My Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
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Enjoy a slice of chocolate heaven with my best chocolate cake recipe! Moist, rich, and topped with fluffy chocolate buttercream frosting, this decadent three layer cake is a guaranteed hit for birthdays, parties, or any dessert craving.

A frosted chocolate layer cake is topped with piped chocolate frosting, rainbow sprinkles and chocolate sauce.

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Why I Love This Layered Chocolate Cake

This is what dreams are made of. My easy homemade chocolate cake is layer after layer of chocolate fantasies, kicking your sweet tooth to the curb! Every bite has a deep flavor that’s irresistibly moist. But best yet, this recipe is so easy to make! Put the electric mixer away – all you need is a handheld whisk and a spoon! We’re going to combine melted dark chocolate, butter, oil, and eggs and mix them together with simple dry ingredients for a melt-in-your-mouth experience. Check out exactly what makes this cake the very best:

  • The homemade frosting: Use my recipe for easy chocolate buttercream frosting for this cake if you want a double dose of chocolate. It’s a sweet and creamy mix of unsalted butter, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, salt, powdered sugar, and evaporated milk.
  • Versatile: There are so many different ways you can customize this classic chocolate cake recipe. Scroll down to my tips and variations section for some ideas!
  • Simple ingredients: If you’re an avid baker like me, there’s a pretty good chance you already have everything you need in your kitchen right now.
  • Super moist: We aren’t using many tools, meaning we don’t run the risk of over-mixing the batter (making the cake dry or dense). We’re using heat to dissolve sugar into water, melting chocolate and butter into the mixture, then combining it all with oil, vanilla, and eggs. Since the batter is more wet than dry, we end up with a cake with double the moisture than an ordinary recipe!

Calling all chocolate lovers! Check out more of my favorite chocolate dessert recipes like chocolate flan, the best chocolate milkshake and chocolate cupcakes.

The ingredients for chocolate cake recipe in order from top to bottom: water, dark chocolate, vanilla, oil, eggs, granulated sugar, all purpose flour, butter, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt.

Key Ingredients

This layered chocolate cake comes together with simple baking staples. Scroll down to the recipe card below for the full ingredient list and exact amounts!

  • All Purpose Flour: The best way to measure flour is to spoon it into a measuring cup, then use a butter knife to level it. If you dunk the cup straight into a bag of flour, you end up packing the flour in there. Packed flour is too much flour!
  • Baking Powder and Baking Soda: Make sure that neither of these ingredients are expired. Double check the dates on each container before using.
  • Dark Chocolate: I don’t recommend swapping this with milk or semisweet chocolate. Dark chocolate is needed to create the richest flavor that balances the sugary sweetness.
  • Eggs: Use room temperature eggs to help the cake rise better.
Piped chocolate frosting on a cake is decorated with rainbow sprinkles and drizzles of chocolate sauce.

How to Make Layered Chocolate Cake

The only hard part is letting the cake take time to cool before you frost it! Below is a quick recipe overview, but please scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for full instructions and to watch the step-by-step video.

  • Combine liquid ingredients: Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside. Then, combine water and sugar on your stovetop and bring to melt the sugar. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate and butter until melted. Whisk in the oil and vanilla. Beat in the eggs quickly so they don’t cook!
  • Add dry ingredients: Whisk in the dry ingredients until smooth.
  • Bake: Divide the chocolate cake batter evenly between three prepared pans and bake.
  • Frost: Once the cake layers are totally cooled to room temperature, frost with chocolate buttercream.
A whole chocolate layer cake is topped with swirls of frosting, drizzled of chocolate sauce and plenty of colorful rainbow sprinkles.

Chef’s Tips

  • Choose good quality ingredients: Use a high-quality cocoa powder and dark chocolate for the best tasting cake. 
  • Let the cake cool: Let the cake cool completely before decorating, otherwise, the icing will melt. The cake layers can be made a day before adding the frosting.
  • Prevent the cake from sticking: If you’re looking for extra protection in your cake pans, flour the edges of each pan after you’ve buttered them and/or add a circle of parchment paper to the bottom. There’s will guarantee your cake will not stick!
  • Let it sit in the fridge: After you’ve finished decorating the cake, allow it to set in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Variations to Try

  • Gluten-free chocolate cake: Use the same amount of a gluten-free flour blend instead.
  • Dairy-free chocolate cake: You’re in luck! This cake is naturally dairy-free, as high-quality dark chocolate and cocoa powder both contain no dairy. You will need to use a different frosting recipe or sub the evaporated milk for coconut milk. 
  • No eggs: Yes, it can be done! Check out my recipe for chocolate mayonnaise cake where I substituted oil and raw eggs for mayo. Alternatively, leave the eggs out of this recipe and replace them with ¼ cup of plain yogurt. It’s not exactly the same, but will work in a pinch!
  • Espresso powder: Adding 2 teaspoons of espresso powder to the dry ingredients will only enhance the chocolate flavor and NOT make the cake taste like coffee. Or, add a couple of tablespoons of espresso powder for a chocolate coffee cake!
  • Peanut butter frosting: Add a nutty flavor by using my peanut butter frosting instead of chocolate buttercream!
Slice of chocolate cake on a plate with a fork.
4.6 from 45 votes
Print Pin Recipe
Yield: 12

BEST Chocolate Cake

Sharing my BEST Chocolate Cake Recipe with chocolate buttercream frosting and a chocolate sauce drizzled on top. You will enjoy bite after bite of this moist chocolate cake!
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Additional Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour 35 minutes

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

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Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 8 inch round cake pans and line the bottom with a round piece of parchment paper cut to fit the bottom of your cake pans. (This ensures your cake does not stick.) Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally, until melted.
  • Whisk in vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Quickly beat in eggs (do this quickly so they don’t cook) into the chocolate mixture until combined. Whisk in dry ingredients, until smooth.
  • Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let cakes cool in pans until cool to the touch – then frost as desired!

Video

Notes

Storing: Cover the cake with a lid or plastic wrap and keep it in your fridge. It should stay fresh for up to 3 days.
Freezing: Bake the cake layers as normal, wrap them individually in plastic wrap once cooled, and freeze for up to 3 months. A frosted cake will last just as long when kept covered in the freezer. To thaw, leave it in the fridge overnight and serve cold.
Make ahead frosting: Chocolate buttercream can be made up to 4 days in advance. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge, then let it sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before using. You can also freeze the buttercream for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 377kcal, Carbohydrates: 60g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 49mg, Sodium: 509mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 41g

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5 stars
“That’s the best birthday cake I’ve ever had in my entire life”

Her entire life is only 10 years, but she’s right. Even the non-cake lovers ate every bite! Thanks for a recipe that let this aunt deliver for her niece. I also used your chocolate buttercream recipe for it and everything turned out delicious!

This is the best chocolate cake recipe I’ve used. I’d never seen a recipe that started with water and sugar on the stove. The cake is dense and moist, just like I like it. The chocolate buttercream frosting is fudgy. I only had 9 inch rounds, so I used them to make two layers. I used self rising flour because that’s what I always do when a recipe calls for all purpose and baking powder soda or powder. The icing recipe made enough for two layers. I didn’t make the chocolate sauce, but I bet it would be fantastic. Thank you for the recipe!

Hi, just wondering what cocoa you use for this recipe, natural or dutch processed? Also what percentage dark chocolate do you use?

What is the conversion for cake flour instead of all purpose flour.

Also can this be made in 4” rounds

Thankyou, I’ve made lots of chocolate cake recipes over the years. This is definitely one of the best. It has lots of flavour, a nice soft texture and it doesn’t have the oily ‘wet’ texture you can get from all oil cakes. It also tastes great straight out of the fridge. Do you think it would hold up under fondant?

Wonder how a raspberry filling would taste ?

Can this be used to make a 1/4 sheet cake and cupcakes and still turn out moist?

You said it’s a dairy free recipe, but there’s butter in the cake, so it can’t be. Could I swap the butter for butter flavored Crisco?

Hi! I really enjoy your vanilla dream cake recipe. I use it very often!! Would you say this chocolate cake recipe is dense enough to pair with the vanilla dream cake for a chocolate & vanilla cake? Thanks so much!

Hi Jessica!

I’ve made this cake and my family and I have absolutely loved it! I am curious if you’ve ever tried this recipe in a 9×13 pan? If so, what changes if any, did you make?

Thank you!

-Hilary Neff

This cake was the bomb!!! According to my brother this is the best chocolate cake ever!!

I’ve made this recipe a couple times over the years, and it always turns out AMAZING. So moist and rich and delicious. I usually use two 9″ pans because that’s all I have, but it’s no problem. Just have to watch the bake time

If you want something truly ~decadent~, one of the times I made this I used a salted caramel buttercream with a chocolate ganache on top.

I love this Chocolate cake recipe. Thank you for sharing it. Made my husband’s birthday!

Did you feel one batch of frosting was good? Or did you double the frosting recipe?

Looks great but it would be nice if you could share the metric version of the recipe as well. I will never understand why so many people just ignore the fact that many people (myself included) much prefer to bake the British way. It is really much better!

I made this right after you posted it since I am still social distancing and WOW it’s good! I followed the directions exactly except I let my baked cake sit overnight before I frosted it because I ran out of time. It was so moist and delicious!

Oops – I meant Jessica, not Jo!

Hi Jo,
Could espresso powder be used in this chocolate cake recipe?  Is so, how much?
Thanks! 

Oh my goodness! I’m not a baker, especially from scratch but I might just have to try this cake.

Do we need to add the eggs in while the mixture is hot or let it cool first. Can you all tell me the measurement in grams please.

I am planning to make this for my son’s birthday.

Thank You For Being Here!

Jessica
For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.