The Perfect One-Bowl Chocolate Cake Recipe

chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream recipe

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!

one bowl chocolate cake recipe
chocolate cake recipe from scratch

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.

easy chocolate cake recipe by sugar and sparrow

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.

buttercream rope border with sprinkles

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.

easy chocolate cake recipe by sugar and sparrow
5 from 8 votes
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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. 

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 15 slices

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups (415g) all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 Cups (530g) white granulated sugar
  • 1 Cup (95g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch Process)
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 Cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 Cups (355ml) full-fat buttermilk*, room temperature DIY recipe in the notes
  • 1 1/2 Cups hot water

Instructions

  1. 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. 

  2. 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. 

  3. 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.

Recipe Notes

DIY Buttermilk recipe: add 1 Tbsp of white vinegar for every cup of whole milk you’ll be using. For this recipe, add 1.5 Tbsp of white vinegar to a jar and top it with 1.5 Cups 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. 

Did you make this recipe? Let me know what you think in the comments below, or by tagging me on Instagram! I love to see your creations and hear your feedback.

32 Comments


  1. I tried it with the chocolate buttercream and it was delicious! Of course not as pretty as yours but my daughter already requested I make it for her birthday… Which is in October


  2. I made cupcakes with this recipe this weekend. Best chocolate cake recipe ever! Only problem was my cupcakes were pretty sticky on top even though they were completely baked. Any idea what I did wrong?

    • Hi Lisa! That’s awesome this recipe worked out as cupcakes! I have never made it as cupcakes so I’m not sure why they turned out sticky on top. The only thing I can think of is that this cake is meant to be super moist. I’ll test it as cupcakes and see if I get the same result.

  3. Chad E Peterson


    Another great recipe. I did the caramel apple cake last week and this one yesterday. Both were awesome, I liked the caramel apple better, my wife preferred this one. Both cakes cooked up perfectly. For this one it did dome up and had to cut off about 1″ to level it off, maybe I had too much flour. This chocolate cake is a good medium density, not too light and not too dense. My wife and kids are excited to see which one I will do next week. Thanks for the great recipes.

    • Thanks Chad!! So happy to hear you’re loving the recipes! I think the doming might be solved using cake strips around the pan to help the cake bake more evenly, but I never use cake strips and always just trim off the dome to make my cakes level. Can’t wait to see what you’ll try next and thanks for all the wonderful feedback 🙂


  4. I did this cake already twice in last ten days. It really is perfect, very moist, soft and easy to do. Thank you for this recipe! Love from the Czech republic 🙂

    • That is so wonderful to hear, Klara! I’m so happy you’re loving this recipe!! Love from Portland as well 🙂


  5. Oh my goodness…sounds unbelievable. I wonder, I wonder if there is an amazing GF recipe??? As always, most amazing cakes ever Whit

    • Thanks so much, Ann!! I have yet to try making gluten free cake but I’ll totally let you know if I do!! 🙂 love you!

  6. I would like to make this cake but only have two 9″ cake pans. Will the measurements work?

    • Hi Kristin! This recipe will definitely work with two 9 inch cake pans with the measurements as is. Just make sure to fill the pans no more than 2/3 full and check them at 45 minutes to see if you need more time. Let me know how it goes!

    • Hi Donna! If you one-and-a-half the recipe (using 5 eggs) it should be perfect. Doubling it will work too but you’ll definitely have enough extra batter for a few more cake layers.


  7. I love this recipe! With the same batter, I was able to make 1 round cake and about 15 cupcakes! The cupcakes just need 17 mins in the oven and they rose up. I had no issues with it.

    And they are moist and delicious, this recipe is a keeper!

    I did make the mistake of using cold milk for the buttermilk, so my milk didn’t curdle at all, I still put it in after the 15 min wait and it was fine.

    So thank you so much for this lovely and easy recipe!

    • Hi Tina! I am so happy to hear that you love the recipe AND were able to make some cupcakes with it as well! I have yet to try making cupcakes with it but now I can’t wait 🙂


  8. Is there a way to rate this recipe more than five stars?! This was my first scratch made chocolate cake. I usually doctor up chocolate cake mixes because they’re fool proof and always moist, but this recipe is a game changer. I was skeptical at first because the batter was super watery, but the end result was perfection. This recipe yielded 44 cupcakes (using a 3.4 tbsp batter scoop). For me, it took 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven. They were the most moist and tender cupcakes I’ve ever made. Thank you so much for this recipe!

    • YAY!! I am so happy to hear that, Cat! I felt the same way having been used to relying on cake mixes for so long. I was so happy to finally create a chocolate cake recipe that’s about as easy as a cake mix + tasty as can be, and I’m elated to hear that you’re loving it too!!

  9. Alison Clark


    Hi I made these cakes today ready to decorate tomorrow but they seem quite heavy , is this normal ???

    • Hi Alison! They might feel heavy due to how moist they are, but how is the crumb? Is it soft and fluffy? Sometimes cakes can become dense if you overmix the batter, but this cake is meant to have a fairly fluffy, yet sticky crumb.

  10. Oh my goodness yes! I have tried my fair share of chocolate cake recipes, and I’ve finally found the winner! It’s moist, has the perfect texture, and great flavor! Thanks for the recipe!

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