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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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143 thoughts on “Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Frosting”

  1. 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!

  2. 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?

  3. Eleanor lafler

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

  4. Melissa wallace

    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

  5. 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. Noah Hendrix

      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

  6. 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?

  7. 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!

  8. JoAnne Nicholson

    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.

  9. 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!!

  10. Jeanette Stevens

    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!

  11. 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. Made this cake tonight. Cake is awesome. Icing is delicious but overwhelming. Cake is really great alone

    2. Patricia Roberts

      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!

  12. 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!!

  13. Elissa Anderson

    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!

  14. Jordan Bell

    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

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

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