Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

DessertValentine's DayBakingChocolate Cake

This easy chocolate sour cream cake is made with sour cream, cocoa powder, and hot coffee. It's the perfect balance of decadence and simplicity! Don't forget the chocolate frosting...

Photography Credit: Alison Bickel

Cake is a favorite among birthday celebrations, but there is no need to relegate it to a yearly treat.

This Chocolate Sour Cream Cake is tender, soft, and rich with chocolate flavor!

The Secret Ingredient

The secret ingredient is coffee! Coffee is to chocolate what vanilla is to custard. It provides richness and depth, intensifying the best qualities of chocolate without overpowering it.

If you don’t like coffee don’t worry. You can’t detect the taste of coffee in this cake–only chocolate.

And if you don’t do caffeine don’t worry. You can easily replace regular coffee with decaffeinated.

Chocolate Cake with Sour Cream and Coffee - slicing the cake

The Best Pan Size

This Chocolate Sour Cream Cake is intended for a 9×13 cake pan, but you can just as easily bake it in two rounds and layer it or in muffin tins for cupcakes. It will make your mouth happy, anyway you shape it.

Round cakes and cupcakes won’t need to bake as long as a 9×13. Start checking the centers with toothpicks after 20 minutes for cupcakes, and 30 minutes for rounds. They are ready when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

The Best Frosting

The frosting choice is up to you, but these two are favorites. Try this Extra-Rich Chocolate Frosting for double-dose of chocolate. Or if you prefer a study in contrast and want white frosting, this cream cheese frosting is simple to make and always a hit.

Just make sure the cake is completely cool before you frost it.

Chocolate Cake with Coffee - single slice on plate

Make the Cake Ahead of Time

You can make the cake a day in advance: bake it, cool it, frost it, cover it with plastic wrap or tinfoil and keep it in the fridge. Take it out of the refrigerator an hour before you want to serve it.

Cakes like this should always be served at room temperature.

How to Freeze this Cake

Wrap the unfrosted cake in plastic wrap at least twice, and then in aluminum foil. Keep it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw, frost and serve.


Updated February 14, 2019 : Thank you to all the readers who have made this recipe and given us feedback over the years! We decided to completely re-write the recipe, so here's the new and improved version. We hope you like it!

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: one 9x13 cake (10 to 12 servings)

Be sure to let the cake cool completely before spreading the top with frosting.


  • 2 cups all purpose flour (250g)
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (360 g)
  • 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder (70 g)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup strong piping hot coffee
  • 1 batch chocolate or cream cheese frosting


1 Preheat the oven to 300°F. Butter and flour a 9x13 cake pan.  Set aside.

2 Sift the dry ingredients: In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Whisk in the kosher salt.

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake with Fudge Frosting - sifting the flour

3 Whisk the wet ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, canola oil and vanilla extract until it looks homogenous and creamy.

Chocolate Cake with Sour Cream - mixing the wet ingredients

4 Combine the wet and dry ingredients: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir together with a stiff spatula. The batter will be thick like frosting.

Chocolate Cake with Sour Cream Added - making the batter Chocolate and Sour Cream Cake - batter almost mixed

5 Add the coffee: Pour in the piping hot coffee. The batter will look like mud pies in a muddy lake. Keep stirring until all the liquid is incorporated and it is a homogenized cake batter.

Chocolate Cake with Sour Cream and Coffee - add the coffee to the batter Chocolate Cake with Coffee - begin mixing the coffee in Chocolate Sour Cream Cake with Fudge Frosting - batter mixed!

6 Bake the cake: Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place in the oven and bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean.

Chocolate Cake with Sour Cream - Pouring the batter in the pan Chocolate Cake with Sour Cream Added - testing the cake for doneness

7 Cool the cake: Take the cake out of the oven and set it on a baking rack to cool. After about 30 minutes spread the frosting on top.

Cut and serve the cake straight from the pan like it’s 1983 and you’re rockin’ your favorite knee-high tube socks with the yellow stripe. Aw, yeah!

Chocolate Cake with Sour Cream - baked cake cooling Chocolate and Sour Cream Cake - topping with frosting Chocolate Cake with Coffee - spreading the frosting on top

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Summer Miller

Summer Miller is an Associate Editor for Simply Recipes based in Nebraska. Her work has appeared in Bon Appetit, Eating Well, Grit, SAVEUR, and Every Day with Rachael Ray, among others. Her first book is New Prairie Kitchen (Agate Publishing, 2015).

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21 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Sarah

    This is definitely the most moist and yummy cake recipe I have tried so it will now be my go to. I put the sour cream frosting on it and it’s delicious and tangy. I did use a had held mixer though to combine it more easily.


  2. Patricia

    When I read this recipe I loved the ingredient list and the simplicity of putting it together without any electrical machinery. I liked being able to zero out the scale and add the next ingredient. So simple. Taste and texture of the cake is delicious and the recommended frosting brings the cake to sublime chocolate delight experience. A simple snacking cake type recipe with superior chocolate cake results. I will make this cake a million more times I’m sure!!


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  3. [email protected]

    I have made this cake so many times. I cut back the cocoa a bit so it’s not to dark. So so moist!! Everyone who tastes it loves it!!


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  4. Tricia

    Delicious and hits the spot for any and all chocolate cake cravings! Love that sour cream is included in both the cake and frosting. I will definitely be making this again! I’m still thinking about this cake a week after baking and eating it with family…. I did cut the sugar in the cake by 30% and didn’t miss out on the sweetness, especially when combined with the chocolate frosting recipe. Thanks!


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  5. Vaishnavi

    Is there a substitute to eggs in this recipe?

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Chocolate Cake with Sour Cream Added - slice removedSour Cream Chocolate Cake