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Perfect Chocolate Layer Cake

This Perfect Chocolate Layer Cake is made from double layers of moist and fudgy chocolate cake smothered in my favorite chocolate frosting and homemade ganache. This decadent dessert is so easy, and always turns out perfect!

The Best Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe

I have made A LOT of chocolate cakes over the years. You’ll find Chocolate Sheet Cake and Chocolate Cupcakes. Of course, we can’t forget my ultra-fudgy Ridiculous Chocolate Cake. That’s just to name a few.

Whenever the occasion calls for a chocolate layer cake, though, this is the one. I fill my cake layers with rich and creamy Chocolate Frosting (because it’s the best) and top it off with a drip of homemade Chocolate Ganache. The end result is a triple chocolate layer cake of epic proportions.

This homemade chocolate cake is soft and moist, packed with cocoa flavor, and the crumb and frosting just melt in your mouth. In a word: Perfect. 

A slice of perfect chocolate layer cake on a white plate next to a fork, with the full cake on a cake stand in the background.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Perfection is hard to beat. But in case you’re wondering, here are only a few of the million reasons why this is the absolute best chocolate cake:

  • It’s easy. I’m talking back-to-basics-easy. If you can make a single-layer chocolate cake, you can make this two-tiered version. This cake recipe is straightforward and simple, with mouthwatering results.
  • Perfect for chocolate lovers. We all have that one person in our lives who can’t get enough chocolate (it’s me, I’m that person). This chocolate layer cake is the ultimate chocolate lover’s dream.
  • Fancy enough for a celebration. This cake has enough decadence to be the star of any party. Rich, thick layers of chocolate cake and frosting, topped with silky chocolate ganache, hello!
The ingredients for perfect chocolate layer cake.

What You’ll Need

What’s maybe the BEST thing about this cake? You probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now. Below is a quick overview of what you’ll need, with the full details available further down in the recipe card:

  • Sugar: You’ll want to use granulated sugar in this recipe as opposed to brown sugar. The fine texture of regular white sugar is part of what keeps the cake’s texture so light.
  • All-Purpose Flour: There’s no need to use cake flour here, all purpose works just fine.
  • Cocoa Powder: I love Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder, but you can use any brand you prefer. If you choose a Dutch process or dark cocoa powder, the flavor of the cake will be slightly more chocolatey, and the color will be a little darker.
  • Baking Soda and Baking Powder: I like to use a combo of baking soda and baking powder in this cake. I have found that using both gives the best rise, without such a large dome.
  • Eggs and Milk: For richness, moisture, and structure. You can use either whole milk or 2%.
  • Vegetable Oil: Any type of light oil will work in this recipe. Canola oil, grapeseed oil, or even light olive oil are all good options.
  • Vanilla: As always, for the best flavor in all your baked goods, stick with pure vanilla extract over imitation vanilla.

How to Make a Perfect Chocolate Layer Cake

Make this easy chocolate layer cake from scratch in 3-steps:

  • Mix the Dry Ingredients: First, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add the Wet Ingredients: Beat in the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Next, slowly stream hot water into the cake batter until combined.
  • Bake: Divide the chocolate cake batter between two greased and lined 9-inch cake pans. Pop the cakes into a preheated oven to bake at 350ºF for about 30 minutes. Once the cakes are done, let them set in the pans for a bit. After, transfer them to a wire rack to cool fully before frosting and assembling your layer cake.

Filling and Frosting a Layer Cake

When your cake layers are cooled completely, it’s time to choose your frosting. I fill and frost my layer cake with my favorite Creamy Chocolate Frosting and douse it in Pourable Chocolate Ganache for an eye-catching drip-style cake. Here’s how to assemble your layer cake:

  • Begin with the first layer and pipe a generous amount of frosting over the cake.
  • Next, place the second cake layer on top, and use an offset spatula or a knife to spread the frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake.
  • Finally, prepare your chocolate ganache. Pour it over the cake, letting it drip over the sides.

More Frosting Ideas

Another thing I love about a chocolate cake is, like vanilla cake, you can pair it with just about any frosting. Here are more frosting recipes that would be fantastic:

Close up of a frosted chocolate layer cake topped with chocolate ganache on a cake stand.

Can I Make Cupcakes Instead?

Yes! This cake recipe works just as perfectly when turned into cupcakes. Just fill your liners 2/3 full, and bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, or until the centers are set. I also have an easy recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes that you can try. 

Tips and Variations

Below are some final tips for great results every time, along with some easy variations:

  • Measure the ingredients correctly. This is especially important when it comes to flour. Too much flour in a cake will turn it dense and dry. The best way to measure if you don’t have a kitchen scale is to spoon the flour into the measuring cup, and then level off the top with the back of a knife.
  • Don’t overmix. Mix your ingredients until they’re just combined, and avoid overworking the cake batter. This deflates the pockets of air that make a cake soft and fluffy.
  • Add chocolate chips. Coat mini chocolate chips in flour (to keep them from sinking in the batter), then fold them into your cake batter before you bake it. The flour trick is a random tip that I picked up from a box of cake mix once, and I still use it to this day.
  • Intensify the chocolate factor. As I mentioned earlier, you can amp up the chocolate flavor by using dark or Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder. Dutch process cocoa powder has a smooth, bittersweet chocolate flavor, a lot like an Oreo cookie.
  • Use coffee in place of hot water. Another trick to intensify the chocolate flavor of this cake is to swap the hot water for brewed coffee. You don’t actually taste the coffee, but it does enhance the cocoa flavors. This trick is used a lot in baking chocolate cakes and brownies.
A frosted chocolate layer cake topped with chocolate ganache on a cake stand, with a large slice of cake missing.

More Ways to Decorate

Why stop at frosting? The possibilities are limitless when it comes to ways to dress up a chocolate cake as irresistible as this one. Sprinkle fresh berries between the layers for a fruity twist. Or, drizzle Caramel Sauce over top of the cake. 

This layer cake is the perfect excuse to go all out. Try these other fun topping ideas:

  • Piped frosting swirls or rosettes
  • Sprinkles
  • Whipped cream
  • Toasted coconut
  • Crushed cookies (Oreo and chocolate chip are my favorites!)
  • Raspberries for a chocolate raspberry cake, or fresh strawberries
  • Shaved chocolate
A forkful of chocolate cake next to a slice of chocolate layer cake on a white plate.

How to Store a Chocolate Layer Cake

This cake can be stored airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the fridge for up to 1 week. Chocolate cakes have a tendency to dry out in the fridge, so make sure it’s tightly covered. I recommend letting the cake come to room temperature again before you serve it.

Can I Freeze This Chocolate Cake?

If you’d like to make this chocolate cake ahead and freeze it, I’d recommend freezing the individual cake layers before they’re frosted. Prepare the cakes as directed, and once they’ve cooled completely, wrap each cake in a layer of plastic wrap plus a layer of foil, and freeze them for up to 1 month. Thaw the cake layers in the fridge and then frost them as usual.

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A frosted chocolate layer cake topped with chocolate ganache on a cake stand, with a large slice of cake missing.

Perfect Chocolate Layer Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 12 reviews
  • Author: Shelly
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: serves 10 1x
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Dessert


My Perfect Chocolate Layer Cake is seriously the best chocolate cake! This easy cake recipe is soft and moist, smothered with creamy chocolate frosting and homemade ganache.


  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup very warm water


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 2, 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray. Cut 2, 9-inch rounds of parchment paper and place them in the bottoms of the pans. Spray again with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined.
  3. With the mixer still on low, add the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Turn the mixer up to medium and mix for 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Turn the mixer back down to low and slowly add in the hot water. Mix for an additional minute until combined.
  4. Divide the batter between the 2 prepared pans. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Frost with my Creamy Chocolate Frosting and my Pourable Chocolate Ganache Recipe for a drip-style cake, as pictured.


Store airtight for up to 3 days at room temperature


  • Serving Size: 1 unfrosted slice
  • Calories: 323
  • Sugar: 41.5 g
  • Sodium: 510.4 mg
  • Fat: 7.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 62.5 g
  • Protein: 5.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 43.3 mg

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30 comments on “Perfect Chocolate Layer Cake”

  1. Sorry but is there a recipe for the chocolate sauce or ganache that is poured on top in the photos? That is what drew me to this recipe, but it is not mentioned in the post. I’m not sure how store-bought chocolate sauce would taste buy I suppose I could search for a recipe here or elsewhere (if that is what it is) Thanks!

    1. Never mind, I found the Pourable Chocolate Ganache Recipe..Silly me. I just thought it would be nice to be linked in the post under the frosting links. Thanks!

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