Easy Chocolate Sheet Cake Recipe - Handle the Heat

Easy Chocolate Sheet Cake

April 23rd, 2019
4.88 from 33 votes
4.88 from 33 votes

EASY Chocolate Sheet Cake with simple fudge frosting takes just minutes to prepare and doesn't even require an electric mixer. Such a crowd pleaser perfect for any party or BBQ!

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook: 35 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Lots of sweet chocolate flavor without being overwhelming.
Texture: The cake is tender and moist and the frosting is thick and fudgy.
Ease: One of my easiest homemade cake recipes! Simple to bake, frost, transport, and serve.
Pros: This chocolate sheet cake is a super simple crowd pleasing recipe.
Cons: None!!
Would I make this again? Definitely.

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I’ve been in a cake kind of mood this month! Last week I shared my Best Birthday Cake recipe which has been a favorite for years.

This week I’m coming at you with this super quick and easy Chocolate Sheet Cake recipe!

Fudge frosting being poured onto sheet cake

It’s all in celebration of my TEN YEAR blog birthday. Handle the Heat turned 10 this month! Can you believe it?

I wish we could all have a piece of cake together!

Anyways, this recipe is perfect for when you need to whip something together stat but don’t want to use a box mix.

Frosting being spread on cake in pan

Both the cake batter and the frosting in this recipe are made without an electric mixer. The cake comes together super quickly and easily.

Some sprinkles make easy work of decorating and let’s face it, sprinkles make everything better! No assembling or piping tips or special equipment. Easy easy easy.

Sprinkles on cake with bowl of frosting

This recipe is also super easy to transport and serve. So it’s perfect for any potluck, BBQ, or birthday parties at the park. I added some make ahead instructions below as well to save even more time!

If you plan to serve this chocolate cake recipe outside in hot weather or sun, just keep it in the fridge until the party starts. That way it won’t melt as quickly.

Overhead view of cake with frosting and sprinkles on top

How to Make Chocolate Sheet Cake

Chocolate Sheet Cake Ingredients

I can’t find or use espresso powder. Can I omit it?

The espresso powder simply enhances the chocolate flavor, you don’t really taste it. You can now find it at many grocery stores, I see it at Super Target all the time. Or even easier, order it online.

However, if you’d like to omit or if you can’t find any, then feel free to leave it out entirely. You can also replace the the boiling water + espresso powder with really strong hot coffee instead to get the same effect.

Why does this recipe use vegetable oil? Can I use something else?

Oil-based cakes create the sensation of moistness better than butter based cakes. They also stay moist for longer! The key is to be sure to use a high quality fresh vegetable oil. Give the oil a sniff before adding it to the batter. If it has any off aroma then you need to toss and get a new bottle.

You can replace the vegetable oil with coconut oil if you’d prefer.

Do I have to use buttermilk?

The buttermilk helps to add a richer flavor and create a more tender texture in this recipe. You can learn more about the science of buttermilk here.

This recipe is pretty forgiving, so you can use whole milk in place of the buttermilk if you’d prefer. Or even sour cream or plain yogurt.

Which cocoa powder is best to use in chocolate cake?

This recipe uses unsweetened cocoa powder since this sheet cake recipe calls for baking soda. Dutch process cocoa powder and natural cocoa powder can only be used interchangeably if there is NO baking soda or baking powder called for in the recipe.

Learn more about the differences between Dutch Process vs. Natural Cocoa Powder in this article.

comparison of dutch process vs natural cocoa powder

Chocolate Sheet Cake baking tip: measure your ingredients correctly!

To avoid dry, dense, or crumbly cakes, it’s crucial to measure flour and cocoa powder accurately. Weighing your ingredients using a digital scale and ditching the baking cups is the #1 way to forever improve your baking. Check out my article for the step-by-step of How to Measure Ingredients the *right* way here.

What’s the difference between sheet cake and regular cake?

The main difference between these two types of cakes is the type of pan used. For most regular layer cake recipes, a round cake pan is used. Sheet cake recipes usually call for a 9 by 13-inch pan, jellyroll pan, or even baking directly in a sheet pan.

What pan do you use for a sheet cake?

I used a 9 by 13-inch metal baking pan to test this recipe. If you use glass or ceramic, your cake may take slightly longer to finish baking.

The Chocolate Fudge Frosting

This chocolate frosting recipe is super simple and doesn’t even require an electric mixer. Allow the frosting to cool slightly before pouring on the cake, but don’t let it cool too much that it’s not pourable anymore. If this happens, just reheat it briefly until it can be smoothed over the cake. If you like a lot of frosting, feel free to double the amount.

Topping ideas for Chocolate Sheet Cake:

  • Sprinkles
  • Nuts – chop pecans or walnuts and sprinkle over the top!
  • Vanilla ice cream

How to make Chocolate Sheet Cake ahead of time:

This cake is made with oil so it stays moist for longer. Wrap unfrosted un-cut cooled cake completely in several layers of plastic wrap. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge (do not defrost at room temperature or you will end up with mushy cake).

How to store Chocolate Sheet Cake:

The frosted cake can also be covered and stored at room temperature for up to three days or in the fridge for up to one week. Be sure to keep well sealed to keep moist.

Piece of cake on a plate with a napkin underneath

More Cake Recipes:

4.88 from 33 votes

How to make
Chocolate Sheet Cake

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
EASY Chocolate Sheet Cake with simple fudge frosting takes just minutes to prepare and doesn't even require an electric mixer. Such a crowd pleaser perfect for any party or BBQ!


For the chocolate cake:

  • 8 ounces (227 grams) bittersweet or semisweet baking chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup (57 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder, measured correctly
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 3/4 (222 grams) cups all-purpose flour, measured correctly
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or coconut oil
  • 3 large eggs plus one egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the fudge frosting:

  • 4 ounces (113 grams) semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (250 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons (11 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Sprinkles, if desired


Make the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper then spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium heatproof bowl add the chocolate, cocoa powder, and espresso powder. Pour hot water over mixture. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk mixture gently until smooth then set aside to cool.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, salt, and baking soda.
  4. Whisk the buttermilk, oil, eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture until smooth, being careful not to overmix.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Don't overbake or your cake will be dry.

  6. Let cool completely.

Make the frosting:

  1. In a large glass bowl, microwave the chocolate and butter in 30 second bursts, stirring between bursts, until melted and smooth. Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and half the milk and whisk until smooth. Gradually add remaining milk until the mixture is smooth and thickened to a batter like consistency. Pour all over cake. Allow to set before slicing and serving. Garnish with sprinkles, if desired.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

*Be sure to use a digital kitchen scale or the spoon and level method to measure the flour & cocoa powder.
Course : Dessert
Cuisine : American
Keyword : birthday

Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.

Tessa Arias
Author: Tessa Arias

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

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Recipe Rating

  1. #
    Michaela Valvo — May 5, 2023 at 1:18 pm

    Made this today for my mom’s birthday and it was an absolute smash! The process isn’t too complex, the ingredients are all staples, and the texture of the frosting was to die for. Follow the directions and you have a no fail cake. Family members already requested it for their birthday!

  2. #
    Anoush — May 2, 2023 at 10:37 pm

    Hi there! I plan on making this cake this week using a 12x18x3 pan. I plan to double the recipe to have enough batter. Would you recommend adjusting the baking temperature and/or the bake time for this size pan? Thank you so much!

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — May 3, 2023 at 11:19 am

      Hi Anoush! We haven’t tested doubling this recipe or using that size pan, so I cannot say for sure how long to bake! Try starting for about the same time as the recipe states, and bake only until a cake tester comes out clean. Let us know what you think of this recipe once you’ve given it a try! 🙂

  3. #
    Umar — March 14, 2023 at 12:09 am

    How long does this cake last?
    Should it be refrigerated? can it sit out? if so, how long can it stay out of fridge?

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — March 15, 2023 at 11:47 am

      Hi Umar! You can find the answers to all your questions, along with lots of other helpful tips and info, in the pink tip box above the recipe 🙂 Happy baking!

  4. #
    Nazia Khwaja — March 6, 2023 at 6:25 am

    Made this yesterday for my birthday. It’s too good. Everyone loved it. The proportions are correct too. Icing portion was perfect for the cake and no excess amount that will not be used again.
    Thank you for such a crowd pleaser recipe.

  5. #
    Elyse — December 12, 2022 at 11:31 am

    recipes are a game changer and your my go to site. thank you so much for actually responding to questions/comments, and being so helpful and thorough in doing so, it’s really appreciated!
    can this he made into a Layered cake?
    thanks so much!

  6. #
    Brianna Newsom — October 16, 2022 at 5:01 pm

    this cake is like taking a bite out of Fudge! so so good and super simple to make. if haven’t made this I highly recommend that you do!

  7. #
    Camille — October 4, 2022 at 5:21 am

    I found this recipe and asked my husband to make it for my birthday. It is tops! The flavor and texture are perfect. My husband said that weighing the ingredients, as opposed to measuring, is actually much easier and less of a mess.
    I would normally like a chocolate frosting, but requested a caramel frosting instead (ode to my grandmother and fall). Served with haagan Dazs coffee ice cream- perfect complement.
    Thank you!

  8. #
    Kathleen — August 3, 2022 at 10:47 am

    Hi, love all your recipes! I just don’t have any buttermilk in my fridge at the moment so could I use sour cream thinned out or is that a possibility? Do you have any suggestions for the buttermilk substitution? Thank you!

  9. #
    Cristina — February 21, 2022 at 1:22 pm

    Hi ! I want to make only half of this recipe(only two people in the house ) and I was wondering if 8 inch rectangular pan will make it.. I’m not good at conversion .Thank you!

    • #
      Emily — February 22, 2022 at 4:47 pm

      Hi Cristina! An 8×8-inch pan will work just fine when halving any 9×13-inch pan recipe 🙂 Since there isn’t a huge difference in surface area or batter depth when halving a recipe, you shouldn’t need to adjust the oven temp/baking time. Please let me know if you have any other questions, I’m happy to help!

  10. #
    katie — January 29, 2022 at 6:05 pm

    is the bake time 20 or 35 minutes? at the top it says 20 but in the instructions it says 35. please help!

    • #
      Emily — February 1, 2022 at 2:48 pm

      Wow, thanks so much for bringing this to our attention! I just corrected the issue, the bake time of 35 minutes is correct.

  11. #
    Robin Michaels — January 17, 2022 at 12:47 pm

    This was the best chocolate cake! It was so moist and very tasty and chocolatey! It got many compliments on how delicious it was! It was also so easy to make!!! I’ll definitely be making this more often!

    • #
      Emily — January 18, 2022 at 11:25 am

      Wonderful! Happy to hear it was such a hit! 🙂

  12. #
    Ben — November 19, 2021 at 8:49 am

    This recipe turned out perfectly moist, rich, and chocolatey! I grabbed a half-sheet-sized aluminum pan from the grocery store and made the recipe at 1.5x scale to perfectly fill the tray. (2x the recipe will have the batter overflow!) Use high-quality chocolate like Ghirardelli. 100% will make this again!

    • #
      Emily — November 19, 2021 at 5:20 pm

      So happy to hear that, Ben! Glad this recipe worked perfectly with your 1.5x scale, thanks so much for sharing your results! 🙂

  13. #
    Nancy — November 9, 2021 at 6:43 am

    Delicious !! I “halved” the recipe and baked in a 8″ square pan. Perfect size for 2 people.

    • #
      Emily — November 9, 2021 at 11:37 am

      So glad you enjoyed this recipe, Nancy!

  14. #
    Lyde — September 14, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    May I know this suit for 10×14 inch cake pan?

    • #
      Emily — September 15, 2021 at 9:58 am

      Hi Lyde! We haven’t tried that but always recommend using Wilton’s cake serving guide. Hope that helps! Enjoy your cake 🙂

  15. #
    Judy — July 31, 2021 at 7:11 pm

    The best chocolate cake ever! Wonderer about the frosting, but it’s perfect in both amount and taste/texture. So darn tasty!

    • #
      Emily — August 2, 2021 at 4:15 pm

      Wonderful! So happy you enjoyed this chocolate cake, Judy!

  16. #
    Olivia — July 8, 2021 at 2:25 am

    Super moist, delicious! Been craving for something chocolaty and stumbled on this recipe. Everyone loves it. thank you!

    • #
      Tessa — July 8, 2021 at 2:15 pm

      Wonderful! I’m happy to hear it was a hit!

  17. #
    Samantha — May 26, 2021 at 6:52 pm

    THIS! Absolutely heavenly! This cake lasted less than 24 hours in our house 🙂 It is so moist and slices like a dream into perfect squares. Can’t wait to make this again!

    • #
      Tessa — May 27, 2021 at 9:38 am

      Wonderful!! I’m so pleased this recipe was a hit! 🙂

  18. #
    Santhni — March 24, 2021 at 5:54 pm

    Can I know what size pan was used?

    • #
      Tessa — March 25, 2021 at 9:04 am

      Hi Santhni, this is listed in the directions. Thank you!

  19. #
    Elisabeth Mayer — March 22, 2021 at 9:29 am

    99% of cake recipes I try fall in the middle and are lackluster – but not this one!!! Not only did it turn out beautifully (I halved the recipe in an 8×8 pan) but it was also delicious!! The cake and itself has a great depth of flavor and is more dark chocolate, not too sweet. The frosting adds the touch of sweetness to balance it. Perfect! wouldn’t change a thing!!

    • #
      Tessa — March 22, 2021 at 11:58 am

      I’m SO happy to hear you had success with this recipe!

  20. #
    Hlobile — March 7, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    Made this recipe today, it came out so good that my family said I should start a bakery soon. lol… Thanks for such an awesome recipe.

  21. #
    Gwena — February 15, 2021 at 3:15 pm

    OMG, I made this for my mother’s birthday and it was one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted. So chocolaty and moist! Flavor was spot on. I doubled the frosting. This one is definitely going into my favorites folder of all time. Thank you Tessa

  22. #
    Lerato — December 9, 2020 at 6:59 am

    Can i make this in a round pan

  23. #
    Shaleen Shah — September 18, 2020 at 4:12 am

    Really amaazing sheet cake!! So soft and fluffy !!
    JUST WOW!!

  24. #
    Lucia R — August 6, 2020 at 10:04 pm

    This is the most moist, decadent, chocolatey cake I have ever had! Along with the frosting which is Perfect and not too sweet without flavor, the frosting actually has flavor without it being too sweet. Like it is really out of this world delicious. Everyone needs to make this chocolate cake at least one in their life. The recipe is so easy to follow and def so worth it. When I took a bite of this cake, it is literally the cake you wish the stores chocolate sheet cakes tasted like but instead of disappointment, you are blown off to food heaven because it is that amazing. Once again, my family and I, inhaled this cake within a day…. Somehow it was even better refrigerated lol. Going to be making it again soon probably tomorrow just so I can eat it by myself without sharing this time lol. Thank you so much Tessa!!!

  25. #
    Puseletso — August 3, 2020 at 8:17 am

    Best cake ever!, very moist and easy to make. Ever since I made this my husband doesn’t want to have store bought cake anymore

  26. #
    Tricia — July 14, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    Tessa – you’ve done it again. This cake was unbelievably delicious. Moist, tender, flavorful. Used buttermilk that I had frozen a couple of months ago following your instructions on how to do that. Topped with chocolate shavings. I thank you for all you do. I am learning so much!

  27. #
    Farah Wong — July 9, 2020 at 11:42 pm

    Thank you for the easiest recipe. Is insanely delicious. Is a crowd pleasing cake

  28. #
    Chelsey — June 15, 2020 at 11:57 am

    This cake turned out perfectly. It’s fudgy, moist and packed with chocolate flavour. My (picky) husband said it’s the best chocolate cake he’s ever had! We don’t have a microwave so I also really loved the method of melting the chocolate, espresso powder and cocoa powder with boiling water. Will definitely make this again.

  29. #
    Twyla — May 17, 2020 at 10:54 am

    I doubled the recipe and followed it exactly. The first two pans of cupcakes raised well. The second two pans
    were flat. However, they were all big crowd-pleasers, especially combined with the chocolate fudge frosting, which was delicious.

    I tried a twist: I put a dab of crunchy peanut butter in the middle of each, then layered more batter over to cover.
    I frosted them with the same fudge frosting and added a few salted peanuts on top. Everyone raved about them!

  30. #
    Mary — May 3, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    I followed the recipe and used my scale to measure ingredients when possible. Turned out perfect! The whole family loved it. I really appreciate all the effort, science and explanation Last behind everything. I feel like I really learned something new today. Thank you for a great recipe… in fact your recipes have yet to disappoint!

  31. #
    Ellen — April 30, 2020 at 11:30 pm

    Can I use white chocolate to make a white chocolate fudge frosting? I am making a snowboard cake so the white is for the snow.

  32. #
    Michelle — April 16, 2020 at 9:31 pm

    Do you have a brand preference for the baking chocolate and cocoa powder?

  33. #
    cakes&bakes — April 14, 2020 at 6:09 am

    Awesome Information

  34. #
    Maria Joao Falcao — March 17, 2020 at 11:03 am

    Dear Tessa

    Lovely recipes.
    Can I substitute your nutella the fudge frosting?

    Thank you


  35. #
    Amy — March 11, 2020 at 11:35 am

    How long do I cook these in a cupcake pan? Also if I use a larger sheet cake pan (12×18) how long do u think I should bake it if I double it?

  36. #
    Dian Indonesiana — March 10, 2020 at 3:57 am

    I love this cake. Super easy

    Can I make with the cup cake pan? How long for baking?

    Thank u for ur recipes

  37. #
    Meredith — February 2, 2020 at 10:07 am

    Such amazing chocolate flavor in the cake AND icing. And really simple to bake. Love it!

  38. #
    temple run 2 — December 6, 2019 at 3:45 am

    Can I used Dutch processed cocoa?

  39. #
    Aimee — November 23, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    Easy chocolate sheet cake for the birthday win! Easily the lightest and most chocolatey homemade cake I’ve ever made

  40. #
    Joann — October 29, 2019 at 5:19 am

    This caje look so delicious and i want to try this recipe, but can i substiture buttermilk to sour cream instead? And if i can, is it the same measurement?

  41. #
    Maria Kathrina Carla Doria — October 25, 2019 at 2:19 am

    Can I used Dutch processed cocoa?

  42. #
    grace — August 5, 2019 at 5:55 am

    can I substitute a cuo of strong coffee for the espresso powder & boiling water?

    • #
      Tessa — August 5, 2019 at 9:27 am

      Hi Grace – the answer to your question is in the pink box in the blog post, “You can also replace the the boiling water + espresso powder with really strong hot coffee instead to get the same affect.”

  43. #
    Charly — August 2, 2019 at 6:20 am


    Is this cake sturdy enough to get covered in fondant?

    I am looking for a sheet cake recipe that can be covered in fondant and not sink with the weight of the fondant.

  44. #
    Vanessa — July 13, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Good and so simple

  45. #
    Connie — May 18, 2019 at 10:10 am

    I just made this cake to bring into work. My co-worker wanted a chocolate dessert and this looked so good snd easy, I had to try it. Let me tell you, this was super easy to make and so delicious! It’s very moist and rich and the frosting is chocolate fudgey heaven! My co-workers are raving about it! This will be my go to chocolate cake from now on! Thanks for another great recipe !

  46. #
    Sora — May 5, 2019 at 12:36 am

    My daughter loves chocolate cakes. This is a great recipe to help me make chocolate cake for my daughter. Thanks for your recipe. <3 <3

  47. #
    Sandra — May 3, 2019 at 7:10 am

    I made this cake as cake and as cupcakes and both where a big success however I cant manage to make them as mini cupcakes they always ocerfliw or raise too little. What scoop can i use to get them right. I wpuld realky appreciate a specific one ..i live in spain and wpuld hace to order by anazon
    Great blog and instagram . Congrats

  48. #
    Brooke — April 29, 2019 at 11:19 am

    I made this and I also found it dry, I measured with a food scale so I know everything was right on. Seems to me it needs more oil perhaps. I do love the chocolate flavor it has, fudge flavor is right on.

  49. #
    Bhuvana — April 25, 2019 at 2:45 am

    Hi Tessa, the pictures are totally awesome. The frosting look so luscious and mouth-watering. Will surely try it sometime. Thanks for this wonderful recipe.

  50. #
    Tom — April 23, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    Wow Tessa! I love this cake, especially the chocolate part! I find it a bit dry, do you know how to fix that?

  51. #
    Georgia — April 23, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    Hey Tessa,

    For some of the ingredients, like oil or buttermilk, you use 1 cup as measure but don’t specify how many grams or ml that is. Can you please help?

    This recipe looks so yummy, I can’t wait to make it for myself and my friends!

    • #
      Deels — May 25, 2020 at 6:44 am

      I cup liquid is 240-250 ml

  52. #
    Kate Berkey — April 23, 2019 at 3:44 am

    I was looking for a cake recipe for the whole family and I stumbled on this article. I read and followed the instructions carefully and I made it deliciously! Every member of my family is so happy! Thanks for this!

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