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!

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting on a white cake plate and dark background.

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 3051 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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11022 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. I have made this cake several times! It truly is the best cake I have ever tasted! I am making it again today for my husbands birthday!

    1. Best Cake I’ve ever made and, I’m going to continue to make this same chocolate cake into the future. Holy cow!! It is literally addictive after the first bite.

    2. Hi Robyn! Thanks for this recipe, will try it for my daughter’s birthday cake! Can I make this with Dutch processed cocoa? Is it the same as unsweetened cocoa powder! I’m in Australia and couldn’t find unsweetened cocoa powder at my local supermarket.. many thanks!

      1. Ana, I’m sorry but I have never made this cake with Dutch processed cocoa so I can’t tell you from experience how it works out. But others have and said they just substituted it for the natural unsweetened cocoa I use. I hope this helps!

    1. Hi! I want to make your cake using a scale, and I’m not sure what measurements you use – is 1 cup flour in your recipes 120 or 140 gr?
      Thanks!

      1. I made this recipe for my daughters birthday yesterday. It was amazing! She said it was the best cake ever! Everyone loved it! It’s a keeper:)

      1. I am a novice baker and true chocolate lover. This recipe is next level. It was easy to follow and the cake was a huge hit at my birthday gathering 🙂 Thank you!

  2. Hi I’m 11 is this an easy recipe to make I have Made several recipes before but I wanted a new one I can do advanced ones but this is just a rainy day activity with my 5 year old cousin so is it easy?

    1. This is a really easy recipe to make, Harper. You don’t even have to use a mixer for the cake but you will if you make the frosting. Hope you and your cousin love your cake!

  3. I love this recipe! Very easy to make! I love chocolate cake and its my first time making one! It’s so heavenly, instead of making a frost I just made a chocolate ganache! My kids love it!

  4. Hey, Robyn! I’m thinking of baking this for my brother’s birthday: can this keep in the fridge? Not frozen, but just sitting there for a night? I’m busy so I like to do cakes the night before but I’m not sure if this should be kept in the fridge or just sat on the kitchen table. Thanks!

    1. Nathalie, I haven’t made this as a tall stacked cake so I can’t tell you how it would turn out. This is a moist, tender cake. Maybe someone else has made this and can tell you how it worked for them.

  5. This really was the best chocolate cake ever. This was my first attempt at baking a made from scratch cake. It was so moist, I didn’t even put frosting on it. My family ate it all in one sitting. Love ..love.. love

  6. Sooo good! This has been our go-to cake for special occasions for the last couple of years now, and it’s always a crowd pleaser. I recently made the 9×13 version in an 8×8 pan (added 5 mins to baking time) with vanilla buttercream frosting (halved), and it was the perfect size for our family of 4. My son has requested chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting for his birthday, so that’s next! 😊

  7. Hands down THE best chocolate cake recipe. I made this for my daughters birthday and have received so many compliments – and requests for the recipe. It was very easy to make… a great one to make with little ones. I have eaten lots of cake over the years (I like cake!) and this has to be the most delicious, moist chocolate cake I have every tasted. The only down side – it doesn’t last long!

  8. i like this cake sooo much .i have a question can we use coffee intead of using espresso baking powder?
    please reply

      1. Hey Robyn,
        Do kids do ok with the coffee/espresso? I want to make this for Halloween and My sister will not love if I caffeinate her kids along with all the sugar of the day! Thanks 🙂

  9. I have made this cake now 4 times in the past few months. Every time it comes out perfectly. The frosting recipe takes a little time, but the results are FABULOUS. The frosting makes icing the cake a dream. It holds firm and yet looks luscious. I can’t say enough about this cake. 😍👏⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️All the way!! If you haven’t made it, what are you waiting for?

    1. Loved it! Just perfect.. i dont usually bake alot.. started baking lately
      This recipe is easy, but i used 1 pan 10 inches and still turned out great!

  10. I love this recipe! Have made it in cupcakes! I am just about to make the full cake version but realised I have 7 inch cake tins instead of 9! How/does this change cooking times?

  11. Made this cake yesterday – literally the best chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted, and I can’t believe I made it and how easy it was! So moist, not overly sweet, and the frosting was divine also. Will be forever making this cake now.

  12. Robyn, I made the cake but it was dry, not moist. I’m sure I didn’t something wrong but not sure what. I’m trying it again this weekend, because even though it was dry it was delicious. Any suggestions?

    1. Janice, I’m not sure why your cake would be dry. This is a very moist cake. Some reasons a cake can be dry are the cake baked too long, the oven is heating to a higher degree than it should, or ingredients were not room temperature.

      1. Thank you. I think you are correct. I asked my Aunt, who is an excellent baker, this same question and she said my butter and eggs probably weren’t room temperature, and they weren’t. I’ll try again. You are awesome! Thanks for responding so quickly.

  13. This is definitely the besssst chocolate cake ever for me! Made 2 8″ cakes with the batter & even my not a fan of chocolate cake fiance loved it. So easy & super moist. Perfect! Thank you!

  14. My 6 year old (about to be 7) twins chose to have a double layer cake each of both your best choc cake and best vanilla cake recipes as they couldn’t pick one over the other after I did a practise taste test on them!! 🙂 they were the biggest hit and all of the 14 kids at the party yesterday loved the cake so it was a huge win!! Iced with buttercream icing yum yum! Thank you so much for the recipe…they will be my go-to cake recipes for sure!!

    1. You can make this cake ahead, Kristi. If making two days ahead, I would freeze it and then thaw it overnight before serving. You can store the cake under a covered dome and leave on the counter after it thaws or to store the cake after it is cut.

  15. Hi Robyn. I’m new to baking but super excited to make this cake in a few days! Questions though, I have (2) 8″x3″ baking pans. Should i use all the batter still or will the layers be too tall to stack? Would it be better if I made the recipe using your converter for less servings, say 18 instead of 24?

    Thanks so much in advance if you have time to answer!

    1. Leah, I think the 3-inch cakes should be fine to stack. You should be able to make this recipe in your 2 8″x3″ pans. Since these layers will be thicker, it will take longer to bake, about 55-60 minutes.

  16. Thank you so much for this recipe it worked amazingly well and you couldn’t tell it was gluten free at all.

    I have a friend who would like me to make her the same cake but with Erythritol instead of sugar. Would this be an equal substitute to normal sugar? Also if I powdered it to make the base for the buttercream?
    Thank you!

    1. I’m sorry, Alice, but I haven’t made this cake with erythritol so I can’t tell you how much to use or even how the cake would turn out. Maybe someone else has used it and can tell you how it worked for them.

      1. Hi Robyn
        I want to make this recipe for my niece’s birthday tomorrow. Quick question – not sure I understated from recipe -what do you mean in step 3 to distribute into 2 pans? Will this make for 2 separate cakes?

        Thank you!
        Yael

  17. I have been making this chocolate cake for years and it is the best chocolate cake ever. All of my friends and family love it.
    This last weekend, I upped the game on this cake and you might want to try it for a change.
    I left the espresso out.
    When I measured my sugar I used one 3 oz pack of cherry jello and then added the sugar to make 2 cups. Used the rest of the recipe as usual.
    My husband was convinced it wouldn’t bake right but it came out beautifully.
    This made an outstanding cherry fudge cake.
    Used the usual chocolate buttercream frosting but also put cherry pie filling in between the layers and on top.
    Wish I could include a picture because it was beautiful and great.
    4 people, one cake gone in one night!
    Try it.

    1. Karlee, I have not made this cake with almond flour so I can’t tell you how it would turn out. Maybe someone else on here has used it and can tell you how it worked for them.

  18. Used this recipe this weekend for my mother and brother-in-laws double birthday and it was a huge hit!! I am not even a big chocolate cake lover (I know, I know) but this was absolutely delicious. There was none left!

    I used 3 6 inch cake tins and divided evenly. I baked for about 42/43 minutes and they came out great. I think I went through all 10,000 comments looking for some answers on this for 6in and didn’t find much so thought it would be helpful to share for those inquiring!

    Can’t wait to bake this again! Thank you!

      1. Thank you so much Robyn for the vanilla version of this recipe! It worked great doing what you said to sub flour for cocoa, and I added more vanilla, which made an incredibly delicious vanilla cake!!! Moist just like the chocolate…which we LOVE also. I used avocado oil, which worked well too! Thank you, your recipe was a hit in my family and was the “icing” for my daughter’s 6th birthday!! She gave it 2 thumbs up and a huge smile!! 🙂

  19. I always claim I don’t like chocolate cake, so when my son asked for one for his birthday I didn’t have any tried and true recipes. If you’re tired of dry chocolate cake with sickly sweet frosting, try this recipe! It really did have everyone at the table raving – even me! It’s dark, thick, fudgy, and rich without being sickly. It was really a breeze to make, too! Writing this one down for future celebrations!

  20. I love chocolate cake it is really good but not as good as this one it’s really really yummy it smells like chocolate and I really and tonight I’m excited to cook this

  21. Hi! I am making this for my daughters first birthday cake with whipped cream frosting – her first taste of chocolate! I have two questions: 1. What cocoa powder do you use? And 2. I am using 4 inch pans so she can have her own cake. Any idea around how long I should put them in for? Thanks!

    1. Liz, I use Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. I haven’t made this in 4-inch pans but I think you should bake a 4-inch x 2-inch cake in about 20 minutes. If you don’t want the added caffeine from the espresso powder for her cake, you can omit it. I hope your daughter enjoys her cake.

  22. Hi! I’m looking forward to making this, but I was wondering if I can divide the batter into 3 9-inch cake pans?
    Thanks so much!

    1. The layers would be really thin, Maria, if you divide it into 3 9-inch pans. If you want 3 layers, I would advise making one recipe for 2 pans and then making half the recipe for the third.

  23. I’ve made this cake a few years ago and recently have a chance to make this again! It was delicious the first time.

    I can’t remember what I used the first time, but does it matter what cocoa powder I use? Dutch processed or natural? I recently learnt there was a difference so wanted to make sure I don’t affect the cake by using the wrong one.

  24. Best and easiest recipe ever, I’ve made it with milk and it perfectly worked. Truly deserves the title: best chocolate cake ever. Thanks Robin

  25. Hello! I have 9in pans but they are pretty shallow. Will these work or could I use 8in rounds? How should I adjust the recipe for the 8in pans? Thank you! I’m looking forward to baking this cake!

    1. Sierra, I use 9-inch by 2-inch pans for this cake so if that is the size you have, you will be fine. I’ve divided the cake into three 8-inch cake layers and adjusted the cooking time. I would start checking the cake at about 20 minutes without opening the oven door until it looks done. The cake will start pulling away from the sides of the pan when it is done. Your layers will be slightly thinner, but I’ve found that it wasn’t enough to be noticeable.

  26. Hi Robin = can I substitute some brewed coffee for the espresso powder? Also – I want to make two or 3 small bundt cakes in my pampered chef mini bundt pan. Do you think this would be enough for 3 or 4 smallish cakes? The molds are 5 inches across and 2 inches high. Thanks!!!! I’m dying to try this recipe and need 3 small cakes at once vs 1.

    1. Gail, you can substitute hot brewed coffee for the espresso powder and hot boiling water if you wish. I haven’t made cakes in the Pampered Chef mini bundt pans so I’m not sure how to adjust the recipe. I’m not sure if you are wanting to just make 3 of the mini cakes or 3 of the pans of cakes. According to the recipe on the Pampered Chef site, it looks like 1/2 of this recipe would make one pan of 6 mini cakes.

  27. This truly is the BEST chocolate cake EVER!! I have made this many times and it’s always a HUGE hit with anyone who eats it – the espresso really brings out the chocolate flavor. You MUST try this recipe!!

  28. I would love to make this for my daughters birthday. Can I ask how tall does the cake stand? I’m debating if I should use 8 inch or 9 inch cake tins as I’d like a bit of height to showcase the decoration.

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