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!
4.98 from 2757 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

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

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Robyn Stone

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

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9601 Comments Leave a comment or review

      1. I haven’t cut the cake in half so I’m not sure how it would do, Annalise, since this is a very moist cake. However, some have commented that they have done so.

    1. Hi, I love this recipe and have made it several times. It comes out great and everyone loves it at home!
      I was planning to make a 2 layer – 6 inch cake for my daughter’s birthday. How can I adapt this recipe to fit smaller pans? Thanks 🙂

      1. I haven’t made this recipe in 6-inch pans, Shaloo. However, some people on here have said they have. For example, look at comment by Shireen on May 4, 2020. Several others have said they divide the batter into 3 6-inch pans.

    1. Hi, I just brew up some really strong coffee and use that in place of the espresso powder and boiling water, works a treat!

  1. I’ll never use another chocolate cake recipe. This will be my go to recipe from now on. It’s the BEST chocolate cake I’ve ever made and ever eaten!! My family loved it too, which says a lot. Couldn’t get over how delicious it turned out. So glad I came across this fabulous recipe.

      1. I’ve been making this great chocolate cake recipe for years! Thank you so much for it! I just have one question please: would it be possible to replace the espresso powder with anything more child friendly? I even took it several times to the kindergarden but I always feel guilty that I dont tell them it contains coffee. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

  2. Can you make this cake in a bundt pan? I want to make the cake and add a ganache over it, so was wondering if Bundt was doable?

  3. I’ve been looking for a recipe that doesn’t go too hard on my hands when mixing, since I don’t have a stand mixer or anything like that. Plus I love chocolate! Thank you!

    1. I absolutely love this recipe and I’ve never had a bad review when I’ve made this for others, so thank you for sharing!

      I usually use buttermilk as that’s how I originally read the recipe but I’ve noticed that on the cupcake version, it just says milk. Should this recipe originally just be whole milk that can be replaced with buttermilk?
      I hope that makes sense, thank you x

      1. Alex, I have not made this with hot coffee as a substitute for the water and espresso powder. However, others have commented that they have used hot coffee. You can try that or you can also omit the espresso powder. Hope this helps.

  4. If I made this as a sheet cake, do you have any ideas about adjusting the temperature and time? I’m baking this tomorrow for my partner’s birthday on Friday. I’m excited about it!

  5. Love this cake… super tasty! But ours did fall a bit in the middle. What adjustments would you make for high altitude? Thanks!

    1. Just about to make this…. it looks amazing in the picture. Could I pour the boiling water over some dark chocolate to melt it and add it into the mix for extra chocolatiness?

      1. You would just use the same amount of gluten-free flour as the all-purpose flour in the recipe, Marie. I have used Cup4Cup with good results. Hope you enjoy the cake.

    1. Kasi, I would not recommend baking all of the ingredients at one time in a 8-inch cake pan as it will overflow while baking. If you only have one pan available, I would recommend dividing the batter and baking the layers separately or dividing the recipe and baking just one layer.

      1. Hi there,
        I want to make this but I only have 1, 9inch round pan. I see a comment here to not to fill one pan but to split it. Bake half the batter, then the other half… but my question is will letting the batter sit for 30 mins before I bake the 2nd half be ok and not affect the cake?
        Thanks!

      2. Michelle, while one layer bakes refrigerate the remaining batter. When the cake has finished baking, let it sit in pan for 10 minutes then turn it out from pan and let that layer cool while you bake the second layer. The second layer may not rise quite as much as the first. Several people have said they have done this and there was no problem.

    1. Can I substitute oat milk? It’s all I’ve got on hand and while I’d normally just run out to the store if I was missing one thing that seems silly at the moment!

  6. Hi I am interested in making a cake with one round pan and using the remainder for cupcakes. Should I fill the cake pan 1/2 or 3/4 full and use rest for cupcakes?
    Thx

    1. Hi there, this cake looks so amazing and super moist. Can I use a 30cm rectangle pan as I’d like to cut it into a teddy bear shape for my son’s birthday? If so, would the measurements be the same and how long to bake it for? Also, if I omit the espresso powder, will it still result in a super moist cake? Thanks Kaz

  7. I only had oat milk available, so I added a bit of extra butter to the recipe. Stilll turned out perfect in form and taste!

  8. I can’t wait to try this recipie!!
    I want to use a 9×9 inch square pan because I want a single layer. Should I use half the recipie?

  9. This really is an amazing chocolate cake recipe.
    Good depth of flavour and beautifully moist.
    I’ve used it several times since finding it and highly recommend it.

  10. I tried the chocolate cake receipt and the cake came out great. Loved the taste.

    This is my first time baking a cake so need additional assistance. After baking the cake, my cake was stuck to the pan. What could I do to ensure the cake falls off the pan when done? I applied butter to the pans before putting in the mixture.

    1. I would recommend coating the pans with butter and flour and discarding any excess flour. Also, you can line the bottom of the cake pans with parchment rounds and then coat the parchment rounds with baking spray (or butter and flour). I’ve also had cakes stick on the bottom of the pan if they have sat in the pans a little too long or on a warm surface. I would recommend placing the pans on a wire rack to allow them to cool in the pans for the 10 minutes described in the instructions to get more air underneath the pan. Once the cakes have cooled, place a wire cake rack on top of the cake pan and turn the cake upside down onto the rack and remove the parchment, if used. Take a second rack and place over the bottom of the cake and, similar to a sandwich, turn the racks so that the bottom of the cake layer is resting on the rack. Remove the rack from the top of the cake and let the cake cool completely. The cake bottom is not as likely to stick to the rack as the top of the cake is. Some people spray the rack with non-stick cooking spray before turning the cake out onto it, although I have never done that. Hope this helps!

      1. Hi, I’d like to make this cake and decorating it as a teddy bear cake for my daughter’s 3rd birthday. Do you think this recipe and the frosting recipe you suggested would be good? Thanks in advance!!!

  11. I had made chocolate cake a lot of times before but it was always kinda okay and never really good. I followed your recipe exactly and this time the cake was perfect. Everyone praised it so much. I’m gonna follow it everytime now. Thankyou so much for this!

  12. A friend of mine wants a Chocolate Blueberry Cake – I use yours as my choc cake and was hoping you could tell me how to adapt it to a choc blueberry?

  13. This definitely Is the BEST chocolate cake recipe ever! I separated into four 6” pans and made 2 mini layered cakes. Used the buttercream frosting recipe too! This cake is so moist and my sister in law kept saying “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” to me for sending her this cake. No more boxed cake for me. The recipe is very simple and with ingredients you have at home. I used oat milk and ground my own espresso beans to make the powder. Thank you for sharing this incredible recipe!

      1. I just made half the recipe tonight. It didn’t rise very much, maybe 1 inch only. Does that sound right? Seems like the two layer cake would not be very high. Please advise.

      2. I have never had a problem with my cake not rising, Stephanie. Are you sure all the ingredients were precisely divided in half. If not, that would cause your problem. There are many reasons why cakes do not rise: ingredients not being at room temperature, beating the batter too much, oven not heating to correct temperature, baking powder or baking soda not fresh, opening the oven door before the cake is done, oven not preheated, or letting batter sit too long before placing in the oven, especially one with a thin batter such as this cake.

  14. Do you use a 2” or 3” depth cake pan? I have a ring mould but suspect the cooking time will differ.

  15. Hi there! I’m having difficulty finding Espresso powder, am I able to use coffee grounds as a substitute?

  16. I’ve made this cake several times and it turns out perfectly everytime…..except today 😢
    I don’t know what happened! It’s dry and very dense. It made rather thin layers. It’s like it didn’t rise or something. The only thing I did different was I used 2% milk instead of whole milk…..surely that wasn’t the issue?!?!
    Any ideas or advice?? My family was soooo excited to eat it and now they are pitiful.
    Thanks!

  17. I FIGURED IT OUT!!
    I added 2 cups of boiling water instead of 1!!! Gahhhh! Too much liquid makes a ridiculously dense cake!

    Thanks for this amazing recipe!! When you follow it correctly! Bahahahaha

  18. Easy and delicious . Used buttermilk. Cake was very moist. Instant espresso graduales do the trick every time. Nice job!

  19. This indeed is the best chocolate cake ever. It came perfectly. Thank you so much. I decided to try this for my friend’s daughter’s birthday and it came out beautifully and she loved it and said this is the cake that she wants every year. It was moist, soft and not overly sweet! Fantastic! Will have to try more of your recipes.

    1. It sounds like you may be baking her birthday cake every year now. I’m so glad she loved it. I hope you find many more recipes here that you love. Thank you.

  20. I bought instant espresso. Can you use that? And I also pulled a single shot espresso. Would that work too?

  21. Hi!
    I made this delicious cake last week and it was amazing. My husbands bday is tomorrow and he wants more of a lighter chocolate flavor.
    Do you have any suggestions for a milder chocolate flavor ??
    Thank you!

  22. Would I be able to cover this cake with fondant? I would really like to try this recipe but I’m worried it might not hold if I put fondant on top of it.

  23. I have made this cake countless times. It always comes out perfect! Since we are not coffee drinkers and I always forget to look for espresso powder, I have never used it; however, the cake comes out chocolatey, moist, and delicious. I don’t even have to look at the recipe anymore, I’ve made it so many times! Thanks for the yummiest and easiest chocolate cake ever!

    1. Yes. I made a cake for my best friend but didn’t have espresso powder so I went without it. It was still like the best cake I’ve ever had.

  24. This was honestly the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. I made it for my best friends birthday and I was really glad I found this recipe. And yes, the cake still tastes insanely good if you don’t put in the espresso powder. I used this recipe for a Oreo-Chocolate Ice Cream cake. The layers came out perfectly and I couldn’t have asked for a better recipe! Thank you so much!

    1. Your Oreo Chocolate Ice Cream Cake sounds absolutely scrumptious. I’ll have to try that sometime. I’m so glad this worked out so well for you, Eden and hope your friend had a very happy birthday.

  25. Made this for my daughter’s birthday and it was so moist and fresh for few days, as I decorated it. Everyone asked for the recipe. This is my favorite one.

  26. Hi Robyn, I absolutely LOVE this recipe and make it for special occasions because it really is the BEST. I usually make it as a sheet cake or simple two layer cake, but I am wondering, would this recipe work well for something like a 12-layer cake? You know, the super thin layers of cake sandwiched in between layers of frosting? Mothers Day is around the corner and I know my mom would love that. Thanks!

    1. Peter, I’ve made this cake as high as a five-tiered with frosting between layers. I just made sure to use dowels and it held up perfectly. I haven’t tried making it as one of the thin 12-layer cakes but I think it should work. If you do this, let me know how it turned out.

  27. This cake is a winner! It’s easy to make and my family can’t stop eating it! Thank you for the perfect chocolate cake recipe!

  28. I absolutely love this cake! I have made it once before and my mother loved it so I am making it for Mother’s Day. I was wondering you can double the recipe and still get the same amazing result because I want to make two cakes! Please let me know!

    1. I would make 2 separate recipes instead of doubling all the ingredients, Felicia. Sometimes when you double a recipe, all the ingredients don’t mix together thoroughly and you don’t get optimum results.

  29. Hi Robyn – If i want to make this as a 3 layered cake – what should I change ?

    Also, my family likes everything less sweet … can the sugar be reduced such that I don’t lose the flavor of the cake?

    1. Whenever I’ve made it into three layers, I will increase the recipe by another half and then use the same baking time or I make two recipes and freeze one layer for later. I hope that helps! I haven’t tried making it with less sugar.

      1. Thank you for a quick response Robyn! The cake is in the oven right now. Will share my results very soon!

  30. It’s a perfect recipe. I only used half of the quantity as I was baking a cake for the first time and it turned out to be a miracle… 😃
    I will be baking many more cakes now with some tweaks here and there.
    I used less sugar as we like our cakes not too sweet. It turned out to be just fine.
    Next time I would try flaxseeds instead of egg as a substitute.
    Thanks for a delicious recipe!

    1. Sarah, some people have used a dark roast instant coffee instead of the espresso powder and said it turned out great. You can always omit the espresso powder if you want, too. I hope you enjoy the cake.

  31. I only have glass pyrex dishes to bake the cake in, (9.5”x7.5” 2.75 Qt or 13”x 9” 3Qt). I know this is not ideal, but do you have an idea of how I should modify the baking times to use the glass baking dish? Thanks

  32. Holy cow this cake is good. I didn’t have espresso powder, so I used 7/8 cup of boiling water and 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) of coffee that I had leftover and it worked great. I made this for a birthday and we all agreed that we are never looking for another chocolate cake recipe again. It is really dark, moist, and oh so good.

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