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+ servings
slice of chocolate cake with fork taking a piece

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!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword chocolate cake recipe
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Cooling time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 16 servings
Calories 613kcal


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


  • 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.



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. 


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