Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons

Chocolate Depression Cake – No Milk, Eggs or Butter

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There is nothing easier to make than a Deep Depression Cake. A cake that dates back to the Great Depression, it is easy to make, a moist and inexpensive cake that has an amazing flavor. Made without butter, eggs or milk, this cake was inspired during the Great Depression.

Our 5-Minute Chocolate Buttercream Frosting is perfect with this chocolate cake recipe.

deep depression cake with chocolate frosting

Deep Depression Cake Recipe

While deep depression cake started back in the Great Depression, it doesn’t mean it isn’t still loved today. This cake has been a classic for years and for good reason. This cake is extremely easy to make. It requires only the pan you will be baking in and a fork. It couldn’t be easier. The ingredients are extremely inexpensive.

Why Is This Called a Depression Cake?

This cake was created during the Great Depression. The cake is made with no butter, no eggs, and no milk. This is because during the Great Depression these ingredients were hard to come by. Since it was hard for many families to have enough food, dessert was a treat. By making it as inexpensive as possible.

Can I Freeze This Chocolate Cake?

If you want to freeze this Depression Era Chocolate cake, it is easy to do. Once the cake is cooled, you can slice it into pieces. You can freeze the cake as a whole or in individual slices. You can freeze the cake frosted or unfrosted. If you are freezing the cake frosted, you might want to freeze it on a plate before wrapping it. This will prevent the frosting from sticking to the plastic wrap.

deep depression cake

Ingredients You Will Need

(full amounts in recipe box below)

  • All-purpose Flour
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • Sugar
  • Baking Soda
  • Kosher Salt
  • White Vinegar
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Vegetable Oil or Canola Oil
  • Water
  • Chocolate Frosting
  • Rainbow Sprinkles

How to Make a Wacky Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 13×9 baking dish with butter.

Using the pan as a bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

Using a fork, whisk together the ingredients.

Make 2 small wells on the sides and one larger well in the center in the dry ingredients.

make weels in the dry ingredients

Pour the vanilla and vinegar in each of the small wells and then oil in the larger well. Don’t worry if it overflows.

cake batter in a baking dish

Pour water over everything and whisk to combine thoroughly.

deep depression cake ready to bake

Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake is done. A toothpick will come out clean when it is done.

Cool the cake completely and frost the cake with your favorite chocolate frosting.

chocolate cake with chocolate frosting

If desired, sprinkle rainbow sprinkles over the top.


deep depression cake on a white plate


deep depression cake with chocolate frosting

Chocolate Depression Cake - No Milk, Eggs or Butter

Published By Jill
There is nothing easier to make than a Deep Depression Cake. A cake that dates back to the Great Depression, it is easy to make, a moist and inexpensive cake that has an amazing flavor. Made without butter, eggs or milk, this cake was inspired during the Great Depression.
5 from 188 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 10
Calories 216 kcal


  • 1 1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon White Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Water
  • Chocolate Frosting of your choice
  • Rainbow Sprinkles optional


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Grease an 13x9 pan with butter.
  • In the greased pan, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
  • Whisk lightly with a fork or small whisk to combine.
  • Make two small wells on the sides and 1 large well in the middle of the dry ingredients.
  • Pour the vinegar and vanilla into the small wells then pour the oil in the big well, if they spill over the wells that's perfectly okay.
  • Pour the water over the top and whisk again to combine thoroughly.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Cool completely.
  • Frost the cake with your choice of chocolate frosting. Our 5-Minute Chocolate Buttercream Frosting is wonderful with this cake!
  • Optional; sprinkle rainbow sprinkles on top.
  • Enjoy!


Calories: 216kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 2gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 6gSodium: 228mgPotassium: 64mgFiber: 1gSugar: 20gCalcium: 6mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @kitchenfunwithmy3sons or tag #kitchenfunwithmy3sons!

Wacky Cake - No Milk, Eggs or Butter!

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I am a mom of 3 awesome boys that love to get crafty with me in the kitchen. Our blog is full of all sorts creative food ideas for the Holidays, Party Ideas, Free Printables, Featured DIY Ideas, Recipes, & Kids Craft Ideas! Read more...

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A classic recipe I remember well from my childhood (WWII) Thank you for the reminder – I remember the ingredients but not the amounts. We used to have it with ice cream, no frosting. It is neither too heavy nor too sweet.

My mom grew up then as well.My step daughter shared this as I am allergic to eggs and I never get to enjoy with everyone else at parties.But I will try this and since I make desserts each week for mom (80) so this next week-she gets this! Happy times.Connie here.

My mother-inlaw called this Crazy Chocolate Cake. I have been making fow 50 years as well. It’s great.5 stars

I’ll be making this as I am allergic to eggs and mom was a Depression baby-we share the same birthday so guess what mom…..

In the 1960’s my mother was making a double recipe of this cake for our dessert. She had some of the ingredients in the bowl already when she found there was no cocoa in the cabinet. Not wanting to waste what she had put together she turned it into a spice cake and wrote down the directions for what she had done. Chopped walnuts and raisins are an optional addition. My mother called the original cake “Chocolate Crazy Cake” and her changes she named “Spice Snack Cake”

Follow instructions as for Chocolate Depression Cake:
(created in 1960’s from Chocolate Depression Cake recipe when no cocoa found in cabinet)
Recipe for 8 inch square pan:


Thank you for the spice cake option! I will definitely try it. 

Thank you for the spice cake version it was a big hit! 5 stars

Hat it when you do not have a print option for recipe. 

I cant wait to try these cakes.

this is amazing
ilove this
thankyou so much5 stars

How hard was it to get rainbow sprinkles during the depression?

I want to make it for my hostel kids 60 kids please5 stars

My mom made this every year for my brothers’ birthdays as it was their favourite. She got the recipe from her grandmother, who also called it Crazy Cake. It’s a family treasure!

Confirming what size dish to bake in. The recipe calls for 8×8 square pan but the dish in the pictures looks like a 9×13. What should we use?

I had lost my recipe for this cake I am so glad to find it here TYVM5 stars

I have made this cake many times. It was called a cockeyed cake. My recipe calls for 1 tablespoon vinegar not 1 teaspoon. We love this cake!

Sounds yummy! I’m making it tonight. Thank you

Do you have a frosting recipe?

Make this for my vegan friends…combine it with vegan chocolate frosting made from refrigerated coconut cream, unshaken and liquid drained to use for something else, beaten with raw chocolate powder and fine sugar to taste. Like adding Cinnamon and or cardamom for extra pep.

I’m allergic to eggs and I thank you so much for this recipe ♥️5 stars

Can the sugar be replaced with a sweetener instead or will this affect consistency of cake ?
Thank you

In 1958, My Mom bought me a “Mary Alden’s CookBook for Children” and this cake recipe was in it, and never has failed yet. I’ve been making it since I was 12 years old. Sometimes if I put chocolate frosting on it, I will add a couple of teaspoons of peanut butter to the frosting just for a different flavor. I also like it just warm and with only a bit of butter spread over it. (No frosting). It’s also really good with a cream cheese frosting.

My family loves this chocolate cake. It’s the only chocolate cake recipe I make.

Hi there!

Just out of curiosity here regarding the wells… Is this for keeping it to one pan instead of an extra mixing bowl to wash? Or does the well help somehow on a chemical level for flavor or density vs mixed in a bowl?

I usually mix mine in a bowl. For me it’s just easier getting it mixed together. And you can make cupcakes. 

Can this recipe be successfuflly cut in half? I live alone and it seems the whole cake is too much for just one person.

Freezing cake is always an option! Then you don’t have to make it again so soon 🙂 
Just double wrap it, (my mom always does a layer of Saran Wrap and a good tight layer of tin foil), and it’s ready to go for the next time you want it!
My grandma told me one time, “You know, I think my cakes are more moist after I freeze them, I think I’m always going to make them ahead and freeze them before I need them.” And she did… And people LOVED her cakes!

I believe it was the old Betty Crocker cookbook that had an eggless, butterless, milkless spice cake recipe. I used to make it all the time for my kids when times were tough. Sometimes that was all we had to eat.

I made this in under 15 min using Krusteaz brand 1:1 gluten free flour & a tablespoon or so more water (because gf flour absorbs more) and I cannot express how much I LOVE it! I have allergies to dairy, wheat, eggs and some nuts, so this is a dream come true! GF tends not to rise as much so this is not terribly high, but super light, fluffy, tender, moist, and delicious! I’ve eaten a third of it and haven’t even put icing on it yet! Outstanding! 
The only thing I will do differently next time is to use table salt because some of the crystals of kosher salt didn’t get a chance to melt, (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing;). Also thinking a German chocolate coconut icing or even just caramel syrup, would be amazing on it. 
Thanks again for posting! I think I found my new go-to potluck dessert 5 stars

Great Dessert and always up to emergency task when unexpected company is coming.5 stars

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