Devil’s Food Cake

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This Devil’s Food Cake is a traditional chocolate cake that is light and fluffy and has a moist crumb. It’s made with cocoa powder, buttermilk, and NO coffee!

A close up of a slice of delicious moist Devil's Food Cake with chocolate frosting.

I have been working on this chocolate cake recipe for quite awhile now. At first I wanted to make a chocolate cake that could replace a box mix and make a 2 layer cake, a 9×13 or 24 cupcakes.

But after SEVERAL failed attempts I threw in the towel and admitted defeat, lol.

I decided it’s best to make a recipe for each of them instead of an “all in one”. So this is my version of Devil’s Food Cake.

This Chocolate Cake Is:

  • Easy to make
  • Light and fluffy
  • Has a tender crumb
  • Moist
  • Tastes better than the boxed kind!
  • And doesn’t use any coffee!
Ingredients to make a delicious devil's food cake!


BUTTER: As I looked through old cookbooks I found that a lot of them used butter so I decided to stick with it. Make sure your butter is at ROOM temperature. This will affect the outcome of your cake if it isn’t!

SUGAR: I am using both white and brown sugar. Many recipes had different ratios and some didn’t use brown sugar. Since I am not using coffee I knew I needed brown sugar since baking soda needs something acidic to activate it.

EGGS: 4 large ROOM temperature eggs are needed for this recipe. Yes, the temperature of your ingredients matters!

COCOA POWDER: This recipe is using natural unsweetened cocoa powder and not dutch processed. The two are not easily interchangeable and unless you are very experienced with baking I don’t suggest switching the two in recipes.

ALL PURPOSE FLOUR: Cake flour is not suitable for chocolate cakes because cake flour is too fine and when combined with cocoa powder which is also very fine your cake will not have the proper structure. Instead, it will be flimsy and will hold up to any buttercream.

BAKING SODA AND BAKING POWDER: Both are needed in this recipe to give the cake lift. The brown sugar and buttermilk activate the baking soda and combined with the baking powder give this cake an extra boost!

SALT: A very important ingredient in baking!! It provides flavor, yes even in baking!

BUTTERMILK: I decided to stray from the classic Devil’s Food Cake recipes and instead of hot coffee or water I used buttermilk. I am not a fan of coffee and yes, I can taste it in desserts! So, I left it out. Buttermilk also helps keep the cake moist because cocoa powder is a very drying ingredient.

Showing the steps to making the chocolate cake batter.

The How-To:

DRY INGREDIENTS: Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

RIBBONING: This is an old fashioned method used instead of the more modern version of creaming. I saw several old fashioned cake recipes using this method. It whips the eggs with the sugar until they double in size. This aerates the cake giving it tenderness and also helps prevent a dense cake.

DRY WITH WET: Now we will alternate the flour and buttermilk. Adding the flour in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 additions. Be sure to scrape the bowl after each addition to ensure everything is mixed in well.

BAKE: Divide the batter evenly between 2 prepared 9″ cake pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a FEW crumbs attached. Try not to overbake your chocolate cakes because it can dry them out. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before turning out to cool on a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.

FROSTING: Beat the butter on high speed until pale in color. Add remaining ingredients and beat on low until combined then on high until light and fluffy.

Big scoops of chocolate frosting on top of the cake waiting to be spread around.

What is the difference between a chocolate cake and devil’s food cake?

This is actually a little hard to answer because Devil’s Food Cake has changed over the years.

But the main difference is chocolate cakes use melted chocolate and Devil’s Food uses cocoa powder. They also use more baking soda which is what gives it that slightly reddish tint.

Two pictures of a finished chocolate cake frosted with chocolate frosting. An overhead view is showing the pretty swirls in the frosting.

What frosting pairs best with this chocolate cake?

After researching I found it was most typically paired with a 7 minute frosting (which happens to be my favorite) or sometimes a meringue buttercream. I chose to be a rebel and cover it in chocolate frosting because I can’t get enough chocolate, lol!

A large slice of chocolate cake with a smooth chocolate frosting is being lifted from the cake.

More Indulgent Chocolate Desserts

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5 from 4 votes
A large slice of chocolate cake with a smooth chocolate frosting is being lifted from the cake.
Devil’s Food Cake
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
2 hrs
Total Time
3 hrs

This Devil's Food Cake is a traditional chocolate cake that is light and fluffy and has a moist crumb. It's made with cocoa powder, buttermilk, and NO coffee!

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chocolate cake, classic devil’s food cake recipe, devil’s food cake
Servings: 12
Calories: 724 kcal
Author: Malinda Linnebur
  • cup (170g) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 1 cup (200g) packed brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 cups (250g) all purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • ¾ cup (65g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned and leveled)
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • cups (300ml) buttermilk
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • cups (375g) confectioners’ sugar
  • cup (50g) cocoa powder, natural or dutch processed
  • 5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 9" cake pans with parchment paper, grease the sides, and set aside.

  2. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt together in a large bowl; set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment beat the eggs on medium just until combined. Add the sugars and beat on high until light and fluffy and doubled in size.

  3. Fit mixer with the paddle attachment and add butter a little at a time (about 1 tablespoon at a time), and mix for 10 seconds after each addition scraping the bowl as needed. The batter may appear curdled and that is OK. Add the vanilla.

  4. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of buttermilk mixing just until incorporated after each addition. Scrape down the bowl as needed. After the additions mix on medium speed just until thoroughly combined.

  5. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing from the pans to cool completely on wire racks.

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter until pale in color. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low until combined then beat on high until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). If the frosting seems too thin add a little confectioners' sugar. If it is too thick add a little more cream.

  1. Place 1 cake layer on a serving platter or cake stand. Spread an even layer over the top. Place second cake layer on top and frost the top and sides with remaining frosting. If desired make pretty swirls in the the frosting.

  2. Store cake in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Recipe Notes
  1. MAKE AHEAD: Completely cooled cakes can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to 1 day or refrigerated for up to 2 days. Frosting can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Allow everything to come to room temperature before frosting. May need to beat the frosting again before frosting the cake. 
  2. FREEZER FRIENDLY: Completely cooled cakes can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap then in foil and frozen for up to 3 months. Frosted cake can be wrapped in the same manner and frozen for up to 3 months as well. 
  3. Buttermilk: I don’t recommend making a DIY version of buttermilk for this cake. I haven’t tested it so I can’t say how it will turn out. 
  4. High Altitude: Use 1 teaspoon baking soda and ¾ teaspoon baking powder
Nutrition Facts
Devil's Food Cake
Amount Per Serving (1 slice)
Calories 724 Calories from Fat 405
% Daily Value*
Fat 45g69%
Saturated Fat 28g175%
Cholesterol 162mg54%
Sodium 628mg27%
Carbohydrates 85g28%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 65g72%
Protein 7g14%
Calcium 122mg12%
Iron 6mg33%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the information shown is just an estimate.

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