This delicious chocolate mayonnaise cake recipe is full of rich chocolate flavor and topped with a creamy buttercream frosting. It may be old-fashioned, but the moist texture doesn’t get better than this! This easy recipe uses pantry staples and serves 12 people!
This may come as a surprise, but our secret ingredient to make this rich chocolate cake is full-fat mayonnaise! Some may find that as a turn-off, but you do not want to sleep on the moistness and flavor it gives. Because it’s so simple to make, you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to roll around to satisfy that sweet tooth! I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to my classic chocolate cake recipe.
If you love recipes that are like grandma’s be sure to try my hot milk cake, Martha Washington candy, and chess pie. Since we are talking about vintage and budget friendly, our savory favorites include John Wayne casserole, fried chicken, and southern tomato pie.
What do I Need for this Recipe?
- Cake Ingredients:
- all-purpose flour – we do not recommend using anything different for the base.
- unsweetened cocoa powder – Dutch or regular will work.
- granulated sugar – gives our sheet cake that sweet taste.
- baking soda – make sure it has not expired, this helps the cake to rise and stay fluffy.
- salt – adds just a little depth of flavor.
- milk – we used whole milk.
- eggs – allow them to come to room temperature before using.
- real mayonnaise – add moistness and takes the place of oil and butter.
- vanilla extract – just for a little balance.
- water – using hot water breaks down the cocoa powder to develop that rich chocolate flavor.
- Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:
- salted butter – allow it to soften so the frosting is easier to mix.
- vanilla extract – adds a subtle hint of vanilla.
- unsweetened cocoa powder – Dutch or regular is fine.
- powdered sugar – gives our chocolate frosting just the right amount of sweetness.
- heavy cream – adds creaminess and helps to get the right consistency.
Top with creamy frosting, dust with powdered sugar, or serve with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Mixer – you can use an electric mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment
Baking pans – we are using a 9×13 pan, but you can use round cake pans to make a layered version. You’ll need two 9-inch cake pans. Some like to use parchment paper in the bottom of those to keep the cake from sticking.
Variations and Substitutions:
- Frosting – this delicious chocolate cake would also go well with cream cheese frosting, caramel-flavored icing or your favorite frosting from the store.
- Eggs – If you don’t have any eggs on hand, you can omit those. However, the cake will be a little recessed in the middle, but it will still be delicious.
- Milk – can be substituted for buttermilk or 2%.
- Mayonnaise – we used full-fat mayonnaise, but a light mayonnaise would work just as well.
- Instant coffee – some like to use coffee in place of hot water.
PREP: Grease a 9×13 baking pan and preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Step 1: In a large bowl, combine flour, ½ cup of cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
Step 2: Use an electric mixer to mix the milk, eggs, vanilla, and mayo in another large mixing bowl.
Step 3: Stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Slowly pour the hot water in and stir until a smooth batter forms.
Step 4: Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Step 5: Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick only comes out with a few moist cake crumbs. Let the cake cool completely.
Step 6: In a medium bowl, beat the butter, vanilla, and cocoa powder at medium to high speed until it’s smooth and glossy.
Step 7: Rotate adding the cream and powdered sugar until the frosting is creamy and smooth.
Step 8: Spread the frosting over the cooled cake.
SERVE: Slice into squares and serve.
- Spoon the flour into the measuring cup, then level off with a knife for the best results. Over measuring flour is one of the most common mistakes made in baking and can be the deciding factor for the best cake or the worst.
- Our frosting recipe makes enough for a thick layer. You can halve the ingredients and still have a nice layer, it will just be a little thinner.
- Some mayonnaise cake recipes skip the oil, milk, and eggs, which can make them crumbly. The milk really does bind everything together for moist crumbs.
This cake became popular due to rationed goods during World War II.
Cover with plastic wrap or in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 7 days. You can also freeze for up to 3 months.
It’s a type of cake where the main ingredients include mayonnaise. Recipes like this were very popular during the Great Depression era because ingredients were expensive, so people found ways to improvise.
Miracle Whip is a type of salad dressing that is made with different ingredients than mayonnaise.
Mayonnaise is typically made with oil, egg yolks, vinegar or lemon juice, and salt. Miracle Whip, on the other hand, contains many of the same ingredients but also includes sugar, water, and many times, high fructose corn syrup.
The taste is tangy and slightly sweeter in flavor compared to mayonnaise, and it is thicker.
We would not recommend using it for chocolate mayo cake.
Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup milk
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 ½ cups salted butter softened
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, ½ cup cocoa powder, granulated sugar, baking soda, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, mayonnaise, and vanilla extract.
- Begin stirring the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients (mixture will be very thick). Gradually pour the hot water over the mixture and continue stirring to form a smooth batter.
- Transfer cake batter into the prepared baking dish.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbles.
- Allow cake to cool completely.
- To make the frosting, beat together the butter, vanilla, and cocoa powder until smooth and glossy. Rotate adding the powdered sugar and heavy cream until all ingredients have been incorporated and the frosting is smooth and fluffy.
- Spread the frosting over the cooled cake. Cut into squares and serve.
Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Freeze for up to 3 months. Notes: Hot water is a traditional technique used to help break down dry ingredients in a cake batter. It also helps to break down the cocoa powder and develop the chocolate flavor – you’ll often see this technique specifically in chocolate cake recipes. The frosting is technically a doubled recipe – which gives you that nice, thick luscious layer of frosting. You can halve the frosting recipe and still have plenty to cover the top of the cake, but a thinner layer of frosting. The mayonnaise adds moisture to the cake and substitutes for oil or butter. If you do not have eggs, you can simply leave them out of the recipe. Keep everything else as is. The cake will turn out moist and delicious but slightly recessed through the middle. Some mayonnaise cakes skip eggs, oil, and milk. I found this version to be more crumbly. The milk really does add some binding to hold the cake together with a nice moist crumb. You can substitute buttermilk for 2% milk. We used whole milk.