The One Bowl Chocolate Cake

One Bowl Chocolate Cake is a recipe every home baker needs to try. I like this cake because it is moist — and it stays moist! It’s also got a really great chocolatey flavor that comes through no matter how it is frosted or iced. And boy is this recipe easy! It whips up quickly and you really do need only one bowl. I make this using my stand mixer. Everything fits in one bowl and is mixes up perfectly and bakes like a dream.

Mixing cake.

If you’ve done much home baking, the thing that will stand out quickly to you when reading this recipe is probably the boiling cup of water that goes in at the end. It’s a little unusual! Whatever scientific food magic the boiling water does to the batter works, because this cake is noticeably more moist than most, but it’s moist without being dense like a brownie. I usually make the water in the electric kettle I keep on my counter to make tea, but you could also just heat it to boiling in the microwave, using a microwave-safe dish, of course.

The boiling water is certainly something that needs to be handled carefully. I turn my mixer to its lowest speed and pour the water in slowly, then gradually increase the speed to incorporate. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, it’s very important not to let bowling water splash out of the mixer.

Another thing to consider with the boiling water is just how much it thins out the cake batter. This batter will seem very thin. Especially compared to your average cake mix. Don’t worry, as long as your pans are well greased and floured, your cake will turn out great, but the consistency is something I like to warn people about so they don’t think they’ve done something wrong. Thin batter is the desired result!

The One Bowl Chocolate Cake

3.8 from 247 votes


  • 2 cups sugar, white

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 1 cup boiling water

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). Grease and flour 9×13 cake pan, or two 9 in round pans.
  • Combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in single bowl, or stand-up mixer bowl. Add the milk, eggs, oil, and vanilla, mix until well-combined, or for 2 minutes on medium if using mixer.
  • Add boiling water last, incorporating carefully to avoid splashing. Batter should be thin. Pour into pre-greased and floured pan (or pans).
  • Bake in preheated 350° F (175° C) oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Remove to cooling racks, let cool completely before frosting.


  • 1 cup of fresh brewed coffee can be substituted for hot water to make this a mocha cake. Or, instant coffee or espresso crystals can be added to the cup of water the recipe calls for.
  • Cake will rise while baking. Do not overfill pan(s).
  • For best results, sift flour and cocoa.

This chocolate cake is not only easy and delicious, it is very versatile. It will pair well with almost any sort of frosting or icing you’d like to try. If you prefer a simple white vanilla icing or buttercream, those will work really well and also allow the chocolatey flavor of the cake to stand out. but if you’d rather double down with a chocolate frosting, that can also be delicious. I love a chocolate ganache with this cake, because I am a chocolate lover.

Chocolate ganache.

Fruit toppings, icings, or fillings can also pair well with this cake. Cherries are sort of a classic with a good chocolate cake, and if you’re making this as a layered cake, a cherry glaze filling is divine. Nuts are also excellent toppers, and I’ve made this with a peanut butter buttercream that was amazingly rich and delicious. Choose your favorite chocolate combo and try it with this recipe!

12 thoughts on “The One Bowl Chocolate Cake”

    • i have used a couple of different 1:1 sugar subs in a recipe very much like this. Both came out fine. I haven’t used either of the ones you mentioned, but if they are 1C = 1C sugar, they should work. I can’t say about the ones that measure differently.

    • I didn’t realize that was where the secret comes from, Lorraine! I agree, this just makes an unbelievably moist cake — it’s almost like magic!

    • Hi, Susan, I’ve never tried this with gluten-free flour but would be interested to hear how it turned out for you if you tried it! It would be an experiment, though, so it might not work as well. My only advice would be to follow any advice for substitutions on the gluten-free flour package if you give it a try.


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