Moist Triple Chocolate Layer Cake (Easy Recipe)

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This triple chocolate cake features three decadent layers filled with sweet frosting and mini chocolate chips. With our pro decorating tips, you can assemble a stunning chocolate 3 layer cake in just one hour! Chocolate lovers will be obsessed with this dessert! 

triple chocolate cake slice on a white plate


Is there ever such a thing as too much chocolate? I’d like to think not. This is why this is the best chocolate cake – because it’s loaded with chocolate flavor. 

Pair it with a little bit of vanilla ice cream, or just enjoy the chocolate cake layers as they are.

The fun part about making a decadent cake like this is that there is no wrong way to eat it. 

ingredients to make triple chocolate cake recipe

Triple Chocolate Cake

The secret to this mouthwatering triple layer chocolate cake is espresso powder! 

When mixed with water and added to the batter, it creates an incredibly moist texture that melts in your mouth.

Don’t worry, it simply enhances the chocolate flavor – your dessert won’t taste like coffee at all.

Up for some more Triple Chocolate goodness? Try our Triple Chocolate Cookies!!

For another delicious and chocolatey cake, try my Copycat Chili’s Molten Lava Cake!

Craving more chocolatey desserts? Try these gooey smores cookies or boozy brownies made with Baileys Irish Cream.

And if stacking this chocolate 3 layer cake is too intimidating, then poke cakes are what you’re looking for!

chocolate layer cake batter in 3 cake pans

Triple Chocolate Cake Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Use room temperature ingredients. This goes for both the batter and the frosting! 

    The ingredients will combine together much easier, and there won’t be any lumps.
  • Don’t have buttermilk? Easily make your own in minutes! Whisk 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar into 1 cup of regular milk, then let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. 

    Once thickened and curdled, use as directed.
  • Line your pans. Adding a round of parchment paper to the bottom of your round pans will ensure that your cakes release easily.
  • Keep it chilled. Since there is cream cheese in the frosting, store your triple chocolate cake (including any leftovers!) in the refrigerator. 

    Cover or transfer to an airtight container and enjoy within 3 to 5 days.
  • Tip for slicing: Run a large, sharp knife under hot water, then dry completely. 

    The warm blade will glide easily through your triple chocolate layer cake for perfect, clean slices.
ingredients to make frosting for triple chocolate cake

Decorate Like A Pro!

First, let those cake layers cool. I know it will be tempting to get it all assembled, but warm cake will crumble — and melt your frosting!

Allow your cakes to cool for at least an hour at room temperature, but longer is better. You can also pop them in the refrigerator to speed up the process.

Before stacking this triple layer chocolate cake, add a small dab of frosting to your stand or cardboard round. 

This will hold the bottom layer in place so it doesn’t slide around.

Then, use a large piping bag to evenly apply the frosting before smoothing it with an offset spatula. It works in between the layers and the outside of the dessert as well!

fluffy chocolate buttercream frosting in mixing bowl

Triple Chocolate Cake FAQ

How do I make my cakes flat on top?

I recommend using baking strips – soak them in water and wrap them around the outside of each pan to help the batter rise evenly.

You may need to increase the baking time by about 10 minutes or so. Just keep an eye on the cakes and test them with a toothpick towards the end. Once it comes out clean (without any crumbs), they are done!

If you don’t want to use strips for this triple chocolate cake recipe, simply slice the top off of any domed cakes to make them even.

What can I use instead of espresso powder?

Brew a strong pot of coffee, then replace the espresso powder and water mixture with one cup of coffee instead.

How soon can I start frosting this homemade chocolate cake? 

It might be super tempting to frost the layers of moist chocolate cake quickly so that you can eat this decadent dessert, but you do need to wait to let it cool. I would give it at least 25-30 minutes, at a minimum, before you start adding the frosting to the top of the cake, the laters, or the sides. 

If you start applying the creamy chocolate buttercream frosting too soon, you’re going to have a cake covered in melted chocolate frosting, which will still be flavorful, but it won’t be nice and pretty to look at. 

For the best results, give the cake plenty of time to cool down to room temperature before you start adding any frosting to the cake. 

What is the easiest way to add frosting to a cake? 

You can use a frosting knife or just use the back of a knife to add the frosting. You do have to be careful applying it to baked cakes and be sure that you add quite a bit to spread out evenly over the layers, sides, and top. 

You are going to frost the sides of the cake last so that you can make sure that you can have the layers covered as well as the top. Then scrape the sides of the large bowl so that you get all the frosting off, and spread that over the cake evenly. This is the best way to make sure that you don’t leave a small amount in the bowl – as every portion of frosting should be used. 

Can I freeze triple chocolate cake? 

Yes! To freeze an entire cake, place it in the freezer until it hardens (about 1 ½ to 2 hours). Then, wrap tightly in a layer of plastic wrap and another layer of aluminum foil.

Or, freeze individual slices on a plate or sheet pan for about an hour before wrapping in plastic and foil.

Store your triple chocolate layer cake for up to 3 months in the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator before serving.

frosted triple chocolate cake, slice removed

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plated slice of rich chocolate layer cake

piece of chocolate layer cake on plate

Triple Chocolate Cake

Donna Elick
Triple Chocolate Cake has three decadent layers filled with sweet frosting and mini chocolate chips. This recipe takes just an hour to make!
5 stars from 2 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 34 minutes
Total Time 59 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Method Oven
Servings 16


  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder


  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6-7 cups powdered sugar, plus more as needed
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Garnish (optional)

  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, divided, plus more as desired


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 9-inch round baking pans. Line with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a microwave-safe bowl, stir together 1 cup of water and instant espresso powder. Microwave and bring to a boil for 30-40 seconds, while watching closely to make sure it doesn’t overflow. Set aside to cool.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer, place sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed until combined.
  • Next, add buttermilk, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract. Mix together on medium speed until well combined and smooth (about 2-3 minutes). Stir in cooled espresso and mix until combined. Divide batter evenly into the 3 prepared baking pans.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 350°F or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool for about 10-15 minutes, and then turn them out onto wire cooling racks to cool completely.
  • Once the cakes have cooled, frost them and enjoy!


  • In a large mixing bowl of a standing mixer (or you can use a hand mixer), beat together the softened butter and cream cheese until creamy and fluffy.
  • Add in cocoa and vanilla and beat until combined. Alternate adding in powdered sugar(starting with a cup at a time) and heavy cream, mixing in between each ingredient. If the final consistency is too thick, add more cream. If it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar.
  • To assemble the cake, place the first layer down on the serving plate. Add a smooth, even layer of frosting. Evenly top with 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips. Place the second cake layer on top and coat with another even layer of frosting. Evenly top with the remaining ¼ cup mini chocolate chips. Place the third cake layer on top. Cover the entire cake with an even layer of frosting. Top with mini chocolate chips or add additional decorating if desired.
  • Chill in the refrigerator for one hour for easy slicing. Serve and enjoy!

Donna’s Notes

Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator (in an airtight container) since there is cream cheese in the frosting.
If stored properly, the cake will last 3-5 days in the refrigerator.
To freeze an entire cake, place it in the freezer until it hardens (about 1.5-2 hours). Then, tightly cover in plastic wrap and wrap again with aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 2-3 months. You can also freeze individual slices. Freeze each slice on a plate for about an hour. Then tightly cover in plastic wrap and again with foil. Thaw in the refrigerator when ready to eat.
You might be wondering why espresso powder is added to this cake recipe? Adding espresso powder with water makes the cake moist and gives it an incredible texture that melts in your mouth.
I don’t have espresso powder, can I use something else? You can substitute the espresso powder and water mixture for a cup of coffee.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 730cal | Carbohydrates: 111g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 426mg | Sugar: 86g | Fiber: 5g | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 3mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled pinterest collage for triple chocolate cake recipe

Originally published March 2013, updated and republished February 2024

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  1. I made this for a birthday cake recently. I didn't have vegetable oil and used sunflower oil instead. Apart from that didn't make any changes to the recipe. It was lovely And yummy, moist and delicious, would make it again.

    1. It really brings out the chocolate flavor, you can not taste 'coffee' but feel free to leave the ingredient out and it will still be wonderful. Enjoy!

  2. I have been making this cake for well over a year now!! Family loves it they always ask for it! Made 3 for my grandson's birthday party!! It was a hit for sure!!!

  3. I have made this cake twice and am about to bake it again now. My family loves this recipe thank you so much for providing it.

  4. I love the addition of expresso powder or instant coffee. I would dust the cake with chopped nuts instead of chocolate chips though. I adore chocolate but not the chips, lol, just my preference!

  5. 5 stars
    I have made this cake SO many times. It is perfection but it seems to have been updated this year. I didn’t print the recipe as I’ve always used it from my saved pin. Can you please advise what was changed? It now says it’s a triple chocolate cake.

    1. Hi Christie. Thank you for being such a loyal TSRI reader!

      Donna retests her recipes from time to time, to be sure they work well. In this case, other than the name change (previous title was Hershey Perfect Chocolate Cake), the are 2 differences between this recipe and the original. The size of the cake – the original recipe made a 2-layer cake of 10-12 servings, using 2 8-inch cake pans. This one makes a triple layer cake that serves 16, using 3 9-inch pans. The other difference is, this time around, we used buttermilk instead of regular milk. You can use either – we prefer the tanginess of the buttermilk. Hope this helps!

      TSRI Team member,

      Tip: If you want to make the smaller cake,

  6. Can you make cupcakes with this recipe. My grandson would love this in chocolate cupcakes for his birthday.

  7. This cake is delicious and so moist! I’m sure I will be making it again and again! I’ve been searching for years for a really good chocolate cake recipe and this is it!

  8. 5 stars
    This cake is beyond amazing! It was so easy to make and turned out absolutely delicious!

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