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
4.92 from 352 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


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups 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.
4.92 from 352 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.


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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. I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure Kathy. You may have a little extra batter and you may need to bake for a little longer. If you try it I would love to hear how it turns out!

  1. Everyone loved! Was easy/moist, everyone said it was the “best cake”. I have never put boiling water in cake mix, turned out great.

  2. Turned out great, including when lowering the amount of sugar by at least a quarter cup. Also added coffee grounds (1 tsp-1tbsp) for depth of flavor (a good decaf is just fine, doesn’t have to be caf). Made cream cheese icing to go with it, and the birthday girl loved all. Used a 9×13 ceramic in a convection oven, and it was perfect at 350 in 40 minutes. Thanks!5 stars

  3. Oh my gosh! This was the simplest, tastiest, moistest, best chocolate cake recipe ever made from scratch! Made it fir one birthday and was requested to make it for someone elses birthday the next month. Combined it with Jack Daniels chocolate frosting recipe and it was a smash hit! Thank you so mych for sharing!

  4. I’m just wondering if I can use self-rising flour and leave out the baking soda and baking powder? looking forward to making this soon. thank you!

    1. I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure. If you try it I would still add the baking soda but you can omit the baking powder. If you try it I would love to hear how it turns out!

  5. This cake is by far my favorite! I frost it with a chocolate espresso frosting and it’s so good!
    Wondering if you can convert the ingredients to metric for those of us who measure ingredients on a scale?

    Thanks!5 stars

    1. I don’t have these available in those measurements and I would suggest using an online converter for accurate conversion amounts. I am so glad you enjoy this recipe Charlotte!

  6. Great cake! I substituted the oil for melted butter and I didn’t have vanilla but otherwise followed the instructions. I will be making this again, and maybe next time adding coffee instead of water or adding instant espresso powder. Would have this time but I didn’t have any on hand.5 stars

  7. So far so good. I modified this recipe. I’m an at home baker and like to add my own touch into great base recipes. In my cake, I used coffee instead of water. Coffee enhances the chocolate flavor. I added a half cup of sour cream. Adding fat content like sour cream will help to keep your cake moist. & I also added one standard size pack of instant chocolate pudding. Pudding adds more flavor, moisture and density to your cake to make it perfect for stacking. My layers baked beautifully. I will come back to edit after it has been tasted.
    4 stars because I feel like coffee should always be used in a chocolate cake and also I haven’t tasted it yet, I’m reviewing based on how it baked & looks.4 stars

  8. I admit that the water is weird, and it was runny … But I made them ( cupcakes ) a few weeks ago and they were REALLY good! I’m making them again and they are in the oven at this moment! Great recipe, thank you!5 stars

  9. Hi my pan is 2inches deep and I would like to split the cake and put the buttercream inside
    will the quantities of the ingredients need upscaling or not?

  10. Five Stars *****! Yummy and delicious moist cupcakes (12) and 4 tiny loaf cakes were what I was able to make with this truly fast and easy chocolate cake recipe. The only things I did differently were: buttermilk using Saco cultured buttermilk blend and 3 cocoa powders (Trader Joe’s & Hershey’s unsweetened & Ghirardelli’s dutch-process). I was surprised at how fast the batter came together and was in the oven in no time (plus reusable silicone cupcake sleeves cut time significantly). I added chocolate melting discs 3/4 way thru baking but they went straight to the bottom. Still yummy! Thumbs up from the whole family!! This will be my go-to chocolate cake recipe from now on. Thank you for sharing!5 stars

  11. Amazing recipe! This is definitely the best chocolate cake I have ever made. It was very delicious and my family loved it! 5 stars

  12. This was the worst chocolate cake ever. Why you add 1 cup of boiled water is beyond me. It truly tasted terrible, I left it in the oven for 10 mins longer because it was not done. It came out like a thick paste.1 star

    1. I’m sorry you didn’t love it Janice, as mentioned in the post this is a classic Hershey’s recipe that has always worked out well for us and many others. I can’t say what went wrong with yours.

  13. I’d love to try this recipe but I’m concerned that the trouble people are having with it sinking may be due to high altitudes – a common problem with cakes. I am at about 3500 feet above sea level. Can you share the altitude that you are having success at? Thanks!

    1. Hi Gail, this recipe was made at approximately 700m above sea level so you may need to make some adjustments to bake it at an altitude of 3500m. We would love to hear what types of adjustments you make to help other readers as well!

    1. I love the idea, Jennie! We haven’t tried it ourselves but other readers have with great results.