This is the BEST chocolate cake! It gets made in one bowl and is everything you want a easy homemade chocolate cake to be: chocolaty, moist and decadent. Whipped vanilla buttercream is the cherry on top! This recipe is really easy for bakers with no experience and for kiddos. This cake is based on the original recipe from Hershey’s. They have created some top shelf chocolate cake recipes over the years!
Give me a simple, classic recipe any day of the week! This old fashioned moist chocolate cake is definitely that! Simple, and to the point – hard core chocolate cake for true chocolate lovers! I’m a big fan of the combination of vanilla buttercream on an easy chocolate cake but if you prefer a chocolate buttercream you can use this recipe.
Need more proof? Check out the comments!!!
“This cake is sooooo delicious! My husband suggested I go into the cake baking business after enjoying his slices! 😉” – Stacey
What Makes This The BEST Chocolate Cake Recipe?
For true greatness a chocolate cake has to be bursting with chocolate – a chocolate lover’s fantasy cake.
It also needs a dense, moist texture. It should not be so dense that it is a brownie – just good and thick and almost on the fudgy side.
Finally, I want a frosting that adds a little something to the cake instead of detracting from it.
My Secret to the Best Chocolate Cake…
This is my version of perfect classic chocolate cake. And I believe I have done it very well… My secret (don’t you love that I tell you all my secrets?) is just a hint of almond flavoring in the cake and the frosting. It is just enough to give an extra layer of flavor to the chocolate.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the plain flavor of chocolate, but adding a little something else can give it a lot of depth and quality.
The whipped vanilla buttercream on top is also simply divine. Hang unto this recipe for your favorite cookies and other treats. It is easy and amazing.
HOW TO BAKE A PERFECT CAKE
Have you ever tried baking a cake and gotten a big old hill? There are two things you can try:
- Buy a good quality cake pan! This helps with heat distribution for even baking.
- Try wrapping your cake pan! I have a tutorial on it here. When I wrap a cake it always rises fully level! This trick has gotten me through 10 years of baking – I love it!
Love Chocolate Cake? This Black Magic Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting is another chocolate cake home run!
MORE CHOCOLATE CAKES TO LOVE
- Chocolate Cake with Ganache and Vanilla Mousse Filling
- Better Than Homemade Chocolate Cake Mix
- Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes
- Wacky Cake (Depression Cake – No Milk or Eggs)
The Best Chocolate Cake with Whipped Vanilla Buttercream
For The Cake
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk can sub 2%
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract see note for substitution options
- 1 cup boiling water
For The Whipped Vanilla Buttercream
- 1 cup salted butter room temperature
- 8 cups powdered sugar (this is a 32oz bag)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract see note for substitution options
- 7 Tablespoon whole milk can sub 2%
- Tip: A great cake is baked in such a way that it rises flat and doesn't need to be leveled! The sides and bottom will be more tender and the entire cake is taller and more fluffy. See the full tutorial here.
To Bake The Cake
- Put oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Butter the sides of two 9-inch round baking pans and line with a circle of parchment paper. Flour or use cocoa powder to dust the sides of the pans, tap out excess.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Add eggs, milk, oil, vanilla and almond extract. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
- With the mixer on low, stir in boiling water ( note that the batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
- Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes. Use a knife or metal spatula to loosen the sides of the cake from the pan. Flip cakes unto to wire racks to finish cooling. At this time, gently peel the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake and discard.
To Make The Frosting
- Put all the frosting ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on low until combined, scraping sides and bottom as needed until the frosting comes together.
- Turn the mixer to high and beat for 3 minutes. Scrape the sides and beat an additional 2 minutes on high.
- Frost the cake and serve with coffee or vanilla ice cream.
- Cake Cutting Tip: Use a sharp knife to cut the cake. Try wiping it on a clean, damp cloth between cuts. A clean knife makes a more tidy and pretty slice of cake. Use a cake server to lift pieces of cake off your serving plate.
Almond extract is a great option in chocolate. It has an almost cherry flavor and brings out the chocolate flavor beautifully. However, not everybody is a fan and you certainly don't have to include it! The extract can be left out of both the cake and the frosting. You can either leave it out all together or you can replace it with vanilla if you want a stronger vanilla flavor in the cake or the frosting or both. Tips on Cake Frosting When the cake has cooled it takes me about 30 minutes to make the frosting and frost the cake. A more casual frosting job will take less time. To smooth the frosting on easily plan to frost the cake as soon as you make the frosting. Also try smearing just a little down all around the sides and top of the cake to make what is called a “glue layer.” Don’t worry about getting crumbs in it. Put your clean frosting over the glue layer for easy but polished look.
This recipe was posted in February of 2017 and updated with new content in May of 2020.
Did you use whole milk for the cake also?
I do because that is what I keep on hand for my little guy. I would suggest 2% or whole for the cake.
Thanks for your quick reply! 🙂 Glad I asked because we always have skim milk on hand so I will be sure to buy the whole milk for this recipe. Looks so delicious!
Glad to help! I updated the recipe – I’m sure you won’t be the only person wondering! It is a really amazing cake. One of my favorites of all time. I hope you love it! Stay tuned next week. I just finished taking photos of a scrumptious carrot cake that I will be sharing 🙂
HI! Do you think this recipe would work for cupcakes too?
Sorry for the delay! I was in the hospital having our daughter and I’m just catching up now. Yes, this makes wonderful cupcakes! I’m actually making some for a cake walk next month 🙂
Has anyone tried making this without almond extract? I am not a fan…
Almond extract is a love it or hate it thing for many people! You can absolutist substitute vanilla instead and it will still be wonderful. I will update the recipe with a note. Happy baking!
This cake is sooooo delicious! My husband suggested I go into the cake baking business after enjoying his slices! 😉
Thank you! It is one of my go to favorites (I was actually thinking of making cupcakes out of it for a 4 year old’s birthday this weekend). You just can’t beat an amazing chocolate cake! Sounds like your husband is a wonderful guy – who knows – maybe there is cake business venture in your future! The world can always use more good cake!
Is this buttercream recipe good for piping too? I need to make my daughters birthday cake. Need to pipe the outside like a kitty. ?
Yes! It is perfect for that. I use this for all my cake decorating.
I am planning to make it this week. What would be the cook time if I make cupcakes? Is the almond extract overpowering? Can you taste the almond flavor or is it very subtle people don’t taste it.?
Oh enjoy – this will make wonderful cupcakes! It should take about 15 minutes for the cupcakes to bake. If you are not a big almond extract person I suggest reducing it to 1/4 or 1/2 tsp for the cupcakes. This will make sure it is very subtle. For the frosting you can start with 1/4 or 1/2 tsp. and then add a bit more if you like. Personal taste is so different but 1 tsp. is a stronger flavor! Happy baking!
Can you make the cake using 9 x 13 glass baking dish?
Hi Mary – You absolutely can! I was just thinking of a dessert to take camping this weekend. Maybe I will bring this cake as a sheet cake. What a great idea. Happy Baking!
Can I make the the cake, frost it and leave it overnight in the fridge? Or does it have to be made that same day?
Hi Natalia – Absolutely! It will be delicious. Happy Baking!
Hello, could I add an extra egg for more rich flavoring? And moistness?
This is already a very moist and flavorful recipe. I wouldn’t add an extra egg here. You can always try and see what happens. But I’ve not tried it so I can’t promise the outcome. Good luck!
Hi! can I double the amount and make this a four layer cake?
Yes you can! But in that case you will need four cake pans instead of two. Your other option is to bake one recipe and then split the two cake layers each in half which makes four cake layers. You can read more about baking a tall, flat cake layer and splitting cake layers the right way in this tutorial: https://www.mirlandraskitchen.com/how-to-bake-a-perfect-cake/
Hi, does the frosting require 8 cups or 4 cups of powdered sugar? Both are listed in the instructions. A 32 ounce bag equals 4 cups, not 8. Thanks so much!
Hi Tia, This frosting needs 8 cups. A 32oz bag is 8 cups. I hope that helps clarify! I’m going to edit the recipe template so that it is more clear. Thanks for checking in with me! Enjoy that cake!!!
Hello! I wanted to know if halving the icing recipe would still be enough to frost the cake. Im thinking about doing a thinner layer and then decorating.
Yep! Absolutely. Enjoy that cake!
Can I use cake flour instead of all purpose flour?
Hi Carrie, Great question! The rule of thumb here is to use 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons of cake flour for every cup of all-purpose flour. I think it will work fine here but if you have all purpose flour I would use that instead since I’ve tested it and know it will turn out well. This recipe works really well with AP flour. Hope that helps! Let me know what you decide to do and how it works!
Sad to say this cake was a disaster. Flat in the middle, spilled out of my pans and after all that it was dry! No idea what I did wrong- my only change was using cake flour instead of AP because that’s what I had.
Hi Susan – I’m so sorry to hear about your cake! I know how disappointing it is to see a baking project fail. Unfortunately you cannot sub cake flour for all purpose flour as a one to one substitution. It will cause the recipe to fail. If you are interested in learning more about substituting cake flour I would suggest doing a google search. I hope your next baking project is much more fun and delicious! Here is to better things coming up! – Mirlandra
Can I make the cake then frost it the next day? And if so should I store it in the refrigerator? Thank you!
Absolutely! Storing it in the fridge would be nice just because a cold cake is usually easier to frost but it won’t go bad at room temperature. I suggest making the frosting right before using it as that is the easiest time to spread. ENJOY the cake!
cake was kinda tasteless. didnt really taste that chocolate-y and i used the same brand and amount of cocoa powder. i recommend adding MUCH MORE cocoa powder and maybe sugar or vanilla extract too
Hi Julia – Thank you for the feedback. I’m really sorry you didn’t like the cake! I know preferences can be different and not every recipe is for every person. That being said I would encourage you to find a different recipe you like better – not modify this one! Sugar is a liquid ingredient in baking and adding additional sugar and a lot more cocoa powder could give you a very poor result. I love to modify recipes but in baking you have to choose your changes wisely. Good luck finding something you love!
Is the cocoa in this recipe unsweetened cocoa powder?
Hi Meredith – great question! Yes, it is. Sorry for the confusion. I will clarify in the recipe. Enjoy the cake!
How do you think this would taste to add strong coffee instead of water?
That should be wonderful! Coffee is a great flavor enhancer for chocolate. You don’t usually get a strong coffee flavor so much as a nice background flavor that adds a lot to the cake. Enjoy!
Wish I could give 6 stars!!! I’m a busy college student here and this quick, easy recipe is AMAZING– it’ll barely last a day in my house! I recently made a different chocolate cake recipe from another website but it was far too dense and bitter for my liking. This recipe is perfect if you’re looking for that sweet, moist, fluffy kind of cake, and it’s nice and rich yet not overwhelming. I would say what surprised me the most is the almond extract in the cake and icing; it gives a delightful kick and depth to the overall chocolate flavor. My family and I are raving!!! Love this so much!
Hi Jasia, Thank you for your kind words! What a great recommendation! I really enjoy trying almond extract in chocolate desserts. It is a huge flavor enhancer! It is also the magic ingredient in my roll out sugar cookies! Enjoy your cake baking!!! (I made a lot of friends in college with cake – lots of great memories baking my way through the terms!)
Can this cake the frozen? And I guess frozen with the frosting more specifically?
Hi Karla, Great question! I know lots of bakers that do freeze frosted cakes and have wonderful results thawing them out. I have not frozen this recipe so I can’t give you specifics. If you do try it I would do the thawing in the fridge. Good luck!
I made this for my sister’s birthday it was a big hit!
I would like to know if you can make this recipe into a six inch cake as this would be the perfect size for me and my husband
You certainly can but it won’t use all the batter. Six inch cake pans should be filled half way for baking. Extra batter could be made into cupcakes if you like!
Hello! This recipe is delicious! Would this cake be ok to make a tiered cake? I want to do two layers…
This recipe is for a two layer cake.
Help! Buried with over 2 feet of snow on my husband’s birthday. I only have skim milk in the house and all the other ingredients. I found something online that says when baking at 2 tablespoons of melted butter per 1 cup of skim to make up for whole. Do you think this will work???
I’m so sorry I missed your comment. I had a baby in January and am just now getting caught up with the website! I’ve seen the substitution reference you are talking about but I have never tried it… I think it is absolutely worth trying but things like this I don’t feel I can give a absolute answer without having tried it myself. If you did try it please do let me know! I’m always excited to hear what is working for readers! And a happy (very belated) birthday to your husband! Hopefully your snow is long gone and spring is just around the corner for you now.
I have a friend who’s birthday is coming up and they wanted me to make them a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. This recipe sounds amazing but I was wondering if I could add crushed Oreos to the icing? They love Oreos and I would like to personalize it a little bit for them!
Well that is fun! I have never done anything like that!!! I think if you added the cookie bits in it would be hard to spread the frosting. But if you crushed the cookies up and pressed them into the freshly frosted cake all over it would make such a fun crunchy layer on the outside! Please do let me know what you do – It think it sounds wonderful!
Will this work with three layers – 6 inch pans? What’s the cooking time for that option? Thanks!!
I’m sorry, I don’t have six inch pans so I’ve not done it that way. If you don’t fill the pans more than half full you should be ok, but I don’t know the timing or if you will have batter left over! Let me know how it goes if you try it!
Did you end up trying in a 6 inch pan? Any guidance before I try it myself would be appreciated!
I haven’t baked it in a 6″. You would need to bake it for less time and you will probably have enough batter for 3 of the 6″ pans? Remember you will need to watch the cake closely because it will need less baking time.
Absolutely amazing recipe! I first made it as a cake for Father’s Day and it was such a hit I’ve made it for every other event or holiday since 😅 such an interesting recipe with the added boiling water for such a liquidy batter – really let’s it rise and become super fluffy! Thanks for the recipe. It’ll be in my recipe repertoire for forever.
Woohoo! I’m so excited that you enjoy this one so much. The batter does seem CRAZY at first but it bakes up wonderfully! I made my Black Magic Chocolate cake for my son’s birthday recently and realized I haven’t baked him this one in awhile. Maybe I should do it for Valentine’s next week! Here’s wishing you many wonderful memories with this recipe and your family!
Absolutely delicious. So easy. Thank You so Very Much for such an amazing recipe.
Thank you so much! I’m so glad it was something you enjoyed so much 🙂
Any suggestions for a replacement for vegetable oil? Trying not to use it. Maybe olive or coconut?
Hi Melissa, I can’t give a solid recommendation here since I have not done either. My understanding of baking is that olive oil is a good substitute for vegetable oil. In some recipes you would pick up on the flavor but I think in chocolate cake you should be fine! Please let me know if you try it how it goes! I always love to know!!! Good luck.