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 2996 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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10763 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. My go to moist chocolate cake recipe! I’ve been using this recipe ever since i started baking. Tried other recipes but this is my all time fave!

      1. Hi Robyn, instead of two 9” round pans can I use one 15×11 rectangle pan with same exact measurements?

  2. Magnifique Recipe Everyone loved it, its so my daughter is now fav chocolate cake carrier in her Horse riding class.. Then i made the same for myself with substituted items as i am allergic to gluten, wheat, milk, corn, and many more so i completely went vegan with Cocotun flour, potato startch and rice flour with bit of arrowroot powder mix which i made for myself as a cake flour mixture its gluten and all top 9 allergy free items, Even egg replacer i use coz of my allergy again is egg free, gluten free and lactose free… And even sugar coz slight chemical and my body reacts crazy so i used natural coconut sugar for myself. And Voila, i got it an awesomely amazing cake. THANKS A BIG THANKS TO YOU FOR THIS AWESOME RECIPE.. YOU ARE AWESOME..

  3. You are my hero! My husband LOVES this cake recipe so much and wanted it for sharing at work for his birthday, and for taking to a family gathering and I didn’t fancy making two round cakes or having him have to deal with serving that. So I used your cupcake adjustments for the cupcakes and did this 9×13 pan version for taking to a family event. I did a big batch of frosting once and stored the leftovers in the fridge for when I made the second cake (a couple days later). Hubby is very happy. 🙂

      1. Everyone loves this recipe and my kids request it for all their birthdays….I have used gf flour as well. The icing recipe you’ve provided is so delicious as well. I look for your recipes!!!!

      1. Making today for my teenage daughter who is recently gluten and dairy free and REALLY missing her desserts! If I am using two dark nonstick pans should I turn my oven down to 325?

      2. Adrienne, I would reduce the baking temperature to 325ºF. Start checking your cake about 10 minutes before the baking time in the recipe because the dark pans absorb more heat and the cake may cook faster. I hope your daughter enjoys her cake!

      3. Morgan, 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. Enjoy!

    1. I bake this cake a month ago for my boyfriend’s mother, it was her birthday. Everyone (6 people) LOVED it. My boyfriend since doesn’t stop talking about it. We had a couple of friends coming for dinner tonight so I decided to surprise him and bake it. Again I got tons of compliments.
      Perfect cake and also the frosting is amazing. You weren’t lying when you wrote “the best chocolate cake”!
      Thank you!

  4. I am so excited to try this! I made your chocolate cake recipe and it was fantastic. Do you happen to know how many mini cupcakes this would make?

  5. I am 11, but I made this cake AND your chocolate buttercream frosting for my sister’s birthday party, and all LOVED IT! Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe!!🙂 It was the highlight of the party!

  6. Robyn, this is hands down the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made…always rich in flavor and perfectly tender! We have enjoyed this recipe more than a dozen times and it still continues to delight. I’d like to share a little trick: if you don’t have espresso powder, a Starbucks Via instant coffee packet works quite well! Thank you!

      1. hi! I am making this cake today for my brothers birthday and this is very last minute, but can you use regular whole or 2% milk? I have looked everywhere for a comment asking that but I couldn’t find one. Thank you!

  7. I was a little concerned about the batter being so thin when I poured it in the pans. It turned into the most delicious, moist cake I’ve ever eaten. Hubby wants this with orange buttercream for his upcoming birthday. Will definitely make this again. Thank you so much for the amazing recipe!

  8. I usually don’t bake but at 8 months pregnant I was craving a good chocolate cake. This cake was easy and delicious. It was not overly sweet and had just enough chocolate for us chocolate lovers. Moist is not the word for this cake…. it’s extremely moist. My family loved it .

  9. I made thsi cake at age 12 and loved it. My family is not one for chocolate like my brother and I but they all loved it! I love how the buttercream is delicious and tones down the rich chocolate taste a tiny bit so its not too out of control. I love this cake so much!

      1. The batter is so thin in this cake that I worry that the chocolate and nuts would sink to the bottom of the pan and cause the layers to stick to the pan. Maybe someone else who has tried adding those can answer this for you.

  10. Hello, I’m a bit confused about how to put the cake together. Should I put anything in between the two cake layers? Also how do you put one layer on top of the other ?

    1. Julie, I place one of the layers of cake on my cake plate and then frost the top of that layer. I then stack the second layer of the cake on top of the bottom. Then I frost the sides and top of the cake. Hope you enjoy!

      1. Would love to try this recipe for a birthday cake this weekend but would this cake hold with fondant icing and decorations over the top?
        Thanks

      2. Zoe, I have not covered this cake with fondant but others have commented that they have. I would advise that you do a trial run with the cake before the big event so you can make sure it is exactly as you want it.

      3. Hi, sounds delicious. But would you be able to tell me if I could bake this in three 8” pans instead and if so how long I would bake for? Thank you! Very excited to try this recipe

      4. Joely, you could bake this in 3 8-inch pans but the layers will be a little thinner than the 9-inch in the recipe. Bake at the same temperature as the recipe but I would start checking the cake at about 20 – 25 minutes. Hope you enjoy the cake.

  11. Since I don’t have granulated espresso, and since there is a cup of hot water in the recipe, could I make a cup of espresso in my Kufic coffee maker and add it to the mix?

    1. Sherrie, I haven’t used a cup of espresso instead of the boiling water and espresso powder but others have commented that they have. You can also omit the espresso if you want.

    2. When we cook the two layers can they both be cooked at the same time or should we put them in separate ovens? Sorry I’m new to this

  12. Hi Robyn. This cake looks yummy. Can I use ordinary instant coffee in place of the espresso? I’m making it tomorrow so I’ll post the results!

  13. After pouring over cake recipes for a friend’s birthday, I decided to take a chance on this one. Admittedly, the title had me doubtful. How many other recipes are described as the best, only to be found…less than? I didn’t have espresso powder, but I went for it anyway. Oh. My. GOSSSSSSH! Speaking as a chocoholic, this is the best chocolate cake recipe I’ve ever made. My first attempt was layered and I’ve since made it as cupcakes and in a 9×13. Great in all forms. However, the last attempt included espresso powder and I will never make this cake any other way. You’re 100% correct. It accentuates the chocolate and take this to a whole ‘nother level. Thank you for bringing the most perfectly rich, moist & delicious cake into my life. I’d also like to note that I never liked buttercream before trying your’s. I don’t know why, but you’ve nailed it all around. If you haven’t tried this recipe, don’t hesitate. Just make it. You won’t be disappointed.

  14. Hi, I have tried this fantastic recipe before but wondering if I can make it in a smaller tin? Would I have to adjust the cooking time?

      1. Hi! I was just wondering why the cake recipe isn’t good for cupcakes? It seems like a great recipe! Thanks

      2. Jacqueline, you can certainly make cupcakes with this recipe. People had asked for a recipe that only makes 12 cupcakes so I gave them a smaller version of this recipe for that number. Thanks!

  15. Fantastic chocolate cake. Moist and great flavor. My family raved about the cake.i have used many recipes. This was the best.

  16. DO NOT make this cake if you don’t want to keep making it forever after😁it’s just that good!! The espresso powder kicked the the chocolate taste up a notch Perfect!! Someone told me it’s better than a professional cake bakers cakes & those were delicious This one is divine!! When people sitting around you are asking who made this amazing chocolate cake you know the recipe is a keeper

  17. I’m excited to try this chocolate cake for my friend’s birthday. Since it’s only for four adults and wonder if I make half the recipe would it make a one layer cake (using a 9″ pan)? Otherwise it seems the layers would be very thin. Other options?

  18. I really love your best chocolate cake recipe!! I’ve made this cake for my son’s birthday and would like to make again for my husband’s birthday. Can you give me any advice on how to modify your recipe for 6 inch cake pans?

    1. Angela, I haven’t made this cake in 6-inch pans. However, several people have commented that they have. Here is part of Shireen’s comment: “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.” Some other people have divided this recipe into 3 6-inch pans. I hope this helps.

  19. Could you use cacao powder in place of cocoa powder? I just realized I bought cacao powder by accident and it’s my daughters birthday on Saturday. Thanks for your help!

    1. Alice, I have not used cacao powder in this recipe so I can’t tell you from experience what would happen. I do understand that cacao has a more bitter taste than the cocoa powder and also absorbs liquid more than the natural unsweetened cocoa powder I use. There would need to be adjustments made to the recipe but I can’t tell you exactly how to make those. I’m sorry I can’t tell you how to make the adjustments. I do hope your daughter has a very happy birthday on Saturday.

  20. I added a strawberry filling between the layers instead of the frosting, and it worked our great! the cake was really moist and delicious, thank you for the recipe 🙂 will try it again for sure

  21. This is by far the best chocolate cake ever!!! I could eat it all day everyday. lol. I am trying to make a vanilla version now substituting the cocoa for more flour like u suggested. I have tried ur vanilla cake but I love this chocolate cake so much felt i needed to try it as vanilla. cupcakes are currently in the oven. So glad I came across this recipe.

  22. This recipe looks incredible and I’m planning to try it out – would I be able to get some advice on whether adding orange flavour extract would work well with the flavour of the cake? If so, how much would I need to add? Thanks!

    1. Alex, I have never added orange extract to the cake or the frosting so I can’t tell you how much to add. Some others have comments that they have so maybe some of them can tell you how much they added.

  23. Will espresso instant coffee work for the espresso powder? I think I bought the wrong thing and don’t have time to go back out

    1. Lauren, the instant coffee may be too grainy to substitute for the espresso powder. I haven’t done it but others have said they have made a strong cup of boiling espresso with the instant coffee and used instead of the cup of boiling water. You can also always omit the espresso powder in the recipe. It still has a great chocolate flavor. The espresso just enhances it.

  24. I made this cake exactly as it was written. The middles of both are sunken a full inch ☹️
    I’ve been baking cakes for years and I’ve never had this happen. This is for my daughter’s birthday tomorrow. I FEEL SO SICK 😭

    1. I’m sorry your cake fell, Jennifer. There can be several reasons this can happen. If you live in a high altitude area, you will definitely need to make adjustments for high altitude baking for this cake. Other reasons can be opening the oven door before the cake has finished cooking, taking the cake out of the oven before it is completely done in the middle, over mixing the batter which incorporates too much air in the batter – this is easy to do with the high powered mixers today, oven not heating to the set temperature or having uneven areas of temperature, letting the batter sit too long before placing it in the oven, all ingredients not warmed to room temperature, and oven not preheated to correct temperature before cake pans are placed inside.

  25. Fantastic recipe! The cake turned out just as fabulous as it looks on the screen.
    Do not hesitate to try it out, I used half the measure and made a smaller cake to try, but turned out perfect. Love it.

  26. My first double layer cake, and how fortunate to have come across this fantastic recipe!
    I was as nervous as a guy at the prom to present my first attempt to my son on his 46th birthday.
    The creation looked oh, so good, but not having a taste beforehand, I didn’t know what to expect.
    Well, the praises and requests for the recipe is still ringing in my head.
    This is a prize winner and I would like to thank you for making me the best baker in the family.
    May you be blessed with many years of doing what you are doing now, making your followers champion bakers.
    P.S. Thank you for the tips on ingredient substitutions, no-one would believe that it was an eggless cake!

  27. Hi! I am so excited to try making this cake!!! I have two quick questions.
    1.) I only have chocolate almond milk, 2%, and heavy whipping cream. Out of these options is there one you’d recommend for a buttermilk substitute?
    2.) Can I use the ground coffee in a Nespresso or Keurig pod for the espresso powder?
    Thanks so much! 🙂

    1. Olivia, I would recommend the 2% milk. I would not recommend using the ground coffee. You can omit the espresso powder. The cake is still delicious without it. It just enhances the chocolate flavor. Hope you enjoy the cake.

  28. Hey Robyn, you ever make this cake using ALL 3 variations of substitutes (gluten free, eggless, and dairy free) all at the same time? Wondering how it would turn out before trying for friends with severe dietary restrictions due to allergies….

    1. Pat, I haven’t made this cake with all 3 substitutions at the same time. mignetarchie commented on October 10, 2020 that she had with success. Maybe someone else on here has made all 3 substitutions and can tell you what they did, too.

  29. Ok, this cake is amazing! But I was wondering if you could give some advice for how you would modify the recipe for high altitude? I live at 7000′ and thus added slightly less baking powder and sugar, a little more liquid (in the form of hot water), and baked it at 375 instead of 350. It is sooo good still, but the bottoms got just a smidge dried out/over cooked. I wasn’t sure how much less time I should bake it given the higher temp, so not sure if I just left it in too long? Thanks!

  30. This cake is absolutely amazing. I made this cake for my husband’s birthday and this is the first time the cake was almost gone. This was my first time making a cake from scratch and everyone loved it. Thank you for sharing.

  31. This was the most rich, decadent and moist cake I have ever made! Made both the cake and the buttercream frosting. Delicious! Excellent instructions!

  32. This recipe never disappoints. It’s depth of flavor rivals other recipes, and it’s spongy moistness is simply perfect. I prefer serving it without icing, but rather a dusting of powdered sugar, a swirly drizzle of hut fudge & dollop of whipped cream or ice cream. Nuts can also be sprinkled on. Always a crowd pleaser!

    1. Therese, I haven’t tried that brand but you can use gluten free flour in this recipe. Since I haven’t used this brand, I don’t know if you will substitute cup for cup but it should give instructions on package.

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