Calling all chocolate lovers! This chocolate fudge cake recipe is for you- it is so rich, moist, and surprisingly easy to make!
Three layers of decadent chocolate cake are filled and frosted with luscious chocolate buttercream in this crowd-pleasing dessert.
Keep this amazing fudge cake recipe in mind for birthdays, holidays, and for your chocolate-loving family and friends!
What Makes this Chocolate Cake Different?
We've made many scratch chocolate cake recipes over the years! There are two main differences in today's fudge cake recipe.
Dutch Process Cocoa
First, we used Dutch Process Cocoa instead of instead of natural unsweetened cocoa powder.
This cocoa has been treated with an alkalizing agent which reduces its natural acidity. You'll notice that the cake has a deeper, darker color and a rich yet mellow chocolate flavor.
Vegetable Oil in Cake Recipe
Most of our cake recipes call for butter and a bit of vegetable oil. However, this is the first chocolate cake recipe in our Recipes section that calls for only vegetable oil.
I thought that I might miss the butter but the chocolate flavor is just as delicious without it- and the cake has a wonderful melt-in-your-mouth quality to it. The crumb is soft, tender, and fine.
We have a few other favorite recipes that contain only vegetable oil, including our popular Carrot Cake, Classic Hummingbird Cake, and our new Apple Pecan Bundt Cake! If you haven't tried these delicious recipes, please put them on your list! They are fabulous!
How to Make Chocolate Fudge Cake
I LOVE how quickly and easy this fudge cake comes together! Because we are using vegetable oil rather than butter, there is no waiting around for the butter to soften, and no creaming the butter and sugar for 5 minutes ;0)
Even the mixing method goes more quickly! You can find the full, printable cake recipe further down in this post.
Here is a quick rundown of our steps!
- Preheat: Heat oven to 350 Degrees F. Grease and flour three 8 inch cake pans. We also like to line our pans with parchment paper.
- Combine Dry Ingredients: Next, whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso granules (or instant coffee powder).
- Mixing: Using an electric mixer, (fitted with a paddle attachment if using a stand mixer) add the eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and ¼ cup of the water. Mix for two minutes on medium speed. *Scrape down the sides of the bowl as the mixture will be fairly thick.
- Adding Hot Water: With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the 1 cup of very hot water and mix for approximately 30 seconds to blend. The batter will be VERY thin.
- Fill the Pans: Scoop the cake batter evenly into the prepared pans. Tap the filled 8 inch pans onto the counter a few times each. This makes any air bubbles rise to the top.
- Time to Bake! Bake for 22-24 minutes- The bake time may vary. The cake layers are done when a wooden toothpick or skewer can be inserted and removed with no crumbs (or just a few crumbs) attached
- Allow the baked cakes to cool in the pans on a cooling rack for ten minutes before turning out. As an added bonus, the cake layers bake up with a slight dome. Hooray for cake scraps from the leveled tops ;0)
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
We decided to use a simple, delicious Chocolate Fudge Frosting for this layer cake.
It's a combination of confectioners sugar, dutch process cocoa, unsalted butter, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt.
This chocolate frosting is rich, creamy, and pipes perfectly!
You can easily change the consistency of the frosting to suit your preferences.
When prepared as-is, this chocolate buttercream recipe will give you a medium consistency of frosting (easy to work with, flows easily from piping bag, not too thin or too thick.)
Add a bit more heavy cream or milk if you'd like to thin the frosting, or add a bit more confectioners sugar if you'd like to thicken up the consistency. This is a very forgiving recipe!
We used dutch process cocoa for the frosting just as we did with the cake, however natural, unsweetened cocoa will give you great results as well.
*If you are looking for something even more rich, chocolate ganache is a great choice also!
Assembling and Decorating the Chocolate Fudge Cake
Place the first fudge cake layer on a cake pedestal or cake plate. Spread with a layer of buttercream.
Repeat for the next two cake layers, then frost around the sides.
Decorate the cake however you like! This is such a versatile frosting- super easy to pipe with etc.
- I always apply a thin coat of chocolate buttercream first to the top and around the sides of the cake- this is the crumb coat. It catches the crumbs in preparation for the final layer of frosting.
- At this point, I like to chill the cake for 15 minutes in the freezer (or longer in the refrigerator) to firm everything up. This is an optional step but I find it helpful!
- Next, apply the second (final) coat of frosting. I decided to go with a smooth finish around the sides of the cake today.
- Heating a metal bench scraper under very hot water before gliding it around the sides makes this step extra simple.
- I swirled the remaining frosting on top of the cake using a small offset spatula.
This easy chocolate fudge cake is sure to bring rave reviews at your next special occasion celebration, whether you are making it for a birthday celebration, holiday, or to cure your chocolate cravings!
More Chocolate Cakes!
If you love chocolate recipes, don't miss our full collection of Favorite Chocolate Cakes, Frostings and More!!
If you are in search of the best chocolate cake- this roundup of go-to chocolate recipes is the best! I could never pick a favorite, but we have several amazing chocolate cakes that you absolutely must try!
Enjoy the Recipe!
Thanks so much for stopping by! We hope that you enjoy this delicious cake. We think it is the perfect recipe for a decadent chocolate cake, and so quick and easy too!
If you give it a try, we would love for you to leave a comment or photo below!
Chocolate Fudge Cake
This ultra moist Chocolate Fudge Cake has a rich yet mellow flavor thanks to the dutch process cocoa in the recipe. It is a quick, easy, wonderful go-to chocolate cake!
- 2 cups (400g) Granulated Sugar (white sugar)
- 2 ¾ cup (322g) All Purpose Flour (not self rising)
- 1 cup (90g) Dutch Process Cocoa
- 2 Teaspoons (8g) Baking Powder
- ½ Teaspoon (3g) Baking Soda
- ½ Teaspoon (2g) Salt
- 2 Teaspoons (3g) Instant Espresso Granules *See Notes
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup (215 g) Vegetable Oil (We use Canola Oil)
- 1 Teaspoon (4g) Vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cup (295g) very hot water (almost boiling)
For the Chocolate Frosting
- 3 Sticks (339g) Unsalted Butter, slightly softened
- ¾ cups (67g) Dutch Process Cocoa
- 5 cups (575g) Confectioners Sugar
- 1 teaspoon (4g) Vanilla Extract
- 1 teaspoon (4g) Salt
- ¼c-⅓ c. ( 54g-72g) heavy cream (or milk)- adjust amount to your liking for frosting consistency
- Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees F. Grease and flour three 8 inch cake pans. We also like to line our pans with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of your mixer, whisk together the dry ingredients: sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, espresso granules.
- Next, add the eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and ¼ cup of water. Mix for two minutes on medium speed. *Scrape down the sides of the bowl as the mixture will be fairly thick.
- With mixer on low speed, slowly add the remaining (1 cup) very hot water and mix approximately 30 seconds to blend. The batter will be very thin.
- Scoop the cake batter evenly into three 8 inch cake pans. Tap the pans onto the counter a few times each.
- Bake for 22-24 minutes- Bake times may vary. The cake layers are done when a wooden toothpick or skewer can be inserted and removed with no crumbs (or just a few crumbs) attached.
- Allow the baked layers to cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out.
For the Chocolate Buttercream
- Cream the slightly softened butter until smooth. Blend in the vanilla.
- Add half of the powdered sugar and cocoa and most of the milk. Beat at medium speed until the powdered sugar and cocoa is incorporated.
- Add remaining powdered sugar, milk, and salt and mix at medium speed another 3 to 4 minutes scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Then mix on the lowest speed for 1 to 2 minutes. This will help eliminate air pockets in the buttercream. The texture will become very smooth.
- Yields approximately 4 ½-5 cups of frosting.
- If your buttercream is too thin, add more sugar. If the consistency is too thick, add a bit more milk.
This cake is fine at room temperature under a cake cover for 1-2 days if using the buttercream frosting in the recipe. If using a more perishable filling or frosting, refrigerate the cake and remove from the refrigerator 2-3 hours before serving for best flavor and texture.
No espresso granules? You can also just use hot coffee (rather than hot water) in the recipe.
Coffee enhances the chocolate flavor- you cannot taste it. However, if you want to omit the espresso/coffee altogether, that is fine. The water in the recipe should still be hot (as it helps to bloom the cocoa).
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Oh that looks delish! :-) Wonderful as always. I use canola in my chocolate fudge cake too - it's moist and delicious! ;-)
Can unsweetened cocoa powder be used in place of the dutch cocoa powder?
Hi Ann- I haven't tried this yet. Dutch process is much less acidic than natural unsweetened cocoa. It may be fine to substitute but I would probably change up the leavening a bit.
I would try 2 teaspoons of baking soda & half teaspoon baking powder (rather than vice versa) as this is what we've done for several of our other chocolate cakes that use the regular unsweetened cocoa (like our Chocolate Cake from Scratch, Chocolate Sour Cream Cake, Devil's' Food Cake, and Dark Chocolate Cake recipes) ;0) That's probably the way to go!
For two 9 inch pans could you tell me how many minutes should we bake?
Hi Anoo, Bake at 350 degrees F. Keep an eye on the cakes and check at 25 minutes by inserting a toothpick into the center. The cake will be done when the toothpick comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached.
The cake is so easy to make and has great flavor. I noticed the calorie count at only 133 calories. Is that for just the cake, no icing? Seems low.
Hi Peggy! I'm glad that you liked it! I love how easy it is too. I agree about the nutrition info- it is automatically generated and filled in by the recipe card that I use- I'll see what I can find out!
I was super surprised there was no dairy in this recipe (milk, buttermilk, sour cream). Trying it, and eager to see how it comes out!
Yes, you're right! One of the few recipes on our site where the cake layers don't have butter or milk, etc.- Hope you enjoy it!!
Does this recipe work well for cupcakes? I was thinking of cutting the recipe in half.
Thanks so much. I have made many of your wonderful recipes.
HI Juliet- I didn't make a test cupcake but I did fill a little 4 inch pan with batter and it domed up nicely. I would think it would be just fine for cupcakes. ;0)
Thanks for your quick response. I halved the recipe, and it yielded 12 nicely domed cupcakes. I also halved the frosting recipe and had just enough for the 12 cupcakes. I checked after 15 minutes, and they were not done so added another 3 minutes and they were done.
Thank so much!
Great! Thanks so much for your feedback and photo- hope you enjoy them ;0)