Today we’re making a super simple little single-layer chocolate cake. It’s kind of like your go-to chocolate snack cake for when you just want a quick and easy cake fix.

I’m super into really simple cakes and this is such a yummy one! I’m going for a fluffy, chocolatey, and easy to make cake here, with a dense and deeply delicious frosting. Let’s get to it!

How to Make Single Layer Chocolate Cake

I love this recipe because you can just whisk the whole thing together by hand- I’m a huge fan of just being able to throw it together quickly without using an appliance!

Perfect Single Layer Chocolate Cake

We’re starting off by whisking together the sugar and oil until combined. Add in the eggs and vanilla, and you should have something like this:

Then we’re going to start adding in the dry and wet ingredients in alternating additions until everything is whisked up smooth!

Then the cake is off to the oven to bake. You can bake your cake in a square or a round cake pan, but just be sure to grease the pan before baking, and cool the cake completely before frosting.

I’m going for a simple chocolate cream cheese frosting made dense and delicious with cocoa powder and melted chocolate. It’s super yummy, very chocolatey, and easy to whip up. See my tips below for troubleshooting American buttercream!

The Best Single Layer Chocolate Cake

Frost your cooled cake, slice, and enjoy. It’s that easy!

Easy Single Layer Chocolate Cake

Tips & Tricks For This Single Layer Chocolate Cake

This cake is super simple to make, and here are all my tips and tricks to help you along the way!

  • Whisk this cake by hand for an easy-to-whip-up cake, and to ensure that you don’t over mix your batter.
  • Use dutch-processed cocoa for both the cake and frosting. I have always found that using dutch-processed cocoa powder for high-altitude baking is a must. You’ll get a deeper chocolate flavor! I love Rodelle, Ghirardelli, and Hershey’s Special Dark (the Hershey’s option is most readily available in stores where I live).
  • Use all room temperature ingredients for your buttercream. This includes the butter, cream cheese, and melted chocolate. This is a vital step for American buttercream- if you skip it, your buttercream will likely split.
  • Add your melted chocolate last to your buttercream to help prevent splitting- melted chocolate helps fix a broken buttercream, so it’s good to add it in last to help bring everything together.
  • What do I do if my buttercream splits? You can put the whole bowl in the fridge for 5 minutes, re-whip, and repeat 3-4 times until the buttercream comes together again.
  • I’m at about 5,000 ft above sea level, and I typically find that most people who live between about 3,000-7,000 ft above sea level do not need to make any adjustments to my recipes.

Hope you guys enjoy this one!

5 from 1 vote

Single Layer Chocolate Cake

Servings 8 slices


For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cups dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup brewed, cooled coffee

For the frosting:

  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 oz melted dark chocolate
  • 1-2 tbs buttermilk


For the cake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease an 8-inch square or round cake pan with baking spray. Optionally, line the pan with parchment paper for easy removal.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, and set the mixture aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil until well combined. Then whisk in the egg and vanilla extract. In your measuring cup, stir together the buttermilk and coffee.
  3. Add about 1/3 of the dry mixture into your sugar mixture, stirring until just combined. Then add about half of your buttermilk mixture, again stirring until just combined. Continue alternating until all of the flour mixture and all of the buttermilk mixture have been added. You should have a smooth batter. Pour your batter into your prepared baking pan, and bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cake completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

  1. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder until well combined and thick. Then beat in the vanilla extract, salt, and melted dark chocolate. Add in 1-2 tablespoons of buttermilk to reach your desired consistency for spreading on top. Frost your cake as desired, slice and enjoy!


  1. Karen

    April 24, 2022 at 1:57 pm

    Could I double recipe and bake in 9 x 13 pan? Thanks!

    • Dough-Eyed

      May 7, 2022 at 4:02 pm

      Hi there! Yes, you can double it for a 9×13- it may take a little longer to bake, so be sure to use the toothpick test!

  2. Robin

    April 24, 2022 at 2:16 pm

    5 stars
    I definitely can’t wait to make this cake. It’s the perfect size for 1 person. I went to make it today but I forgot to pick up more flour. It would have made for my dessert or snack after dinner but it’s my loss. But I’m definitely going to make it this week! Maybe you can get answer a question I have. Can this cake be baked in a AIR FRYER?

    • Dough-Eyed

      May 7, 2022 at 4:03 pm

      Hi there! It's such a yummy one! I actually don't have an air fryer so I'm not sure how that would work, I'm sorry! But my understanding is that air fryers work similarly to convection ovens- I would think you'd need the temp reduced because of that.

  3. Jenna

    April 29, 2022 at 2:34 pm

    You read my mind – I came on here looking for a recipe exactly like this, and this was the most recent thing you posted. Thanks!

    • Dough-Eyed

      May 7, 2022 at 4:05 pm


  4. Jenna

    April 30, 2022 at 9:04 am

    Update: The cake turned out beautifully! Chocolate cake has been my nemesis at high elevation. But I have now made three of your chocolate cake recipes, and they all turned out perfectly. Thank you! I will note for this recipe, I only used about half the frosting – and I LOVE frosting! It just was a lot for this little cake. 🙂

    • Dough-Eyed

      May 7, 2022 at 4:05 pm

      So glad you liked it! I definitely go hard on the frosting haha!


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