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

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)
  • 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 434Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 30mgSodium 354mgCarbohydrates 71gFiber 3gSugar 55gProtein 5g

141 thoughts on “Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe

  1. 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!

    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!

  2. 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?

  3. 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!!

  4. 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!

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

  6. 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

  7. 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!

Let me know what you think!