Guinness Chocolate Cake with Irish Buttercream

Recipe By Tessa Arias
  |  
March 12th, 2019
4.73 from 33 votes
4.73 from 33 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

This 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 cake component of this recipe is super simple. You don’t even need an electric mixer! 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 beer as the liquid to give it that kind of deep, roasted, slightly coffee-like taste that pairs so wonderfully with chocolate.

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 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 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.

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.

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

4.73 from 33 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!

Ingredients

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
  • 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

Directions

Make the cake:

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

This recipe was originally published in 2014 and recently updated with weight measurements and new photos. 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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Recipe Rating




  1. #
    Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness — March 17, 2014 at 4:26 am

    This looks insanely delish! All the chocolate…irish buttercream, I could definitely go for this today! Pinned

    • #
      Sheren Haylor — August 1, 2020 at 2:38 am

      Absolutely a great idea! Thanks for the invite love ❣

  2. #
    Susan — March 17, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    This looks delish! I’m headed over there now!

  3. #
    Gaby — March 17, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    That buttercream, oh my word!

  4. #
    Julie — March 17, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    This cake looks so gorgeous!

  5. #
    Sue — February 3, 2019 at 8:53 am

    I just made this and it came out great! Any thoughts on reposting it on your site with the weight measurements?

    • #
      Tessa — February 3, 2019 at 2:37 pm

      Yep, that’s happening soon 🙂

  6. #
    Sabrina — March 13, 2019 at 6:47 pm

    what a creative and very yummy way to cover St P’s Day, thank you for perfecting this one, would never have imagined Guinness in this kind of recipe!

  7. #
    Ellen Manalo — March 13, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    Hi Tessa! Your chocolate cake looks so fudgy and moist I really want to make it but I don’t want to use Guinness beer. What can i use instead? Thanks for replying, much love from the Philippines!

  8. #
    Carol — March 15, 2019 at 6:04 am

    Hi Tessa, I am going to make this cake today and was just wondering what kind of cocoa you used for that deep dark color?

  9. #
    Mallory — March 15, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    We’re going to a family friendly pot luck on St. Pat’s. My mom tells me the alcohol content will bake out of the cake itself, but can I make this kid-friendly by using Irish Cream coffee creamer in the frosting?

  10. #
    Rose Mary George — March 16, 2019 at 3:43 am

    WOW! this Chocolate Cake looks so delicious!

  11. #
    Kelly — August 5, 2019 at 11:40 am

    Perfect for my Guinness-loving husband’s birthday. Rich and moist, huge hit with everyone. FYI – I used the weight instead of volumes (always my preference when I’m writing recipes, much more consistent).

  12. #
    litzandra mulero — August 8, 2019 at 10:44 am

    awesome recipe, I used extra stout beer. It taste delicious and it was very moist !

  13. #
    Shob — September 28, 2019 at 11:49 am

    The cake looks like a deep chocolate color – what type of cocoa powder is used for this recipe? Does the type of cocoa powder make a difference in the recipe? Can black cocoa be used in this recipe?

  14. #
    Lynn — February 5, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    Could you use the Irish Cream in the cake in place of the beer?

  15. #
    Sandy — February 10, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    I tried this cake over the weekend and WOW! it was great! Maybe my new favorite chocolate cake. I divided the cake in 2 pans like it said, but it was two much for the pans. Did anyone have problems with it being two much for the pans?

    • #
      Dorelle — March 11, 2020 at 6:51 am

      Yes! Mine overflowed 8 inch pans!

  16. #
    Marylou Foster — February 14, 2020 at 5:53 am

    I made this. The flavor was fantastic. Next time i will use just one cake mix. Two was too much cake for us.

  17. #
    Elizabeth — February 23, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    Will this recipe translate into cupcakes?

  18. #
    Sandra — March 2, 2020 at 9:20 am

    I see others asked this question but I can’t see your reply….for this recipe would you recommend the Dutch processed cocoa or not?

    • #
      Tessa Arias — March 3, 2020 at 5:43 pm

      I tested this recipe with natural cocoa powder, not Dutch process 🙂

      • #
        Maria — July 28, 2020 at 4:30 pm

        As someone else asked…can Irish Cream be used in place of Guiness??

  19. #
    Adriana — March 5, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    How did you get your cake to look so dark, almost black? Also, what brand cocoa powder do you use?

  20. #
    Ellen — March 5, 2020 at 5:03 pm

    Would this recipe work for cupcakes?!?

  21. #
    Carolyn — March 8, 2020 at 7:49 am

    Do you need to line the sides of the pan with parchment?

  22. #
    Cindy — March 11, 2020 at 2:58 pm

    This is a ten star recipe! This may be the best cake I’ve ever made and ever tasted. Ever. Ever. I love Tessa’s specific instructions. Yes, make sure your oil is fresh. I’ve never done a naked or drip cake. I followed Tessa’s tips and it came out great!
    I’m not a big cake baker. I had two 9” pans and baked for 20 minutes so perfect. Whether you’re Irish or not, Make it! Your friends and family will love you for it! (Oh, be careful, did you know Guinness is like draft and semi explodes) Lol

  23. #
    K. Shigematsu — March 14, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    This amazing cake sold for $300 at our school auction! I had made some mini cupcakes as samples to be sure the texture and taste were there. My only concern was that the cake itself was a little too sweet. I’ve since purchased a digital kitchen scale and will try to make this by weight rather than by dry measure. I’m making it again for a friend’s birthday on St. Patty’s Day. Wish me luck!

  24. #
    Ronnie — March 17, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    This is the best chocolate cake ever! The frosting is divine!

  25. #
    Margie — March 19, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    So easy to make. Great instructions and tips!
    Turned out perfectly and sooo delicious! Great for St. Patrick’s Day party☘️

  26. #
    se eun — March 20, 2020 at 4:35 am

    1 3/4 cups (222 grams) all-purpose flour
    2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar

    grams for sugar seems a lot compared to cups. I am wondering if you can check this..

    • #
      Kendra — March 20, 2020 at 11:23 am

      I have made this cake twice and the second time I reduced the sugar by about a half cup. Doing that allowed me to pull more of the Guiness flavor from the cake. Hope that helped!

  27. #
    Bianca — March 28, 2020 at 2:45 am

    What can I use to substitute the Irish Cream?

  28. #
    Haley — April 7, 2020 at 8:20 am

    Amazing cake, thanks Tessa! This was the perfect cake to make for mine and my twin sister’s birthday. We don’t like really sweet dessert, so I only put 5 cups of powdered sugar in the frosting and it still turned out perfect!

  29. #
    Melissa Lucero — April 10, 2020 at 4:29 am

    I made your cake and passed it out to several people and asked for their feed back about mousture, sweetness, flavors they tasted, whether its over powering, not enough or the right amount, over all, everyone gave a thumbs up. What I mainly found that it’s on everyones specific preferece. One person said it was a little to dense, one said frosting was a bit sweet, but all said, cake was moist and very delicious. One lady ate her piece and said that the only thing bad was that I didn’t give her enough. So good job on this recipe. Over all, A’s all around.

  30. #
    Regina — April 11, 2020 at 9:50 pm

    I made this cake during the 2020 quarantine. It was delicious. Very Rich! I am going to slice it up and deliver to friends. I used butter instead of oil and only used 5 cups of powdered sugar in the frosting. It was plenty sweet. I also used Dark roasted coffee instead of Guinness because they did not have any at the grocery store.

    • #
      Mary — May 2, 2020 at 8:39 am

      Regina, I don’t want to use veg oil did you melt the butter so the consistency is oil like? Thanks, Mary

  31. #
    ansu — April 20, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    What is the substitute for guiness beer ?

  32. #
    Robyn Cody — April 30, 2020 at 7:51 am

    I just baked this cake and it cooked in 20 minutes. I checked the oven temp and it was correct. I would suggest checking the cake at 20 minutes and continuing checking every couple of minutes. I just pulled it out of the oven and it smells delicious! I might change my rating after I taste it!

  33. #
    AEll — May 1, 2020 at 7:38 am

    The bailey’s is a nice off set to the guinness cake. Two comments, I found the cake to be VERY oily. I’d probably cut the oil by half. Also, I have NEVER made buttercream with 4 sticks. Holy Moly. I cut it to 3 sticks and it was still very heavy butter forward. I’d probably cut it by another stick.

  34. #
    Erin — May 13, 2020 at 11:53 am

    Loved this recipe and all the tips. I made this and would prob put a homemade unsweetened whipped cream filling inside as the Baileys buttercream is VERY sweet. Otherwise it was amazing!!!

  35. #
    pkbrisson — May 21, 2020 at 11:04 am

    I made this cake for my husband’s 50th birthday and I used a lot of the comments from others in the comment section. I always think things are too sweet so I was looking for ways to reduce the sweetness. I reduced the amount of sugar specifically. I used Dutch processed cocoa and the cake came out really dark. I also made whipped cream icing rather than butter cream.

    Since I live in Kentucky, substituted Bourbon Barrel Ale and Bourbon Cream (made by Buffalo Trace). For the whipped cream, I did 3 cups of heaving whipping cream and 1 cup of Bourbon Cream. No extra sugar was used. The Bourbon Cream was sweet enough and I had more than enough to ice the cake. I will use the excess to do some designs,

    Because of the whipped cream icing, I will skip the chocolate drip and do some decorations. But it looks fabulous and I love that I was able to make it with Bourbon-based beer and cream.

  36. #
    Melissa — June 1, 2020 at 11:26 am

    I made this cake yesterday, for my husband’s bday and it turned out so moist a flavorful. You can really taste all the dementions of flavors.

  37. #
    Andrea — June 3, 2020 at 7:38 am

    Can you freeze the cake over night ?

  38. #
    Shay — June 15, 2020 at 11:56 am

    I used applesauce instead of oil

  39. #
    Jessica — June 18, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    Easy recipe to follow and delicious cake!

  40. #
    Pam Perets — June 22, 2020 at 3:55 pm

    This is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten! My favorite used to be Barefoot contessa’s Beatty’s chocolate cake but this surpasses it!!
    Especially love the Bailey’s buttercream.

  41. #
    miriam — July 13, 2020 at 8:26 am

    I made this cake for my brothers 30th birthday, the whole theme was beer. He said it was the best cake he has ever tried in his life. The Guinness makes the cake really moist and dense but not heavy at all. I topped it with an Irish whiskey frosting which added a bit of. kick. All together the best cake recipe i’ve ever made, highly recommend for those Guinness lovers out there!

  42. #
    Nikita — July 27, 2020 at 12:27 am

    Amazing! Cake worked out perfectly first time, made it again a week later and was also great. A lot of compliments received, and a lot of requests to share the recipe too

  43. #
    Cat — July 29, 2020 at 7:39 pm

    I am wondering if using cake flour instead would work? Any chance you have tried this with gluten free flour?

  44. #
    Alexis — July 30, 2020 at 8:52 pm

    Very rich, recipe was perfect, it turned out beautiful. I made it for my husbands birthday and we also used the cake for our surprise gender reveal. Everyone loved it, I really wish I was able to try it, I really want to make an alcohol free version for myself lol.

  45. #
    Alexis Balke — July 30, 2020 at 8:55 pm

    Do you have a Substitution for the alcohol so I can make it and try it myself? I’m pregnant and made the original version for my husbands birthday but I really want to try it myself!

  46. #
    Hannah — August 1, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    So many compliments on the cake! I think if I used real chocolate in the cake and more guinness it would have been perfect.

  47. #
    Forest — August 1, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    why did my cake sink in around the middle? I put it the fat yogurt instead of sour cream. Could that make a difference?

  48. #
    Carol — August 10, 2020 at 7:56 pm

    Tessa, can I use this cake recipe to make whoopie pies or do I need to alter it somehow? Want to make this for an easy to distribute form to take to movie night.

    Thanks In Advance

  49. #
    Paul — August 12, 2020 at 3:52 pm

    The cake was a huge success. The instructions were clear and easy to follow, and the tips were handy also.

  50. #
    Tina — August 15, 2020 at 10:56 am

    The best chocolate cake ever. I did cut the powdered sugar in the frosting by 1 cup and it was plenty sweet. This will be my go to chocolate cake recipe!

  51. #
    Cheryl — September 1, 2020 at 11:17 am

    In the recipe is say vegetable
    oil ,can it be sunflower oil? Little dissapointed how the sponges came out ,looked broken on top and burnt

  52. #
    mscparkington — September 1, 2020 at 2:19 pm

    Made this the only disappointment was that it was burnt around the sides and crumbly ,but the taste is really nice .
    i feel that the temperature. is very high ,my oven only goes up to 230f
    will make again

  53. #
    Suzan Hollis — September 6, 2020 at 7:56 am

    Deliciously moist cake with a fabulous flavor and the Irish cream frosting takes it to scrumptious!

  54. #
    Gayle Ewals — September 16, 2020 at 4:16 am

    This is probably my favorite cake! I made it for my sons 31st birthday. He loves dark beer and sippin’ whiskey or bourbon so I thought this would be the perfect cake. It was a little labor intensive but well worth the effort! The flavors are amazing. A little slice of heaven! I rammed up the can ache by substituting a third of tbe cream with Irish cream. Sweetness!!!

  55. #
    Sheeba — October 1, 2020 at 9:00 am

    Instead of beer what can I add… Can you please help me with that..

    • #
      AS — October 1, 2020 at 9:04 am

      Try one of her other chocolate cake recipes that don’t have beer.

  56. #
    betty crocker — October 2, 2020 at 12:18 pm

    how about adding a print function!!!!

    • #
      Cat Peters — October 2, 2020 at 1:01 pm

      There is a print function. You must not have seen it.

  57. #
    Abbey — October 5, 2020 at 8:22 am

    I’m making this cake (for my birthday!) for the second time and can’t remember if I weighed flour before sifting or after. It turned out perfect the first time. Help!

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