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! // addapinch.com #chocolatecake

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.

Slice of cake on a stack of white dessert plates

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.

Fork holding a bite of cake with frosting on white dessert plates

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!

Photograph of a cake with swirled buttercream frosting on white cake plate.

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 gallon 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 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.

I’ve also used Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer with great success.

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 // addapinch.com

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!
4.97 from 2665 votes

Review Recipe

Print Recipe

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Servings: 24
Course Dessert
Calories: 124kcal
Cuisine American
Author: Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch

Ingredients

  • 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 homemade or store-bought
  • 1 cup milk buttermilk, almond, or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil canola oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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.
 
Nutritional information is for the cake only.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 124kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 178mg | Potassium: 114mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 229IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg
Have you made this recipe?Tag @addapinch on Instagram or hashtag it #addapinch

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! 🙂

Enjoy!
Robyn xo

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

This post contains affiliate links.

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

Join today for free and start saving your favorite recipes

Create an account easily save your favorite content, so you never forget a recipe again.

Robyn Stone

..where I share sweet, savory and southern recipes, as well as home and garden tips and tidbits of travel.

More about me

9122 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. I have not tried to bake the cake yet. Anyone know if the use of a bundt pan calls for any adjustments in the heat or ingredients? I’m just getting back into baking.. Thanks!!

    1. I prefer the use a bundt pan and obtain the same results without any adjustment to temperature or cook time. Came out delicious! Good luck!!!

    2. This recipe looks great! I’m hoping to make it for a birthday cake (four tier). Would it work to double the recipe or should i make it twice?

  2. I made this cake tonight. I used a different frosting, but the cake was amazing! I did it in a 9×13 and barely managed to keep a 2×2 piece for my neighbor. Everyone loved it! It’s definitely going into my keeper recipes! Thank you so much for the recipe.

    1. Hi, I want to omit the espresso powder because the cake is meant for a kids’ party and a houseful of 6-yr-olds hopped up on caffeine isn’t my idea of a good time. 😁 What can I substitute it with? Thx

      1. Absolutely the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made! I was a little leery of how thin the batter was. Exactly 35 minutes and it was perfect. Super easy, moist and delicious. Thanks for the great recipe!

    1. I’m making a chocolate Oreo cake and I was going to add crushed oreos to this but my only concern is how thin the batter is and that the oreos will sink to the bottom? Thoughts? Maybe much smaller pieces than chunks?

      1. Hey there! This is my second time making this cake as a round/2 layer cake. Each time the outside rim of the cake has cooked rather quickly and the inside domes up (at least twice the height of the outer edge). How can I help this bake more evenly? Any tricks you use? I’ve read that some use insulated cake strips to wrap the rim of the pan. 🤷🏼‍♀️
        Thanks so much!!!

      2. Lindsey, be sure to tap your cake pans on the counter a few times after filling with the batter to remove all the air bubbles. The insulated cake strips have worked for some people to prevent cakes from doming. Also, check your internal oven temperature on sides and in the middle. It may be hotter on the sides of the oven than in the middle which causes the cake to bake faster on the edges. Hope this helps.

  3. GEEGOLLYWOWWOWZERS!!
    I made this about a month ago (with one tiny change) and my husband and I both went crazy over it. I made a half recipe in a loaf pan. Normally Larry says “not bad” if he likes something I make, but with this cake he said it was GREAT!! So I’m heading off to the kitchen now to make the full recipe in a bundt pan, and cover it with Chocolate Ganache. My tiny change is I added about 1 1/2 Tbsp. of grated orange peel to the 1/2 recipe. I think I’ll add about 3+ Tbsp. to the full recipe.
    I don’t know how long the bundt will take to bake, but I know you should get the cake out of the oven at 210 degrees, so I’ll use my trusty instant read thermometer. **********stars!

      1. Today I had to test a recipe. If I see the perfect , best ever or ultimate in the title of a recipe, it must be tried. Tomorrow night , will offer thoughts after taste testing. I can say, I used black cocoa for this as it was all I had. Best ever chocolate buttercream frosting. Serving this at Life Group gathering tomorrow night.
        So here it is, the Perfect chocolate cake. With the Perfect buttercream frosting.

  4. Hi! I’m planning to bake it for a birthday. Instead of frosting it, do you think a choc ganache coating will enhance both look and taste?

      1. This is my all-time go-to recipe when it comes to making chocolate cake! And indeed, it is the BEST! Fool proof, delicious, AND JUST ONE BOWL NEEDED! Such a lifesaver for a mom with a toddler like me! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, Robyn! Much love from the Philippines! More power!

      2. Can you tell me how many cups of batter this yields? I’m planning on baking a 16 inch round cake so I’ll need to adjust sizes.

  5. This IS the perfect Chocolate cake and butter cream frosting. I had no regular powdered cocoa on hand so used black cocoa. Oh boy OH BOY!! Rich Rich Rich!! If you need a cake that will WOW your guests , this is the one. Make it! You won’t regret it :).

  6. I made this cake (okay a triple recipe) last weekend and it was so moist, light and delicious. My only caution to other bakers is that it is quite a soft cake. I stacked it 5 layers high with chocolate SMBC between and the next day when we sliced it the bottom layer was about half the height of the top one! I did use supports so it didn’t tip, but I recommend support for anything higher than two layers. No complaints – just an observation.

    1. You might try replacing the oil with room temp butter which will solidify when cake isn’t cooled thereby resulting in a firmer cake for layering!

  7. OMG! I did this recipe last night, its been a while since I ever bake something, at first when I looked at the batter I was a little reluctant I wasn’t sure if I did it right since it looks too watery, I was scared that I did miss something from the recipe, but my boyfriend was like, it is good just put it in the oven, and then voila!!!! what an amazing cake !!!! it is perfect, the taste, fluffiness and so moist
    thanks!!!!

      1. I’ve made your cake many time as a standard 2 layer cake… however, I’m going to make a wedding cake this weekend for a friend… would this cake stand up to being stacked… just buttercream for the frosting… and whipped chocolate ganache for the filling?

      2. Angela, I have not tried making this cake with multiple layers stacked such as a wedding cake. As you know, this is a very tender, moist cake. My suggestion would be to do a trial with several layers in advance to make sure the cake would hold up. Hope this helps!

  8. This really is an awesome chocolate cake! It is my go to for chocolate – rich, chocolatey and super moist with a great texture. The only thing I could refine though was that it calls for 2 9” baking pans but if you want full 2” layers, it is really only 8” max. 9 works but will give shorter layers so it’s all what you are looking for.

  9. My wife and I make a variation of this cake, a Bundt and drizzle it with icing. We’ve now made it twice and the first time it required an extra 10 minutes and today an extra 5 minutes of bake time. We absolutely love it, thank you.

    One comment about the espresso powder, we have an espresso machine and use Starbucks espresso beans ground “Turkish”. The Turkish grind is powder fine and works perfectly. Thanks again!

    1. I have substituted melted butter instead of the oil in this cake if you prefer to use butter. You would add the melted butter just as you would the oil. Hope you enjoy the cake, Anna!

      1. If there were 10 stars, this recipe would get them! My daughter and I used this recipe to make a ‘giant’ chocolate cake for a church celebration. We made 8 double recipes. Each double recipe made 1 12×12 inch cake. The cake ended up being 24”x24”, and 2 layers!!! Made 6 double batches of icing, weighing 30lbs!!! Lol.
        The cake was moist and delicious!!!!! Thank you so much!!! It was a hit!!

  10. Hi I love this recipe, this is my go to chocolate cake. I am making a 3 tier cake for a wedding and was wondering how many cups of batter does one recipe make. Thank you!

  11. I made this cake for my husband’s birthday and it was delicious! Going to make it for my son’s birthday too. I’d like to have a few cupcakes on hand for his party along with the cake. Can I use this recipe for cupcakes as well?

  12. I’ve been meaning to leave a review ever since I made this cake 2 years ago. It’s so moist and rich and delicious, definitely the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made. I paired it with a raspberry buttercream and it was one of the best cakes I’ve ever had!

  13. Indeed, this cake is the best ever! I have made it three times already and it’s perfect every time! It’s so yummy, it’s gone right away with compliments that it is the best cake (including the chocolate frosting) they ever tasted. Each time I used Valrhona Pure Cocoa Powder and Espresso Powder I purchased from Sur La Table, but have found elsewhere (e.g. Amazon, my local grocery store). Because the cake itself is so moist, I would strongly recommend lining each caKe pan with parchment paper prior to filling with batter and baking. This cake, including the chocolate frosting, deserves a 10-star rating!

  14. I’ve been making this cake for the past six to seven years. It has become our go-to recipe for birthdays. I always omit the espresso powder, and it’s still amazing. Today I forgot the baking powder…it was still amazing. Thanks for sharing such an amazing recipe.

  15. Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I made a deliciously and moist chocolate cake. My husband ate it. I followed the recipe the only difference is that I used all organic ingredients. This is a recipe I’ll be keeping and using again. Thank you 🙏

  16. This is the BEST chocolate cake I have ever had! Everyone who has tried it is always so impressed! Paired with the buttercream chocolate frosting recipe, WOW!

  17. So I work for a sorority house as the executive chef and I always look for inspiration from others. We service for about 250 people on average. This recipe I have used at home and decided to use this at work just to see how it would turn out on a larger scale. I made the adjustments according to the servings that I needed which I did at 200 servings. Making slight adjustments I added 4 extra eggs and right at 2 cups of sour cream. Using a commercial convection oven I adjusted my temperature to 325 degrees. These cakes turned out perfect. Couldn’t have asked for a better or more simple recipe with great results.

    1. Jerremy, thank you so much for giving us the adjustments you made for 200 servings of this cake. I’m so glad it turned out perfect for you. Hope those students enjoy and appreciate your efforts!

  18. I made this for my sister’s 40th birthday and it was a hit. She said repeatedly that it was an amazing cake! I loved that it was so easy to make and turned out so well.

  19. Truly the best chocolate cake ever. I made this with a friend three years ago and we still talk about how amazing this cake is. We lost the recipe for a while, but recently found it again and will definitely be bringing it back into our rotation. Thanks Robyn!!!

  20. Do I need to use the expresso or can I leave it out or use something else. Would love to make this for my sons birthday tomorrow cheers

  21. It’s just an awesome cake. I only use this chocolate cake recipe now. It’s super easy… and when I’m making three layer cake, easy enough to half the portion. Delicious. What can I say <3

  22. I have a 9inch springform pan. Will this overflow if I put all the batter in it? I was hoping to bake it all there then just cut it in half to fill.

    1. There would be too much batter for one 9-inch pan, Neikz, and the batter is too thin for a springform pan. You could bake the cake in a Bundt pan. Just bake the cake a little longer. Hope you enjoy!

  23. Yes, it is THAT YUMMY! My go to birthday cake and don’t make any other frosting but the chocolate buttercream! You won’t regret it!

  24. Hi Robyn, I am so excited about making this cake for Valentine’s Day this week, but I was wondering is I can use espresso ground coffee for the espresso powder? Jo

  25. A squirt of Brandy in the batter gives it an amazing added twist. If you you do not want to use real thing get brandy essence also works well.

    1. Hi Robyn I would love to try this recipe for my daughter who is allergic to wheat, eggs , milk and nuts too! I saw the substitutions you gave for all of these but I am wondering about how they would all work together? Would I need to make any adjustments?

  26. Makes an excellent cake! I will increase espresso powder next time to 2 t, used 1 T. Vanilla, reduced salt to 1/2 t. I used canned coconut milk + 1 T. Vinegar in place of the milk to make it dairy free. I used avocado oil.

    1. Yes, you will need to make changes according to your altitude, Heidi. I live at 1000 feet. People living at high altitudes have had to make adjustments. Hope you enjoy the cake!

  27. I always made cakes from a box because my cakes never turned out. And I tried many recipes. Now I will never buy a box again. This cake was super moist and super delicious! And the frosting is perfect!

  28. Hi!! I want to make this cake recipe for my daughter’s birthday. I wanted to ask you if Instead of using all purpose flour can I use cake flour? The same amount? Thank you !

    1. Jessice, you certainly can use cake flour. Just substitute the same amount as the all-purpose. In fact, the flour I use, White Lily, is a soft wheat flour and is close in texture to a cake flour. Hope your daughter enjoys her cake and has a very happy birthday!

  29. This cake is amazing. I’ve made it a few times and it always comes out perfectly. I substitute hot coffee for the boiling water (and include the espresso power too)! The hint of coffee with the chocolate is one of the best parts of the cake!

  30. Has anyone done this cake with a vanilla buttercream instead of the chocolate? My parents love the chocolate vanilla combo…I keep going back and forth on doing vanilla buttercream on just the outside and maybe chocolate between the layers, or vanilla through out….anyone try?

      1. Thank you! Ive made the cake many times with the chocolate buttercream, it’s an all time favorite! Im going to try it out with the vanilla buttercream 🙂

  31. could i make this recipe by using hot coffee instead of water? i forgot to pick up espresso powder at the store when i went to buy my ingredients 🙁 thanks!

    1. Levi, I have not made this using hot coffee instead of the water but others on here have said they did. You can always omit the espresso if you don’t have it. Hope you love the cake!

  32. It is so so good. Thank you so much! A huge hit at my wife’s birthday party last night. (I used a peanut butter frosting…a must for her birthday cake since she was a little girl.)
    This is my go to chocolate cake recipe from now on.
    Awesome, awesome!

  33. (Forgot to give a star rating in my last review)

    I’ve been meaning to leave a review ever since I made this cake 2 years ago. It’s so moist and rich and delicious, definitely the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made. I paired it with a raspberry buttercream and it was one of the best cakes I’ve ever had!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *