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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
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The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

By: Jamie
4.51 from 1407 ratings
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 8
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
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa optional
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  • 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.
  • Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for about two minutes; the batter will be thin.
  • Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
  • 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.
  • Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
  • 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


Serving: 1slice (unfrosted), Calories: 471kcal, Carbohydrates: 78g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 44mg, Sodium: 668mg, Potassium: 244mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 52g, Vitamin A: 109IU, Calcium: 87mg, Iron: 3mg

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

4.51 from 1407 votes (1,392 ratings without comment)

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  1. Nisha says:

    5 stars
    This makes a lovely cake! I used decaf coffee, milk + 1Tbs white vinegar for the buttermilk and olive oil. The cake is *very* moist. When I pulled it from the cake pan after 10 min it left a thin layer behind. I will try to line the bottom of the pan with parchment and let it cool further, maybe even in the fridge before pulling it out of the pan next time. The texture is light, soft and springy. It’s a little crumbly when warm but firms up after chilling in the fridge. I will definitely use this recipe again!

    1. Jamie says:

      So happy you love this recipe. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your feedback! Happy baking!

  2. Nina says:

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. I made the yummiest moist chocolate cake. I also got crunchy cake crumbs because my cake overflowed the pans. I made 2 batches and miscalculated the pans.

    1. Jamie says:

      So glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback.

  3. Becky says:

    5 stars
    My go-to chocolate cake recipe! Whenever I make a chocolate birthday cake I use this recipe and always get compliments.

    A few tips:
    -I like to bake these a few days before and wrap them just as soon as they are cool in plastic wrap and freeze them. It makes decorating/frosting easier; and it also keeps the cakes more fudgey
    -try to change up the flavours by making different icings. I like French buttercream. You can also use peanut butter icing, mint icing, mocha icing etc.

    1. Jamie says:

      So glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback.

  4. Desiree says:

    Do you add the coffee while still hot? Or do you wait for it to cool?

    Thank you

    1. Jamie says:

      I typically add when it’s still warm. :)

  5. Nicole says:

    This chocolate cake recipe is by far the best cake I’ve ever made or indulged in. It is chocolatey and decadent and is my absolute go to recipe. I’ve made it year after year and it never fails to impress. Thank you!

    1. Jamie says:

      I am so happy to hear you enjoy this recipe! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback!

  6. Nicole says:

    5 stars
    This chocolate cake recipe is by far the best cake I’ve ever made or indulged it. It is chocolatey and decadent and is my absolute go to recipe. I’ve made it year after year and it never fails to impress. Thank you!

    1. Jamie says:

      I am so happy to hear you enjoy this recipe! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback!

  7. Phoebe says:

    hope this works making this for my mom’s birthday.

  8. Cindy says:

    5 stars
    This cake is so delicious, so easy to make, a more airy type of cake. I only had Dutch processed cocoa. It reminded me more of a devils food cake. My dinner gathering of 12 loved it!

    1. Jamie says:

      I am so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks so much for leaving your feedback in the form of a comment. Happy Baking!

  9. Cherie Miller says:

    5 stars
    my whole family loves this cake. i bake it for birthdays.

    1. Jamie says:

      So happy to hear that, Cherie! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your feedback. Happy baking!

  10. Lynnet says:

    5 stars
    I’ve been using this recipe since 2012, and it is AMAZING! My family and friends calls it Mom’s Therapy Cake, because it is perfectly moist, fluffy, and the best flavor! I love to use Kahlua for the vanilla (I usually use Haitian vanilla), paired with the coffee and Dark chocolate… Oh my goodness! There is a reason this is my therapy! Pairs to great with a fluffy buttercream or by itself is my preference. It’s always a crowd pleaser and my ultimate favorite!

    1. Jamie says:

      Mom’s Therapy Cake – I love it! Thanks so much for coming back and sharing. Happy baking!