Chocolate Guinness Cake

Get in the mood for St. Patrick’s Day with this rich, chocolatey, moist, out-of-this-world chocolate guinness cake from Simply Recipes contributor Garrett McCord. And for more ideas, see our St. Patrick’s Day recipes section. ~Elise

I’m not a big chocolate person. Nor am I a huge stout drinker. Yet, combine the two together in this cake and you’ll have my attention.

The two ingredients have a lot of dark, husky flavor notes in common and combined with a bit of flour, sugar, and sour cream they blend into a rich as old money dessert that’s perfect for any St. Patrick’s day party. A simple cream cheese frosting blends perfectly with the slightly bitter crumb and makes it all the better. This cake is best served with a pint of stout or porter beer, such as Guinness, so be sure to buy a six pack so you have enough to drink with your slice of cake.

This recipe is a riff on the classic Nigella Lawson recipe, but with some of the white refined sugar replaced with dark brown sugar which brings out some of the malty, twangy flavors of the beer; and a bit of salt added to highlight the chocolate. For something sweeter use all white sugar and add a tablespoon more of cocoa powder.

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Chocolate Guinness Cake Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Makes one 8 or 9-inch cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup stout or porter beer, such as Guinness extra stout
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
  • 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cream cheese frosting recipe

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 8 or 9-inch springform pan with butter and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

2 In a large saucepan place the beer and butter. Cook over medium-high heat until the butter has melted. Add the cocoa powder and sugars and whisk together. Take off heat and allow to come to room temperature.

3 In another bowl beat together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla extract until very, very well combined. Add to the butter-beer mixture and whisk together.

4 In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the beer-butter mixture and whisk together until it just comes together. Pour into the prepared pan and give the pan a few short drops onto the countertop to shake the air pockets in the batter to the surface and out of the cake. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Run a knife around the edge to separate the cake from the pan and pop the ring off the springform.

5 Spread frosting on the cooled cake and serve.

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73 Comments

  1. Hannah

    I don’t have a springform pan – can I make this work in a bundt pan instead? I’m a novice cake baker, but I’d love to try this!

    Shouldn’t be a problem. Just be sure to grease and flour it well. ~Garrett

  2. Ryan B.

    Do you think these would work as cupcakes? (How long baking time?)

    Yes, but I don’t know. 15-20 minutes my guess but you’ll have to watch them yourself to know for sure. ~Garrett

  3. sara imam

    What can I replace the beer with?

    Probably nothing as it is the main ingredient. However, you can always try coffee, milk, or something else though I cannot say if it will work or not. ~Garrett

  4. Thu

    Did you use Guiness draught or the extra stout? Also, can I use a regular cake pan? Thanks!

    Don’t recall which one. And yes you can use a regular cake pan, just line the sides with parchment, too. ~Garrett

  5. Katie

    If this is anything like Nigella Lawson’s Guinness Chocolate Cake, then it’s awesome–the ingredients look the same, so I’m guessing that it’ll work great in a bundt pan, springform pan, cupcake pan…you name it, I’ve made it. It’s our favorite–I like to sub plain yogurt for the sour cream, and throw some irish cream in the frosting…it’s heavenly.

  6. amanda

    Can I use 2 9-inch cake pans?

    You’ll only fill one with this recipe. ~Garrett

  7. Patti

    I’ve been making Guinness chocolate cupcakes from a very similar recipe (not my own) for several years now. I love its deep chocolately goodness because it isn’t too sweet. For St. Patrick’s Day, I use a Bailey’s Irish Cream frosting. Yum!

  8. Arwa

    I am a sucker for moist and chocolatey cake but as a Muslim I can’t use alcohol, any suggestions for alternatives? Coffee maybe? Or do I just need to move on.

    The alcohol is kind of the main flavor here. I would say you probably need another recipe, but who know? This might be awesome with coffee? ~Garrett

  9. Darcy

    Hate to mess with a great recipe, but is there a dairy-free sub for the sourcream? I’ve found a soy-based sourcream sub – not as tangy, but spreads well on bagels – and I’ve found soy yogurt that does have some tartness but is sweeter than cowmilk yogurt. Is the sourcream primarily for moistness? I could just try a sub, and report back – but hate to waste a Guiness. =)

    I don’t think so. The sour cream contributes to the pH balance of the cake. ~Garrett

  10. dorothy

    1 tablespoon of vanilla seems like a lot, though I acknowledge that the flavors in this cake are strong. Just want to make sure that measurement is correct before trying this recipe. Thanks!

    It is correct. ~Garrett

  11. Gayle

    What’s superfine sugar?

    A grade between regular and powdered sugar. Regular sugar will work just fine, too. Or just blitz regular sugar in a food processor for a few seconds. ~Garrett

  12. Deniz

    I made this cake last night. It was so delicious and moist. Plus, it is so easy to make. Thank you for this recipe.

  13. Bela

    Oh, You Da Man, Elise! This turned out to be the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made!!!

  14. Peter

    Made this today, and it’s just superb. It’s a pretty dense cake, so it cools slowly. And you can make it in a standard cake pan, and you do not have to put parchment on the sides of the pan. It’s a good idea to put parchment (or even wax paper) on the bottom as directed. Just be sure the sides are slightly pulling away from the pan before removing from the oven and let it cool pretty thoroughly in the pan before removing it from the pan. I just upended it onto a plate and it came out perfectly. I suggest using some orange extract in the icing and perhaps some grated orange peel too, as orange and chocolate are a terrific combination. Don’t worry about the calories in this one…..there are a lot of them!

  15. R

    Made this today for a wedding party – except for the fact that it fell in the middle – it is an AWESOME recipe. I brought an empty cake plate back home. The flavors are so bold, and the sweetness comes through very richly and it is not sickeningly sweet!

  16. citra

    10 tablespoon butter…
    any suggestion what is the equivalent of it in oz or gram? I guess it’s difficult to get the same amount of butter to fill each (flat or heaped?) tablespoon. Would it be equal to 10 tablespoon of melted butter?

    i won’t be nervous for the approximate amount if it would have been for a dish, but for a cake i feel safe for a more precise amount. HELP. Many thanks.

    Sticks of butter in the U.S. have wrappers that show where to cut the stick for each tablespoon. One stick is 8 tablespoons or 4 ounces, so 10 tablespoons is 5 ounces, which is 141 grams. ~Elise

  17. sara

    Just made this cake, and it seems to have come out like a very dense, moist, delicious chocolate cake! Did not use a spring form pan and was able to invert the cake out of a normal pan with a little coaxing. The one issue is that I’m not really tasting much of guinness…and I even threw in a little extra because I like it :) Any guesses as to what I did wrong?

    Like I said, there’s a bit of twang to the cake, but not tons of Guiness flavor. Nothing went wrong. =) ~Garrett

  18. Cram

    If I can’t find unsweetened cocoa powder can I melt down some bittersweet/ dark baking chocolate? Thanks. Great recipe!

    You can try, but I don’t know what will happen. Give it a shot and let us know how it works. ~Garrett

  19. Yentlsoup

    I’d love to make this for my friend and ship it to her for her birthday this weekend. It looks like maybe if I use a different (or no) icing and ship it 1 or 2 day it might survive, but I’m not really sure. Does anybody have any thoughts on this?

  20. Sarah

    My husband has lactose issues, but the sour cream being baked will be fine. The cream cheese frosting is out though – any recommendations about an espresso buttercream for this cake? He’s super excited by that prospect!

    Go for it. ~Garrett

  21. NRS

    Do you use dutch-processed or natural cocoa in this? Also, do you prefer the 8 or the 9 inch spring-form? Thanks!

    Natural cocoa and I honestly use whichever pan I grab first. ;) ~Garrett

  22. NRS

    Thanks! Do you have a brand of natural cocoa you like for this cake? I only have dutch-processed so would like to get whatever you recommend.

    I used S-Berger cocoa as it was what I had on hand. ~Garrett

  23. Anne

    This looks fabulous! So fabulous, in fact, that I’m running out to the grocery store right after work so I can make it tonight. Might try it with a Bailey’s Irish Cream buttercream frosting instead. Thoughts?

  24. Jan

    My daughter has made this cake with an Irish cream buttercream frosting, and it was wonderful!

  25. Susan

    I made cupcakes with this recipe – they were a HUGE hit with my friends. I don’t think I’ll ever make “regular” chocolate cake again. The flavor and texture of this cake is phenomenal.

    I baked them for 15 minutes. They freeze beautifully.

    Thanks for sharing!

  26. Mel G.

    I decided to make this yummy sounding cake on a whim and in the cupcake format too. I didn’t have all of the ingredients so I had to substitute some of them -
    7 oz. greek yogurt + 1 tsp baking soda for the sour cream. Elysian Dragonstooth stout for Guinness.
    I used regular granulated sugar (unbleached) for the superfine (had a bit of a time issue and couldn’t run it thru the food processor or blender first).

    I ended up baking them for 18 minutes.

    They are amazing! Thanks so much Garrett and Elise for yet another wonderful recipe!

  27. epicuriousbynature

    PERFECT!!! I love new Guinness dessert recipes! And just in time for St. Patrick’s Day!! I can’t wait to make it this weekend. I make what I consider the BEST cream cheese frosting, so I plan on topping it with that! Thanks for what looks to be another GREAT recipe!!!!!

    OH, and BTW.. what’s the point in making a Guinness cake without the Guinness?? Wouldn’t that just be a chocolate cake?

  28. Sarah

    I made this recipe into mini cupcakes – baked for 10 minutes. They turned out perfectly! And I did go for the espresso buttercream – 1 tbsp was perfect. Smooth buttercream with a hint of coffee flavor; it reminded me of a subtly rich coffee ice cream. Yum!

  29. Darlene

    I made this today and it was one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever made. It was moist and delicious! I’ll be making this again. It also came put looking just like the picture!!!

  30. NRS

    Garrett, if I’m frosting this cake say around 2 pm and not planning to serve until 8 or 9 pm that evening, would you suggest refrigerating after frosting and then letting the cake sit for 45 min or so to get to room temp before serving? Or would the frosted cake stay ok at room temp for 7 or 8 hours? Thanks!

    Frost it and forget it. It’s a simple buttercream and it can stay on the counter overnight if need be. ~Garrett

  31. Sarah

    The cake sounds amazing, but I’m not a big fan of cream cheese frosting (or buttercream… yeah, I know, I’m a little weird like that!). It sounds good enough to serve plain or with whipped cream, but I don’t want to miss out on the frosting fun… Does anyone have a suggestion for another icing or topping for this cake? If I do try something different myself, I will let you know how it goes!

  32. Janessa

    Thank you for the recipe. I made them into cupcakes and just an FYI I baked them at the same 350 for 16-18 minutes. They are amazing. Now if I can just keep my husband out of them before we get to our St. Patty’s party on Saturday. Thanks again!

  33. Lisandra

    I’m looking forward to making this delicious cake but I’m planning on subbing the sour cream for 0% greek yogurt. I noticed that a commenter did so as well but added 1tsp baking soda. Is that advisable?

    I advise you never change the pH balance of a cake recipe. I can’t say if it works or not because I haven’t tried it. ~Garrett

  34. Edith

    I was wondering if this can be made with flat beer. I know some Guinness recipes (some quick breads, at least) can’t use flat beer. I made this last night, and it’s so delicious and moist! I have the rest of the Guinness sitting in my fridge, and was wondering if I could make the same cake tonight with the beer that was opened last night.

    Yes, it should be fine. ~Garrett

  35. Christa

    Can anyone tell me how many cupcakes or mini cupcakes this recipe converts into? I’d assume a dozen regular cupcakes, but please let me know if you have any idea. Thanks!

  36. Kathryn

    Garrett~Do you think Dutch process would be okay to use?

    I imagine so. Haven’t tried it though. ~Garrett

  37. Sandra Merino

    Truly an amazing chocolate cake!
    So amazinging simple to make and the results are to die for!

  38. Carol

    This was too much batter for my 8″ pan – my pan might be shallower than than photo cake, too.
    But wow, it makes a great cake -
    We made it with my husband’s doppelbock, and ate the cake, with no icing, but with doppelbock to drink alongside. Yum. Very intense.

  39. Daphne

    Just made this and my house smells AMAZING!!!! Cannot wait to try after dinner!!!!! Thanks for the recipe!!!!!

  40. Sara K.

    This was wonderful! I made it today with a homebrewed rye stout. The cake was moist and dense, and full of flavor. I substituted dark cacao, since that’s all I ever have on hand. It was excellent. Topped it with the cream cheese icing and some green sugar sprinkles. Everyone raved. Thanks for the recipe!

  41. Wendy

    Excellent. While baking the aroma in the kitchen was wonderful with an intense chocolate flavor. Thanks for the recipe.

  42. jamie

    I made this cake for St. Patty’s Day! It was wonderfully chocolaty and the guinness taste was not strong (I was a little worried about the bitterness before trying it). I was wondering if I can sub the guinness beer with anything else? I’m curious because I really like the cake and was thinking about making it a regular chocolate cake recipe. Thanks!

  43. Candy C.

    Thanks Garrett for an awesome recipe! It was easy and so very rich and moist! I used my 9-inch springform pan and was a little afraid that it would overflow as it rose in the oven but it just made it! :)

  44. Megs

    This cake was awesome. Thanks a bunch for the great recipe and idea. Loved this moist, dense, not too sweet, chocolate cake! And you’re right, goes great with a nice glass of stout.

  45. MaureenS

    Made this cake over the weekend. One of the best chocolate cakes ever! Incredibly moist and rich with flavor. “Keeper”.

  46. Marci

    I made this as cupcakes and made a Bailey’s Irish Cream cheese frosting from another recipe. It was amazing!! I would use this recipe for chocolate cake all the time. Very moist, rich and dense in consistency and flavor!!! 5 stars! Everyone here was crazy about it!

  47. lynn

    THANKS! I’m new to your blog and am glad google features it! I’ve seen a few recipes on your site that I’m eager to try. I made this for St. Patrick’s day and it was great. You can definitely taste the guinness. The first few bites finshed with it, but then I did notice a bit of bitterness (not in a bad way) throughout while enjoying my 2nd piece of cake later. Mine turned out suprisingly airy and very moist. (I thought it would be a bit dense.)
    I promised another group of people I would make it for them if it turned out good, so I’m going to make a batch in cupcake form later this week. Again, thank you for your blog!

  48. Joanna

    Can you replace the sour cream with something else due to allergies?

    Yogurt will work wonderfully. However, if it’s dairy that you are allergic to, then no. ~Garrett

  49. Jennifer

    I made this cake for a family St. Patrick’s Day party and it was a huge success! Thank you for this wonderful recipe. It’s a do over, even when it’s not St. Patrick’s Day.

  50. jlg

    Delicious! I baked the cake for St. Patrick’s Day and substituted yogurt for the sour cream. I served it with a raspberry coulis instead of the sour cream frosting. The whole family loved it! I think this is my new go-to cake recipe.

    Thanks for all of the great recipes. This is my favorite cooking blog!

  51. squishyb

    I was worried about making a cake again (we don’t have the best history together), but this one turned out great! I used an 8-inch cake pan that I buttered and covered in parchment paper (bottom and sides). I’m glad I put the paper on it, as the cake did end up rising above the edge of my pan, but not the parchment! :)
    Thanks for the great recipe and for restoring my faith in my cake baking abilities!

  52. Carmen

    Wonderful! Rich & dense, and not too sweet. I used English porter beer. Next time I’ll divide the cake into 2 layers with a ribbon of icing in between; yum.

  53. NRS

    This was so yum!!! Thanks for the recipe!

  54. Daphne

    Perfect! One of the joys of this cake is it’s old fashioned texture, and it’s not too sweet. The light touch with cream cheese frosting is perfect for those of us who are not fond of greasy frostings. I made the cake for St. Pat’s day and it was a real hit, and plan on making it again for a group camping event – one of the attendees has a dog named Guinness!! Thanks for the recipe!

  55. Arcey

    Fabulous! A tremendous hit. I used a 9-in. springform pan, and think maybe an 8-in. pan would be a little small. I didn’t expect it to rise and stay so high (about 3 in.), and think it certainly could have been sliced across the middle for more frosting, which was also very good. I used the TJ’s lite cream cheese and it was fine — maybe I’ll try regular cream cheese next time — and there will be a next time, that’s for sure! Just thinking now that maybe two 8-in. cake pans would work nicely to make a layer cake. Any thoughts on that?

    This preparation method was very different for me — I’m more used to using my Kitchen Aid mixer for cakes, but this one didn’t need that — just a couple of bowls and a pot for melting. Unique (for me) and easy and a wonderful outcome. Thank you so much for this one (and all of the other terrific, easy, delicious recipes). As others have already said, this one’s a keeper!

  56. Zenfood

    Love it!!!!!!!!!! Was very moist, family and friends enjoy it.

  57. Suzan Wood-Young

    By super fine sugar, do you mean icing sugar? or berry sugar?

    Super fine sugar is just that, sugar granules that are very small. You can often find it in the baking section of the grocery store. You can also make your own by taking regular white granulated sugar and processing it in a food processor. ~Elise

  58. Val

    I made this and it was amazing! Wonderful way to celebrate St. Patty’s day for sure! While I did use a spring form pan I questioned if I could just use a 9×13? What’s the difference?

    The size and shape of the cake as well as the baking time. ~Garrett

  59. Val

    Any idea how long I should expect if I make it in the 9×13?

    I do not. I would keep an eye on it and aim for a similar baking time. ~Garrett

  60. Susan

    The chocolate guinness cake recipe looks very tempting and I would like to try it out. But I have no idea about porter beer. Is there any substitute for it. Also can I use normal cream instead of sour one.

    You should be able to buy porter beer at any grocery store. Porter is just a well hopped beer made from brown malt. ~Garrett

  61. Sandy

    This sounds amazing! I have a question though-please could you tell me if its possible to substitute an artificial sweetener for the sugar & if so, how much would you use?

    I hear Stevia works well, but I don’t bake with artificial sweeteners so I wouldn’t be able to say. You’ll have to test it yourself. ~Garrett

  62. Phoebe

    What a good cake! Soft and moist, my parents loved it. Would add slightly less sugar next time though. Added a semisweet chocolate glaze instead of the cream cheese

  63. Caroline Madden

    Aye, you don’t need a special occasion for this either. As a strong Irish family, this is a simple tradition now. I suggest Bailey’s icing, too; it’s even better. Cheers

  64. Diane

    Not a beer drinker and bought draught guinness. Can you use draught instead of stout as I am not sure what the difference is, but is that alright?

    Draught Guinness is a type of stout. No worries. Both are made from roasted barley, just one is a more specific Irish brand. ~Garrett

  65. Natasha

    Would this recipe work with a 10 inch springform pan? I want to make a layer cake and I know the 10 ” cake will be thinner than using an 8 or 9 inch but will it be too thin? My plan was to make two 10 inch layers and fill inbetween them.

    You could do it in a 10 inch pan, yes, but I’m not sure this cake can be made into a layer cake. It would be very difficult to do due to it’s soft, fudgy texture. ~Garrett

  66. Jess

    I plan to make this for a family gathering, this may sound silly but is this cake also suitable for children? (Understanding that alcohol evaporates upon cooking.) Thanks!

    Yes, it should be fine. ~Garrett

  67. Natasha

    I made this over the weekend it was very well received though in retrospect I think I accidentally used baking powder instead of baking soda :(. Used dark muscovado sugar in lieu of regular brown sugar, it has a wonderful molassesy flavour. I used an 8.5″ spring form and then cut the cake in half to make to layers. I filled the layers with a baileys and caramel cream cheese frosting. Glazed the cake witha dark chocolate ganache with a hint of brandy. Death by chocolate (and booze)! Thank you , Garrett!

  68. Irina

    I made this cake yesterday and it was great! It came out a tad drier than it looks in your photo, but this is likely because I didn’t have enough butter and had to substitute part of it with oil. Still, amazing chocolate and beer flavor! To enhance the beer taste (and because I forgot to buy cream cheese for the frosting while buying other ingredients for the cake), I made a chocolate and beer glaze to top the cake (cocoa powder, powdered sugar, beer, and vanilla).

    My favorite part of making/eating this cake? Pouring a couple of spoonfuls of the batter that you make in Step 2 (beer, butter, cocoa, and sugars) over some plain yogurt and devouring while standing at the kitchen counter!

  69. Lydia

    I made this recipe tonight and was a little confused by how much batter I ended up with – I had too much batter for my pan, so ended up making a few cupcakes, too, and my cake still overflowed. Did anyone else have this issue? Any idea where I might have gone wrong? Reading through the ingredients, I’m almost completely positive I used the same amounts of everything… And the cake IS delicious, so would love to correct my issue to make it come out right next time. (I did use a normal cake pan instead of a springform pan, but from the comments, it sounds like that was an okay substitution.)

    Regular cake pans tend to have lower side than springform pans, which is what probably got you into trouble here. ~Elise

  70. ldrose

    This recipe is brilliant! I made it in a 9 in springform pan and it turned out great; very dense, chocolatey, and oh so moist. Definitely a keeper!

  71. Heather

    I am on a wheat-free diet, so when I found out that Guinness has no wheat in it I immediately made this cake. I substituted Bisquick’s gluten free baking mix…. and it was one of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten! Sinfully rich and fudgy… with the perfect amount of cream cheese icing (I don’t like too much).

    Thank you so much for this recipe!

  72. heidi

    Hello, I have a 10in springboard pan- how do you think the cake will turn out if I use this size? Should I change the recipe? Thanks!

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