Southern Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake. This cake is rich, moist, and fudgy. It's reminiscent of a Texas sheet cake, but fudgier! Coca-cola cake is a southern tradition! If you’ve spent any time in the South then you may already know they LOVE their coke! Every soda is often referred to as a “coke” whether it’s actually coca-cola or not!
Now, this cake is not something I made up myself, who actually wrote this recipe, I couldn’t say! But you’ll see almost identical recipes from Paula Deen to Southern Living, even Cracker Barrel has their own version! Some people put marshmallows and nuts in it, but I prefer this cake in its purest form! AKA sans-marshmallows and nuts.
What’s Does This Cake Taste Like?
This cake uses coca-cola in its cake batter AND it’s frosting! But does it actually taste like coca-cola? No, not really. The coca-cola flavor here melds with the chocolate flavor giving it an extra rich flavor!
The first time I made this cake and sliced into it I though, is this really a cake? It looks like a brownie… But you take a bite and yep, it’s cake alright! It is an extremely moist, fudgy, dense cake, but definitely cake.
The cake by itself is not overwhelmingly chocolate flavored; I personally like to use a Dutch processed cocoa powder (Like Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder) to amp up the chocolate flavor in this cake! I think it gives it a better texture too, regular baking cocoa makes it a little less moist. But that’s your call to make!
What You Need to Know About this Frosting
Now, this frosting is my own creation. This cake usually is made with a more of a chocolate glaze and that just didn’t cut it for me. I wanted something….more.
While the cake is baking go ahead and make your frosting. You’ll need to boil down 12 ounces (1 12-ounce can or 1 ½ cups) of coca-cola into a thick syrup. You’ll boil it down until you only have ½ cup of soda left. For me it usually takes about 10 minutes, but you may have to check a few times before getting it just right, and that’s okay.
Once you’ve go that syrup done, you’ll whisk in your other ingredients until smooth. I like to pour this over my cake while it’s still warm and then let it cool completely. One reason I like frosting it while the cake is warm is you get that really smooth glassy top on the frosting and makes it so pretty! Who says that sheet cakes can’t be elegant?!
This cake tastes so much better if you let it cool completely and it’s much easier to slice!
Use Real Coke, Not Diet
It’s not secret that I am not a real coca-cola fan. I’m a diet coke girl through and through. So trust me, USE THE REAL THING! Diet coke will just not cut it in this recipe!
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Got leftovers? Freeze them!
This cake freezes beautifully! But I warn you, it’s dangerous to have in your freezer! I found myself sneaking little pre-cut slices out ALL THE TIME!
I like to slice my cake before freezing it, for easy. Just make sure to wrap the cake or place it in a tightly sealed container in the freezer.
You could even make the entire cake ahead of time and wrap and freeze the entire thing and then thaw it out if you wanted! Just make sure the cake is completely cool before freezing it.
Buttermilk and Buttermilk Substitutions
If you’ve read a lot of my posts before, you may have already heard my spiel about buttermilk and buttermilk substitutions, but it never hurts to hear it again!
You may have noticed that I love using buttermilk in my baking. I will always say that using real buttermilk is BEST! However, I completely understand that you may not have time to run to the store to get buttermilk always, but that shouldn’t stop you!
For 1 cup of buttermilk there are a couple substitutions you can do:
- 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice—then let stand for 10 minutes
- ¾ cup yogurt + 4 cup water
- it’s a little different if you use a thick Greek yogurt: ⅔ cup Greek yogurt + ⅓ cup water
You don’t want to substitute just regular milk without adding the lemon juice and here’s why…buttermilk and all the substitutes I listed are acidic, meaning that when they mix with the baking soda you get a reaction.
Think about that volcano science experiment we all did as kids—baking soda + vinegar and you get a fizzy explosion! This reaction between the buttermilk and baking soda is what’s going to make this cake rise and give it a nice cakey texture and not too dense.
You’re going to love this cake as much as I do, I just know it!
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Southern Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups flour measured correctly
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1- 12 ounce can or 1 ½ cups Coca-Cola (NOT diet)
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder I prefer to use Hershey’s special dark
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1- 12 ounce can or 1 ½ cups Coca-Cola (NOT diet)
- ½ cup butter
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 ¼ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9x13 pan and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add Coca-cola, cocoa, butter, and oil. Stir together, bring mixture to a boil and let simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and pour into flour mixture. Stir until smooth.
- In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla until smooth. Add into your cake batter. Mix until smooth.
- Pour into your greased pan and baked for 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean, it may have a few moist crumbs, which is okay.
- When cake is nearly done baking, start making your frosting. In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat add your Coca-Cola. Bring to a simmer and stirring occasionally, reduce your Coca-cola down to about ½ cup. Mine took about 10 minutes of simmering. You may have to pour it into a liquid measuring cup a couple of times to check before you get it just right
- Once you’ve reduced your soda down to ½ cup, add in your butter, cocoa, and chocolate chips. Stir until melted and mixture is smooth.
- Remove from heat and whisk in your powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. Once smooth, pour it over your cooked cake (you can do this when the cake is warm or cool). Use an offset spatula to smooth frosting evenly over the top. Cool completely before serving.