Classic and Easy Chocolate Cake

Classic and easy two-layer chocolate cake with a thick layer of chocolate icing

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 2 cakes
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
512 Calories
20g Fat
78g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 512
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 7g 36%
Cholesterol 58mg 19%
Sodium 297mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 78g 28%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 60g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 74mg 6%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 73mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This chocolate cake recipe is a true classic, resulting in a moist crumb with deep chocolate flavor. It is a simple recipe, calling for ingredients you most likely have in your pantry and fridge, including flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and soda, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract. This chocolate cake recipe also calls for boiling water, which helps bloom the cocoa powder, giving the cake a deeper chocolate flavor.

This recipe will become your go-to whether for a birthday, holiday, or simply to satisfy a craving. Customize the cake by coating with your favorite frosting or chocolate ganache.

"This recipe is a straightforward and easy chocolate cake, perfect for any birthday celebration. What I love about this cake is you can make it all by hand, no need to bring out your electric mixer. Adding the boiling water really elevates the chocolatey flavor and will really make the effort worth it." —Tracy Wilk

Classic and Easy Chocolate Cake Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 cup milk

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 1 cup boiling water

  • Chocolate buttercream

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat oven to 350 F.

    Ingredients for classic and easy chocolate cake recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans. The cakes will release better if the bottoms of pans are lined with a circle of parchment paper.

    Two buttered and floured cake pans

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, sugar, and cocoa powder. Add salt, baking powder, and baking soda, and whisk until everything is blended.

    Dry chocolate cake ingredients being combined in a large bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. In a separate mixing bowl, combine milk, eggs, oil, and vanilla, and whisk to combine. Then whisk in boiling water.

    Wet ingredients whisked in a large bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until combined.

    Chocolate cake batter in a large bowl being stirred with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Pour batter into prepared pans and transfer to oven.

    Smooth lump-free chocolate cake batter in two cake pans

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, or with a crumb or two attached. Start testing after 27 minutes to avoid over-baking.

    Baked chocolate cake in pans

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Cool cakes for 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack. Loosen edges by running a knife along sides, turn cakes out onto racks, and cool for at least another hour.

    Chocolate cakes on a cooling rack

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Once cool, you can trim your cakes to be more level, eating any scraps or keep as is. Place one layer on a cake stand, then cover with a layer of frosting. Place the second layer, top side-down on the buttercream. Finish the cake with the remaining buttercream, as desired.

    Chocolate cake thickly covered with chocolate icing on a cake plate

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck


  • Make sure that your baking powder and baking soda are no more than 6 months old. If they are older than that, you should replace them as they lose their potency quickly and the cake won't rise properly.
  • For a softer cake, substitute cake flour for the all-purpose flour.