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The BEST Chocolate Cake (9×13)

If you’re looking for THE BEST Chocolate Cake this is it. No really, it is. This rich chocolate cake is topped with a creamy chocolate buttercream frosting. Perfect for all occasions.

Seriously though, this chocolate cake is my family’s favourite cake. It’s SO chocolatey, rich, moist and delicious. And you can’t beat the creamy chocolate buttercream frosting that it’s smothered with. So delicious. I hope you try it and love it.

a front view of a sliced square of chocolate cake with buttercream frosting. the cake sits on a white plate with a gold fork

The BEST Chocolate Cake Recipe

I know, I’ve said it before, but this cake is the best. I have shared a number of different chocolate cake recipes over here over the years (Chocolate Bundt Cake, Chocolate Stout Cake, German Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Zucchini Cake, Chocolate Pudding Cake, Chocolate Cupcakes) and I love them all, but this one takes the cake. It is the most chocolatey and moist chocolate cake recipe ever.

a top down view of a 9x13 Chocolate Cake. the cake is slathered with chocolate buttercream frosting. the pan sits on a pink polkadot towel. off to the top left is a stack of plates and forks

9 X 13 Cakes.

9 X 13 Cakes are often called sheet cakes, I know I’ve called them that before, but technically, they’re not sheet cakes. Sheet cakes are baked on actual sheet pans which are much bigger and have lower sides. But I do think when people look for ‘sheet cakes’ they likely mean 9 X 13 cakes. I really love making cakes in 9 X 13 pans. They’re SO easy to make and decorate, and they can feed a small crowd. They’re really the most unfussy of all cakes. Did I mention how easy they are to decorate? No fancy piping…just spread on the delicious frosting and add some sprinkles. Done.

a top down view of a 9x13 Chocolate Cake cut into twelve squares. the cake is slathered with chocolate buttercream frosting. the pan sits on a pink polkadot towel. off to the top left is a stack of plates and forks

As easy as a boxed cake mix but 1000 times better.

Sometimes it can feel daunting to make a homemade cake, but really they’re so easy, especially this cake! In not much more time that it takes to make a boxed cake, you can make this homemade cake. The ingredients are simple, the assembly is quick. And the delicious results are definitely worth the simple effort.

a front view of a sliced square of chocolate cake with buttercream frosting. the cake sits on a white plate with a gold fork. in the background is a cake pan with more slices of cake

Let’s talk about the Chocolate Buttercream

The chocolate buttercream frosting in this recipe was made for this cake…they’re a match made in chocolate cake heaven. The buttercream is creamy, chocolatey and so good. If you’re looking for a go-to chocolate buttercream frosting, this is it. I mean, just look at those creamy lines…

a side view of a 9x13 Chocolate Cake slathered with chocolate buttercream frosting. the pan sits on a pink  towel.

Perfect for Parties!

This is THE perfect birthday cake! It makes 12 large squares of cake so you can feed a small crowd…and even if you cut it into smaller pieces you’d have plenty to serve more people. Dress it up with rainbow sprinkles and everyone is happy! This cake is also great for any kind of party, potlucks and honestly, you don’t even need a reason to make chocolate cake! 😉

a front view of a sliced square of chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and rainbow sprinkles. the cake sits on a white plate with a gold fork. in the background is a cake pan with more slices of cake
a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkles sits on a table. a slice of cake has been cut out of it and sits on a white plate in the background
a top down view of a cake pan and two plates with slices of chocolate cake covered in chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkles. the pan and plates sit on a polkadot towel

What a happy little cake.

a top down view of a chocolate sheet cake and a plate with a slice of chocolate cake covered in chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkles. the pan and plates sit on a polkadot towel
a front view of a sliced square of chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and rainbow sprinkles. the cake sits on a white plate with a gold fork. in the background is a cake pan with more slices of cake

Make Ahead Tip!

This cake is perfect and delicious the day it is made, but I think it’s even better the next day as it’s had time to sit and the flavours have come together…I even think it gets more moist after a day. So having said this, it’s the perfect make-ahead cake. You can make and frost the cake a day ahead of when you want to serve it. Just make sure it’s tightly covered to keep it moist. I just cover my pan in plastic wrap or foil and leave it on my counter (no need to keep it in the fridge). You can also freeze the un-iced cake for up to 3 months. To do this, I would recommend removing the cake from the pan and storing it in an air-tight wrap of plastic or large freezer bag. Let it defrost on the counter before frosting.

a top down view of a chocolate sheet cake covered in chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkles. the pan sits on a polkadot towel

More Recipe Tips:

  • Preparing your pan for baking: I like to use a flour/oil spray to prepare my baking pan (PAM has a really good one). You can also just butter and flour your pan. Just make sure to prepare your pans so the cake slides out nicely when you cut into it.
  • Frosting Your Cake: Make sure to let your cake cool completely before adding the frosting or the frosting will melt. I let the cake cool for at least 1 hour before spreading on the frosting.
  • Make Ahead Frosting: You can make the chocolate buttercream days ahead. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. When you’re ready to ice your cake, first let it come up to room temperature before spreading it on your cake (let it sit on the counter for at least 30 minutes).
  • Adding Sprinkles: If you’re adding sprinkles, add them right after you ice your cake. You need the icing to be soft so the sprinkles can stick to it.
  • Storage: You can keep any leftovers covered on the counter. This cake stays moist for days!
  • Serving Options: If for some reason you don’t want to add the buttercream, this cake is also scrumptious on its own and served with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. If you love chocolate ganache, it would be great with this cake too.
  • Can I make this a layer cake? Yes! Use the instructions and recipe in this post here…the only difference is that the amount of icing is doubled.
a front view of a sliced square of chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and rainbow sprinkles. the cake sits on a white plate with a gold fork. in the background is a cake pan with more slices of cake
a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkles sits on a table. a slice of cake has been cut out of it and sits on a white plate in the background

About the Ingredients:

  • Butter and Eggs: Are best when at room temperature.
  • Why is there coffee in the recipe? Coffee intensifies the chocolate flavour. You don’t taste the coffee, it just boosts the chocolate flavour. Trust me.
  • Coffee: Use just regular or decaf coffee. It can be warm or cold (hot coffee might be too hot and could cook the eggs, so use warm). I like to use a strong cup of good coffee for ultimate flavour. Don’t use junky coffee, use your good stuff.
  • Icing Sugar: Icing sugar is confectioner’s sugar. Us Canadians just use the word icing sugar, but it’s the same thing.
  • Cocoa Powder: Use a high quality cocoa powder for maximum chocolate flavour (Dutch process cocoa is the best).
a top down view of a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkles, sits on a table. a slice of cake has been cut out of it and sits on a white plate beside it
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The BEST Chocolate Cake (9×13)

If you’re looking for THE BEST Chocolate Cake this is it. No really, it is. This rich chocolate cake is topped with a creamy chocolate buttercream frosting. Perfect for all occasions.

  • Author: Jo-Anna Rooney
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking

Ingredients

Scale

Chocolate Cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup strong coffee (warm or cool)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or canola oil)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Buttercream Icing:

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 3/4 cups icing sugar
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla

Instructions

Chocolate Cake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare a 9 x 13 inch cake pan. I like to use a flour/oil spray to prep my pan, but you can also grease and flour your pan, or use parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan. See tips!
  3. Into a large bowl sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  4. Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the the eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla.
  5. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes (I use the paddle attachment). Mix well.
  6. Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Gently tap the pan on the countertop to remove air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  8. When done, let the cake cool in the pan, on a wire cooling rack for at least 1 hour before you add the chocolate frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Icing:

  1. Beat together the butter, icing sugar, cocoa powder, milk and vanilla until the icing is nice and fluffy. Make sure to scrape the bowl often.

Putting it all together:

  1. Once the cake has cooled you can frost it. Just spread the frosting evenly over the top of the cake. Add sprinkles if you like.
  2. Enjoy!

Keywords: chocolate cake, chocolate buttercream, chocolate frosting

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