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.

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


Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Frosting
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
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.
Course: Cake
Cuisine: Southern
Servings: 18
Calories: 471 kcal
Author: Christin Mahrlig
  • 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
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9X13-inch pan.
  2. 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.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  4. Gradually add melted butter mixture, beating until mixed.
  5. 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.
  6. To make frosting, combine butter, cocoa, and buttermilk in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth.
  7. 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.

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40 thoughts on “Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Frosting

  1. 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

  2. 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 … )

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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:)

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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?

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