Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe
There is something so irresistible about a deliciously rich and Moist Chocolate Cake recipe! This chocolate cake made with oil has three beautifully moist chocolate cake layers enveloped in a fluffy, whipped chocolate buttercream frosting made with melted chocolate. It’s sheer perfection!
I like to think of this cake as the epitome of a chocolate birthday cake (it’s even the inspiration behind my Harry Potter Birthday Cake recipe)! The crumb texture is light, not crumbly. It has a strong yet pleasant chocolate flavor; and last but not least, this cake is really moist. Are you more of a peanut butter fan? This chocolate cake is so delicious with my homemade peanut butter frosting! Or try my Twix Cake for a little candy bar flair!
Why This Recipe Works
- Chocolate cake recipe with oil. Some cakes use butter for the fat (like my spice cake recipe). This moist chocolate cake recipe with oil is more moist than cakes made without oil.
- Blooming cocoa powder. What does it mean to bloom cocoa powder? It means adding a hot liquid to a mixture with cocoa powder. When the hot liquid combines with the cocoa powder, it draws out the chocolate flavor making the chocolate richer and more pronounced than if the cocoa powder wasn’t bloomed.
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: Using unsweetened cocoa powder rather than a Dutch-processed cocoa powder provides more of a bitter, albeit still sweet, chocolate flavor. Check out my cocoa powder post to learn more about the different cocoa powders!
- Baking Soda: The baking soda will react with the buttermilk and will bubble, creating the nice rise in the cake that we want!
- Baking Powder: Because we are blooming the cocoa powder with hot water, the baking powder will also be affected by the hot water, helping it to activate quicker than if using cold water.
- Eggs: Use room temperature eggs in order to help them incorporate into the batter better.
- Buttermilk: The acid in the buttermilk will react with the baking powder (base) which will help give a nice rise to the chocolate cake layers.
- Vegetable Oil: Making chocolate cake with oil produces a more moist cake than without oil.
- Hot Water: Using hot water helps us in a few ways: First, the hot water will bloom the cocoa powder, drawing out a richer chocolate flavor. It will also activate the baking powder faster than if using cold water.
- Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl until well combined.
- Mix the wet ingredients. Mix the eggs, buttermilk, and vegetable oil in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or with hand beaters until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the stand mixer and mix until combined. Then add the vanilla and hot water. Mix until fully incorporated.
- Divide batter. You’ll need three 8-inch round cake pans. Grease and flour the pans or use cooking spray that contains flour. Divide the batter evenly among the 3 prepared cake pans. I use a kitchen scale so that I can ensure each pan has the same amount of batter in it.
- Bake. Bake the cakes at 300°F for 30-33 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs, but no wet batter. Remove the cakes from the oven.
- Cool and frost. Let the cakes cool in the cake pans for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the pans and let them continue to cool on a cooling rack until room temperature. To frost the cake, place a cake layer on a cake stand, spread a little less than a 1/4 of the frosting on top of the cake in an even layer. Place the second cake round on top of the frosted cake round, continue by spreading an additional 1/4 of the frosting over the cake. Place the last cake round on top of the frosting. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake.
Either grease and flour the pans OR use cooking spray that contains flour. If using cooking spray, use Baker’s Joy. It’s the best and only cooking spray I use when making cakes.
This frosting recipe is slightly different from my chocolate buttercream recipe, both are equally as delicious. The recipe noted in this recipe card will produce a lighter colored frosting due to whipping the butter for so long.
Frost at room temperature or wrap and chill the cake layers prior to frosting. Wrap each cake layer in plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator. Personally, I find it easier to frost a chilled cake, so I wrap my cakes and let them chill for a few hours. This isn’t necessary, you can definitely frost a room temperature cake if you’d like.
Use room temperature wet ingredients to ensure a good rise on the cakes. I would also recommend checking the expiration date on your baking soda and baking powder. Expired baking soda and expired baking powder won’t produce as light and fluffy of cakes.
Don’t over mix the cake batter when combining the wet and dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Over mixing your cake batter at this point will produce a tougher batter which will have a harder time rising.
Are you a fan of chocolate + hazelnut? Try my Ferrero Rocher Cake!
Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing
This moist chocolate cake recipe with oil will last at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for 1 week. To properly store a chocolate cake you must wrap it in foil or plastic wrap or store it in a cake box in the fridge to prevent it from drying out.
To freeze individually cake layers, wrap each cake layer individually in plastic wrap once completely cooled and store in the freezer for up to 1 week. If storing longer than 1 week in the freezer, wrap each layer in an additional layer of aluminum foil. Plastic-wrapped and aluminum foil-wrapped cake layers will last in the freezer for up to 3 months. Remove from the freezer and let thaw in the fridge overnight. Next morning, remove from the fridge and let the layers continue to thaw, then frost the cake when the layers are cool but not frozen.
To freeze a completely frosted cake, flash freeze the cake in the fridge fro 20-30 minutes or until the frosting is completely set. Wrap the entire cake in plastic wrap. The cake will keep in the freezer for up to 1 week. If freezing for longer than 1 week, wrap the entire cake in another layer of aluminum foil. A plastic wrapped- and aluminum foil-wrapped cake will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Remove from the freezer and let thaw in the fridge overnight. Remove from the fridge the next morning and remove the wrappings. Let come to room temperature or cut when chilled but not frozen.
For more information on storing and freezing cakes, check out my How to Store and Freeze Cakes guide!
Yes it is! It’s super moist because it is a chocolate cake recipe with oil! Using oil in cakes will produce a crumb that is more moist than if using butter because vegetable oil is a liquid at room temperature rather than a solid at room temperature like butter. The recipe also uses buttermilk which helps keep the cake moist too.
This moist chocolate cake recipe goes well with my chocolate buttercream frosting made with melted chocolate. It is also delicious with homemade peanut butter frosting or a homemade Coconut Pecan Frosting, too!
Yes you can! See my freezing section above for instructions on how to freeze a chocolate cake and how to freeze cake layers.
Yes! Blooming cocoa powder means adding a hot liquid to the mixture containing the cocoa powder, which draws out a richer chocolate flavor than if the cocoa powder wasn’t bloomed. This can be the case with cookies, brownies and cakes.
- Best Chocolate Cupcakes
- Peanut Butter Frosting
- Chocolate Eclair Cake
- Chocolate Buttermilk Bundt Cake
- Old Fashioned Hot Fudge Sauce
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Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe with Oil
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs - at room temperature
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 1/2 cups butter - room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 6 oz semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Grease and flour and spray 3 – 8 inch round cake pans. I use shortening to grease then dust the pans with flour. THEN I'll spray the pans with a cooking spray that contains flour. (VERY important you use a cooking spray that contains flour). This is a bit over the top when greasing pans, but this is what I do and I never having a cake that sticks.
- In a medium bowl whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment mix the eggs, buttermilk, and veg oil until combined.
- Add the dry ingredients to the stand mixer and mix until combined. Pour in the vanilla and hot water, mix on medium speed until combined.
- Divide batter evenly between the cake pans and bake for 30-33 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs but no wet batter.
- Remove cakes from the oven and and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the cake pans and allow cakes to cool on a cooling rack until just warm. (See note #1).
- To frost the cake, place a cake layer on a cake stand, spread a little less than a 1/4 of the frosting on top of the cake in an even layer. Place the second cake round on top of the frosted cake round, continue by spreading an additional 1/4 of the frosting over the cake. Place the last cake round on top of the frosting. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cakes.
- Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the butter on medium high speed for 4-5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and slowly add the powdered sugar. Once the powdered sugar is mixed in, add the vanilla. Beat for 30 seconds.
- Pour in the melted chocolate and beat on medium high speed for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl so that everything is evenly incorporated. Add the heavy cream and beat for another minute.
This recipe was originally published on Jan. 10, 2020. It was republished on Jan. 24, 2022, to include additional information and photos.
17 Comments on “Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe”
Delicious, light and super moist and not overly sweet. I used three 9 inch cake pans because that is what I have so baked for less time. The slightly larger pans still made a nice high cake and there was plenty of frosting to generously cover the cake. Many made from scratch cakes are heavy and this one is not. I would definitely make this again.
I also made cupcakes instead of a layer cake. I ended up with 36 cupcakes total and they were perfectly moist, chocolatey, and tender! It took about 20 minutes for them to bake at 300 degrees in my oven. This recipe is definitely a keeper!
Hi. When I clicked on the other chocolate cake recipe (because I prefer cakes made with butter) the other cake used oil as well…
oops! Sorry about that. I changed it. I thought I had a chocolate cake recipe made with butter, but I guess I don’t. I linked to the spice cake (which is made with butter) and its absolutely delicious!!
I absolutely loved this recipe! The buttermilk makes the cake so moist and tender!!! I made it into cupcakes instead of a layer cake, though, and baked them about 22 minutes.
Buttermilk is a wonderful thing! Thanks for the great review!
Can you please tell what depth is the 8″ tin you use. I have very shallow tins or deeper ones.
The cake pans I use are 2″ inches deep. Hope this helps!
Let me know if you have any other questions.
Looks amazing! Do you think this could be used for 2 9″ cake rounds instead of 3 – 8″ cake rounds? And, does the structure hold well for stacking layers? I have been trying to find a recipe that is almost fudge moist but still has a bit of a crumb and can hold up to layering. 😉 Thanks for your help if you have time to respond.
Gosh, if you use 2-9″ inch pans I think they would be too full. It would be cutting it really close! I suggest sticking with the 3-8 inch pans for best results.
I don’t think this would stack well. Yes, 3 cake layers stack beautifully, but add much more to it and I think it would cause you problems.
Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.
This is probably the best homemade chocolate cake. It’s so moist and the buttercream frosting is amazing!
I made this last weekend for a coworker’s birthday and it was just the best. Everyone commented on how moist and decadent it was. I used the buttercream as thick mid layers between the cakes and then made a simple ganache frosting for the outside. So good. I needed more than butter and flour on my pans because my cakes suffered getting stuck and I just stuck them in the fridge after they were done cooling. I will use parchment paper in my pans next time.
Ariana, thanks for taking the time to comment! So glad you and your coworkers enjoyed the cake. Sorry some of the cake stuck. When I grease my pans I use shortening and flour as well as Bakers Joy cooking spray (or any other cooking spray that has flour in it). I will make a note in the recipe card to do this so that there’s no sticking! Also parchment paper is another great alternative. Thanks for making the cake! Have a great day.
Do you use regular processed cocoa powder and not dutched?
Id like to use dutched cocoa powder, i like dark chocolate cakes.
Theres both baking powder and baking soda in the recipe so wondering if I could use dutched?
I hope you’ll reply.
You should be fine to use dutch processed cocoa. Let me know how it turns out for y’all!
Hi! Is the first ingredient in the frosting list meant to be 1 1/2 c butter? It lists powdered sugar, but I’ve deduced it might be butter 😀 thanks!
Oh my gosh, YES! Sorry, that’s my mistake. Thank you for pointing that out! Changing it now 🙂