Moist chocolate Coca Cola Cake is a simple, old-fashioned Southern dessert that has experienced a resurgence in popularity thanks to Cracker Barrel restaurant and home bakers who love the nostalgia of vintage recipes. It's rich and chocolatey with Coca-Cola in both the cake and the fudgy icing.

If you love easy sheet cake recipes, be sure to also try our Banana Bars with Penuche Frosting, Pineapple Poke Cake, or Texas Sheet Cake.

A slice of coca-cola cake on a black plate with a bite on a fork.

Did you know that the Coca-Cola was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1892? It's why I'm including this coca cola cake recipe in my collection of Georgia-inspired recipes for my American Eats series where I visit some of the most popular foods and flavors of each state, one state at a time. I also have a Coca-Cola Jello Salad that came straight from one of those old community cookbooks that I picked up while visiting my college roommate in Georgia a few years ago.

This is a wonderful and unique cake because it actually has 2 bottles of Coca-Cola in it. Every bite of decadent chocolate cake is rich with the an enhanced flavor thanks to the classic American cola (sorry Pepsi-lovers). The soda gets reduced on the stove to concentrate the flavor, then some of it goes in the cake batter itself while the rest is used to make the fudgy coca-cola cake frosting that you will recognize and love if you also enjoy Texas sheet cake.

It's more of a chocolate cake with a sticky-sweet something special that you might not identify right away as Coca-Cola. But it's always a guaranteed crowd-pleaser at birthdays or potlucks and perfect with a scoop of ice cream and maraschino cherries on top!

A fork lifting a bite of chocolate coca cola cake in front of a piece of cake.

Why this Recipe Works

  • Buttermilk in the batter! I love to use buttermilk in cakes because it keeps them moist and adds so much depth and interest to the flavor with it's signature tanginess.
  • The fudge icing! I'm obsessed with pourable fudge icing. It's cooked first and firms up into a deliciously fudgy texture that makes every bite of this cake extra special. It also keeps the moisture sealed into the cake so it's fresh for days.
  • Extra light texture. The carbonation from soda gives the cake a bit of a lift for a delicious soft texture. The molasses notes in the coca-cola also adds a deep flavor that most people recognize as something different, but can’t quite tell what it is.

Ingredient Notes

This is a quick overview of some of the important ingredients you'll need for this recipe. Specific measurements and full recipe instructions are in the printable recipe card below.

  • Coca-Cola: Feel free to use original, diet, or even sugar free Coca-Cola if that's what you have on hand.
  • Cocoa powder: Regular unsweetened cocoa powder works great here. You can use any brand you like, but I tested the recipe with Hershey's which is widely and readily available to most home bakers.
  • Flour: This cake does well with regular all-purpose flour so no need to go out and buy cake flour for a lighter crumb.
  • Buttermilk: If you don't have buttermilk on hand, simply add 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a ½ cup measuring cup, then fill it the rest of the way with milk. Let this sit for 5 minutes before using in place of the buttermilk.
Ingredients for coca cola cake.

How to Make Coca Cola Cake

Start by simmering 2 cans of coke in a medium saucepan on the stovetop until reduced by half. Measure out 1 cup, discarding any extra. Set aside ½ cup of the reduced cola for the frosting and return the other ½ cup of cola to the pan.

Add cocoa powder and butter, whisking until the butter has completely melted, then set aside for a few minutes to cool down slightly.

A whisk in cooked chocolate icing in a saucepan.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl to combine, then add the slightly cooled butter, cola, and cocoa powder mixture. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract, then beat or whisk well to create a thin, smooth batter.

Pour the batter into a 9x13-inch baking pan sprayed with baking spray and bake for 30 minutes until a toothpick or knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean or with just a few crumbs sticking to it.

While the cake is baking, go ahead and make the pourable chocolate icing by returning the reserved reduced Coca-Cola to the medium saucepan (same one is fine! no need to dirty another dish!). Add the butter, cocoa powder, and vanilla, whisking over medium heat until the butter is completely melted.

Remove the icing from the heat and start whisking in the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time, until combined to create a smooth, thick chocolate icing. Pour over the cake when it comes out of the oven while both the icing and the cake are are still very warm.

Let the cake cool before slicing into squares and serving. The frosting will firm up into a fudgy consistency. We think this cake is best served with ice cream or a generous dollop of homemade whipped cream and a cherry on top!

Recipe FAQ's

Can I make Coca-Cola cake with another type of soda?

You can absolutely use Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, or Root Beer in place of the Coca-Cola. In all cases, it's more about concentrating the molasses and sugar flavors of the soda and they can be used interchangeably without much of a noticeable difference.

Where did Coke cake come from?

Coca-Cola cake was already around for decades before Cracker Barrel decided to add a double chocolate Coca-Cola cake to its menu in the 1990's. But the earliest reference we found was first published in the Charlestown Gazette in the 1950's!

Are there marshmallows in Coca-Cola cake?

Some folks like to stir in a cup of miniature marshmallows to the cake batter just before pouring it into the pan, but in my recipe testing I found that it didn't seem to make much of a difference to me (and the oldest similar recipe I found didn't use them - it appeared to be a later addition) so I kept it simple and omitted them.

Recipe Tips

  • Decorate with cherries or nuts for extra flair. Some folks like to decorate the top of each slice of coca-cola cake with whole English walnuts. I tend to keep it plain or just garnish with a cherry instead, but the choice is yours!
  • Serve warm. If the cake has cooled completely, I like to pop individual slices in the microwave to warm them for just a few seconds before serving.
  • Don't wait to pour the chocolate icing over the cake. It sets pretty quickly and can be difficult to spread if you wait too long.
  • Don’t eyeball the coke reduction. Measure out and only use ½ cup for the cake batter batter and another ½ cup for the icing. If you just eyeball it, there's a good chance you might end up with frosting that doesn't set up right or a cake that is just too wet and takes longer to bake.
  • Sift the powdered sugar for the icing. This is my top tip for a super smooth pourable icing because sometimes powdered sugar likes to clump when it is stored. If you don't have a sifter, I recommend removing any powdered sugar chunks immediately after pouring before the icing sets. Otherwise, the chunks will be there to stay!
A piece of chocolate coca cola cake in front of a glass of coke and more bottles of soda.

Storage Instructions

How to store: This cake keeps well at room temperature in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap for up to 3 days, or in the fridge for up to 5 days.

How to freeze: You can freeze the cake with or without the fudge icing, but sometimes when it is thawed the icing doesn't hold up well. If your plan is to bake the cake ahead and freeze it, I recommend skipping making the icing until the day or day before you plan to serve it and adding it over the thawed cake.

A piece of chocolate coca cola cake in front of a glass of coke and more bottles of soda.

More Easy Cake Recipes

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Old-Fashioned Coca Cola Cake

5 from 7 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 servings
Moist chocolate Coca Cola Cake is a simple, old-fashioned Southern dessert that has experienced a resurgence in popularity thanks to Cracker Barrel restaurant and home bakers who love the nostalgia of vintage recipes. It's rich and chocolatey with Coca-Cola in both the cake and the fudgy icing.

Ingredients
  

Cake

  • 2 (12-ounce) cans Coca-Cola, divided
  • 1 cup salted butter
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned & leveled (282g)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (400g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting

  • ½ cup reduced Coca-Cola from above
  • ½ cup salted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a 9x13-inch baking dish with non-stick baking spray.
  • In a medium saucepan, simmer both cans of Coca-Cola over medium heat until it reduced to about 1 cup. Measure out ½ cup and set aside for the frosting.
  • Add the butter and cocoa powder to the other ½ cup of reduced cola in the pan over medium heat and whisk until the butter is melted and the cocoa is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt until fully incorporated.
  • Once cooled, add the Coca-Cola mixture to the flour mixture. Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla and use an electric mixer on medium speed to blend until well combined. The batter will be thin.
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting. Return the reserved ½ cup of reduced cola to the saucepan along with the butter, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Set it over medium heat and whisk until the butter is fully melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
  • Add the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time, whisking together until dissolved. Repeat until all four cups are incorporated.
  • Pour the frosting over the baked cake while both are still warm. Allow the cake to cool and the icing to set up before slicing and serving serving.
  • Optional: Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate syrup or cherries.

Video

Notes

  • Storage: This cake keeps well at room temperature in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap for up to 3 days, or in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Freezing: You can freeze the cake with or without the fudge icing, but sometimes when it is thawed the icing doesn't hold up well. If your plan is to bake the cake ahead and freeze it, I recommend skipping making the icing until the day or day before you plan to serve it and adding it over the thawed cake.
  • Substitutions: You can use another dark soda such as Dr. Pepper, Root Bar, or diet or sugar-free versions of Coke or Pepsi in place of the Coca-Cola.
  • Buttermilk: If you don't have buttermilk on hand, simply add 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a ½ cup measuring cup, then fill it the rest of the way with milk. Let this sit for 5 minutes before using in place of the buttermilk.
  • Decorate with cherries or nuts for extra flair. Some folks like to decorate the top of each slice of coca-cola cake with whole English walnuts. I tend to keep it plain or just garnish with a cherry instead, but the choice is yours!
  • Don’t eyeball the coke reduction. Measure out and only use ½ cup for the cake batter batter and another ½ cup for the icing. If you just eyeball it, there's a good chance you might end up with frosting that doesn't set up right or a cake that is just too wet and takes longer to bake.
  • Sift the powdered sugar for the icing. This is my top tip for a super smooth pourable icing because sometimes powdered sugar likes to clump when it is stored. If you don't have a sifter, I recommend removing any powdered sugar chunks immediately after pouring before the icing sets. Otherwise, the chunks will be there to stay!

Nutrition

Calories: 599kcal | Carbohydrates: 94g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 415mg | Potassium: 164mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 73g | Vitamin A: 765IU | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series

Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • IdahoIllinoisIndianaIowa • KansasKentuckyLouisiana • MaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMontanaNew YorkOregonPuerto RicoSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaTexasUtahWisconsin

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I have always heard great things about Coco Cola cakes, but have never tried making them myself. This cake looks divine! You talked me into making one!

  2. This is my first time to make this cake. It's for someone's birthday so I hope it turns out ok. My baking time is longer than 30 minutes so I'm keeping my icing warm. I hope it works.