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. Hi, I want to make this cake using coconut oil (instead of vegetable oil) and unsweetened applesauce (instead of eggs – since my brother is allergic to eggs). Will the flavor or consistency be any different?

    Also, I want to put it in a 6 x 12 sheet cake pan and then cut it in half and stack it to make 2 rectangular tiers instead of round tiers. Will this batter be enough to fill it?

    I’m excited to try the recipe since it sounds delicious.

      1. Hi Robyn! This recipe sounds too good to miss out on, but as a Brit, US cup measurements stump me (even with the conversion sites as they seem to vary so wildly – which never ends well where baking is concerned) 😅 – are you able to provide even approximate metric quantities? Don’t worry, I know I’m being cheeky so won’t be offended if you ignore me!

  2. Can this be made into a 3 layer cake by baking in 3 9″ pans or would the layers come out too thin? Thanks! This cake looks amazing!

  3. Hi Robyn, I made your cake today for a surprise birthday for family. It turned out really yummy and soft. Thanks for the wonderful recipe and all the testing you did to reach this amazing recipe.

  4. I made this cake for a coworkers birthday and she started to tear up and said it tasted like her moms hot water cake and when I confirmed that’s what it was she burst out in full on tears bc the last time she had it was for a birthday right before her mom passed which was when she was 7 about 60 years prior.

    1. That is amazing! What a story and what a blessing for her ti have that memory. I’m making this for my daughters 4th birthday tomorrow.

  5. I made this cake on 11/1 for my husbands birthday 11/2 every year he ask’s for a homemade chocolate cake in the 22 years we been together I think I made a chocolate cake once and that was from the box mainly because im so busy running our business & raising our Grand Daughters and I never considered myself a baker, not to toot my own horn 🚂🚂😂im a excellent cook and love it but rarely did I bake anything. Anyway i made this cake followed 100% of the recipe and Icing and OMG it was a hit with him and my two Grand Daughters and me as well and im not a big chocolate cake fan I like simple white cake with icing but let me tell you this will be my new every occasion cake recipe 😉 Thank you so much for sharing your scrumptious recipe. One more thing I never wanted a kitchen aid stand mixer again im not a baker but your recipe has inspired me to start baking so I purchased my first kitchen aid mixer can’t wait to get started 😀

    1. Sonja, I’m so glad this cake was a hit for your husband’s birthday and everyone loved it. I’m also thrilled that this cake made you want to start baking. I have many recipes you might want to try. Since you like white cake, I think you would love my Best White Cake Recipe. Read the comments under the recipe from a pastry chef.

      1. I’m so excited to make this! One question: should the cocoa powder be regular or unsweetened? I’m making the chocolate buttercream icing as well and it calls for unsweetened cocoa powder, so I’m wondering if I have to buy both unsweetened and sweetened?

  6. Am I able to use this recipe somehow for 2 ten inch and 1 five inch cakes? I’m new to baking but would like to be able to sell eventually. I really want to use this recipe but I don’t know what proportions I should use

    1. Hannah, this recipe is written for 2 9-inch cake pans so you wouldn’t be able to make 2 ten-inch and 1 five-inch cakes with this recipe. My advice is to make this recipe as written in the size pans recommended and then you will know more how you need to make adjustments for the cakes you want to make. I hope you enjoy the cake!

  7. Excellent recipe. I dislike chocolate cake but this is the only recipe I’ve really enjoyed. I baked it for a customer and tasted the scraps but now I want one for myself!

      1. I’m sorry your cake didn’t rise as you wanted. Several things can cause a cake not to rise properly: all ingredients not at room temperature, over mixing the batter after the flour and eggs are added which is easy to do with the electric mixers, the oven not reading the temperature accurately, batter not placed in oven immediately after mixing,

  8. An excellent recipe!! I was a bit sceptical when the mixture was so liquid like, but the end result was excellent and spelt wonderful too. I added a few chocolate chips to the cake as well. Thank you for sharing your recipe 😊

  9. I just tried to make this cake but it bubbled over the sides of the pan and was almost impossible to get out of the pan. What did I do wrong?

    1. Natalie, I’m sorry this happened. I’ve never had this happen with this cake but there are some reasons a cake overflows the pan. The main reason is usually that the pan was filled too full with batter. Over-beating the batter once eggs have been added can cause overflow and is so easy to do with the mixers now. I hope this helps.

  10. This is the Best. Cake. Ever! We did substitute the eggs and milk for applesauce and almond milk, then baked it about 5 minutes longer. Everyone loved it! My aunt even told me 4 times how delicious it was! Thank you fir sharing!

    1. Hi Cindy… I’ve been using this recipe for 4 years already and I found it too sweet for our taste. So I always adjust the sugar to 1 1/2 cup and the rest of ingredients are in same measurement. But still always a hit to my family and friends.

  11. My husband’s favorite cake is chocolate and it’s almost his birthday. I’m not an avid baker and was searching for a highly rated, moist, decadent cake. This fit the bill. He said it’s THE best chocolate cake he’s ever had. He about to turn 51 so I think he’s had his share of chocolate cakes so far! As you recommended, I made my own espresso powder….wow, that is the secret sauce. I don’t taste coffee at all in the cake.

    I deleted all my other chocolate cake and chocolate frosting recipes immediately after tasting the cake. This is the only one I need, thank you!

  12. I just made this cake today. It was delicious, moist, dense without being too sweet, and layered with frosting. As delicious if not better than restaurant dessert! The espresso was a fantastic add. Would definitely make it again.

  13. Seriously the best ever cake and the frosting recipe is to die for. The cake was perfectly moist. My whole family is begging for this one at birthdays already. Lol Thank you for sending this recipe out into the world lol

  14. I followed the recipe exactly but my cake, while good, was lighter brown and really not that chocolatey. What could be the reason?

  15. Excellent!!! Made this with a white buttercream frosting and got rave reviews!! Lots of compliments! It was light, not to rich and made tasted like an Oreo cookie! YUM!!!

  16. Just stumbled across your recipe looking for something I can do this evening. I do not have buttercream. Could I just use milk? I think I have made buttercream before too. I’ll have to look into that… looks AMAZING!

  17. For her 10th birthday, my oldest daughter wanted to bake her own cake. This recipe was easy for her to follow and I only offered little guidance (basically just dealing with the oven). Wont lie, we were a bit unsure at first when we saw how watery the batter was after adding the water. We had already tasted the batter prior to that step and said that if the cake didn’t turn out, we would just redo and skip that step. It all worked out. Never needed to redo it. It turned out perfect. The cake was a huge hit with the family. They even had me go back through and print the recipes for the cake and classic white frosting so that I can use it in the future..

  18. Can I bake the entire cake in one 8 inch pan? I just have a convection microwave oven so I don’t have place to keep two pans in the oven.

  19. This is my first time EVER leaving a review on a recipe but I just had to after the responses at my friend’s birthday party. Every single one of them said that this was the best chocolate cake (with the frosting) they have ever had.

  20. Hi Robyn,
    I am making a 3D chocolate cake shaped like a turkey (sort of) for thanksgiving. If I put all the batter in one deeper pan 8”w x 3”d how long would I bake it for? Or a 9”w x 5”d bowl. Would it still be moist? I’m plannng to cut one side flat and Stand it up. I’m afraid 2 layers won’t sit right. This recipe sounds perfect, will it work for what I’m thinking?

    1. Sue, I think this cake may be too moist for you to cut one side and stand it up. I don’t think the cake will be sturdy enough for what you want to do. Maybe someone else on here has done something similar with this cake and can tell you what the did and the results.

  21. I made this cake and it’s the best cake I’ve ever tasted. It was fluffy and moist and the chocolate flavor was perfect. Ima make this again for sure.

  22. Hi Robyn! This is the best and most reviews chocolate cake that I’ve come across. However, I’d like to make a 2 layer 6” mini cake for my husbands birthday. Should I half this recipe? Will the layers be too thick? Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  23. Robyn I made this cake last night Three 6 inch pans and when the time was up it was still watery. so I cooked them longer and when they started pulling away from the sides I said it was done. The middle sank. everything was new even the oil.
    I went to the store again today and got real buttermilk and once again followed directions to the T and baked for allotted time… again they weren’t ready. Baked until they pulled from sides but not done in the middle. They sank again.
    I even measured 12 ounces per cake.
    What’s going on? I did taste the first one and it was delicious!. Just don’t know what to do.
    I have calibrated my oven and still sinking.
    Can you tell me what to do?????
    Thank you!

  24. Love this cake! It’s my go to recipe and everyone always loves it. Do you think I could use oat milk if I don’t have the other types of milk?

  25. I never comment but I feel compelled to today as I made this cake for myself for my 42 bday and it was exactly what I wanted. Super easy, super chocolatey, moist ,(sort ppl I know some kids don’t like that word) amazing and better then any box cake i have made. If there is anything positive it’s me discovering this recipe. I just snuck downstairs to have another piece with some cold milk. Best bday gift to myself ever. I didn’t t use a mixer (did by hand) and guestimated on a few things as I live in Germany where we do metric and it was still awesome.

  26. Hello! It’s my good friend’s birthday and she wants chocolate cake! I’ve searched for the “right” recipe and hope I’ve found it now! Only thing is, I do not have espresso powder… do you think I could add strong hot coffee instead of hot water at this step?

    1. Rebekah, you can just omit the espresso powder. Some people have substituted a cup of hot brewed coffee instead of the espresso powder and boiling water. Hope everyone enjoys the cake.

  27. HI, before cooking this cake, I just want to ask one question. for the milk, should I use “regular” milk or only buttermilk, Coconut milk, and Almond or are those all alternatives?

  28. Hello, this looks delish! Do you know if I have to adjust the oven timing and temperature if I use two 8 inch round pan? Thanks for sharing all these awesome recipes!

    1. Leah, the bake time would be different if you are using 8-inch instead of 9-inch pans. This recipe is sized for 2 9-inch x 2-inch pans. I’m not sure how deep your pans are but be careful not to overfill them.

  29. Hi! I’m looking forward to bake this cake, but could I use boiling orange juice instead of boiling water? I wanted to add some orange flavour since my mum loves oranges and it is going to be her birthday cake, bu ti’m no tsure it is a good idea. Thank you so so much!

  30. Hi Robyn,

    I have made this cake several times and they’ve always come out perfect!
    I would like to make a 3 layer 8-inch cake this time. Would the recipe be enough?

    Thank you!

  31. Best chocolate cake you will ever make. It is an easy recipe that is light, fluffy and moist all in one. It’s not too rich or overpowering and turns out perfect everytime. Thank you so much for sharing!

  32. This cake did not work. I followed the recipe precisely, and even made it three times, and every time it crumbled and sunk. Do not recommend. It looks nothing like it does in the pictures.

    1. Maddy, it sounds like you may live in a high altitude. I live at 1000 feet. If you are at higher altitudes, you will need to make adjustments to this recipe based upon your altitude. Cakes will rise too fast in high altitudes and then sink in the middle. The best information I can find for baking in high altitudes is the Colorado State University Extension. I hope this helps.

  33. This is a delicious cake….
    I bake all time and am always looking for new recipes…
    This one is a Keeper! I used a 8″ round and used instant coffee in water- (no expresso powder) -as that is all I had other than that nothing else changed….baked the full 35 min.
    Moist Delicious cake….and that was the crumbs from pan, mmmmm
    Rose to good height and kept it. I am waiting for it to cool so I can frost it- hands down best chocolate cake ever.
    Super easy to make just be careful with stand mixer even at lowest speed it kinda makes a mess so be prepared .
    A whisk in a bowl would do just as good a job also. Very Easy to make.
    Thank you for Great Recipe I printed it out to have easily handy in kitchen

  34. Hi! I want to make this recipe for my Mom’s Birthday, but I can’t find my 9 inch pans. Would this recipe work if I used 2 8 inch square pans? Thanks!

  35. Make the cake and the frosting according to the recipe. It was awesome!
    I did use cocoa powder instead of flour when I coated my pans.

  36. Looks delicious! I have a great chocolate cream cheese frosting I like to use. Do you think it would work well with this cake?

  37. Made this with your recommended substitutions. Canned coconut milk, coconut oil, and Cacao -Vulupta brand, Gluten Free Measure of Measure flour-King Arthur brand.
    VERY VERY MOIST and DELICIOUS!! We had homemade cream cheese frosting on hand, so we did not use the chocolate.

  38. Lovely recipe! I use this everytime I make a chocolate cake, it always turns out amazing! I also add 2 egg yolks and that makes it just even more moist and delicious, I always pair it with italian meringue buttercream so I always have leftover egg yolks! I can’t stand American buttercream.

  39. She’s absolutely right, it is The BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE I’ve EVER had. This one is going in my book as #1 . Thanks for sharing your recipe.

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