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This perfectly tender chocolate cake gets its deep flavor thanks to Irish stout. Finish this chocolate Guinness cake with a rich chocolate ganache or your favorite chocolate frosting for a perfect dessert for any chocolate lover.

Slice being removed from a chocolate guinness cake.

I first made this chocolate guinness cake years and years ago for my younger brother, Jared.

Even though I’m not a big fan of alcohol, I often find myself buying various libations that pique my interest for use in recipes. One of those random purchases somewhere along the line included a couple bottles of stout beer that I just knew would lend itself quite well to a chocolatey cake.

And so, thanks to a bit of impulse shopping and my little brother, this chocolate Guinness cake was born.

Slice of chocolate guinness cake topped with chocolate curls standing up on a white plate.

What is Chocolate Guinness Cake?

Chocolate Guinness cake is exactly what it sounds like: a tender chocolate cake with a whole bottle of Guinness stout in it. 

Now, if you’re not a big fan of beer, don’t freak out. The flavor of the isn’t very pronounced; instead, the stout helps give the chocolate a deeper flavor.

It’s not unlike how we use a little bit of coffee in the best chocolate cake for a richer chocolate flavor. (In fact, this recipe has coffee in it, too!)

The first time I made this cake, I used a chocolate stout, but I have also made it with Guinness and either beer works great in this recipe.

I like to finish this chocolate Guinness cake with a rich chocolate ganache frosting. Since the cake itself has a deep chocolate flavor but isn’t rich, it balances out the richness of the chocolate ganache.

This is definitely a cake for the chocolate lovers in your life!

Chocolate guinness cake garnished with chocolate curls set on a cake stand.
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How to Make Chocolate Guinness Cake

Like nearly all layer cake recipes, this chocolate Guinness cake is impressive to cut into. But you don’t need any special skills to make it, I promise! 

Ingredients you’ll need

To make this decadent cake, you will need:

  • 12 ounces Guinness beer (you can also use chocolate stout)
  • ½ cup strong black coffee
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups sour cream
Ingredients for chocolate guinness cake arranged on a beige countertop.

Any good stout beer will work in this cake, but I personally prefer to use Guinness or a nice chocolate stout. 

If you aren’t a regular coffee drinker and don’t want to brew a pot, you can replace the coffee with ½ teaspoon of instant espresso powder dissolved in ½ cup of hot water.

I recommend using dutch-processed cocoa powder in this cake. Dutch-process cocoa has been through an alkalizing process that gives it a higher pH and a darker, richer color than natural, unsweetened cocoa.

You can find dutch-process cocoa in the baking aisle of most grocery stores these days. It will sometimes be labeled as “dutched,” “alkalized,” or “European style.” 

When measuring out your ingredients, make sure you know how to measure flour correctly. Use this same method for measuring the cocoa powder as well. This will help your chocolate Guinness cake to come out perfectly every time.

If you want to make the chocolate ganache frosting, you will need:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 pound chopped semisweet chocolate

This will make enough ganache to cover and fill all 3 layers of the cake.

Chocolate ganache ingredients on a beige countertop.

Making this cake

This recipe makes a three-layer 8-inch cake, so you will need three 8-inch round cake pans. Lightly coat all of the pans with nonstick cooking spray or butter and line them with parchment on the bottoms. I also recommend spraying the parchment paper.

This recipe makes a LOT of batter, so you will definitely need to use your biggest mixing bowl. If you have a 5-quart KitchenAid mixer, it will fit but just barely!

Chocolate and beer mixture in a saucepan.

To make the cake batter, start by bringing the Guinness, coffee, and butter to a simmer in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Once simmering, add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Let this cool.

Now whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In your biggest bowl or your stand mixer, beat the eggs, vanilla, and sour cream together until smooth.

Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture, beating until just combined. Make sure the stout mixture is cool enough before adding it that it won’t scramble the eggs.

Slowly add the flour mixture, beating on low speed until just combined.

Chocolate guinness cake batter in a large white bowl.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans, then bake for 40-45 minutes at 350°F. You will want to rotate the pans halfway through baking to make sure all 3 layers bake evenly.

The cakes are done baking when a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning them out a wire rack to cool completely.

Baked chocolate guinness cake layers cooling on a wire rack.

For the chocolate ganache frosting, bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat. Add the chopped semi-sweet chocolate to a bowl and pour the hot cream over it.

Let the mixture rest for a few minutes, then whisk until the ganache is melted and smooth. 

Chocolate ganache being whisked in a metal bowl.

Refrigerate until the mixture is spreadable, stirring every 20-30 minutes. This usually takes about 90 minutes for me.

To assemble the cakes, place 1 layer on a cake plate. If the cakes are very domed, you can use a large, serrated knife to level the tops. 

Spread ⅔ cup of the frosting on top of the first layer. Top with the second layer and repeat. Finish with the third layer and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. 

If desired, finish the chocolate Guinness cake with some chocolate curls.

Frosted chocolate guinness cake on a white cake plate.

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Storage Tips

Store chocolate Guinness cake covered in a cake carrier for 3-4 days at room temperature.

I don’t personally love refrigerating this cake – sometimes the texture changes a bit after it has been refrigerated. But you certainly can refrigerate it or freeze it for longer storage; follow my directions for how to freeze cake when doing so.

Three white plates, each holding a slice of chocolate guinness cake, with the rest of the cake in the background.

Recipe FAQs

Do I have to use Guinness specifically when making this cake?

I love using Guinness in this recipe because it’s the most iconic Irish stout (and so easy to find, especially around St. Patrick’s Day). But any dry stout in a similar style to Guinness should work just fine.
I have also used chocolate stout in this recipe and that was also delicious!

I don’t like or can’t have beer. What can I use in this recipe instead?

This particular chocolate Guinness cake really does rely on the stout in the cake batter, so there isn’t a good replacement for it if you don’t like beer. 
If you are still looking for a great chocolate cake without the stout, try black magic cake, eggless chocolate cake, or even this vegan chocolate cake.

I don’t have dutch-processed cocoa. Can I use natural cocoa instead?

I personally think this recipe works best with dutched cocoa, but you can make it with natural unsweetened cocoa. Just keep in mind that the color of the final cake may not be quite as dark and the texture may be slightly different due to pH differences in the two cocoas.

Can I use yogurt instead of sour cream in the cake batter?

Absolutely. If you don’t have sour cream on hand, plain yogurt will work. I prefer to use Greek yogurt when baking and find it is the closest in texture to sour cream.

I don’t care for the richness of the chocolate ganache frosting on this chocolate Guinness cake. Is there a different frosting I can use instead?

Yes! My homemade chocolate frosting is a great option. Even cream cheese frosting would be delicious with the deep chocolate flavor of this chocolate Guinness cake.

Fork cutting a bite from the corner of a slice of chocolate guinness cake.
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Chocolate Guinness Cake

By: Jamie
5 from 2 ratings
Prep: 40 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Cooling Time: 3 hours
Total: 4 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 16
This perfectly tender chocolate cake gets its deep flavor thanks to Irish stout. Finish this chocolate Guinness cake with a rich chocolate ganache or your favorite chocolate frosting for a perfect dessert for any chocolate lover.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces Guinness beer you can also use chocolate stout
  • ½ cup strong black coffee
  • 2 cups unsalted butter cut into pieces
  • 1 ½ cups Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ⅓ cups sour cream

For the frosting

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 pound semisweet chocolate chopped

Instructions 

For the Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat three 8-inch round cake pans with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray or butter and line with parchment paper rounds, then spray paper. Set aside.
  • In heavy large saucepan over medium heat, bring Guinness, coffee and butter to a simmer. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
  • Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl to blend. In another large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat eggs, vanilla and sour cream until smooth.
  • Add Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat until just combined, taking care the stout mixture is cool enough that it will not cook the eggs. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low speed until just combined. Divide batter equally among prepared pans.
  • Bake cakes 40-45 minutes, rotating pans between racks halfway through baking. Cakes are done when a tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean. Transfer cakes to rack; cool 10 minutes in the pans. Turn cakes out onto rack and cool completely.

For the frosting

  • Bring cream just to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chopped chocolate to a bowl and pour over hot cream. Let stand for a few minutes, then whisk until melted and smooth. Refrigerate until icing is spreadable, stirring every 20-30 minutes, about 1 ½ hours.
  • Place 1 cake layer on plate. Spread 2/3 cup icing over. Top with second cake layer. Spread 2/3 cup icing over. Top with third cake layer. Spread remaining icing over top and sides of cake. Top with chocolate curls.

Video

Notes

You can substitute the coffee for ½ teaspoon of instant espresso powder dissolved in ½ cup of hot water. No need to let the mixture cool since it is being heated with the other liquid ingredients.
I recommend using dutch-processed cocoa powder in this cake. Dutch-process cocoa has been through an alkalizing process that gives it a higher pH and a darker, richer color than natural, unsweetened cocoa. You can find dutch-process cocoa in the baking aisle of most grocery stores these days. It will sometimes be labeled as “dutched,” “alkalized,” or “European style.”
I recommend trimming the domes from the tops of the cake for even layers while frosting. Use a large serrated knife to do this.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice, Calories: 857kcal, Carbohydrates: 96g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 51g, Saturated Fat: 31g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 14g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 149mg, Sodium: 336mg, Potassium: 397mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 62g, Vitamin A: 1340IU, Vitamin C: 0.4mg, Calcium: 129mg, Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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119 Comments

  1. Anna says:

    I was wondering what your elevation is there as I’m currently baking this and can I just say it’s overflowing all 3 cake pans and not done – and that is with me also making a dozen cupcakes – what the heck?

    1. Jamie says:

      I’m sorry to hear that, Anna! How high are the sides of your cake pans? I’ve had cake overflow as well, and it’s incredibly frustrating. Let me know if I can help any further.

  2. Dua says:

    Jamie, the recipe sounds absolutely delicious! But could you tell me a substitute for the stout, thanks!

    1. Jamie says:

      Hi, Dua! Unfortunately it’s a bit difficult to find a substitute for stout. I think you might like my recipe for The Best Chocolate Cake. Let me know what you think!

  3. Jackie says:

    Hi,   I’m thinking of using this recipe for a wedding cake (top tier only) obviously as I have to ice and decorate it I will need to make it a few days before the wedding.  Will this cake keep long enough to do this, or will it dry out?  Thanks

    1. Jamie says:

      Hi, Jackie! You can definitely make this a few days ahead, and I would suggest freezing the unfrosted layers until you need them. I hope you and the guests enjoy it!

  4. Mary Lou says:

    Was the ganache whipped in that photo to get the creamy appearance in the photo?

    1. Jamie says:

      Hi, Mary Lou! The ganache was whisked every so often while it was cooling in the refrigerator. It should be pretty smooth when spreading on the cake. I hope you enjoy it!

  5. shafi says:

    it sounds good and delicious but one thing I did not understand never heard of it what is chocolate stuet

    1. Jamie says:

      Shafi-
      Stout is a type of beer. I hope this helps!
      -Jamie

  6. jeanne says:

    I’ve tried to make a chocolatey chocolate cake roll, to no avail. I’ve tried every recipe in the book. If I can get it to roll, it has no taste. If I can get a rich chocolately flavor, it won’t roll.

  7. Connie says:

    this is my family’s favorite cake for birthdays!

  8. Connie says:

    this is my families favorite!

  9. Jenna says:

    This cake is really good. But couldn’t taste the stout. It’s a good chocolate cake though

    1. Jamie says:

      Jenna-
      I’m glad you got the chance to try it. Thanks for stopping by.

      -Jamie

  10. Stephanie says:

    i am wondering about the frosting. You said to melt the chocolate in the heavy cream. Doesnt it need to be whipped at some point? How would this work as frosting if you just melt the the chocolate in & refridgerate. Please help so I can make this with sucess

    1. Jamie says:

      Stephanie-
      Stir the frosting often while you refrigerate it and it will become the right consistency for spreading. I hope this helps.

      -Jamie