The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe – A one bowl chocolate cake recipe that is quick, easy, and delicious! Updated with gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free options!
The best chocolate cake recipe. Ever? There are plenty of claims for the best chocolate cake recipe. I get that. But with one bite of this decadent, moist chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, every single person around the table commented that this was the best chocolate cake they’d ever tasted.
So as for my house, this chocolate cake recipe now holds that honor.
As the compliments continued, I didn’t begin to tell them how easy it was to make.
In all honesty, it is probably one of the easiest cakes I’ve made in a long time, really, but I just smiled and thanked them.
As we continued on gobbling up the cake, drinking our coffee or iced cold milk, the compliments just kept coming.
Then the requests for the recipe started.
That’s generally when you know that folks really like what you’ve made if they ask for the recipe and tell you for what event they plan to serve it.
As a cook, that really is one of the highest compliments you can receive – well, at least in my book.
The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever
It was great to hear that they thought the cake was just as good after their last bite as they thought it was with their first.
Here’s another great thing about this recipe. The cake batter really can be made in a bowl without the use of a heavy duty mixer. Of course, that just makes things easier, but this is easily a recipe my Grandmother would have enjoyed making in her tiny kitchen with a whisk and a bowl. And I’m sure it would have turned out perfectly, too.
I’m not going to kid you, this makes a very rich, moist chocolate cake recipe. So if you are a faint of heart chocolate cake person, this is not the cake for you.
Based on the Old Fashioned Hershey’s recipe, I sort of went a bit heavy-handed with some changes testing cake after cake until I got it just the way I wanted it, but the end result was oh so worth it. The crumbs left on the plate gave that away.
For this chocolate cake, you’ll need the following ingredients.
- all-purpose flour
- unsweetened cocoa powder
- baking powder
- baking soda
- espresso powder – I give more information on the espresso powder below
- milk – you can also use buttermilk, almond milk, oat milk, or coconut milk
- oil – you can use vegetable, canola or melted coconut oil
- eggs – when baking, I like to use room temperature eggs
- vanilla extract
- boiling water
Prep. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
Whisk dry ingredients. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
Mix in wet ingredients. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter until well combined.
Bake. Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of the chocolate cake comes out clean.
Frost. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely. Frost with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.
One of the ingredients that really made this cake recipe come to life, in my opinion, was the addition of espresso powder in both the chocolate cake and in the chocolate frosting.
If you’ve not tried a bit of espresso when baking with chocolate, you really should.
The espresso works to elevate the flavors in much the same way as vanilla extract and I now think of it as an essential part of my spice cabinet.
Espresso powder is easy to find at the grocery store or even online if your grocer doesn’t stock it normally, but I use it fairly frequently and it can become a little pricey. I’ve started making my own homemade espresso powder and since I have I’m not looking back! It is so easy to make and have on hand!
Believe me when I say, it is very much worth the effort to have just for those times you are baking with chocolate!
So my friends, if you have a chocolate cake lover in your midst, make them this cake. If they’ve had a bad day this is certainly something that will brighten it for them. If they’ve had a great day, then this chocolate cake is a great way to celebrate with them!
Let me just say again, this amped up classic chocolate cake + this Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe = the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had!
How to Make Ahead and Store the Homemade Chocolate Cake:
Both the cake and the chocolate frosting can be made ahead. Allow the cakes to cool completely, wrap them well in plastic wrap and place each layer into a gallon zip-top freezer bag. Freeze the cake layers for up to one month.
To frost the cake, simply remove from the freezer and allow to thaw in the refrigerator with wrapping intact. Then, frost the cake once it has completely thawed.
Store the cake at room temperature on the counter. I like to store under a cake dome to keep the cake fresh.
Chocolate Cake Modifications You May Be Interested to Know About:
Note that I have updated the recipe to include some additional ingredients that I have tested through the years. I have found that this chocolate cake is even more versatile than I originally imagined! I’ve listed some of the modifications I’ve tested that I think may be of interest to you.
As a Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe:
To make the cake as a gluten-free chocolate cake recipe, I’ve successfully used an equal amount of gluten-free flour in place of the all-purpose flour listed in the recipe.
As a Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe:
To make the cake a dairy-free chocolate cake recipe, I’ve used almond milk as well as coconut milk in place of the dairy. While not dairy-free, I’ve also used buttermilk in place of the milk with great results.
As an Egg-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe:
To make the cake an egg-free chocolate cake recipe, I’ve used 2/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of the 2 large eggs in the recipe. You will note that you may have to bake the cake just a few minutes more. Be sure to check with the skewer for doneness.
I’ve also used Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer with great success.
To Use Butter and Other Oils:
I have tested the chocolate cake recipe with additional oils, as well as butter. I’ve tested using an equal amount of melted coconut oil to the vegetable oil called for in the recipe. I’ve also tested using the same volume of melted butter in place of the oils in the chocolate cake. While it does make the cake texture slightly different, it is still delicious and worth trying if you’d prefer to use butter in place of oils in your chocolate cake.
Whew! See what I mean! This is the chocolate cake of everyone’s dreams, I think!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder homemade or store-bought
- 1 cup milk or buttermilk, almond, or coconut milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil or canola oil, or melted coconut oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
- Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe
- Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
For the chocolate cake:
- Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
- Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter until well combined.
- Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of the chocolate cake comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.
- Frost cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.
The cake batter will be very thin after adding the boiling water. This is correct and results in the most delicious and moist chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted! xo
Let the baked cake layers cool completely. Wrap them well with plastic wrap and then with foil. Put each layer into a freezer bag and freeze up to 2 months. To serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight with wrapping intact. The next day, the layers are ready to fill and frost.
High Altitude: If you live at a high altitude, adjust the recipe based upon the altitude for your area.
Nutritional information is for the cake only.
Calories: 124kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 178mg | Potassium: 114mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 229IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg