Best Ever Chocolate Cake

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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
4.93 from 172 votes
Review Recipe

Best Ever Chocolate Cake {Hershey's}

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Author Holly Nilsson
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
This simple chocolate cake is better than boxed! Once you try this cake, you may never turn back!


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

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  • 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.

Recipe Notes

9x13 pan: 35 - 40 minutes
3 layers (3 x 8" round cake pans) 30 to 35 minutes
Cupcakes: Line with paper cups. Fill 2/3 full and bake 22 to 25 minutes.

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
Keyword chocolate cake

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.

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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. I made this today for a dessert and omg, it was so good and easy to bake. I would make it again. Thank you for sharing this recipe ❤️!5 stars

  2. I made this for family yesterday and it’s just so easy and tasty! I used sweetener instead of sugar and worked just fine! Thank you or sharing this great recipe

  3. First time making a cake from scratch, and it was perfect! I’ll never use a boxed mix again!!! Instructions were great – the cake was super easy to make, and delicious. Everyone raved about it.

    The cake does rise quite a bit (I made it in a 9×13), just make sure you are using a deep enough pan and it should be fine.

    Thank you for this recipe, this is going to be my “go-to” when I’m looking to impress!!5 stars

  4. Hi, is this recipe for a single laye cake or a 3 layer cake? I am in a hurry so I appreciate it if u would answer me in a few days. Cuz either wise I would have to Cut the recipe by 3

  5. This cake was amazing! it wasn’t overpoweringly sweet and had the perfect taste.5 stars

  6. This cake was amazing!! My 6yr old had his bday yesterday and with the virus I needed a simple cake to make him and this was perfect. I will be making this my go to for now on!! Also your chocolate buttercream was delicious!! Thank you

    1. Hi Michelle, of course you can hand mix! Just make sure your batter is well mixed :)
      Let us know how this recipe turns out for you!

    1. Buttermilk has acidity which can help with the rise and texture when paired with baking soda as well as adding flavor. If a recipe calls for buttermilk and you don’t have any, you can make your own buttermilk substitute.

  7. My husband loved it! He said it could win a blue ribbon at the fair. It was rich, but not heavy, light and moist. Yum! Thanks so much.5 stars

  8. I used the buttercream recipe you had in the link. Would I need to refrigerate the cake with this particular icing on it or no? Thank you!5 stars

  9. I made this recipe today and it is SOO good! Probably the best chocolate cake recipe I’ve ever tried. It’s thick and moist without being unbearably rich, especially if you use a lighter frosting like whipped cream or a Greek yogurt frosting. I made half of the recipe and did a few changes by reducing the sugar down to ⅔ cup (rather than 1 cup for half of the recipe) and exchanged the boiling water for brewed coffee. Since I only made ½ the recipe, I found it fit perfectly into a 8×8 or 9×9 pan and needed 25 min of baking time5 stars

  10. Such a moist, chocolatey cake! It turned out absolutely perfect :) I will definitely be making this again and again!5 stars

  11. Hello again, Miss Holly! I feel like I frequently review your recipes. I’m making this for the second time as I’m writing. It is a wonderful cake but why does it sink in the middle? It has done it both times I’ve made it now. Love you recipes, almost always use your website!5 stars

    1. Hi Karen, a couple things you can try to see if it helps with the middle falling. Check to make sure your baking soda is fresh, not expired. Make sure you put your cake into the oven as soon as the mixture is ready and try to avoid opening the oven door before it is done. :) Hopefully, that helps Karen!

  12. I tried it as a cake and it was super delish!! Would you have an idea of how many cupcakes it would yield?

    Thank you.5 stars

        1. Oh, that’s wonderful Sper! Congratulations to all the grads! Glad you got a chance to celebrate their achievement one way or another.

      1. Just made cupcakes using this recipe, make sure you fill no more than half way otherwise it will raise over the cup and make a huge mess. Plus the cupcake will stick together and look very ugly

  13. HI,
    Want to bake this cake tomorrow. Is the measurement for one cake in a round 8inch pan?

    Please let me know urgently.


    1. Hi Simmi, this cake can be made in a couple of different-sized pans. For an 8″ round pan, bake for 30-35 minutes. Hope this helps! :)

    1. That should work fine Sara. Just fill the pans ⅔ full and if you have any extra batter you can always make a few cupcakes to sample ;)

  14. Big hit! Served slightly warm with a dollop of whip cream and drizzle of smashed strawberries. Delicious!

    1. I have only tried this as a chocolate cake version. I’m not sure what you could substitute the ¾ cup flour with. If you do try making it vanilla, let us know how it goes.

  15. I have made good chocolate cakes but this was THE best! I made it for my 6 year old grandson and then for my 27 year old son…thumbs up completely! *****5 stars

  16. Was so delicious !!! Would send a photo but me , my husband and our senior neighbors ate the whole cake!! I put cream cheese frosting on it . It was a big hit !!
    Thank you so much never have I had luck with chocolate cake from scratch until now 5 stars

  17. I made this tonight for my boyfriend and he is raving about it. It was so easy and I used a bundt pan. I baked it at 350 for 36 minutes. Thank you for the recipe.

  18. Definitely 5 stars!! This recipe is AWESOME. I personally like boxed cake (gasp!) I like how moist it is, and the devil’s food to me is so delicious. This is a copy-cat recipe and I LOVE that! It’s so moist and the taste is amazing. I shared it with my parents, and they begged for the recipe. This will be my go-to recipe for chocolate cake now. It’s so easy besides! A total winner. I honestly will not by boxed chocolate cake mix anymore–Why would I when this one is just as good and so easy?!5 stars

  19. I made this cake and it came out amazing. I was a bit hesitant to taste it so instead I gave some to neighbors and some to my family. They all loved it and said it was nice and moist! Wil definitely keep this recipe next time I have that crave for some chocolate cake. Thank you the easy recipe.

  20. Please do not waste your baking ingredients and time on this. The result (I hesitate to call it a cake) is very bland. There is no taste at all. I have to throw this out unfortunately.

  21. OH my hat…. this was the BEST EVER cake I have baked…. Thank you for this recipe!!

    I did not have enough cocoa so I improvised and added 3 spoons of coffee and Milo, and instead icing I used whole not chocolate melted over…

  22. I am so disappointed. This cake was a watery mess. I suspected it would come out poorly with the strange addition of boiling water at the end. My cake pans are the detachable kind (I have never had a problem with them) and this leaked ALL OVER my oven – so an hour of clean up is ahead of me. It also took WAY longer than 30 minutes to cook and ended up being a flavorless bland cake. I feel so bad that my 10 year old wasted our baking ingredients on this and it is very difficult to get more. I DO NOT recommend this.

  23. This was my first cake baking experience. Was very excited because the cake looked nice. But unfortunately only d edges were cooked. D middle part fell after it cooled down, and was undercooked. I tried placing it back into the oven for another 10 mins, but still soggy. Had to throw d middle part away. I don’t know what went wrong as I followed the recepi word by word. :(

    1. Oh no, I am sorry to hear that Maggie! We have never had that issue with this cake. What size of baking pan did you use? If using a 9×13 it would need 35-40 mins to fully cook. Is it possible your oven temperature is off?

  24. I’m not a good baker but my children and I made this cake and it was the most delicious chocolate cake I have ever eaten, so moist and tasty! After making this cake I will not try to make any another cake except this one.
    We put choc ganache on top and it was taken to the next level!
    Highly recommend!!5 stars

  25. Thanks for the recipe I was just wondering, 2 cups of sugar seens alot for 1 3/4cup flour. Does the cake come out extra sweet. Can I reduce sugar.

    1. Hi Sanam, we have only tried this recipe as written but I don’t find it too sweet for a chocolate cake! If you try reducing the sugar, let us know how it turns out!

  26. Tried out today.came out good. I never baked cakes . Super easy and yummy . My daughter and husband loves it . Thanks for sharing yummy and easy chocolate cake . :)

  27. My family loved this cake. I used cacao and coconut oil (substituted for vegetable oil and shortening as I always do), in the cake and buttercream frosting. I had to bake it 45 minutes.5 stars

  28. Thank you for sharing this excellent recipe. Ive tried so many moist chocolate cake recipes and this is the best!! Tried itvtwicevthos week and am about to prep another one. My family loves it! Thank you and keep up the good work. Be safe & God bless!5 stars

  29. This cake was amazing and so good. It was amazing with our homemade chocolate moose and the cake itself was moist and fluffy. My mom brought this into work and they all loved it. Definitely will be making this recipe again.5 stars

  30. Was worried about the thin batter but cake came out really well. Melts in your mouth and I found a fudge icing to go on it and it was just mmmmm. Thanks for this gem! Definitely saved it for future!5 stars

  31. I made this cake today and it was amazing!!! So light, fluffy and moist. Will definitely be using this recipe from now on for my chocolate cakes!! Paired it with a peanut butter frosting.5 stars

  32. My all time favorite chocolate cake recipe. Made it so may times and it was a hit in my family. Fluffy and yummy. Thank you so much for this recipe5 stars

  33. First of all, i made this cake in the wrong size pan. So it overflowed. But the cake is good. Wondering if anyone tried putting in some chocolate chips in the final batter?

    1. I haven’t tried substituting cacao powder for cocoa powder however from what I can see, they cannot be used interchangeably without some modifications to the recipe. Let us know how it goes if you try it.

    2. Hi! I’m working with limited supplies here and don’t have an electrical mixer on hand. Can I mix this recipe myself with a spoon or will it not turn out as good? Thank you

      1. You can hand mix this recipe, Rebecca. Take a look at the video just above the recipe card for the consistency you are trying to mix it to!

  34. Hi! I live in Europe. The baking pan is 26 cm X 20 cm ( approx. 10″ X 7″). Will the recipe work for this size? Thanks.

    1. I believe the volume of that baking dish will be a few cups smaller than a 9×13, so it may overflow Kaviya. You could try filling the pan ⅔ full and using the remaining to make some extra cupcakes to be safe.

    1. The volume should be about the same as an 8-inch round pan so I would follow those baking directions. Let us know how it goes Ana!

  35. Super fast and easy to make and tastes delicious!
    I made a 9×13 and it took 33 mins at 350.
    This is the first chocolate cake I’ve ever made and am very impressed with how it turned out!5 stars

    1. I loved this cake. Even without frosting! It was the best cake texture. We served it with whipping cream on top and it was perfect. Thank you for this recipe!5 stars

  36. This cake almost set my house on fire. Rose over a 9 x 13 pan, exploded all over my oven. Baking powder AND baking soda?? Water?? What??1 star

    1. Oh my! I am sorry to hear that Erik, that does not sound fun. The recipe is correct as written and we have never had results like that! Did you use 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 2 teaspoons of baking soda?

  37. I made this as a Bundt for my daughter’s birthday. I used gluten-free flour (King Arthur measure for measure) and it came out wonderfully!5 stars

  38. My 12 year old daughter made this for a family dessert. So delicious! The best chocolate cake. The only thing she did different was to use buttermilk in place of the plain milk.
    She made a homemade cream cheese frosting for it.
    We will be adding this to our family recipe box. ♥️♥️5 stars

      1. This recipe uses plain (all-purpose) flour. I have not tried this in a loaf tin so I can’t say for sure.

  39. This cake turned out perfect! It was a very easy recipe to follow! My first time ever making a cake from scratch! I made a vanilla buttercream icing to top it!5 stars

    1. Sorry to hear that Danica! I am not sure what went wrong. This cake always turns out light, fluffy and spongy for us.

  40. This cake is so delicious! It’s so moist, the top is shiny! It’s soft and SO tasty. We ate it without frosting even :) Thank you!5 stars

  41. I have baked this cake twice today. Both times it fell in the middle about 25-30 minutes into baking. After the first time I went back to the store and purchased new baking powder. Something is wrong with this recipe. Maybe one or more ingredient is printed wrong. Any other ideas would certainly be welcomed. I have rarely had a cake fall on me in the 40+ years I have been baking.

    1. Hi Susan, I’m sorry to hear that! This recipe has worked great for many readers. I would say that is may be over beating the batter, or possibly too hot of an oven but I doubt that is the case with your cake experience. Sorry I can’t be of more assistance.

  42. This s a good recipe if you want to eat it out of the pan. To decore it was really hard. Not to use with fondant! Also tasted ok.. thanks tho!3 stars

  43. I made this cake and I had to throw it out the eggs got cooked when I added the hot water now it just tastes like eggs with chocolate cake and it may have also been burned and I did follow all of your directions so maybe it was a bad run but I would like to try this again in a smaller trial

    1. I can’t say for sure what went wrong as I’ve never had that problem. Were your eggs mixed into the batter when you added the water?

    1. I do not use Dutch processed in this recipe. I haven’t tried this in 2 9″ pans but I worry there might be too much batter.

        1. The batter may overflow if the pans do not have high rims.

          According to Wilton regarding their baking pans:

          An 8″ round cake pan will hold 4 cups batter. Three 8″ pans will hold 12 cups batter.
          A 9″ round cake pan will hold 5 cups batter. Two 9″ pans will hold 10 cups batter.

          As this recipe is intended for use with three 8″ pans, using two 9″ pans (which has 2 cups less volume) may overflow.

          1. For those still curious about this, I gave it a try and 2 9-inch pans worked fine. No overflowing.

  44. I’ve used this recipe twice and it’s so yummy. First time I made a 9×13 cake… Tonight I doubled the ingredients and made both a cake and cupcakes. Instead of boiling water I used hot coffee. It’s so delicious! My family loves it!5 stars

  45. I am going to use this recipe to make my son’s smash cake for his first birthday. The pan is 5 inch round and 4 inches deep. Could I cut this recipe in half?

    1. You could cut the ingredients in half, or maybe bake a few cupcakes to share with the leftovers if you make the whole recipe?

  46. Hi Holly, I wanted to comment on your Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Buttercream recipes. I was a professional cake decorator and Baker for 15 years and these days I usually just buy a box mix , but I didn’t have any in the pantry and did not want to go out to the store. I searched through my MANY cookbooks and couldn’t find a recipe that I had all the necessary ingredients for. So I jumped online and found your recipe, YAY!!!! I had everything I needed on hand( since I still like to bake my cookies from scratch) The recipe was easy to make for both the cake and buttercream and, the results were awesome!!!! The cake is very moist and rich and the buttercream was delicious. One of the BEST chocolate cakes I have ever had or made!!!! Thank you! This will be my go to chocolate cake from now on, once I replenish my ingredients. I did a 11X13 and it took the full 40 minutes to bake, simple to make but BIG on flavor….. absolutely delicious and definitely satisfies your chocolate craving.5 stars

    1. I have only made this recipe as listed. If you try making it with gluten free flour please let us know how it turns out Jenean!

  47. Baked this cake to surprise the gals in my office and they loved it. One went so far as to put her name and birthdate on a sticky note. What does they tell u.
    It was Yummy I added this recipe to my favorite cake list.5 stars

  48. I made cupcakes. My husband who is not a sweet eater, had one without frosting and declared it
    “the best cupcake I have ever had”! That is a huge compliment coming from him. This is a keeper. Thank you.5 stars

  49. I made cupcakes. My husband who is not a sweet eater, had an unfrosted cupcake and declared it “the best he has ever eaten”. This is a keeper recipe!5 stars

  50. This is the only chocolate cake recipe I use since I discovered it almost 10 years ago! Turns out moist and yummy everytime!! My family begs me to make it for their birthdays and every family gathering.

  51. I have made this for years and my family loves it. We usually only sprinkle it with powdered sugar because it is so good by itself.

  52. Hi there, may i know by this measurement “1-3/4 cups flour”, does it mean the recipe requires 1 & 3/4 cups of flour? Thank you :)

  53. Hershey’s chocolate cake is my go-to favorite….I make it with the special dark cocoa for an extra chocolate fix….so delicious!

    1. That would make it nice and rich! I am considering trying replacing the boiling water with hot coffee next time for a little extra depth! <3

  54. I have been making this cake recipe for over 20 years. It’s the only chocolate cake I make. Moist and delicious! It also gets better when you use quality cocoa. Try for high-fat dutch process. Penzey’s if you can get it.

      1. We have only made this recipe as listed but I wouldn’t recommend substituting baking powder for corn starch. If you do try it, we’d love to hear how it turns out.