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!

A slice of chocolate buttercream topped Moist Chocolate Cake with Oil on a black background.

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. 

Ingredient Notes

Moist Chocolate Cake recipe ingredients in clear bowls on a gray background.
  • 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. 

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl until well combined.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
Three round cake pans with baked chocolate cake rounds in each pan.
  1. 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.
A three tiered chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosted between each layer.

Recipe Tips

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!

A Moist three layer Chocolate Cake made with Oil, on a black background.

FAQs

Is this chocolate cake recipe moist? 

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. 

What kind of frosting goes well with chocolate cake? 

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! 

Can you freeze this chocolate cake? 

Yes you can! See my freezing section above for instructions on how to freeze a chocolate cake and how to freeze cake layers. 

Does blooming cocoa powder make a difference?

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.

A slice of three layer Moist Chocolate Cake with Oil on a white plate.

Did you make this recipe? I’d love to hear about it! Click here to leave a rating and review, or scroll below the recipe card and do so there. 

Stay up-to-date by following us on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

A slice of a three layer Moist Chocolate Cake topped with chocolate buttercream on a black background.
Print Save Review
5 from 8 votes

Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe with Oil

This three layer chocolate cake is so moist because it's made with oil. The cake is topped with a rich chocolate buttercream that's made with melted chocolate. There's no denying this is the epitome of "perfect chocolate cake!"
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Cool Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 20 mins
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients
 

  • 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

Frosting

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Frosting

  • 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.

Notes

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. 
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. 
Note #1: at this point you can either let the cakes cool COMPLETELY before frosting, or you can 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.
Recipe adapted from Live Love and Sugar

Nutrition

Calories: 707kcal (35%)Carbohydrates: 101g (34%)Protein: 6g (12%)Fat: 33g (51%)Saturated Fat: 21g (105%)Cholesterol: 101mg (34%)Sodium: 618mg (26%)Potassium: 248mg (7%)Fiber: 3g (12%)Sugar: 79g (88%)Vitamin A: 819IU (16%)Calcium: 61mg (6%)Iron: 3mg (17%)
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Did you make this recipe?Leave a star rating and review on the blog post letting me know how you liked this recipe! Take a picture and tag @saltandbaker on Instagram and Facebook so I can see what you’re making!

This recipe was originally published on Jan. 10, 2020. It was republished on Jan. 24, 2022, to include additional information and photos.