Wacky Cake

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Wacky Cake is an easy cake recipe made without any eggs or dairy – making it “wacky”! This cake has been around since the Depression Era when ingredients were scarce. And there’s a reason that it has stood the test of time – it’s a tasty, moist cake that is super simple to make!

What is Wacky Cake?

I’ve actually been hearing about Wacky Cake from my mom for years now. It’s one that she made as a kid and always remembered. I personally had never tried it, but with the times as they are right now and ingredients being harder to get (and in our case you’re only allowed to buy a certain amount), it seemed like a good time to try it out!

So what makes Wacky Cake unique?

  • It uses no eggs or dairy
  • You don’t need a mixer – and you actually mix it right in the pan it’s baked it
  • No need to grease the cake pan

It seems wacky, but it totally works! And it actually makes a great cake. You’d never know that it’s missing several of the traditional cake ingredients. The cake was created during a time when ingredients were scarce during the Great Depression, but it’s also a great cake if you have an egg or diary allergy.

Wacky Cake with chocolate frosting and colorful sprinkles in a silver cake pan with the first row removed
A single square serving of Wacky Cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles with a bite removed on a white plate with a fork

How to Make Wacky Cake

To make a Wacky Cake, you’ll combine your flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a 9×13 baking pan. And there’s no need to grease it.

Make three little wells in the dry ingredients – one larger and 2 smaller. You’ll add the oil to the large well and the vanilla extract and vinegar to the smaller wells.

Then pour the cup of water evenly over the entire pan and use a fork or whisk to mix it all together.

Now, it’s time to bake it! Super simple!

Overhead view of a single square serving of Wacky Cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles on a white plate with a fork

What Kind of Frosting Goes with Wacky Cake?

You’ll find all kinds of frosting used on Wacky Cakes and you really can’t go wrong. I added a quick chocolate frosting that is actually cooked on the stove to mine. It has kind of an old-school vibe in my opinion, which seemed to fit well with this cake. It’s not a traditional buttercream and ends up kind of fudgy, which I love. But you could even go super simple and dust the cake with powdered sugar or check out one of these options:

Overhead view of a full Wacky Cake with chocolate frosting and colorful sprinkles in a silver cake pan
Print
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A single square serving of Wacky Cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles on a white plate with a fork
Recipe

Wacky Cake

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 12-15 slices
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Wacky Cake is made without any eggs or dairy – making it “wacky”! It’s a cake that’s been around since the Depression Era when ingredients were scarce. And there’s a reason that it has stood the test of time – it’s a tasty, moist cake that is super easy to make!


Ingredients

Wacky Cake

  • 3 cups (390g) all purpose flour
  • 2 cups (414g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (57g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 cups (480ml) water

Chocolate Frosting

  • 11 tbsp (154g) unsalted butter
  • 6 tbsp (90ml) milk
  • 5 tbsp (35g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 cups (460g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

 


Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt to an ungreased 9×13 inch baking pan and gently whisk together to combine. Spread mixture evenly in pan.
3. Make three wells in the dry ingredients – one larger and two smaller. Add the oil to the larger well and the vanilla extract and vinegar to the other two wells..
4. Pour the water evenly over the entire pan of ingredients, then use a whisk or fork to gently combine everything together.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
6. Allow cake to cool, then make the frosting.
7. For the frosting, add the butter, milk and cocoa powder to a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the mixture comes to a simmer.
8. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Whisk until everything is nice and smooth, then immediately pour the frosting over the cake and spread into an even layer. The frosting starts to set quickly, so you want to work fast. If adding sprinkles on top, have them handy and ready to go, or they won’t stick to the frosting well once it begins to firm up.
9. Allow frosting to cool, then serve.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 503
  • Sugar: 58.5 g
  • Sodium: 485.3 mg
  • Fat: 20.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 80.8 g
  • Protein: 3.7 g
  • Cholesterol: 22.5 mg

Keywords: wacky cake recipe, chocolate wacky cake, cake without eggs, cake without dairy, can you make cake without eggs

Categories

Frosting recipe modified from Southern Living.

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44 Comments
  1. TJ

    Hi Lindsay! I love your scripture and recipes! I was wondering if you remove the cocoa will it then become a vanilla cake? Do I need to substitute something else in its place like instant vanilla pudding mix or light corn syrup?

    1. Lindsay

      It’s hard to say for sure without testing it. You could try replacing the cocoa with additional flour and see how that goes.

    2. Robyn

      Hi TJ and Lindsay! I can confirm that you can substitute the cocoa with 1/2 cup flour for a vanilla cake. Just made it. Didn’t have any cocoa so I took the chance! Came out fluffy and tastes like vanilla cookies!

  2. Kelsie

    I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for ages and actually someone at my work can’t eat eggs and dairy so this would be perfect! Would love to try the original frosting…would it work using plant milk or water and vegetable shortening instead of the butter do you think?

  3. Charlote Harrold

    I’ve just used the basis of this recipe and made wacky carrot cupcakes. Peal and grate 1 lb of carrots, add a handful of raisins, and the sugar. Add all the liquids, and mix gently. In a separate bowl add the flour + 57g extra (instead of the cocoa), salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger and .25 tsp ground cloves. Stir a whisk through this so all mixed together. Add all the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients, and stir to incorporate (quite a wet mix). Carefully spoon cupcake cases to about two thirds full. Put in the oven (350/Gas 4) for about 20 minutes, turn the tray around for another 4-5 minutes (probably don’t need to turn if you have a fan oven). The tops will look a golden brown, and a toothpick will come out clean. This recipe makes about 36 medium sized cupcakes. Yum, Yum, Yum

  4. Charlotte Harrold

    Great recipe and tastes really good. I haven’t got a 9×13 inch pan, so settled for a 9×12 inch pan – it took an extra 20-ish minutes to cook. Still great though, and will make again.

  5. Megan Gleason

    Made this with my son for his birthday, he love that it was “Wacky” he decorated it too. It really surprised me, so moist. I could had had it without the icing. I did have to bake slightly longer than the recipe called for. I will be making it again for sure!

  6. Dara

    dear lindsay i love this recipe it looks so good cant wait to try it!
    but qq what do you mean by making “3 wells”? Im not a very good baker but this seems easy enough thanx so much

    1. Lindsay

      You’re basically making 3 little holes in the dry ingredients to add the wet ingredients to individually. I hope that helps!

  7. Julie-Ann Gilman

    This is now my new favourite cake recipe because it’s super moist and delicious and also because I’m always out of eggs because of my nephew and breakfast.

    Thank you. I’m now trying out a vanilla version.

      1. Elaine

        Absolutely fantastic recipe! Our go-to favorite. Make as-is or substitute 1 cup of water for coffee to enhance the chocolate flavor. 

  8. Dawn

    Love this recipe! I am curious can you substitute the type of flour   My nephew can’t have white flour due to allergies.  Because this has no eggs and no milk and no butter in the cake part of it I could switch out the flour and he can have it.  Let me know and thank you for all your wonderful recipes.

  9. stephanie

    What frosting is included in the picture for this cake? I made the boiled frosting you included in the recipe but it looks nothing like this, so now I am thinking you actually used a buttercream in the photo. Great cake, but sad about the boiled frosting, it wasn’t what I was going for…

    1. Lindsay

      The frosting in the photos is the one given in the recipe, not a buttercream. I’m sorry to hear you had trouble with it.

  10. Namrata

    Hello Lindsay, I am  a huge fan of your work…. this recipe turned out amazing for me. I topped it with a decadent dark chocolate ganache but I swear it needed no frosting, it was that moist. Do you have a recipe like this in Vanilla as well. 

  11. Candice

    Do you think melted and cooled coconut oil would work for this cake? I am out of vegetable oil and have coconut oil and olive oil. The stay at home policy is playing havoc on my baking supplies since Easter! Thank you.

    1. Lindsay

      It might give you a little different texture, since the coconut oil is thicker at room temperature than veggie oil, but it should be ok.

      1. Nicole H.

        I am so glad you posted this recipe. I used to make it with my Grandmom, so this brought back great memories! It even prompted me to search & find the recipe she wrote down for me. ❤️

  12. Clara Nussbaum

    Oh my goodness! We used to have this at school lunches for dessert many, many years ago. That was the name then, too. I’ve made this so may times! Great when you don’t have any eggs or not enough!

    1. Lindsay

      The frosting recipe is included with the cake. The ingredients are below the cake ingredients and the instructions begin at number 7.

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29