Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe

I’ve tested a lot of chocolate cake recipes over the years, and this moist chocolate cake recipe is one of my favorites. It is incredibly moist, and turns out perfectly every time!

This Recipe Can Be Made By Hand

I love this recipe for so many different reason. The first one is that this moist chocolate cake recipe doesn’t require a hand mixer, which means less dishes to clean!!

It also comes together incredibly quickly. It’s a modified version of Robyn’s chocolate cake recipe on Add A Pinch.

Image of Baileys Chocolate Cake

This Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe Bakes Flat (no huge domes!)

Another wonderful aspect of this recipe? It bakes pretty flat!

If I’m just making a cake for family and friends, I’ll usually just use a bit of extra buttercream to level everything out.

You can also trim the top of the cake with a serrated knife to make it perfectly level.

If you’re still getting comfortable trimming your cake layers, here is a great tutorial on how to level and trim your cake layers.

My Secret Ingredient: Espresso

I love to add espresso to my chocolate cake recipes!! It pairs so well with the cocoa powder, and really elevates the chocolate flavor of the cake layers!

If you’re not a fan of coffee, don’t worry! It isn’t a strong flavor in the cake, it simple enhances the overall flavor of the cake.

Image of Baileys Chocolate Cake Recipe

Tip: Use Good Quality Baking Cocoa!

To make sure these cake layers taste as delicious as possible, I highly recommend using a good quality cocoa.

The quality of cocoa you use in this recipe is key, since it’s the main flavor of these cake layers!

I love to use ghirardelli cocoa, because it gives the layers such a wonderful chocolate flavor.

Pair With Your Favorite Frosting

I love frosting this moist chocolate cake recipe with my chocolate frosting or peanut butter buttercream, but the options are really limitless!

Feel free to get creative, and make whatever combination floats your boat. 


Decorate as desired! The photo below shows a snickers cake made with this cake base, before it was crumb coated.

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try this recipe, please tag me @chelsweets, and use the #chelsweets, so I can see your beautiful creations!!

Yield: 20 servings

Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe

Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe

This chocolate cake recipe comes together so quickly, and is incredibly moist! It's just as delicious as it is easy to make.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (260 grams)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (400 grams)
  • 3/4 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder (75 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (8 grams)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (9 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (6 grams)
  • 1 cup very hot water (237 grams)
  • 2 tsp. instant espresso of coffee (6 grams)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (240 grams)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (120 grams)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature (112 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (8 grams)
  • 1 tsp vinegar (4 grams)

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 cups (or 4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (434 grams)
  • 5 cups powdered sugar (625 grams)
  • 1 1/3 cups of melted dark chocolate, cooled (228 grams, 8 oz.)
  • 1 cup sifted, unsweetened baking cocoa (100 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3 grams)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (120 grams)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (4 grams)


Chocolate Cake Layers

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line and grease three, eight-inch cake pans, or four, seven-inch pans.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder) in a large bowl. Whisk together until combined.
  3. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, add the instant espresso or coffee into the hot water, and stir until dissolved.
  4. Add in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla into the instant espresso mixture. Give the mixture a quick stir to combine the ingredients.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix by hand until fully incorporated.
  6. Stir in the eggs, one at a time.
  7. Mix in the vinegar.
  8. The batter will be on the thin side, but that’s the consistency you're after!
  9. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans, and bake for about 24-27 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven, and let the cakes sit for about 5 minutes. Gently run an offset spatula around the rim of the cake pans to loosen them. 
  11. Place the cake pans in the freezer to speed up the cooling process, and to trap in additional moisture.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

  1. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. 
  2. Add in the sifted cocoa, and mix on low until the cocoa is fully incorporated, and no clumps remain.
  3. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream.
  4. Mix in the cooled, melted chocolate chips.
  5. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt.
  6. Beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached.


These cake layers and buttercream can be made in advance!! I highly recommend making them ahead of time to make the decoration of the cake less stressful and more fun.

These layers bake quite flat! However, if you want them to be perfectly level, I recommend trimming the tops with a serrated knife once they layers are completed cooled.

I like to chill my cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before frosting and assembling my cakes, to make them easier to stack and frost.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 388Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 33mgSodium 345mgCarbohydrates 57gFiber 3gSugar 40gProtein 5g

107 thoughts on “Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe

  1. Hello, I don’t see at which point in the directions do I mix in the vinegar. It is listed in the ingredients, but not in the directions. Thank you! Love all your recipes.

    1. So sorry about that Stephanie! I usually add it at the end, but the cake will still turn out fine if you add it earlier with the other wet ingredients. I’ve updated the recipe card to include it. Thank you for flagging this!! <3

    1. Hi Maygan! I haven’t tried this as a sheet cake, but based on the volume of the batter it should make 2, 9×13 inch layers that are 1 inch tall <3

  2. In the frosting ingredients you list melted dark chocolate yet in the directions you say melted chocolate chips. So is it squares of dark chocolate or chocolate chips?

  3. Hi chelsey,

    I love your vanilla cake recipe, baked it like a 100 times now!!! Question: have you ever weight this sponge after baking ? If so how much does it weigh?
    Thanks ?

    1. Hi Tanishia! So happy to hear you’re enjoying my vanilla cake recipe! sadly I’ve never weighted these cake layers after baking them, so I have no idea!! I’ll try to remember the next time I make them though (once I’m back from my honeymoon :)!! <3

  4. Hi Chelsey,
    I love to watch your cake recipes on youtube as well as on this website. They are really very inspiring me to bake new kind of cakes but unfortunately me and my family is vegetarian so we could not have eggs in our cake. Can you please tell me any alternative(s) to eggs?


  5. Hi Chelsey,

    I made this cake this summer for my son’s birthday and it was great, I always like cakes with buttermilk in them! I need to make 24 cupcakes this weekend and was wondering if this recipe would work for cupcakes? I know you have a separate chocolate cupcake recipe on your site, but it doesn’t have buttermilk in it and only the vegetable oil, so I’m hesitant to try it.


    1. Hi Amrit! So happy to hear that, and same!! If a recipe doesn’t have buttermilk in it, I’m always like MEHHHH! haha

      With that being said, my chocolate cupcake recipe is actually so moist and tasty, even without buttermilk 😛 It’s def worth trying!

      I’ve surprisingly never tried this recipe with cupcakes before, but I bet it would also be great. If you go that route, I’d love to hear what you think of them!! PLease let me know how they turn out 🙂

  6. Hi ! So I am planning on doing your cake tomorrow for a birthday party on saturday. But we don’t really have buttermilk in France. I could do it myself but it seems to be two kind of buttermilk possible. One pretty liquid and the other more thick. Wich is the consistency of the one you use ?
    Thank you 🙂 !

    1. Hi Candice,

      I’m so sorry for the delayed response :/ I usually use buttermilk that is on the thicker side! You can also use sour cream in place of buttermilk, if that’s easier! Or Crème fraîche. Hope that helps for the future, happy baking!!

  7. Hi there! I was wondering would this for a 9×13 inch pan. I want to use only one pan instead of 2. How much batter should I pour in to get a nice and thick and moist cake? I hope I am making sense…lol.

    1. Hi Shanee! You totally can! If you want a pretty thick layer, you can use all the batter and it should bake up great 🙂 I recommend turning the temp to 325 degrees though, and baking it for 45-55 mins. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  8. Hi There!

    Is there a typo with the quantity of the below ingredients?

    2 teaspoons baking powder (8 grams)
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (12 grams)

    Should baking soda be 6 grams if it’s less than the quantity of the baking powder??


    Tanya To

    1. Hi Tanya,

      There is a typo!! But not quite for that reason 😛 Baking powder is lighter, and is 4 grams per tsp. and baking powder is a bit heavier (6 grams per tsp).

      I’ve update the baking soda amount to reflect 9 grams. It is still heavier, even though there’s less of it than baking powder. But the original amount was a little off. Hope that helps, happy baking <3

  9. Oh wow! Thank you SO much for that explanation! I would not have even thought of that but that makes SO much sense!

    I baked this cake the other day not noticing the typo and my husband who is so picky LOVED it! It will now be my go-to chocolate cake recipe! I however paired it with your salted caramel frosting and caramel drip (and decorated it with salted caramel popcorn)- YUMMM

    I only picked up on the typo because I wanted to calculate how much the cake had cost me to make – inspired by your “How to price cakes spread sheet” and it is a LIFE CHANGER!!

    I have only started learning how to bake and your content is so helpful!

    Thank you – Tanya from Australia

    1. That’s so wonderful to hear!! And omg, that sounds freaking incredible!!! I could go for a slice of that right now 🙂

      And you have no idea how happy that makes me!!! Pricing spreadsheets give me life, and I love that you’re pricing yours out!

      Thank you for being so sweet Tanya! <3

  10. Love, love, love all of your work. Thank you for sharing so much. Just wanted to let you know of a little typo I noticed in one of your recipes, the Moist Chocolate Cake recipe. In the instructions it says to prepare either three 8″ cake pans or four 8″ cake pans. I think you meant to say “or four SEVEN inch cake pans.”
    I fully expect you to delete this comment from the string. Just wanted to help out. I hate having typos on my website. Have a great day.

Let me know what you think!