The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

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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!

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Recipe rating

904 Comments
  1. Heather @ Shards of Lavender

    Oh my, that cake is just screaming chocolately deliciousness! I love all of your tall layer cakes and your pictures are just amazing!

      1. Lindsay

        I don’t really use 6 inch pans, so I’m not entirely sure. You could try cutting it in half.

  2. iPad Mini or $300 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway! - Mom On Timeout

    […] sure to stop by and say Happy Blogiversary to Lindsay today and check out this ridiculously amazing Best Chocolate Cake recipe she’s sharing today – holy […]

  3. Marinka

    Hi Lindsay, Happy Blogiversary. This looks like heaven on earth… I am going to try this the weekend. I just want to check with you on the oven temperature and baking time. You mention in the recipe that you bake at 300 degrees for 30-33 minutes. Then you mention bake for 45-50 minutes. Do I understand correctly that the 45-50 minutes is at a different temperature ?(after the 30 minutes @ 300 degrees) At what degree do you bake it for this period? Also, in case I use regular coco powder (not the dark chocolate) – is there a change in the quantity or do you use the same amount?

    1. lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com

      Hi Marinka! Thank you for pointing that out – it’s baked at 300 degrees for 30-33 minutes. The 45-50 minutes was a carryover from something else and I missed it. It’s gone now. 🙂 Enjoy the cake!

      1. Angela

        Hi, I’m not much of a baker, but I really want to make this chocolate cake. I know this is gonna be a stupid question, but is the flour self rising or not?

      2. Lindsay

        It would be really hard for me to say without being there. If you opened the oven too soon before it was set, it would definitely sink. Also, maybe check the date on your baking soda to see if it’s still good.

      3. Martha

        Hello,

        I just made the cake. I struggled with the frosting. It seemed thick and I had a difficult time spreading it, so I scraped it off the first layer, put it back in the bowl and added more liquid to make it more spreadable. I followed the recipe exact and checked off each ingredient to make sure nothing was left out. Is it normal for the frosting to be so thick?. I ended up having to scrape off the first layer. Put the frosting back in the bowl and added more liquid. It took a lot more than than the 4 to 5 tbls. milk it called for, is that normal? My cake looks like it turned out okay, but nowhere as pretty as yours. My Genache was a little thick so I added a little more heavy whipping cream. plan to serve it for my older son’s birthday in three days. I am storing it at room temperature will that be okay.

    2. Cheryl

      Hi Lindsay…does leaving the cake batter to stand for a length of time in room temp has a detrimental effect on finished cake? This recipe calls for three 8″ pan and I can only bake one pan at a time. Any advice please.

    3. Dana

      This looks delicious and I’m SO GLAD to see weights for the measurements! Thank you! How many cups of batter does the recipe make? 

  4. iPad Mini or $300 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

    […]  And then go visit Lindsay and say Happy Blog Birthday…today she has a pretty sweet looking Dark Chocolate Cake that I wish I had a slice of to celebrate with […]

  5. Beth @ The First Year

    Lindsay, Happy Blogiversary! I will definitely keep this recipe handy, but I don’t think mine would turn out as pretty as yours. Seriously friend, you are talented!

  6. Mir

    This chocolate cake is beyond amazing. No wonder you got offered a job!
    How do men eat one bite of cake and walk away? How?!

  7. Janet

    WOWZA!!! This cake looks so yummy!! I am glad I do not have this cake here right now because I think I would eat a slice for breakfast. Have a beautiful day!! Thanks for the great giveaways and congrats on the blog anniversary!!

      1. Susie

        I made this as a cake before and it was delicious! I was going to try to make cupcakes out of this recipe instead, would you happen to have any suggestions on how to change the baking time/temp for this?

      2. Sandra anello

        How do i do this chocolate cake into a 10 inc round and 2 layers? How much ingredients 2x or 3x?
        Thank you

      3. Ira GL

        It was so goooood! This is now my new go-to chocolate cake recipe!

        Anyway, is there any chance I could replace the buttermilk with sour cream? If so, what would be the ratio? 

        Thank you!

      4. Lindsay

        So glad you enjoyed it! I haven’t ever tried sour cream. I’ve used regular milk, which turns out great. I assume sour cream would be fine, just a little more dense. I’d use the same amount.

      5. Janeth

        This is my first time make a cake from scratch It’s for my kids birthday! Can I leave this in the fridge for 3 days before decorating it or is best to do everything! I work a lot and trying to work around my schedule!

      6. Janeth

        I have another question the chocolate icing you make my kids want to have a green/ pink cake and would good coloring be fine? Sorry so many questions!

    1. Kat

      I started making chocolate cakes from a box at age 10..56 years ago..progressed to scratch cakes and this is by far the best chocolate cake ever!  My store only carries 2% Buttermilk so I used 3/4 Buttermilk and 1/4 heavy cream for the full far experience.  Awesome!

      1. Sara D Huddleston

        I followed the recipe, baked it twice, and it more than tripled in size, was always liquid in the middle, tried to cook it for longer but it kept increasing and spilling. So sad as I was trying to make it for a birthday and after so many hours I just had to find a different recipe 🙁

    2. Shalika

      Hi,
      I made this cake over and over many times for my small cake business.
      Everyone who bought said it’s an amazingly soft and a moist chocolate cake.
      I personally don’t like chocolate cake. But this recipe changed the way I was thinking about chocolate cake.
      Thank you very much for sharing this recipe.

      1. Lindsay

        I don’t really work with fondant, so I’m not the best judge of that. It is a very tender cake though, so if you’re looking for something more dense, this might not be it.

    3. Shraddha Kumbhani

      Madam I am keen to bake the cake but we are hindu jain and dont eat eggs what can I use to substitute eggs. Kindly reply and thanks in advance.

      1. Lindsay

        I’m sorry but I don’t really know much about egg replacements. I’ve seen some at the grocery store, but I’ve never tried them.

      2. R

        If you check in the natural foods aisle, you can get a egg replacement for those who are vegan. I’ve used it for my cakes and have gotten lots of compliments 😊

      3. Jen Lee

        Hello! A good substitute is the water/brine from tinned beans. Use one tablespoon per egg. I have only recently discovered myself and I used it in this recipe – worked really well! Enjoy 🙂

        Lindsay, thank you for this recipe. It is absolutely DIVINE!!

      4. Carolyn W

        This cake was awesome. Didn’t change a thing and it was amazingly perfect.. I would like to bake this cake as two layers in 10×2 inch pans. How much do I increase the ingredients for this size cake?

      5. Olivia

        I would say you can use chia eggs. Haven’t tried it in this recipe (although I’ve used it in quite a few others; I’m allergic to eggs) but it usually replaces 1-3 eggs well. You mix 1tbsp ground chia seeds (or flaxseeds but I find they give a bit of a taste and chia doesn’t) with 3tbsp of water per ‘egg’ and mix and let it gel for a bit. You can’t really use it to replace egg whites (or yolks I don’t think) but for whole eggs it works fine. It only reallt works well with onr or 2, 3 at a push. Definitely not more than 3

    4. Carolyn Peppernick

      This is an extremely moist cake! I have1 question though. Above it states that there is 941 calories. Is that for 1 slice or the whole cake?
      Thank you.

      1. Lindsay

        It’s for one slice. Most of that is the frosting, since it’s a fairly large amount of powdered sugar/frosting.

      2. Carolyn

        Thank you. I don’t use that icing recipe and I use almond milk and make my buttermilk with that. So..I’ll adjust the calorie intake down. My husband doesn’t care for chocolate but the first time I made this cake…he almost ate the whole thing himself. Thank you for a great recipe.

    5. Alicia

      Can I make this cake with Vanilla butter cream frosting? I’ve looked all over your site and the only one I can find that is a chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream uses challenge butter and I don’t have that. 

      1. Lindsay

        Yes, you can use vanilla buttercream. And challenge butter is simply the brand I use, but you can use any butter.

      2. Cheryl

        Hi.. Can i use dutch-processed cocoa powder for this recipe? If so, what’s the measurement? Thanks!

      1. Lindsay

        I don’t do much fondant work so I’m probably not best to ask. But I will say that it’s a very tender cake.

    6. John Wylie

      Hi, i am in the us and can’t find shortening anywhere. Can you tell me any substitutions or is Stork Baking Block the same, thanks 

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!

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