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!

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

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

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.

I’m not going to kid you, this makes a very rich, moist, and absolutely luxurious 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 few crumbs left on plates gave that away.

One of the ingredients that really made this chocolate 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! If you

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

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!

It just needs to happen.


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

And here it is. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

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 Cup 4 Cup 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.

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!

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!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Servings: 12
Author: Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch


  • 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
  • 1 cup milk buttermilk, almond, or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable canola oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe


  • 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.


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. The next day, the layers are ready to fill and frost.
Tried this recipe?Share a photo on Instagram and tag me with @addapinch and #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 of my chocolate cake recipe! 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! 🙂

Robyn xo


The Best Chocolate Cake recipe with decadent Chocolate Frosting that will quickly become your favorite! //

This post contains affiliate links.

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

7,902 comments on “The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe {Ever}”

  1. Made this for fathers day! Turned out great! Very moist. It baked very evenly too so instead of having to cut the top off, I just flipped it over before I frosted it. It tasted delicious too!

  2. I love this recipe!! I want to make it again but I don’t have buttermilk. Will regular milk make it less fabulous? 🙂

  3. Have you changed this recipe at all in the last year or so? I made it a few times within the last couple of years and it was INCREDIBLE!!! Seriously the best cake I’ve had and everyone I made it for loved it! But…..I’ve made it 4 different times since Christmas and every single time I make it now the middle sinks. It never puffs up and then sinks agree I take it out of the oven, it never rises in the middle during baking. I just bought new baking powder and baking soda, thinking that was the problem and tried again tonight and had the same problem. Help!! Do you know what would be causing this and how I can adjust?? I need this cake in my life, it’s so good!

    • Hi Colette,
      I’ve not changed the recipe at all and I’m sorry to hear that your cake is not rising in the center. I can’t be certain what is causing it, but a few ideas may be to check that the temperature on your oven is correct – sometimes they need to be recalibrated as they don’t cook at the correct temperature. I’m also wondering if you have changed any way you make the recipe (such as how you mix it, pans you use, etc)
      I hope some of this helps! Thanks so much!

    • Mine did this too, and I followed the recipe exactly. 🙁

  4. I loved the recipe. The cake turned out perfect. Will definitely share this with friends. Love from Pakistan..❤❤❤

  5. Do you use vegetable or canola oil? 

  6. My kids have been watching cupcake wars a ton lately, so I thought it would be nice to make this recipe with them (along with the chocolate buttercream icing).  

    I was surprised at how good the cake and icing was.  Best cake we have had in a long time.  Huge hit and they were very proud. 

    We made 24 cupcakes and had enough batter to make 6-12 more… same with the icing.  I think I’ll make a 2/3 batch next time to avoid the waste, but we will definitely make the recipe again.  

  7. Hi there, I made this once before and it was wonderful.

    Coming back to it again and wondering how many cups of batter this makes. I would like to size up to a bigger sheet cake pan. I’m guessing around 12 cups? Any thoughts are much appreciated.

  8. Hi Robyn,

    Can i use instant Nescafe coffee granules instead of espresso powder? Or should I just omit it. Thank you.

    • I’ve never used coffee granules, Doreen. If you don’t have espresso powder, you can omit it. Thanks!

      • Couldn’t you just dissolve the coffee granules in the boiling water?

      • Hi Rebecca,
        I use the espresso powder in the recipe as an ingredient to enhance the richness of the chocolate. It does not taste like coffee.
        There may be others who have commented who have used coffee, but I don’t use it in this recipe.
        You can also omit the espresso powder if you don’t have it on hand and the cake is still delicious!
        I hope you enjoy the cake! If you are having a difficult time finding espresso powder in your grocery store, I order it sometimes from Amazon or Williams Sonoma.

    • I have been using Nescafé coffee granules since I first found this recipe. I can tell you this- it tastes great. No one ever noticed. I use about 2 teaspoons. However, I’ve never tried the espresso so I can’t tell you IF or HOW the taste would be different. 

  9. Made the Whole30 version of this and it was a HIT! I used almond flour and a little of cassava flour blend, used dates instead of sugar, cacao powder, coconut milk and coconut oil. For the frosting I used soaked cashews that I blended into a mousse using coconut milk and almond butter and cacao. It turned into a flourless super moist delight that had a ganache finish. Could not have been happier with the results! Even talked about opening a whole30 bakery ….so we could make others happy!

  10. Hi,

    I’m looking at making this but in 5 or 6 inch cake tins. I assume cooking times would differ but would it still be possible to cook them this size without affecting the texture of the cake?


    • Hi Sally,
      I’ve not made the cake in those size tins so I can’t say exactly what your cooking time will be. I’m sure you’ll be using multiple tins if using that size, but just please be sure to not overfill so that it doesn’t run over as the recipe is sized for two 9 inch cake pans. Some that have used 8 inch pans without taking this into account have said theirs ran over. I hope you enjoy the cake – it’s so delicious! thanks! xo

  11. I made this for Father’s Day and this is the best chocolate cake we have ever had and it wasn’t overly sweet and it was super moist. It is  delicious and I paired it with my husbands favorite hyvee whipped frosting so thanks for this great recipe def will make it many more times!

    • I’m so glad this was a hit for Father’s Day and that you enjoyed it! It’s one of our favorite cakes as well! Thanks so much for letting me know you liked it Danya! I’m happy to have you here! xo

  12. I love a splash of pecans or walnuts in my chocolate cake. Did you try it with nuts?? Or is it so good nuts would take away for the flavor?? Just wondering! Thanks so much for the recipe!

    • Hi Lisa!
      I’ve not made this cake with nuts in the cake batter. I’d suggest baking the cake as written at least the first time baking it since I can’t tell you how the cake turns out with nuts.
      If you make the recipe as written and include the espresso powder (which enhances the richness of the chocolate), this is such a rich, delicious chocolate cake – actually is the Best Chocolate Cake that I’ve ever had! 😉
      If you wanted to use some nuts, maybe roast the pecans and add a few chopped pecans to the top of the cake after it’s frosted.
      I can’t wait until you try the cake! I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I do! xo

  13. Hi, do you have the uk version of this recipe using grams/ounces/mls?
    Also is the sugar, caster or granulated?


  14. Made the cake and everyone loves it. I definitely will use this for special occasions.

  15. Hey I really want to make this cake but I only have one cake tin, can I use half mix and bake while the other half sits out of oven until 1st cake had been cooked and cooled?

  16. I’ve made this cake several times, and it always get rave reviews. It’s moist and chocolate-y, and my sons absolutely love it.

  17. Made this cake and buttercream for my daughter’s birthday. For the cake i used only 1 cup of sugar instead of 2 cups. For the buttercream i didnt measure the icing sugar used, i just keep adding until i found it sweet enough. Around 2.5 cups icing sugar i think. It was a blast!!! The kids loved it. first time i saw all kids finished a birthday cake and their plate were empty!!

  18. This cake turned out very flavorful and moist! A recipe with keeping thank you!! You’re right, it’s flexible to substitutions too. I used true organic Italian wheat flour (isn’t the same as US wheat and said to be the only “safe” wheat to consume even for some gluten free dieters) cacao powder in place of cocoa powder. I also used 1/2 cup organic brewed coffee and 1/2 cup cashew milk (in place of 1 c milk and espresso powder bc that’s what I had on hand). Oh and duck eggs. I was tempted to try and replace sugar with coconut sugar r lower glycemic index but decided not to risk it since it was my son’s birthday and he hasn’t had organic sugar in months anyway. Made as a single cake in a bundt cake pan and topped with a chocolate ganache. Really delicious!

  19. Best!!!! I left out the Expresso and still turned out great. I used evaporated cane juice and still turned out great! I’m thinking of entering this cake at the fair, it’s that good.

  20. This is by far the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made. I have used it for years for all different types of celebration cakes, it is always delicious & gets so many remarks on how good it is. 

    We have recently changed to a gluten-free & vegan diet, just wondering if you have tried the cake with all substitutes – gf flour, almond milk & egg substitute? I have my daughters 1st birthday & I’m hoping to make this, but worried it may not be quite as good with so many substitutes! 

  21. I always come back to this chocolate cake recipe. I discovered it 4 or 5 years ago and it always turns out fantastic. If you fantasize about a decedent chocolate cake this baby is worth the effort.

  22. This scrumptious cake deserves 5 on 5 star-rating. This is really the best chocolate cake and looks mouthwatering.

  23. I’ve made this cake before and absolutely love it, but was wondering if there’s any way I can make a white chocolate version, or if you have a good white chocolate cake recipe? I want to do a white choc cake with raspberry filling and your white chocolate frosting on top!

  24. I love making this Chocolate cake its always a hit! 🙂

    I was thinking of trying to make it into a chocolate peanut butter cake. Would it be best just to leave the Peanut butter part in the icing?

  25. I’m planning to try this recipe for my son’s birthday. Looks yummy! We’re in the U.K. and use a fan assisted oven. Can you tell me if the temperature stated is for a fan assisted or conventional oven? 

  26. Hi, I am planning to make a chocolate cake Macqueen cake for my son’s birthday. Heard so many good reviews about your cake and want to try it for his birthday cake. Was wondering if this cake is good for sculpting a 3D cake 

    • Hi Dheema,
      That cake sounds so special and fun! I’ve not baked a sculptural cake with this recipe, so I can’t say for sure how it will work. I will say that this is a very moist cake. Since this is a special event and a different shape than the recipe, I’d like to suggest that you give it a test run to see what you think.
      Best wishes to the birthday boy! Enjoy the cake! xo

  27. Would this cake be suitable for a child’s birthday cake with coloured butter cream frosting instead?

    • Hi Jennifer,
      I think it would – many bake it for children’s birthdays. If you are concerned about the espresso powder, you can leave it out and the cake will still be delicious! I hope you enjoy it! xo

  28. I make this cake for my wife’s Birthday. It is awesome. I am not good at decorating cakes, and the writing did not look the best. But, the frosting and cake were the best we ever had. Thank you
    I was wondering if you could recommend a good kit with decorating tips and bags for writing with frosting. Thanks

    • I’m so glad you all enjoyed the cake! How sweet of you to make it for her birthday!
      As far as decorating kits, I have several different kinds now, but I started with a little kit from Wilton. Thanks so much, Jeff! 🙂

  29. My son refuses to share each time i make it. Absolutely yummy!!!!

  30. Hi,
    I know this is an older post and I am hoping you can help. I am wanting to make this for my son’s birthday but am making a 12″ round cake..would it work to use it for one 12″ round instead of (2) 9″ rounds?
    Thank you for sharing all your amazing recipes!

    • Hi Abby!
      I’ve not baked this in a 12 inch pan, but I do believe that the batter made will be too much for one 12 inch pan. Just be careful to not overfill so that it doesn’t spill over in the oven when baking. You can always bake cupcakes with the extra batter. Happy birthday to your son! xo

      • Thank you so much! I appreciate your help 🙂

      • Hi! I just wanted to give you an update. I tried the recipe as is and poured it into my 12″ round cake pan (I used the Fat Daddio 3″ deep round cake pan) and it baked beautifully! I checked it at 20 minutes but it wasn’t set..gave it another 10 min and it was perfect. So your cooking time was spot on even for my cake pan. Thank you SO much! I can’t wait to eat this!

  31. God bless you again for this recipe. It’s won my heart. My best meal ever. Love from Africa.x

  32. So far, amazing! It’s cooling now, but I snuck a crumb and oh my, mama! The frosting I already know will be tops. My cake domed quite a bit, so I think my oven might be uneven (what a way to find out), but I’ll cut it and it should be fine. 
    Just to share, I had raw cacao, wasn’t sure enough so bought Hershey Special cacao and it had no smell of cacao and barely taste. That’s our processed world today! Go raw when you can.

    Thanks for my go-to cake recipe!

  33. Thank you so much! I appreciate your help 🙂

  34. I made this in 2 9″ pans and it completely overflowed the pans,!!!! What did I do wrong??

    • Hi Sandye,
      I’m so sorry that the cakes overflowed the pans! I’ve not had that happen when I’ve used my 9 inch pans, so I can’t be sure why it happened. It has happened to some readers when they’ve used 8 inch pans. Thank you!

  35. I cant find the substitues ingredients for Gluten Free and Egg Free and dairy free?

    Thank You

    • Hi Carla,
      I’ve found the gluten free substitute several places and have a link to it online in my blog post where I tell how to bake the cake with all these other listed modifications. Hope this helps. Thanks!

  36. Made this but adjusted a little and used normal milk, normal oil, no espresso powder and only used 1 1/2 cups sugar and it tasted amazing!! 

  37. Let me preface this by saying I am NOT a seasoned baker so I look to the pros for help all the time. No pressure, but I gave this recipe 4 stars and am counting on you to come through and fix my problem. At that time, I will grant you the full 5 stars that you deserve (wink).

    I made this cake yesterday and it was seriously the most delicious cake ever but alas I had a bit of an issue. I know that my oven is not calibrated to the correct temp so i had to increase to 365 degrees plus i ended up baking for a total of 45 min before the toothpick came out clean so I am thinking it is off more that I thought. After the cake cooled and i began frosting one of the sides literally melted down mudslide-like. I tried “gluing” it together with more frosting but that only created more of a mess. This side was going no matter what i did. On the bright side, I cut the mud slide off and we all ate off it, family style, as an appetizer (lemonade). The bad new was that my Instagram post of the most delicious cake in the world was lopsided and just a little sad.

    Do you think it was all due to the oven temp? Or in my haste to imbibe I didn’t let it set up enough before frosting?

    BTW the chocolate buttercream frosting was to die for but i will have to add a little less milk. Its pretty hot in my parts so our frosting needs to be sturdy…. like me.

    • Hi Michelle,
      It does sound like a problem with your oven temperature. Having it recalibrated should fix the oven issue. And the cake does need to be completely cool before frosting it or the buttercream could slide off. I hope this helps with your question. I am glad you enjoy the cake! Thanks! xo

  38. Beautiful mud cake recipe. Moist and stunningly dark chocolate colour inside.

  39. Best chocolate cake recipe I’ve had. Never failed me. 

  40. I love this recipe so much. I substitute 1 cup of hot french vanilla coffee for the expresso powder and boiling water and when it’s warm I skim coat it and it works amazing.

  41. outstanding! and very easy to make

  42. this recipe got changed? because i swear the last time i looked it up it used prepared coffee instead of the powder and boiling water…? maybe that was a different recipe… but even so, we can still use 1 cup of prepared coffee instead of the powder+water?

    • The recipe has not been changed, Acwee.
      I have always used espresso powder and boiling water as written in my recipe. There may be comments from readers who have used coffee, but I do not. The espresso powder enhances the richness of the chocolate and does not give a coffee flavor. Please make sure you use the boiling water as well. It is important to the end result of the recipe. Thanks!

  43. IS cake flour ok to use or strictly all purpose flour?

  44. Can you use espresso (like as the liquid)?

  45. I didn’t make it yet but going to this weekend. I was thinking to use melted butter instead of the oil but would like to ask which is more yummy and moist?

  46. Really is the best chocolate cake EVER!!! Anything else is a poor substitute-my go to recipe for all occasions????

  47. Great recipe! It is my new go-to chocolate cake recipe. Super moist, fluffy, and light so it’s not too sweet making almost everyone love it. Also because it comes out so fluffy, you can add a sweeter frosting or toppings. Definitely give it a try!

  48. Hi Robyn

    Your recipe sounds amazing I can’t wait to try it! I have a 12″ round tin which is quite large, is the quantities specified in your recipe enough to make a cake this large, or shall I double up on ingredients?

  49. I (and everyone at my work, friends and family) love this recipe 
    You cannot fail making this cake 

  50. I’ve made this cake and corresponding buttercream frosting multiple times and it is a hit every.single.time. Thanks for creating this recipe! It does NOT disappoint! 

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