The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

There’s a reason I call this the Best Chocolate Cake Recipe: it’s so good restaurants have asked me to start making it for them! This moist homemade chocolate cake is made completely from scratch and has incredible chocolate flavor.

A slice of chocolate cake in front of a whole cake

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

This is the kind of chocolate cake everyone should have in their recipe collection. An easy, one-bowl chocolate cake with the perfect crumb that’s covered with a simple homemade chocolate buttercream frosting.

Growing up, I was more of a vanilla or other fun flavor kinda girl. I think it’s because store-bought chocolate cakes just do not compare to homemade. They never really seemed worth it to me.

But this cake turned me into a chocolate cake lover. The first time I made it, it opened up a whole new world of chocolate. I literally cannot stop eating this cake whenever I make it. It is so moist and tasty, it should be illegal.

A slice of chocolate layer cake on a plate

What Makes this Cake So Good?

I know there are so many chocolate cake recipes out there, but this one seriously is a must try. After testing many chocolate cake recipes, this one is hands down the best. Here’s why:

  • It’s easy to make. Only one bowl!
  • Uses simple, easy to find ingredients.
  • Has rich chocolate flavor with a moist, fluffy crumb.
  • Is covered is an easy chocolate buttercream frosting. This adds even more chocolatey richness!
  • Is drizzled with chocolate ganache. Even more chocolate!

How is this Recipe Different from Other Chocolate Cakes on My Site?

If you’re familiar with my recipes, then you’ve probably seen several variations on chocolate cake. This is my original chocolate cake and is still my favorite to this day. It’s my go-to. In fact, I’ve made it for both of the twins’ birthdays thus far. It always receives a ton of compliments. That said, I definitely have more than one chocolate cake recipe! Here is how they differ:

  • My Easy Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe was created after getting quite a few comments from people who were confused about the low baking temperature of this cake. So the newer version is baked at 350 degrees, eliminating the confusion. As a result of the changes made in that recipe, it’s not quite as tender as this original version. But it can be handy if you need a more sturdy cake for something you’re decorating. Both of these chocolate cakes use oil, which I think works really well in chocolate cake especially. It adds great moisture.
  • My Chocolate Piñata Cake uses butter instead of oil simply because some readers prefer the taste of butter and I aim to please! Plus, as far as sturdiness goes, butter based cakes are generally much more sturdy. That’s why this version of chocolate cake holds up much better to having holes cut into it and being filled like a piñata. 🙂

So to recap, the main differences between this recipe and my others is that this one is the most tender and moist, it uses oil instead of butter and it is baked at a lower temperature (which means it also takes a little longer to bake).

Frosted chocolate cake on a stand with chocolate ganache drizzled on top

What You’ll Need

You only need basic ingredients to make this gorgeous chocolate cake recipe. Here’s what you’ll need. (You can find ingredient amounts in the recipe card below.)

CHOCOLATE CAKE

  • flour
  • sugar
  • unsweetened cocoa powder
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • eggs
  • buttermilk
  • vegetable oil
  • vanilla
  • hot water

CHOCOLATE FROSTING

  • butter
  • shortening
  • powdered sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • unsweetened cocoa powder
  • water/milk

CHOCOLATE GANACHE

  • semi sweet chocolate chips
  • heavy whipping cream

And of course, you can also add sprinkles to your chocolate cake! Everything tastes better with sprinkles.

Looking down at a frosted chocolate cake with chocolate ganache

How to Make Chocolate Cake

This chocolate cake is also made with oil, instead of butter. It’s makes SUCH a moist cake! Additionally, I often make this cake with dark chocolate cocoa. It gives the cake an even more rich chocolate flavor. That said, regular cocoa works too and is also wonderful.

One thing to note is that this chocolate cake has a very thin batter. And no, it’s not a typo – it’s a slow-bake cake and bakes at 300 degrees.

So, here’s how you make it:

Step 1: Make the Cake

  • Prepare your pan & preheat the oven. Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom, and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 300°F (148°C).
  • Mix the dry ingredients. Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together.
  • Add the wet ingredients. Add eggs, buttermilk and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients and mix well. Add vanilla to boiling water and add to mixture. Mix well.
  • Bake. Divide batter evenly between cakes pans and bake for 30-33 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
  • Cool. Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

A slice of chocolate cake on a plate

Step 2: Make the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I usually make the chocolate frosting while the cakes cool. Here’s how:

  • Beat the butter and shortening together in a stand mixer until smooth.
  • Add the sugar. Slowly add 4 cups (460g) of powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  • Add vanilla and half of the water or milk and mix until smooth.
  • More sugar. Add another 5 cups (575g) of powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  • Mix in the cocoa powder. Add cocoa and mix until smooth.
  • Add remaining water or milk until the frosting is the right consistency.

Step 3: Frost Your Chocolate Cake

Once cakes are cool, remove cake domes from top with a large serrated knife. See my tips on how to level a cake and how to stack a cake.

  • Frost the first layer. Place first layer of cake on cake plate. Spread about 1 cup of frosting on top in an even layer.
  • Frost the second layer. Add second layer of cake and add another cup of frosting on top in an even layer.
  • Add more frosting. Frost the outside of the entire cake to finish things up. Feel free to use my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake.

Decorated chocolate frosted cake on a cake stand

Step 4: Make the Chocolate Ganache & Add More Frosting

Technically you could just stop right here. By this point you’ll have an amazing chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting! But if you want to go a bit fancy, this chocolate ganache is an easy way to do it.

To make the chocolate ganache:

  • Add the chocolate chips to a medium sized bowl (see my tips on making chocolate ganache).
  • Heat the heavy whipping cream just until it begins to boil, then pour it over the chocolate chips. Allow it to sit for 2-3 minutes, then whisk until smooth.

That’s it. Just two steps! Then you add the ganache to your chocolate cake:

  • Drizzle the chocolate ganache around the edge of the cake, then pour the remainder of the ganache on top of the cake and spread evenly. I like to use a squeeze bottle for drizzling around the edges. See my tips on making a chocolate drip cake.
  • Allow the ganache to firm up a bit
  • Pipe the remainder of the frosting around the top edge of the cake and pipe a border around the bottom. I used Ateco tip 844.

Step 5: Sprinkles and Serve!

Add a few sprinkles to the cake, if desired, then serve. Sprinkles are totally optional of course, but why not?

How to Store Homemade Chocolate Cake

This chocolate cake can be stored for 3-4 days on the counter. It should be well covered under a cake dome if possible.

You can also store it in the fridge to extend its shelf life to 4-5 days, but the frosting will harden. When I store a frosted cake in the fridge I usually place the cake in fridge uncovered until the frosting hardens (about 2 hours). Then I cover it with saran wrap. When you are ready to have some chocolate cake, simply cut a slice and warm it in the microwave (if desired) for about 15-30 seconds. The frosting will soften right up and you’ll have warm chocolate cake to enjoy.

Recipes that Use this Chocolate Cake as a Starting Point

This chocolate cake recipe is so simple and easy to make, in addition to being delicious, that it has actually become the base for many other flavor combinations I’ve made and it’s always a hit! Nutella Chocolate Cake anyone? Baileys Chocolate Poke Cake? Mint Chocolate Chip Layer Cake, Turtle Chocolate Layer Cake, Red Wine Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Oreo Cake and more chocolate cake recipes. All made with this one easy chocolate cake as a starting point.

A slice of chocolate cake next to a fork

This is Quite Possibly the World’s Best Chocolate Cake

I made this moist chocolate cake for my niece’s birthday last year. When it was served, one of the moms asked my sister-in-law where she’d gotten the cake. She pointed at me and the mom came over to ask me about it. Turns out she has two restaurants in Atlanta and was curious if I’d be interested in making cakes for her restaurant.

Whaaaaaat?!?

Pretty neat, but I actually said no. However, this chocolate cake is THAT good! Make it and you just might be asked to bake for a restaurant. And whether you want to actually do that or not, don’t you want to be the one with a cake that’s so could you could bake for a restaurant? You know you do. 😉


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Recipe

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 slices 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This is the Best Chocolate Cake recipe! Moist homemade chocolate cake made completely from scratch. This is the kind of chocolate cake everyone should have in their recipe collection!


Scale

Ingredients

CHOCOLATE CAKE

  • 2 cups (260g) all purpose flour
  • 2 cups (414g) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (85g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk
  • 1 cup (240ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup (240ml) hot water

CHOCOLATE FROSTING

  • 1 1/4 cups (280g) butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (237g) shortening
  • 9 cups (1035g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (114g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 45 tbsp (60-75ml) water/milk

CHOCOLATE GANACHE

  • 6 oz (1 cup | 169g) semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Sprinkles

Instructions

Make the Cakes

  1. Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom, and grease the sides.
  2. Preheat oven to 300°F (148°C).
  3. Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together.
  4. Add eggs, buttermilk and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Add vanilla to boiling water and add to mixture. Mix well.
  6. Divide batter evenly between cakes pans and bake for 30-33 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
  7. Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

Make the Frosting

  1. Make frosting while cakes cool. Beat together butter and shortening until smooth.
  2. Slowly add 4 cups (460g) of powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  3. Add vanilla and half of the water or milk and mix until smooth.
  4. Add another 5 cups (575g) of powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  5. Add cocoa and mix until smooth.
  6. Add remaining water or milk until the frosting is the right consistency.

Assemble the Cake

  1. Once cakes are cool, remove cake domes from top with a large serrated knife. See my tips on how to level a cake and how to stack a cake.
  2. Place first layer of cake on cake plate. Spread about 1 cup of frosting on top in an even layer.
  3. Add second layer of cake and add another cup of frosting on top in an even layer.
  4. Add final layer of cake on top and frost the outside of the cake. Feel free to use my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake.

Make the Chocolate Ganache

  1. To make the chocolate ganache, add the chocolate chips to a medium sized bowl (see my tips on making chocolate ganache).
  2. Heat the heavy whipping cream just until it begins to boil, then pour it over the chocolate chips. Allow it to sit for 2-3 minutes, then whisk until smooth.

Finish Cake

  1. Drizzle the chocolate ganache around the edge of the cake, then pour the remainder of the ganache on top of the cake and spread evenly. I like to use a squeeze bottle for drizzling around the edges. See my tips on making a chocolate drip cake.
  2. Allow the ganache to firm up a bit, then pipe the remainder of the frosting around the top edge of the cake and pipe a border around the bottom. I used Ateco tip 844.
  3. Add a few sprinkles to the cake, if desired, then serve. Cake is best when well covered for 3-4 days.

Notes

This recipe calls for hot water. You don’t have to use hot water – the cake will still bake fine – but the hot water allows the cocoa to “bloom”, which brings out a richer chocolate flavor in the cake.

Keywords: best chocolate cake, birthday cake

Enjoy!

This post contains affiliate links.

You might also like these chocolate cake recipes:

Moist Homemade Chocolate Cupcakes
Easy Moist Chocolate Cake
Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes
Chocolate Mousse Cake
Chocolate Lover’s Cheesecake
Homemade Chocolate Whipped Cream

This simple Moist Chocolate Cake recipe is completely homemade and incredibly moist from using oil instead of butter! It's easy to make and the best moist chocolate cake you'll ever have!

This post may contain affiliate sales links. Please read my disclosure policy.

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Recipe rating

959 Comments
  1. Mary Victor

    I made this cake many times. Everyone loves the taste. The cake always dips in the middle. Recently it dipped even more. What am I doing wrong? I lightly beat the egg and then the liquid ingredients!

    1. Lindsay

      It’s hard to say from a distance why that is happening. Are you using natural unsweetened cocoa powder? Or Dutch processed? Also be sure that you’re using baking soda and not baking powder.

  2. Aracely Cano

    This cake was so absolutely moist and chocolatey it honestly didn’t need frosting. I had 2 6 inch cakes left over and they were eaten just as is with ice cream on top and it was perfection. Definitely one for the books!

  3. Debbie

    Lindsey! This cake is amazing! I have made many of your desserts and this is one of my favorites along with your cannoli cake. I made this cake for a neighbors birthday this past weekend and it was a huge hit. The best chocolate cake I’ve ever had or made. Thank you for a great recipe.

  4. Dana Van Clieaf

    Hi! I’ve got this cake in the oven in a 9×13 pan-it’s been an hour and is still very liquidy. Everything was measured correctly-I’ve used 10c of batter for the pan. I know this is a slow bake cake but this seems a bit long. Any ideas on what might have happened?

  5. Kayla

    hi! I was wondering what would be the measurements for the icing if I was to only make enough to fill in between the layers? Also, could I replace the shortening with extra butter? thank you!

    1. Lindsay

      You can replace the shortening with butter, yes. But rather than adjust this one, I would just follow this recipe for chocolate buttercream. Things vary slightly, but it’s basically the same and it’ll make just a bit more than needed for filling (I use about 1 cup of frosting between each layer).

  6. Nikki

    Hi, the cake tastes amazing. Will this cake be sturdy enough to a 2 tier cake? I want to make this as the bottom tier.

    1. Lindsay

      I have used it in a tiered cake before. As long as the cake above isn’t resting on the cake, but is resting on dowels, it should be fine.

      1. Nikki

        Thanks you so much Lindsay, I’ll let you know how it turns out. BTW i love your recipes, the few that I’ve tried were huge hits. Keep it up!!

  7. Allison Afflick

    How would this cake do with your vanilla butter cream? I want to make it for my daughter’s birthday so I will need white frosting as a base.

  8. Victoria

    I’m a chocoholic and not ashamed to admit it! Been baking for 40 years and have made many chocolate cakes and this is by far the best recipe ever! I can stop looking now, thank you.

      1. Anna G.

        Hi Lindsay, I am so eager to try this chocolate cake recipe. I have tried many of your creations and all have been spot on and delicious. I want to make this chocolate cake as a second tier. I will be using dowels soas not to disturb the bottom layer. Is this enough batter for a 10 x 3 round pan? What temp should I utilize, 300 or 350? Ty!!!

      2. Lindsay

        No, it’s not. Not sure how much batter you’ll need. Maybe double it? And I’d use 300 degrees.

  9. Judi James

    Having previously made this cake many times, ALWAYS a big hit, I’d like to try making a sheet cake version for my son’s wedding. Do you have the adjustments for that? Ideally a half sheet 13×18, but I could also do a smaller sheet in two layers. Any help would be greatly appreciated! TIA

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so glad it’s been a hit! I haven’t made it that size so I’m not really sure. But I do think it would be fine. You should only really need to adjust the baking time.

  10. Valentina

    Hi,I’m planning to do this cake,but I don’t like the buttercream..can I use a sort of simple ganache to fill it? Anyway I tried the cupcake recipe and it’s delicious.
    Thanks

  11. Nivethitha

    Hey I love this recipe so muchhh ! But often when I frost the cake it tends to fall apart and easily break ? What should I do to make it firmer ?

  12. Abbigail Hassan

    I really really miss baking your cakes i have to be dairy, soy and egg free due to babies allergies is there a way to swap out the buttermilk and egg in this recipe 😫

      1. Abbigail Hassan

        Thank you suppose all that’s left to do is try, oatmilk and chickpea water here i come! 😅

  13. Nikki

    This is my go-to for chocolate cake. Everyone always compliments me and loves how delicious and moist it is!

    I need to make a giant sheet cake and triple the recipe. Do you have any recommendations on baking time and if I keep the temperature the same?:)

  14. Alexa

    I will this recipe and have made it a few times, Can I use the recipe to make cupcakes? How many cupcakes do you think it would make?

  15. Macayla G

    Hi Lindsay, I wanted to make this cake for my sister’s high school graduation because she loves chocolate cake and I love baking so I wanted to impress her with my baking skills lol, but I was wondering if I could use 3 9 inch baking pans instead of 3 8 inch ones, and if I did, would it change the tallness of the cake drastically enough to not be able to apply the “drip” effect.

  16. Morgan Halton

    is there anyway you can use this recipe for a sheet pan cake? Like 13x9x2? I am doing a number cake and this is my favorite chocolate cake recipe.

  17. Alejandro Brinker

    Hi Lindsay, I wanted to tell you that I did make this cake. I have to say, I really did enjoy it so much that I wanted to use this recipe for a chocolate mousse cheesecake, however when I was trying to stack the mousse, it made a huge mess and the cakes literally stated to fall apart. So I have a question for you. Since this recipe makes a very tender cake, do I have to be extremely gentle with it? But otherwise, fantastic recipe.

  18. Manuri

    Hi,I have 3 quetions.

    (1)you have mentioned flour 2 cups and sugar 2 cups.but in grams its different.Is it a mistake or what?i’m bit confused.can you please tell me.

    (2)what can i use instead of buttermilk?

    (3)can i use melted butter instead of Oil?then what is the quantity?

    1. Lindsay

      1) Volume and weight measurements between two different things are not the same. By volume, they are both 2 cups. By weight, they are different.
      2) Regular milk.
      3) No, it won’t work the same with butter.

    1. Rena

      How can I adjust the amounts to have it made in a 9×13 pan ? It was way too much batter for 9×13. It was the very best chocolate cake I ever had. Thank you so much for posting these recipes.

  19. Hailey

    This looks delicious, do you know if this recipe will work as cupcakes instead? Also, how long do you think I should bake it as cupcakes and how many cupcakes do you think this recipe will make? Thank you ahead of time!

  20. Shirley B

    I love this recipe but struggle a little with it in high altitude. Any suggestions on how to adjust the recipe so that the center doesn’t fall?

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12