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

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 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 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!

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 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 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!

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!
4.97 from 2633 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
  • 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

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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8944 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Hi Belinda,
    Happy birthday to your husband! So sorry that they didn’t come out of the pans easily for you. You’ll definitely want to be certain that the cake pans are well prepared with either nonstick baking spray, like Baker’s Joy, or well buttered and floured so that the cakes easily release. If your house is very warm, you may also want to be sure that the cakes aren’t ‘sweating’ in their pans as they are cooling. You’d want to place them on a wire rack if so. xo

  2. Awesome recipe, it really is moist without being too sweet, I would recommend using whipped cream and a little mint essence in the middle, and some icing on the top. If you don’t have any cream, fresh raspberries in the middle really cut through the sweetness. My go-to chocolate cake recipe!

  3. I’ve lost count of how many times i’ve Made this cake now (in various forms). It’s always perfect, always a crowd pleaser. It’s also one of the easiest cakes to make. 
    I’m making it tonight for my friend’s daughter’s birthday party tomorrow. She ordered it heart shaped and covered with smarties just as it was at my daughter’s birthday in September. I only have 1 heart shaped pan so half the mixture sits on the side for about 40 minutes and it still works wonderfully. Another time I split it and did it in 4 layers…perfect. 
    I don’t change anything in the recipe. I use full fat milk and sunflower oil. As I live in Italy I get the best espresso powder….this is definitely my go to for any celebration. 

  4. I’ve made this recipe several times! It’s always a hit!! I even use a bit more espresso powder because it makes it so much more chocolate-y! Lol! And I also use a straight bundt cake pan! My mother absolutely loves it!! 

  5. Hi
    Can I use milk instead of butter milk and is espresso really needed? I don’t have at the moment. 
    Also planning to make them on two 8inch pans.. will that work? 

    It looks delicious:)
    Nabeela

    1. You can omit the espresso. You can use milk or buttermilk as well, Nabeela.
      The recipe is sized for two 9 inch pans, they stand the chance of running over in the oven if you use all the batter. If you do use the 8 inch pans, just make sure to not fill too full and it may take a few extra minutes to bake. Thanks!

  6. Everyone loved this cake at our Thanksgiving celebration! I followed the recipe and used buttermilk. Thank you for posting this delicious easy to follow recipe!

  7. Fabulous cake. I’ve made as a 9×13 before. I doubled it today since I had to make 24+ cupcakes for a kid party at school and I am probably going to up up with 40+ cupcakes. I think a single batch would make 24 cupcakes easily!!

  8. AMAZING CHOCOLATE CAKE!  This IS the BEST chocolate cake EVER!  Thank you very much for sharing the recipe.  I baked this for my birthday and it was perfect!

  9. Beautiful cake!!!  Very easy to make – apart from my toddler trying to help – I sifted all of the dry ingredients, used coconut cream and canola oil.  I also only had the one bigger cake tin so just cooked it longer, iced with a simple chocolate and cream ganache. Thank you for this gorgeous recipe X

  10. Hello, I have made this cake before and it was delicious! I am planning on making it again. I used instant coffee instead of espresso powder. But I forgot how much I used. Is it okay to use instant coffee instead of espresso powder?

    1. I don’t use instant coffee, Jailin. You can omit the espresso powder if you don’t have it. The espresso powder enhances the richness of the chocolate and the cake doesn’t taste like coffee. I am happy you enjoy the cake! Thanks! xo

  11. First time EVER making a chocolate cake! Decided to whip this up for my son’s 2nd Birthday. Simple, Moist and Delicious! So Glad I found this recipe. Guests loved it as well! I left the coffee out to make it child friendly, and reduced the sugar. Swapped the chocolate frosting for cream cheese cos he loves cheese. Will definitely try the full blown recipe for myself next time 🙂

  12. Hi Robyn,

    I’ve tried many recipes for chocolate cake and this really IS the BEST chocolate cake EVER! I’ve made it so many times and everyone loves it. This is now my go to recipe for all birthdays and special occasions in the family. Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂 My little addition is that I add a bit of actual melted chocolate (70%) to the frosting which gives it an EVEN more decadent (as if that was possible!!!) chocolatey flavour. Oooohh now I feel like baking it again today! 😛

    Best wishes from Pakistan,

    Alia

  13. This truly is the best chocolate cake ever. I baked it the first time, leaving out the buttermilk by accident. The cakes fell. I baked it the second time with buttermilk, and the cakes still sunk a little in the middle. However, the taste of both the cake and the buttercream frosting was incredible. I am not ever going to try another recipe because this cake has exactly the chocolaty rich flavor we want!

  14. This is a really good chocolate cake. I followed directions exactly, and frosted it in the middle with your white frosting, then covered it with mocha icing. Definitely a winner. Thanks!

  15. Well, I guess you could say it was much loved – especially since I made one last week, and now I’m making two more for the weekend!  Ultra moist, Decadent this cake, frosting so good I wish I’d made extra for eating (hmmm, maybe this time,). 

  16. Hi Robyn see in the recipe it says to mix the ingredients well but doesn’t say how long, should I mix for 2 minutes on a low or medium speed? Just don’t want to over mix or under mix. Thanks in advance 🙂

    1. Hi Emma,
      Mix the batter on medium speed. This cake can even be made by mixing by hand without a mixer. Just mix until all ingredients are well combined and batter is smooth. Enjoy it! xo

  17. Tried this recipe last sunday, it makes for a delicious cake!!! Definitely the best cake ever. My colleagues thought it was a cake bought from a bakery. Moist intensly choclatey and not too sweet. Perfect

    Will be defintiely doing it again.

    Only difference is I didn’t make the frosting as I don’t like frosting. It’s too sweet for me. I made a ganache with 90% dark choclate.

  18. This is hands down, the best recipe there is for Chocolate Cake!
    Robyn – You are a Cake Goddess and need to know this!

    I made this cake fully Vegan. Substituted milk for coconut milk as suggested, used Canola oil and instead of eggs/Applesauce – I used flaxseed eggs.

    For the frosting I messed around with imitation cream, Cocoa powder & confectioners sugar.

    But – putting my dignity aside, I’ll be honest, I basically drank a quarter of the cake batter.
    What a beautiful, beautiful versatile recipe!

    Thank you! xoxo

  19. This cake is PERFECT! Using regular cows milk makes a delicious moist airy rich cake.
    I’ve also make it with coconut cream, which totally changed the texture into a denser richer and more refined flavour. Both AMAZING,
    cows milk = more classic perfect chocolat ecake.
    coconut cream = more unique and special chocolate cake
    Iced with Nutella = perfect!

  20. Thanks for this recipe, it was great! The taste was unbelievable, but it sank a lot, leaving me with a tasty but dense cake. What am I doing wrong? I’d love to do it again, but I want it to be perfect this time 🙂 

    1. I’m so happy you liked the cake, Coni!
      There are many reasons cakes can sink and I can’t be sure what caused it to happen with yours. Here are some of the possible causes –
      Inconsistent oven temperature – which can be caused from oven temp being “off” or even opening and closing the door to the oven too much.
      Baking ingredients that weren’t really fresh can cause this to happen too.
      There could be another possible reason but I hope these help and you enjoy the cake even more next time! Thanks Coni!

      1. Thanks so much for replying, Robyn! I’ll check the temperature of the oven, because I didn’t open it until the cake was done. 
        Another question, I left out the espresso powder because I couldn’t find it. Can I replace the boiling water with freshly made espresso? 

  21. Hi Robyn! Would very much love to attempt this cake but is it possible to make it a 3-layer cake instead? Is it as straightforward as using 1.5times of the ingredients? 

    Thanks,
    Michelle 

  22. Hi! I made this cake for my husband’s birthday and received rave reviews. I would like to make it for a shelter dinner on Christmas Eve, can you tell me how I could make it for about 50 people in sheet pan size? Is it as easy and doubling or tripling the recipe and cooking in the pans? Thanks in advance!

    1. I don’t use coffee in the recipe, Penny. The espresso powder enhances the richness of the chocolate. You can also omit it if you wish. It is delicious either way. Thanks!

  23. Hi Robyn, I want to make this kid-friendly so how much can I reduce the sugar by? Is 1/2 cup less okay? And do I use brown or white sugar? Lastly, can I make this cake 2 days ahead for a party? Thanks! 

  24. I agree this is the best chocolate cake recipe EVER! I’ve made it a couple times and its my go to recipe for chocolate cake. I use coconut oil instead of vegetable. It’s delicious. Trying it again this week with a chocolate peppermint frosting.

  25. I want to make the chocolate layers the night before, then frost the day of the party. How should I store the layers?

  26. Hi! I love this cake recipe! I’ve made it a million times, it’s a favorite in my house. Today I made it and as it sits in the oven I realize I forgot to add the baking soda!!!!! Will this negatively affect the cake? I’ve never done that before 🙁

  27. Hi Robyn! I commented a bit ago but I’m not sure my comment posted. I love this cake! It’s definitely my family’s favorite. I’m in the process of making this cake right now and I just realized I forgot to add the baking soda. How will this affect the cake? will it make a big difference?

  28. Hi Robyn,

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe with us! I’d like to make it for my parents anniversary dinner next week. My dad is diabetic though, can I substitute Splenda instead of the sugar? Or maybe half Splenda, half sugar?

    Thank you 🙂 

  29. Hello!

    I’ve tried this recipe last night and it was absolutely perfect and decided I wanted to give out chocolate cakes in single serve bowls for the holidays so I wish you could help me.
    If I bake it in a small 2 cup/472ml glass circular container(2in deep) and I want it to rise 1 inch, how much batter and time in the oven to cook?

    Tyvm,

    Mei

  30. We absolutely love this cake! I’ve used it so many times for cakes and cupcakes and everyone always comments on how delicious it is 🙂 it’s the only chocolate cake recipe I use when we don’t want a mud cake

  31. This is now my go to recipe for chocolate cake. Every birthday cake in our household is made using this recipe. So easy and soooooo delicious. I can’t get a hold of espresso powder so I just make up an espresso and add it to the boiling water stage at the end of the recipe. 🙂

  32. Thank you very much for sharing this recipe
    ,

    I made it for my son who loves chocolate cakes and he loved it so much , even me (usualy I don’t like chocolate cakes), I enjoyed tasting it.
    By the way it was my first cake I ever made ( just wanted to satisfy my son while his mom is traveling)

  33. Hi ,

    I have made this cake it’s a very moist and delicious cake.

    I want to make it for my daughters birthday. Do you think making three 9 inch cakes and stacking them with vanilla buttercream in the middle would be a good idea ?

    I wanted to make a tall cake so thought three 9 inch ones would do ?

    Please let me know what you think.

    Thanks
    Nadia

  34. I’m so excited to try your cake! I have a few questions though. Do you use “natural” cocoa powder, or cocoa that’s processed with alkali/Dutch-process/European-style? I know it makes a difference in how the cake rises and the texture.

    I was also wondering if you sift your flour and cocoa powder or just spoon them into your measuring cup since you get more with the spooning method and I know how exact baking is.

    And finally! Do you use shiny metal pans or dark metal pans or… something else. I know baking time varies dramatically depending on the color and material you’re baking in.

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe! Looking forward to trying it 🙂

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