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.

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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




15,783 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I have made this cake several times and it always is delicious. However, I have noticed that this cake sinks in the center when cooling more than other cakes I’ve baked. I have tried different size pans, lower oven temperature, mixing more, mixing less, but it always sinks. I am usually able to hide it with a little extra buttercream, but just wondering if you have any other suggestions.

    1. Jessica, I’m sorry you have had problems with the cake sinking in the middle. The other reasons your cake is sinking in the middle such as living in a higher altitude; I live at 1000 feet. Also, if ingredients were not at room temperature, it could cause the cake to sink. Taking the cake out of the oven before it has completely baked is another reason or opening the oven door before the cake has finished baking. Have you checked to make sure your oven is heating to the correct temperature? Maybe one of these will help.

    2. I’m not sure what I did wrong ? I let the eggs set a room temperature I boiled the water But the middle of the cake did not rise ? I used a 9×13 ? Should I have let the milk get to room temperature as well ?

    3. Allie, there could be several reasons your cake did not rise. All ingredients should be at room temperature, not just the eggs. Other reasons could be that the cake was not done or that you opened the oven door before the cake was done. If you live in a high altitude area, you need to make adjustments to the recipe based upon your altitude. The batter could be over mixed or under mixed. Your oven could not be heating at the correct temperature. I hope this helps.

  2. Thank you for the wonderful recipe. Just wondering what cocoa you recommend for this recipe? Dutched or natural?

    1. Sherrie, you can use either one. I prefer natural unsweetened cocoa powder, though. I hope you enjoy the cake.

  3. This recipe looks great! Could you substitute the espresso powder and use a cup of strong coffee in place of the boiling water? Thanks

    1. Sherrie, 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.

  4. I need to make a 3 layer wedding cake, and I tried a few from other people but I didn’t like them
    I was wondering how well do this cake stack making a 10″ 8″ and 6″ ?

    1. Norma, many people have used this cake recipe for wedding cakes. They have said this cake did well with those size stacked layers. I always recommend doing a trial run with the recipe as you would want the cake to be before the actual date to make sure it is exactly as you want.

  5. 5 stars
    I absolutely love this cake but I am in need of some advice please.
    I have been asked to make a 3 teir wedding cake with chocolate being the bottom flavour. chocolate cake size being 12 inch cake with 3 layers aiming for a total height of 5 inches or higher with frosting. do you think if I do the mixture x3 that will give me enough cake ? do you think that will be too much ? also any recommendation on how long to cook this for ? thanks in advance

    1. Rebecca, you will need to make one full recipe of this chocolate cake for one 12×2-inch round cake layer. I would bake at 350ºF for 35-40 minutes.

  6. I loved the cake recipe! It was so moist and delicious! The only problem I had was the espresso aftertaste and a bit of taste when I was eating it. Is there anyway to avoid that? Is the espresso necessary?

    1. Tanisha, you can omit the espresso powder without any other changes to the recipe. Can you tell me the kind of espresso you used? I have only had an aftertaste when I have used instant coffee and a cup of brewed espresso but never with the espresso powder.

  7. I’ll be making this cake for a party and am going to try GF flour. But I want a good cake and the reviews are so good I’m nervous as nothing turns out with the GF flour!!!! Any specific recommendations?

    1. Daphne, I have made it with a cup for cup gluten free baking flour replacement like Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour.  I hope everyone enjoys the cake.

  8. Hi Robyn, I am planning to bake this cake tomorrow. I have a question…can I use 1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup granulated sugar? I have another recipe that is similar but uses 2 cups brown sugar. It is delicious and very moist. The problem is it always falls while cooling. Was wondering if the 2 cups of brown sugar could be the problem? You seem to be an expert on this and I’m a good baker generally, but this has me stumped. Just wondering about the sugar. Your thoughts are greatly appreciated…🙂

    1. I’m sorry, Barbara, but I haven’t made this recipe with brown sugar so I can’t tell you how the cake would turn out.