Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

This recipe for Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting is inspired by Ina Garten’s recipe and features my famous chocolate buttercream frosting. This homemade chocolate cake with made-from-scratch frosting is moist and delicious – a must for your next birthday party!

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream with rainbow sprinkles

I like to make people birthday cakes because birthdays are special and everyone deserves a special cake on their special day. This cake was for William’s first-grade teacher’s birthday. She really deserved a cake. 

This recipe is hands down the best chocolate cake in the business. It is simple, rich, chocolaty, and classic. The chocolate cake is an Ina Garden recipe and the frosting is my buttercream but chocolate flavored.

I have tried many chocolate cake recipes and honestly, this is the best one. Coffee is the magic ingredient. It offers a rich depth in flavor that is missing from most other chocolate cakes. This is a simple cake. Wet into the dry, bake, and then frost with a rich and fudgy chocolate frosting. Is there any better way to wish someone a happy birthday?

ingredients for best chocolate cake recipe



  • Flour – serves as the base structure of many baked goods.
  • Sugar – sweetens the cake.
  • Cocoa – gives the cake rich, chocolate flavor.
  • Baking Soda – helps the cake rise and become light and fluffy.
  • Baking Powder – also serves as a leavening agent and helps the cake rise.
  • Salt – when added to desserts, enhances the sweetness. 
  • Buttermilk – adds moisture and tenderizes the cake.
  • Vegetable Oil – adds additional moisture.
  • Eggs – add structure, color, leavening, and flavor. 
  • Vanillaenhances the flavor of the recipe and gives the cake that classic birthday cake flavor. 
  • Freshly Brewed Hot Coffee – enhances the flavor of the cocoa, resulting in a dark, ultra chocolatey flavored cake.


  • Room Temperature Butter – If the butter is too warm, the frosting will be greasy and if it’s too cold it won’t mix well. 
  • Confectioners Sugar – is ideal for making frostings and icings. The fine granules help make a light and fluffy frosting. 
  • Cocoa – makes the buttercream frosting chocolate flavored.
  • Vanillasweetens frosting and adds crave-worthy flavor.
  • Heavy Cream – whips everything together into a fluffy frosting.

How to Make – The Steps

flour and cocoa in a mixing bowl

Step 1:

Step 1: Mix dry ingredients. In the bowl of your mixer, add the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix this mixture on low until combined.

Step 2: Add wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.

Step 3: Pour in the hot coffee.

pouring coffee into chocolate cake batter

Step 4: Bake. Pour the batter into two prepared pans. I used 9-inch pans. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

best chocolate cake recipe
chocolate cake cooling in tins

Step 5: Let set. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes and then turn them out on a cooling rack to finish cooling. 

Step 6: Make buttercream frosting. Cream together the butter and sugar. Gradually add the cocoa powder. Really, add it slowly or you and your kitchen will be wearing it.

Step 7: Finish frosting. Add just enough cream so that the consistency of the frosting is spreadable. Add the vanilla. Yum.

Step 8: Ice your cakes. Spread frosting in an even layer on the surface of both cakes.

Step 9: Decorate. Write your birthday message.

Step 10: And last but not least, decorate the edges with piping or do your own thing.

Most importantly, have a very happy birthday!

chocolate buttercream in a mixing bowl with a spatula

Tips & Tricks

  • Don’t forget to prepare the cake pans, so the cakes are easy to maneuver.
  • This basic chocolate cake recipe can easily be adapted for cupcakes. Keep in mind that the bake time will be less. 350 for 18 to 22 minutes should do the trick.
  • Add a couple of tablespoons of espresso powder to really heighten the chocolatey flavors.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

By swapping the flour for a 1:1 gluten-free flour blend, this chocolate cake becomes gluten-free. The best gluten-free flours consist of brown rice flour, white rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch. Generally speaking, gluten-free baked goods tend to brown quicker but take longer to cook. You’ll need to lower the temperature a bit and bake the cakes a little longer.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake

If you’re looking for a dairy-free chocolate cake, look no further. This one can easily be adjusted to your dairy-free needs. Instead of using buttermilk in the cake batter, use unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk. In place of heavy cream in the frosting, use coconut cream. It whips up just like heavy cream.

chocolate cake with chocolate frosting slice on a plate next to decorated cake

Why is Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting So Good?

  • The cake is moist and luscious and the frosting is rich and creamy -it’s a dream!
  • The cake has that classic soft and crumbly texture yet it’s sturdy enough to be smeared with decadent chocolate frosting.
  • Easy peasy! Mix the wet batter ingredients into the dry batter ingredients, bake, cool, frost and enjoy!
  • Great for special occasions -birthdays, graduations, showers, etc.

More Substitutions and Variations

  • Most oils with a high smoking point can be used in place of vegetable oil. Avocado oil, coconut oil, canola oil, and sunflower oil are great alternatives.
  • If you’re a dark chocolate lover, use dark chocolate powder in place of cocoa.
  • Add a dash of cayenne and turn this basic chocolate cake into a spiced Mexican chocolate cake.
  • This cake can be decorated and topped with all sorts of things. Chocolate sprinkles, chocolate chips, crushed Oreos, fresh berries, etc. I’d love to hear how you customized your cake in the comments.
best chocolate cake recipe

How to Store and Reheat

Storing Leftover Cake: Store leftover cake wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.

Make-Ahead and Freezer Options

Freezing Frosted Cake: To freeze, put the frosted and/or decorated cake in the freezer and freeze solid (about an hour). Next wrap the frozen cake tightly in a couple of layers of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil.

sour cream chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream


Can I use butter in place of vegetable oil?

Yes, but the texture won’t be quite as soft and crumbly.

Why add coffee to chocolate cake?

Adding coffee to a chocolate cake enhances the rich, chocolate flavor without making your cake taste like coffee.

What’s the difference between buttercream icing and cake frosting?

Buttercream is thick and spreadable. It’s used to coat the layers of a cake. Cake frosting or icing has more glaze consistency.

Can I leave a buttercream out overnight?

Yes. Buttercream can be left at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream with rainbow sprinkles

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

4.50 from 6 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Course cake
Cuisine baking
Servings 10
Calories 511 kcal


Chocolate Cake

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 2 sticks of room temperature butter
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream


  • Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the bowl of a mixer.
  • Combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla in a measuring cup.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
  • Pour in the hot coffee. Beat until smooth, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Pour the batter into two prepared 9-inch pans.
  • Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pans for 30 minutes and then turn them out on a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar. Gradually add the cocoa powder. Really, add it slowly or you and your kitchen will be wearing it.
  • Add just enough cream to get the consistency for spreading. Add the vanilla.


Serving: 1gCalories: 511kcalCarbohydrates: 94gProtein: 6gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 536mgPotassium: 237mgFiber: 5gSugar: 71gVitamin A: 131IUVitamin C: 0.02mgCalcium: 76mgIron: 3mg
Keyword beattys chocolate cake, best chocolate cake, chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream
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