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? 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.

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

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. The crumbs left on the plate gave that away.

Ingredients

For this chocolate cake, you’ll need the following ingredients.

  • all-purpose flour
  • sugar
  • unsweetened cocoa powder
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • espresso powder – I give more information on the espresso powder below
  • milk – you can also use buttermilk, almond milk, oat milk, or coconut milk
  • oil – you can use vegetable, canola or melted coconut oil
  • eggs – when baking, I like to use room temperature eggs
  • vanilla extract
  • boiling water

Step-by-Step Instructions

Prep. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.

Whisk dry ingredients. 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.

Mix in wet ingredients. 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.

Bake. 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.

Frost. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely. Frost with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

Fork holding a bite of cake with frosting on white dessert plates

Espresso Powder

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 have 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 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!

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe {Ever}

5 from 4324 votes
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!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 24

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (396 g) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (63 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g) baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (9 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (2.8 g) kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon (2.3 g) espresso powder, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 cup (227 g) milk, or buttermilk, almond, or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup (99 g) vegetable oil, or canola oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 2 large (100 g) eggs
  • 2 teaspoons (9.4 g) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (227. g) 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.
  • Frost the cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

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
Nutritional Information: Calculated for the cake only and does not include the frosting.
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 for 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.
High Altitude: If you live at a high altitude, adjust the recipe based on the altitude of your area. 
Metric Conversion: (11/2023) The recipe has been updated to include grams for ingredient measurements. See the ingredient notes below for information on key ingredients. 
Ingredient Notes: 
1. Kosher salt – I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. If you substitute with Morton’s Kosher salt, fine sea salt, or table salt, you will only need half the amount of the salt called for in the recipe. 
2. Milk – The grams in the recipe are for whole milk and buttermilk.
 
 

Nutrition

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

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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. 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 half sheet 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! 🙂

Many of you have asked if there is a way to make a Vanilla Cake Recipe that is just as delicious. Well friends, I’ve tested and tested and tested and now can proudly say – YES! I’ve shared 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

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

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About Robyn

Robyn Stone is a cookbook author, wife, mom, and passionate home cook. Her tested and trusted recipes give readers the confidence to cook recipes the whole family will love. Robyn has been featured on Food Network, People, Southern Living, and more.

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Recipe Review




15,343 Comments

  1. I highly appreciated this recipe. I baked this with lots of coarsely chopped nuts, plus the local Pili nuts we have here in the Philippines, as I love nutty chocolate cakes.

    Very commendable. Thank you so much for posting this recipe.

  2. Hi Robyn, I’m a novice baker who’s super excited to make this for the hubby’s birthday!
    I wanted to step it up a notch by decorating the cake, and I was wondering if you have any recipes for frosting that would go well with this cake? Thank you in advance!

  3. 5 stars
    I saw all the five star reviews I thought I’d give this cake a try. Well, I regret ever making this cake. Now I’m forced to bake this cake all year long. I bake this cake for birthdays, for Father’s Day, for holidays and for family gatherings. This is the cake that everyone requests. Will I ever get to stop making this cake?

    1. Nora, I hope you don’t ever stop making this cake! I’m so happy everyone loves this cake and keeps requesting it. Thanks for letting me know!

  4. Hey.I don’t have an espresso powder and I can’t find it anywhere (and I also can’t make it) can I switch it with coffee powder or should i just make it without it?

    1. Daisy, when I was first testing this recipe and made the cake with instant coffee, I thought it made the cake taste bitter. The purpose of the espresso powder is to enhance the chocolate flavor. You can omit the espresso powder if you can’t find it. The cake is still delicious without it.

    1. Ann, when I was first testing this recipe and made the cake with instant coffee, I thought it made the cake taste bitter. The purpose of the espresso powder is to enhance the chocolate flavor. You can omit the espresso powder if you can’t find it. The cake is still delicious without it.

  5. Hi, I’ve made this cake once before and it was delicious! (After getting the recipe from a friend who baked it for the top tier of our wedding cake!) I’ve now been asked to bake another friend’s wedding cake, with 2 tiers. I was thinking of baking this recipe for the bottom tier, would it hold up (with dowels and a cake board on top for the top tier?). Could you also recommend how to adjust the recipe for it to fit in a 6inch tin if I was to do it for the top tier too? Thanks 🙂

    1. Rebecca, I’ve made this cake as high as a five-tiered with frosting between layers. I just made sure to use dowels and it held up perfectly. I’m not sure what size you are making for the bottom layer but to just make the 6-inch x 2 inch layer for the top tier, I would make 1/4 the recipe. I hope this helps.

  6. 5 stars
    I have used this recipe for years now!! It’s always a hit at friend gatherings or holidays. It’s so rich, especially with the chocolate buttercream! I do have a quick question though; did you recently change the amount of water or am i just misremembering (thats probably the case). I also turned this into cupcakes last year and they were great!! (Though i do forget how long i cooked them and im might make them again soon)
    Thank you so much for this recipe!!

    1. Anya, I’m thrilled that you love this cake recipe. I haven’t changed the ingredients in the recipe. You will still use 1 cup boiling water. You can use this full cake recipe to make 24 cupcakes but follow the baking temp and time for the Best Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe. I hope this helps.

  7. Hi Robyn! Can I use dutch process cocoa powder here? For some reason it’s really hard to find natural cocoa powder! Thank you.

  8. Hi Robyn, I’m super interested in making this seemingly decadent and scrumptious cake for my boyfriend’s birthday this Sunday. Can you maybe provide the metric measurements for the ingredients? Asking because converting from the US Customary on my own has led to some baking failures in the past. Thanks in advance!