One-Bowl Chocolate Cake Recipe

One-Bowl Chocolate Cake slice on a plate with a fork

The Spruce Eats / Ana Zelic

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Cool: 10 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 12 to 16 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
240 Calories
8g Fat
39g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 16
Amount per serving
Calories 240
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 11%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 24mg 8%
Sodium 313mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 39g 14%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 26g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 50mg 4%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 46mg 1%
*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 moist chocolate cake is an easy preparation that is mixed in one bowl. It's the perfect cake for a birthday, Valentine's day, or just about any special occasion. The cooled moist layers may be finished and decorated with just about any frosting, ganache, or icing you like.

Baking is enjoyable and the results are delicious, but cleaning up the mess isn't much fun. Designed with that in mind, this chocolate cake requires just one bowl. You'll need a few utensils and a vessel for boiling the water, but you'll find cleanup is a breeze.

1:53

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"This one-bowl chocolate cake was just what you would want in a chocolate cake. It was chocolatey, moist, and had an excellent crumb texture. I finished it with vanilla buttercream, but chocolate frosting would be a perfect choice if you want even more chocolate flavor." —Diana Rattray

one-bowl chocolate cake with vanilla frosting
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 1 3/4 cups (227 grams) all purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup (63 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural, not Dutch-process)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon fine salt

  • 2 large eggs, room temperature

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 cup boiling water

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    One-Bowl Chocolate Cake ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Ana Zelic

  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two 9-inch baking pans.

    Greased and floured baking pans

    The Spruce Eats / Ana Zelic

  3. Mix the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

    Sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large glass bowl with a whisk

    The Spruce Eats / Ana Zelic

  4. Add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Whisk or mix with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes on medium speed.

    Cake batter in a glass bowl with a whisk

    The Spruce Eats / Ana Zelic

  5. Carefully add the boiling water and mix. The batter will be thin.

    Cake batter in a glass bowl with a whisk

    The Spruce Eats / Ana Zelic

  6. Pour the batter evenly into the pans.

    Cake batter in a cake pans

    The Spruce Eats / Ana Zelic

  7. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

    Baked cakes in cake pans on a cooling rack

    The Spruce Eats / Ana Zelic

  8. Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes. You can then easily remove them from the pans and let them cool completely on a wire rack.

    Baked cakes on a cooling rack

    The Spruce Eats / Ana Zelic

  9. To assemble the cake, use any frosting or filling you like.

    One-Bowl Chocolate Cake on a cake stand, and a cake slice on a plate

    The Spruce Eats / Ana Zelic

Tips

  • You'll have the most uniform layers if you weigh your batter. You should have approximately 46 to 48 ounces of batter, so pour about 23 to 24 ounces of batter into each pan.
  • If your cocoa has lumps, measure it then sift it through a mesh sieve.
  • Use a neutral flavored oil, such as grapeseed, canola, or vegetable oil.
  • Add the boiling water slowly with the mixer on the lowest speed to avoid splashing.

Recipe Variations

  • Bundt Cake: Grease and flour a 12-cup fluted cake pan. Prepare the batter as directed and bake in the preheated 350 F oven for 50 to 55 minutes. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack. Let the cake cool completely; glaze or decorate as desired.
  • One Layer: Pour the prepared batter into a greased and floured 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan—bake in the preheated 350 F oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely and frost as desired.
  • Three-Layer: Prepare the cake as directed, then divide the batter among 3 8-inch round cake pans and bake in the preheated 350 F oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove to racks to cool completely. Fill and frost as desired.

How to Store a Chocolate Layer Cake

  • Cakes frosted with buttercream or ganache may be stored at room temperature for 3 to 4 days or refrigerated for up to 1 week. If the cake is frosted or filled with whipped cream, custard, or a cream cheese frosting, or if the frosting or filling contains fruit, it must be stored in the fridge and will last for about 2 days. 
  • To freeze cake, place the cake (whole or slices) in the freezer. When the cake is frozen solid, wrap in plastic wrap and a layer of foil. Place in a zip-close food storage bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

How long does a cake take to cool completely?

Ideally, a cake should cool for at least 2 hours before frosting.