Fill each cup about 3/4 full and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350.
  • To make this chocolate depression cake gluten-free, simply use gluten-free all-purpose flour.

You may also like these chocolate recipes:

Mama’s German Chocolate Pie

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

Triple Chocolate Brownie Pie

Chocolate Chip Cloud Cookies

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix – So good!

Chocolate Pound Cake with Fudge Glaze

Chocolate Depression Wacky Cake

Chocolate Depression Cake

Featuring no dairy or eggs, this chocolate depression cake is both deliciously fudgy yet fluffy, like a devil's food cake made from scratch.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake, chocolate
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 340kcal


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch baking dish with a non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. 
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Add in the vinegar, vanilla, oil, and water, and stir until well combined. Pour the cake batter into the baking dish.
    1 teaspoon vinegar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1 cup water
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Eat the chocolate cake warm or cool completely and frost, if desired.


Calories: 340kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!


your greatest message will be spoken by your life not your lips quote by steven furtick

This post featured on Meal Plan Monday.

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  1. 5 stars
    Ha! I’ll tell you right NOW that I followed directions to the T and it turned out PERFECT!!! I was super shocked how rich & chocolatey this cake was!! thank you for the awesome recipe!!!

  2. The instructions were nice and labeled thank you

    Also it won’t let me change the rating but 5 stars

    1. Hi Hayleigh, I am sorry that happened! Just keep in mind that everyone’s oven is different and even the climate can contribute so sometimes it takes a few tries to make adjustments and get it just right for your situation. Let me know how it goes next time.

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