The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe – A one bowl chocolate cake recipe that is quick, easy, and delicious! Updated with gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free options!

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

The best chocolate cake recipe. Ever? There are plenty of claims for the best chocolate cake recipe. I get that. But with one bite of this decadent, moist chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, every single person around the table commented that this was the best chocolate cake they’d ever tasted.

So as for my house, this chocolate cake recipe now holds that honor.

As the compliments continued, I didn’t begin to tell them how easy it was to make.

In all honesty, it is probably one of the easiest cakes I’ve made in a long time, really, but I just smiled and thanked them.

As we continued on gobbling up the cake, drinking our coffee or iced cold milk, the compliments just kept coming.

Then the requests for the recipe started.

That’s generally when you know that folks really like what you’ve made if they ask for the recipe and tell you for what event they plan to serve it.

As a cook, that really is one of the highest compliments you can receive – well, at least in my book.

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever

It was great to hear that they thought the cake was just as good after their last bite as they thought it was with their first.

Here’s another great thing about this recipe. The cake batter really can be made in a bowl without the use of a heavy duty mixer. Of course, that just makes things easier, but this is easily a recipe my Grandmother would have enjoyed making in her tiny kitchen with a whisk and a bowl. And I’m sure it would have turned out perfectly, too.

Slice of cake on a stack of white dessert plates

I’m not going to kid you, this makes a very rich, moist chocolate cake recipe. So if you are a faint of heart chocolate cake person, this is not the cake for you.

Based on the Old Fashioned Hershey’s recipe, I sort of went a bit heavy-handed with some changes testing cake after cake until I got it just the way I wanted it, but the end result was oh so worth it.

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

The few crumbs left on plates gave that away.

One of the ingredients that really made this cake recipe come to life, in my opinion, was the addition of espresso powder in both the chocolate cake and in the chocolate frosting.

If you’ve not tried a bit of espresso when baking with chocolate, you really should.

The espresso works to elevate the flavors in much the same way as vanilla extract and I now think of it as an essential part of my spice cabinet.

Espresso powder is easy to find at the grocery store or even online if your grocer doesn’t stock it normally, but I use it fairly frequently and it can become a little pricey. I’ve started making my own homemade espresso powder and since I have I’m not looking back! It is so easy to make and have on hand!

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

Photograph of a cake with swirled buttercream frosting on white cake plate.

So my friends, if you have a chocolate cake lover in your midst, make them this cake. If they’ve had a bad day this is certainly something that will brighten it for them. If they’ve had a great day, then this chocolate cake is a great way to celebrate with them!

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

How to Make Ahead and Store the Homemade Chocolate Cake:

Both the cake and the chocolate frosting can be made ahead. Allow the cakes to cool completely, wrap them well in plastic wrap and place each layer into a gallon zip top freezer bag. Freeze the cake layers for up to one month.

To frost the cake, simply remove from the freezer and allow to thaw in the refrigerator with wrapping intact. Then, frost the cake once it has completely thawed.

Store the cake at room temperature on the counter. I like to store under a cake dome to keep the cake fresh.

Chocolate Cake Modifications You May Be Interested to Know About:

Note that I have updated the recipe to include some additional ingredients that I have tested through the years. I have found that this chocolate cake is even more versatile than I originally imagined! I’ve listed some of the modifications I’ve tested that I think may be of interest to you.

As a Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe:

To make the cake as a gluten-free chocolate cake recipe, I’ve successfully used an equal amount of gluten-free flour in place of the all-purpose flour listed in the recipe.

As a Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe:

To make the cake a dairy-free chocolate cake recipe, I’ve used almond milk as well as coconut milk in place of the dairy. While not dairy-free, I’ve also used buttermilk in place of the milk with great results.

As an Egg-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe:

To make the cake an egg-free chocolate cake recipe, I’ve used 2/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of the 2 large eggs in the recipe. You will note that you may have to bake the cake just a few minutes more. Be sure to check with the skewer for doneness.

I’ve also used Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer with great success.

To Use Butter and Other Oils:

I’ve additionally tested the chocolate cake recipe with additional oils, as well as butter. I’ve tested using an equal amount of melted coconut oil to the vegetable oil called for in the recipe. I’ve also tested using the same volume of melted butter in place of the oils in the chocolate cake. While it does make the cake texture slightly different, it is still mighty delicious and worth trying if you’d prefer to use butter in place of oils in your chocolate cake.

Whew! See what I mean! This is the chocolate cake of everyone’s dreams, I think!

Best Chocolate Cake Ever // addapinch.com

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe {Ever}

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe – A one bowl chocolate cake recipe that is quick, easy, and delicious! Updated with gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free options!
4.98 from 2757 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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9597 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. I made this cake and it turned out to each layer being only one inch. Perhaps because I’m not an experienced baker it could have been my fault because I know once the baking powder is activated with the wet ingredients you don’t have much time to get it into the oven. The wet and dry ingredients sat together while the water reboiled. It did smell amazing while it was baking. Just don’t make the mistake I made. Be sure to have the water boiled and ready to go.

  2. Best chocolate cake I’ve ever made. Quick, simple and deep chocolate flavor. I did find that adding parchment paper to the bottom of the cake pans solves the sticking problem for this moist cake.

  3. My first time make a “from scratch” cake. Wow. No more mixes in this house. I skipped the espresso powder for the cake and frosting (not a coffee fan). I was also out of buttermilk, so I added a tablespoon for white vinegar for acidity. Thank you for this easy to follow and excellent recipe!! Definitely the best chocolate cake ever!

  4. I have made this recipe multiple times. And it is by far the BEST chocolate cake recipe I have EVER made! 

  5. Lovely ‘professionally’ tasting chocolate cake. I didn’t have any expresso powder, thus used a small amount of fresh ‘coffee shot’, done on my coffee machine from freshly grounded coffee beans (for both cake sponge and corresponding icing!) Usually, in most of my ‘sweets’ cooking, I use unsalted butter, but note your comments to one subscriber about using salted butter in icing. I did this, albeit a bit reluctantly, but was so glad in the end I did, feeling it gave my completed cake, a complexity not typical in my previous attempts at choc cake cooking. One of my daughters, a fussy eater at best of times, commented it was as if the cake were purchased from a professional cake maker’s shop/or cafe, the sponge also being incredibly light and moist in texture. I am from Australia and I must also humorously admit, when I first read recipe for icing, it said, ‘3 sticks of butter’ – which I equated it to an Aust. stick (250g), which would have meant 750gram in total. Thank goodness I questioned things a bit, doing a search on internet to find that in US, one stick of butter there, equates to 113gram, thus overall, 340 gram (yes, big difference!). Thank you anyway for sharing this fantastic recipe for a chocolate cake. The family love it as well, kids taking some to school today.

  6. it is the easiest and the best chocolate cake I ever made as a sheet cake. I am about to try it as a 9 by 13 cake. I used Italian buttercream on the sheet cake but I’m going to use 7 Minute frosting on the 9×13.
    Thank you for the recipe.

  7. I have to say, this recipe makes the most delicious chocolate cake I’ve ever
    eaten. This is my go to recipe and is loved by everyone in my family. I top this off with a chocolate ganache. Thanks for the perfect recipe! 

  8. I’ve made this cake and it turns perfect! Thank you for the perfect recipe! The next time i would like to make it egg-free as my sister hs an egg allergy. I just wonder if i replace the egg with applesause, will the taste and texture be the same? 

  9. Absolutely fantastic recipe. One batch of this had enough batter to make 8 or so mini bundt cakes. Instead of the chocolate frosting (which I’m sure is delicious!), I topped the mini cakes with some homemade Bailey’s whipped cream (whip the cream until it’s barely set, then stir in a few shots of Bailey’s, and finishing fluffing it all until the desired consistency). It was a hit the day of, and was just as tasty the next day!

  10. I LOVE this recipe and want to use it again, as I am baking for a 60th Birthday and want to do a play on the trendy number cakes – but don’t want to use the cookie bases that most people are using.

    I noticed when I first used it and cut the layers – they were incredibly moist….but very unstable and broke a little. I may have used a cake tin that was too small….making for a very tall cake.

    I am not going to use number tins – 36cm each in length and 8.5 cm deep – do I need to halve the recipe, of just not fill them as much – as I will need to cut them in half or even in three to make the tiers. Or can you suggest any other way to have a slightly firmer and still moist cake?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Karen,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake! It is an incredibly moist cake. I’ve never cut this cake into layers or made tiers with it so I can’t say for certain how it will work when doing so. There may be others who have left comments here that have baked it for using in a tiered cake. Thanks so much!

  11. I made this cake and used whole milk since I didn’t have buttermilk. I like the recipe. Very moist cake. I will use it from now on. Also, exactly what does buttermilk do?? Thanks

  12. Robyn – this is an incredible cake recipe!!!

    However, I thought 30-35 minutes for baking time dries it. So pending your oven, I would caution people to check it at 25 minutes. 

    As for the delicious icing, it’s incredible but I reduced the icing ingredients by half as it was way more than was needed. 

  13. Hi I am going to make this cake tomorrow wanted to ask first. Can you make it as one cake and not two separate ones. I don’t have two cake tins and no time to buy one.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Kim –
      Yes, just prepare your cake pan and use half the batter (note that I use two 9 inch cake pans for this recipe). After following the instructions for baking and cooling the first one, prepare the cake pan again and use the second half of the cake batter. Hope you enjoy it! Thanks!

  14. When I first made this cake using the react ingredients and time for cooking, it rose high above the pans and it turned out to be dry and kind of hard around the edges. So I am fixing to make another one and I was wondering about some tips on this situation and also I was wondering about using a chocolate simple syrup to brush on it to make it a little bit more moist. Can you give me a recipe for a chocolate simple syrup.

    1. Hi Marilynn,
      I’m so sorry yours was dry when you made it. I’ve not had that problem and not sure what caused it. A couple of things that could have happened -if smaller pans used than the 9 inch called for in my recipe and cake had to cook longer to get done in the middle, I could see where it might get more done on the edges. I’ve also known of ovens getting more hot than they show and overcooking. Sometimes ovens have to be recalibrated from time to time to make sure they are cooking at the correct temp.
      It shouldn’t need a simple syrup brushed on it to be moist as it’s one of the most moist cakes I’ve ever had.
      None of these possible causes may apply, but maybe they will help. Hope you enjoy it if you give it another try! Thanks so much!

  15. This is the most amazing chocolate cake ever! I made it for my mom on her birthday, and she went nuts about it! She even finds excuses to have me make it, and I enjoy this recipe so much!

    1. I love hearing this, Kayla! Hope your mom had a wonderful birthday – so cute that she finds excuses for chocolate cake!!!
      Thanks so much for sharing this with me! Glad to have you here! xo

  16. Hi, 
    How can I modify the recipy for high altitudes?
    I live  in Mexico City, with an altitude above 2,000 meters from sea level. 
    Can you please help me?! 
    Thank’s

  17. I tried it once and it came out really nice. But after the first, the subsequent ones were not like it. Anyway, I will give it another try, with the hope that it will come out nice.

  18. Oh my goodness…this is indeed the best chocolate cake EVER!!! I followed the recipe exactly, and frosted it with your strawberry buttercream. My husband and daughter raved over the results, and both said this will be the cake they request for their birthdays! Any frosting would be wonderful on this cake, the layers are perfectly moist and delicious…thank you!!!

  19. I made this cake for my mom’s birthday last year and haven’t even looked at a different recipe since. She especially loves them as mini cupcakes. She says it makes them guilt free!

  20. This is the best chocolate cake recipe I have come across. We use it for all of our birthdays. I never have espresso powder so I just brew a fresh pot of coffee and measure out a cup and that takes the place of the booking water and espresso powder 🙂

  21. Hi Robyn , I’m thinking of making this cake as a middle tier of a wedding cake, I live in the uk and we use trams or pound and ounces is there a conversation recipe and has online tried it

  22. Hi!
    thanks for the recipe. i would like to try it but first i would like to know if it stacks well and can be used with fondant or if it’s too soft for that.
    Lea

  23. Could I use cake and pastry flour and skip the salt and baking powder?  I’m planning to try this out this weekend and don’t want to mess up my sons bday cake!  Thanks!

    1. Hi Leanne,
      I hope your son has a fantastic birthday!
      For the cake, you won’t be able to skip the salt and baking powder. Please make sure you include all the ingredients in the recipe and follow the instructions for the best results – but you can use cake flour if you wish. Hope you all enjoy the cake! Thanks! xo

  24. I made this for my friends getting together.First off they were shocked l made it from scratch.( they thought that was not done any more) .I will never make a box cake again.Now l am the one that in charge of desserts for the get together.Thank you so much for all you recipes. Your my ’go to girl’

    1. Aww, that’s so great to hear, Anne! I’m so happy you impressed your friends with the cake! I’m glad you enjoy the recipes!!! It’s wonderful to have you here! Thanks! xo

  25. I loved this chocolate cake, I did however half the frosting as I figure it would be too much and I was right. I inserted Double cream into the middle of the cake which I think made it even more amazing! Great recipe 

  26. I’ve made this recipe twice now. The first time was perfect (~5000 ft elevation). Moist, delicious, light, and went great with a glass of milk. The second time I had the cake(s) in the oven for about 10 minutes before I realized I didn’t add the milk to the batter! It was too late to fix, so I just let it ride. Turns out when you leave the milk out it makes for a more dense, darker chocolate flavor which my wife enjoyed more then the original. It turned out delicious even with the mistake! Highly recommend this recipe!

    1. Wonderful to hear that you both enjoyed it! Don’t you just love it when a simple “goof” turns out delicious?! I appreciate your recommendation and your kind comment! Glad to have you here! Thanks!

  27. Am wondering if the espresso powder is optional? Can I make the cake without it?
    Can’t wait to get started on baking! 

  28. Made this chocolate cake for a get together  dinner and people went crazy over it. Friends who didn’t usually like chocolate (i know weirdos) told me they actually enjoyed it. Some contacted weeks later asking me to bake this cake for their birthday. So far, it’s been the best chocolate cake I’ve made and I’ll be making it again this weekend for another friend’s birthday. Yum❣️ And thanks for sharing your recipe. 

  29. Truly a winner! I love to bake and am always on the look out for recipes that fit my taste. The instant espresso is a game changer in my opinion. I used more than the recommended amount in both the cake and the frosting; DELISH!! Thank you 🙂

  30. Love this cake.  I’ve made many and this is now my only chocolate cake recipe.  It always turns out great.  What I wish for is a yellow cake that is just as wonderful, just as easy.  How can we make that happen?   This month I’ve made 4 Victoria Sponges and they’ve all left something to be desired- not the least being, once I thought I got it right, that they are sponge cakes!  No- I want it to be more like this- moist and full of favor.  
    Next week I’m back to this cake, with earl grey butter creme and caramel (as per another blog), for my son’s birthday.   I love this with a swiss style buttercreme in either vanilla or chocolate.

    1. Hi Andi!
      I’m happy to hear you enjoy my Best Chocolate Cake! I’ve created it’s “sister cake”, my Best Vanilla Cake . It’s moist and delicious – and so simple to make – just like my Chocolate Cake.
      Hope your son has a wonderful birthday!
      Thanks so much! xo

  31. I can’t make chocolate cake to save my life, but yesterday I searched google and found this one.
    I made it as one cake in a 10″ tin and it came out, the moistest, beautiful chocolate cake ever, I chocolate buttercreamed the middle and made a rich chocolate ganache for the top.
    No body is going to believe I made it. Fantastic recipe.

  32. Hi there, I’m wanting to make a 3 layer cake, can I do that with 8 inch round pans and still have it turn out? 

    1. Hi Emily,
      I always use 9 inch pans as per my recipe. I believe you would find that if you try to use all of the batter in 8 inch pans that the pans are overfilled, as the recipe is written for 2 – 9 inch pans. If you want a third layer, you will want to make another recipe batch to have enough. You can always make cupcakes with the extra or make and freeze a 4th layer if you wish. Hope you enjoy it! Thanks! xo

  33. Delicious! It’s the closest to what I have been looking for. I have tried so many other chocolate cake recipes hoping for the best. This is my favorite so far.
    I had to make 4 pans which were 6 inches in diameter because I have a tiny little oven. (I live in Japan where full size ovens are a luxury.)
    I put about 1 cup of batter in each pan. I baked the first layer at 12 minutes which was too much. It was slightly overcooked. I baked the rest of the layers at 170 celsius for 9 minutes.
    Perfection!
    The batter did look a little watery, but I trusted the recipe as is and it worked. Thank you.

    1. Oh yes, absolutely, Vince. Please don’t skip that step – I know it may seem a bit different, but it is important in this recipe. Thanks so much Vince! Enjoy! 🙂

  34. I made this for the office and it was a BIG hit. It was also my first time making a chocolate cake and frosting. Everyone loved it! Not too sweet, just right. Great recipe. Highly recommend. 

    1. What a great compliment Annabella…your first time making chocolate cake!!! I’m so happy you enjoyed it and that your office mates enjoyed it too! Thanks so much for this kind compliment! xo

  35. I’m sorry your cake didn’t turn out as it should have, Susan. I’ve made this many, many times and never had that issue with this recipe, so I’m not sure what happened. This is not a dense and heavy cake – quite the opposite, so I hope that you enjoy it more if you try it again. Thanks.

  36. I’m feeding about 20 people. Would this work well as a 4 stack cake? Or would it be better to make two separate two stack cakes?

    1. I’ve never tried doing this as a four stack, Aaron, so I can’t say how it will work. I hope you enjoy it and two cakes can be presented beautifully as well! Thanks!

  37. My friends and I baked this cake and we all have zero baking experience and somehow it ended up tasting amazing!! awesome recipe, simple and easy to follow

  38. I make this using applesauce instead of eggs (my son has an egg allergy) and it turned out fantastic! Super rich and moist and tasty!! Thank you for including options without eggs!

    This is my go to Chocolate cake receipe from now on!

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