Triple Chocolate Cake

This is my favorite homemade chocolate cake recipe. With a super moist crumb and fudgy, yet light texture, this chocolate cake recipe will soon be your favorite too. Top with chocolate buttercream and chocolate chips for 3x the chocolate flavor. You can also prepare this chocolate layer cake as a sheet cake, too. See recipe note.

chocolate cake

Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake… But Better

This pictured cake is a combination of chocolate buttercream and mock-devil’s food cake. You know the Devil’s Food chocolate cake you get at a restaurant or even from a box mix? This is that exact cake, only completely homemade. Notice the reddish tint? That’s where the name Devil’s Food comes from. The baking soda in this recipe reacts with the natural cocoa powder, which results in the reddish color. Gorgeous!

This chocolate cake is:

  • Extra moist
  • 2 layers, but can be made as a sheet cake
  • Soft with a velvety crumb
  • Deeply flavorful
  • Unapologetically rich
  • Covered with creamy chocolate buttercream

This is, without a doubt, the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had.

chocolate cake

triple chocolate cake

Chocolate Cake Ingredients

Each ingredient serves an important role. For best results, do not make substitutions.

  1. All-Purpose Flour: The structure of the cake. Use all-purpose flour– cake flour is too light.
  2. Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder: Do not use dutch-process cocoa powder. If desired, see dutch-process vs natural cocoa powder for more information.
  3. Baking Soda & Baking Powder: Use both baking soda and baking powder for lift.
  4. Salt: Salt balances the flavor.
  5. Espresso Powder: Espresso powder is optional, but I recommend its addition because it enhances the chocolate flavor. The chocolate cake will not taste like coffee.
  6. Oil: Don’t use butter in this cake batter. Cocoa powder is a particularly drying ingredient, so this cake needs oil for moisture.
  7. Eggs: Use 2 room temperature eggs. Place refrigerated eggs in a cup of warm water for 10 minutes to warm them up. Did you know what the temperature of your ingredients has a direct correlation to the success of your recipes. Unless otherwise noted, use room temperature ingredients.
  8. Buttermilk: This chocolate cake requires the moisture and acidity from buttermilk. Lately I’ve been using a mix of sour cream and buttermilk, as well as reducing the hot liquid (below). You can see that in my dark chocolate mousse cake, tuxedo cake, black forest cake, and German chocolate cake recipes.
  9. Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract adds flavor.
  10. Hot Coffee or Hot Water: Hot liquid encourages the cocoa powder to bloom and dissolve. If you don’t drink coffee, you can use hot water. For deeper flavor, though, use coffee.

chocolate cake batter

How to Make Chocolate Cake

What an easy chocolate cake! No mixer required for the batter, simply whisk the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients (or vice versa, it doesn’t make any difference), add the hot coffee, then whisk everything together. The cake batter is thin. Divide between 2 9-inch cake pans. You can easily stretch it to 3 or 4 8-inch or 9-inch cakes if needed. Or make a quarter sheet cake using a 9×13 inch cake pan.

Need cupcakes instead? Use my super moist chocolate cupcakes recipe.

Chocolate frosting in glass bowl

chocolate cake

Chocolate Buttercream

I use my favorite chocolate buttercream recipe as the base, but slightly increase the amount of each ingredient to produce enough frosting for the layer cake. If you prefer a thinner layer of frosting, use the chocolate buttercream recipe. But if you crave extra buttercream, follow the frosting measurements below. You need 6 ingredients total:

  1. Unsalted Butter
  2. Confectioners’ Sugar
  3. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  4. Heavy Cream or Milk
  5. Vanilla Extract
  6. Salt

Because there is no leavening occurring, you can use either dutch-process or natural cocoa powder in the buttercream. Heavy cream provides an extra creamy frosting, but milk can be substituted if needed.

chocolate layer cake

So, why do I call it triple chocolate layer cake when it only has 2 layers? Well, chocolate is used three times: chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, chocolate chip garnish. Let’s eat!

Video Tutorial – Chocolate Cake


chocolate cake

Triple Chocolate Layer Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: serves 12
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


This is my favorite homemade chocolate cake recipe. With a super moist crumb and fudgy, yet light texture, this chocolate cake recipe will be your favorite too. Top with chocolate buttercream and chocolate chips for 3x the chocolate flavor. You can also prepare this chocolate layer cake as a sheet cake too. See recipe note.


  • 1 and 3/4 cups (220g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 cup (65g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder*
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder (optional)*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil (or canola oil, or melted coconut oil)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature*
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk*
  • 1 cup (240ml) freshly brewed strong hot coffee*

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 1.25 cups (2.5 sticks or 290g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 34 cups (360-480g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup (65g) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)*
  • 35 Tablespoons (45-75ml) heavy cream (or half-and-half or milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • optional for decoration: semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease two 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans.
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder (if using) together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or you can use a whisk) mix the oil, eggs, and vanilla together on medium-high speed until combined. Add the buttermilk and mix until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the hot water/coffee, and whisk or beat on low speed until the batter is completely combined. Batter is thin.
  3. Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake for 23-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Remove the cakes from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely in the pan.
  5. Make the buttercream: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy – about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, heavy cream, salt, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for 1 full minute. Do not over-whip. Add 1/4 cup more confectioners’ sugar or cocoa powder if frosting is too thin or another Tablespoon of cream if frosting is too thick. Taste. Add more salt if needed. (I usually add another pinch.)
  6. Assemble and frost: If cooled cakes are domed on top, use a large serrated knife to slice a thin layer off the tops to create a flat surface. This is called “leveling” the cakes. Discard or crumble over finished cake. Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and spread remaining frosting all over the top and sides. I always use an icing spatula and bench scraper for the frosting. Garnish with chocolate chips, if desired.
  7. Refrigerate cake for at least 30-60 minutes before slicing. This helps the cake hold its shape when cutting.
  8. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare cake through step 4. Wrap the individual baked and cooled cake layers tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature then continue with step 5. You can prepare the chocolate buttercream 2-3 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate, then bring to room temperature before spreading onto/assembling the cake. Frosted cake freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature or serve cold.
  2. 3 Layer Cake: You can also prepare this cake as a 3 layer cake. Divide batter between three 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans and bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. This frosting will be enough for 3 layers. If desired for extra frosting, use the frosting recipe from my Piñata Cake.
  3. Cocoa Powder: Use natural cocoa powder in the cake, not dutch-process. (If desired, see dutch-process vs natural cocoa powder for more information.) Since there is no leavening occurring in frosting, you can use either natural or dutch-process in the chocolate buttercream.
  4. Buttermilk: Buttermilk is required for this recipe. You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk by measuring 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar in a measuring glass. Add enough milk (1%, 2%, or whole) in the same measuring glass to reach 1 cup. Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The soured milk will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in your recipe. Lately I’ve been using a mix of sour cream and buttermilk, as well as reducing the hot coffee. You can see that in my dark chocolate mousse cake. That cake and this cake are both fantastically moist, but the sour cream version has a sturdier crumb.
  5. Room Temperature Ingredients: All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information.
  6. Espresso Powder/Coffee: Espresso powder and coffee will not make the cake taste like coffee. Rather, they deepen the chocolate flavor. I highly recommend them both. If coffee isn’t your thing, you can leave out the espresso powder and use extra hot water or hot chai tea.
  7. 9×13 Inch Pan: You can bake this cake in a 9×13 inch baking pan. Same oven temperature, about 35-40 minutes bake time.
  8. Chocolate Cupcakes: Here is my favorite chocolate cupcakes recipe. Same unbelievable texture as this cake! You can also use this cake batter for 2-3 dozen cupcakes. Same baking instructions as my chocolate cupcakes.

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

Keywords: cake, chocolate cake

Triple Chocolate Layer Cake. The fudgiest homemade chocolate cake ever!


  1. Having an obsession with everything sweet, you can imagine how crazy I got after taking a look at all these recipes. Why? Just Why can’t I eat them directly from my computer screen?! Wish I were your neighbor! These recipes are just to die for!
    -Namrata Deka

  2. Hi Sally, thanks so much for creating the best chocolate cake ever! I made it for my husbands birthday on Saturday & I got compliments all nite long (and the next day). I also love the Nutella swirled pound cake, made it twice so far & making it again tomorrow, can’t wait to dig in 🙂
    Love that I can just log onto Sally’s baking addiction website & create the best desserts ever!
    Much love from me & my sweet tooth,
    Kara 🙂

    1. So glad you loved this cake, Kara! THanks for the sweet compliment on my website and recipes too. So happy to be the place you always come to for desserts 🙂

  3. Hello! I discovered ur blog a month ago and I have been checking it every day since then!! I already tried some of ur recipes and they were all amazing! I made this cake for my husband’s birthday and we both agreed that it was the BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE we ever had!! Im glad there are people like u with such a great talent and passion, that share all these amazing recipes!!! 🙂 Just a quick question, when u bake cupcakes, where about do u place them in the oven? Top, bottom or middle? I always find it hard to find the perfect “cooking spot”. Hope u have a great day!! 🙂

    1. Hey Monica! So glad you are loving my blog and that this cake was a huge hit! For cupcakes, I always place them on the center rack, unless otherwise noted in the recipe.

  4. I just had to thank you!! You made my day with this recipe. Today was my husband B-day and I wanted to bake something unforgettable… And I totally nailed it!! Is the most perfect-moist-decadent chocolate cake!! Tnx again!!

  5. Oh my this looks so good! My birthday is next week so I will have to leave this recipe lying around so that someone gets the hint 🙂

  6. Made this cake last night and already half is gone. I am one of those hate coffee people (can’t stand the taste, the smell, etc) and was extremely hesitant about adding coffee as required….but I did and you were right (I’ll never doubt you again) you couldn’t taste it.

    1. Hey Heather! That’s easy. Just pour into cupcake liners and bake at the same temperature. I am unsure of the baking time, though.

  7. I was looking for a special chocolate cake recipe for my daughter’s 21st bday – found it with this one… OMG was absolutely wonderful! Turned out perfect. I dont usually eat cake very much but I am already thinking of making it again…sigh, only made it 5 days ago. Used your nutella icing on it, may try the chocolate on it next. So glad I found your site! Thank you!

    1. Vickie, that is GREAT! I am so glad to hear this was a huge hit AND that you found my website. I made this cake 3 times in a week before earlier this summer. We all LOVE it.

  8. Could I make this cake with one cup hot stout beer instead of the coffee or maybe substitute 1/2 cup coffee and 1/2 beer? I love your blog by the way! Thanks!

  9. Hi Sally,
    I only do baking as a hobby for free time and I am certainly not a pro. I have been browsing your website for a while now but it was only today that I made this cake and for the first time ever also made this chocolate frosting, for a lunch party at my place. I was a bit skeptical while making the frosting but it turned out really well and so beautifully complemented the lovely moist chocolate cake. Wish I could post the pic of my cake using this recipe here 🙂

    Thank you for a great recipe , I halved the recipe and its the best chocolate cake i have made so far.

    1. Hi Mahinn! I am so glad you made this amazing chocolate cake! It is probably one of the BEST cakes I’ve ever made. I love the frosting, I think it’s the best part. I’m so glad you reported back to me, too. Thank you! Feel free to email me a photos, I love receiving them. sallysbakingaddiction (at)

  10. Just wanted to thank you for posting this recipe. It is amazing! I just made my second one this summer.

    I grew up in a family that got Birthday cakes from a local European bakery. They made a French Creme frosting that was not too sweet, but was very rich and so yummy. I have not found a chocolate frosting I love as much as their chocolate french creme frosting until now. Thank you!!! And it is so easy to make!

    1. Thanks so much Cori! That is so wonderful. I love this frosting. It isn’t entirely too sweet at all. Thank you for reporting back. And I am glad you found a chocolate cake and frosting you love.

  11. Hi Sally,

    I recently came across your blog while searching for a chocolate cake recipe. I tried out the Triple Chocolate layer cake and took it to work for my colleagues. This was a big success and now they want the same cake for any or no occasion. 🙂 I must say it’s the best chocolate cake I have ever tasted. I didn’t do a buttercream frosting but tried it with dark chocolate ganache. It was sinfully divine. This is the first time I have picked a recipe from a blog and attempted it and I have been far from disappointed. Thank you again. Hoping to try your other recipes soon. Harpreet

    1. Oh this cake with a simple ganache sounds perfect Harpreet! So happy you tried it and that it was very popular with your coworkers. Let me know any recipes you try next!

  12. hi Sally, thank you for your awesome recipe! I am making it tonight! do you think this will be okay with cream cheese frosting? or how can I make it like a red velvet cake?

    and just curious, are cupcake recipes pretty much the same with cake? just different pan?

    thank you!

    1. Hi Johanna – yep, it would be fantastic with cream cheese frosting. Here is my recipe for it (you may need to double the recipe):

      I do not have a red velvet cake recipe at this time.

      Yes, cupcake recipes are the same as cakes – at least mine are.

  13. Sally, I chanced upon your blog while searching for a good cupcake recipe and found your death by chocolate ones. They were absolutely perfect and renewed my love for baking!

    This cake looks similar 🙂

    Love your blog and thanks for all the hints, they’re really helpful!

    1. Carolyn, this cake is very similar! And it is simply amazing. Truly a favorite cake recipe of mine. Glad you liked those cupcakes. They’re another favorite of course!

  14. I made the amazing Triple chocolate cake for my husbands birthday. Everyone loved it! It was moist, rich and delicious. Thank you for your detailed instructions, i know they made all the difference. I cant wait to try more of your recipes.

    1. Claire, I’m happy the instructions were helpful for you! AND that everyone loved this cake. It’s my favorite and a true crowd pleaser for birthdays and such.

    1. Sounds like you love this cake as much as I do! I made it again a few weeks ago, it never disappoints! Thanks Jessica.

  15. this cake is absolutly fricen awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    i will make my mommy make this tonight. i don’t think she’s ever tried to use some one elses recipe but i will force her to taht’s how amazing it looks OMFG!!!! the icing seems like the best part LOL!! 😛

    1. Oh goodness! That would be a VERY high cake, Jessica. You could certainly try it, but I fear the cake would topple over! Let me know how it goes if you try.

  16. Thank you so much for the beautiful chocolate cake recipe. It was everything that you described and much more! I give it a 10 out of 10! God Bless!

  17. Hi Sally, Absolutely loved your blog. Been here for the first time just now. The triple chocolate layer cake looks AWESOME!! Good Work!


  18. This is by far the absolute best chocolate cake I have ever made or tasted! I adapted it for high altitude and it was perfect!! The tops sunk very slightly but I think that was oven temperature error on my part. I never post comments, but this cake was so amazing, I had to let you know! I love your blog and the fact that you not only post about other’s recipes, but create your own as well!! I can’t wait to try your white chocolate macadamia cookies and snicker doodles!

    1. Hannah, it means a lot to me that you took the time to leave me a comment. Considering you never do that. So thank you very much for saying hi! I work very hard to create my own recipes. My grandmother taught me everything I know (that and a lot of trial and error!). Thank you so much. Have a great weekend!

  19. Hi Sally, its looking so delicious. Sally, kindly tell me one thing is it possible if we not use chocolate chips in frosting

  20. Hi Sally, this looks absolutely delicious! Can’t wait to make it for my brother’s upcoming birthday! Just wondering if it is possible to freeze the cakes for a few days after they’ve been baked and then thaw, assemble and decorate on the day I need it?? Would it affect the moistness of the cake (or anything else for that matter)?
    Thanks 🙂

  21. Hi Sally, I’m new to your blog and I stumbled across this mouth-watering recipe so I decided to try it out today. This recipe was great! I followed all the directions as listed and instead of making a cake I made 12 medium sized cupcakes. I dislike frosting so I did not make any, but the cupcakes tasted delicious on their own. For those who don’t like overly sweet treats, I would recommend cutting down on the sugar; I put in all 1 & 3/4 cups of sugar and it was too sweet for my liking. Next time I will only put in half the sugar. Overall the cupcakes were every chocolate lover’s dream! The moistness was out of the world and the chocolate flavor was heavenly! Thanks so much for this recipe, Sally!

  22. Can I just say that you have made my life so much sweeter? I have made 4 of your recipes so far this past week and have yet to be disappointed..I have stopped looking anywhere else for my baking recipes. Your recipes never fail to deliver and I am learning so much. So far I have tried the Andes mint cookies recipe, the soft peanut butter cookies, easy cinnamon rolls and yesterday made this triple choc layer for my husband’s 30th birthday picnic. Everyone loved it. One thing I really appreciate is how you teach on baking techniques to help improve us – your followers. I am so grateful. Thank you. Can’t wait to hit up some pumpkin recipes very soon!!!!

    1. Kinneret, this comment makes my day. Heck, it makes my entire weekend. I am so happy that you enjoy my blog and my recipes. And even more, you enjoy what I have to say and what I am trying to teach! I love spreading the goodness of baking through recipes and through knowledge. I really appreciate you saying “thanks.”

      You have made several of my favorites, especially the soft PB cookies and this cake! Happy belated to your husband!

  23. Hi Sally! First I want to say thank you!!! thank you for being so awesome!! I’m just starting to explore the baking world. and I’ve been stalking many baker bloggers but you really stand out amongst others because yours is the first I check every single day. I hope one day I can be as successful as you in baking 🙂 I have never baked a cake before, I was kind of reluctant on making cake because it looks hard to do. but because you have really convinced me, i decided to give it a try. and it was AWESOME! My family loved it! it wasn’t too sweet (which i love btw) and you’re right about the coffee! and the frosting. it’s the best chocolate frosting!! I just have a question cake keeps on breaking when I transfer it or move it.. so it was really a struggle for me..any tips? Love you Sally!!

    1. Hey Janine! What a sweet comment to read this morning. I’m so glad that you enjoy my blog so much! It’s my goal to give others confidence in the kitchen. That’s why I love this job so much! Anyway, I’m happy you tried this cake. It’s not too difficult to make at all. I love that it isn’t too sweet either. Just very, very chocolate-y! What do you mean “it breaks”? It falls apart when you travel with it? Or when you layer the cakes on top of each other? I just suggest being VERY gentle with it.

      1. You’re awesomeness has been validated! 🙂 You do reply to your readers! Thanks for giving us time Sally! Anyway, when I transferred my cake from the baking pan to a plate it broke in half. I’m thinking maybe because I didn’t use a wire rack to cool my cake? When I try to push my cake towards the center of the plate, it doesn’t move anymore, if I try harder, it breaks.

        Thanks for replying Sally, it really means a lot 🙂
        (FYI, this is also my first time to comment on a blog because I’m too scared they won’t reply. Thank you again you’ve just made my morning too!. 🙂

      2. Janine, before I had a blog – I was a reader like you. I remember writing to a big-time blogger and being ignored. That’s just not my philosophy; the purpose of blogging to to share with readers. I wouldn’t have a blog without readers! Thank you for the sweet, kind words about that.

        Anyway! I suggest coating your pans more generously with nonstick spray. Then, once the cake layers are completely cooled, run a knife around the edges of the pans to loosen the cake. Might I suggest an off-set angled spatula:

        Then flip the pan upside down onto the center of the plate. This way you won’t have to move the cake.

  24. I made this cake last night for my mom’s birthday, and let me just say it was a HUGE hit! Truly the best chocolate cake, so fudgy and decadent!!!!! This will be my go to chocolate cake recipe from now on, love it!!! I actually used your dark chocolate frosting (could eat that with a spoon, the best stuff ever), and the cake was amazing. Everybody raved. You’re recipes are the best! Thank you.

  25. Hi Sally! I made this cake for my Mom’s birthday this year (on Halloween), and it turned out SO well. I even went all OCD with the chocolate chips on the outside. 🙂 The cake was so light, moist, and spectacularly chocolatey! We have a family chocolate buttermilk cake recipe, a few generations old, that has been used for hundreds of birthdays over the years. Methinks this one just secured its place for the next few generations, at least! Thank you, thank you Ms.Sally! Mom says thank you too. 😉

    1. Jessica, thank you so much for reporting back. I am very humbled to hear that my buttercream recipe may be held onto for years to come. Thank you for that! It’s certainly my favorite. And very easy to whip up. Happy birthday to your mom!

  26. Hi Sally! I LOVE your blog! Best recipes ever. I plan to make this cake tonight it looks like exactly what i am looking for! My question to you is, why can I not use dutch processed cocoa in it? That is all I have and I also have chocolate. What would I do to substitude the unsweetened cocoa with if not dutch processed? thanks hun!

    1. Hi Michelle! You cannot use dutch processed cocoa because the acids have been stripped and you need the acidic nature of natural cocoa to pair with the baking soda and leaven the cake. You cannot replace the baking soda.

  27. Hi Sally!

    I feel like every-other week I am writing to you telling you about another success with your recipes! I made this for my friend’s birthday last night. It was the best cake I’ve ever made. Seriously unbelievable. The only bummer was that while eating their pieces, everyone stood around muttering “so moist,” which is the grossest word ever 🙂 Anyway, thank you for another fabulous recipe.

    1. I LOVE hearing about the recipe successes, Grace! So thank you.

      I’m happy this cake was a hit. I agree, moist isn’t the best word. But there is no other way to describe its texture.

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With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally