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! // #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 //

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 2992 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


  • 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


  • 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.
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! 🙂

Robyn xo

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

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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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10737 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Fantastic cake. I used more coffee than called for (instant crystals), I got raves all around so thank you for sharing! I frosted it with mocha buttercream, using two tbs. of coffee crystals dissolved in around 1/8 cup of water. This cake goes into my jealously guarded archives, at least until I have an excuse to make it.

      1. Aimy, I have been baking this cake for as long as I can remember, and I find the best substitute for espresso is regular ground coffee, especially dark roast, I trend to add a bit extra regularly as I like the flavor to be strong, but the amount depends on your preferences, definitely do above the asked amount though.

  2. This has become my go-to chocolate cake and it’s been fun to use it as a base for a variety of bakes. I am currently planning a 6” round cake. How many 6×2 pans would be used for this recipe? How might you adjust the temp/time? Thanks!

  3. This seriously is so delicious and moist that everyone thought it was a box cake!!! Def my go to chocolate cake recipe!!! Truely amazing!!!

  4. I love this recipe soooo much for chocolate cake. Is there a way to make this recipe a vanilla cake? Just withhold the cocoa and espresso?

    1. Stephanie, this is a really moist cake so I’m not sure why yours is super crumbly. Some reasons a cake would be crumbly are using a flour other than one in recipe or using too much flour, substitutions for other ingredients, over mixing the batter, over baking the cake, oven not preheated to correct temperature, ingredients not at room temperature. I hope this helps.

      1. Which is better to use regular lowfat milk or buttermilk? It’s confusing the way it’s listed in the recipe. Thank you!

      1. Made this cake with the kids and it is DELICIOUS. The cake was sticky though, and it made it really difficult to put icing on. Is there a reason this may have happened?

      2. Justice, the cake has not been sticky for me but there are several reasons a cake may be sticky: humid weather, the cake did not bake long enough and was not completely done, the cake was not completely cooled before frosting it or putting it in container or under dome before it is thoroughly cooled. The cake layers should pull away from the sides of the pan when they are done. I hope this helps.

    1. Hi! It would be great if you could help me out. What about the buttermilk?? How can i make it at home, since it is unavailable in the store. Please help! I want to bake my sister the best birthday cake ever.

    2. Can I use a bundt pan instead of 2 9in pans? I have made it many times using the 2 round pans and it really is the BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE EVER

      1. Donalda, you can use a Bundt pan for this cake. Bake it at 350ºF just as the recipe instructs. It will take a little longer for it to bake in the Bundt pan, about 35 to 40 minutes. Hope you enjoy! Thanks!

  5. Hi Robyn,

    I live in Vietnam and don’t have an oven or a cake mixer but I made your cake in a toaster oven and it was AWESOME. I did need to reduce the heat and cook for a bit longer but it was very easy to make and doesn’t have any fancy ingredients that I can’t buy here. I love it and will sell it in my cafe.

  6. Just tried this recipe and it is soooooo good. One of the most moist cakes I have made. I did not use the sugar as suggested , reduced it a bit since I am not fond of very sweet dishes but I would suggest one go with the recipe exactly as it is. When I had the batter , it felt very runny compared to my usual batter but it turned out very well. Thank u.

  7. I have made this cake several times and it is wonderful! Definitely a family favorite! For my son’s 7th birthday next week was thinking of adding in some candy pieces to the batter- like m and ms? Any reason that wouldn’t work? Then I need to shape it into a whale shark! Eek!

    1. Meredith, I hope your son has a very happy 7th birthday! I would suggest a trial run with the M&Ms before the big day. I tried adding chocolate chips to the cake batter and they all just stuck to the bottom of the pan even after I had coated them with flour. xo

    2. You could totally cut a hole in the middle and fill it with mini m&ms or put the m&ms Between the layers for a sweet surprise & pop of color!

  8. it is undoubtedly the best chocolate cake I have ever made. My kids constantly ask for more 🙂
    one of our family favourites.

  9. Why do we need the water to be boiling ? I have made this cake a few times and it’s always a crowd pleaser, but now I want to make a chocolate orange cake so I was going to sub half water, half orange juice and I wanted to know if the temlature makes a difference

    1. The boiling water helps the cocoa to bloom, causing the cake to have a deeper, richer flavor. It also helps to make the cake more moist. I haven’t tried making the cake with half water and half orange juice, Danielle, but maybe someone else on here has and can tell you how theirs turned out. Libby commented in 2014 that she substituted 1/2 cup orange juice for 1/2 cup of the milk and her cake was delicious.

      1. I gave it a go, and it was perfect, I let the heat of the boiling water heat up the orange juice.

        I love this recipe it is my go to for all chocolate clakes

  10. Hi! Can you make this in one pan, like 13×9? I also don’t have Espresso powder readily available – is ground coffee ok to use as sub?

      1. Hi,I have made many chocolate cakes before but this is my favourite, it was sooo moist I made it for my daughter -in -law birthday, everyone in the family enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing this.

  11. I’ve made this cake before for my friends bday, with the buttercream and it was delish! Wanting to make it again and wondering how long it keeps once made?

  12. Oh my word, wow!! This is so insanely delicious. I licked the spoon and bowl clean as soon as the cakes went into the oven. I made this for my MILs birthday with homemade vanilla buttercream. Soooo gooooooood! Thank you for this wonderful recipe 🙂

      1. Hey!! Really looking forward to making this cake!

        Was just wondering if it’s caster or light brown sugar you use?


    1. I made this cake today for my wife’s birthday, she loved it! So fluffy and moist. Taste like heaven. I replaced the sugar with maple syrup just to make it healthier. Thank you so much Robyn for sharing this amazing recipe.

  13. I have made many chocolate cakes in my life but
    This is the absolute best cake i have ever tasted
    It’s moist and the perfect balance of sweet
    I definitely recommend this recipe for all those bakers out there !!!!

  14. I made this before and it was amazing. I am wondering if i can make it in one pan then divide it because my ove is too small and wouldn’t fit 2 at the same time.

  15. I made this once and loved it. I am trying to make it again. Can I use instant coffee instead of espresso powder? Also should I be using Dutch-processed cocoa instead of natural cocoa?

    1. Barb, you can make this recipe in a Bundt pan. Bake it at 350ºF just as the recipe instructs. It will take a little longer for it to bake in the Bundt pan, about 35 to 40 minutes. Hope you enjoy! Thanks!

  16. I first made this cake about 3 years ago. I am not big into reviews but I feel obliged to as it really is a superb easy cake to make. I get so many compliments when I make it.
    The secret ingredient is the espresso powder, without a doubt. It is a very moist cake, heavy so one slice ( if you are making a round cake) is enough although you will want more. I had leftover icing which I used later for cupcakes.
    This always goes down well as a birthday cake. Very very yummy. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

  17. Hi Robyn

    What a delicious moist cake, I just made it on Friday for my sister’s birthday. It is sooooo yummy. I however used 3 cups of sugar instead of four, I doubled the quantities to get a larger cake. It turned out very well. Thank you for this recipe👌🏾👌🏾

  18. Most amazing recipe!!
    Cake turned out beautiful!
    I used brown sugar instead of white and amended it to only 1cup.. tasted amazing.. thank you so much x

  19. OMG! This cake was amazing!!! So moist and full of flavor! It was one of the easiest cakes I’ve ever made. Directions are super easy to follow. I made this cake for my husband’s birthday. It was even better the next day!!! This is being added to my family cookbook! Thanks so much!

    I followed the original recipe, but I did substituted the expresso powder with regular coffee powder. I made a vanilla buttercream icing instead of chocolate. And, again, I don’t think I’ve ever had chocolate cake this good before!

    1. Sharmila, I’m sorry but I haven’t made this cake in a 12 inch pan. There would be too much batter for a 12-inch x 2-inch pan but I’m not sure how deep your pan is. Maybe others have have made the cake in that size and can help you.

  20. You weren’t kidding—this is the first from-scratch cake I’ve made and it was easily THE BEST chocolate cake I’ve ever had. I made it with the chocolate buttercream frosting and it was to die for. The inclusion of espresso powder was life-changing. My husband and I were totally unable to exercise self-control and demolished the cake in record time, so we ended up making another one, which quickly met the same fate. This is a highly dangerous recipe.

      1. Excellent! Thank you so much. I forgot to ask: Should I adjust the cooking time and temp if I put three cakes in the oven instead of two?

  21. This has been my go-to cake for years now, it is the absolute BEST and I always get compliments! I wanted to ask if there was a way to make a sugar-free version? I have family members who are diabetic but I really wanted to try making one that they can have too. Thank you!

    1. Allie, I’m sorry but I have not made this cake sugar-free. However, there have been several people that have commented that they have used a sugar substitute and the cake was delicious but I don’t know which substitute they used.

  22. Hi Robyn! Thanks sooo much for the recipe! I’m waiting to try it today as a bday cake for my mum 🙂 Thinking of doubling the recipe as knowing our family, there won’t be any leftovers for cake cravings the next few days 😀

  23. I usually mix Dutch-processed cocoa powder and unsweetend cocoa powder evenly to create more flavor but I would love to try this out!

    Would you recommend using unsweetened cocoa powder only?

  24. Hi Robyn! Thanks for the recipe. I’m going to try it tomorrow but wanted to confirm the directions – normally you’d cream the oil/eggs and add the sugar first, then dry ingredients. Does that work out, or does it ruin the texture? Have you tried switching the process? I feel super weird not doing the steps the way I always bake everything else. Thanks!

  25. Hi! Attempting to make this fir my friend’s birthday. She is a chocolate fanatic and this recipe definitely looks the best. Two questions however:

    1. What difference does the type of milk make? I have almond and whole milk, and want to use the ingredient that will create the most rich/chocolates cake. My guess is whole, but wanted to better understand the difference.
    2. I only have 8” round pans. Any suggestions on how to adjust bake time? I also live at high altitude (Denver) and am wondering how filled each pan should be with batter?

    1. Madison, I have found that I have a richer and more tender cake if I use whole milk or buttermilk. However, the cake is still very god with almond milk. I have made this cake in 2 8-inch x 2-inch pans. Just make sure that you don’t overfill the pans so they don’t run out in the oven. Bake the cakes at the same temperature in the recipe. It may take a few extra minutes to bake since it is in smaller pans. Or, you can bake in 3 8-inch pans if you prefer. They will just be thinner. Hope this helps.You will need to make adjustments based upon your altitude. I live at 1000 feet. The best site I have found for high altitude baking is Colorado State University Extension. I hope this helps.

    2. Thank you so much for this recipe Robyn! Very delicious, really is the best chocolate cake!! My whole family loved it! Going to try the vanilla version next by following your instructions to switch out flour for espresso and cocoa powder!! How much vanilla can I add without it being too much if I want a stronger vanilla flavor?

      1. I am thrilled your family loved the chocolate cake, Sherry. Since the vanilla cake has 2 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, I would only add 1/4 to 1/2 more if you want a stronger vanilla flavor. You don’t want it to be too strong.

  26. Absolutely delicious. It reminds me of the motherlode chocolate cake from Claim Jumpers restaurant. Just add the walnuts on top of the cake and in the frosting. This is for chocolate lovers who want a deep chocolate taste. So so good!

  27. Looks fabulous! Do you think oat milk would work as a milk substitute? (Or I may try this with coconut milk…did you use normal coconut milk or canned?)

  28. Literally “the best chocolate cake ever”! Everybody raves about it and asks for the recipe. We’ve turned it into cupcakes which works perfectly too.

  29. Oh my god, without a word of a lie this genuinely is the best chocolate cake ever. I do a LOT of baking, for events and friends and their families too, and this recipe just made the top of the list.

    I made it dairy free using oat milk. Didn’t bother with espresso powder just made up instant coffee in the boiling water. Made it as a slab in one pan, cooked in 50 minutes. I made a DF frosting with Nuttelex, oat milk, vanilla, cocoa, sugar and salt to top it. It was so, so good. Super moist even after 3 days just sitting on the bench (no point putting it away I kept walking past slicing off pieces). Had to gift pieces to neighbours to avoid eating it all myself.

  30. Hi there! I am so excited to make this cake. I’ve made it once before and it turned out absolutely delicious!!! I’m trying to do a 8” cake, do you have any recommendations on how long I should bake this cake for? Thank you!!

    1. Ami, the recipe is sized for two 9 inch pans, so make sure if you use the 8 inch pans, that you don’t overfill the pans so the batter does not run out in the oven. Bake the cakes at the same temperature in the recipe. It may take a few extra minutes to bake since it is in smaller pans and is thicker. Thanks!

      1. Kay, 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. The second layer may not rise as much as the first layer, though.

    1. I replaced the regular sugar for coconut sugar and doubled the coffee, and let me tell you, THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE EVER!! (I wanted to use caramel for filling so I wanted to make it a bit less sweet). Honestly, my favourite recipe, so easy, so good, ugh… love it.

  31. Hi Robyn
    I absolutely love this chocolate cake, it’s my family’s favourite. I do want to ask if I could use this recipe in a two tiered cake…will it be too moist to stack one cake on top of the other. I will use cake dowels to support it, but I dont know if this cake is too moist and unstable to make a two tiered cake. Please help if you have any advice.
    Thank you

    1. I’m sorry, Chantene, but I have not tried using dowels for this cake. Since it is a moist cake, I’m not sure if it would be stable. Maybe someone else on here has tried that and can tell you how it worked for them.

      1. Hey Chantene!
        I just made it and actually made it a three tier cake! My only note is that the cake is indeed very moist, so don’t use any extra syrup to moist it more. Aside from that it worked very good for me!

        Good luck 😉

  32. Love this cake! I use unsweetened almon juice with a dash of lemon juice. I Am wondering if this recipe would work using a Bundt pan though?

    1. Leah, you can make this recipe in a Bundt pan. Bake it at 350ºF just as the recipe instructs. It will take a little longer for it to bake in the Bundt pan, about 35 to 40 minutes. Hope you enjoy! Thanks!

  33. This was absolutely delicious and very moist!! I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out great. I have tried many chocolate cake recipes and this will be my go to chocolate cake recipe! Thank you for a great and simple recipe.

  34. This is my go to recipe now. It’s delicious! My family has allergies so I make it gluten free and dairy free. It works perfectly with a 1-to-1 substitution of all purpose gluten free flour and vegan butter. I’ve even made this batter into cupcakes and they’re the best cupcakes I’ve ever had. I’ll never make a different chocolate cake again!

      1. I’m looking to make this cake into a 4 tier 8 inch. Could you give me the exact amount of ingredients I would need, also temperature and time? I see you’ve answered these type of questions in the past but I don’t trust myself to work out the ingredients properly. I have made this cake in the past and it really is amazing!! Thank you

      2. I’m sorry, Lowri, but I have not made this cake as a 4 tier 8-inch cake. Maybe someone else on here has and can tell you how they made it and the temperature and baking time they used.

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