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Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Frosting

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.

Square of Chocolate Buttermilk Cake on parchment paper.


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.

If you make this cake and still have extra buttermilk try making Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Pie, Buttermilk Pancakes or Buttermilk Parmesan Pork Chops.

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.

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.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

Fudgy Frosting

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.

Buttermilk Substitute

If you don’t have any buttermilk you can make a buttermilk substitute by placing a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar in a glass measuring glass and filling to the 1 cup line with milk. Stir.

Recipe Tips

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.

Use full-fat buttermilk.

The pecans can be left out if you need a nut-free dessert.


Cake can be kept at room temperature for 4 to 5 days if wrapped well.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with chocolate icing

This chocolate cake is my new favorite! It has the perfect amount of sweetness and a great texture. My only problem with this cake is that I can’t stop eating it!

More Chocolate Cake Recipes

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

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

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Frosting

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.
PREP: 15 minutes
COOK: 30 minutes
TOTAL: 45 minutes



  • 1 cup 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 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.


I use salted butter. If using unslated butter, you may want to add a pinch of salt to the batter and frosting.
Nutritional info is provided as an estimate only and will vary based on brands of products used.


Calories: 455kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 276mg | Potassium: 98mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 48g | Vitamin A: 677IU | Vitamin C: 0.03mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1mg
Author: Christin Mahrlig
Course: Cake
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: chocolate cake

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Originally posted May 4, 2017.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.

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145 thoughts on “Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Frosting”

  1. Would there need to be any adjustments (like baking time or heat) in order to use this recipe for cupcakes?:)


  2. I made this today and (admittedly) it’s just for me and my husband so it’ll be around for a few days. How should I store it? In the fridge or is on the counter okay?

  3. It’s a small recipe to my husband guy and I live in a little camper travel train ing and I don’t have a big oven Thailand toaster oven so could I make this in an 8×8 pan

  4. This chocolate cake is my new favorite! It has the perfect amount of sweetness and a great texture. My only problem with this cake is that I can’t stop eating it!

  5. Dude you’re all over the damn place with this recipe . Saying to add melted butter ! No where in your recipe for the cake you mention anything about needing butter as a main ingredient. Only the frosting needed butter

  6. I adore that you informed me about this article since I think it’s amazing. That is exactly what I was hoping to discover, and I sincerely hope you will continue to share such excellent stuff in the years to come. foodle

  7. I’ve made this recipe many times, it’s my husband’s favorite.
    We have moved to a elevation of 5200’, and wondered if I need to adjust.

  8. I love this cake!! I have been making a version of it for years! I like this icing best but I do put 1 tsp cinnamon in my batter but only because that’s what I’m use to!!

  9. Lisa Strange

    This seriously is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made! It will be my go to chocolate cake from here on out!!

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