Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Frosting

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A moist and delicious chocolate cake made with buttermilk and cocoa powder and  topped with a homemade chocolate frosting that’s plenty sweet. The frosting has a little crunch here and there from some toasted pecans. They taste so good with chocolate.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

With buttermilk in the batter and in the frosting, this cake makes good use of Buttermilk. Do you find that you frequently have a carton of Buttermilk at the back of the fridge that’s about to go bad? I almost always seem to.


This is a simple, old-fashioned cake that is always a winner. It’s basically a Texas Sheet Cake except instead of baking it in the typical jelly roll pan (half sheet pan), I’ve made it in a 9X13-inch pan so that it is a little thicker. Chocolate Buttermilk Cake is both light and insanely rich at the same time. It’s very difficult not to go back for another bite. And another. And another. It will keep calling out your name until every last bit is gone.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with chocolate icing.

One minute, you’ll be swooning over it, professing your love. The next minute you’ll be telling it how much hate it for making you eat too much.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

That’s why this cake should only be baked for a potluck or a party where there are boatloads of people and there is no chance there will be any left over.

The frosting is easily assembled in a saucepan and takes only a few minutes. Still warm when poured on top of the cake, it forms an absolutely irresistible fudgy layer. It’s the frosting that really makes the cake. What’s really nice about it is it just naturally spreads itself out over the cake. You only need a spatula to help even it out a little bit.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

That’s my kind of cake frosting. I know there are many people who enjoy the labor intensiveness of frosting a 3-layer cake. But I’m not one of them. By that point all I’m thinking is, I want a piece of this cake. Let’s hurry this up.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with chocolate icing

That being said, you do need to wait a little while for the frosting to cool and set up before you slice it and take a piece out, or all the frosting will run into that empty spot. Unless you stuff the empty spot with a wad of aluminum foil and tilt the pan ever so slightly to make it harder for the frosting to move in that direction. I’m not saving I’ve done that before.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

 Watch the video below to see how to make Chocolate Buttermilk Cake.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Frosting

Course: Cake
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 18
Calories: 471kcal
Author: Christin Mahrlig
A moist and chocolaty buttermilk cake topped with a sweet and fudgy chocolate buttermilk frosting with pecans. A simple, old-fashioned dessert that never goes out of style because it's so darn good.
Print Recipe



  • 1 cup Challenge butter
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Chocolate-Buttermilk Frosting

  • 1 cup Challenge butter
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 (16-ounce) package confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9X13-inch pan.
  • Combine 1 cup butter, 1/3 cup cocoa, and 1 cup water in a small saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until butter is fully melted. You can cut the butter into pieces to speed up the process. Remove from heat.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  • Gradually add melted butter mixture, beating until mixed.
  • In a medium bowl, combine sugar, flour, and salt. Add to buttermilk mixture and beat until blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until set in the middle.
  • To make frosting, combine butter, cocoa, and buttermilk in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth.
  • Remove from heat and stir in confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and pecans. Pour over cake while cake is still warm. Let frosting cool and set some before slicing.


Calories: 471kcal

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.


103 thoughts on “Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Frosting

  1. I made this for my aunt’s 81st Birthday! She loves chocolate and so do I. It was absolutely delicious!💜

  2. This was an easy recipe and great way to use buttermilk! Turned out exactly like the pic! This cake is big on calories, but is the “featured” Easter dessert this year and will be shared with many friends and family members! Thanks for the awesome recipe!!

  3. This is a recipe my mother used to make and I have been making it for years! It was called “Chocolate Wet Cake”, it is very similar to Texas Sheet Cake as well. It is so yummy and delicious! The moistness of the cake makes it irresistible! A Chocolate Lovers Dream come true!

  4. This is the second time I made this. I’m not usually that into cakes but this was delicious! One question, do you recommend refrigerating it?

  5. Cake very good but will not make frosting Again, it is very messy
    I so is really messy will cook frosting next time

  6. I made this cake for my 3 year olds birthday..BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE IVE EVER HAD! my mother in Love had 2 pieces, this is seriously a quick and easy cake to make and very moist and delicious! Thank u so much for the recipe

  7. Excellent cake! I love that it’s in a 9×13 pan…gives it a lot more depth and flavor in my opinion. Very rich and decadent, just the way I love it! Thanks!

    1. Most rateings are fake but I hate cake but I love this cake I had to tell myself no. 4 in a half stars because too much sugar

  8. Can you make the frosting and then refrigerate it to use later, and if you do, would you have to reheat it to make it spreadable?

  9. I have made this recipe countless times. The ‘frosting’ absolutely compliments the rich cake and it is a snap to make. I don’t change a thing! The cake is rich and the frosting is amazing as it soaks into the cake just a bit. This recipe will be in my recipe box forever!

  10. I made this today for a family to have after a funeral service when they all gather for dinner and fellowship. It was so easy to mix up. It came together so quickly even making the yummy homemade frosting. I was very happy to take it to the family, one of the children saw it as I went in and said I’ll take some of “that!” It doesn’t take much to help each other, ESPECIALLY. When we all share with each other. ThankYOU for sharing this delicious recipe.

  11. Best and most simple chocolate cake recipe I’ve ever made and I love to bake. I did use 1/2 the frosting which was perfect. Thank you for this recipe!!

  12. Made this cake after dinner one night this week. Easy to follow recipe and absolutely the moistest cake I’ve had in a long time. My frosting came out thin as I tried to half the recipe and didn’t have an exact 16 ounce box of powdered sugar. My guesstimate of 1/2 was probably too short and but the warm sweet topping was served over the warm cake ~ chocolate goodness! I will definitely make this again as it disappeared in three short evenings!

  13. This is a delicious cake recipe. The next time I make it, I’m going to try halfing the frosting recipe or either make two cake recipes as it was a lot of frosting for one cake. Since the frosting is so rich, I think making it a smaller amount on the cake would still be very good.

    1. I haven’t tasted a cake this good in a long while. Thus is nd time I’ve made it. I gave 2 big pieces to a neighbor. But I have to tell you over a matter of a few days I ate all of the rest myself. And I’ve been trying to get another one made for weeks. I finally decided tonight I was doing it. Cakes in the oven. I still have to make frosting. I would recommend this recipe to everyone .

      1. Patricia…I’m with you, this is the BEST cake I’ve had in a long time. My husband found it on the net and made it last night. It sure is a WINNER!

  14. Best chocolate cake I ever made! Very moist! The icing absorb into the cake while its still warm and creates and melty, gooey, almost fudge brownie-like cake!! Thanks!!

  15. Wow. I made this with the leftover blackberry pulp I got from my steam juicer during a jelly-making day and I spread the pulp in the buttered pan before pouring the cake batter over it. Can’t wait for it to come out of the oven!

  16. when you say frost when warm, does the cake need to cool a while before frosting or can you frost right out of the oven? sorry to be technical

  17. This sounds like my mothers buttermilk brownies she use to make and I lost my recipe for them. I am sure going to make this cake.

  18. OM GOODNESS!!! This cake is heaven! My family loved it! I love it because it’s rich and has just the right amount of cocoa. This cake is perfect for or the dark chocolate lover! I always add a teaspoon of cinnamon to it because that’s the way I like it😉… thank you for sharing. I’m so glad I found this recipe!

  19. Oh my! This is the same cake my great grandmother made. I have her recipe, make it on occasion, our whole family calls it The Mommy Gilla Chocolate Turtle Creek cake. Haha. Her name was Gilla Blanton and she was from Langley, Kentucky. Best cake ever.

  20. This cake is amazing! I cut the sugar in the cake down by a third as it seemed like a lot (we don’t eat sweets much), which was perfect for us – but left the icing as is. My husband declared this his new favourite cake!

  21. Thank you so much! I work in a small school (SW Cornwall, UK) and took this in today as a staff room suprise. It was just to put a tea break smile on faces in the christmas run up mayhem, and I called it ‘Chocolate Tuesday Treat’. Oh, happy staff – they loved it! Next week I’m going to surprise them with your Apple Crisp Coffee Cake!

  22. Don’t know what I did wrong, but this did not turn out like a “cake” at all……was just dense and thick. No lightness to it at all…….

    1. Old fashioned cakes are dense and immensely more flavorful than any you can buy or make with modern recipes. You did nothing wrong, it’s just different. I grew up on those flavors and when I saw the cake slabs, I thought I was in heaven. Gotta make it soon.

  23. I poured the frosting on the cake about 5 minutes after removing it from the oven. It looks like most of the frosting has disappeared down the sides of the cake. How long do you recommend waiting to pour the frosting after the cake comes out of the oven?

      1. Although I read this review and did as suggested, pour down slowly in the center, this happened to me too. I don’t know what went wrong. But the cake is so yummy!

    1. have been making this cake fir years, Cut it from a mag–called buttermilk brownies also make it in a 9×13 pan. My children(and now my grands )like the thicker version. If I don’t need the whole cake I freeze the rest take a few pieces when ever you get a craving! !!

  24. Oh wow! I have just made this cake this morning and I have had eaten two pieces already. It is so moist and yummy.
    I live alone so as with a lot of recipes I make I half the ingredients for a half size cake as I have with this one. The fact it has turned out so well I will make a full size one next time and give my friend half for her family as I do with a lot of cakes I make , ( stops me eating to much cake) she will love this one.
    Like you say , the buttermilk sitting in my fridge was nearly forgotten AGAIN ,so I quickly looked up a recipe with buttermilk in and so glad I found this one.
    Thank you for this, definitely a regular favourite in my baking.
    Got to stop myself eating anymore until tomorrow now!

    1. It really is a delicious cake isn’t it Janis. I have to give away most of it or I keep going back for another piece. Good idea to make a full cake and take half to your friend next time. I am sure she will appreciate it! 🙂

  25. This recipe came down thru our family a LONG time ago. My husband’s retired, in his 70s, and I got this from his grandmother at one of those “give the bride your fave recipe ” wedding showers. Over 50 yrs ago now. And she got it from HER mother , so we’re talking probably late 1800s. 😄 Slight variation in ours is no buttermilk in the icing; just a few tablespoons of regular milk. I’ve also been known to spread icing on half the cake w/out nuts for those who don’t eat them; then add nuts to the remaining half for those who do! It’s fantastic to see this almost identical recipe being passed around after all the years. Just goes to show that great food never goes away!!

  26. I made this Friday and it was gone by early Tuesday. Soooo good. If you want something really great, slightly warm the cake then add some vanilla ice cream, OH MAN!!

  27. I made this for my boyfriend’s birthday. His entire family loved it and it was eaten faster than any other dessert we had during Memorial Day weekend. As others have mentioned I was also concerned that my batter was too thin and that it wouldn’t rise and become cake-ish…but it did! I had to cook it about 10 minutes longer than suggested, but that’s pretty typical for my oven. The frosting was fantastic too. I love that I just had to pour it over the finished cake and spread it around a little. We ate it about 4 hours after I initially cooked it and I think that was a perfect amount of time for the frosting to set a little. I’ll definitely make this again.

    1. Glad you said your batter was running, I thought I might have done something wrong, mines in the oven now can’t wait to try it!

  28. This is by far the best homemade chocolate cake I have ever baked. At first I had my doubts because the batter was so thin, but the end result was so perfect!

  29. The original (in my experience) Texas Cake when baked in a jelly roll pan. A long time favorite in my recipe collection. I use a little cinnamon as one other suggested.

  30. My grandmother cooked in the public school system for 22 years. This was one of her favorite recipes

    1. I went to school in Jasper Florida and we had it in our cafeteria in the 60s. I always wanted the recipe, thank you.

  31. add 1 tsp of cinnamon to the cake—adds a little zing to the flavor—-i use a jellyroll pan for baking as it is somewhat bigger than the 9×13 and the pieces are more like brownie sized

  32. I made this yesterday. So this cake is really dense, right? I thought maybe I did something wrong because I had to cook it about 35 minutes and it just didn’t look like a cake normally looks. But I swear it tastes better today than it did yesterday. It’s almost brownie like but so tender. Anyway I love it.

    1. I keep this cake in the frig …. and its delicious cold or remove from frig and wait 15-30 minutes before you eat it ( If you can wait that long ! LOL it is delicious … )

  33. This cake sounds delicious, how many cups of icing sugar would I use for the frosting? Thanking you in advance for your reply.

  34. This cake looked so good, I had to make it! My friend Nicole and I made it together; unfortunately, the frosting never seemed to set. I’m thinking to try it again and see if the same thing happens.

  35. Has this recipe been used for cupcakes? If so, how long do you leave in the oven and temperature? Thanks!!

  36. I love old-fashioned chocolate cakes and this one looks awesome! 3 layer cakes are great for special occasions but when I’m making a cake for my family to just enjoy – I would much prefer a cake like this one – it sounds delicious and perfect for a potluck too:)

  37. Wow – that frosting looks insanely good! I do like a 3-4 layer cake, but will gladly dig into a slice of this with THAT frosting! Thanks for sharing this amazing cake AND frosting recipe!

  38. I love collecting good recipes using buttermilk because like you said, there’s always extra buttermilk left! I love a good chocolate cake and this looks great. Love the extra height in it going with the 9×13 pan. This is so perfect for pot luck and summer picnics coming up.

    1. I always have buttermilk lingering in the back of the fridge. I know you can freeze it, but it would stay in my freezer forever if I did that:)Definitely a perfect cake for picnics! Have a great week Monica!

  39. Love your recipe and love the layout of your ziplist plugin. Any change you can share how to do that? I have been playing around a bit but not able to change the layout of prep time cook time total time, Could you tell me what do I need to add to the stylesheet?

      1. This has been my very favorite cake for years. Once while making it, two little neighbor girls were watching me. When I added the buttermilk, they both made gagging sounds and wrinkled up their noses. They thought I was going to add chocolate milk – not buttermilk, of all things. But, after it was done and they had a small slice, their whole opinion of buttermilk changed. By the way, I am a native Texan. We all call it Texas Sheet Cake. But it doesn’t matter where you live or what you call it. It’s always delicious!

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