Marble Cake Recipe

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This moist & fluffy Marble Cake may look fancy, but it’s incredible easy to make! Learn how to make an old-fashioned marble cake with swirls of vanilla and chocolate cake, all covered in chocolate buttercream frosting!

A slice of frosted marble cake with swirls of vanilla and chocolate cake visible

An Easy Marble Cake Recipe

After many, many versions of this Marble Cake, I’m so excited to share the final one with you. I’ve gotten lots of requests for a Marble Cake lately, so I knew I needed to share this recipe as soon as I had it right. I even went to my Instagram Stories to ask what makes a good Marble Cake, so that I could be sure to incorporate everything.

Marble Cake - swirls of chocolate and vanilla cake covered in chocolate frosting!

What Makes a Good Marble Cake?

I have to say this cake is all that we want it to be!  It’s moist with distinctly chocolate and vanilla flavored swirls of fluffy cake.

Plus, both the chocolate and vanilla cake come from the same batter, making this marble cake super quick and easy to put together. Love it!

Marble Cake - swirls of chocolate and vanilla cake covered in chocolate frosting!

How to Make Marble Cake

Step 1: Make the Vanilla Cake Batter

So to get started making this Marble Cake, you’ll make the vanilla cake batter. A combination of butter and vegetable oil are used to add both flavor and moisture to the cake. Butter adds the flavor you really love in a vanilla cake, while oil adds the ever important moisture.

The butter, oil and sugar are all creamed together until nice and fluffy, then the eggs are added. I love that this batter uses whole eggs, so there aren’t any egg yolks or whites left over that you’re either throwing away or trying to find a use for.

Next up is the vanilla extract and buttermilk, which are added in between the two additions of the dry ingredients. I love the extra flavor and tenderness that the buttermilk adds, but it could be replaced with regular milk, if you prefer.

Marble Cake - swirls of chocolate and vanilla cake covered in chocolate frosting!

Step 2: Add Chocolate to Some of the Cake Batter

Once the batter is all combined, 1 1/4 cups of batter should be separated and the melted chocolate added. I played around the most with this particular step. How much of the batter should be used for the chocolate, what kind of chocolate to use and how much chocolate? All such important questions!

What Kind of Chocolate to Use?

The kind of chocolate was the first thing I played with. The chocolate you use actually makes a significant different in the final texture and taste of the chocolate cake.

I knew I wanted to use melted chocolate, so I initially started out using pure 100% chocolate. It ended up not being my favorite option because it made the chocolate cake noticeably different in texture from the vanilla and was more dense and dry. Not to mention that it was a little more bitter tasting.

I then tried semi-sweet chocolate, which is a favorite of mine in baking. While it improved the texture of the cake, I found the chocolate flavor to not really be enough. It was fine, but just a bit lost.

Next up was a bittersweet chocolate, which is kind of a middle point between the 100% cocoa and semi-sweet, since it’s a 60% cocoa. The bittersweet chocolate was perfect! Great chocolate flavor, but not overpowering or bitter. I also messed around with the amount of melted chocolate used and decided that a little less melted chocolate went a long way. It added plenty of flavor and did a better job of maintaining the same cake texture between the chocolate and vanilla batters. Too much added chocolate still messed with the texture more than I wanted it to.

How Much Chocolate Batter to Make?

The final decision was how much cake batter to actually add the melted chocolate too. I have to say this was the hardest thing to decide on. I decide to go with 1 1/4 cups of batter being used for the chocolate part of the cake. One cup would work and 1 1/2 cups would work, but I felt as though 1 1/4 cups was just right. That said, you could totally adjust that to your preference without having to adjust anything else about the recipe. It’s flexible like that.

Step 3: Swirl the Batters Together in Your Pan & Bake

As for marbling the cake when you add the cake batters to the pans – you don’t want to overdo it. I really liked having them a little more separate so that you got the distinctly chocolate and vanilla flavors. Too much marbling and the chocolate can kind of take over, so keep that in mind. I ran a knife in a swirl through the cake in one direction once, then the opposite direction once and that was it.

Marble Cake - swirls of chocolate and vanilla cake covered in chocolate frosting!

Step 4: Frost Your Cake!

The final step is covering your marble cake in homemade chocolate buttercream frosting! It finished it off perfectly! However, you could totally use a vanilla frosting as well.

The great thing about Marble Cake is that there are many ways to go about it and this recipe is pretty flexible. The cake is moist, flavorful and easy to put together too, which are all winners in my book. I hope you enjoy it!

Marble Cake - swirls of chocolate and vanilla cake covered in chocolate frosting!

You might also like these cake recipes:

Moist Vanilla Cake
Best Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Marble Mini Cheesecakes

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Marble Cake slice
Recipe

Marble Cake

  • Author: Life Love and Sugar
  • Prep Time: 1 hr 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 52 minutes, plus cooling
  • Yield: 12-14 slices 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Marble Cake is wonderfully moist and made with a swirls of vanilla and chocolate cake! It’s covered in chocolate frosting for a classic cake!


Scale

Ingredients

MARBLE CAKE

  • 2 1/4 cups (293g) all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (112g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (310g) sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk*
  • 2.5 oz bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), chopped**

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

  • 1 1/4 cups (280g) butter
  • 1 cups (189g) shortening
  • 8 cups (920g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (114g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 68 tbsp (90-120ml) water/milk

Instructions

1. Prepare two 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
3. Add the butter, vegetable oil and sugar to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
4. Add the eggs two at a time, mixing until well combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
5. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until combined.
6. Add the milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
7. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
8. Set aside 1 1/4 cups of batter, then divided the remaining batter between the two cake pans and set them aside.
9. Melt the chopped chocolate, then add it to the batter that was set aside and gently fold together to combine.
10. Drop spoonfuls of batter over the top of the vanilla batter that is already in the cake pans. Use a knife to swirl the chocolate and vanilla batters together, being careful not to over combine them. I ran a knife in a swirl through the cake in one direction once, then the opposite direction once and that was it.
11. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
12. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.
13. To make the frosting, beat the butter and shortening together until smooth.
14. Add half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
15. Add the vanilla extract, cocoa powder and 4-5 tablespoons of water or milk and mix until smooth.
16. Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add additional water or milk, as needed to get the right consistency of frosting.
17. To put the cake together, use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cakes so that they’re flat. These cakes don’t have a large dome, but I like to make sure they’re completely flat.
18.Place the first cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round.
19. Spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake.
20. Add the second layer of cake on top , then frost the outside of the cake.
Store in an air-tight container. Cake is best when eaten within 3-4 days.


Notes

*I use powdered buttermilk. Regular milk would work fine as a substitute.

**I strongly recommend sticking with bittersweet chocolate for this cake. I find it gives the best flavor and texture to the chocolate cake portion.

NOTE: If you’d like to use a vanilla frosting on this cake, replace the cocoa powder with an equal amount of additional powdered sugar and increase the vanilla extract to 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon).

Keywords: marble cake, marble cake recipe, how to make marble cake, chocolate vanilla cake recipe,

Enjoy!

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Collage showing a slice of chocolate vanilla marble cake and a full cake with a slice cut out.

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Recipe rating

83 Comments
  1. Katelyn

    This recipe looks great! Could this be used for cupcakes? If so, how should I go about dividing the batter? Thank you!

    1. Lindsay

      I’m sure it could be used for cupcakes, but I haven’t tried it to be able to advise. I’m guessing you’d need 3-4 tablespoons of batter per cupcake, so you could try to use a couple tablespoons of each layer.

  2. Jen H.

    I’m only able to get 70% cacao or higher for the chocolate. Will that change the flavour of the recipe too much?

  3. Em

    I’ve made this recipe a few times now and always love it! The texture is spot on for me- fluffy and soft- not dense. The instructions are easy to follow. Thanks for the recipe!!

  4. Nicky

    Ok. I am a new baker and have tried several of your cakes and they are absolutely delicious. On the melted chocolate, may I melt it in the microwave or do I have to melt it over the stove in a pot and bowl? 

  5. Mia

    I am planning to make this cake this weekend, but wanted to ask – did you use bleached or unbleached flour? Does it even make a difference? Thanks!

      1. Kathy

        Happy Mother’s Day. Thank you for such a quick response. Also…it’s so hard to get to the store. Single mom. I only have semi sweet chocolate and am sure it will still be delicious.

  6. Mayanka

    Hi Lindsay, 
    The recipe was great and so was the taste, however when I removed the cake from the mould after I cooled it the cake broke, it fell apart from the side and middle, 

    Any idea why this could’ve happened? 

    Thanks,
    Mayanka 

    1. Lindsay

      I may be misreading your comment, but it sounds like you allowed the cake to cool completely in the pan. Is that correct? It’s possible that it just stuck to the pan after cooling in there. There may have been some extra moisture from the condensation that could’ve caused a problem. I typically let cakes cool in their pen for just a couple of minutes, unless the recipe states that it should be done for longer, and then I move it onto a cooling rack to cool.

      1. Lindsay

        You certainly could. If your cake looks like it has a lot of crumbs that could cause an issue, and you could certainly do a thin layer first and then frost it fully.

  7. ANGELICA LYONS

    Hi Lindsay!
    Do you add the melted chocolate to the batter while it is still hot or wait until it is cool? I’m not sure when to melt it; before I start making the cake or right when I need to add it. Someone posted that the chocolate hardened while baking. I’m a little afraid/confused with this step. Please help. I am about to make it this morning. Thank you for all your great recipes!

    1. Lindsay

      I melted the chocolate and then added it right to the batter (step 9). I didn’t have any issues. You could let it cool off just a bit though, if you’re concerned. Unless your chocolate is super hot, or your batter is quite cold, the chocolate shouldn’t harden upon contact with the batter.

      1. ANGELICA LYONS

        Thank you so much for the reply. I went ahead and did it exactly how it’s written and I didn’t have a problem either. I guess I misunderstood the person who said the chocolate had hardened. I thought she meant after it came out of the oven, the chocolate part was hard. I took the pans out of the oven and they looked great. I’m about to make the frosting! This is the third cake I make with your recipes. They are easy to follow and very delicious! Thank you again for your wonderful recipes!

  8. Cassandra

    Hi Lindsay,

    I’m looking to try this recipe out for a co-worker’s retirement and will need to use a vanilla buttercream for frosting and I just wanted to make sure that I’m following your note at the end of the recipe. This note pertains to the frosting portion of the recipe only correct? I usually use your ‘easy vanilla buttercream’ for whenever I want white frosting, do you think this same recipe will work here? I am also needing to do this in a sheet cake, any recommendations? Do you know if I doubled the recipe if that would affect the denseness of cake? I always seem to struggle with vanilla cake being too dense and not moist enough.

    thanks!!

  9. Rachel Prindle

    In case anyone is like me and wondering if these make good cupcakes, let me assure you they do!!!  I used the ghirardelli 60% cocoa chips and they worked perfectly. Delicious, with distinct vanilla and chocolate vanilla flavors. Thanks for this great recipe!

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so sorry for the trouble! There was an issue today that affected thousands of sites – mine included. It looks like it’s been resolved, so you should be able to access it here now. Sorry about that!

  10. sonam

    Hi Lindsay
    Great recipe….turns out yum everyone !!
    I generally make 2- 7inch pans.just want to know can I half the ingredients and make a simple pan….wud it work??

      1. Ss

        Thanks. I made the cake and it was delish. I did use chocolate but found the chocolate cake was more dense.

  11. SG

    The taste of the vegetable oil does not cook out whilst baking, and leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth which remains even after eating. The smell also lingers, similar to something that has been deep fried. Maybe it is an American thing, as I don’t really see oil included in any British/Australian cake recipes. It is a nice recipe apart from this, maybe some people have different tastes.

  12. Teisha

    Would the measurements change if this was converted into a  quarter of a sheet cake (9×13)?If so, by how much?  Your recipes are always the best, but I would like to try this as a sheet cake.

    1. Timothy Bolick

      Teisha – Did you try it as a sheet cake? How did it work out? I’m thinking of doing the same thing and just wondered how it worked for you. 

  13. Sara K

    My son and I made this as written for his birthday – it is delicious! Frosting makes A TON – I think if I’d have halved the frosting recipe it would have been enough. 

  14. Sherin

    Hello lindsay i always follow your recipes always works perfect thanks a lit being for us teaching us I wish you could do more those short videos it’s very practical for us when u show it.thanks a billion times honey
    I have question what I can use instead of shortening cuz it’s not available place that I live?
    And thanks a lot for responding back quick ????????????????

    1. Lindsay

      I’m glad the baking videos are helpful! Instead of shortening you can use butter. Here is a link to my Vanilla Buttercream recipe using butter instead of shortening.

  15. Sherin

    Hello lindsay i always follow your recipes always works perfect thanks a lit being for us teaching us I wish you could do more those short videos it’s very practical for us when u show it.thanks a billion times honey
    I have question what I can use instead of shortening cuz it’s not available place that I live?

      1. Shirin

        Hello Lindsay I love cakes I always do ur recipes it works perfectly amazing honestly.
        I have question what can I put instead of shortening it’s not available place that I live I try margarin n didn’t work out good taste wasn’t good at all specially for buttercream what would be your recommend?

    1. Elizabeth

      I made this as a sheet cake for my daughter’s college graduation party last Saturday. Baked at the same temperature for 35 minutes in 9 x 13 pan. It turned out great! The chocolate buttercream is fantastic!

  16. Kelly Mahan

    Haven’t even made the recipe yet, but I already love this recipe! Can’t wait to have a slice of this with a cup of coffee: YUM!

  17. Viviane Bonneau

    Hi Lindsay,
    I would like to do a marble cake with an other of your vanilla cake/cupcake recipe (your Favorite Moist Vanilla Cupcakes). It’s the base I use for all my cakes and cupcakes. Do you think if I put melted chocolate the texture would be alright? I kind of hope it will make a good chocolate cake so that I only have one base recipe.
    Thank you for all the time you put making wonderful recipes and to share them with us.

    Viviane Bonneau

    1. Lindsay

      I haven’t tried it with that cake to be able to say for sure, I’m sorry. It’d definitely be worth trying though!

  18. Suzy-q

    Hi, Lindsay! When you posted this cake, I headed straight to the kitchen! I followed your
    directions except I melted the chocolate before I began the cake. When I added the warm chocolate to the cake batter and swirled, it was still loose. But, when the cake baked, some of the chocolate mixture firmed
    up into small chunks. Very surprising, since the chocolate was warm and the oven was hot. Any theories? It was still a wonderful tasting cake and was gone in two days.

    1. Lindsay

      Hmmm, so the chocolate didn’t have chunks before it was baked, but it did afterwards? What kind of chocolate did you use? Was it chocolate chips?

      1. Suzy-q

        I used the 60 percent cocoa chips by Ghirardelli and melted them. It was smooth and warm when I added it to the batter .Must be the chips because you used a bar of chocolate and chopped it. I will try making this cake again and see what happens.

      2. Lindsay

        Yea, I had wanted to try the chocolate chips to see if they worked well. I’m guessing that was the issue. I’m sorry!

  19. jennifer pimentel

    hi i made this cake this morning but it didnt turn into a chiffon. it was not light and soft. it was densed. then thr batter with melted chocolate you mean you will not use all of it? just spoonfuls? what about the rest? then the frosting i only used 4 cups powdered sugar instead of 8 cups and the color didnt turn into the color of your cake. maybe it varies from the cocoa powder that was used. another question is that when you say one cup buttermilk, is that pertaining to liquid form already. then how much of the powdered buttermilk should i prepare before dissolving it with water?

    1. Lindsay

      The spoonfuls are dropped over the vanilla cake batter, but you do use it all. For the frosting, more powdered sugar will lighten the color of the frosting. Different cocoas could also make a difference. The one cup of buttermilk is simply one cup – that’s it. I use powdered buttermilk, but you could use the liquid one. If you’re using the powdered, follow the instructions on the container of the one you use.

  20. Angela

    Hello,
    I have tried many marble cake recipes and not been totally happy with the results. I am looking forward to making your marble cake recipe as it seems to tick all the boxes, which every other recipe seems to miss.
    Just a question about the weight of the butter. I am from Australia and thought that half a cup of butter was 112 grams. Could you please clarify this for me.
    First time commenting, and it will be the first recipe I make of yours. Rather exciting.
    Regards from Australia,
    Angela

  21. Joanna

    I had marble cake for my wedding cake. I love it! Yours looks so yummy and just kind of old fashioned and pretty!

  22. Caron

    That’s so crazy – I literally made my own marble cakes this weekend! Yours looks so tasty and moist. Love it!

    1. Fernanda

      Hi, can i make the chocolate part with cocoa instead of chocolate? And can i add chocolate chips inside the cake?

      1. Lindsay

        Using cocoa and melted chocolate affects recipes very differently, so no. I haven’t tested adding chocolate chips or anything to the batter, so I don’t know if they will sink or not.

  23. C M Hartman

    Hi Lindsay, LOVE your recipes and would like to try this marble cake. How would I adjust the ingredients so they go into a bundt pan? Thanks in advance.

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so glad you enjoy the recipes! I’m really not sure about a bundt pan, since I haven’t tested it. It could end up being quite dense.

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