This classic Coca Cola Cake Recipe is moist, chocolatey, and delicious. Made with pantry ingredients like cocoa powder, flour, sugar, and eggs, this easy recipe is perfect for any special occasion!
If you’re looking for a unique and delicious dessert for your next holiday party or get-together, look no further than our Coca-Cola cake recipe! Not only is this classic dessert recipe, but it's also surprisingly simple and easy to make - even for novice bakers.
Easy Chocolate Coca Cola Cake from Scratch:
If you've been dreaming of a decadent chocolate cake that's so fluffy and sweet, you'd swear it's your grandma's recipe - then you'll find plenty to love in our old-fashioned Coca-Cola cake.
A seasonal feature at Cracker Barrel restaurants, this homemade cocoa-spiked buttermilk cake with a rich chocolate frosting has long been a favorite at birthday and Christmas parties.
Whip up this festive, chocolatey cake recipe using only a few pantry ingredients - it just may become the latest addition to your traditions!
What is Coca-Cola cake?
Coca-Cola cake is a delicious chocolate cake that can be enjoyed as a holiday treat or a special dessert. Complete with cola and chocolate frosting, this dessert originated in the southern United States and has become a tradition all around the country.
This cake is similar in style to a Texas sheet cake, especially when bakers add pecans before pouring the fudge frosting over the top. Others add mini marshmallows which makes it similar to a Mississippi Mud Cake. Neither of these cakes uses a can of coca cola as an ingredient, however.
Chocolate cola cakes are often served during Christmastime, which likely started with the popular Cracker Barrel restaurant chain in the late '70s. Since then, Coca-Cola cakes have been a sought-after treat for families' holiday gatherings.
The simple recipe calls for the cola to be used as a key ingredient in both the cake batter, as well as the frosting, creating its signature flavor. It's often served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with hot fudge or chocolate syrup.
How to Make Cola Cake with Fudge Icing:
This dessert comes together in no time! Here's a quick overview of the instructions with step-by-step photos.. You'll find the recipe in its entirety further down the page.
To Make the Cake Batter:
- Start by preheating the oven to 350°F, and spraying a 9x13-inch cake pan or baking dish with cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and granulated sugar.
- In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract.
- Place the cola, butter, oil, and cocoa powder in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the ingredients to a boil while stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat then carefully pour over the flour mixture.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the ingredients until smooth. Usually, this takes about 1 minute.
- Add the buttermilk mixture and baking soda, and continue mixing just until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool for 5 to 10 minutes before frosting.
To Make the Fudge Icing:
- In a medium saucepan, add the butter, cola, and unsweetened cocoa powder over low-medium heat until the butter melts.
- Remove from heat, and whisk in the powdered sugar. Pour the icing over the cake, and use an offset spatula to spread it into an even layer. Slice and enjoy!
Tips and Variations:
- Add some chopped pecans or walnuts when you pour on the icing for a crunchy texture.
- Don't have cola on hand? Use Dr. Pepper, diet cola (diet soda), cherry coke, or even root beer instead.
- Make sure you grab the baking soda and not the baking powder. These two pantry ingredients have different properties and behave differently in baking.
- Quickly check your cake for doneness starting at around 30 minutes. Every oven and baking pan cooks differently, so yours may finish baking faster (or may take longer) than written in the recipe.
- Use a hot knife to cut the cake once it's been refrigerated. Run the knife under hot water for a few seconds and quickly dry off the excess moisture. Slice your favorite piece of cake then repeat for subsequent slices.
How to Store Coca-Cola Cake:
Refrigerator: This cake stores well in the refrigerator. Leave the cake in its pan, and cover it tightly with plastic wrap, or transfer it to an airtight container. Cut individual servings whenever you'd like a slice.
Freezer: Bake the cake in a freezer-safe pan. Let it cool completely and skip the icing! Wrap the pan in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of aluminum foil. The cake will stay fresh for about 2 months.
If you want to make the icing ahead of time, freeze it in a plastic bag with the air removed. Otherwise, it's best to make the frosting fresh, reheat the entire sheet cake, and apply the frosting to the hot cake.
Reheating: This moist chocolate cake is best enjoyed slightly warm. Microwave for 10 to 15 seconds, just until the cake is barely warm and soft. We don't want to melt that delicious chocolate frosting, but it should be softened.
Why add Coke to cake?
Adding a cup or so of cola to cake batter does a few things.
It adds extra liquid to keep the cake nice and moist - because nobody wants a dry cola cake or any cake for that matter!
The carbonation acts as a leavening agent. Even when the cake has baking powder or baking soda in the batter, cola gives the cake extra lift.
What can you substitute for buttermilk?
Normally you'd be able to substitute sour milk (1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice + ½ cup milk). In this instance, buttermilk is the best option.
The acidity in buttermilk works to activate the baking soda giving this chocolate cake it's soft, fluffy texture.
Is this the Cracker Barrel recipe?
Nope! This isn't the Coke cake recipe from Cracker Barrel, and it's not intended to be a copycat recipe.
This recipe comes from a cookbook from the mid-1970s that once belonged to my grandmother. While it tastes similar, I doubt it's the Cracker Barrel recipe.
Recipe Card with Ingredient Amounts and Instructions
For the Cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup Coca Cola
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup canola oil, or vegetable oil
- ⅓ cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
For the Icing:
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup Coca Cola
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 16 ounces powdered sugar
To Make the Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and grease a 9x13-inch cake pan. Set aside.
- In a large, heat-safe mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.2 cups all-purpose flour2 cups granulated sugar½ teaspoon salt
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, and vanilla until well combined.2 large eggs½ cup buttermilk1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Place the cola, butter, oil, and cocoa powder in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil.1 cup Coca Cola½ cup unsalted butter½ cup canola oil⅓ cup cocoa powder
- Pour the cola mixture over into the flour mixture, and use a hand mixer to beat the ingredients until combined. Usually about 1 minute.
- Add the buttermilk/egg mixture and baking soda and continue mixing just until combined.1 teaspoon baking soda
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before icing. It needs to be very warm to help the icing spread.
To Make the Icing:
- In a large saucepan, whisk together the butter, cola, and cocoa powder until the butter melts.½ cup unsalted butter⅓ cup Coca Cola3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- Remove from heat, and whisk in the powdered sugar. Pour the icing over the hot cake and spread into an even layer. Slice and enjoy!16 ounces powdered sugar
- See post for tips, FAQs, and storage options.