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
  • 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

  • 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

1,011 Comments
    1. Lindsay

      I believe I’ve done 6 thin layers before. It’s a very soft and tender cake though, so if you were looking for something really sturdy, this may not be it.

  1. Glenda

    This is the chocolate cake I grew up on and the standard for my own family, now. It is sheer perfection! My mom gotit from an old church cookbook, back then. The difference is that when I was a kid we made it with lard. Now, I use butter. I’m going to give it a try with oil, now. Yum! You’ve made me hungry for chocolate cake! lol

  2. Olivia

    I do love the flavour of this cake (though it tastes a bit eggy for me, mainly bc I cut out eggs. I’ve tried so many times making this GF vegan and it has worked. Before I cut out eggs for good I used to love the flavour) however, it is too fudgy to hold together. At least this time. Before I or my mum has managed to stack it and ice it but I’ve always made half a recipe (and I think I’ve reduced the water/liquid too – haven’t made it in a while)
    So for the first time in ages I made this (using mostly valhrona cocoa powder, which is a little annoying bc valhrona is good quality cocoa powder and not cheap) and made a full batch, for my 21st birthday party. Made it as is (ie normal flour, eggs etc) and followed the recipe to a T (the only thing I didn’t do to a T was I made my own buttermilk from semi skimmed Jersey milk and the juice of a lemon and left it to curdle) instead of how I usually modify it with chia eggs and GF flour bc I know I’m going to be eating gluten dairy and eggs (which I’m not supposed to have) and I had some pan leakage (not the fault of the recipe I didn’t put the bases in the tins properly ) and it was so so moist it stuck to the bottom of the greased pan a bit and running a knife along the bottom (after 10 mins of cooling) to unstick it/get it onto a plate caused it to crack and basically split in half so I had to throw the layers (the others didn’t split but did crack a little but due to the pan leakage were super thin) Now I’m slightly stressing since my party is tomorrow afternoon and I have no cake and have to figure out how to make a cake last min as I can’t get one made at such short notice.
    Would recommend to make at home (with a half batch – and definitely a half or even third batch of icing as you get so much – and reduced liquid) where if you can’t ice it due to cracking etc it doesn’t matter but if you need it for an event where it has to be iced I’d look somewhere else.

    1. Lindsay

      The recipe clearly states to line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper. This prevents them from sticking. I’d recommend trying that next time.

  3. jennifer

    I love this cake it has been my favorite out of all the cakes I have baked. But my question is can it be made in a half sheet cake? I want to make a few little cakes with this recipe as a base.

  4. Emel

    I am a baker and I was looking for a cake like this , I am using this recipe since 1 year all my customer are really happy every time they told me it’s really tasty moist . Thank you soo much for this tasty recipe.

  5. Leanne Markland

    I LOVE this recipe, been making it a while now and it’s always a hit! I struggle with the cake breaking when I’m trying to frost due to it being so moist and soft, any tips? I normally just use it for cupcakes due to this but really want to be able to crack a big cake.

      1. Leanne Markland

        Brilliant, will give it a go!
        I love your website, it’s always my go to for recipes x

  6. Lup

    Amazingly delicious!!! I”m so happy my son enjoyed his birthday cake. Now my other son wants me to bake him a vanilla cake. Do you have an amazing recipe for vanilla cake?? Please?

  7. Beverly

    You weren’t exaggerating with the name of this cake recipe. I made this cake for the guys at work. We all loved it! There won’t be any other recipe used for future chocolate cakes after this.

    1. Lindsay

      If you bake it as a single layer, you should cut the recipe in half. Otherwise it will be far too thick and turn out dense and dry. You could use an 8 inch or 9 inch cake pan.

  8. Jill

    I’m sorry to say I didn’t like this cake. I really wanted to love it! It reminds me a lot of Mississippi Mud Cake, which I also don’t like. I think it’s the cup of water that does it. I’ll continue my search, but thank you for sharing.

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