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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.

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143 thoughts on “Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Frosting”

  1. Ricky Tanner

    One of our favorites, thought it would be way to sweet with all that powdered sugar in it but wasn’t!

  2. The entire family loves this cake. My sister insists I make this every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  3. Joanne Whitmer

    This is a true 5 star recipe!!! It is our regular cake that is made a couple times a month. I like to try new recipes and follow her for more recipes but especially love the buttermilk cake collection of hers. I make for an older neighbor who always says ‘I was hoping it would be that one!’ Makes my husband happy and he helps make it sometimes. He is not a cook or baker but always willing to have this cake especially for his middle of the night cravings.

  4. Darlingtina

    I have tried this recipe many times but I wanted to know if I could substitute butter for oil in making the cake batter. Will it still give me the same result?

  5. I have made this cake a dozen times, and it’s always been perfect. Tonight I made it, and the texture is dough-y with no flavor or sweetness. What could it be? I followed directions exactly.

  6. This is my new favorite cake! I like it far better than the sheet cake. Baked the cake 40 minutes and it was perfect. The icing is amazing! Be sure to let it cool before spreading it over the warm cake. Everyone loved it!

  7. Kathy stewart

    Delicious; however the cake was super dense, and too much wet texture. I wondered if baking powder instead of soda would result more of a fluffy sheet cake-type texture?

  8. cake did not turn out. the icing did not set up on cake and harden. really disappointed to spend the time on it and it not look the same as the picture. read the recipe several times and could not figure out what i did wrong.

  9. I’ve made this cake more times than I can count. It is always a crowd pleaser and doesn’t last very long! Ingredient-wise I change nothing, however, I have found the icing thickens easier when I beat the sugar in using my kitchenaid or a hand mixer. I add the nuts in afterwards and then pour it on top. Works like a charm every time!

    Sometimes I poke holes in the cake before pouring the icing on too.

    Either way you can’t go wrong with this recipe!

  10. Darlingtina

    Hello I have tried this recipe so many times and I think it’s absolutely delicious.
    I wanted to ask, will it be okay to substitute butter for vegetable oil in the recipe?

  11. We made this and it is so moist and delicious. We substituted Smart Balance in place of the Challenge butter and cut back some on the amount of butter in the frosting. This recipe is better than a lot of the other Texas Sheet cake recipes out there. We loved it.

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

  13. 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!!

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