One pan chocolate cake is a moist and fudgy cake that combines the convenience of a single pan with the indulgent flavors of rich chocolate. It’s easy to make without an electric mixer and perfect for weeknights, small dinner parties, birthdays or anytime you need to satisfy a chocolate craving.
When it comes to desserts there are two ways you can go! Decadent cakes like my chocolate cake with mocha frosting are stunning for a Sunday dinner but quick and easy recipes like my chocolate chip crumb cake or this basic one pan chocolate cake are often my go-to favorites!
This chocolate cake recipe was given to me by my Mom and was a family favorite! It is decadent enough for special occasions but yet simple enough to make on a weeknight to satisfy the chocolate lovers in your household. It’s pure comfort in a cake!
It has a tender crumb with rich chocolate taste. Better yet it’s made in the same pan you bake it in! Less dishes to clean up have never tasted so delicious. It’s a humble chocolate cake one layer and it couldn’t be more crave-worthy!
Why You’ll Love This Single Layer Chocolate Cake
- Last minute dessert: One bowl chocolate cake is perfect for those times when you need a simple one layer cake, whether it’s entertaining guests or just satisfying a chocolate craving.
- From scratch: It’s as easy to make as a box mix but homemade from scratch!
- Single layer: No need to get fancy here! This single layer 8 inch chocolate cake recipe is perfect for those times you need a scaled down, small batch cake.
- Rich and decadent: The chocolate flavor shines through in every fluffy, moist bite!
- Oil: You can use vegetable oil, sunflower oil or corn oil.
- Chocolate: You will need 2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate or a good quality dark chocolate. Real chocolate instead of using unsweetened cocoa powder adds rich chocolate flavor but a good quality bar melts better.
- Water: You could also use hot coffee for more intense chocolate taste.
- Milk: whole or 2% milk.
- Granulated sugar: Balances with the chocolate for a sweet taste.
- Egg: One large egg that has been brought to room temperature.
- Cake/pastry flour: Using cake/pastry flour results in a lighter texture.
- Salt: To enhance the flavor of the other ingredients.
- Baking soda: Provides lift and rise to the cake.
- Vanilla extract: For additional sweet taste.
- Chocolate chips: I love to use mini chocolate chips so you get some in every bite!
- Walnuts: Chopped walnuts add a crunchy texture to the cake.
How to Make Cake Flour
For every cup of all purpose flour, remove two tablespoons and replace with two tablespoons of corn starch. Be sure to sift the flour and cornstarch together a couple of times, this way it is sure to be properly combined and lump free. Cake flour in cakes will give you a very tender texture and fine crumb, it will also help the cake to rise.
- Fudgy chocolate frosting: After your cake has cooled, frost with a fudge frosting, ganache or frosting of choice.
- Powdered sugar: For a simple yet elegant presentation, dust your one pan chocolate cake with powdered sugar.
- Decorate: If you are adding frosting for a special occasion add some rainbow sprinkles or rainbow jimmies for a fun, festive look!
- Other nuts: Feel free to use other nuts such as pecan or pistachios or skip them altogether.
How to Make One Pan Chocolate Cake
To start, add the oil and chocolate to an 8-inch round or square cake pan and heat in the oven for 2-3 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and add sugar, water, milk, egg, flour, salt, baking soda and vanilla. Using a fork or small whisk, beat together for approximately 2 minutes until all dry ingredients and wet ingredients are combined.
Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and then the chopped nuts.
Bake in the pre-heated oven until done, test with a toothpick.
Cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes then remove and enjoy.
Expert Tips for Recipe Success
- Hot coffee instead of water: Coffee intensifies the taste of chocolate! Feel free to replace the water with freshly brewed coffee or even instant coffee mixed with hot water.
- Avoid overmixing the cake batter: Overmixing your ingredients will result in a dense cake texture. Combine only until the batter is mixed with no dry flour visible.
- Room temperature ingredients: Using room temperature ingredients ensures that everything emulsifies and bonds togethers properly for the best cake texture.
- Non stick baking pan: Using a non stick baking pan will help release the cake easily from the pan. If you do not have a non-stick pan, be sure to line your pan with parchment paper. If using a non-stick pan, grease with cooking spray and then flour with cocoa powder. This creates a chocolate cake with smooth sides!
- Don’t over bake your cake: Nothing is worse than a dry cake! Start checking before 40 minutes. Your cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Tent with foil: To avoid your cake browning too much on the top, tent the cake with foil for 30 minutes.
Chocolate Cake Storage
Store the one pan chocolate cake covered in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2-3 days or in the fridge for up to a week. Bring to room temperature before serving.
You can also freeze the cake whole or in slices. Cool completely then wrap in plastic wrap then foil to prevent freezer burn. Store in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. To thaw, remove from the freezer and place in the refrigerator still wrapped until completely thawed for about 24 hours.
Chocolate Cake recipe FAQs
A single layer chocolate cake with chocolate ganache would be so heavenly! Follow the ganache directions in my chocolate marble cake. You could also make a chocolate glaze or buttercream frosting if you would like.
While this has not been tested, it is possible that a cup for cup gluten free all purpose flour with xanthan gum may work. If you try this, let me know in the comments!
You may be able to use a flax egg for binding, but I have not tried that. If you try let me know!
Sure, while I don’t think it will make a whole pan, it is doable. After dividing the cupcake batter into the tin, bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. You may also just want to make this chocolate frosted cupcake recipe!
Yes, this recipe could be made in a 13”x 9” pan by doubling the ingredients. You may need to increase baking time. Start checking for doneness at 40 minutes and bake only until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
With its simplicity and convenience, this cake proves that you don’t need multiple bowls and complex techniques to create a delicious chocolate cake! Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply satisfying a sweet craving, this one-pan chocolate cake is the perfect cake recipe to try. So, grab your pan, gather your ingredients, and let’s bake! Enjoy.
More Chocolate Cake Recipes
- Chocolate Swiss Roll Cake
- Death by Chocolate Ice Cream Cake
- Small Chocolate Peppermint Cake
- Chocolate Pear Cake
- Chocolate Orange Brownies
One Pan Chocolate Cake
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil (I use sunflower or corn oil)
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate or good quality dark chocolate
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup milk (2% or whole milk)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg (room temperature)
- 1¼ cup cake/pastry flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup chocolate chips (I used mini semi sweet chips)
- ⅓ cup coarsely chopped walnuts (or hazelnuts or pecans)
- Pre-heat oven to 350F / 180C. Lightly spray an 8 inch round or square cake pan.
- In the cake pan add the oil and chocolate, heat in the oven for 2-3 minutes.
- Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven and add the sugar, water, milk, egg, flour, salt, baking soda and vanilla. Beat together with a fork or small whisk for approximately 2 minutes or until combined well.
- Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and then the nuts. Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached, after 30 minutes tent the cake with foil so it doesn't brown too much on top. Cool in the pan, then serve. Enjoy!