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, 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 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.

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 (12 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, eight-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 thatโ€™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.ย 
  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.ย 
  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 388 Total Fat 16g Saturated Fat 6g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 8g Cholesterol 33mg Sodium 345mg Carbohydrates 57g Fiber 3g Sugar 40g Protein 5g

99 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 Motherโ€™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 (doesnโ€™t have a grill) so my cakes always tend to be cooked edges and very uncooked to the center. iโ€™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 iโ€™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 canโ€™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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  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 youโ€™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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Thanks for your reply! I just noticed that info in the recipe ๐Ÿ™‚
    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 ๐Ÿ˜› 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. Iโ€™m wondering if this cake recipe would be suitable for a multi โ€“ 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. 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?

  25. 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

  26. 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?


  27. 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 ๐Ÿ˜› 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ !

    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 Crรจme fraรฎche. Hope that helps for the future, happy baking!!

  29. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ I recommend turning the temp to 325 degrees though, and baking it for 45-55 mins. Hope that helps, happy baking!

Let me know what you think!