Chocolate cake + chocolate frosting + cute heart sprinkles = the most adorable treat! Today we’re making chocolate cake pops because many of you request them, especially after I shared my vanilla cake pops. Your wish is my command. What I love most, however, is that you have creative control. You can decorate these cake pops in your own unique way, which makes this recipe 100x more fun.
I have plenty of step-by-step photos and lots of tips/tricks. I want you to understand every instruction so you can follow along and know what the heck you’re doing. The process isn’t difficult– you’re literally just baking a chocolate cake and making frosting then mixing them together. Things just get a little particular when it comes to rolling, lollipop-sticking, and dunking/dipping. If you can make bread bowls, you can totally handle cake pops! (They’re more fun to eat too… sprinkles!)
By the way, if you’ve ever eaten store-bought cake pops– these taste totally different. They’re from scratch. No cake mix. No canned frosting. No preservatives. You can actually TASTE the homemade.
How to Make Chocolate Cake Pops
- Make single layer chocolate cake
- Make just enough homemade chocolate frosting
- Crumble the cake
- Mix the two together
- Form into cake balls
- Dip the cake balls in chocolate
Quick tip: Whenever I make cake pops from scratch, I always begin the night before. I make the cake, cover it, and let it sit out at room temperature overnight. I also prepare the frosting, cover, and refrigerate. This way everything’s ready to go.
Ok let’s do this thing!
Single Layer Chocolate Cake
It might seem like the switch from vanilla cake pops to chocolate cake pops is easy. Replace some flour with cocoa powder, right? And vanilla frosting with chocolate frosting? I wish! Chocolate is a complicated soul and requires a little finesse, that’s why my vanilla cake and chocolate cake recipes are so different! I baked a couple single layer chocolate cakes before stopping at this one. The first few began with creamed butter + sugar. My favorite chocolate cakes and cupcakes typically rely on oil for the fat because (1) HELLO MOISTURE and (2) the flavor of butter really isn’t necessary because chocolate overpowers it anyway. My initial thought with cake pops, however, was that I needed a slightly drier cake to get the best texture for cake pops (because it will be mixed with frosting). Well this was just a huge mess from the start because dry cake is gross.
That being said, you’ll need oil for the cake. And a few other basics like cocoa powder, sugar, flour, and eggs. Hot water is also a must. Remember why from when we made this tuxedo cake? The hot liquid encourages the cocoa powder to bloom and dissolve. When I make chocolate cake, I usually reach for hot coffee (instead of hot water) because coffee accentuates the chocolate favor—but that’s not as crucial here. Because we’re just crumbling the cake and mixing with chocolate frosting!
By the way, you can totally enjoy this chocolate cake on its own. If you ever need a single layer chocolate cake—use this guy. It’s so good. Like, italicize and bold good. Deep and dark chocolate flavor. Super moist. Super rich. Top with chocolate buttercream, whipped cream, peanut butter frosting, or red wine chocolate ganache.
What was a little more difficult than testing the perfect single layer chocolate cake was figuring out how much frosting I needed. Too much frosting and the cake pops are wet and greasy. Too little frosting and you won’t have enough to bind the cake crumbles. I have the perfect amount of frosting you’ll need. It’s not much because the chocolate cake is already so moist.
Crumble the cake into the bowl of frosting and yes, you’ll feel very weird doing this. You just made this beautiful chocolate cake and will now break it up into a bowl of frosting. Because that’s what cake pops are—cake crumbs and frosting. Weird.
Crumble up and use your mixer to combine the frosting + crumbs:
Once the two are mixed together, it’s time to roll the mixture into balls. This part is EASY. I found the chocolate cake pops much easier to roll into balls than my vanilla version. This mixture is just sooo smooth! Your hands will get a little sticky, but just roll with it. Hahahaha get it? get it?
Success Tip: Make Smaller Chocolate Cake Pops
Smaller wins. If you roll the cake pops too large, they’ll wobble off the lollipop stick. They’re too heavy. You need 1 Tablespoon of the cake pop mixture per ball. No more, no less. You’ll end up with 40 of them. Quite a lot—but these babies freeze beautifully! And you can gift them to anyone and everyone. Who doesn’t love a homemade cake pop? Seriously WHO.
These cake balls need to chill in the refrigerator before we pop ’em with a lollipop stick. Why? They’re much too delicate right now; they’ll completely fall apart. Which reminds me… you do NOT have to make these as pops. You can make them truffle style by simply rolling them up and coating in chocolate. Either way you enjoy them, chill the cake balls before coating. I just place them on a lined baking sheet and refrigerate them for a couple hours.
Speaking of chocolate, you can dunk the cake balls into pure chocolate, which is what I prefer for best taste, but that’s pretty expensive. You need a good amount for all 40 cake pops! You can use candy melts/candy coating instead. I give both options in the recipe below along with notes for each choice.
3 More Chocolate Cake Pop Tips
- To ensure the cake ball stays secure on the lollipop stick, dip it slightly into the coating first. Then stick in the center of the cake ball. See photo above.
- A 2-cup glass liquid measuring cup is the perfect depth for dipping the cake pops. If I’m using pure chocolate, like I did in these photos, I melt it in a double boiler then spoon a little at a time into the measuring cup. I don’t like dipping right into the whole pot of melted chocolate.
- The best way to allow the coating to dry and set– without ruining the perfectly round cake pop– is to place them right side up in a large styrofoam block or even a box. I used a box, as pictured below, for this batch. I just poked super tiny holes into it. Easy and cheap.
Cake pops will be dry within an hour. (This is my vanilla version.)
Contrary to my wordy post (sorry!!!) and 1 million photos, I promise chocolate cake pops are simple (about as simple these Oreo balls!). As long as you follow my tips in this post and get started the night before per my suggestion, it’s simple!
See Your Chocolate Cake Pops!
Many readers tried this recipe as part of a baking challenge! Feel free to email or share your recipe photos with us on social media. 🙂Print
Chocolate Cake Pops
- Prep Time: 2 hours
- Cook Time: 26 minutes
- Total Time: 7 hours
- Yield: 40 cake pops
- Category: Cake
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Chocolate cake pops from scratch- made with homemade chocolate cake and chocolate frosting with sprinkles!
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 6 Tablespoons (32g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (120mll) canola, vegetable, or melted coconut oil
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (120ml) hot water
- 6 Tablespoons (86g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup (90g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 cup (41g) unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder
- 2–3 teaspoons heavy cream or milk
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 32 ounces candy melts or coating (or pure chocolate)*
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9-inch pan (round or square) or 9-inch springform pan.
- Make the cake: Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Whisk the oil, eggs, and vanilla together in a medium bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the hot water, and whisk everything together until combined. Make sure there are no pockets of dry ingredients hiding.
- Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack.
- Make the frosting: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. This isn’t a lot of butter and it will get stuck on the sides of the bowl, so you may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to really help get it creamed. Add confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons of heavy cream/milk, and vanilla extract with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes until it really comes together. Add another teaspoon of milk/cream if it looks a little too thick.
- Crumble the cooled cake into the bowl on top of the frosting. Make sure there are no large lumps. Turn the mixer on low and beat the frosting and cake crumbles together until combined.
- Measure 1 scant Tablespoon of moist cake mixture and roll into a ball. Place balls on a lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 2 hours or freeze for 1 hour.
- Melt the coating in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup (best for dunking!). Use a microwave or you can use a double boiler and pour some at a time into the liquid measuring cup. Let the coating cool down for a few minutes before you begin dipping. If it’s too hot when you dip, the coating will crack.
- Coat the cake balls: Remove only 2-3 cake balls from the refrigerator at a time. (Keep the rest cold!) Dip a lollipop stick about 1/2 inch into the coating, then insert into the center or the cake ball. Only push it about halfway – 3/4 through the cake ball. Dip the cake ball into the coating until it is completely covered. Make sure the coating covers the base of the cake ball where it meets the lollipop stick. Very gently tap the stick against the edge of the measuring cup to allow excess coating to drop off. Decorate the top with sprinkles and place upright into a styrofoam block or box (as explained above). Repeat with remaining cake balls, only working with some out of the refrigerator at a time. The cake balls must be very cold when dipping!
- Coating will set within an hour. Store cake pops in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Make Ahead Instructions: I always make the cake 1 day ahead of time. Cover and keep at room temperature. You can store the undipped cake balls in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or freeze them for up to 6 weeks. Allow to thaw in the refrigerator then continue with step 7. You can also freeze the finished cake pops for up to 6 weeks once the coating has fully set. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): 9-Inch Round Pan, 9-Inch Square Pan, or 9-Inch Springform Pan | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Glass Mixing Bowls | Whisk | Baking Sheet | Silicone Baking Mat or Parchment Paper | Glass Measuring Cup | Double Boiler | Lollipop Sticks
- Chocolate: You can use candy coating/candy melts, almond bark, or pure semi-sweet chocolate. If using almond bark or pure chocolate, chop it up before melting. Melt it down with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil to thin out so it’s easier to use as a coating. Bittersweet, white chocolate, or milk chocolate work as well. Coarsely chop and melt down with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil to thin out. Keep warm over a double boiler. You can also temper pure chocolate for the coating. My full tempering tutorial is in Sally’s Candy Addiction if you have a copy.
- Cake Balls: Want to skip the lollipop stick? Go for it. Just dip the cake balls in melted or tempered chocolate to make delicious chocolate cake truffles. Whenever I dip truffles, I always use this spiral dipping tool. Place the truffle in the chocolate and lift it out with the dipping tool. Quickly flip it upside down on a lined baking sheet. You can see exactly how I do this in this video (scroll down for video): dark chocolate chocolate rum truffles. Go to the 1 minute mark. That’s how I dip and neatly release truffles. So easy!
Keywords: chocolate cake pops
Reader Comments & Reviews
This Recipe Really Interests me, But my one question how many sticks of butter do i need?
Hi Kianna, you’ll need 6 Tablespoons (86g) unsalted butter, which is a little less than one stick of butter (there are typically 8 Tablespoons of butter in a stick), for the frosting. There is no butter in the cake recipe.
I love this recipe and make the chocolate cake all the time as my ‘go to’ chocolate cake. Could I use the same ingredients for the cake to make cupcakes and what would the baking time be?
Hi LT, you can use the cake to make cupcakes. Bake time will be about 18-21 minutes. Or try this chocolate cupcakes recipe instead!
Can I use regular cooking chocolate or candy melts are better (because they are tempered)
Can I use left over pound cake I bake?
Hi Pia, you can use pure baking chocolate instead of candy melts. See recipe Notes for full details on chocolate. And yes, you could certainly try making cake pops with your leftover pound cake. We’re unsure of the exact ratio of frosting you’ll need for that cake, but you’ll want enough that the crumbs are just moistened.
I’ve never made cake pops and these turned out great! Rich in chocolate flavor- I used Dutch cocoa for both the cake and frosting. I made them about the average size you see at Starbucks and it yielded 25 cake pops, not 40. Also I think it might be helpful to note to trim the very top and sides of the cake off before crumbling. The cakes seems to have a slight crust and those pieces will not crumble down fine enough for an even consistency! Otherwise, super great and I love the make-ahead portion included.
I have never made cake pops before, but my 9 yo daughter wanted to make some for her school bake sale, so we tried this recipe. It was a success!
It’s a project we did over three days, but they turned out really well and are delicious. The proportion of cake to icing was good.
We used 300g of couverture chocolate, and it was enough to cover all of the cake pops.
I was wondering if you could chill thse overnight
Hi Monica! At what stage? You can store the undipped cake balls in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or freeze them for up to 6 weeks. Allow to thaw in the refrigerator then continue with step 7. See recipe notes for more make-ahead instructions.
I am wanting to use leftover chocolate cupcakes. for 12 cupcakes, how much frosting do I need to mix in? thanks!
Hi Jenna, the ratio of cake to frosting really depends on the exact frosting and cake you’ll be using — you’ll want *just enough* to barely moisten those cake crumbs. Have fun experimenting!
I was wondering if I could substitute the 1/2 cup hot water for coffee?
Hi Brinkly, yes, you definitely can.
Hi, once the cake pops are ready, how long can they be out of the fridge? I’m thinking if they are for a party or aa a favor not sure whether they can be out for display or not.
Hi Gabriela, they’ll be fine at room temperature for a few hours at a party or for serving purposes (or even up to one day as long as it’s not too hot), but it’s best to store them in the fridge for longer.
I have a lot of chocolate frosting left over from another cake and would like to use it to make these. I don’t want to use too much frosting and make it greasy. Roughly how much frosting does this recipe yield so I can match it?
Hi Steph, the ratio of cake to frosting really depends on the exact frosting and cake you’ll be using — you’ll want *just enough* to barely moisten those cake crumbs. Have fun experimenting!
If the frosting is made and refrigerated the night before making the cake pops, how long does it need to be set out before it can be mixed with the cake? Or can you use it right out of the fridge without warming the frosting first?
Hi Allyson, you’ll want to let the frosting warm up a bit first. Exact timing will depend on the temperature of your kitchen, but you’ll want it warm enough that you can easily mix it together with the crumbled cake.
HI! I noticed your Chocolate Cake pops call for 32 oz of candy melts but your Vanilla Cake Pops call for 40 oz of candy melts. Is there a reason for that or was that a typo? Thanks!
Hi Lindsey, I recently scaled down the amount of coating needed for 40 cake pops and it looks like the regular version did not refresh. It is 32 ounces.
I loved this recipe so I cooked it right away.
Sorry for my very Canadian question, but for the 32 oz of chocolate/candy melt, are we talking volume or weight? (I assumed volume because you didn’t indicate the equivalent in grams, but now I am in doubt!) Thanks for all these great recipes by the way, you make me look like I know what I am doing! And that is priceless!
No worries at all! That is the weight. You want 32 ounces of candy melts, chocolate baking bars, or chocolate coating.
hey instead of the frosting could u use chocolate ganache
I’m wanting to make a batch of these and your vanilla cake pops as well, but don’t need 80 cake pops- do you think it would work to half these recipes? I have a 6 inch cake pan I could use for the cake part.
Hi Julie, You should be able to cut this in half and use a 6 inch pan. Enjoy!
Can I use half and half in place of heavy cream or milk?
Hi Jessica! Half and half would work fine in the frosting.
Hi Sally. I have to make a 13”x9” cake, 3 layers of cake total
I am not sure how to adjust the quantities. I do have your measurement conversions but I am still not sure. Would you please help me with this?
Hi Karine, for a 9×13 chocolate cake, we recommend using the triple chocolate cake recipe. See recipe notes there for making as a sheet cake.
Thank you Sally. Yes I spoon leveled everything
The cake was sooooo good and cakepops are delicious
I also made the vanilla ones. WOW!
Your recipe says 1 cup of flour – 120g
But for me 1 cup – 165g
Can you please specify what to use
Hi Karine! Are you spoon and leveling your flour? You can read more about measuring baking ingredients in this post.
The instructions were great and it was relatively simple to make. However, I was disappointed in the cake pops. They taste good, but nothing like what I get at Whole Foods. In my opinion, the cake isn’t moist enough and the frosting isn’t enough to give them a fudgey taste.