This easy chocolate cake recipe is moist with a decadent fudgy texture and a rich chocolate flavor.

It’s easy to make in either layers or a 9×13 pan and can be frosted or even served with ice cream. It will become a family favorite all year long!

piece of Chocolate Cake on a plate

Rich and Moist Every Time

  • This from-scratch cake is just as easy as making a box mix but with a much better flavor and texture.
  • Bakery-beautiful with a deep, dark chocolate flavor, this cake is an adaptation of an old Hershey’s favorite.
  • Every home cook needs a from-scratch chocolate cake recipe that’s got a fudgy melt-in-your-mouth texture!
  • I love to layer this cake with a thick and rich frosting (buttercream or creamy chocolate frosting) but it can be served on its own with ice cream too.

ingredients to make Chocolate Cake with labels

Ingredients and Variations

BASICS: Sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt are the basics for any cake. Cocoa powder gives the cake its distinctive chocolate flavor, and the amount can be adjusted more or less.

BATTER: Buttermilk is the tangy complement to the rich dark taste of the chocolate and espresso. If buttermilk is not available, an excellent substitute is to use plain yogurt or sour cream in the same amount. Vanilla extract acts as a flavor binder in almost all baked goods and the espresso (or strong coffee) intensifies the cocoa powder and adds depth to the chocolate flavor.

The Secret Ingredient

Adding coffee (or espresso) to a chocolate dessert intensifies the chocolate flavor. Not a Coffee Fan? Don’t worry, you can’t taste the coffee flavor it just makes it a bit richer. If you simply cannot have coffee, substitute it for water.

process of adding ingredients to pan to make Chocolate Cake

How to Make Chocolate Cake

This chocolate cake recipe could not be easier to make in just one bowl!

  1. Whisk dry ingredients. Beat in eggs, buttermilk, espresso, oil, & vanilla.
  2. Pour batter evenly between two pans & bake until a wooden pick comes out clean.
  3. Prepare frosting (see linked recipe).
  4. Cool completely, frost, and enjoy.

How to Frost

  1. Place bottom layer on a cake plate, top side down (bottom facing up). Trim the cake if needed to make it even.
  2. Pipe or spread a layer of frosting over the top of the first layer to create the filling layer.
  3. Top the bottom layer with the top & apply a ‘crumb coat’ (a thin, first coat securing the layers together).
  4. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before adding the final coating of frosting.

frosted chocolate cake on a plate

Tips for a Moist Cake

A perfect chocolate cake needs only a few tips and tricks for cake perfection!

  • Be sure to measure flour by gently spooning it into the measuring cup.
  • Use room-temperature eggs because they will be easier to whip into the batter.
  • This batter will be very thin, this is expected and produces a beautiful cake. Do not add extra flour. Do not overmix the batter.
  • Do not overbake, you want the cake to be nice and moist.
  • Before frosting the bottom layer, secure it to the serving plate by spreading a little frosting on the bottom of the cake plate. This prevents the cake from slipping off the plate during frosting or serving.

cut chocolate cake on a plate

Storing (make ahead and leftovers)

  • This cake can be made in advance, the fully frosted cake can be stored in the refrigerator or at room temperature for 1 day uncut.
  • Be sure to let the cake (and frosting) sit at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours before serving. Just make sure not to leave it in a really warm area or in direct sunlight.
  • The slices of cake will remain good at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Although the frosting has milk in it, it’s cooked and stabilized by the sugar. It can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.
  • The cakes themselves (unfrosted) can be frozen. Cool completely and then wrap in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer bag, squeezing out any excess air and freeze for up to 3 months.

Did you make this Chocolate Cake? Leave a rating and a comment below! 

piece of Chocolate Cake on a plate
5 from 16 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Chocolate Cake

This easy chocolate cake recipe is moist with a decadent fudgy texture and a rich chocolate flavor.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Cooling & Chill Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Servings 16 slices



  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
  • 1 cup hot espresso or brewed black coffee, or water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract



  • Preheat oven to 350°F and grease two 9" round cake pans with butter and flour or cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Beat in eggs, buttermilk, espresso, oil, and vanilla and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, the batter is going to be very thin.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared 9-inch pans.
  • Bake the cakes for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean from the center.
  • Cool the cakes in pans for at least 10 minutes and loosen from the sides of the pans before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
  • After the cakes have cooled, place one of the cake layers on a cake stand or serving plate.
  • Pipe or spread a thick layer of the frosting all over the top of the layer to create the filling layer.
  • Top with the other cake layer and give it a crumb coat and chill for 30 minutes before adding the final coating of frosting.



Adapted from Hershey’s.
9x13 pan: 40 minutes
Feel free to replace the frosting with your favorite chocolate frosting recipe.
You can also skip the frosting layer between the cakes and opt for a chocolate ganache filling.
5 from 16 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 240 | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 298mg | Potassium: 153mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 75IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Cake, Dessert
Cuisine American

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Recipe Rating


  1. This is really a lovely moist cake my cakes usually flop this one didn’t wish I could put a pic really yummy

    1. I am so glad you love this recipe Vanessa! If you are on Instagram, you can post a photo there and tag us at @spendpennies so we can see your photo!

  2. I’ve made this a couple of times now. Both times for my stepson. Both times his daughter helped me make it. She enjoys baking and I enjoy her company. She LOVES this cake!5 stars

  3. ❤ Hi Sally, this chocolate cake was AMAZING!! I made it for my flatmate and she loved it! it didnt quite look like the picture much better! thanks for the recipe I’ll use it again soon! thanks Holly. ❤

  4. Easy chocolate cake,I made that 30years ago it’s always a favorite of ours and it’s the same recipe it’s very moist5 stars