Want to make homemade chocolate cake from scratch? This recipe is easy as can be, and the reward at the end is a rich chocolate layer cake worthy of a celebration!
Okay, don’t get me wrong—I love upgrading boxed cake mix to make desserts. But sometimes you want to make a cake from scratch! I was recently snowed in with nary a box of cake mix in sight, but luckily I had all the ingredients I needed to make a homemade chocolate cake recipe without cake mix. It was so good, it made me wish we were snowed in more often!
Easy Chocolate Cake Recipe
Now, if you’re looking for an easy chocolate cake made with cake mix, try my copycat Portillo’s chocolate cake, which upgrades a box of cake mix by adding mayo for delicious results. But if you want to make chocolate cake from scratch, this is the recipe to follow. I bet you have all the ingredients on hand in your kitchen too!
I paired this cake with a homemade chocolate frosting, which is always a classic combination, but my cream cheese frosting is also fabulous with chocolate cake. Top the cake with sprinkles, chocolate chips, fresh berries, or just serve it as-is with a thick layer of frosting. It’s easy enough to make “just because,” but it can also be dressed up for a birthday party or celebration!
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- All-purpose flour – If you’d like to make a gluten-free chocolate cake, simply swap in a cup-for-cup all-purpose flour substitute.
- Cocoa – Don’t use cocoa mix, which has sugar in it. You want to use either natural unsweetened cocoa powder or Dutch process cocoa powder.
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Eggs – Let the eggs come to room temperature before you start baking. This will make for a lighter, fluffier cake!
- Vegetable oil
- Vanilla extract
- Boiling water
How to Make Chocolate Cake From Scratch
Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
2. Mix the Dry Ingredients
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. Add the Wet Ingredients
Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla to the bowl with the dry ingredients; beat with a mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in the boiling water. The cake batter will be thin, but don’t worry—it’s fine!
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
5. Cool and Assemble
Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the cakes from pans and let them finish cooling directly on the racks. Frost, layer, and decorate as desired.
How to Store Chocolate Cake
Cover the chocolate cake or transfer it to an airtight container; it can be kept out at room temperature for up to a day, but it will need to be refrigerated after that. The cake will last 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator, or it can be frozen for up to 3 months. Let the frozen cake thaw at room temperature before serving.
What goes well in chocolate cake?
If you’d like, you can add mini chocolate chips into the batter to make it extra rich. About a handful is perfect!
What does boiling water do in chocolate cake batter?
Boiling water makes for a smoother, softer cake that is less likely to crumble.
What are some easy ideas for decorating a chocolate cake?
Minimalist cakes are in right now, which means you can make a professional looking cake even if you’re not a skilled cake decorator! I think leaving the top undecorated and pushing mini chocolate chips, white chocolate curls, or rainbow sprinkles all around the sides looks fantastic! Another idea is to arrange fresh berries on top.
More Recipes for Chocolate Cake
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 – 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup cocoa
- 1 – 1/2 tsps baking powder
- 1 – 1/2 tsps baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsps vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
- Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
- In a large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes.
- Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
- Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely before frosting.