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The Best Chocolate Cake Ever with Pudding Frosting

{The Best} Chocolate Cake with Pudding Frosting from
It’s my birthday today and I made myself a chocolate cake…a cake I call the best chocolate cake ever.

After having a facebook conversation, we all agreed it’s not sad at all when you make your own birthday cake. It started after my husband told how sad it was when I told him my plan. I didn’t think it was at all…I get what I want! Don’t you agree?

What makes this cake so amazing and the best ever? I really think it’s the coffee and the buttermilk. Coffee in chocolate cakes just brings the chocolate flavor to a new level and it doesn’t taste like coffee AT ALL. The buttermilk lends to the moistness of this cake. The frosting is the perfect ending to this cake. It’s fluffy and tastes amazing. Remember though because there’s cream cheese and milk in the frosting, the frosting and the cake (after it’s frosted) has to be refrigerated.

I have posted this chocolate cake recipe before…it was the first ever post on The Little Kitchen. If you go looking at that post, please don’t make fun of those pictures! I already know how bad they are!

In that post, I talked about a whipped frosting (made with pudding) that I would share and I realized I never did so when I told myself I’m baking my own birthday cake…I thought I would share that recipe along with some of my tips for baking cakes.

I learned this from my Wilton cake decorating instructor. I cut out pieces of wax paper that measure the same size as the bottom of the cake pans. Using a silicon brush, I spread Wilton Cake Release on the sides and inside bottom of the pan. Place the wax paper inside the pan and you have a non-stick surface. This cake batter is very wet and if you don’t do this, you’re likely to have the cake stick on the inside of your pan.

Once the cakes are done, allow them to cool inside the pan on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes before flipping them onto the cooling rack. Once you remove them from the pan, be sure to peel off the wax paper and allow the cakes to cool completely before adding the frosting.

I usually don’t have buttermilk on hand but I always have buttermilk powder in my fridge. The brand I use, it’s 4 Tbsp of buttermilk powder to 1 cup of water. A tip to keep the oil from sticking too much in your measuring cup, I measure the water first then add the oil.

I actually measure all of my wet ingredients first and have them set aside before I start sifting the flour.

I always sift the flour and cocoa powder. Something else I usually do when I make this cake is measure enough out for several more cakes…in separate bowls and then place my newly made “cake mix” into plastic zippered bags with labels for what it is and date it. Homemade cake mix makes it way convenient later for making cupcakes or a tasty cake in the future…all you have to do is add the wet ingredients and bake!

Doesn’t that cake look super moist?

I love this frosting. First mix the instant vanilla pudding mix with milk. In a separate bowl, whip the cream cheese and then add the cool whip and mix thoroughly. Then add the pudding and mix thoroughly.

Torting (cutting the cake length-wise to create multiple layers) this cake is necessary so you get more frosting per square inch of cake. :) I usually use a cake leveler but I haven’t been able to find it since we have our office torn upside down during a remodel. Using a knife and just being very careful, slice the cake lengthwise to create two layers. When I finished, I had a four layer cake.

Here are some frosting shots…it looks like buttercream, doesn’t it? Nothing like it…it’s very fluffy and creamy. Don’t get me wrong, I love buttercream but I love a good whipped frosting too.

Almost there.

Nice, huh?

Almost done…

This is seriously the best chocolate cake ever. My co-worker calls me a cake snob…I’m sorry I guess I am.

I have some other news to share too. I got a new job! This is really bittersweet for me. I really love some of my co-workers, I’m going to miss them. I have worked for this company for almost 8 years and it feels like a family. But I have this awesome opportunity in this new company, I’ll have a lot of flexibility and will get to learn a whole lot. I love learning new things and I’m really excited about the work. I’m really excited that I’m going to get to travel a little bit too…I just can’t wait to start next month! But today, I’m sharing this cake with my co-workers whom I’m going to miss.

If you make any of recipes and decide to share them on instagram or twitter be sure to tag me @thelittlekitchn and use the hashtag #thelittlekitchenrecipes! I love seeing your posts and photos!

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever with Pudding Frosting

Yield: 10 servings

Prep Time: 45 min

Cook Time: 25 min

Total Time: 1 hr 10 min

...the best, that's all I have to say.


Chocolate Cake

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup baking cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup black strong coffee (1 Tbsp coffee with 8 oz boiling water)
1 cup buttermilk OR combine 1 Tbsp vinegar with 1 cup milk OR 1 cup equivalent of buttermilk powder & water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pudding Frosting
1 cup milk
(1) 3.4 ounce box instant vanilla pudding
8 ounce cream cheese (room temperature, leave out for at least an hour or two)
12 ounce tub of Cool Whip (put out on the counter 10-15 minutes before making the frosting)


Chocolate Cake
Grease a 13 x 9 inch cake pan (or two 9 inch round pans for round cake or makes about 36 cupcakes) and line the bottom of the pans with wax paper cut to size.

In a mixing bowl, sift all dry ingredients together. Then take a rubber spatula and thoroughly mix the dry ingredients together.

Mix in all of the wet ingredients and do a quick mix with your rubber spatula and then mix with an electric mixer until well blended but don't overmix.

Pour evenly between pans and bake at 350 degrees for 28-30 minutes or until after inserting a toothpick into the center of a cake, it reveals just crumbs.

Pudding Frosting
Mix vanilla pudding mix with milk in one bowl, using an electric mixer, until pudding sets. In another bowl whip up cream cheese using an electric mixer. Add cool whip to the cream cheese and mix together well.

Add vanilla pudding to the cream cheese-cool whip mixer and mix together well.

Store in the refrigerator until the cake cools. After frosting the cake, the cake will need to be stored in the refrigerator.

For best results, after frosting the cake, refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes before serving.

The first thing I do when making this recipe, is to brew the coffee. That way it's mostly cooled by the time I mix it in and it doesn't start cooking the eggs.

A great time saver tip (that I learned from a forum and use ALL of the time) is to mix all of your dry ingredients ahead of time and put in a plastic zip bag or a plastic container, this way when you're ready to bake, you just pour into your mixing bowl and add wet ingredients. It's kind of like making your own cake mix. Be sure it's sealed tight and you date the container so you know when you mixed it.

Cake recipe from Barefoot Contessa at Home. Frosting recipe from my friends, Joe & Tricia.

We love that you love to share our recipes with others. If you have a blog or website and want to repost the recipe, we just ask that you reword the instructions (easy peasy) and link back to give us credit and to use your own images at the same time. Please ask us permission before republishing our recipes and images. And here's a great article on how to properly attribute a recipe.

One more thing, I wanted to say happy birthday to my friend, Julie. We have the same name and birthday!

And huge thanks to our friends, Joe & Tricia, who introduced me to this recipe. I actually never really liked chocolate cake until I had Tricia’s cake!

For more awesome chocolate cake recipes:

Blackberry Red Wine Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting

Disclosure: This post does contain affiliate links.

98 Responses to “The Best Chocolate Cake Ever with Pudding Frosting”

  1. 41
    shelly (cookies and cups) — March 7, 2012 @ 4:09 pm

    That frosting sounds amazing! I could eat it with a spoon!


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  4. 42
    Alysha @Shesontherun — April 6, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

    Is it just me or would the frosting make an awesome pie filling :)


  5. 43
    Maria — April 11, 2012 @ 8:47 am

    Hi Julie,

    I made this cake yesterday for my little brother’s birthday! Actually, I had to make it into a trifle because I had a bit of a problem with a broken cake when I tried to turn it out while it was still a bit warm. Silly me! My brother and daughter said it tasted amazing anyhow! Thanks for your receipe and great website!!


  6. 44
    LesLee — April 26, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

    This recipe sounds amazing! Do you think the frosting would work well with chocolate pudding instead of vanilla? I usually make one with just the cool whip and pudding, but I like the idea of adding the cream cheese.


    • JulieD replied: April 26th, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

      Hi LesLee, ooh chocolate pudding sounds like a great idea!! If you try it, will you please let me know how it turns out? I would love to know!


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  8. 45
    Angie — May 4, 2012 @ 2:56 am

    How long do you boil the coffee for? And do you drain the grinds out or throw the whole thing in??


    • JulieD replied: May 4th, 2012 @ 9:00 am

      Hi Angie, I use a coffee maker so I don’t boil the coffee. And definitely no grinds go into the cake. I hope that helps!


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  10. 46
    Amy — May 14, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

    I love this cake and the frosting sooo much! The only difficult part for me was cutting the cake to make multiple layers-do you think it would work if you put half of the half of batter into the pan then put another piece of wax paper over it then pour the rest? Sorry if that was confusing, I just meant that separate the halves of cake batter by wax paper. I don’t know if this would work and of course I thought of it when I was cutting the cake-so it was too late. But just a thought if anyone else had as much trouble as I did :)


  11. 47
    Marie — May 31, 2012 @ 8:27 pm

    Hi Julie,
    I looove this cake! I’ve made it a couple of times now to rave reviews, and adore it myself. I have what may be considered a blashepmous question. I’d like to make this as a birthday cake for someone who does NOT like chocolate…I know, it’s just wrong that these people exist, but they are out there and still deserve our love. I still think this cake would be good even WITHOUT the cocoa, it’s super moist and the buttermilk and coffee would still give great flavor. Can you think of a good substitute for the cocoa? I thought I might give almond flour a try (not sure of ratio, but I could play with this)… Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks for your help,


    • JulieD replied: May 31st, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

      Hi Marie, so glad you enjoyed it! Gosh I don’t know…it seems like you would have to change the recipe quite a bit. If your friend doesn’t like chocolate, I would do a white almond sour cream cake and brush it with simple syrup before frosting it. If you google that or WASC cake, you should be able to find a recipe for that. Let me know what you end up doing! Good luck!


  12. 48
    Marie — June 1, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

    Hi there,
    Thanks so much for your reply, Julie! I found what I think is a great WASC recipe (kakeladi) online, and am very excited to try it. I want to use your icing on it. Question: what’s the purpose of brushing with the simple syrup before icing? Should this be done while the cake is still warm, or after cooling? As you may have surmised I’m not much of a baker. : )

    Also wanted to mention I made your chocolate cake for a St. Patty’s Day party and flavored the icing by adding a couple of tablespoons of Bailey’s Irish Cream. It was subtle, but gave it that little extra Irish something-something. Everyone loved it!

    I’ll let you know how my WASC turns out!
    Have a great weekend,
    San Diego


    • JulieD replied: June 1st, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

      Hi Marie,

      I recommend the simple syrup because the WASC cake I have made before was a teeny bit dry for my taste. The simple syrup will ensure the cake is moist. You can even add almond extract to your simple syrup too! I would do it after it’s cool and after torte it or cut it lengthwise (if you’re doing that). Oooh, adding Bailey’s to the icing is an awesome idea…I’ll have to try that! Thank you! Hope you have a nice weekend too!


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  14. 49
    S — June 7, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

    Hi Julie,

    The cake looks scrumptious! I was wondering, since I live in Finland, I can’t get my hands on Cool Whip. Any suggestions as to what to replace it with? Would regular whipped cream do? How about the instant vanilla pudding, what could I use as a substitute?



  15. 50
    Marie — July 4, 2012 @ 1:13 pm

    Happy Fourth Julie,
    Wanted to thank you for the WASC suggestion, my friend loved it. He hoarded that cake and ate it for several days! Your advice with the simple syrup was spot on, I added a touch of amaretto to this, and it really gave the cake an incredible moisture and flavor. I’m actually making this again today in the celebration of The 4th, topped it with some raspberries and blueberries to make it patriotic. Yum! Thanks again.


  16. 51
    Dani — September 16, 2012 @ 9:43 pm

    I made this today and it was fabulous. Thank you do much for sharing such a great (but easy!) recipe :)


  17. 52
    Kelly Olsen — November 4, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

    Just made this cake, just awesome!! If you love frosting like I do, I do suggest possibly doubling it,, kinda thin between layers, just as the cake is, frosting is awesome. This is now my new And only chocolate cake recipe…


    • Julie Deily replied: November 4th, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

      My favorite too, Kelly. So glad you enjoyed it! :)


  18. 53
    Dana — December 13, 2012 @ 8:19 pm

    My MIL makes a cake very similar to this… Except she adds mini chocolate chips into the icing.. Divine!


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  20. 54
    Karen Tannenbaum — January 20, 2013 @ 7:45 am

    Julie, thanks for sharing the cake. I too have always made my own birthday cake and it is nice to find someone else who does that. I don’t mind doing it and always get the cake I want. Usually my hardest decision is which cake do I want to make this year. I have several favorites. so, maybe this year I will try this chocolate cake recipe. I have one of those cake slicer things and have never used it…maybe this will be my opportunity. Thank you!


  21. 55
    letessha — January 24, 2013 @ 5:33 pm

    omg, this looks soooooooo good


  22. 56
    Stephanie Matos-Flores — January 24, 2013 @ 10:41 pm

    This cake looks so yummy and I would love to make it for my mother in law. Sadly she can’t have milk. Would water work as a substitute?


  23. 57
    DIane — January 31, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

    I am making this cake for my mother-in-law’s birthday today. It smells divine! Can’t wait to try the frosting. Question…my cakes kind of sunk in the middle in the over. Any idea why that would happen? Not sure if its just my stupid oven or something I did wrong. They are cooked through, just sunk a bit. oh well, more frosting in the middle, right? :)


  24. 58
    Charlene — March 18, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

    Our pudding packets come in 5.1 oz. packs. Do I just use a couple packages? Don’t want to mess up the consistancy


    • Julie Deily replied: March 18th, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

      Hi Charlene,

      Are you talking about for the frosting? The recipe calls only for a 3.4 oz box…so I would increase the other ingredients accordingly. Hope that helps!


      • christine replied: June 2nd, 2013 @ 3:44 pm

        You know your recipe says 13.4oz. right? I did it and was
        was thinking…this does NOT look like hers at all it’s yellow and has a rubbery
        consistency. :/


        • Julie Deily replied: June 2nd, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

          Hi Christine, I hope you got my email earlier. So sorry for the confusion, I fixed it to read (1) 3.4 ounce box of instant vanilla pudding.

  25. 59
    Brenda — March 22, 2013 @ 8:54 am

    My daughter requested a chocolate pudding cake for her birthday. After searching for many recipes I came across this one which sounded perfect. I am not a fan of cool whip so is there anything else I can use instead? What about real whipped cream? Thanks. I am looking forward to trying this!


    • Julie Deily replied: March 22nd, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

      Hi Brenda, you can definitely try using heavy cream and sugar and whipping it. I have never done this with this recipe but you can certainly try. As for measurements, I would try to make the same amount required for the cool whip. Let me know if you try it!


  26. 60
    Tina — April 9, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

    I made this cake today… it is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had! I used regular cream cheese frosting from the can tho but I rate this cake 5 stars!!! Thanks for the recipe.


  27. 61
    Ray ray — April 22, 2013 @ 2:23 am

    I never make comments on sites, but this recipe us sooo amazing that the least I could do is say THANJS!!! I made this cake for my mother in law’s b-day. Everyone LOVED it. I normally have cake leftover, but that did not happen today. Thanks for sharing the recipe, it was delicious!!!


  28. 62
    Sarah Jane — May 18, 2013 @ 12:54 am

    Hi Julie,
    I’ve been meaning to try that cake for a while since it looks so amaziinnggg! I finally got around to it tonight. The cake is simply delicious but I’ve had lots of trouble with the frosting. Instead of using store-bought Cool Whip, I made homemade whipped cream. Unfortunately, when mixed with the cream cheese, it went flat. Any idea what could I do if I don’t want to use store-bought Cool Whip?? Still tasted awesome though :)


  29. 63
    christine — June 10, 2013 @ 10:33 am

    Cake came out amazing! Made it for a birthday cake and everyone raved about it, especially my husband…will be making this again soon! Thank you for sharing the recipe!


  30. 64
    Karen — June 30, 2013 @ 4:13 pm

    Hi Julie,

    My friends and family love this cake so i make it a lot.
    My frosting always comes out with a yellow tinge to it. How does yours come out so white? What brand of pudding mix do you use?



  31. 65
    May — August 3, 2013 @ 4:41 pm

    we dont have coffee at our house, only espresso… what do you suggest I do?


    • Julie Deily replied: August 5th, 2013 @ 8:34 am

      Hi May, you can definitely use espresso, I would use a shot or two and add enough water to make it 1 whole cup. Hope that helps!


  32. 66
    PattieJune — November 26, 2013 @ 10:42 pm

    I only use reddi whip as the ingredients are healthier. wonderful recipe


  33. 67
    Pathmay — January 15, 2014 @ 1:28 pm

    Cake was fine- but frosting turned out lumpy and yellow. I think because the vanilla puddling was yellow- but it did not look like the picture – tasted good though!
    Any ideas why it was not smooth?


    • Julie Deily replied: January 22nd, 2014 @ 8:58 am

      Hi Pathmay, depending on the lighting and I use French vanilla pudding, sometimes my frosting comes out yellowish too. The cream cheese needs to be room temperature and the Cool Whip should sit out for a little bit. If the cream cheese is cold or too cold, I notice I will get lumps too. Hope that helps!!


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  35. 68
    renee — February 18, 2014 @ 3:40 pm

    Does this cake and frosting last for a couple of days? Or can I freeze it once it’s iced? I’m actually going to use this cake as a sculpting cake so have multiple steps to do after making the initial cake one of which is making a jello pond carved into it so need time for that to set as well.


  36. 69
    Pamela M. — July 19, 2014 @ 7:57 pm

    I just made this for a friend’s birthday. I used banana cream instant pudding instead of the vanilla, and it tasted wonderful! Just thought I’d pass along the info and thank you for the recipe. :)


    • Julie Deily replied: July 20th, 2014 @ 2:33 pm

      Hi Pamela, that’s awesome!!! Good to know! :)


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  38. 70
    Jan Smith — December 30, 2014 @ 1:31 pm

    This is the best chocolate cake ever. My mom made a cake just like this over 50 years ago with a fluffy cooked frosting.Happy to see it is discovered again.


  39. 71
    Chelsea — April 10, 2015 @ 6:06 pm

    Just wondering if you have a way of converting this to a cupcake recipe? Hope this thread is still alive! PS – I used this recipe to make my own wedding cake…. SO yummy, and we will treasure this recipe for ever!


  40. 72
    Deborah — April 27, 2015 @ 5:31 pm

    This is the exact same recipe posted to the AllRecipes site 15 years ago, under the name Black Magic Cake. I’ve been making it now for over 10 years and its always a hit. I just googled chocolate cake recipes and this came up so I thought I’d take a peek. I knew it looked familiar. A tried and true recipe can’t be beat, by any name it’s given.


    • Julie Deily replied: May 19th, 2015 @ 8:29 pm

      Hi Deborah,

      I’m sorry it took me so long to respond…I didn’t know it came from allrecipes…the original cake recipe is actually Ina Garten’s. The frosting recipe came from a friend about 10 years ago. It’s a great recipe, isn’t it?

      Have a great day!


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