Chocolate Cake is a deliciously decadent dessert that has been a staple on our table for as long as I can remember! This easy recipe makes a rich and delicious cake that is perfectly tender and moist. 

Top it with the best ever Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, a drizzle of Easy Caramel Sauce or simply whipped cream and strawberries for the perfect dessert!

Lifting a piece of Simple Chocolate Cake out of baking pan with a spatula

Remember Gramma’s famous chocolate cake recipe that brought the whole family to the table after Sunday dinner? Or sold at a church bake sale? Or was enjoyed with a fresh, cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer’s day?  Hershey’s famous chocolate cake recipe is one I’ve enjoyed pretty much my entire life. Simple. Delicious. Perfect.

Enjoy this easy to make chocolate cake anytime you feel an urge for something rich and sinfully divine!

How to Make a Chocolate Cake

Making this easy chocolate cake takes just a few simple steps!

  1. Choose your pan size: Preheat the oven and prep your cake pans. You will want to check the recipe notes below for more information on what type of baking pan you want to use or for “bite-sized” portions try making cupcakes!
  2. Combine dry ingredients: Whisk the mixture to incorporate all of the ingredients (and whisking means no sifting required).
  3. Add wet ingredients: Beat with a hand mixer until the batter is well mixed!
  4. Add boiling water: Slowly add boiling water to the batter – it will seem thin at this point, but that’s okay! It’s going to bake into a light, fluffy, spongy chocolate cake! Mmmmm….

Chocolate cake ingredients in a glass bowl before mixing together

How to Bake a Chocolate Cake

The time needed to bake homemade chocolate cake can depend on the size/shape of the baking pan you’re using!

  • 9×13 pan – 35-40 minutes
  • 8″ round pans – 30-35 minutes
  • Cupcakes – 22-25 minutes.

If making cupcakes, line the pan with paper liners and fill wells 2/3 full.

How to Tell if a Cake is Done

  • A great way to check if a cake is done is to insert a wooden toothpick into the cake and if the wooden pick comes out clean, it is ready.
  • If you don’t have a toothpick, gently press on the cake and it should spring back. If the cake leaves an indent of a fingerprint, it needs a few more minutes.

Remove them from the oven and allow to cool either on a rack or on a kitchen towel on the counter. You will want to make sure they are fully cooled before moving onto decorating your cake or cupcakes. This keeps the icing from melting and sliding off! We’d hate to waste any delicious frosting!

Overhead shot of Chocolate Cake in a baking pan next to a bowl of chocolate frosting

How to Decorate Chocolate Cake

Homemade frosting is easy and honestly the best (this chocolate icing is my fave).

If you’re in a hurry, one can of frosting will cover a sheet cake or be enough for cupcakes, but two cans are needed for three layers (8” round).

We love changing the flavor of this recipe just by changing the delicious frosting we top it with!

Sprinkle on multi-colored sprinkles or chocolate jimmies. This is the best chocolate cake recipe for birthdays, so get some fun candles and celebrate someone special! They will love this yummy birthday treat!

Overhead shot of Simple Chocolate Cake in a baking pan

Got Leftovers?

If you can’t finish it in one sitting, no worries! Chocolate cake will keep covered at room temperature or sometimes you can put it in the fridge for a cold, tasty treat with a glass of milk at the end of the day!

To Freeze Chocolate Cake: Of course, this cake freezes beautifully but there’s never any left to freeze in my house!

More Amazing Cakes You NEED!

Lifting a piece of Simple Chocolate Cake out of baking pan with a spatula
4.91 from 373 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Best Ever Chocolate Cake

This simple chocolate cake is better than boxed! Once you try this cake, you may never turn back!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 12 servings
buy hollys book


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Grease and flour your baking pan (see size information in the notes below) or line your muffin pan with paper liners for cupcakes.
  • In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla to dry mixture and mix with an electric mixer on medium for about 2 minutes. Gently mix in boiling water. Note: Your batter will seem thin, it's ok.. it's supposed to!
  • Pour into pans and bake. Cool on wire racks.



9x13 pan: 35 - 40 minutes
3 layers (3 x 8" round cake pans) 30 to 35 minutes
Cupcakes: Line with paper cups. Fill ⅔ full and bake 22 to 25 minutes.
4.91 from 373 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 248 | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 301mg | Potassium: 138mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 80IU | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1mg

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

Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Original recipe from Hershey’s!

A slice of Chocolate Cake on a white plate, with a bite being scooped up with a silver fork, with a title
A slice of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting being served from a baking pan with writing
A slice of chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting being served from a baking pan with a title.
A piece of chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting being served from a baking pan, and chocolate cake fresh from the oven ready to be frosted, under the title.


Like our recipes?
Follow us on Pinterest!

Follow us on Pinterest

Recipes you'll love

About the author

Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
See more posts by Holly

Follow Holly on social media:

pinterest facebook twitter instagram

Free eBook!

Subscribe to receive weekly recipes and get a FREE Bonus e-book: Quick & Easy Weeknight Meals!

You can unsubscribe anytime by clicking the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of emails you receive.

Latest & Greatest

4.91 from 373 votes (274 ratings without comment)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. I think I’ve seen similar comments detailing the same problem/issue with this recipe that I noticed when I finished baking. (I planned to use this recipe for my cooking class, high school) I have an issue with the flavor. Burnt and citrus tangy aftertaste which is a result from the 2 teaspoons baking soda. my quess as to why this is, is the amount of sugar used in relation to flour. in simple terms: without the excessive amount of baking soda the cake wouldn’t have risen precisely because of the sugar and flour ratio. besides the weird flavor the cake is moist like you said it would and my cake looked the same as yours.2 stars

    1. How disappointing, as mentioned in the recipe notes, this is Hershey’s tried and true chocolate cake recipe, so I opted not to make change as it’a always worked perfectly for me. I can’t say for sure what went wrong for you.

    1. I haven’t tried this recipe with yogurt but I would love to hear how it turns out for you!

  2. Not sure what happened.. I followed the directions exactly except for one thing which I thought would make no difference. I was out of vegetable oil so I used mazola corn oil. Both cakes sunk in the middle.. like 6×6 holes.
    Would the corn oil do that??3 stars

    1. The corn oil shouldn’t cause it to sink in the middle. Other common reasons that a cake sink in the middle are overmixing, underbaking, high altitude, or opening the oven door to soon.

  3. Our cake turned out tasting like baking soda even though we followed the recipe exactly. This is the first time I have ever disliked a homemade cake. I don’t understand!

    1. I am so sorry to hear that, Carolyn! We have never had that problem with this recipe. Did you add 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder and 2 teaspoons baking soda?

  4. I added strong coffee and almond extract being i did not have vanilla, and the cake is amazing! Thank you for a super easy recipe!5 stars

  5. Update:

    I made this cake again for my husbands birthday yesterday. I used 1/2 C of boiling water and it was perfect for my depth of 9×13 pan and didn’t boil over this time! Third time is the charm haha!

    Thank you so much! This cake is so moist and delicious and everyone absolutely loves your chocolate frosting recipe with it!

  6. Both times that I have made this cake it boils over the edge of the 9×13 pan and burns all over my oven I am following the recipe exactly… anyone have this problem and know how to remedy it??

    What’s left in the pan is delicious but this is not worth making again if I can’t solve the problem. Can anyone help?

    1. The batter may overflow if the pans do not have high rims. You could try filling the pan ⅔ full and using the remaining to make some extra cupcakes to be safe.

      1. Thank you so much! I wasn’t sure if I needed to let the batter cool after adding the boiling water or if I was missing something. I will look for a pan with a higher edge.

        Cake was delicious despite the overflow. Thank you for all that you do!

  7. I didn’t have milk but had cream and I used 3/4 cup cream with 1/4 cup water to thin it. I had really good cocoa powder and I put a dark chocolate ganache topping with a teaspoon of Kailua in it and this was one of the most delicious cakes I’ve ever had.5 stars

  8. love love love this recipe. Everytime I make it everyone loves it but now I need to edit it some to become gluten free . what ingredients do I need to change so it becomes gluten free?5 stars

    1. Hi Em, I have never made this cake with gluten-free flour but other readers have (same amount as regular flour) with great results!

  9. Hello, I love this recipe! I have made this recipe for a cake and here in a couple of days I will be making it in cupcakes. How many cupcakes does this recipe make? Is it still 12?5 stars

  10. I love this recipe so much that I want to adapt it to make a strawberry cake with strawberry puree. What do you suggest for removing cocoa powder (add more flour etc?) and adding strawberry puree (remove some wet ingredients?) I’d love your opinion. thanks for the recipe

    1. This recipe works best with buttermilk. It has acidity which can help with the rise and texture when paired with baking soda as well as adding flavor. If you don’t have buttermilk you can always make your own! Check out this recipe for ahomemade buttermilk substitute!

      1. original recipe on your site lists just ‘milk’ not buttermilk. should I be using buttermilk? I’ve got both on hand.

      2. Hi Jamie, this recipe with work with either but has been updated for consistent results with regular milk.

    1. I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure Lisa. If you try it I would love to hear how it turns out!

    DO NOT ADD THE WATER, it was like a swamp. Tasted like brunt coco puffs in the worst way possible. I wasted my time making this cake for it to turn out like burnt water. Never making this cake again.1 star

    1. The batter is intended to be very runny (this is described in the recipe). As mentioned, this is Hershey’s tried and true chocolate cake recipe and has been around forever so I can’t say for sure what went wrong for you.