Easy Chocolate Sheet Cake

Recipe By Tessa Arias
April 23rd, 2019
4.5 from 8 votes
4.5 from 8 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: 20 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: Super simple crowd pleasing recipe.
Cons: None!!
Would I make this again? Definitely.

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 party at the park. I added some make ahead instructions below as well to save even more time!

If you plan to serve this 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 the BEST Chocolate Sheet Cake

The Cake

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 affect.

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.

Baking the Cake

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

The Fudge Frosting

This 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.

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes! 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).

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

4.5 from 8 votes

How to make
Chocolate Sheet Cake

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 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.

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!)

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  1. #
    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!

  2. #
    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!

  3. #
    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?

  4. #
    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.

  5. #
    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.

  6. #
    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

  7. #
    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

  8. #
    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 !

  9. #
    Vanessa — July 13, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Good and so simple

  10. #
    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.

  11. #
    grace — August 5, 2019 at 5:55 am

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

    • #
      Tessa Arias — 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.”

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