The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe {Ever}

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe – A one bowl chocolate cake recipe that is quick, easy, and delicious! Updated with gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free options!

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever. The Best Chocolate Cake recipe with decadent Chocolate Buttercream Frosting that will quickly become your favorite! //

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever. The Best Chocolate Cake recipe with decadent Chocolate Buttercream Frosting that will quickly become your favorite! //

The best chocolate cake recipe. Ever? There are plenty of claims for the best chocolate cake recipe. I get that. But with one bite of this decadent, moist chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, every single person around the table commented that this was the best chocolate cake they’d ever tasted.

So as for my house, this chocolate cake recipe now holds that honor.

As the compliments continued, I didn’t begin to tell them how easy it was to make.

In all honesty, it is probably one of the easiest cakes I’ve made in a long time, really, but I just smiled and thanked them.

As we continued on gobbling up the cake, drinking our coffee or iced cold milk, the compliments just kept coming.

Then the requests for the recipe started.

That’s generally when you know that folks really like what you’ve made if they ask for the recipe and tell you for what event they plan to serve it.

As a cook, that really is one of the highest compliments you can receive – well, at least in my book.

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever

It was great to hear that they thought the cake was just as good after their last bite as they thought it was with their first.

Here’s another great thing about this recipe. The cake batter really can be made in a bowl without the use of a heavy duty mixer. Of course, that just makes things easier, but this is easily a recipe my Grandmother would have enjoyed making in her tiny kitchen with a whisk and a bowl. And I’m sure it would have turned out perfectly, too.

I’m not going to kid you, this makes a very rich, moist chocolate cake recipe. So if you are a faint of heart chocolate cake person, this is not the cake for you.

Based on the Old Fashioned Hershey’s recipe, I sort of went a bit heavy-handed with some changes testing cake after cake until I got it just the way I wanted it, but the end result was oh so worth it.

The few crumbs left on plates gave that away.

One of the ingredients that really made this cake recipe come to life, in my opinion, was the addition of espresso powder in both the chocolate cake and in the chocolate frosting.

If you’ve not tried a bit of espresso when baking with chocolate, you really should.

The espresso works to elevate the flavors in much the same way as vanilla extract and I now think of it as an essential part of my spice cabinet.

Espresso powder is easy to find at the grocery store or even online if your grocer doesn’t stock it normally, but I use it fairly frequently and it can become a little pricey. I’ve started making my own homemade espresso powder and since I have I’m not looking back! It is so easy to make and have on hand!

Believe me when I say, it is very much worth the effort to have just for those times you are baking with chocolate!

So my friends, if you have a chocolate cake lover in your midst, make them this cake. If they’ve had a bad day this is certainly something that will brighten it for them. If they’ve had a great day, then this chocolate cake is a great way to celebrate with them!

Let me just say again, this amped up classic chocolate cake + this Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe = the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had!

How to Make Ahead and Store the Homemade Chocolate Cake:

Both the cake and the chocolate frosting can be made ahead. Allow the cakes to cool completely, wrap them well in plastic wrap and place each layer into a zip top freezer bag. Freeze the cake layers for up to one month.

To frost the cake, simply remove from the freezer and allow to thaw in the refrigerator with wrapping intact. Then, frost the cake once it has completely thawed.

Store the cake at room temperature on the counter. I like to store under a cake dome to keep the cake fresh.

Chocolate Cake Modifications You May Be Interested to Know About:

Note that I have updated the recipe to include some additional ingredients that I have tested through the years. I have found that this chocolate cake is even more versatile than I originally imagined! I’ve listed some of the modifications I’ve tested that I think may be of interest to you.

As a Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe:

To make the cake as a gluten-free chocolate cake recipe, I’ve successfully used an equal amount of Cup 4 Cup gluten-free flour in place of the all-purpose flour listed in the recipe.

As a Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe:

To make the cake a dairy-free chocolate cake recipe, I’ve used almond milk as well as coconut milk in place of the dairy. While not dairy-free, I’ve also used buttermilk in place of the milk with great results.

As an Egg-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe:

To make the cake an egg-free chocolate cake recipe, I’ve used 2/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of the 2 large eggs in the recipe.  You will note that you may have to bake the cake just a few minutes more. Be sure to check with the skewer for doneness.

To Use Butter and Other Oils:

I’ve additionally tested the chocolate cake recipe with additional oils, as well as butter. I’ve tested using an equal amount of melted coconut oil to the vegetable oil called for in the recipe. I’ve also tested using the same volume of melted butter in place of the oils in the chocolate cake. While it does make the cake texture slightly different, it is still mighty delicious and worth trying if you’d prefer to use butter in place of oils in your chocolate cake.

Whew! See what I mean! This is the chocolate cake of everyone’s dreams, I think!

Best Chocolate Cake Ever //
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4.83 from 2477 votes

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe {Ever}

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe - A one bowl chocolate cake recipe that is quick, easy, and delicious! Updated with gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free options!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Dessert
Keyword: best chocolate cake, cake, chocolate cake, chocolate cake recipe, dairy free chocolate cake, easy chocolate cake, egg free chocolate cake, gluten-free chocolate cake
Servings: 24
Author: Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 cup milk buttermilk, almond, or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable canola oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe


  • Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.

For the chocolate cake:

  • Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
  • Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter until well combined.
  • Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of the chocolate cake comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.


The cake batter will be very thin after adding the boiling water. This is correct and results in the most delicious and moist chocolate cake I've ever tasted! xo
Freezer Friendly
Let the baked cake layers cool completely. Wrap them well with plastic wrap and then with foil. Put each layer into a freezer bag and freeze up to 2 months. To serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight with wrapping intact. The next day, the layers are ready to fill and frost.

Do let me know how you like it.

Here are a few additional ways I like to make this cake!

Chocolate Cupcakes

If you are looking for cupcakes from this recipe, I’ve shared my recipe for the best chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting for ya. This recipe makes a perfect dozen so that you can scale the recipe to make as many chocolate cupcakes as you need! Talk about easy! 🙂

9×13 Chocolate Cake

I love this version! It is a delicious, scaled-down version that is just the thing for potlucks, reunions, tailgates, and travels perfectly! I’ve also scaled-down the frosting so that has the frosting to cake ratio that my family prefers. It is a definite winner!

Large Chocolate Sheet Cake

Scaled for a crowd, this recipe bakes beautifully in a rimmed baking sheet and is perfect for all sorts of get-togethers. Think of it as the 9×13’s big brother! 🙂 This recipe features Fudge Icing, but you can definitely substitute the icing for whatever you fancy!


And there you have it. There are so many ways to enjoy this delicious cake. Practically one for whatever need you might have. But, if I’ve missed one, be sure to let me know and I’ll work on it for you! 🙂

PS – Many of you have asked me if there is a way to make a Vanilla Cake Recipe that is just as delicious as this chocolate. Well friends, I’ve tested and tested and tested and now can proudly say – YES! It is definitely the best Vanilla Cake I’ve ever tasted, too! 🙂

Robyn xo


The Best Chocolate Cake recipe with decadent Chocolate Frosting that will quickly become your favorite! //

This post contains affiliate links.

From the Add a Pinch recipe archives. Originally published 2012.

8,331 comments on “The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe {Ever}”

  1. Wow! Amazing how espresso makes a difference and I’m not even a coffee drinker. All chocoholics will love this. Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe! The changes I did was for the frosting, I used 3 Cups for the powdered sugar instead of 5 Cups. I also used a bundt pan and baked for exactly 40 mins. It was decadent and everyone LOVED it. It was gone in a day! I’m for sure gonna keep this recipe. 😁

  2. I had some buttermilk I needed to use and searched for a chocolate cake recipe and came across this one. This is the best one I have ever made! Simple ingredients, easy recipe and quick to make. I used melted butter instead of the oil and it turned out great. I also made the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting and it was light and fluffy and delicious! Thank you for sharing this. I’ll be keeping this recipe handy.

  3. What Should I use for unsweetened cocoa powder?  I have natural and Dutch processed, which should I use? 

  4. So yummy .. I so happy to have come across yur site. My cakes r never upto my family’s expectations. Reaffirmed my faith in making chocolate cake. 🙂 Thank you 🙂

  5. Hello Robyn,
    Can I use flax egg instead of apple sauce? 

  6. I will be making the original version without any modifications. Can I keep it in the fridge for a couple of days with the icing on it? Will it still taste good? Thank you!

  7. I am excited to make this cake for my son’s birthday! I have one question. How long can this iced cake be left out on the counter before refrigerated? Thank you!

    • Hi Shannon,
      The cake doesn’t need to be refrigerated. You can leave it on the counter, under a cake dome or similar cover for a couple of days and it will still be delicious.
      If you need to make the cake farther in advance, you can make the layers ahead of time, cool completely then wrap well, place in freezer container and freeze them. Then thaw completely in the refrigerator (usually overnight) before frosting them.
      I hope your son has a happy birthday and you enjoy the cake! Thanks! xo

  8. Hello! I was wondering what I could do if I don’t have two 9 inch pans for the batter. I only have one 9 inch pan at the moment and I don’t think I can go out and buy another. Would you have any alternatives to what I can do? I’m looking forward to trying out this recipe!

    • Hi Juliette,
      You can do a couple of things with one cake pan. You can make one layer and use the rest of the cake batter for my Best Chocolate Cupcakes. Or you can make a layer, let it cool according to directions and once you’ve removed that cake layer, wash and prepare your cake pan again and bake another layer. I hope this helps. Thanks!

  9. Just a note! Those who are using tins with a removable bottom like mine might experience some dripping! Maybe better to use non spring based tins! I’ve just put mine in the oven – cannot wait for them to come out. The dripping eventually stops when the cake starts to solidify – so you just lose out on a little cake 😛

    • Hi Sam,
      I don’t use springform pans for this cake since the cake batter is very thin. You will have much better luck with two regular 9 inch cake pans – and get to eat all that cake! Thanks! xo

  10. Can I check if it is possible to use a springform pan or would it leak?

  11. I love this cake recipe!!! Just the way I want my chocolate cake!! Everyone loved it.

  12. My 10 year old granddaughter has made this cake twice now. It is so moist and delicious! It’s better than a cake mix by far, and nearly as easy! She frosted it with the accompanying chocolate buttercream frosting receipe and combined….you just can’t find a better combination of chocolate frosting and chocolate cake, nor better receipes! Thanks!!!

  13. Has this been made using brewed coffee? I have everything on hand to make this except for espresso powder, and I wanted to avoid a trip to the store, but I love the way coffee makes a chocolate cake taste. 

    • Hi Jamie,
      I don’t use brewed coffee when I make this cake. You can omit the espresso powder, or make your own Espresso Powder with my recipe. The espresso powder does not add a coffee flavor to the cake, it enhances the richness of the chocolate. If you omit it, the cake will still be delicious!
      I hope this helps and that you enjoy the cake. xo

    • I made this cake and did not have espresso powder.  I used instant coffee instead.  This cake is amazing!

  14. If I don’t have baking soda can I substitute with more baking powder? If so how much more baking powder would I add? Thanks 🙂

  15. I’m so excited to try this recipe! I’m just wondering if I’m having a hard time finding espresso powder, could I use brewed coffee in place of boiling water and get a similar effect?


    • Hi Kate,
      I don’t use brewed coffee when I make this cake. You can omit the espresso powder, or make your own Espresso Powder with my recipe. The espresso powder does not add a coffee flavor to the cake, it enhances the richness of the chocolate. If you omit it, the cake will still be delicious!
      I hope this helps and that you enjoy the cake. xo

    • Kim, I use instant coffee granules in place of espresso powder with excellent results in another chocolate recipe.
      I’ll be using instant coffee once I make this recipe.
      We’re currently having a snow storm, and I’m down to one egg after baking all day.

  16. You’ll get no argument from me – this *is* the best chocolate cake!

    It’s mixes up quickly and easily and always tastes moist and delicious.
    Thank you for sharing it!

    • So happy you enjoy it too, Natalie! Thanks! xo

    • I have made this cake several times and it is the best tasting and the texture is amazing. HOWEVER… Every time I make it and it’s near finishing up in the oven the center collapses. I am not a novice baker & my leavening agents are all far from expiration date. What am I doing wrong? Please help. Thank you

  17. Has anyone tried substituting gluten free flour? 

  18. Does the time change when you bake as cupcake or 9*3 pan? If yes, how much?
    Thanks in advance

  19. Made this cake without the icing for my daughter’s birthday and it turned out simply amazing!!! My fav recipe for chocolate cake. I want to make this again for a friend’s shower at work with the cream too this time. Question is, can I make both beforehand like the previous night and assemble in the morning? If I bake the cake, let it cool, plastic wrap it and put it in the fridge, wil it still be as moist and soft for next day noon? What about the icing? I want to combine this with berries on top and in center. Will it be a good combo? Thanks so much for this brilliant recipe!!

    • Hi Paro,
      So glad this was a hit for your daughter’s birthday!
      You don’t have to refrigerate this cake if you are frosting it and serving it the next day. Just let it cool completely after baking and store the layers under a cake dome, or covered cake plate until frosting the next morning.
      I believe as far as the berries, I’d frost the cake and add the berries to the frosted cake. It should be delicious! Thanks!

  20. When baking in my oven should I use convection vs. non? I baked it without convection and I noticed the edges where a bit dry and the cake did not seem to cook as evenly? It was still good but expected to be moist throughout. To preface this is my first time backing a cake.  Thanks

  21. I’ve gone back to this recipe with the frosting over and over, over the years, by far the family favorite and the closest thing to my late grandmother’s chocolate cakes. Thank you! 

  22. Since i only have one cake pan to work with, I don’t know how much of the mixture is half. Would you happen to know?

  23. AMAZING, chocolate moist heaven. Thanks for creating and sharing!! You are very impressive and this is making me look impressive. Thanks so much! This will now be a family “go to” for chocolate cake. Looking forward to trying more from you.

  24. This is a delicious cake, it was very well received at a church function I took it to. I wanted to make a sheet cake as a gift and was happy to see it is now addressed as a sheet cake. From my experience I’ve learned 2 things. Follow the recipe exactly as written, carefully! and the sheet cake for me came out perfectly at 40 minutes and 350 degrees. Thank you from all the chocoholics I know!

  25. Sadly, I don’t know what happened. I followed the recipe exactly, and it’s running over ( a lot) in the oven, making a huge mess.

    • Hi Brenda,
      It sounds like your pan wasn’t large enough for the cake batter.

      • I think you are right. I rechecked everything else, and that’s the only possible thing that could have happened. My oven was a complete disaster, my dogs were freaked out from the burning chocolate smell and I ruined my Valentine’s dessert. I tried to salvage what I could. After letting them cool for 10-12 minutes, getting them out of the pans were another disaster. So now I have broken pieces molded together to try and salvage what I can. I plan on making buttercream frosting, but fear it will be buttercream crumb frosting. On a positive note, the chocolate cake does taste good. Believe or not, I am an experienced and very good baker…..I just missed the cake pan size. Thanks for responding Robyn.

  26. Can you use a bundt pan and make a bundt cake with this recipe?
    Thank you very much!

    • I used a bundt pan last night (for the second time with this recipe). It fits perfectly, but needs to bake for about 45-50 minutes.

  27. I have 2 8 inch pans will it be okay to use them? or will the batter overflow?

    • I’d like to know too.  I’m going to try with 2 8×3” pans.  I’ve made this cake so many times and it’s never failed me.  Not sure if I would reduce or increase the cooking time?

      • Fill them about halfway full and you should be good to go. If there’s still leftover batter, don’t fill them any more than 2/3 to be safe. As for the cooking time, keep it at the 350 but give them probably an extra 10 mins or so. Check at the 40 minute mark and keep checking at 5 minute or so increments until it a toothpick comes out clean.

  28. Tried this recipe today and can attest that the chocolate cake came out AMAZING. And so unbelievably simple?! 

    I’ve tried other cake recipes before and they always come out dry/crumbly. Not with this recipe! The family loved the moist chocolate cake. Give this recipe a try, it’s definitely a keeper in my book!

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

  29. Did I do something terribly wrong? I mixed all ingredients together and then added the boiling water. The batter seemed about a normal cake batter consistency until I added the water and then it was soupy but I usually follow a recipe as directed the first time I try it so I kept going. I don’t have a 9” pan so I used one 10” and one 8” and divided it so the 10” had a little more batter. The smaller one has been in the oven for about 45 mins now and when checked 10 mins ago it was not even close to being done yet! I’ve reread the recipe a handful of times. Was I actually supposed to add 1 cup of boiling water to the batter? I am FAR from a good cook or baker but it seems like that’s where things went wrong. Help!

    • Yes, Maria. You are supposed to add the boiling water to the recipe as directed. The 8 inch pan is going to take a bit longer to bake than the 9 inch called for in the recipe.
      I’m not sure this happened when you baked it, but know the oven temp will drop when the door is opened too.
      I hope this helps! Thanks!!!

  30. Delicious, rich, moist chocolate cake…yes the best EVER!!
    I made this recipe with the dark cocoa powder and the frosting with cocoa powder. I loved the slight bitterness of dark chocolate. It was for my friend’s anniversary and they were totally impressed. It was a hit. Am going to try making it into cupcakes next.
    Thank you so much for sharing this lovely recipe.

  31. I love this recipe. I’ve made it 3 or 4 times now. The first couple of times, I cut the recipe in half and made a single-layer round cake because it’s just my son and I and we don’t need that much, but we love it so much that I’ve started making the full recipe and baking it in a Bundt pan (it’s easier than making a layer cake).

    I’ve also been using a ganache frosting instead of the buttercream because I usually have chocolate chips on hand but not that much powdered sugar.

    It’s so good and so moist.

  32. I love this recipe. I’ve made it 3 or 4 times now. The first couple of times, I cut the recipe in half and made a single-layer round cake because it’s just my son and I and we don’t need that much, but we love it so much that I’ve started making the full recipe and baking it in a Bundt pan (it’s easier than making a layer cake).

    I’ve also been using a ganache frosting instead of the buttercream because I usually have chocolate chips on hand but not that much powdered sugar.

    It’s so good and so moist.

    I’d share a picture of my most recent creation if I could upload it.

  33. This was delish! ! The compliments I received on how moist it was and how good it tastes was fantastic! I will keep this recipe forever! It is my new cake! thank you!

  34. This is hands down the best ever chocolate cake and I have been baking this for the past two years (baked it at least 50 times if not more) and there are never any left overs. Just one question, I need to bake a 12″ round cake, will this recipe be enough or do I have to double it. I don’t want to do anything that will distort the texture and taste of the cake.

  35. Hi Robyn Stone,
    I like using melted butter instead of oil in my cakes. Can I substitute butter for oil in this cake?

  36. Hi again Robyn Stone,
    I just noticed you answered the butter question sorry I missed it. Thanks anyways. Great recipe. Have a great day

  37. Could substitute half of the flour for cake flour or will the texture be too different?

  38. Can I use almond or coconut flour?

  39. This recipe looks awesome, and I can’t wait to try it! I was wondering if you have ever added fresh strawberries between the layers? Or even feuilletine between the layers for some crunch? I was thinking maybe I should add something to break through the richness of the chocolate cake and buttercream. Please let me know what you think!

    • Hi Sharon,
      I’ve added a few fresh strawberries to adorn the top of the frosted cake before. I love the cake made just as is because the rich dark chocolate tastes amazing. I hope you give it a try – Enjoy! xo

  40. BEST. Chocolate cake. EVER. 
    WOW so amazing, could not stop eating it. 
    I used olive oil because that’s all I had and vanilla sugar instead of extract. 
    Also did a heavy cream, powdered sugar “frosting”. 
    It was just soo good. Thank you for sharing your recipe. Glad I stumbled upon this one. It was the first one I clicked on 😅. 

  41. I’ve been staying away from sweets since the holidays but felt it was time to take a break from that. I only had dark chocolate cocoa powder, used almost all organic ingredients-Red Mill’s unbleached white fine pastry flour, coconut palm sugar, almond milk, & coconut oil, and a Godiva coffee powder. It turned out to be a Devil’s food cake. It was awesome! I also made the butter cream icing. What’s really nice about this recipe is I had all the ingredients in my pantry and fridge. Tks!

  42. Can I use regular ground coffee instead of espresso? And what can I use instead of buttermilk?

  43. I am both a commercial cook and home cook. when ever i am in my baking mode and Kids will always want a Chocolate cake. This is my go to recipe every time. It really is the Best Chocolate cake.
    Yum. If I could give it 10 stars I would. Thank you and bless you for sharing.

  44. This was really delicious! Combined with the buttercream made for deliciousness.

  45. Oh my god this is so tasty. I used regular coffee since I couldn’t find espresso at my local grocery store. This will now be my go to chocolate cake/cupcakes. It will be my little secret 😉

  46. Hi Robyn,

    I absolutely love your recipe and have made this cake umpteen times. I’ve made it normally and I’ve made some of them egg free, gf, and dairy free. Never had a problem. BUT now I need to make it sugar free and want to use erythritol. I must make it tomorrow. I’ve searched the internet far and wide and cannot find a recipe I like and went back to yours. Please advise. Thank you.

  47. can I use Swans Down Cake Flour instead of All-Purpose in the chocolate cake mix?

  48. Does the water have to be boiling or just hot water?

  49. I made this cake for my son’s 18th birthday. It was a hit among his friends. Being the chocoholic that I am, I concur that it is among the best ever chocolate cake recipes I’ve tried. Sadly, my hand mixer was sacrificed in the process of blending the icing, but I think that was due to my haste in not allowing the butter to soften enough.

    Thank you for all of your effort in finding a great chocolate cake recipe to share with folks who find themselves searching for one. Based on the title of being the “Best Chocolate Cake Recipe {Ever} my expectations were high and I was not disappointed! 🙂

  50. Can I make this in one pan as a single tier cake?

    • Yes, you can use some of the variations I share in the blog writing for the cake. There are links within this post for a 9×13, cupcakes, a large sheet cake and more. I hope you enjoy it! Thanks!

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