Classic Chocolate Cake

5 from 57 votes

This post may contain affiliate sales links. Please read my disclosure policy.

This Chocolate Cake Recipe is the most quintessential, classic chocolate cake that you need in your recipe box. Made with simple pantry ingredients and frosted with a delicious chocolate frosting, it is truly the only recipe you will ever need for chocolate cake. Of course you can frost this with any kind of frosting (like Cream Cheese or Vanilla Buttercream) but the original chocolate is a great choice.

If you’re looking for my egg-free, Vegan Chocolate Cake, you can find that recipe here.

slice of chocolate cake with fork taking a piece

Chocolate Cake | A Classic Recipe

If you follow me on instagram, you will know I’ve been making this recipe again and again…doing everything I could to get it *just* right and after seven tries (and ten others, thanks to some devoted readers who agreed to be recipe testers) I’m so excited to share this truly AMAZING Chocolate Cake Recipe that I am going to be shouting about from the rooftops.

My husband is probably the toughest critic because he is the chocoholic in the family but after trying this final version, he shook his head, smiled and said “Yup, this is it. It’s SO good.” While I struggled with getting this cake moist enough and chocolatey enough, I finally got the combination just right and am truly so proud of this recipe. I hope you make this chocolate cake this weekend and love it. Well, I hope you love ALL my recipes you try, but this one (and maybe my cheesecake recipe) are ones that hold special places in my heart. Ha!

eggs whipped into butter and sugar

Main Ingredients Needed

Ordinary pantry staples come together to create this amazing chocolate cake. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Flour + Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder – flour fills out the cake and the cocoa gives us that clean chocolate flavor.
  • Baking Powder + Baking Soda – both are used for the optimal amount of raise.
  • Salt – to balance out the sweet and bring out that chocolate flavor.
  • Buttermilk – this helps keep the cake moist. If you don’t have buttermilk use milk and white vinegar (1 1/2 cups of milk and 1 1/2 teaspoons of white vinegar).
  • Vanilla – for flavor.
  • Instant Coffee Granules– this is an optional ingredient, but a little certainly goes a long way! I recommend adding 1 teaspoon to your batter. You can’t taste coffee in the finished cake, but absolutely helps in getting that rich, chocolate flavor. I used Folgers Instant Coffee Crystals and they worked perfectly.
  • Vegetable Oil – used for moisture
  • Sugar – to sweeten.
  • Eggs + Egg Whites – used for structure and texture. The egg white addition helps keep the cake light.

Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder Versus All the Others

After testing and re-testing this chocolate cake recipe, I have found the best cocoa that will give you the best chocolatey flavor is Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder. Regular unsweetened cocoa powder is a little more acidic while Dutch processed is neutral. This just has to do with the way the cocoa beans are processed. While both kinds of cocoa powder will definitely work in this recipe, I liked the Dutch-Processed best. Ghiradelli has a great Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder that I’ve been using and it is fabulous. I would highly recommend it.

How to Make Chocolate Cake

For full details, including increments, see the printable recipe card down below!

Step 1: Preheat Oven and Prepare Pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three 8-inch round baking pan with parchment paper and/or spray well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. (See notes)

Step 2: Prepare the Dry + Wet Ingredients

In a large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together to combine. Set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup, stir buttermilk, instant coffee granules (if using) and vanilla together. You want to stir to dissolve the coffee granules. They will slowly dissolve over the course of 5-10 minutes as they sit in the buttermilk and as you add them into the chocolate cake batter. Set aside.

Step 3: Make the Cake Batter

In a large bowl, mix oil and sugar together until combined. Add in the eggs and egg white, one at a time, until mixture becomes lighter in color. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again briefly.

Alternate adding in flour mixture with milk mixture, being sure to start and end with flour. Scrape the sides and mix again to ensure a smooth batter.

chocolate cake batter in glass mixing bowl

Step 4: Bake and Cool

Using an ice cream scoop, divide chocolate cake batter evenly between baking pans and smooth the tops. Bake 22-30 minutes in the lower 2/3rds of the oven. Cake will be done when a toothpick comes out clean or mostly clean with a few moist crumbs.

Cool 15-20 minutes in cake pans before trying to invert on cooling racks. Once you can handle the warm pans with your bare hands, you can flip them out. Cool completely before frosting and decorating.

Frosting Your Chocolate Cake

If you’re making this recipe as a two or three layered cake, you’re going to want to make sure your cakes are completely cooled before frosting. Since the majority of frostings are butter based, that butter can melt if your cakes are too warm. So the first step in having success is making sure they are at room temperature.

After you know you’re ready to frost your cake, be sure no matter what frosting you’re using, it’s smooth, creamy and easy to spread while still holding its shape. Run a butter knife through the bowl of finished frosting and if it goes through relatively easily, you should be good to go.

If you notice your frosting has a lot of air bubbles (which makes it difficult to frost), beat it by hand with a large wooden spoon to remove as many as you can.

What Frosting Should I Use?

The best and most classic frosting to use with this chocolate cake recipe is my Easy Chocolate Frosting Recipe! I have that added to the recipe card below. However, it depends on what kind of overall product you are looking for too. Consider these other great frosting recipes to try:

baked chocolate cake in pans

Make Chocolate Cake Ahead

The best thing about making this chocolate cake recipe (and really any baked cake) is they store beautifully if you make them ahead! Here are a few storage options:

Storing at Room Temperature

Once your cake has been baked, cooled, wrap them in plastic wrap and store at room temperature overnight. Prepare the frosting then cover and store in the fridge overnight as well. When you are ready to assemble and decorate, set the frosting out at room temperature to soften for about 30-45 minutes. Give it a quick mix to loosen it up in your mixer for about a minute, then frost away! (You may have to add a splash of heavy cream or milk to bring it back to life.)

Storing in the Freezer

If you want to make this cake even farther ahead of time, consider freezing it! Baked chocolate cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap baked cake layers well in two layers plastic wrap and one layer of heavy duty foil and store flat in the freezer. To thaw, transfer from the freezer to the fridge overnight and then bring to room temperature before decorating.

Same Recipe, Different Cakes!

This Chocolate Cake Recipe will make:

  • 1- 9×13 thick cake (bake for 30-40 minutes)
  • 2- 8 or 9-inch round cakes (bake for 28-35 minutes)
  • 32 cupcakes (bake for 15-22 minutes)

Regardless of how you bake this cake recipe, be sure to use lighter-colored baking pans (or glass). Using a darker Teflon will make the edges cook a lot quicker than the center of the cake, giving you darker, crispier edges which isn’t what we’re going for with this chocolate cake recipe.

More Cake Recipes to Try!

Be sure to check out the rest of my cake recipes while you’re at it 🙂

5 from 57 votes

Classic Chocolate Cake

This Chocolate Cake Recipe is quick, easy and most importantly delicious! Pair it with your favorite frosting recipe and you've got dessert!
servings 16 servings
Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 10 mins

Ingredients

For the Chocolate Cake:

For the Chocolate Frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter softened
  • 1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream or more, as needed

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three 8-inch round baking pan with parchment paper and/or spray well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. (See notes)
  • In a large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together to combine. Set aside. In a liquid measuring cup, stir buttermilk, vanilla and instant coffee granules (if using) together. Set aside.
    dry ingredients in glass bowl
  • In a separate large bowl, mix oil and sugar together until combined. Mix in eggs and egg white, one at a time, until mixture becomes lighter in color, about 90 seconds.
    creamed butter, oil and sugar in bowl
  • Alternate adding in flour mixture with milk mixture, being sure to start and end with flour. Scrape the sides and mix again to ensure a smooth batter.
    pouring in buttermilk into chocolate cake batter
  • Divide evenly between baking pans and smooth the top. Bake 22-30 minutes in the lower 2/3rds of the oven. If you're using two cake pans instead of three, you will need to bake this cake 28-35 minutes. Cake will be done when a toothpick comes out clean or mostly clean with a few moist crumbs. Cool 15-20 minutes in cake pans before trying to invert on cooling racks. Once you can handle the warm pans with your bare hands, you can flip them out. Cool completely before frosting and decorating.
    round chocolate cakes cooling on cooling racks

For the Chocolate Frosting:

  • See recipe notes for how much frosting you will need to make. In a large bowl, measure and add butter, powdered sugar, cocoa, salt and vanilla. Stir with beaters on low (or paddle attachment on stand mixer) to mix and break up the butter. It will still be very powdery and dry. Slowly add in the heavy cream. Once you notice the frosting start to come together stop adding the cream. You may need to add more than the amount listed. This is also normal. Increase mixer speed to medium to get rid of any lumps and create a smooth frosting. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl and mix again to ensure a completely smooth frosting. Chocolate frosting will be done when it can hold its shape, but you can easily move a butter knife through it. If its too thick, add more cream and mix. If you've added too much cream and the frosting is too soft, add more powdered sugar. If you notice there are a lot of air bubbles in your frosting, use a large wooden spoon to beat a lot of the air out of the frosting by hand.

Video

Notes

How much frosting should I make? The listed recipe makes enough frosting to fill and frost a three layer cake. If you’re only baking two layers, I recommend cutting the recipe down. Use the following increments: 1 cup softened butter, 1 pound powdered sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1/3 teaspoon salt (or a scant 1/2 teaspoon), 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 cup heavy cream (or more, as needed). Use the same directions to make the frosting as listed in the recipe card.

Nutrition

Calories: 613kcal | Carbohydrates: 84g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 406mg | Potassium: 230mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 68g | Vitamin A: 672IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chocolate cake recipe

Share a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




124 Responses
  1. 37 Quick and Easy Chocolate Dessert Recipes

    […] Easy Chocolate Cake from Table for Two ★Chocolate Poke Cake from Life, Love and Sugar ★Perfect Chocolate Cake from Lauren’s Latest ★The Best Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache from Averie Cooks […]

  2. Baby’s First Birthday! | Lauren's Latest

    […] baked my perfect chocolate cake plus my best chocolate frosting for Eddie’s cake and cupcakes. I baked the larger cake in two […]

  3. Monster Truck Cake | Lauren's Latest

    […] Cake Mix to create 1-9×13 cake, 1-8 inch round cake and 12 cupcakes. A double recipe of my Perfect Chocolate Cake would also do the […]

  4. Melanie

    5 stars
    Hi Lauren 🙂
    I have 3 kids and I give them the option every birthday—–what kind of cake would you like me to make you for your birthday?? All 3 request THIS cake!!

  5. Catherine Potter

    5 stars
    I have been making this chocolate cake for years! it is my “go-to” cake and I have shared it with many people. Thank YOU!!!

  6. Justine Fish

    5 stars
    I love this chocolate cake! It’s a big hit in our house and enjoyed by all my friends! I always get asked about the recipe and send them your way!

  7. Oreo Bottomed Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Oreo Frosting - Lauren's Latest

    […] feel free to use a favorite chocolate cake recipe you have…or just get a box mix. Whatevs. My Perfect Chocolate Cake recipe would have been perfect for this. Not quite sure why I didn’t just use that […]

  8. Planted Carrot Chocolate Easter Cake - Lauren's Latest

    […] used my Perfect Chocolate Cake recipe for the base, Oreos for the dirt, orange frosting + mint for the carrots and decorated the […]

  9. Carrot Cupcakes - Lauren's Latest

    […] here’s the 411 on these: carrot cupcakes {adapted from my chocolate cake recipe, believe it or not!} topped with cream cheese frosting and then decorated as follows: {follow along […]

  10. Black Forest Cake - Lauren's Latest

    […] I made this completely from scratch with my Perfect Chocolate Cake recipe, a homemade cherry filling and lovely vanilla whipped […]

  11. Chocolate Cake Extreme | Lauren's Latest

    […] recipe I’m sharing today is based off of my perfect chocolate cake recipe and my best and easiest chocolate frosting recipe. So, I basically smashed those two together, but […]

  12. Gord's Peanut Butter Cup Cake | Lauren's Latest

    […] the actual cake, I used my Perfect Chocolate Cake recipe. It’s not a requirement to use that chocolate cake recipe; any favorite recipe you have […]

  13. Peanut Butter Oreo Ice Cream Cake Recipe - Lauren's Latest

    […] ice cream cake isn’t your thing, give my perfect chocolate cake a recipe with accompanying frosting. It’s one of my most popular […]

  14. Homemade Ice Cream Crunch Cake | Lauren's Latest

    […] ice cream cake isn’t your thing, give my perfect chocolate cake a recipe with accompanying frosting. It’s one of my most popular […]

  15. Cinnamon Roll Sheet Cake | Lauren's Latest

    […] cinnamon cake isn’t your thing, try my perfect chocolate cake recipe with accompanying frosting. It’s one of my most popular […]

  16. Nutter Butter Nutella Icebox Cake | Lauren's Latest

    […] icebox cakes aren’t your thing, give my perfect chocolate cake recipe a try with accompanying frosting. It’s one of my most popular […]

  17. Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes | Lauren's Latest

    […] lava cakes aren’t your thing, give my perfect chocolate cake a recipe with accompanying frosting. It’s one of my most popular […]

  18. Adrian

    5 stars
    I am making this cake for the second time (it’s so yummy!) and I was wondering if it’s possible to download your Everyday Ingredients Extraordinary Meals Cookbook again. I must not have saved it properly when I downloaded it a few years ago.

  19. Judi

    Would like to try this but do not like canola oil- have used coconut oil before so may substitute it! Sounds very delicious!

  20. Chocolate Birthday Cake with Peanut Butter Glaze | Lauren's Latest

    […] used my Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe as the base, my Chocolate Frosting recipe to fill and coat and then a basic peanut butter glaze […]

  21. MasterRusk

    5 stars
    Made this for a birthday. Easy to make, delicious moist cake, easy to work with icing. Made a great impression when the cake was cut and the layers revealed. A hit all around.

  22. Buttercream Frosting | Lauren's Latest

    […] you are more of a chocolate person, be sure to check out my perfect chocolate cake and my chocolate frosting recipe. Or my chocolate cream cheese danish. Or my entire chocolate […]

  23. Alex

    5 stars
    This is by far my favorite chocolate cake recipe. I’m not vegan/vegetarian but I prefer this recipe just because it’s so good and so easy! I make it all the time for family and they love it as well.

  24. This Week at the Brennans' | Lauren's Latest

    […] also made my chocolate cake cupcakes, frosted them with this chocolate frosting and had the kids decorate with other candies after we […]

  25. Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting | Lauren's Latest

    […] chocolate cupcakes are  just my Perfect Chocolate Cake recipe cut in half and baked as cupcakes. Then I topped them with my favorite cream cheese frosting […]

  26. Janice Zelnock

    5 stars
    Best ever non-dairy cake!
    I never post reviews for recipes, but could not resist commenting on this cake. I have a casein intolerance and cannot have milk without getting sick. There is no magic pill to stop casein allergies. I just need to avoid milk, which is very difficult since it is in every conceivable food, even dried fruit bars. Many ‘healthy’ snacks contain milk proteins (ie: casein) and I cannot have them. Since cakes always contain milk, I figured I would never eat cake again. I made this cake yesterday for myself (I have a BD today). Not only is it milk-free, it is hands down the BEST chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten. Thank you so, so much for posting this. Now I can have occasionally have some cake and not get sick. Lauren, you are the best!!!

  27. Janice Zelnock

    5 stars
    Best ever non-dairy cake!
    I never post reviews for recipes, but could not resist commenting on this cake. I have a casein intolerance and cannot have milk without getting sick. I made this cake yesterday. Not only is it milk-free, it is hands down the BEST chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten. Thank you so, so much for posting this. Now I can have occasionally have some cake and not get sick. Lauren, you are the best!!!

  28. Vanilla Cake Recipe | Lauren's Latest

    […] you name it. It’s my go-to flavor and much to my husband’s horror, I like it more than chocolate cake. It took me several weeks to develop this particular vanilla cake recipe, yielding an end result […]

  29. Amanda Noda

    5 stars
    My new go to recipe. Our friends loved it too. I added a layer of crushed up mint Oreos in the middle. Cake was very moist. Thank you so much for sharing.

  30. Katie

    5 stars
    This is the best chocolate cake recipe! I used this recipe to make my son a black forest cake for his 10th birthday and it is amazing! The best! We are gluten free so I used cup 4 cup flour and added an egg because I’ve never made a cake without them and was nervous how it would turn out without at least one. I usually make the cake recipe on the back of the Hershey’s cocoa powder box because I know it will work perfectly with the gluten free flour, but it is never dense enough, it turns out more like a boxed cupcake mix, which isn’t great for stacking and decorating. This is my new go to recipe, with an egg of course. I’m so glad to have found your blog!

  31. Barb Andrews

    5 stars
    I’ve left this comment before, but this is the best chocolate cake recipe ever!! (And I’d never tell my vegan sister I made a vegan cake!). I’ve made it for several special occasions and it never fails to impress. Love it!

  32. Simone

    5 stars
    I tried it with the idea of mini cupcakes because I was having a lazy day and didn’t want to go out to get the items for icing. I was a little worried about the no eggs but they came out awesome. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  33. Simple Chocolate Cake – Sacred Table

    […] This is the go-to recipe for chocolate cake with an amazing chocolate frosting. Originally found here (cake) and here […]

“logos”