Guinness Chocolate Cake with Irish Buttercream - Handle the Heat

Guinness Chocolate Cake with Irish Buttercream

March 12th, 2019
4.91 from 83 votes
4.91 from 83 votes

Guinness Chocolate Cake with Irish Buttercream features an easy, fudgy, and moist cocoa cake with Guinness beer and thick creamy and sweet Irish cream buttercream. The perfect St. Patrick’s Day cake! Download my FREE Best Buttercream Guide here!

Yield: 10 servings

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook: 40 minutes

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This Guinness Chocolate Cake recipe involves chocolate AND booze. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Decorated cake on tall cake stand

What better way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Or just any day, really. Because some days require chocolate & beer. And that might be because you’re celebrating something great… or because it’s been a long day.

The chocolate Guinness cake component of this recipe is super simple. You don’t even need an electric mixer for the cake batter! So you only have to clean your stand mixer bowl once (for the frosting).

The cake base contains sour cream to give the cake a ton of richness and moisture and the Guinness stout beer as the liquid to give it that kind of deep, roasted, slightly coffee-like taste that pairs so wonderfully with that rich chocolate flavor.

Cake on cake stand with slice on serving plate

Feel free to get creative with decorating this cake! We went for a ‘naked’ look where the sides of the cake peek through the frosting. That focuses the attention on that drippy chocolate ganache topping. You could go crazy with green food coloring, shamrock sprinkles, or gold coins for a festive look.

Or keep it classic with chocolate shavings or even a drizzle of salted caramel for an extra tasty garnish.

Cake on cake stand with slice removed

How to Make Guinness Chocolate Cake with Irish Buttercream

How to Make MOIST Chocolate Cake

Be very careful not to accidentally over-measure the flour and cocoa powder in this recipe. This will lead to dense, dry, or tough cake. The best way to ensure this never happens is to measure your ingredients by weight using a digital kitchen scale. This will forever improve your baking!

If you don’t have one, then use the spoon and level method to measure your dry ingredients.

How to Prevent Your Chocolate Cake from Sinking

Make sure your oven is at the correct temperature, your baking powder & soda are fresh, and that you’ve measured all ingredients properly. Avoid over-mixing the batter. Bake the batter soon after mixing it up (don’t let it sit for hours). Bake in the center of your oven and don’t open the oven door unnecessarily. Lastly, don’t underbake the cake. A cake tester or toothpick should come out clean!

This is an extremely moist and rich cake recipe, so if your cake does sink slightly in the center don’t worry. It’s definitely not ruined! Simply use a serrated knife or cake leveler to level off the cake for a flat layer. More tips for how to prevent cakes and loaves from sinking in this article.

Tips for Perfect Bailey’s Irish Cream Buttercream

Be sure your butter is completely at room temperature so it blends into a smooth buttercream icing. Also be sure to use finely ground powdered sugar. Not sure if you’ve got the right sugar? Check out my post on 6 Secrets to Perfect Buttercream.

Whatever you do, don’t skip sifting the sugar!! Otherwise you will end up with unattractive lumps. If you’d prefer to keep this recipe free of any un-cooked alcohol, feel free to replace the Irish Cream with regular cream.

Can I bake this with different sized baking pans?

Probably! You’ll just need to do a little math to adjust the timing and calculate the volume. Check out Wilton’s handy guide for converting cake baking pans.

Can you bake this cake into cupcakes?

Almost any cake recipe can be made into cupcakes. Check out my full guide on how to convert cake into cupcakes (and vice versa!). 

How to Make Cake Ahead of Time

You can wrap unfrosted un-cut cooled cake layers completely in several layers of plastic wrap. Place inside a freezer bag. Store at room temperature for up to 4 days or freeze 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 Frosted Cake

Since frosting acts as a protective seal that keeps the cake moist and fresh, frosted cakes can be stored at a cool and dry room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Especially this frosting since it has some alcohol content to further preserve. Cover with a cake keeper to keep the frosting and decorating intact. Don’t use plastic wrap, which will not only ruin your frosting but also create condensation that can cause the frosting to separate.

Slice of cake with forkfuls removed

More Chocolate Cake Recipes

More St. Patrick’s Day Recipes

4.91 from 83 votes

How to make
Guinness Chocolate Cake with Irish Buttercream

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Guinness Chocolate Cake with Irish Buttercream features an easy, fudgy, and moist cocoa cake with Guinness beer and thick creamy and sweet Irish cream buttercream. The perfect St. Patrick’s Day cake! Download my FREE Best Buttercream Guide here!


For the Guinness Chocolate cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups (222 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (64 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3/4 cup (170 grams) sour cream or plain full fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fresh vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Guinness beer

For the Irish Buttercream:

  • 4 sticks (454 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 cups (750 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Irish cream, such as Bailey’s

For the chocolate drip:

  • 4 ounces (113 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • sprinkles for topping, optional


Make the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously grease two 8-inch wide and 3-inch deep cake pans and line with parchment paper rounds.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla, and beer.

  4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula until just combined.
  5. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans for 30 minutes before carefully turning them out onto a cooling rack or wire rack to cool completely. If possible, freeze the cakes while you prepare the buttercream.

Make the buttercream:

  1. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer or hand mixer to beat the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar then the Irish cream. Beat the mixture on high speed until very light, fluffy, and smooth, about 3 minutes. If the frosting is too thick, add a splash more Irish cream. If it’s too thin, add some more powdered sugar.

  2. Assemble:
  3. Place one cake layer a cake stand or serving plate. Frost the top of the cake generously, as this will become the filling. Use even more if you're decorating as a 'naked' cake as shown in the photos. Top with the other cake layer, flat side up.

  4. With an offset spatula, spread a very thin layer of frosting all over the cake. This layer is a crumb coat and should act like spackle. For the smoothest frosting, return the cake to the fridge or freezer until firm to the touch. 
  5. Spread the remaining frosting all over the cake. If desired, focus the frosting on the top to maintain the 'naked' look. Refrigerate while you prepare chocolate drip.

Make chocolate drip:

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer then immediately remove from heat and pour over chocolate. You can also do this in the microwave. Cover for a few minutes then stir until smooth.
  2. Allow to cool until it has thickened but is still pourable, about 10 minutes. Don’t place ganache in the fridge to cool. Test the consistency of the drip by pouring down the side of a glass. If it’s too thick, microwave for 5 to 10 seconds. If it’s too thin, allow to continue to cool.
  3. The cake can be stored, covered, at room temperature for up to 1 day or in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Course : Dessert
Cuisine : American
Keyword : guinness cake, guinness chocolate cake

This recipe was originally published in 2014 and recently updated with weight measurements and new photos. 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. #
    Olwyn Fleury — November 9, 2023 at 5:14 pm

    This cake looks wonderful. Please let me know if this is a crusting buttercream? I try to avoid frostings that do not firm up in the fridge. Thanks so much.

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — November 10, 2023 at 8:09 am

      Hi Olwyn! This buttercream will firm up in the fridge, but it won’t develop much of a ‘crust’. As long as you’re storing the cake in the fridge, though, this buttercream will remain firm. I hope that helps!

  2. #
    Madison — October 16, 2023 at 3:07 pm

    can i use 2 9inch pans instead,? came home to make a bday cake after gatherin all ingredients and realised no 8 inch in the house

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — October 18, 2023 at 8:40 am

      Hi Madison! We haven’t tried that, but feel free to follow the link Tessa provided under the heading ‘Can I bake this with different sized baking pans?’ in the pink tip box, above the recipe, for assistance with this 🙂

  3. #
    Linda — October 16, 2023 at 7:54 am

    Hello… Planning on making this recipe but had a question. Do I need to let the beer go flat before I use it in the recipe? Sorry if I missed that somewhere…. Thank you.

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — October 16, 2023 at 8:40 am

      Hi Linda! No need to let the beer go flat before using – but you can measure it out and let it sit for a few minutes before adding to the recipe, just to allow the foam to dissipate a little. The carbonation in beer actually assists with leavening, helping give the cake extra lift and a beautifully tender texture. I hope that helps! Let us know what you think of this cake once you have given it a try 🙂 Happy baking!

  4. #
    LeAnn — September 25, 2023 at 4:21 pm

    I made this for my husband’s birthday and it was insanely good! I was a little intimidated but it came together very easily. The cake itself is moist and decadent and once you throw on the frosting…WOW!
    I do have a question though, do you have a suggested bake time if I wanted to make cupcakes instead of a cake? We’re attending a party and it’s been requested that I bring cupcakes but I love this recipe and would love to use it.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  5. #
    Lily — August 29, 2023 at 3:51 am

    First cake I ever made and it turned out amazing! Everyone loved it. Was super moist and so yummy!

  6. #
    Courtney — June 18, 2023 at 6:20 pm

    Omg! This was the absolute best recipe I’ve ever made. I was a little overwhelmed looking at the ingredient list, but once I got started it was a lot more simple than I expected. I used mini semi sweet chocolate chips instead of sprinkles and it was so yummy. I feel like I could say so much about this recipe, it was so good! The outside of the cake was slightly crispy. The inside was super moist and airy. The Baileys buttercream was amazing. I feel like Guinness may be the secret to a perfect chocolate cake too. I’ll definitely make this again and might try it with the Guinness cold brew. Thank you so much for this amazing recipe.

  7. #
    Anja Davis — May 21, 2023 at 11:44 am

    My daughter and I made this for my husband’s birthday. The cake was magnificent- every turned out perfectly and it was a great hit!!

  8. #
    Anja — May 20, 2023 at 5:57 pm

    My daughter and I just made this cake for my husband’s birthday. It was amazing!! It turned out exactly like the picture and tasted sooo good.

  9. #
    Mitch Bradley — April 21, 2023 at 6:15 pm

    Very specific instructions, which I appreciate. I actually had fun making this cake.

    I used convection setting on our electric oven, timing was exact.

    My first ganache experience, I’ll do better next time pouring it onto the cake.

  10. #
    Alice — April 8, 2023 at 4:04 pm

    I used a dark cocoa, it was wonderful. Did not frost instead served with vanilla ice cream. The cake disappeared fast.

  11. #
    Christine — March 23, 2023 at 4:31 am


    Will regular Guiness give this cake enough flavour vs extra stout guiness? Also, is the unsweetened cocoa powder dutch-processed or natural? Thanks.

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — March 24, 2023 at 9:47 am

      Hi Christine! The beer typically cannot be tasted in this recipe, so if you’re looking to up the flavor of the beer, I would use the extra stout version of Guinness for sure, to boost the beer flavor – but you still might not notice the beer flavor a ton once the cake is iced and the ganache is added! The cocoa powder for this recipe is unsweetened aka natural cocoa powder. Be sure to check out the pink tip box above the recipe for even more info and tips. Let us know what you think of this cake once you’ve given it a try! 🙂 Happy baking!

  12. #
    Angela — March 21, 2023 at 9:15 am

    Made this exactly as written and it was a HUGE hit. Don’t skip the chocolate ganache! Only wish there were more tips on the drip (use squeeze bottle, dump chocolate all at once, or in stages?)

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — March 22, 2023 at 11:11 am

      Hi Angela! So glad to hear that you enjoyed this cake! We’ll definitely work on adding those tips for the ganache, but for now, Tessa prefers to use a squeeze bottle. I hope that helps 🙂

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