Chocolate cake is hands down my favorite cake, and this moist, rich, absolutely delicious homemade from scratch recipe does not disappoint!
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Chocolate Cake Ingredients
- Butter – I know it’s controversial, but I like to use salted butter in my baking. You can use unsalted butter if you prefer!
- Eggs – Large eggs.
- Sour cream – Full fat sour cream.
- Vanilla – Real vanilla extract.
- Flour – All purpose flour.
- Sugar – White granulated sugar and brown sugar.
- Cocoa powder – Unsweetened cocoa powder.
- Leavening agents – Baking soda and baking powder.
- Salt – If you use salted butter, you may want to half or skip the salt.
- Frosting – Make your own homemade chocolate frosting or grab a couple cans from the market.
How do you make the best chocolate cake from scratch? (step-by-step)
⭐ First, in a small bowl whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla. In a large mixing bowl mix together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
⭐ Then, melt butter together with water and using a mixer on low add butter mixture to the dry mix. Once just combined add in the sour cream mixture.
⭐ Next, divide the cake batter between the cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in the pans, then run a knife along the edge and invert them out onto cooling racks. Allow to finish cooling.
⭐ Finally, frost cooled cake and enjoy!
Scroll down to the printable recipe card toward the bottom of this article for ingredient measurements and detailed cooking instructions.
Can you make chocolate cake ahead of time?
Absolutely, in fact baking the cakes a day or two ahead and allowing them to chill in the refrigerator before icing is ideal for making sure the icing sits nicely on the cake.
You can also bake and ice ahead a day ahead if you’d like, just make sure the cake stays cool enough that the icing won’t wilt.
Do you need to cream the butter for chocolate cake?
No, we don’t cream the butter in this recipe. Rather, we melt it, which helps keep this cake super moist and delicious.
What frosting for chocolate cake?
Storage and leftovers
Do you have to refrigerate chocolate cake?
You do not have to refrigerate the cake. It can be left at room temperature for up to two days. Any longer than that an you will want to pop it in the fridge or freezer.
How long does chocolate cake last?
The cake will keep about two days at room temperature (make sure it’s a cool dry room and the cake is covered), up to a week in the refrigerator, or longer in the freezer.
Can you freeze chocolate cake?
You can freeze cake! Yay! Ideally you’ll want to freeze the cake unfrosted. Allow it to cool completely, then freeze in an airtight freezer safe container or bag, with parchment paper between the layers.
Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then frost as desired.
If freezing leftovers after frosting, store in a freezer safe tupperware container, separating slices with parchment paper.
Tips, tricks, and frequently asked questions
How do I make a dark chocolate cake?
Use a dark cocoa powder (like Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder) when making the cake to make it ultra dark. Do not use Dutch processed cocoa powder.
How do I make my own chocolate cake mix for gifts?
For a fun mason jar cake mix gift, you can add all the dry ingredients to a cute glass mason jar and then affix a tag with the remaining ingredients and directions for baking the cake!
How do I make it even more chocolatey?
If this still isn’t enough chocolate for you, go ahead and add a cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate morsels into the batter before baking. Make sure to serve with a glass of strong coffee or good red wine. Yum!
How do I keep my homemade chocolate cake from sticking?
You’ll want to line or grease your cake pans. Don’t skip this step! For the absolute best results, brush the pans with our homemade cake release. It’s a million times better than cooking spray!
This will make 24 cupcakes, fill each cupcake well about half to three quarters full. Bake 20 – 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Frost after cupcakes have cooled completely.
Single layer cake
Pour into a greased or lined 9×13 baking dish and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool and then frost.
Sheet pan cake
Spread batter evenly into a greased half sheet sheet pan and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting. (See how to make it into a Texas Sheet Cake!)
Pour batter into a prepped bundt pan and bake for 45 – 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for several minutes, then turn out and allow to continue cooling before icing.
What to eat with chocolate cake (serving suggestions)
Other chocolatey recipes to make
- S’mores dip
- Muddy buddies recipe
- Peanut butter blossoms
- Chocolate chip pancakes
- See all our chocolate recipes!
More amazing cake recipes
- Strawberry poke cake recipe
- Apple bundt cake
- Football field cake
- Cranberry upside down cake
- Carrot cake recipe
- See all our easy cake recipes!
Tools we love
- Twin Pack Round Cake Pan, 8-Inch – Standard fare for making a two layer cake! Also good for small batch casseroles and cinnamon buns!
- Porcelain Round Cake Stand – What does a beautiful cake need? Well a pretty white cake stand to show off on!
- Tall Cake Dome – There’s nothing worse than finishing a gorgeous layered cake and then having to way to protect it. This tall cake dome fixes all that. And I love that it’s clear so you can still see your cake.
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How to Make Chocolate Cake
- ¾ cup butter
- 1 cup water
- 3 eggs large
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- chocolate frosting one batch of homemade, or two cans from the grocery store
- optional: chocolate chips for decorating
- Preheat oven to 350F and grease two 9" round cake pans with cake release.
- In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla. In a large mixing bowl mix together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- Melt the butter with 1 cup of water (in the microwave or on the stove top). Using a mixer on low add the butter mixture to the dry mix. When just combined add in the sour cream mixture.
- Divide the batter between the 2 cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cakes in the pans for 15-20 minutes.
- Run a knife along the edge and invert cakes onto cooling racks. Allow cakes to cool completely and then frost as desired.
Baking variationsCupcakes This will make 24 cupcakes, fill each cupcake well about half to three quarters full. Bake 20 - 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Frost after cupcakes have cooled completely. Single layer cake Pour into a greased or lined 9x13 baking dish and bake for 30 - 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool and then frost. Sheet pan cake Spread batter evenly into a greased half sheet sheet pan and bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting. Bundt Cake Pour batter into a prepped bundt pan and bake for 45 - 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for several minutes, then turn out and allow to continue cooling before icing.
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