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The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

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The Best Chocolate Cake recipe combines cocoa and coffee to create a chocolate lover’s dream. Add your favorite buttercream frosting to make it perfect! Keep reading to find out why coffee, buttermilk, and oil play important roles in this chocolate cake recipe.

Chocolate cake covered in chocolate frosting on a wooden cake plate with a slice being removed

We’re a family that loves to double down on chocolate. Peanut butter is a favorite, too, and my No Bake Cookies combine both with oatmeal.

And when birthdays roll around, I always feel like I really need cake. Deep, dark, chocolate cake. The best chocolate cake.

For birthdays, we have to do it up right by making my version of cake bliss.

But, as you may have caught on at some point by reading MBA, I like to do things in excess – you know a little mound of frosting will never do in this household.

I need to swirl a pile of it on top, and then top it off with ganache just for the fun of it. So when I organize birthday parties – I of course go a little overboard.

Is there any other way to be? Not if you’re Jamie.

Fork next to a slice of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting on a gray plate, with coffee and chocolate cake in the background


This cake is dark, moist, rich and incredibly decadent. Seriously, it’s the best chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted.

A little bit of coffee blends amazingly well with the cocoa to create the most intense and delicious chocolate cake that you’ll ever taste.

3/4 view of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting on a wooden cake stand with a slice being removed

Don’t freak out if you don’t like the taste of coffee. You actually can’t taste it in this cake!

Coffee simply enhances the flavor of chocolate. In this cake, it deepens that rich, chocolatey flavor.

If you are really opposed to using coffee, you can swap it out for water.

You can also use espresso powder – use a teaspoon of espresso powder along with 1 cup of water in place of the 1 cup of coffee.

Overhead view of various bowls holding the ingredients for the best chocolate cake recipe on a wooden cutting board


Buttermilk plays two important roles in making the best chocolate cake.

In addition to adding an ever-so-subtle tang, the acid in the buttermilk helps keep this cake incredibly tender and makes for a moist chocolate cake recipe.

If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, simply use this buttermilk substitute and you’re golden!

Chocolate cake batter and a whisk in a white mixing bowl on a wooden surface

This cake also uses oil instead of butter. While butter provides a lot of flavor in recipes such as 7UP Pound Cake and Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes, oil gives cakes a lovely, light texture.

Since the combo of unsweetened cocoa powder and Dutch-process cocoa give this cake so much chocolatey flavor, we don’t necessarily need the flavor of the butter to compete or overpower the chocolate.

Cocoa can also easily dry out cakes, so using a neutral-flavored oil in combination with the buttermilk makes sure both the chocolate flavor and moist texture of this cake really sing.

Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting on a wooden cake stand with two slices cut


I most often make this recipe into a double-layered cake using two 9-inch cake pans. Occasionally I will bake it into a sheet cake in a 13×9-inch pan.

You can also bake it into chocolate cupcakes, though! You can get anywhere from 24-36 cupcakes, depending on how full you fill the tins. You’ll want to bake the cupcakes for 20-30 minutes.

Overhead view of chocolate-frosted cake with 2 slices cut on a wooden cutting board

I have even used this recipe to make a bundt cake. When using a bundt cake pan, I bake it between 35-40 minutes.

You might be wondering if you can bake this in 8-inch cake pans instead of 9-inch cake pans. Yes, you can, but you may have a little bit of batter leftover. Just be sure to start checking for doneness a tiny bit earlier than noted in the recipe card.

Fork taking a bite out of a slice of chocolate-frosted chocolate cake on a gray plate


What’s a cake without some frosting?

My homemade buttercream frosting is a delicious way to top the best chocolate cake.

Rich chocolate cake paired with sweet vanilla buttercream? Sign me up.

Single layer of chocolate cake topped with chocolate frosting on a white cake stand on a wooden background

If you are a true chocolate fanatic and want double the chocolate, I would go for chocolate buttercream frosting instead.

If you really want to play up the coffee angle, why not try using a coffee buttercream?

And who doesn’t love chocolate and strawberries together? Top your chocolate cake with sweet strawberry frosting for a play on chocolate covered strawberries!

I have even paired this cake recipe with chocolate ganache and salted caramel to make a Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake.

Slice of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting on a gray plate with coffee and chocolate cake in the background


Can you store your chocolate cake at room temperature or does it need to be refrigerated?

The answer depends on how long you want to keep it and what kind of frosting you used.

Unfrosted cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. To make it last longer, you can tightly wrap and refrigerate the cake for up to a week or even freeze it for a few months.

Chilled cake is actually a bit easier to decorate, so a lot of cake decorators prefer to work with cold cake instead of cake that is fresh from the oven.

If you frosted your cake with buttercream, it can be stored safely at room temperature for up to 2 days. Store in the refrigerator if you want it to last longer, up to 5 days.

Slice of double-layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting on a gray plate with a fork taking a bite out of the cake

If you used cream cheese frosting, the cake must be stored in the refrigerator and will keep for up to 3 days.

I don’t recommend freezing frosted cakes.

And remember, frosted cakes are their best the first day or two. After that, the texture won’t be quite the same.

Here’s a little storage cheat sheet for you:

Unfrosted cake:

  • Room temperature: Up to 3 days
  • Refrigerator: Up to 1 week
  • Freezer: Up to 3 months

Cake frosted with buttercream:

  • Room temperature: Up to 2 days
  • Refrigerator: Up to 5 days

Cake frosted with cream cheese frosting:

  • Refrigerator: Up to 3 days

No matter how you frost and decorate it, the best chocolate cake is the perfect sort of cake for a birthday or just a Tuesday. Make sure to enjoy it with a very large glass of ice-cold milk – or coffee!

Slice being removed from a double layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, with coffee in the background
3/4 view of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting on a wooden cake stand with a slice being removed

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

The Best Chocolate Cake combines cocoa and coffee to create a chocolate lover’s dream. The rich buttercream frosting makes it perfect!


  • 2 cups sugar (400 grams)
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (210 grams)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (64 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa, optional (11 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda (12 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (4 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (6 grams)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (240 mL)
  • 1 cup strong black coffee (240 mL)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (120 mL)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (4 grams)

Frosting of choice, such as:


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa(s), baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix on low until dry ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  2. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for about two minutes; the batter will be thin.
  3. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  5. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
  6. Frost as desired.


  • The Dutch process cocoa is optional - it simply provides a great depth of flavor and color to the chocolate cake.
  • This cake also pairs beautifully with a simple chocolate ganache.
  • The coffee really brings out the depth of the chocolate (you won't even taste the coffee at all!), but if you really don't want to use it, feel free to substitute water.
  • For an egg substitute, simply add one mashed banana or 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce for each egg.
  • This recipe will make about 24 to 36 cupcakes. Bake at 350 degrees between 20 and 30 minutes.
  • You can also make a bundt cake with this recipe. The cake should bake for about 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Get tips on high altitude baking.
  • Very slightly adapted from Ina Garten

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Nutrition Information
Yield 12 Serving Size 1 slice
Amount Per Serving Calories 346Total Fat 12gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 35mgSodium 479mgCarbohydrates 55gFiber 2gSugar 38gProtein 5g

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Chaitali Mahajan

Wednesday 7th of September 2022

Hi, Love this recipe, it turns out super moist nd delicious always...wanted to know if I could bake and freeze the layers for around 15 days nd then use it

THANKS in advance..


Tuesday 13th of September 2022

Hi there – Yes, if you cool the layers completely, then wrap them well, you should be able to freeze them until you're ready to decorate. Hope this helps! Jamie


Monday 22nd of August 2022

Is this recipe sturdy enough to be used in a stacked cake?


Sunday 23rd of October 2022

@Karla, I use this all the time for 4 layered cakes, even 5 or 6 and once even 9 layers (covered it in chocolate ganache to stabilise it more). But I always use dowels or thick bubble tea straws just in case due to how soft the cake is.

Definitely the best chocolate cake ever! Thank you so much for the recipe Jamie. It's my go to cake and it stays so soft even after several days.


Tuesday 23rd of August 2022

Hi Karla! I assume by stacked cake you mean a tiered cake? I haven't tried it myself; I think you would definitely need to use dowels for extra support because the cake is pretty moist. You might want to practice with it before an event just to see how it works! Happy baking – Jamie


Sunday 21st of August 2022

I don't know why, but I can always taste the coffee in a chocolate cake recipe. I just replace the coffee with an equal amount of water.


Tuesday 23rd of August 2022

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Linda! Happy baking! Jamie


Thursday 30th of June 2022

I do not leave comments because I may not like a certain item but does not mean someone else may. But this chocolate cake is to die for. I have bakers? Bought and eaten a lot of chocolate cake to be disappointed and dissatisfied. This cake will not disappoint you.


Monday 18th of July 2022

So glad you love the cake, Bridget! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your feedback. Happy baking! Jamie


Wednesday 29th of June 2022

Hey girl,I was making the cake and realised you forgot to include eggs in the ingredients, decide to use 2. Hoping for the best


Wednesday 29th of June 2022

Hi Mel – 2 eggs are listed in the ingredients list and in the instructions, so 2 was the right number. Happy baking! -Jamie

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