The Best Homemade Chocolate Cake Recipe

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This is the best homemade chocolate cake recipe! Super easy to make and incredibly moist! This cake has a fluffy texture and a perfect chocolate flavor. We’ve been making this recipe for years; it always turns out to be incredibly moist and delicious.

The perfect slice of homemade chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.

This cake has a beautiful chocolate flavor, and its fluffy texture makes it perfect for any occasion. My mother-in-law passed this recipe to me years ago, and I’ve been making it ever since. She initially got this recipe from the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa Powder box, and it’s a classic we always make!

This delightful cake is versatile; it can be made as a sheet or layered round cake. The process is quick and easy—mixing the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another, and then combining them with a mixer. I use boiling water to help create that tender, moist texture that we all love in a chocolate cake.

Topping the cake with creamy homemade chocolate frosting makes every bite a perfect treat. Feel free to experiment with other frostings to fit your preferences. Still, one thing’s for sure—this cake is ideal for all chocolate lovers!

Super moist chocolate cake with frosting and milk.

Why This is The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

Incredibly moist texture: This cake’s moistness makes every bite enjoyable and leaves you craving more.

Versatile: You can create a sheet cake, layered cake, bundt cake, or even cupcakes using this recipe.

Rich chocolate flavor: While the taste is indulgent, it isn’t overwhelmingly sweet.

Simple to make: This easy homemade cake recipe is perfect for beginners and experts.

Even without frosting, It’s scrumptious and can be enjoyed as a chocolate snack cake.

Tried and tested: I’ve made this moist chocolate cake recipe multiple times, which always produces excellent results.

Oil, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, eggs, milk, vanilla extract and baking soda and baking powder in small bowls.

How To Make Homemade Chocolate Cake

I’m covering everything you need to know to make this cake. The full recipe, measurements, and directions are in the recipe card below.

Baking Supplies

Shopping List and Ingredient Notes

Here is a list of ingredients you’ll need for this scrumptious chocolate cake, easily found at your local grocery store:

Granulated sugar: White sugar is excellent for sweetening and adding the perfect texture.

All-purpose flour: Provides structure and a light, tender texture. I use King Arthur Flour for this recipe. The flour helps provide structure and form to the cake. It also helps give the cake a light, tender texture. Make sure to measure flour your flour when baking correctly. Remember to measure your flour accurately.

Unsweetened cocoa adds an intense, rich chocolate flavor to the cake. Try Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa or Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa. You can use unsweetened dark cocoa for an even richer chocolate flavor. The cake will have a deep color as well.

Baking soda and baking powder: These leavening agents help create a moist, fluffy cake with an even texture.

Milk: Contributes to texture and moisture. Both whole milk and 2% work well.

Eggs: Offer structure and stability. Organic eggs are preferable when possible.

Vegetable oil or canola oil: This chocolate cake recipe is made with oil to give the cake extra moistness and a fluffy texture. You can use vegetable or canola oil, as both have a neutral flavor that won’t overpower the other ingredients in the cake.

Vanilla extract: Enhances flavors; use pure vanilla extract for best results.

Boiling water: Helps incorporate cocoa powder and maintain a moist, tender cake.

liquid ingredients in a measuring cup and dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Recipe Tips

  • Use whole, organic ingredients when possible. It does make a difference in the flavor and outcome of the cake.
  • Oil and grease your pans well; use parchment paper for easy removal. 
  • Mix well, but do not over-mix. Keep the mixer on low most of the time, and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. 
  • If you want to make a dark chocolate cake, try Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder.
  • Pair this cake with our creamy chocolate buttercream frosting. 
  • Always remember to use room-temperature ingredients for the best results.
  • Set the timer for 10 minutes less, as baking time will vary depending on accurate oven temperature and location.

Recipe Variations

I’ve discovered several delightful ways to customize a chocolate cake. For instance, you can:

9x13 baking sheet and cake batter in a mixing bowl.

How to Make Ahead Homemade Chocolate Cake

The best part about making a classic homemade cake is that you can make it beforehand. Bake the cake and let it cool completely. Then, Place the wrap in plastic in an airtight container or a gallon zip-top freezer bag. Freeze the cake for up to 3 months.

When you’re ready to serve the cake, remove it from the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator. Once it’s completely thawed, you can frost the cake.

How to Determine if Your Cake is Ready

To figure out if your cake is done, be on the lookout for these cues:

  • The edges of the cake start to pull away from the pan.
  • A delightful aroma fills the air.
  • The top of the cake has a lovely golden hue.
  • The toothpick test: insert a toothpick into the cake; if it comes out with crumbs, give it more time to bake.
  • Gently press the cake’s surface; it should spring back up.
Simple chocolate cake recipe with creamy chocolate frosting.

Storing and Freezing

Storing chocolate cake is pretty simple. You can store it in the fridge or freeze it.

Storing Leftover Cake: Wrap the chocolate cake leftovers tightly with plastic wrap or store them in an airtight sealed container. Doing this lets the cake maintain moisture and keeps it delicious for days. 

Freezer: Wrap the cake in plastic as soon as it cools. Storing the cake in the freezer will help keep the moisture content in, and it’s how professional bakers store their goods as well. It’s best to freeze this cake without frosting.

The cake will thaw quickly, so that’s good news for anyone who wants to consume it from the freezer. The frozen cake also makes an excellent base for icing.

Gluten-Free Option

To create a delicious gluten-free chocolate cake, I replace the regular flour with Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour. Although the texture might slightly differ, my cake still turns out good!

Moist chocolate cake cooling on a cooking rack with a bowl of chocolate frosting.

Cake Pan 101

Sheet Cake Pan – Sheet cakes are baked in a rectangular cake pan ranging in size from 9x13x2 to 10×7. Any of these sizes will work.

Bundt Pans – Also known as tube pans. This is a round pan with a hole in the middle. Some of them have designs, and others are smooth. If you use this pan, butter, and flour, you can’t use parchment paper to help release the cake.

Loaf Pan – A loaf pan is a small rectangular pan used to make our coconut cake and pumpkin bread. If you use a loaf pan for this recipe, you will likely need to make two cakes. It’s often called pound cake when you bake a cake in a loaf pan. So this would be a buttermilk pound cake recipe.

Round Cake Pans – If you want to make a layer cake, use 2 8×2 round cake pans.

Cocoa Powder vs Extra Dark Cocoa Powder

There are a couple of options to consider when using unsweetened cocoa powder. I recommend going with the classic Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder.

However, if you’re interested in a more intense chocolate cake—both in flavor and appearance—you might want to choose Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder. This will result in a cake that is so dark it’s almost black! It’s perfect for those looking for a darker and richer chocolate experience.

Chocolate Cake Toppings

I enjoy various toppings on chocolate cakes. My favorites include chocolate buttercream frosting, cream cheese frosting, vanilla frosting, whipped Swiss buttercream, and even gingerbread frosting.

Frosting – Top this cake with any frosting you desire. I prefer chocolate buttercream, but you can add cream cheese, vanilla, whipped Swiss buttercream, or gingerbread frosting.

Sprinkles and Edible Flowers – We love using sprinkles for a birthday cake and edible flowers for a simple gathering. Dried edible flowers work just as well as fresh.

Whipped Cream and Fresh Fruit – If you prefer a light cake, top it with whipped cream, fresh fruit, and berries.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best chocolate cake recipe?

After trying several recipes, I’ve found one that is incredibly easy to make and always results in a tender, moist chocolate cake. You really can’t go wrong with it.

What ingredient makes a cake moist?

Ingredients like eggs, oil, milk, butter, and hot water all give a cake its moist texture. Just use the best quality ingredients and check their freshness before you start baking.

How can I make a light and fluffy cake?

Using oil, baking soda, and baking powder is a great approach to achieve a light, fluffy texture. These components will work together, producing a delightfully moist, fluffy cake.

Are there any secrets to baking a moist cake? 

Ensuring a moist cake begins with the proper combination of ingredients like eggs, oil, milk, water, or butter. Following adequate mixing techniques, like adding one egg at a time, and avoiding over-mixing, will also lead to a moist cake. You should also measure the ingredients accurately, mainly flour. Remember not to over-bake – it can cause the cake to be dry and dense.

Why is boiling water added to the chocolate cake mix?

Adding boiling water to the chocolate cake mix allows the cocoa powder to dissolve and expand, resulting in a richer chocolate flavor. It also helps create a moist and tender crumb by breaking down some of the flour’s proteins.

Is there a secret ingredient that could enhance my chocolate cake?

You could add a small pinch of espresso powder to your cake batter. It intensifies the chocolate flavor without adding a distinct coffee taste. Another option is adding a touch of cinnamon, which complements the chocolate beautifully.

Serving Recommendations

When to Serve a Homemade Chocolate Cake

I find homemade chocolate cake perfect for numerous occasions, especially birthdays. Not only that, but you can also enjoy it as an afternoon snack or serve it up at:

Fluffy chocolate cake.

What to Pair with Chocolate Cake

Here are some tasty suggestions to enjoy alongside a scrumptious chocolate cake:

  • Vanilla Ice Cream: Nothing beats the classic cake and ice cream combination.
  • Fruit Platter: I always appreciate fresh fruit with my cakes; they balance the flavors nicely.
  • Crème Fraîche: This soured cream has a velvety texture and pairs wonderfully with berries and chocolate.
  • Iced Matcha Tea: This creamy yet hydrating beverage is good for you, and matcha complements chocolate beautifully.

More Sheet Cake Ideas

I came across some fantastic sheet cake recipes that are both simple and delicious. Here are a few of my favorites!

Recipes You’ll Love

If you’re still craving other fantastic dessert options, I’d like to recommend a few more treats you’ll want to try:

This is my favorite homemade chocolate cake recipe, and I can’t wait for you to try it. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. I promise it’s the only chocolate cake recipe you’ll need!

You can also FOLLOW US on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, and PINTEREST to see more delicious recipes, cocktails, desserts, and parties!

homemade chocolate cake

The Best Homemade Chocolate Cake Recipe

Savor the rich, moist goodness of homemade chocolate cake. Perfect for any occasion. Easy recipe for a delightful treat.
4.77 from 34 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 15 servings
Calories: 250kcal
Author: Eden

Ingredients

Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk, whole or 2%
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, or canola oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Instructions

  • The oven temperature should be 350 degrees.
  • measure the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. If using a stand mixer, use the fitted bowl for the dry ingredients.
  • In another bowl or liquid measuring cup, add all of the wet ingredients except the boiling water, which gets added at the end. 
    liquid ingredients in a measuring cup and dry ingredients in a mixing bowl
  • Slowly add the wet and dry ingredients with the paddle attachment and mixer on low speed. Scrape down the bowl's sides and bottom to ensure everything is mixing. Turn the mixer to medium speed for about 30 seconds, then back to low.
  • Slowly add the boiling water with the mixer on low. The batter will have a liquid consistency, and that's how you want it to be.
  • 9×13 baking pan is perfect for this cake. Oil it well and use some parchment paper on the bottom so the cake will be easy to remove. 
    9x13 baking sheet and chocolate cake
  • Bake for 30 minutes until the cake has risen in the center. 
    chocolate cake

Notes

  • Use whole, organic ingredients when possible. It does make a difference in the flavor and outcome of the cake.
  • Oil and grease your pans well; use parchment paper for easy removal.
  • Mix well, but do not over-mix. Keep the mixer on low most of the time, and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  • If you want to make a dark chocolate cake, use Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder.
  • This recipe pairs well with our chocolate buttercream recipe. It’s a creamy, whipped frosting with semisweet chocolate chips and butter. 

Nutrition

Calories: 250kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 284mg | Potassium: 154mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 62IU | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 1mg
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This recipe is from Hershey’s Cocoa Powder.

the best chocolate cake recipe graphic

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21 thoughts on “The Best Homemade Chocolate Cake Recipe”

  1. Very moist cake, turned out well , nice and fluffy. Great cake for celebration decorating. I decorated with a pool theme. Will use recipe again. Thank you

    Reply
  2. This is the best chocolate cake recipe-it’s the original Hershey’s Chocolate Cake recipe that’s always been on the back of the cocoa container!

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    Topped it with peanut butter frosting and chopped peanut butter cups. We were in heaven, it is so moist and delicious!

    Reply
  4. 5 stars
    There is seriously nothing better than homemade chocolate cake! This is so light & fluffy & the frosting is creamy & delicious!

    Reply
  5. Thanks for the recipe.

    I made this last night and am really happy with the result. I hesitated on making this cake due to the lack of specificity of 3 ingredients. The amount of cocoa powder intrigued me and it did produce a more pronounced flavor. The cake was very good and I will make it again.

    However, the aforementioned issue should be addressed:

    2 cups flour: What kind of flour? All-purpose, cake flour?

    2 cups sugar? What kind of sugar? Granulated, caster, dark brown, light brown?

    1 3/4 cups cocoa powder? What kind? This makes a huge difference. Dutch processed cocoa versus natural cocoa.

    I used dutch process and the texture and flavor were good.

    Reply
  6. A cup of boiling water in the batter self? That seems interesting…I should try it at the end of this month. Hope it comes out nice.

    Reply
  7. The reason that I love this cake so much, is that it is really moist and dense – the recipe does not include any baking powder, but rather buttermilk and a small amount of baking soda. It delivers big time on the wow factor as well.

    Reply

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