After testing so many chocolate cake recipes over the years, I’ve come really close to perfection only to miss the mark on the essentials of a good chocolate cake: moistness, fluffiness, and great chocolate flavor. You know, the kind with the slightly sticky crumb that just melts in your mouth and almost makes your eyes roll back in your head because it’s just that good. While my chocolate cakes of the past have been acceptable, this one I’m about to share is the absolute best I’ve ever had. No joke. It’s moist, decadent, and makes me so giddy I want to shout it from the rooftops!
The best part of this chocolate cake recipe is that it’s about as easy as a cake mix. It’s a one-bowl cake, meaning you basically put all the ingredients into one bowl (in the right order, of course) and whip it up into the smoothest chocolate cake batter ever. There are absolutely no complicated steps to this cake, which makes it super failproof and the perfect go-to chocolate cake recipe for your repertoire.
This cake is ultra-moist due to the vegetable oil base and the addition of buttermilk. I always make the buttermilk from scratch instead of buying it, because it’s so easy to transform whole milk into full fat buttermilk, and whole milk is something I always have on hand. Just mix it with white vinegar (exact recipe below), let it sit for about 15 minutes, and voila! Perfect buttermilk every time.
You can pair this chocolate cake with almost any buttercream, but I’ve chosen to pair it with my favorite chocolate buttercream recipe to really enhance the chocolate flavor. In the past I’ve paired it with cherry, raspberry, almond, salted caramel, and vanilla buttercreams and those pairings have been super tasty.
The rope border on top of this cake was created using Wilton Tip 1M to pipe rosettes on top of one another around the edge of the cake. Then I topped it all off with one of my favorite sprinkle mixes ever – Rainbow Road by SprinklePop. I think sprinkles are the perfect finishing touch, but you can decorate however you’d like.
Here’s a video I made to show you all the tips and tricks for making this chocolate cake recipe (below). For more recipe videos like this one + tons of cake decorating videos, head to my YouTube Channel and be sure to click the Subscribe button so you never miss a new one!
Update 2019: I’ve changed the measurements in the recipe below to make exactly enough batter for three 6-inch cake pans or two 9-inch cake pans. I always do triple 6-inch layers when making cakes (I like ‘em tall!), and since I get so many questions on how to convert the original recipe into three 6-inch layers I thought I’d just do the math for you. So same great recipe, with the most requested amount of batter!
Perfect One-Bowl Chocolate Cake Recipe
A moist, decadent chocolate cake that is so easy and quick to whip up, it’ll become a forever go-to. Top it with chocolate buttercream for the best chocolate cake ever.
- 2 Cups (265g) all purpose flour
- 1 2/3 Cups (340g) white granulated sugar
- 2/3 Cup (60g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch Process)
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 Cup (120ml) vegetable oil
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 Cup (240ml) full-fat buttermilk*, room temperature DIY recipe in the notes
- 1 Cup (240ml) hot water
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare three 6-inch cake pans by spraying the sides with cooking spray and fitting the bottoms with a wax paper or parchment cake circle.
Place all of the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer and stir on low for 30 seconds to fully combine them. Add the vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk and mix on low until just combined. With the mixer still on low, add the hot water in a slow stream, then turn the mixer to medium and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. The batter will be very thin.
Pour into prepared cake pans no more than 2/3 full and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting with chocolate buttercream or frosting of your choice.
DIY Buttermilk recipe: add 1 Tbsp of white vinegar to a jar and top it with 1 Cup of whole milk. Stir and let sit for 15 minutes before using in the recipe.
Make ahead tips: this cake can be made ahead and stored at room temperature, covered tightly in plastic wrap, for up to two days. Alternatively, you can cover with plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to two months before thawing to room temperature.