Easy Marble Cake Recipe

This Marble Cake may look fancy, but it’s incredibly easy to make! Learn how to make an old-fashioned marble cake with swirls of vanilla and chocolate cake, all covered in chocolate icing. This moist and fluffy cake is always a hit!

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

Moist Homemade Marble Cake

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.

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!

What You’ll Need

Here is a quick overview of what you’ll need to make this cake. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card below for specific amounts.

For the Cake

  • All purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter – 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.
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Buttermilk – I use powdered buttermilk. Regular milk would work fine as a substitute.
  • Bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao) – I strongly recommend sticking with bittersweet chocolate for this cake. I find it gives the best flavor and texture to the chocolate cake portion.

For the Chocolate Icing

  • Butter
  • Shortening
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Water or milk

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 difference 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 bittersweet chocolate, which is kind of a middle point between the 100% cocoa and semi-sweet, since it’s 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 chocolate still messed with the texture more than I wanted it to.

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

How to Make Marble Cake

Now that you know what you’ll need ingredients-wise, it’s time to get down to making this cake. To get started making this Marble Cake, you’ll make the vanilla cake batter. This batter will later be flavored with chocolate, and then you’ll swirl the two together.

Prep your tools. Prepare two 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).

Mix dry ingredients. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter. 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.

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.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until combined.

Add the milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.

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.

Set aside 1 1/4 cups of batter. Then divide the remaining batter between the two cake pans and set them aside.

Melt the chopped chocolate. Add it to the batter that was set aside and gently fold together to combine.

Swirl the two batters together. 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.

Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

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

Icing 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 vanilla frosting as well. You can also make your frosting in advance! Frosting will keep in the fridge for 1 month and in the freezer for up to 3 months. Just give it a good stir to get the consistency nice and smooth again if you do make it ahead.

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!

How to Store a Frosted Cake

You can store this cake on the counter for 2-3 days or in the fridge for up to 1 week. In either case, I recommend covering the cake with saran wrap or placing it in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out.

Can I Freeze This?

Yes, you can definitely freeze marble cake! It is easiest to freeze the cake before it is frosted. Let it come to room temperature, then wrap it in 3-4 layers of saran wrap and place it in an airtight freezer-safe container or Ziploc bag. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

When you’re ready to eat it just let it thaw on the counter for a few hours or in the fridge overnight.

Print
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Marble Cake slice
Recipe

Easy Marble Cake Recipe

  • Author: Life Love and Sugar
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cooling Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 52 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 slices
  • 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!


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

Make the Marble Cake

  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 divide 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.

Make the Frosting

  1. To make the frosting, beat the butter and shortening together until smooth.
  2. Add half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla extract, cocoa powder and 4-5 tablespoons of water or milk and mix until smooth.
  4. Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add additional water or milk, as needed to get the right consistency of frosting.
  5. 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.
  6. Place the first cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round.
  7. Spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake.
  8. Add the second layer of cake on top, then frost the outside of the cake.

Notes

  • Store in an air-tight container. Cake is best when eaten within 3-4 days.

*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).

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 Slice
  • Calories: 786
  • Sugar: 80.4 g
  • Sodium: 285.7 mg
  • Fat: 41.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 102.2 g
  • Protein: 6.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 72.8 mg

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

More Cakes to Try

Enjoy!

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Recipe rating

93 Comments
  1. Marissa

    I love this cake and am trying to make it into a sheet cake (half sheet). Do you know if one recipe is enough for a half sheet (1 inch sides) or how many cups it makes?

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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