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 and fluffy chocolate cake is going to be your go-to recipe once you try it.

A homemade chocolate cake on a cake stand

The Best Homemade Chocolate Cake

This is the kind of chocolate cake everyone should have in their recipe collection. An easy, one-bowl cake with the perfect crumb that’s covered with a simple homemade chocolate buttercream frosting. This moist cake is made completely from scratch and has incredible chocolate flavor.

I literally cannot stop eating this cake whenever I make it.

I made this 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 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 good you could bake for a restaurant? You know you do. 😉

A slice of layered chocolate cake on a plate

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

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 ingredients.
  • Has a rich chocolate flavor with a moist, fluffy crumb.
  • Is covered is an easy chocolate buttercream frosting.
  • Is drizzled with chocolate ganache.

How is this Recipe Different?

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. That said, I definitely have more than one 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 difference 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).

Ingredients for a homemade chocolate cake on a marble counter

What You’ll Need

You won’t need any fancy ingredients to make this easy chocolate cake. Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll need. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for specific amounts.

Chocolate Cake

  • All purpose flour
  • Sugar
  • Natural unsweetened cocoa powder – 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.
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Eggs
  • Buttermilk
  • Vegetable oil – This cake is made with oil, instead of butter. It makes SUCH a moist cake!
  • Vanilla
  • Hot Water

Frosting

  • Butter – At room temperature
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Water or milk

Ganache & Decorations

  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Sprinkles – Optional
Close up of a decorated chocolate cake with ganache

How to Make Chocolate Cake

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

So, here’s how you make it:

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.

Make the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

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

  • Beat the butter 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.

Frost Your 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.

Make the Chocolate Ganache & Add More Frosting

Technically you could just stop right here. By this point, you’ll have an amazing 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 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.

Add Sprinkles and Serve!

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

A slice of layered chocolate cake on a plate

How to Store a Frosted Cake

This 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 the fridge uncovered until the frosting hardens (about 2 hours). Then I cover it with saran wrap.

When you are ready to have some 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 Cake as a Starting Point

This 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!


Read transcript

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A homemade chocolate cake on a cake stand
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
  • 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!


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

  • 2 1/2 cups (560g) butter, room temperature
  • 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 hot 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 the butter in a large mixing bowl 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.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 941
  • Sugar: 101 g
  • Sodium: 496.6 mg
  • Fat: 49.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 127.7 g
  • Protein: 7 g
  • Cholesterol: 38.1 mg

Keywords: best chocolate cake, chocolate birthday cake, chocolate layer cake

Categories

Enjoy!

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Recipe rating

1,290 Comments
  1. Maria

    The closest to 300F that my oven setting has is 284F or 320F. Which alternative setting would you suggest I use and, if so, how long would it take to bake this recipe using such alternative setting? Many thanks!

    1. Lindsay

      I suppose I’d probably try 320°F. It’s hard for me to say the exact bake time since I haven’t baked it at that temperature. It would take a little less time though.

  2. Laura

    Hi Lindsay,
    Can this recipe be used in a 8” and 10” two tiered cake? If it can how many cups of batter are needed for the two 10” pans? Do I double the recipe or make two separate batches? Thank you I love this cake 😍

    1. Lindsay

      I would think it’d be fine in a tiered cake as long as it’s doweled. For two 10 inch pans, I’m guessing you’d want to double it.

  3. Amy H.

    Do you have suggestions for a vanilla that is as moist and light as the chocolate? I’ve tried the easy vanilla recipe and while they are good, I want a vanilla like your chocolate one 🙂 thanks!

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29