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!

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

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

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.

I’m not going to kid you, this makes a very rich, moist, and absolutely luxurious 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.

The few crumbs left on plates gave that away.

One of the ingredients that really made this chocolate 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.

Believe me when I say, it is very much worth the effort to have just for those times you are baking with chocolate!

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!

It just needs to happen.


Let me just say again, this chocolate cake + this Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe = the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had!

And here it is. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

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 Cup 4 Cup 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.

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 //
Yield: 12
Course Dessert
Cuisine Dessert
Keyword best chocolate cake, cake, chocolate cake, chocolate cake recipe, dairy free chocolate cake, easy chocolate cake, egg free chocolate cake, gluten-free chocolate cake

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe {Ever}

Total Time 45 minutes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
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!
4.82 from 2211 votes
Did you make this recipe?


  • 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
  • 1 cup milk buttermilk, almond, or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable canola oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe


  1. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  4. 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. The next day, the layers are ready to fill and frost.

All images and text © Robyn Stone for Add a Pinch

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 of my chocolate cake recipe! 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! //

This post contains affiliate links.

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

7,577 comments on “The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe {Ever}”

  1. Is there a reason why baking powder and soda are both used? What if I skip the soda?

  2. OMG! This cake is the best thing in the world! I made it one time with the chocolate buttercream and it was amazing! I’m not a person that normally likes to eat my baking but I just can’t put this cake down. My family always asks me to make it. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

  3. Hi I’m new to weighing in cups .I have come across recipes that say ie 3 cups of sieved flour or icing sugar etc. I know that non sieved flour weighs heavier then sieved flour. So in your recipe is it sieved flour that you use or non sieved? Thank you. And any chance to convert it into grams or ounzes in the future for more correct measurements? I really do hate measuring in cups and spoons. X

  4. Hi. Is there any way oil can be substituted with butter and still have the same moisture as seen otherwise?

  5. For anyone at high altitude that had the cake fall like I had, I made the cake again with adjustments for high altitude and it turned out beautifully. I live at about 4500 ft, adjustments came from the King Arthur website.
    Increased the temp and decreased the time, baked at 370 degrees for 30 minutes (no convection)
    Added an additional 4T of flour, 1 egg, and 3T of buttermilk (or milk of your choice). I subtracted 2T of the sugar. Leavening agents were changed to 1 1/4 t baking soda and 1 1/2t of baking powder.

  6. Hello!
    Is it possible to use regular cocoa powder (soluble, sweetened) bought for chocolate drinks?
    Can the espresso powder be substituted for regular coffee powder?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Andy,
      I would not use chocolate drink mix powder in this cake. Please use the unsweetened cocoa powder as in the recipe. I don’t think the drink powder will give the desired results for the cake.

      When I tested ground coffee, instant coffee granules, and even boiled coffee, I thought that it left a bitter aftertaste in the cake that I didn’t find with espresso powder. Therefore, I do not recommend using “coffee powder” in the recipe, just espresso powder.

      If you don’t have espresso, you can omit it and the cake will still taste great. The espresso powder enhances the richness of the chocolate.

      I hope this helps and you enjoy the cake. Thanks!

  7. This recipe is pretty awesome! I made it for my daughters 5th birthday and children and adults cleaned their plates, If I could say anything about an otherwise awesome recipe, it would be to sift the powdered sugar before mixing into frosting. The frosting I made had a slightly gritty texture from the sugar. Otherwise this is an great recipe and will be my new go to chocolate cake. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Hi Kyle,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the cake!
      I’ve not had my frosting turn out gritty, but if it had a gritty texture, I think you may have needed to whip the mixture a bit more.
      I’m glad that you have found your new go-to! Thanks!

  8. Hi, I’ve got to say this seriously is the best chocolate cake ever! Everyone I make it for loves it. Just wanted to ask, is there anything I can substitute in place of unsweetened applesauce in the eggless version cause it’s not a very commomnly found ingredient here? Thanks!

  9. I love this recipe,I have been using it over a year and it makes an amazing cake everytime. I wondered if it would work in a Swiss roll tin to make a chocolate log for Christmas?
    Thank you

  10. I have been searching for a really delicious chocolate cake recipe that holds up well yet is moist, flavorful – not dry. This is it – truly the best chocolate cake recipe ever!! I have made it numerous times in the past year with flawless results and always rave reviews. I use the frosting recipe, as well. Now I have the perfect chocolate cake every time I make one (and just made it again today for my husband’s birthday, and thought I should rate it)! Thank you!

  11. Hi Robyn, I can’t find espresso powder in my small town, so will have to leave it out. Hopefully it will still be delicious! Also, do you think I could use White Lily self-rising flours and just omit baking soda and the baking powder?

    • Hi Sandee,
      You can just omit the espresso powder from the recipe if it is unavailable to you. I would not substitute self-rising flour for all-purpose in this cake recipe. I hope you enjoy it!

  12. When I click on the link for espresso powder it goes to Amazon and the first one I see is the Cafe Bustelo. Can I use that? I looked for the jars of espresso powder from the website in store that are made for baking but have had no luck. Also do I need to refrigerate the icing after it is made or do I need to refrigerate the whole cake once icing is on?

    • Hi Brittany,
      No – that one you mention is an instant coffee instead of espresso powder. There are some others that come up that are for baking and those are the type you’ll want to choose….I see King Arthur and one by Hoosier Hill Farms, Delallo and others. I have found King Arthur and Delallo espresso powders for baking at my grocery store before and have ordered those and other brands online too.
      You don’t have to refrigerate the cake or icing. It should be fine made a couple of days ahead – just use covered cake plate.
      Hope you enjoy the cake! Thanks so much! xo

  13. How long would bake time be using a regular bundt pan? This is my all time favorite chocolate cake recipe. Thinking about doing the bundt and pouring chocolate ganache over top. ????

    • Hi Leslie,
      I am so happy you like the cake! It’s a favorite around my house too!
      I’ve not made it in the bundt pan, so I can’t say exactly how long it will need to bake. I think it will take a bit longer than the time in this recipe, but not sure how long.
      Sounds delicious with the ganache on top! Thanks!!!

  14. Oh my gosh, just made this cake for my daughter’s birthday, and it was the BEST chocolate cake I have eaten!!! Everyone loved it !!I did not have the expresso powder on hand so didn’t use it. And I loved the fact it was not out of a box but as moist as the boxed pudding cakes that you buy. Easy, fast and delicious!!Thank you! Lee

  15. Absolutely right about this being the best chocolate cake ever! The minute my family tasted it I got, “WOW this could be the best one I’ve ever had!” So delicious and such a wonderfully helpful recipe xx

  16. CanI just cook this in one, 9-inch pan, as I do not have 2, pans?

    • You can’t cook all of the cake in one 9 inch pan at once – if you only have one pan, then just put half the batter in, bake it, let it cool according to instructions, then prepare that pan again and start the second half of the batter to make the second layer. Or you can use the second half of the batter to make a few cupcakes too. Hope you enjoy it Ana. Thanks!

  17. Instead of espresso powder can I use coffee liqueur instead and how much should I use?

    • I’ve never used coffee liqueur and I’m not sure how it will taste or the measurement. The recipe is for espresso powder used in baking, but you can omit if you wish and cake is still delicious! Thanks!

  18. I found your chocolate cake recipe years ago and made it for my mom for Mother’s day! She loved it so much and raved about it to the rest of our family. I am making it for the 3rd or 4th time for my family Xmas party and they love it!! Thanks so much for a yummy, easy to follow recipe!! AND the buttercream frosting is delish! 🙂

  19. The absolute best chocolate cake recipe! I’ve been using this one for a while now, and I always get so many compliments whenever I do. Super moist and very easy to make! I always have the necessary ingredients around my house (with the exception of buttermilk, but I make that with regular milk and vinegar or lemon juice), so it’s something that I can easily whip up when we need a quick dessert.

  20. Merry Christmas! Made the cupcakes with the chocolate frosting and they were a huge hit. Lots of flavor and very moist.

  21. how can i modify this recipe for a 6 inch cake?

  22. Hi , I’m excited to try this recipe, after reading your recommendations on the espresso powder I’m even more excited; however I can’t find espresso powder; what can I substitute it with?

  23. Thank You so much for sharing this recipie! I made it yeaterday and it was a hit with my family! They loved it!! Planning to make it for my son’s birthday. Thank you.

  24. I can’t believe that you shared this recipe! It has to be the most delicious cake the world has ever tasted! I used GF, DF, Organic substitutes and was completely amazed by the texture, taste and form. Congratulations and Thank You!

  25. The best chocolate cake I’ve ever made and tasted. The recipe is perfect, I had no issues with it.

  26. I made this cake tonight and to me and my boyfriend it just tasted a lot like flour. Am I doing something wrong?

    • Hi Molly,
      It should not have tasted like that – this is a really rich, moist and chocolatey cake. I’ve not had that problem so I can’t be sure what happened when you made it. Did you perhaps make any substitutions or leave anything out? Thanks!

  27. I iII want to make double quantity in a deep 10″ x15″ inch pan to have a large slab cake.How long would I cook it?
    I would prefer this shape than use two square tins. Thank-you -Joan

  28. We are in the midst of a deep freeze. So, what can one do besides play in the kitchen. I have always found box cakes to be quite good. My mom used to make chocolate cake from scratch for my brother’s birthday, she is a wonderful cook but the cake was bland, dry and the frosting was no better. I developed a bias against homemade cakes, how wrong I turned out to be! I saw this recipe sounded so yummy and the reviews were wonderful so I thought I’d give it a try. Oh boy, what a cake! I could not find espresso powder at several stores, and didn’t want to wait to get it from Amazon, so instead I added a rounded teaspoon of instant coffee to the boiling water. It seemed to work out well, otherwise I followed the recipe to the tee. I frosted the cake with the buttercream frosting that was linked to the recipe and it was soooo good! I omitted the espresso powder since I had none, but I am anxious to try it when it arrives. When I first saw the amount of frosting it was making I was surprised, but it’s perfect! After applying the crumb layer I used the rest to generously frost the cake. It’s wonderfully forgiving, as I was able to end up with a really pretty dessert! Thank you so much, my family is anxious for me to debut more dishes from recipes on your site! Happy New Year!

  29. I would love to make this chocolate cake!!..only problem is I cant get hold of the espresso powder..can I leave it out or is there a good substitute I could use?..
    Thank you in advance..Nikki

  30. This cake is a hit with my family. I was wondering if i wanted to make it in 2 10 inch pans how do i convert the recipie for it?

  31. If making in 9” into 5” pan, what are the changes should be made in the measurements?

  32. Hi… it’s yummy cake.. I tried but I made this quantity and it overflowed in my cake tin.. can you plz tell me how can I reduce quantity to half???Thanks

  33. Somehow I invited everyone back to my house for dessert and a champagne toast after a local NYE dinner. Now I’m in a pinch for what to serve. So glad I found this. Still need to run to the store for ingredients, but it seems definitely worth it. Thanks,

  34. I made this for the first time back in May for my husband’s birthday. It was to die for! I used the buttercream recipe attached and he loved it. I’ve since had to make it a bunch more times as anyone who has attended a Birthday party where I made this has requested this cake for their own birthday. Once again I am making this today for my Father-in-law’s birthday and I just had to write about what perfection this is. It’s EASY and fast to make. This is one of the few recipes I don’t tweak. It simply does not need it and is perfect every time. Thank you for this recipe!

    • I’m so glad you and your family love this cake, Michelle! It is definitely a family favorite here, too! Happy belated birthday to your father-in-law! xo

  35. Robyn, can I make your exact recipe, but bake batter in 3/8in cake pans, instead of 2/9″? If so, will I need extra butter cream frosting. Thank you very much, Lynn

    • Hi Lynn,
      Yes, you can divide the batter into 8-inch pans. The layers will be a bit thinner when baked since you are dividing the batter into 3 pans rather than 2. I think you should be fine with the buttercream frosting. Again, it won’t be as thick divided among the 3 layers, but should work just fine.

      • Robyn, Lynn again. Thank you for your quick response, and I would like to ask one more question about baking this cake in 3 layers. Do you have an opinion about whether the moistness of this particular cake might not hold up well under the weight of 3 layers? I recently baked a Red Velvet and divided into 3 cakes pans, and I thought maybe it was a little top heavy with the icing. Thanks, again. Lynn

  36. I have made this cake for my children’s last 3 birthdays (2 kids- 6 birthday parties). In the oven right now for one coming up. I make this and the white cake so everyone gets the kind of cake they want. This cake is so good my inlaws are now asking for it for their birthdays. These cakes are so moist that I can make 1-2 weeks prior to the event, freeze and then take out the day before to frost. Still taste amazing and moist. That is hard to do with a chocolate cake but this recipe makes it easy!
    For those who cannot find expresso powder, I experimented and added about 2 1/2 teaspoons of instant coffee to the boiling water. Just plain Maxwell house original roast and it still seemed to increase the chocolate flavor.
    The last few times, I used cocoa powder we picked up the last two times we went to the Dominican. Really, really good.
    Thanks for the recipes!

  37. Is the espresso necessary? Thinking about baking this for my mom but she hates coffee. Could I leave this part out?

  38. I made this cake for New Years. One of my cake pans completely bubbled up and over and made a huge mess in my oven. I thought it was ruined. I went ahead and made the frosting and did the best I could. OMG…it was sooooooooooooooo GOOD!!! Thank you!!

  39. Hello, Is it okay if I dont use a mixer to mix the batter and just use a whisk instead. And abt substituting oil with butter, do I have to melt the butter first? & would the amount needed be the same with oil

    • Hi Dania,
      Yes, you can definitely mix this cake batter by hand! Yes, you can use the same amount of butter as oil. I hope you enjoy it!

  40. Hello,

    Is it possible to use chocolate chips instead of cocoa powder?

    Thank you!

  41. Two questions: Can this cake hold fondant? Can this cake be made ahead of time, frozen, and then thawed the day of event?

  42. Do you know how many cups of batter this recipe is? I’m trying to convert it to an 11×15 Pan 🙂

  43. Hi Robyn. I just love this cake, so moist and rich! By far the best cake! Just have a question maybe you can help, every time I make it, it rises a lot, which is good, but it rises trim the centre and cracks and the top and inside the crack world be shiny and crunchy. Tried cupcakes and the same happened. What am I doing wrong please?

  44. Hello Robyn,
    Can It be made in two 8inch pans?

  45. I am always weary of articles/recipes titled “The best…”. However, this is actually the best chocolate cake recipe I have ever found (and best chocolate cake I have ever tasted). This is simply a post of gratitude!

  46. This cake is delicious! Everyone loves it! I hae made it several times but everytime it sinks a little in the middle! Nothing to drastic. I always fix it with some leftovers from leveling it and frosting but still would like to know what I might be doing wrong. ????

  47. Just came accross this recipe yesterday, and immediately tried it. I want to thank you for sharing the recipe. It is delicious. The cake is moist. My kids love it. Although i need to work on my frosting ???? overall thumbs up for posting the exact ingredients. This will now be my go to chocolate cake ???????????? ❤❤

  48. How many cups of batter does this recipe produce 

  49. Fantastic!  I’ve been making your cake for a couple years now and it’s always “the best chocolate cake” my friends ever had.

    Question:  My wife loves brownies and I wonder if it’s possible to adapt this recipe for a fudgey brownie?

    • Hi Nick,
      I’m so glad you all love this chocolate cake as much as we do! I’ve not adapted it into a brownie recipe, but that is an excellent idea! xo

  50. This cake is looking super delicious but my oven isn’t working so please can you advice me how can i make this cake in cooker??? Plz help!

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