The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

Get ready to make the easiest and most delicious chocolate cake you’ve ever had! This cake is moist, rich, and always a crowd-pleaser.

Chocolate sheet cake on a cutting board.

With the new year upon us, I know there are a lot of you reading who are eager to finally get into cake-making. I’m hoping to make that journey as easy and as fun as possible. Because, the thing you need to know about cake? It’s fun! It’s happy! It’s exciting! It’s delicious!

I just launched my new online cake camp and to get things started, we’re making the easiest and most delicious chocolate cake. AND we’re keeping it super simple by baking it in a 9-inch by 13-inch cake pan. No layers. No fancy decorating… at least not yet 😉

A woman cutting a sheet cake.

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

This cake is seriously the bes. It’s moist, it’s rich in flavor, and it’s easy to make.

What makes this cake so delicious?

Two things really make this cake stand out from the rest: how moist it is and how full of chocolate flavor it is.

Moisture: this cake is incredibly moist thanks to a combination of buttermilk, hot water (or you can use coffee), oil, and eggs.

Richness: we’re using a high fat, dark chocolate cocoa powder. It’s important to note that this recipe uses dark chocolate for a reason. Because we’re adding all the other ingredients to the cocoa powder, if we used a basic cocoa powder, the chocolate flavor would get diluted. Additionally, if the cocoa powder is low in fat (like most grocery store brands), you run the risk of drying out the cake.

What’s the best dark cocoa powder?

My go-to cocoa powder is Extra Brute Cacao Barry, or anything similar to richness and fat as this.

NOTE: The cake batter in this cake recipe is thinner than many of my other cake batters. Don’t let that scare you. It’s going to rise beautifully and taste incredible. Truly the best chocolate cake ever!

Chocolate sheet cake on a cutting board.

Chocolate Sheet Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

Courtney Rich
Moist and flavorful chocolate cake with a light and fluffy vanilla buttercream. 
5 from 26 votes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Cake



  • 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups (350 g)granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (88.5 g) Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder or similar premium brand
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g) baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5.6 g) salt
  • 3 large or extra large eggs room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 g) buttermilk room temperature
  • 1 cup (236.6 g) hot water
  • 1/2 cup (109 g) vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon (4.2 g) pure vanilla extract


  • 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter chilled (I take the butter out of the fridge 30 minutes before I make my frosting)
  • 6 cups (750 g) powdered sugar measured and then sifted
  • 3-4 tablespoons (57.75 g) heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons (8.4 g) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt



  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare 9-inch by 13-inch rectangular cake pans by spraying the bottom and sides with nonstick spray, lining the bottom with parchment paper, and spray the parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a bowl of electric mixer, combine all the dry ingredients.
  • Combine eggs, buttermilk, water, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and lightly beat with a fork.
  • Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix on low speed until combined. Batter will be thin. Scrape sides and mix for another 30 seconds. Pour the batter into the cake pan.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (you may need more time depending on your oven), until toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it. Cool completely before frosting.


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for about 2 to 3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy.
  • With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the sifted powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing a little in between each addition.
  • With mixer on medium speed, add whipping cream, vanilla and salt.
  • Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. The frosting will become lighter in color and texture.
Keyword Black and White Cake, Chocolate Cake, Chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, Vanilla Frosting
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Courtney Rich

I’m a self-taught baker, obsessed with cake.

I long ago ditched box mixes in pursuit of melt-in-your-mouth, to-die-for flavor combinations, fillings and textures. I believe cake must be decadent, life-changing and worthy of celebration! And I believe anyone should be able to bake that kind of cake – and I’m here to teach you just that!

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Recipe Rating


  1. Excited to try this cake. If I wanted to use chocolate frosting with this cake which one of your frosting recipes would you recommend?

  2. Hi there~ In the recipe you mention to use 9×13 cake pans…plural. So does this require 2 pans? I can’t tell by the picture if it’s just one or if you put them side by side or layered them? Thanks so much:)

  3. Hi! Love your cakes but want to go simpler for my daughters bday this year. If I wanted to do layers would 2 eight inch rounds work? Same temp? Guess on how long to bake? Thanks!

  4. Hi,

    Do you recommend using coffee instead of water? Or do 1/2c coffee + 1/2c hot water?

    My daughter is baking me this cake for my birthday.

    Thank you,

  5. 5 stars
    I love your chocolate cake recipe!!! I’m making a huge sheet cake for a wedding it will be 11×15 do you have any tips for me? I’m doubling the recipe and baking in one pan… would I bake at 325 still or lower for longer?

  6. Can I make the cake portion a week or two ahead of time and then frost day of party? Tips on freezing? Hoping to make this for my son’s 9th birthday. Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes!

  7. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe! I bake a lot (mom of 5) and have tried a lot of chocolate cakes over the years—I’m always looking for an easy dessert to go with Sunday dinner. This one is a keeper—super moist, perfect chocolate flavor, baked up beautifully. I used Trader Joe’s baking cocoa (what I had on hand), and it turned out superb. Frosting was tasty too— I made only half a batch and it was still pretty thick for a single layer cake. Great buttercream & flavor though. Saving this one!