Chocolate Birthday Cake Recipe with Chocolate Frosting

You will never want to celebrate your birthday without this Chocolate Birthday Cake Recipe!  Imagine soft, moist chocolate cake covered with creamy, chocolate frosting.

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Chocolate frosting on a birthday cake on a cake stand against white background

The Heart and Soul of the Best Chocolate Birthday Cake Recipe

My husband is responsible for the recipe behind this Chocolate Birthday Cake. It’s his favorite birthday cake and I’ve been making it for more than 15 years for him.

Cuisine Inspiration: A classic American treat, this Chocolate Birthday Layer Cake is pure joy in every slice.

Primary Cooking Method: Baking transforms the chocolatey batter into moist, delightful layers, complemented by creamy American frosting.

Dietary Info: This is a rich and indulgent treat, so it’s perfect for those looking to indulge.

Key Flavor: Chocolate reigns supreme, delivering a rich and satisfying taste in every bite.

Skill Level: Ideal for those with some baking experience, as creating even layers and the perfect frosting consistency will make this cake shine.

Sweet Highlights:

  • Rich Layers: Dive into moist, chocolatey goodness with every slice.
  • Creamy Frosting: The chocolate American frosting is smooth, velvety, and downright irresistible.
  • Celebration Ready: Perfect for birthdays and special occasions, this cake knows how to party.
  • Get Creative: Add your own twist with sprinkles, shavings, or a caramel drizzle.
  • Prep Ahead: Bake the layers ahead of time and freeze them for party-ready perfection.
A chocolate birthday cake covered with sprinkles against a white background

I was raised to think that food was the way to a man’s heart, and I think this cake might be the ticket. It is my auntie Rose’s chocolate cake recipe, and it is quite delicious. It is everything a chocolate layer cake should be:

  1. Filled with chocolate flavor
  2. Incredibly fudgy
  3. The perfect texture
  4. Insanely moist


For the Cake:

  • Large Eggs: The foundation of our cake structure, they’re bringing the fluff and holding it all together.
  • Granulated Sugar: Sweetness central! This is what’s making our cake indulgently sweet.
  • Cocoa Powder: Hello chocolatey goodness! This is where the deep, rich chocolate flavor kicks in.
  • Instant Coffee Powder: A little secret weapon to enhance and intensify the chocolate flavor.
  • Salt: Just a pinch to balance the sweetness and elevate the flavors.
  • Hot Water: This is going to mix with our cocoa to create a chocolatey oasis.
  • All-Purpose Flour: The backbone of our cake, giving it structure and softness.
  • Baking Soda & Baking Powder: These guys are the lift providers, ensuring our cake rises to the occasion.
  • Vegetable Oil: Bringing in the moisture, for a cake that’s tender and ready to party.
  • Buttermilk: Tangy and fabulous, it’s here for moisture and a delicate crumb.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract: A splash of sweet, aromatic goodness to round out the flavors.

For the Frosting:

  • Unsalted Butter: Soft and creamy, it’s the base of our frosting masterpiece.
  • Confectioner’s Sugar: Powdered perfection, making our frosting sweet and smooth.
  • Cocoa Powder: Back at it again with more chocolate love.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract: Just like in the cake, we’re here for that sweet aroma and flavor.
  • Milk: A dash for consistency, making our frosting spreadable and silky.
Overhead of chocolate birthday cake with sprinkles with a slice of cake

How to Make Chocolate Birthday Cake

For the Cake:

  1. Get Set: Preheat that oven to a cozy 350 degrees and show your 9-inch round pans some love with a good spray of non-stick magic.
  2. Whisk It Up: Eggs and sugar in the stand mixer? Yes, please! Let them dance together on high for a sweet 2-3 minutes.
  3. Choco Mix: In a separate bowl, mix cocoa, instant coffee, and a dash of salt with hot water. Pour this chocolatey dream into the egg and sugar fiesta happening in your mixer.
  4. Dry Ingredients, Incoming: Slowly welcome flour, baking soda, and baking powder to the party. Follow it up with the oil, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Mix until just right – the batter will be on the thin side, and that’s totally cool.
  5. Bake it Beautiful: Divide that batter evenly between the pans and bake for 22-25 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when a toothpick comes out clean. Give it 10 minutes of rest before moving them out of the pans to cool off completely.

For the Frosting:

  1. Butter, Sugar, and Everything Nice: Into the mixer they go! Butter, confectioner’s sugar, and cocoa powder. Mix until it’s smoother than a jazz tune.
  2. Vanilla and Milk Magic: Add a splash of vanilla and enough milk to make it fluffy and fabulous.
  3. Layer and Love: Frost each layer with care, then show the whole cake some frosting love.
A sliced into chocolate birthday cake on white cake stand

The secret to making an outstanding homemade chocolate frosting is to make it fluffy. The key to fluffy frosting is to continue to mix the ingredients (butter, confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, milk and vanilla extract) on a high speed. This will ensure your chocolate frosting is fluffy.

How to Decorate Your Birthday Cake

Overhead of slices of birthday cake on white plates

Now that you have your chocolate cake and chocolate frosting done, your chocolate birthday cake is not complete without sprinkles, candles and other birthday cake toppers.

If you don’t know what a topper is, a birthday cake topper is any decoration to go on top of a cake. Some other examples of cake toppers are:

  1. Sparklers
  2. Edible prints with cartoon and comic book characters
  3. Flowers

Whatever topper you decide, your cake is complete. Get ready to surprise the birthday boy or girl!

How to Store

Wrap your chocolate birthday masterpiece tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container to keep it fresh and fabulous for up to 3-4 days at room temperature. If you’ve got leftovers after the big bash (lucky you!), slide it into the fridge, and it’ll stay scrumptious for up to a week. Just a little tip: if you’re diving back in for another slice, let it sit out for a bit to get back to room temperature – it’ll taste just like it did on day one!

Amazing Chocolate Cake Recipes

A sliced into chocolate birthday cake on white cake stand

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Soft, moist, decadent chocolate cake covered with creamy, delicious chocolate frosting…that perfectly describes this chocolate birthday cake!
4.42 from 124 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course: Dessert
Servings: 12 servings


For the Cake:

  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter 3 sticks
  • 6 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk


For the Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 3 9 inch round pans with non-stick baking spray.
  • Add eggs and sugar to bowl of your stand mixer and beat on high speed for 2-3 minutes.
  • While mixture beats, add cocoa powder, instant coffee powder and salt to hot water. Add to eggs and sugar.
  • Next slow down mixer and add flour, baking soda, and baking powder then add vegetable oil, buttermilk and vanilla extract to the mixer and beat until just combined. Batter will be sort of thin but this is normal.
  • Evenly add cake batter to all three pans and bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to rest for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.

For the Frosting:

  • Add butter, confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder to bowl of mixer and mix on high speed until smooth.
  • Lastly add in vanilla extract and milk until frosting is fluffy and smooth.
  • Frost each layer of cake with frosting then frost the entire cake and serve.


Wrap your chocolate birthday masterpiece tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container to keep it fresh and fabulous for up to 3-4 days at room temperature. If you’ve got leftovers after the big bash (lucky you!), slide it into the fridge, and it’ll stay scrumptious for up to a week. Just a little tip: if you’re diving back in for another slice, let it sit out for a bit to get back to room temperature – it’ll taste just like it did on day one!


Calories: 730kcal | Carbohydrates: 120g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 322mg | Potassium: 252mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 93g | Vitamin A: 790IU | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 2.7mg
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Filed Under:  Cake, Oven


  1. I am so excited to make this for my birthday! Do you happen to have the ingredients for a 2 layer version of this cake?

    1. I actually don’t since I didn’t test that way. You can use a baking calculator and cut down the ratios by 1/3 to bake just two layers however.

    1. Hi Jo, you can actually make your own buttermilk if you have some milk and vinegar or lemon juice. Just use 1 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice.

  2. Hello, I want to make the cake but have questions about the coffee. Do, I have to use the coffee or can it be substituted with something else or what if I don’t have the coffee on hand at the moment?

    1. You can just omit the coffee if you don’t want to use. Just use hot water instead.

  3. How far ahead can this be made and how do I store before icing it. I’d like to bake the cake 2 days beforehand. Do I leave in an airtight container, or do I need to freeze and then defrost?

    Thank you!

  4. What type of vegetable oil do you use? And why all purpose flour instead of cake flour?
    Thank you for sharing your recipes!

    1. A traditional vegetable oil in the grocery store or canola. Also this is a very tender cake because of all the oil so all purpose flour will give the cake some stability instead of using cake flour.

  5. I made this recipe plant based by using flax eggs (2 tbsp flax seed mixed with 6 tbsp water) and vegan buttermilk (1 cup soya milk with large tbsp lemon left to curdle). It went down a treat. I also left out coffee because no-one in their right mind gives coffee in any shape or form to their 8, 6 and 4 year old on a Monday night I also used a quarter of the frosting because we’re not mad on frosting and also I was running out of ingredients from having to make two chi cakes in two days.

    Thanks a million for the recipe. Winner!

4.42 from 124 votes (75 ratings without comment)

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