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

Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe

Image of Baileys 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 tsp baking powder (8 grams)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda (9 grams)
  • 1 tsp 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 tsp vanilla extract (8 grams)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature (112 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)
  • 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 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 cups sugar, 3/4 cup baking cocoa, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp of salt in a large bowl. Whisk together until combined.
  3. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, add 2 tsp instant espresso or coffee into 1 cup of hot water, and stir until dissolved.
  4. Add in 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup oil, and 2 tsp vanilla extract 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 2 eggs eggs, one at a time.
  7. Mix in the 1 tsp 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 434Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 30mgSodium 354mgCarbohydrates 71gFiber 3gSugar 55gProtein 5g

162 thoughts on “Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe

  1. I’ve been trying to find the perfect chocolate cake recipe. This is it! Researching is done. It’s so moist, chocolaty, and bakes evenly. Thank you!

  2. Just wondering about the coffee or espresso… is it going to taste like coffee or how does it help the chocolate cake?

    1. I think it gives the cake flavor a lot more depth! it mostly just enhances the chocolate taste. However, if you don’t like coffee you can leave it out!

      1. I made this cake, and omg it was delicious everyone loved it. I used regular coffee. Thanks for sharing your recipes Chelsweets!

  3. Hi there! I love your cakes, I’ve made a lot of your recipes and they’ve all turned out nicely. However, every time I make this cake it doesn’t dome it sinks in the middle. Do you have any insight by chance?

  4. Hi there!
    If I have 2 pans to fill that are 10 inches each. How long would I need to bake them for? Also you mention putting the cakes in the freezer, how long should they be in for?

    1. I’m not sure, I haven’t baked this recipe in 10 inch pans before! I just freeze them until they’re fully chilled, or if i make them in advance and freeze them overnight, i let them thaw for about 20 minutes before I start decorating!

  5. I just pulled mine out of the oven and oh man does it smell amazing! Can’t wait for it to cool and decorate! I am doing this with your vanilla buttercream (with chopped fresh strawberries mixed into the buttercream going in the layers), ganache drop and decorated with chocolate dipped strawberries on top. Do you have any advice for the strawberries I am mixing into the middle layers? I have heard before it can get too watery… have you found that to be true?

  6. can you layer the cake pans with parchment paper? I have seen you pull off paper from your cakes just before you assemble them. And as for the snickers cake what flavor buttercream did you use?

    1. Yes! I line my pans with parchment rounds that I cut out. I have made a ton of different snickers cakes, but usually use a peanut butter or caramel buttercream, or both!

      1. The receipt for caramel buttercream under the snickers cake says butter AND peanut butter. Is that correct? I don’t see a mention of it in the instructions and wanted to make sure that was correct. Your cakes always look amazing!

  7. Hi, i just made thus reciepe today and followed it to the dot and it tasted like a sugar free diet cake. Any recommendations why that happened?

  8. Beside so some of the ingredients, what is the difference between this recipe and the chocolate layer cake recipe? Do you recommend one over the other?

    1. the texture is much different between the two! I like the taste of this one better, but it’s a but it doesn’t bake level and it’s as sturdy to stack! It’s much easier to decorate with the chocolate layer cake recipe!!

  9. Your vanilla layer cake is my go-to (YUM!!!!) and I want to try this. Have you heard from anyone whether or not this one holds up well under fondant? Thanks in advance!

  10. Hi! Question: Have you tried using the milk/vinegar combination as replacement for the buttermilk? I was wondering if the texture was still the same. Making your chocolate cake + chocolate buttercream for Mother’s Day!

  11. Hi, Just another amazing recipe from you as always, do you have a small batch recipe for this cake like you have for the vanilla layer cake, if so can you please post it. would love to have this for a 6 inch layered cake. Thank You !!!!

  12. hi girl! i love your recipes but I do have a question, my oven is not that good (doesn’t have a grill) so my cakes always tend to be cooked edges and very uncooked to the center. i’ve tried baking them for longer but the edges end up being very dry ??would you suggest to make this recipe and let it bake for longer or the go-to chocolate layer cake for a cake that i’d like to decorate?

    1. oh geeze! that sounds like a struggle!! I’d recommend trying to bake this longer, and if it gets try, maybe you can add some simple syrup to it to moisten it!

  13. Hey Chelsea! I tried making this recipe with an 8-inch and 6-inch pan and cooking it longer. It ended up falling in the middle of the cake. Any ideas as to why?

  14. Can I do this in two round pans, or should I cut the recipe in half? I’m planning just a two-layer cake, but I feel like I usually do 2 cups of flour for most recipes that I do 2-9″ cakes.

    1. I’d recommend cutting the recipe in half! if you make it in a 9 inch pan they’ll be pretty thin though! I’d say a half batch will make 2 7 or 8 inch cake layers!

  15. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and tips! And I just love your YouTube channel!!! I can’t wait to make this chocolate cake!

    1. i haven’t, but I have a great dark chocolate cupcake recipe that is to die for!! if you search it on my site it should pop up 🙂

  16. I love this chocolate cake recipe! So moist and yum? I made it for my son’s birthday and it turned out so well! Thanks, Chelsea! And happy new year in advance ?

  17. I want to make my dad the perfect chocolate cake for his going away party and he is very picky when it comes to cake, it has to be moist so this one sounds perfect but he hates coffee so I am wondering if the espresso in the recipes is tasted?

    1. You can just use hot water in place of the espresso! But honestly you can’t really taste it, it really just enhances the chocolate flavor 🙂

  18. I’m thinking this would be a great chocolate cake I need to make in the next few weeks. A few questions, what does the vinegar do? Would it hurt to omit it? Would I double or make one and a half recipes for a half sheet cake? Wondering about the baking time as well. I’m thinking maybe start checking for doneness at about 35 minutes. Your thoughts on all these questions would be great!!!

    1. it just adds to the flavor a bit! you can omit it if you really want. How big of a half sheet cake do you want to make? I think batch should be enough to make two 9×13 inch sheet pans! Use flower nails to help the layers bake more quickly and evenly, and they should bake for about 35 minutes!

  19. Hello! I absolutely love you’re recipes as they are straight forward and make delicious desserts every time!
    What size pan would you recommend for this recipe? Also how many layers does it make?

    1. Thanks Maria! I like to use this recipe to make either three 8 inch cake layers, or four 7 inch cake layers 🙂

  20. Thanks for your reply! I just noticed that info in the recipe 🙂
    I just made the layers and they smell great! I just had a little hard time flipping the cakes out of the pan once they were cooled because they seemed really soft and fluffy. I bet that will taste great and be really moist but is there any advice you have on how to handle them without them falling apart?

    1. I’ve never tried it, but the recipe is formulated to bake up just fine the way it is 😛 haha just out of curiosity, why do you want to add pudding into the batter?

  21. Hi Chelsey,

    What is the difference between this recipe and the chocolate layer cake? Either or better for stacking?


  22. The cake turned out really well. I halved the ingredients and baked it in two, 6 inch layers. I’m wondering if this cake recipe would be suitable for a multi – tiered wedding cake? Not sure if it would be sturdy enough. Thank you!

  23. 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

  24. Hello! Would this work for cupcakes or would they come out too flat? Do you have a cupcake version?

  25. 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?

  26. 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

  27. 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?


  28. 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 🙂

  29. 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!!

  30. 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!

  31. 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

  32. 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

  33. 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.

  34. I love the taste of your cakes however I find that this and your vanilla cake recipes bake very thin layers in 8 inch pans and after trimming I end up with a short cake.

    1. Hi Kim,

      I like to use 7 inch cake pans to make taller layers and a taller overall cake! I know it’s a strange size, but I order them on amazon. Here’s the link to the one’s I use:

      Hoppe that helps, happy baking!!

  35. Hello Chelsey,
    I am going to be making your moist chocolate cake in two weeks for my husbands birthday, my issue is that it’s just the both of us, I do not wish to have a lot of cake left over. How can I cut this recipe down for the both of us? and if it isn’t possible, do you think the cake will survive in the freezer?

    1. Hi Alexandra,

      Yay!! You can cut this recipe in half and make two six inch cake layers. This will make a much smaller cake that will be more fitting for the two of you 🙂 Hope that helps, happy baking!

    1. Hi Allison,

      This recipe should work great for that! When I bake layer cakes, I place two flower nails (like these: spaced evenly apart in the center of each pan and spray them, to help the layers bake more evenly and quickly. With flower nails, the cake layers bake in about 25 minutes in my oven. I hope that helps, happy baking!!

  36. Hi chelsea, i was wondering can i use 1 cup of sugar instead of 2 in this recipe or will it disturb the consistency of the cake? As the frosting is already too sweet. Thank you!!

    1. Hi Dina,

      Changing the amount of sugar definitely changes the texture of the cake. The sugar helps give the cake it’s tender structure! I’d recommend using less powdered sugar in the frosting, but leaving the amount of sugar in the cake to try to make the cake overall less sweet. You can also try a less sweet frosting with this cake like swiss meringue frosting, or chocolate ganache. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  37. Hey! I was just wondering if this buttercream recipe makes enough to smoothly frost the cake with a crumb coat and all. Thanks!

    1. Hi Cal,

      It does! The amount of frosting included in this recipe is enough to crumb coat and smoothly frost the cake layers included in the recipe <3 Happy baking!

  38. Hi Chelsey! I’m wondering if I can substitute whole milk for buttermilk without things going wrong. Thank you!

    1. Hi Kristen,

      You totally can! You can use full fat yogurt, sour cream, or whole milk in place of the buttermilk in this recipe! Hope that helps, happy baking!

  39. Hi Chelsey
    I was just wondering what measurements I would need if I wanted 4 layers in 9 inch tins. also how much white chocolate ganache would I need for that.

    1. Hi Vithoosha,

      I’d recommend doubling this cake recipe! When you say white chocolate ganache, do you mean for drips? Or filling and covering the cake with white chocolate ganache?

  40. Hi,
    First i wanted to say how amazing this cake is, i have made it multiple times and it is just amazing. I wanted to make a small 2 layer 6″cake can i just cut the recipe in half for this?
    Thanks again!!

  41. Hi Chelsey,
    I was wondering, what can I substitute heavy cream to for the buttercream? Went to 4 different stores to look for heavy cream and seems like all stores I went to are sold out of this. Do you think I can substitute it with Evaporated milk?

    1. Hi Grace,

      So sorry for the delayed response!! If you can’t find heavy cream, heavy whipping cream or any milk will work in its place <3 I’ve never experimented with evaporated milk, so I’m not quite sure about that one! Hope that helps, happy baking!

    1. Hi Viviana,

      I would recommend doubling the recipe to make 3, 9-inch pans with this recipe! Hope that helps, happy baking!

  42. Hi Chelsea! I want to make cupcakes.. Would you reccomend i use this recipe or another chocolate recipe of yours?

  43. Hi Chelsey! I’m planning on baking this cake this week. I’ve made this in the past by halving it and it makes three 4inch layers. Is there a way to make this specific recipe 3 6inch layers? I’d rather use this recipe than your other chocolate cake recipe.

    1. Hi Jillian,

      For sure! I’d recommend making 2/3 of a batch of this batter to make 3, 6″ cake layers. Hope that helps and that your cake turns out great!! <3

  44. Hi! Would this recipe work to make 3 9-inch pans? Could I just cook it for less time or would i have to double the recipe? Thank you!

    1. Hi Hannah,

      I’d recommend doubling the recipe to make 3, 9-inch cake layers! The bake time should actually be similar, but they might need a couple minutes longer. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  45. Hi! Just wanted to say I love love your recipes. I’m a 16 year old aspiring baker and you are without a doubt one of my fav bakers. Also wanted to ask if I could just use self raising flour and minus the baking powder and soda instead of all purpose because I ran out and can’t find it in stores x

    1. Thanks Nawaal! You can use self raising flour in place of the AP flour, but omit the leavening agents and the salt in the recipe. Hope that helps, happy baking!!

  46. Hi Chelsea, thanks for the recipe. Please can i use dutch processed cocoa powder as that is all i can get where i live.

  47. Heyy!! I love your recipes but is there any thing i can substitute eggs with? I wanna make this cake for my mother’s birthday and she’s a vegetarian.

  48. Can I frost the cake with chocolate ganache first? Then second layered it with vanilla buttercream for the frosting?

  49. Hi Chels, I’m going to make these in 2 7inch tall cake tins as cut them, instead of 4 7inch short cake tins. Would I bake them at the same time and degrees the recipes calls for or longe?

  50. Hi Chelsey! In the recipe for the strawberry buttercream, it says that I need strawberry powder. Could I just get some freeze dried strawberries & blend them to make the powder?

  51. Hey Chelsea!
    I got a giant chocolate cupcake order and i wanted to use this recipe but my concern is won’t it dry out in the oven if i use a giant cupcake mould? And if it’s ok At what temperature should my oven be at and for how long should i bake it. Thanks

  52. I made this recipe today just for fun since I’ve been learning a lot about baking from your website and YouTube videos. This recipe was so delicious ! The cake was so moist and the flavor was perfect ! My husband even enjoyed it and he’s not really a cake person lol thanks for the recipe, really really really good !

  53. hi Chelsey! I have tried this recipe ..its awesome and super moist and taste good ..can I use chocolate ganache instead of butter cream?

  54. Hey! I just made this it smells wonderful! I was out of plain flour, so substituted with self rising and left out the baking soda, powder and salt. I was surprised at how thin the layers were in my 8″ pans. I did get to sample a piece that broke off (it got trapped under the parchment) and it tastes wonderful. My question to you is, how tall is your single layer in this recipe? And how tall was your final 3 layers once baked? My layers each were only about an inch, so more like a torted cake with overall finished 3 layers measuring about 41/2″ high. Is this the norm for this recipe? Thanks!

  55. I’ve tried so many cake recipes. All flavours this is the best chocolate cake recipe EVER!! Thank you so much!

  56. Hi Chelsea. So I wanted to make a double layer cake for my son’s 3rd bday and do a construction theme. I was going to use a 8” and 9” springform pan. How should I modify the recipe to match these dimensions?

  57. I LOVE this cake recipe it’s SO delicious, and gets better a couple of days after making IMO.
    I’ve made it a number of times in different size tins but for me it always domes hugely. I’m not particularly upset about it as it means loads of trimmings for me to snack on, but do you have any suggestions of why this might be happening? Thanks!

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