Chocolate Wacky Cake (Depression Cake)

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Chocolate Wacky Cake, also called Crazy Cake or Depression Cake, contains no eggs, butter, or milk and you don’t even need a mixing bowl to make it. Totally wacky huh?

Chocolate Wacky Cake (Depression Cake)

I like to add a rich chocolate icing and a few sprinkles. The icing does contain butter and milk, but you can just leave the icing off if you need a vegan dessert. The cake by itself is delicious. I’m just of the opinion that everything is better with icing.  🙂

Chocolate Wacky Cake (Depression Cake)


Wacky Cake apparently dates back to the Great Depression when food needed to be super economical and was really popular during World War II when their were rations on things like butter, eggs, and milk. But becasue it is such a delicious cake, it has stood the test of time and people still enjoy baking it.

Chocolate Wacky Cake (Depression Cake)


Unsweetened Cocoa Powder gives Chocolate Wacky Cake its chocolate flavor, making this a super inexpensive cake to make.

Chocolate Wacky Cake (Depression Cake)


Chocolate Wacky Cake is so easy to make without any mess or clean-up, plus it is a really moist and exceptionally delicious cake that is perfect for snacking on. Everything is mixed together right in an 8×8-inch pan using only a fork.

First you combine all the dry ingredients in the pan and then you form 3 wells: one for the vinegar, one for vanilla extract and one for the oil. Pour 1 cup of water over it all and mix everything together with a fork.

Thirty minutes in the oven and you have a delicious and inexpensive dessert to satisfy your chocolate cravings.

Chocolate Wacky Cake (Depression Cake)

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Chocolate Wacky Cake (Depression Cake)

Wacky Cake (Depression Cake)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Print Recipe


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water

Chocolate Icing (optional)

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
  • sprinkles, optional


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Into an ungreased 8x8-inch baking pan, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, unsweetened cocoa powder and sugar. Spread mixture evenly in pan and make 2 small holes and 1 large hole in the mixture.
  • Pour the apple cider vinegar and vanilla extract into small holes and vegetable oil into large hole.
  • Pour the 1 cup of water over everything. Using a fork, mix everything together until blended.
  • Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • To make icing, heat milk, butter, and cocoa powder in a small saucepan until it comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
  • Stir powdered sugar in 1 cup at a time until smooth. Pour over cake.

For Chocolate Cake Lovers, This Samoa Bundt Cake is also a must try.

31 thoughts on “Chocolate Wacky Cake (Depression Cake)

  1. This has been our entire family’s “go-to” recipe for as long as I can remember. I made it yesterday for my husband’s birthday dinner! It’s the most moist cake ever. I love it with chocolate frosting flavored with coffee, but he swears by cream cheese frosting. Can’t go wrong either way!

  2. You could smell and taste the vinegar
    i was wondering why ?
    I did use distilled white vinegar,could that be the reason ?

    1. Distilled white vinegar is very different from live apple cider vinegar with the “mother” in it. Try it again with the good stuff – it’s wonderful!

  3. I was a Home Economics teacher for many years and I discovered this recipe in the 1970s to use in my 7th grade cooking classes. We made it every year until I retired!
    The kids got to choose their frosting: vanilla, peanut butter, maple were the favorites.
    I’m going to double the recipe to take to a potluck tonight!

  4. you can easily double this and make right in the 9X13 pan! Do it all the time and have been baking this cake for over 35 years. Have never used a mixer for this and is delish everytime.

  5. My Sister taught me to make this cake in the early 70’s. I was teenager at the time. I remember finding it so much fun that you made it all in one pan. I also loved watching the reaction of the baking soda with the vinegar, but when I tasted it , that’s when the REAL magic happened! I couldn’t believe how moist, chocolately & delicious it was! Being fun to make made it even better!

    After I was married, my husband talked about this great cake his Mom made during Lent. At that time his religion did not allow them to consume any dairy or eggs during Lent. The cake he spoke of was called Fast Cake, not because it was easy, but because they were fasting from dairy & eggs. When he told me how to make it, I was surprised to find it was my Wacky Cake!
    Everyone in both of our families still LOVE this cake!!
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe with another generation of soon to be Wavky Cake enthusiasts. In fact, I’m going to add another fan when I bake one tonight with my Grandson!!

  6. I use to work @ the school’s here & we made this cake for the kids, many of them loved this cake. That was back in 2005-2008

  7. I made this in home ec teachers name Miss Precious! we made it with a coffee icing in the 1960’s. Hamilton ont canada. Too funny how things come back.

  8. I’ve been making this cake sence 1962 when I married my husband, it was my mother in law that showed me how, my family loves it and have been after me to make one, but I lost the recipe was happy when I found it on line. I will be making it very soon. We use a different frosting this is it, we call it, Wacky Cake Icing…… a small pan cook, 5T flour & 1 1/2 cups milk…until very thick, set aside to cool a little, you must stir very good while its cooking or it will get lumps…… then in a bowl put 1 1/2 cup sugar & 1 1/2 Crisco beat very very well together, slowly add thickener to it slowly & keep beating add 2 T van. and beat some more & you have wacky Cake Icing. Enjoy !!

  9. My mother used to make this cake, but instead of water she used cold coffee. The result was, it tasted more like devils food cake than just chocolate. It was and still is delicious!

  10. Ok I consider myself an experienced baker, I followed the directions to mix it in the pan. It was terrible, I could taste the vinegar and the cake was rubbery. No sure I’ll try to figure out what went wrong. However the frosting is great!!

  11. I made the cake and it was fluffy and tasted pretty good but was bitter due to the cocoa powder. How do I hide this bitter taste? I didn’t use the Dutch processed cocoa because of the added alkali.
    I did use buckwheat flour with good results (toddler is allergic to AP flour.

  12. For those of you wondering how much oil, it’s typically about 5 Tbsp. I’ve been making this cake for over a decade now and that’s what I’ve always used. Author can correct me if necessary :).

  13. When my sons were young, they were allergic to eggs, so Wacky Cake was my go-to cake for birthdays. Always yummy!

  14. This is so totally wacky indeed! My daughter has been asking me to make her a cake without any eggs, butter, or milk and I see THIS! Thanks so much for sharing this perfectly timed cake, Christin! I’ve so gotta give this a go! And, even though I too believe that everything is better with icing – I’m thinking this is delicious even with a dusting of powdered sugar! Hoping alls well with you.

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