The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe {Ever}

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5 from 4778 votes
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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 4778 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




15,927 Comments

  1. Gloria says:

    5 stars
    I have never baked a chocolate cake from scratch before. This cake is terrific!!! it was easy and delicious. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Thanks, Gloria. I’m thrilled you had such a successful first time baking a cake from scratch and found this recipe so easy to make.

  2. L says:

    I followed the recipe to the “t,” it and it didn’t rise but just an inch. I’ve never experienced a failed cake. I can’t speak to the taste as it is for someone else. I’m going to make another recipe now just in case. All ingredients are fresh.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      L, I’m sorry your cake didn’t rise as it should. The layers should definitely be more than an inch in height. Some reasons a cake doesn’t rise are over-mixing the batter, especially after adding the flour; all ingredients not at room temperature; type or size of cake pans used; or oven not baking at correct temperature. I hope this helps.

  3. Sue Priest says:

    I will be making this cake tomorrow and freeze it. I have a young lady coming over to bake a chocolate cake on Monday and we will make another cake, and like the magic of tv have it ready to frost while the other one is in the oven. I’m going to make the espresso powder as well. My first time with this recipe. Will let you know the results 😊

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      I hope you enjoy the cake, Sue.

  4. Sharon Price says:

    5 stars
    I have used this recipe MANY times, always with rave reviews. Last week I quadrupled the recipe and used it as the base for a Black Forest Cake to serve over 100 people! I received more compliments on that cake than on anything else in my life!! Thank you so much Robyn for sharing this gem!! Next, I will try your white cake, and I’m sure it won’t disappoint!! At the moment, I have a single recipe baking in the oven … another black forest cake for my husband’s birthday!!

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Thanks, Sharon, for letting me know how much you like this cake. I hope you like the white cake just as much as the chocolate one. Happy Birthday to your husband!

  5. Dana says:

    Planning to try this recipe for Easter dinner. Wondering if you can substitute hot / boiling coffee in place of boiling water?

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Dana, some people have used a cup of brewed coffee instead of the espresso powder and boiling water but I don’t. I didn’t like the flavor of the cake when I tried it. The purpose of the espresso powder is to enhance the chocolate flavor without leaving a coffee flavor. You can always omit the espresso powder. The cake is still delicious without it.

    2. Dana says:

      Thanks, Robyn. I was thinking of using both the espresso powder and coffee instead of water (I like coffee 😊). looking forward to trying this recipe!

  6. Donielle says:

    So GOOD!!!! lll never buy chocolate cake mix again!!

  7. Cait says:

    5 stars
    Truly the most delicious, super moist chocolate cake I’ve ever made. I first tripled this recipe to make a tiered cake for a friend’s 40th and just made it again as part of a dessert bar for a gender reveal and not a single slice was leftover at either occasion! The chocolate buttercream recipe from Add a Pinch is also delicious. I’ve made it with and without the espresso powder and it’s very flavorful both ways. Will be using this recipe for years to come!

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Cait, thanks so much. I’m thrilled that this cake always turns out so well for you, even with tripling the recipe.

  8. Lisa says:

    5 stars
    This really is the best from scratch cake I’ve had.
    The texture of ones I’ve made before just aren’t right but this one is perfect. I leave out the coffee bc just preference and I used hershey’s ‘special dark’ cocoa powder in it, but everything else is the same.
    It’s SO good and so easy with simple ingredients. I’ll seriously never buy a box mix again. This is my go to from now on.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Thanks so much, Lisa. I’m happy that you love this cake!

  9. Carinna says:

    5 stars
    I never leave comments but this cake is worth it haha. If I could give this a 10 star I would!! It was literally the best cake I have ever ever had. Smelt just like a Hershey cake then to top it off it was so unbelievably moist. I was scared when the batter started to thin out (this was before I read the notes) but it cooked perfectly and on time! I didnt have to add any more baking time.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Thanks, Carinna. I’m happy you loved this cake and the recipe worked so well for youl

  10. Michelle says:

    If I never found your recipe, my mother wouldn’t keep bugging me to make it. I feel like this might have been The best and worst mistake i’ve ever made her. The recipe is so good and so perfect that I’ve actually got it memorized.. Thank you for the delicious recipe.But i’m also slightly mad about it. lol

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Michelle, I’m so glad you and your mother are loving this cake so much. Thanks and thank your mother for me!