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 4753 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.

Welcome to Add A Pinch

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




15,783 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is the best chocolate cake recipe I have ever tried/tasted!! For modifications, I did add only half the sugar and added some maple syrup (just per my preference) and I was worried it would change the results but it still ended up being extremely moist and fluffy! I also added mini chocolate chunks which were delicious 😋 . I would make this recipe 100 times over and will continue to make this for my family and friends. SOOO GOOD 🤤. Thank you for this amazing recipe!

    1. Helen, I haven’t tried this recipe with maple syrup. Thanks for letting us know how well it turned out with that addition. I’m thrilled that you and your family love this cake.

  2. The cake turned out fabulously! One question: during baking, it rise a lot in the middle and little along the edges, forming quite a mound in both pans. What did I do wrong?
    Thank you for a great recipe.

    1. Christiane, usually when a cake domes so much in the center, your oven is too hot and the sides of the cake has baked much faster than the center. To prevent this, use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is heating to the correct temperature. If it is, then reduce the oven temperature about 10-25 degrees and bake a little longer. You could also try heat strips around your cake pans or wrap a wet towel around your pans. If you are using dark metal cake pans, try using lighter colored ones. I hope this helps and your next cake will be perfect.

    2. One thing I do to prevent doming is take paper towel the same width of the circumference of the pan, wet it with cold water, and wrap it in aluminum foil and cover your baking pan with the towel and foil. This will cool the edges as it bakes and you get a flat cake. They also sell baking strips but they don’t work as well in my opinion

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe 10 times, it’s honestly incredible. Always get so much praise at family gatherings. Thank you for the recipe!!!

  4. This is a good recipie, but you need A LOT of oil or butter in the pans for its to not stick. Otherwise, this is great and the best homemade cake I’ve ever made!

    1. Kiara, I’m so glad you love this cake. I haven’t had a problem with this cake sticking. I grease and flour the pans for this cake just the same as any other cake, without a lot of oil or butter. If you cool the cake just 10 minutes after you remove from the oven, then place a wire rack over the top of the cake pan, and flip the pan and wire rack over, remove the cake pan and allow the cake to finish cooling, you shouldn’t have a problem with it sticking, I hope this helps.

  5. 5 stars
    Hadn’t baked a cake from scratch in years, but this got such raves I decided to try it. Everything looked great until I added the boiling water. The batter looked like hot chocolate as I poured it into the baking pan, much thinner than any cake batter I could recall. But it smelled like cake, it looked like cake, it tested done when it was supposed to, and came out dense and moist and chocolatey. I didn’t have espresso powder so I used a little brewed coffee in the batter instead of some of the water, and used all coffee instead of the milk in the frosting. Got raves from everyone and my husband wants me to bake another one soon.

    1. Cheryl, the thin batter does surprise you, doesn’t it? I’m so glad everyone loved it.

  6. 5 stars
    Have you tested in a bunch bundt pan? What adjustments need to be made? I’ve never made this cake. My dear friend Angie made for my birthday! delicious 😋. This will be my first time making this cake…I love my bundt pans!

    1. Cheryl, this chocolate cake recipe is delicious baked in a Bundt pan. Just follow the same recipe ingredients and instructions in this recipe. The cake will take longer to bake, about 35 to 40 minutes. The oven temperature will be the same. Enjoy!

  7. Do you add the boiling water slowly? How does it not cook the egg? I’m sorry, I’ve just never seen this before and I want to make this today!

    1. Jen, the boiling water will not cook the egg. The egg should be mixed in with the other batter ingredients thoroughly before you add the boiling water. Add the boiling water slowly so it doesn’t splash. I hope you enjoy the cake.

    2. My grandmother’s chocolate cake recipe calls for boiling water added all at once at the end and mixed in just prior to putting in the pan(s) and baking. It’s a method that has been used for 100 years. Since the eggs are already blended up, it probably does cook them a little but not enough a) for there to be visible egg or b) for it to affect the rising. It’s the best cake ever.

  8. One last question – use dutch processed cocoa powder since recipe uses both baking soda and baking powder?
    Thank you!

    1. Dana, you can use Dutch processed cocoa in this cake and frosting. I hope you enjoy the cake.

  9. This recipe is perfect and I always receive compliments on the flavour!! If I want to make two 6″ cake layers, how much batter would I reserve? I failed to look at how much room there was in the 9″ pan when I made it last.