The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe – Step by Step Guide

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe: 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!


For the Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (240g)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (400g)
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (50g)
  •  teaspoons baking powder
  •  teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk (240mL)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil (180mL)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water (240ml)

For the Chocolate Buttercream:

  •  cups unsalted butter room temperature (338g)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (25g)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 cups powdered sugar (680g)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk (45-60mL)


  • Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.


For the Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with butter or baking spray and line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. (I highly recommend using cake strips for a more even bake.)
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, oil, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and whisk together until well combined. Pour in the boiling water and whisk until well combined. (The batter will be runny.)
  4. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire cooling rack for 15 minutes. Carefully invert the cake layers onto the wire rack, remove the parchment paper, and let cool completely.

For the Chocolate Buttercream:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the cocoa powder and salt and mix on low speed until combined. Scrape the bowl down.
  2. While mixing on low speed, gradually add in the powdered sugar alternating with a little bit of milk on occasion up to 4 tablespoons. Once the sugar is added, beat in the vanilla. Scrape down the bowl and beat on medium-low speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

For the Assembly:

  • Place a cooled cake layer on a cake stand. Top with 1 cup of frosting and spread it out the edges in an even layer. Place the remaining cake layer on top and spread the rest of the frosting all over the outside of the cake. You can reserve some of the frosting to pipe decorations if desired.


  • Calories: 124 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 27g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Fat: 1g
  • Saturated Fat: 1g
  • Cholesterol: 15 mg
  • Sodium: 178 mg
  • Potassium: 114 mg
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 17g
  • Vitamin A: 229 IU
  • Vitamin C: 1 mg
  • Calcium: 34 mg
  • Iron: 1 mg


Q1. Why did my cake dry out?

Cocoa powder is very absorbent and drying, which can lead to dry, crumbly chocolate cake. That’s why you make this chocolate cake recipe with oil, milk, and hot water (or hot coffee) — these ingredients help counteract that dryness, and will give you a moist, velvety crumb.

Q2. Can you make this ahead of time?

Yes, this is an ideal make-ahead recipe. Since cooling the chocolate cake layers can take a while, you can bake the cakes a night in advance, and then frost them the next day.

Or you can make everything well in advance and freeze it. Once the cakes are cooled, wrap each layer separately in plastic wrap. Then place them into freezer-safe bags and store in the freezer. Spoon the buttercream frosting into a freezer bag or freezer-safe container and freeze. The cake and frosting can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before frosting the cake and serving.

Q3. What’s the best frosting for this cake?

Chocolate buttercream frosting is an easy, classic choice for a chocolate cake

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20 thoughts on “The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe – Step by Step Guide”

  1. Hi I dont have round pans but I do have 2 square Pyrex glass pans / trays , the 1 is small tray an thats the one takes over 1 litre water under 2 litre whereas the big tray takes over 2 litre under 3 litre water so my question is which tray do I use

  2. Delicious. But I did not add 2 cups of sugar. I substituted the sugar everybody at the party thought it was the best chocolate cake they ever had. Thank you for the recipe.

  3. The chocolate cake recipe lists buttermilk as an ingredient, but I didn’t see it mentioned in the directions.
    Should it be added with the other wet ingredients?

    • Hello Deb G

      It mention in 2nd point

      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.

      please read again

  4. I don’t see the gluten free option and I know different cup for cup gluten free flours behave differently. I have Bob’s Red Mill and Cup 4 Cup brands as well as individual gluten free flours; rice, brown rice, potato, tapioca etc. I would love to know which gluten free flour works with this recipe. Thank you.

    • Hello Linda

      Here is the answer – You can use Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour and almond milk. It comes out SO good-even people who don’t know we made it, love it! It is definitely better after chilling in the fridge for a bit! Thank you.

  5. I made cake exactly as described and it is absolutely delicious. I will use this recipe every time . I can’t wait to make it for my father in law.


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