Best Chocolate Cake Recipe (9×13 Recipe)

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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

Ingredients 

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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

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

Nutrition

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.

Enjoy!
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! // addapinch.com

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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




437 Comments

  1. Gnaf says:

    Sorry Robyn, it’s me again. I kind of confused myself by that “keep on the counter for up to three days for best taste”. Do you mean we should keep the frosting for three days to get the best taste or should use it within three days (like “best before“)?
    Also, for the ingredient boiling water, is it boiling water like 100℃ or cool boiled water?
    Sorry for the questions bombarding. Thank you very much.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Gnaf, it is boiling water. Do not cool the water after you boil it. The boiling water helps the chocolate to bloom and creates aa very moist cake.

  2. Gnaf says:

    Hi Robyn, thank you for sharing the recipe. Looks like everyone tried it loved it! I’m going to make my first-ever cake. Your notes read “• Spread the frosting on top of the cooled cake. Cover and keep on the counter for up to 3 days for best taste.” I assume “keep for 3 days” is for frosting not the cake? Thank you very much.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Gnaf, I meant you can store the frosted cake on the counter at room temperature under a covered dome for a few days. You do not refrigerate the cake. I hope this helps.

  3. Denise says:

    I must be missing something… for the frosting, step 8 says to “add the cream”… I don’t see cream on the ingredients list anywhere. How much do I use?

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Denise, Step 8: Add the butter and cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined. This does not mean add the ingredient cream. It is a baking term meant to mix the butter and cocoa powder well until is creamy and well combined. Hope this helps.

  4. Sherry says:

    5 stars
    Mighty Fine! Glad you included the 9×13 as I have only a toaster oven & it came out perfectly. I did this cake for my son’s 30th birthday & it didn’t disappoint. So good, in fact, I’m making another for my daughter’s 28th!

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      I love that you are making this cake for 2 birthdays, Sherry. I’m thrilled everyone loved it.

  5. Tamara says:

    5 stars
    Robyn, I don’t usually write reviews, but this cake is AMAZING in all its shapes and sizes. Light, tender, moist and delectable! Had to thank you for sharing 😊 💕

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Oh, thanks so much, Tamara. I’m so glad you love this cake!

  6. Kathy says:

    I want to use my 6“ pans. Will this recipe work? Thanks!

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Kathy, I haven’t made the chocolate cake as a 6-inch cake but several people have commented that they have. Some said they bake the full recipe Best Chocolate Cake (Ever) Recipe in 3 6-inch pans at 350º for about 30 – 35 minutes. The 9×13 Recipe uses half the ingredients of the Best Chocolate Cake Recipe.

  7. Emery says:

    Ate this cake a few mo than ago at a party and HAD to have the recipe! About to make it now for a group. What changes do I need to make for high elevation?

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Emery, I live at 1000 feet so haven’t made it at a high elevation. The best site for baking at high elevations that has been recommended to me is the Colorado State University Extension. I hope that helps.

  8. Nisha says:

    Hi again!
    Would it be okay to use an immersion hand mixer to mix together the ingredients for the frosting?

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      I haven’t tried an immersion blender with the frosting, Nisha, but it probably would work.

  9. Nisha says:

    I’m about to bake my first ever cake and am so excited to try your recipe! As a complete newbie to baking, should
    I place this cake on the top rack or bottom in the oven? Thanks!

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Nisha, the best place for a cake is in the middle of the oven. Place the rack as close to the center of the oven as possible and the pan in the middle of the rack. Good luck with your first cake.

  10. Carey says:

    If I want to make the full recipe in a 9 x 13 pan (for a thicker cake), how long would I bake it?

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Carey, when you make this full recipe in a 9×13 pan, it would need to bake about 35-40 minutes. Hope you enjoy!