Best Chocolate Cake Recipe (9×13 Recipe)


4.98 from 112 votes
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An easy, rich 9×13 Chocolate Cake Recipe made in one bowl with minimal ingredients. Based on my popular best chocolate cake recipe, it is tender, moist, and delicious!

Piece of chocolate cake on a white plate with a fork.

This is the easiest 9×13 chocolate cake recipe I’ve ever made. From my Best Chocolate Cake that everyone loves, I’ve made the cake even easier and sized for a 9×13 sheet cake!

I love this easy 9×13 size cake for taking to potlucks, tailgating, baking, taking to friends or neighbors, and for making a quick and easy cake! It transports beautifully in the baking dish and I love that I don’t have to worry about a cake slipping or sliding on a cake plate! Another favorite version you may enjoy is my Chocolate Loaf Cake. So easy!

I originally shared this recipe in 2014 and have updated it to include the metric conversion to grams as well as updated the recipe sizing to make for a thicker cake based on reader feedback.

Best Chocolate Cake (9×13 Recipe)

Overhead photo of chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream in a 9x13 white baking dish.

What Makes a Chocolate Cake Moist?

This cake recipe includes the perfect ratio of oil, milk, and boiling water to make it moist without having to use melted chocolate. The combination of the fat, protein, and water temperature produces a moist and tender crumb.

Ingredients for Easy 9×13 Chocolate Cake

Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full listing of ingredients, instructions, notes, and estimated nutritional information.

  • all-purpose flour – I recommend using a good quality all-purpose flour that works well in baking. You can also substitute with cake flour if needed.
  • sugar – You’ll use granulated sugar.
  • unsweetened cocoa powder – I use unsweetened cocoa powder.
  • baking powder – used to leaven the cake.
  • baking soda – also used to help the cake rise.
  • kosher salt – I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. If you substitute with Morton’s Kosher salt, fine sea salt, or table salt, you will only need half the amount of the salt called for in the recipe. 
  • espresso powder – Espresso powder enhances the flavor of chocolate in recipes. The amount used in this cake does not give a coffee flavor to the cake or leave a bitter aftertaste that you may get from using brewed coffee or instant coffee in the cake batter. You can use homemade espresso powder or your favorite store-bought. Many grocery stores now carry it. You can also omit it if you prefer or are unable to find it.
  • milk – You can use buttermilk, whole milk, or coconut milk.
  • vegetable oil – the oil is key for a moist chocolate cake.
  • egg – Make sure that your egg is at room temperature so that it combines more easily into the cake batter.
  • vanilla extract – Use good quality vanilla extract.
  • boiling water – helps release the chocolate flavor in the recipe. Please don’t skip it!

Chocolate Buttercream

I scaled the chocolate buttercream frosting to work perfectly in a 9×13 baking dish. The cake still rises nicely so that you have a lovely, thick cake that you then top with a generous amount of silky chocolate buttercream.

Chocolate Buttercream Ingredients: you’ll need butter, cocoa powder, confectioner’s sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and espresso powder.

Square piece of 9x13 chocolate cake from a white baking dish.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Prep. Preheat the oven and prep the baking dish.

Make the cake batter. Add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder to a large mixing bowl. Whisk through to combine. Add the milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract to the flour mixture and combine. Carefully stir in the boiling water until well combined. The cake batter will be thin.

Bake the cake. Pour the cake batter into the prepared 9×13 baking dish. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool the baking dish on a wire rack until cooled completely.

Make the frosting. Meanwhile, add cocoa powder to a large mixing bowl. Whisk to break up any large lumps in the cocoa powder. Add the butter and using a hand mixer, cream the butter and cocoa powder together until well combined. Add confectioner’s sugar to another large bowl and whisk through it. Add the confectioner’s sugar and milk to the cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After combining each addition, turn the mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well. Mix until the frosting is silky and smooth.

Bite from a piece of 9x13 chocolate cake on a fork on a stack of white plates.

I put together a quick video to show you just how easy the cake is to mix together. Seriously, it’s the easiest and most delicious cake ever, I think! 🙂

As with any 9×13 cake recipe, you can cut the pieces as generously or as conservatively as you please. You can cut the cake into 2-inch x 2-inch pieces for 24 servings or 2-inch x 3-inch pieces for 18 servings.

Here’s my Easy 9×13 Chocolate Cake Recipe. I think you are going to love how simple it is!

Best Chocolate Cake Recipe (9×13 Recipe)

4.98 from 112 votes
My Best Chocolate Cake that everyone absolutely loves, made even easier and sized for a 9×13 sheet cake! It's so easy, delicious and perfect to make anytime!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 24 servings


Chocolate Cake Recipe (9×13 Recipe)

  • 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (396 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (63 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g) baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (9 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (2.8 g) kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon (2.3 g) espresso powder
  • 1 cup (227 g) buttermilk, whole milk, or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup (99 g) vegetable oil
  • 2 large (100 g) eggs
  • 2 teaspoons (9.4 g) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (227 g) boiling water

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (9×13 Recipe)

  • 1/2 cup (42 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup (169.5 g) butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups (283.7 g) confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup (56.7 g) milk
  • 1 teaspoon (4.7 g) vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon (0.57 g) espresso powder


  • Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare one 9×13 baking dish by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
  • Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together until well combined. Carefully stir the boiling water into the cake batter and pour into the prepared 9×13 dish.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. You can follow my tips for how to tell when your cake is done.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (9×13 Recipe)

  • Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
  • Add the butter and cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
  • Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
  • Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
  • If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.
  • Spread the frosting on top of the cooled cake. Cover and keep on the counter for up to 3 days for best taste.


Updated 11/2023 to include metric measurements. 
Several people have asked for the original 9×13 recipe:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 cup whole milk, buttermilk, or coconut milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water


Calories: 267kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 224mg | Potassium: 143mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 220IU | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Robyn xo

Best Chocolate Cake Recipe (9x13 Recipe) - This is the easiest 9x13 chocolate cake recipe I've ever made. Adjusted from my Best Chocolate Cake that everyone absolutely loves, I've now made the cake even easier and sized for a 9x13 sheet cake! //

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About Robyn

Robyn Stone is a cookbook author, wife, mom, and passionate home cook. Her tested and trusted recipes give readers the confidence to cook recipes the whole family will love. Robyn has been featured on Food Network, People, Southern Living, and more.

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Recipe Review


  1. Emily Snyder says:

    So for the 9×13 is it the 1 or 2 cup flour version? Excited to make this in honor of my moms birthday today!

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Emily, you can use either the current recipe for 2 cups flour or the original for 1 cup that is listed in the Notes Section. Several people had complained that the original version was not thick enough so I changed the recipe to be the same as the Best Chocolate Cake (Ever) Recipe. Use whichever version you want.

  2. LoriF. says:

    5 stars
    I’ve made this multiple times and it always turns out great. It’s easy and delicious. This last time I had to make it gluten-free and I did not see anything in the recipe about how to do that so I just substituted a 1:1 gluten-free flour mix and no one could tell the difference. I only had skim milk so I substituted full-fat coconut milk. The cake was really moist and I did not taste the coconut at all.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Lori, I’m so glad everyone loved the gluten free cake. I do have variations of the cake listed in the post for the Best Chocolate Cake (Ever) Recipe such as gluten free, dairy free, no oils, etc.

  3. Taryn says:

    5 stars
    Great recipe, used one cup of strong hot coffee in lieu of the hot water and expresso. Delicious!

  4. Maria Patrick says:

    hi if you use coconut milk will you taste the coconut in the cake?

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Maria, I would make sure the coconut oil did not have a strong coconut odor. I have made this cake with organic coconut oil and did not taste a coconut flavor in the cake.

    2. Darci M Yeary says:

      4 stars
      I followed this recipe and the cake fell in the middle. it also didn’t come out of the pan clean. I’m hoping it tastes good… it is for a birthday party this weekend.

    3. Robyn Stone says:

      Darci, there are several reasons a cake would fall in the center. If the pan didn’t come out clean either, it sounds like the cake had not cooked thoroughly. There are several reasons a cake will sink in the middle: the oven not preheated to correct temperature before baking, the oven temperature is not consistent or oven is not heating to the correct temperature, under mixing as well as over mixing the batter, rotating the cake in the oven before they cake has baked 3/4 of the time in the recipe, baking in a different size pan than the pan listed in the recipe, letting batter sit for few minutes before placing in the oven, opening the oven door before the cake has baked 3/4 of the way, and taking the cakes out of the oven before they are completely cooked. Also, baking at high elevations may cause the cake to rise quickly and then fall in the middle.

      Here are some suggestions that may help. You might want to check your oven with an oven thermometer to make sure it is heating to the correct temperature. It is easy to over mix batter with the high powered mixers today. Just mix until the ingredients are well combined. This is a cake you can actually mix with a whisk in a bowl so it does not require extensive mixing. I live at 1000 feet so if you live at a higher elevation than mine, you will need to make changes to the recipe according to your elevation. The best site I have found for baking at higher elevations is Colorado State University Extension. Also, don’t allow the cake to cool longer than 10 minutes in the cake pan. This is a very moist cake so once it has cooled for the 10 minutes, place a wire rack on top of the cake. Place your hands with oven mitt, one on top of the wire rack and one on the bottom of the cake pan like a sandwich and flip the pan over. Also, another reason the cake may have not come out of the pan cleanly is the pan was not greased and floured enough. I hope some of these tips help and your next cake is successful.

  5. Susan says:

    Curious as to why the original 9×13 recipe has half the amount of ingredients?

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Susan, I made this 9×13 recipe many times for my family with half the ingredients of the original Best Chocolate Cake (Ever) Recipe. My family likes that ratio of cake to frosting. Some people wanted a thicker cake so I made it with the full recipe. You can make the cake either way. It just whichever option you prefer.

  6. PaulE says:

    My first cake from scratch! Super easy, and super delicious! I didn’t have any espresso powder, but I had some dark roast coffee that I pulverized in my bean machine and that worked just fine. It really rose high above the pan and looks, serves and tastes fantastic! Just like it is; no frosting! I just had a jones for some cake and searched for an easy cake from scratch and I had all the ingredients for this and I’m glad I tried it!`

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Paul, I’m so glad you found this recipe and loved the cake, especially since it’s your first made from scratch cake. I love the cake sometime too without any frosting.