Easy Chocolate Cake

4.41

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The best (and easiest) chocolate cake recipe! Made in one bowl, no mixer needed, and baked in an 8×8 pan. 

a piece of chocolate cake on a white plate

If you’ve been following this site for some time, you know that my favorite type of recipes are quick, easy, and weeknight friendly. And this chocolate cake is IT. Whether you’re an experienced baker or not, you will love this easy chocolate cake.

What makes this chocolate cake so easy?

This chocolate cake recipe uses just one bowl and the cake is naturally dairy-free. No milk, eggs, or butter needed. You can mix it all by hand and it bakes in under 30 minutes.

What is a Depression Chocolate Cake?

This style of cake is known as a Depression Chocolate Cake because it doesn’t use milk, butter, or eggs – ingredients that were expensive and difficult to find during the Great Depression. However, the resulting cake doesn’t taste like any sacrifice has been made – it is rich, moist, and incredibly delicious.

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This is my go-to cake recipe. It’s easy, delicious, and endlessly adaptable for different occasions! – AB

Chocolate Cake in a white enamel baking pan

This Chocolate Cake is perfect for:

  • Taking to friends with a new baby, new house, or who just need a little love
  • Potlucks
  • Baking with kids
  • Late-night chocolate cravings
  • Birthdays
  • St. Patrick’s Day (try this Guinness version with an Irish twist)
  • Tuesday nights

Chocolate Cake without Eggs

One of the surprising perks of this recipe is that it doesn’t require eggs! It is naturally egg-free and naturally vegan. But whether you came here looking for an egg-free / vegan cake or not, you’ll love this cake. It is tender and full of chocolate flavor.

This was amazing! First time baking without eggs! Me and my family loved it.

– Jenni

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mixing chocolate chips into cake batter

Ingredients

  • Flour – All-Purpose Flour is the best bet here. I’ve also tested with White Whole Wheat flour with great results. (I’d guess that a gluten-free blend / sub would also work really well in this simple recipe, though I haven’t tried it.)
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – Look for natural unsweetened cocoa powder, not cocoa powder labeled Dutch-process. Regular Hershey’s Cocoa Powder is my go-to, but I also make this recipe with Hershey’s Special Dark and the results are great.
  • Vegetable Oil – I keep vegetable oil on-hand for baking, but any other neutral oil would work.
  • Mini Chocolate Chips – These are optional, but add a great bonus chocolate element. Mini chocolate chips work best – they bake evenly into the cake and you get a little in each bite. Standard-sized chocolate chips would work too, but will be more pronounced in the final product.
  • Sugar, Pure Vanilla Extract, Baking Soda, Salt – Standard baking ingredients.
Ingredients for One Bowl Chocolate Cake on a grey countertop

How to make chocolate cake

  1. Prepare a baking pan. Spray it with nonstick cooking spray. You can line it with parchment paper to make the cake easy to remove.
  2. Combine dry ingredients.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F. until the cake pulls away from the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Allow cake to cool completely.
  7. Just before serving, add frosting (optional).
  8. Slice and serve!
mixing ingredients for cake in a white bowl

Best Toppings for Chocolate Cake

All chocolate cake really needs is a dusting of powdered sugar, but it’s also great with any of these

frosting a chocolate cake

Storing Leftovers

Store frosted or unfrosted chocolate cake in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If the cake is not frosted it can also be stored at room temperature, but with this chocolate cake recipe, I prefer the fudgy texture it gets in the fridge. 😉

FAQs

Can you freeze cake?

Yes! Allow a baked cake to cool completely at room temperature. Wrap or cover it well and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for a couple of hours. Frost just before serving.

Can this cake be baked in a Bundt pan?

I haven’t tried it, but I’m sure it would work. Just keep a close eye on it as it bakes because the cook time may vary. Or just use my favorite recipe for the Best Chocolate Bundt Cake.

Can this be baked as cupcakes?

This recipe works great as a batch of cupcakes. Divide the cake batter between the spaces in a muffin tin. Update the baking time to between 13 and 17 minutes.

Can I make it vegan?

Yes! It’s naturally vegan. Just be sure to use dairy-free chocolate chips if you choose to add some to the recipe.

Can it be made as a layer cake?

Yes! Bake multiple recipes in separate cake pans and let cool completely before completing the frosted cake.

a piece of chocolate cake with a fork on a white plate

More Easy Cake Recipes

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Creamy Chocolate Frosting
4.41 from 89 votes

Easy Chocolate Cake Recipe

This rich, moist chocolate cake is mixed by hand in just one bowl and is naturally dairy-free. No butter, eggs, or milk needed. The cake is great the day of baking, but even better a day or two later. It bakes in an 8×8 pan.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 9 servings

Equipment

  • Mixing Bowl
  • 8-inch square or 9-inch round baking pan

Ingredients 

One Bowl Chocolate Cake:

  • 1 1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour (150 grams)
  • 1 cup Sugar, granulated (200 grams)
  • 3/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (not Dutch-process cocoa)
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 1/4 cup Water
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup Mini Chocolate Chips (optional)

Optional Topping:

  • A dusting of powdered sugar (this is really all it needs!)
  • Chocolate Frosting
  • Whipped cream and chocolate shavings

Instructions 

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spray an 8-inch square or 9-inch round baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add oil, water, and vanilla extract all at once and stir just until everything is combined and no dry spots remain.
  • Stir in chocolate chips.
  • Pour batter into prepared baking dish.
  • Bake until the cake is set in the middle, 27 to 30 minutes. (Note: In a thicker pan made of glass or ceramic, the cake may take up to an extra 5 minutes to cook all the way through.)
  • Allow cake to cool completely. Once cool, top however you'd like (I like a simple dusting of powdered sugar or this chocolate frosting).
  • Slice and serve! (This makes 9 generous slices or 12-16 smaller slices.)

Notes

Make Ahead: The cake can be made up to three days ahead and stored (covered) in the fridge. It can also be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 3 months. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Vegan: For a vegan cake, skip the chocolate chips or use vegan chocolate chips.
Kitchen scale: If you have a kitchen scale, this is a great place to use it – just put the bowl on the scale and add the ingredients by weight (zero’ing the scale after each addition). You’ll have almost no dishes to wash if you make the cake this way!
9×9 Pan: To bake the cake in a 9×9 pan, reduce bake time to 23 to 25 minutes. As always, check to be sure that the cake is set in the center before removing it from the oven. 
Coffee sub: For an even more intense chocolate flavor, try using brewed coffee (cooled to room temperature) in place of the water. The finished cake doesn’t taste like coffee, but the coffee intensifies the chocolate flavor.

Nutrition

Calories: 320kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 276mg | Potassium: 336mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 27g | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $3.00
Calories: 320
Keyword: cake, chocolate cake, easy baking, easy cake, no mixer required, one bowl recipe
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at InquiringChef.com. She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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49 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I was blown away by how good this cake was! It’s so simple and not too costly to make considering the basic ingredients, and it’s one of the best chocolate cakes i’ve ever had! Incredibly rich, moist, and so delicious, I used a combination of dutch process and regular cocoa powder, so good!!

  2. 5 stars
    OMG! The best, and easiest, chocolate cake recipe ever! I looked all over for an 8″ German chocolate cake recipe to no avail. I stumbled on this cake recipe by accident and frosted it with a German chocolate frosting. Didn’t change a thing. My house smelled wonderful while it was baking. The best part was that I didn’t have to buy any special ingredients. I ran my regular size chocolate chips through my small food chopper, and they were perfect.

    My mother used to make this cake back in the 40’s and 50’s, but I never got her recipe. Thank you for publishing it!

    1. Oh I love that idea! I’m going to have to try the German chocolate cake twist on this one – thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Nancy -bake it for 27 to 30 minutes. The full instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.

    2. I used self rising flour since I didn’t have all purpose and omitted the baking soda, as well as I added 1/4 cup more cocoa and an egg. It was delicious and moist! Thanks for the recipe and I hope you don’t mind I tweaked it a bit!

      1. I don’t mind one bit, and I love hearing that it worked! It’s always so great to be able to recommend variations in the original recipe – thank you for sharing!