I love this chocolate buttermilk cake recipe.  It’s no secret in my family how much I loved chocolate cake when growing up.  It was a given at every birthday party.

Do you have a chocolate lover in your family?  If so, this homemade chocolate cake is just what you need.

This recipe might not be as convenient as pulling out a boxed cake mix, but it is well worth the extra effort it takes to make it.  And without all of the ingredients I can’t pronounce.

I know for many, cooking from scratch has become a way of the past.  I can’t help but love it though.  I get lost in my thoughts – picturing my mom, grandmas, and great-grandmothers in their kitchens preparing meals and treats – all from scratch.  For me, baking and cooking from scratch has a way of taking me out of the fast lane and making me feel connected to a time when life moved at a slower pace.

You can frost this with your favorite frosting recipe.  I love this Creamy Chocolate Frosting!

To make this you will need: 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of cocoa, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of vegetable oil, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1 cup of buttermilk or sour milk, and 1 cup of hot strong coffee (not pictured).  The coffee gives the chocolate flavor added depth.

Measure out and blend all dry ingredients, except sugar.

Next, cream the sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients and mix until blended.  Then slowly pour the hot coffee in a stream against the inside of the bowl.

This batter is supposed to be really thin.  Pour the batter into 2 or 3 greased and floured layer pans.  I used 2 this time.  It can also be put into a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Bake at 350 degrees about 20 – 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Then frost this delicious chocolate buttermilk cake with your favorite frosting.

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Beautiful. Delicious. Enjoy.

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A slice of Chocolate Buttermilk Cake on a plate

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

Serving Up Southen
4.74 from 23 votes


  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup hot strong coffee


  • Mix and blend all dry ingredients, except sugar.
  • Cream sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk until blended. Then gradually add the dry ingredients.
  • Add the hot coffee by pouring a slow stream against the inside of the bowl while mixing. Batter will be thin.
  • Pour into 2 or 3 greased and floured layer pans or a 9 x 13 in pan. Bake at 350 degrees approximately 20 -25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Disclaimer: Nutritional values (per serving) are approximates only and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Have you tried this recipe?Tag @servingupsouthern and hashtag it #servingupsouthern

© SERVING UP SOUTHERN. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any blog post or social media is strictly prohibited.

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  1. Is it really 2 cups of sugar? :-)

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Yes it really is two cups of sugar. Due to the strong coffee, it really doesn’t taste as sweet as one might think. You could always try making it with less. If you do, I’d love to know how it turns out. Thanks for stopping by. :)

  2. This chocolte cake looks amazing. I am going to make it for the holidays. Thanks so much for sharing it!

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Thank you so much, Gaye! Enjoy!

  3. Making this for my moms birthday :) What would you nomally use for frosting?

    1. Haha! NVM i didn’t read that carefully enough:)

      1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

        No worries, Lisa! I hope your mom has a wonderful birthday! And…I hope y’all love the cake. :)

  4. 5 stars
    Great cake! It is SO moist. ‘m not normally a cake baker- i like cookies better- but I made this work a work party and it was a hit! My chocolate loving mother also loved it! I highly recommend this recipe !

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Thank you so much, dtcpr! I’m so glad everyone loved it! :)

  5. At what point do you combine the wet and dry ingredients?

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Kim, I’m so sorry! I didn’t realized I had skipped that step. I just edited the directions to include that. Thanks for bringing it to my attention! :)

  6. I made this cake and then did the whole kit-Kat fence with MnM topping and it was a HIT!!! The frosting is sooooo good and the cake sooooo moist! Love love love!

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Kaley, I’m so glad it proved to be a hit! I love your idea with the Kit Kat bars and M&M’s. Thanks so much for coming back and letting everyone know you loved it. :)

  7. Can you make this in bundt pan

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Patti, I’ve never made it in a bundt pan, so I’m really not sure. I would think as long as there’s enough room for the cake to rise it would be okay. You might would need to allow for additional baking time. If you give it a try I’d love to know how it works out.

  8. I made this cake and the icing Sunday, and we all thought it was the best chocolate cake ever! I did have to cook it quite longer than the recipe called for, 40 minutes to be exact, so I’m not sure what was going on with that, but it was well worth the wait!!

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Betsy, I’m so glad y’all liked it! Hmm…I’m not sure what happened with the cooking time, but I’m sure glad you found it to be worth the wait. ;) Thanks so much for coming back and letting us know you liked it.

  9. 4 stars
    The frosting is plenty sweet so I use 1 1/2 c brown sugar (not packed) in the cake batter and it turns out perfect for our family. I also only use 3 c confectioners sugar instead of 4 and canned milk in the frosting. I don’t add salt at all, and use sweet butter in the cake.

    1. Oh and I had to bake mine which was in a 9×13 pan, for 30 minutes. I also used oat flour. The cake was so ligbt!

      1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

        I’m glad you liked it, Roses1!

  10. Cake didn’t last a whole day….wonderful

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      It sounds like it was a hit, Jesse! I’m glad everyone liked it. :)

  11. hi, just wondering if the cake has a coder taste? I do not like cofee at all. Also what does “cream sugar” mean?

    1. “cream sugar” means to “mix the sugar” with the other “wet ingredients” :)

    2. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Hi Shakira, I have never found this cake to have a coffee flavor whatsoever. Coffee in the just right amounts actually makes chocolate taste much richer. Cream is a term for “creaming” the sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk together. You’ll want to do this before you add the dry ingredients. Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Shalini Bakshi says:

    Have just put it in the oven. Followed your recipe well. Now waiting for it to bake & dig in while its still warm. :)

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      I’m so glad you gave it a try, Shalini. I hope you loved it. :)

  13. If you don’t use coffee, do you need to increase the buttermilk?

    1. I was wondering the same I am allergic to coffee.

    2. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Hi Rhonda and Wendy, I have always made it with the coffee, but I would think that substituting more buttermilk would work. I would love for you to come back and let us know how it turned out if you tried it that way.

  14. 5 stars
    i made it and it was so good ..Ice with Creamy Chocolate Frosting that was good too thanks for sharing

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Aw…I’m so glad you liked it, Diane. Yes, the Creamy Chocolate Frosting is a must with that cake. It puts you in a state of pure chocolate bliss. Thanks so much for stopping by letting us know how you liked it.

  15. Sweetwater says:

    I was wandering what kind of flour? All purpose since it calls for baking soda and powder or self rising?

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Sweetwater, you got it…all purpose flour is correct. Be sure and stop back by and let us know how you liked it. :)

  16. Marietta Nesci says:

    What sugar is used for the recipe? Is it caster sugar?

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Hi Marietta! I just use plain white granulated sugar. I hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by!

  17. Katherine ryan says:

    I have made the cake four times in the past month! It is luscious! Thanks!

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Oh Katherine! I had to chuckle at you comment. My family would LOVE it if I made this four times a month. I better hide this comment from them so they don’t feel deprived. ;) It is luscious for sure. Thanks so much for stopping by and letting us know how much you love it!

  18. 4 stars
    This is my first time making this recipe. I’m making cupcakes so I hope it turns out just the same as the cake.

    1. 4 stars
      Cupcakes turned out fabulous! It won’t let me leave 5 stars but they are awesome!

      1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

        Hi Faye! I’m so glad the cupcakes were fabulous! I have not made this recipe into cupcakes before, so it’s great to know they turnout so well. Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and let us know. :)

    2. James Richard jr says:

      How long for cup cakes

  19. 5 stars
    This was by far the best, best ever chocolate cake I’ve ever had together with the frosting you suggested, my oh my!!! There was no occasion for making this (well I wanted to celebrate the weekend ;)), but I cannot wait for another occasion where I can make even more people try this cake! The only tweaking I did was 1 cup of white sugar and 1 cup of brown which made the cake + frosting a match made in heaven as the frosting is quite sweet on its own. Thanks for sharing the recipe I’ll always be making when making chocolate cake!!!

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Aw Grace, I’m so glad you loved it. Weekends are worth celebrating, especially after a long hard week. This is definitely a cake to make to impress people (especially those chocolate lovers). It is the only chocolate cake I make. When someone asks me to make chocolate cake it is because they know this is the one that will show up. It’s the best! Thanks so much for coming by and letting us know how much you love it! :)

  20. 5 stars
    Hi Kim,
    My 5 years old son is a chocolate lover and i’d love to make this cake. but before that, what do you mean by 1 cup hot strong coffee? how many teaspoon of coffee do i need to put in cup in order to make a cup coffee? Thanks in advance:)

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Hi Nerlyn! By most standards 2 tablespoons of coffee is used to 6 ounces of water when making a pot of coffee. Since we’re using 8 ounces (a standard 1 cup measurement) I usually use 3 heaping tablespoons. I have also used instant decaf coffee when making this and it turns out just as good. I just make sure to add a little more than the directions call for so it will be on the stronger side. I hope this helps. Please stop back by and let us know how your son liked it. :)

  21. Gary Camarda says:

    Hi Kim,

    I used to make a cake called South Buffalo Cake.. I miss placed the reciepe and want to make it again. This looks very similar.. are you familiar with that? I would love to think I caould have that taste again :)

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Hi Gary,

      I’m sorry, but I am not familiar with South Buffalo Cake. If you try this and it is similar let me know. Better yet, if you find the recipe for South Buffalo Cake I’d love for you to stop back by and share it here in the comments. I love new recipes. I wish I could have been more help. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  22. Pinterest has this page blocked from pinning!

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Thank you for making me aware of this, Jo. I have notified Pinterest, letting them know this is not spam. Hopefully, we’ll have it worked out soon. Thanks again for letting me know!

  23. 5 stars
    What is the recipe for the frosting? I really have trouble finding a good one and this one looks so delicious

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Hi Freya, on the bottom of the recipe card (above) under “notes” there is a link to the frosting recipe. It is delicious and I think you will like it. :) Thanks for stopping by!

  24. Hi Kim,
    I want to bake this for my son’s 5th birthday on Saturday (24/12/16). How far in advance can I bake and freeze the cake? We live in South Africa and it is very hot (if I bake it today,I will have to freeze the cake). I will only frost the cake on Friday. I have never made this recipe; don’t want to lose some of the great taste due to freezing…

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Hi Wilana! I have never frozen this cake, but I would think that it could be baked and frozen several days in advance without compromising the flavor. It is a very moist cake, so you should be okay there too. Happy 5th Birthday to your son. I hope his day is special. Thanks for stopping by!

  25. Denise Armstrong says:

    I would like to know if you have a frosting recipe made with buttermilk? I plan on making the cake but I would like to have a buttermilk frosting. There must be not sure how much of anything to put together.

  26. Hi Kim, can I used 2 6×3 inches round cake pan for this recipe? I would love to try this cake. So many positive feedback.

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Hi Ann! I’m not sure how that would work, as I’ve only used the round cake pans. I usually go for 3 because I love the way the cake looks with all those pretty layers. :)

  27. Tell me how do you determine how much coffee to add to the cake? I am not a coffee drinker so I have no idea.

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Hi Dianne! By most standards 2 tablespoons of coffee is used per 6 ounces of water when making a pot of coffee. We’re using 8 ounces (a standard one cup measurement), so I usually add 3 heaping tablespoons of coffee. Since you’re not a coffee drinker, you can use instant coffee (It works great, too.), but be sure to add a little more than what their directions call for so it will still be on the stronger side. Thanks for stopping by!

  28. 5 stars
    Hi Kim
    I made this cake in February for my brothers 50th birthday. I tripled the recipe to make a big square cake. It was delicious!! Ever since this is all chocolate cake I ever bake. My daughter just finished her Pastry Diploma and she loves this recipe.
    I was wondering is you have a similar vanilla cake? We from South Africa.
    Best regards
    Anjolene & Merisca

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Hi Anjolene & Merisca! I’m so glad y’all love the recipe. At the time I do not have a vanilla cake recipe that is all that similar to this one. That is a good thing for me to add to my to-do list. Keep checking back, and thanks for stopping by!

  29. 5 stars
    I don’t even know what to say about this cake. It’s SO SO SOOOOOOO good, it’s not even funny.
    I made it for my husband’s birthday and we had to get “ride” of it or else we would eat the whole thing in one night, so we took it to my in laws and everyone loved it over there too.
    I made it with the frosting recommended here and it goes perfect together, but the cake itself, I could eat the whole thing by itself, it’s sooo good.
    Do yourself a favor and MAKE IT NOW!!!

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Hi Fernanda! Thanks for coming by and letting us know how much y’all loved the cake. It’s the best birthday cake ever! I know just what you mean about eating the whole thing in one night. We’ve never done it, but it’s not because we weren’t tempted. ;)

  30. Hi,

    Can u pls work out the ingredients for me in grams? I would really like to try out this recipe.

    Many thanks,


  31. 5 stars
    I have never made chocolate cake, except with a box mix. My oldest daughter loves chocolate and has been going through a tough time so I decided I was going to make her a cake. It came out great. My husband actually said, “You made this from scratch?” I will be making this again.

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Hi Marcy! What a sweet thing to do for your daughter. I hope things are looking up for her soon. I’m so glad the cake didn’t disappoint. Isn’t it yummy?! I chuckled at your husband’s comment. :)

  32. Natasha Allan says:

    Turned out beautifully! The icing was fantastic as well! Thank you for the recipes!

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Hi Natasha! I’m so glad you loved it! Thanks for stopping by and letting us know. :)

  33. 5 stars
    This is the only cake my family has requested for the last 3 years. Every birthday and holiday and party. The biggest compliment came from my Dad who said that it tasted like chocolate cake did when he was a kid. This recipe is perfect as written and the suggested frosting is a star in its own right. Baking it for my twins 8th birthday as we speak.

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Hi Brie! Thank you so much for stopping by and letting me know how much y’all love the cake. I especially love how it took your dad back to his childhood days. It is still a favorite at my house as well. We love it for any occasion and then sometimes just because. ;) Happy Birthday to your twins!

  34. 4 stars
    Can i add more coca powder for a darker and richer cake ? And if so, how much would you recommend ?

  35. 5 stars
    This looks so easy to make. Perfect for a beginner baker like I am. Thanks for this!

  36. Zada Sorrell says:

    5 stars
    Oh, thank you! As a professional baker, I try a lot of cakes, and I’ve made a lot of duds. When I saw your super easy cake recipe, I had hope. I just took round 1 out of the oven and am starting another batch to make a gigantic layer cake for my homeschool group. Anyway, it’s perfect. I poured the whole recipe into a 9×12 and almost couldn’t believe it when 20 minutes later it was done to perfection. I’m not a reviews kinda lady, but I just really wanted to express my thanks!

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Hi Zada! Goodness! You’re a professional baker AND you love my recipe! You have made my day! I’m so glad you are happy with the results. I’m betting your homeschool group will love it too! Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving your review. :)

  37. 3 stars
    The taste was there but the cake was dry. Followed the recipe exactly so idk what happened. Made a chocolate ganache for it and it made it slightly better.

    1. I’m sorry you had that experience with the recipe. I have made this cake for years and can truly say I have never had it turn out dry.

  38. 5 stars
    I have made this cake several times and it is moist and delicious! I use a small amount of dark cocoa that makes it a little more dark. I’ve iced it with peanut butter frosting, chocolate frosting and sea foam. I just can’t tell you how many compliments this cake received. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Joanna! I’m so glad you love the cake! I love the idea of adding dark cocoa! I have tried different flavored frostings too. You just can’t seem to go wrong. ;) Thanks for stopping by!

    2. I saw a question about timing for a bundt pan. I did 45 minutes and it was perfect. This is my favorite cake recipe!

      1. Hi Rebekah!
        Thank you for letting us know. I have never made it in a bundt pan before, so this is really helpful. I’m so glad to hear that it is your favorite cake recipe. Thanks so much for stopping by!
        >>> Kim

  39. 5 stars
    I’ve made lots of different chocolate cake recipes , but when I found this one it’s the only one I make now!

    1. Hi Maureen! I’m so glad you’ve found a favorite chocolate cake to make. It’s my only go-to chocolate cake recipe. Besides, my family would have my head if I did anything different! ;) It’s a good thing it’s so yummy! Thanks for stopping by.

  40. 5 stars
    THE BEST. Soooooo moist and chocolatey!!!! It’s now my go-to chocolate cake. Hands down. Mine had to bake longer than the directions, possibly because I used a 9×13 pan – it baked for about 35/40 minutes. But worth the wait – even the frosting was delicious! Mine got a slightly firmer texture to it after sitting – great for slicing a perfect piece!! WILL make again!!! ♥️♥️

    1. Hi Kirsten! I love knowing how much you love the cake! The frosting really does set-up well making it great for slicing just like you said. Thanks for stopping by!

  41. I love that this recipe is so easy, with ingredients you have on hand. The coffee helps make the cake not be too sweet. The texture was soft and moist. I totally love your frosting so creamy, lush. I was eating the leftover frosting with my fingers! Definitely going to be making this again. Thanks for a great recipe.

  42. Absolutely delicious and moist. Mine and my family, friends, and colleagues’ favorite ??

  43. Nancy Johnson says:

    It seems that frosting recipes are not always quite enough to frost a 2 or 3 layer cake. Is this ample frosting or should I put a little less between the layers so as not to skimp frosting the rest of the cake? Thank you!

  44. Made this for my husband on his 74th birthday and he loved it.

    1. Hi Penny!
      I’m so glad he loved the cake! I make this cake the most for birthdays. It’s always requested. Give your husband a Happy Birthday wish from me. And thanks so much for stopping by and letting me know. :)

  45. Hi, do You think i can change the cow milk for almond or soy instead to make the buttermilk?
    Thanks for shareing this recipe

    1. Hi Paula! I’m not sure about substituting almond milk for buttermilk. Almond milk would compare more with cow milk. Since buttermilk is slightly sour and slightly thicker than regular milk (or almond milk), I’m not sure how swapping it out would affect the recipe. I’m sorry, I can’t be more helpful. If you decide to try it – let me know how it turns out. :)

  46. 5 stars
    This has become one of our favorite cakes. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  47. 5 stars
    Best choclate cake recipe i have ever tried and i have tried many.
    I halved the quantity as i onky had 1/4cup coco powder will definitely be making the full quantity very soon. Thank you for this wonderfully delicious recipe. Love love love it❤️

  48. 5 stars
    The very best chocolate cake recipe I have ever tried! Made 2 9 – inch round cake layers and they baked up beautifully!! Made homemade strawberry whipped cream to go in between the layers and garnished with whole strawberries! Everybody loved it!! Thankyou so much for the recipe!!

    1. Hi Linda! You’re very welcome! The homemade strawberry whipped cream is brilliant! I’ll have to try that. I’m so glad everyone loved it. Thanks so much for stopping by and letting us know you tried it.

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