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This classic Southern Chocolate Pound Cake recipe is a simple and easy dessert that comes together with just a handful of basic pantry staples. The end result is a rich chocolate cake with a moist crumb and a crisp exterior. Add fresh berries and whipped cream for a treat that’s perfect for any occasion — from Valentine’s Day to birthdays, cookouts to Sunday suppers with family!

Front shot of sliced chocolate pound cake on a white cake stand

Southern Chocolate Pound Cake Recipe

Few desserts are more classically Southern than pound cake, and this particular Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake is bound to be a favorite with all of my fellow chocolate-lovers! Every home cook should have a delicious and easy go-to cake recipe that she can turn to when hosting a party or serving a special Sunday supper, and this moist chocolate pound cake always delivers. It has that crisp exterior and soft, buttery crumb that we all know and love, maintaining the dense pound cake texture without feeling dry or crumbly. Simple dessert perfection!

What’s the difference between pound cake and regular cake?

Unlike traditional American layer cakes or sheet cakes, pound cakes have a dense, rich texture and a crisp crust. Made with simple ingredients like butter, flour, sugar and eggs, pound cakes are large, heavy cakes that don’t rise as much as other cakes. Pound cakes are traditionally prepared in Bundt pans or tube pans, but can also be baked in loaf pans. They’re actually a type of quick bread, since the term “quick bread” refers to any dough or batter that’s leavened without yeast. In this case, we use baking powder to help the batter rise a little bit. While a simple dusting of powdered sugar is a classic finish, some versions also include a glaze on top.

Close up shot of moist chocolate pound cake on a plate with whipped cream

Ingredients for Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake

Here’s a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for this traditional chocolate pound cake recipe. As always, the specific measurements and the complete cooking instructions are included in the recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Butter: adds rich flavor and keeps the cake moist.
  • Granulated sugar: for a cake that’s sweet, but not too sweet.
  • Instant coffee granules: enhance the flavor of the chocolate.
  • Warm water: to dissolve the instant coffee.
  • Buttermilk: an acidic ingredient that helps tenderize the gluten in the flour, giving the cake a softer texture and more body. The buttermilk also interacts with the baking powder to help the cake rise.
  • Vanilla extract and salt: for flavor.
  • All-purpose flour: I prefer all-purpose flour in this recipe rather than cake flour, because the cocoa powder already has a fine, soft texture. All-purpose flour keeps the cake sturdy.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder: this ingredient gives the cake its chocolate flavor. I use Hershey’s cocoa powder, but any similar brand will work.
  • Baking powder: a leavening agent that helps the cake rise.
  • Eggs: give the cake structure and lift.
  • Powdered sugar: for dusting on top of the cooled cake.

Why use warm buttermilk?

You don’t want the buttermilk boiling, but you do want it relatively warm when you add it to the batter. You can warm the buttermilk on the stovetop or in the microwave. The hot liquid helps “bloom” the cocoa powder, creating a deeper, more rich chocolate flavor.

Overhead shot of ingredients for chocolate buttermilk pound cake

How to Make a Chocolate Pound Cake from Scratch

This recipe is slightly adapted from the Queen of Southern Pound Cakes herself, Very Vera! It’s truly the best I’ve ever had, and it’s made even richer and more delicious by my addition of coffee, which simply enhances the flavor of the chocolate. The end result is a rich, decadent dessert that tastes a lot like a brownie — in the shape of a Bundt cake!

  1. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Dissolve the instant coffee granules in the warm water, then combine with the warm buttermilk and vanilla extract.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture, one at a time.
  5. Alternately add the flour mixture and the warm buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
  6. Transfer the batter to a greased and floured Bundt or tube pan.
  7. Bake in a 325° F oven for 75-85 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Dust with powdered sugar right before serving.
Creaming butter and sugar in a stand mixer
Process shot showing how to make the best chocolate pound cake recipe
Southern chocolate pound cake recipe in a bundt pan before baking
Process shot of dusting a Southern chocolate pound cake recipe with powdered sugar
Serving a slice of the best Southern Chocolate Pound cake recipe
Horizontal overhead shot of a homemade chocolate pound cake recipe on a white surface with fresh berries

What to Put on Chocolate Pound Cake

This rich cake is so decadent on its own, that a simple dusting of powdered sugar is really all it needs. For an extra garnish, serve the traditional chocolate pound cake with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some fresh berries.

Powdered sugar in sifter

Storage

  • The pound cake will stay fresh when covered at room temperature for up to 3 days — it does not need to be refrigerated. To extend the life of your cake, wrap it tightly and store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • How to store Chocolate Pound Cake: For the refrigerator or countertop, you can just wrap the cake tightly with plastic wrap. For the freezer, I recommend a layer of plastic wrap, followed by another layer of aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn.
Overhead shot of sliced chocolate pound cake on a white cake stand

Recipe Variations — Moist Chocolate Pound Cake

  • Chocolate Chip Pound Cake: turn this into a double chocolate pound cake by adding about 2 cups of chocolate chips to the batter.
  • Chocolate Glaze for Pound Cake: instead of dusting with powdered sugar, finish your cake with a chocolate glaze.
  • Chocolate Pound Cake Loaf: If you don’t have a Bundt pan or a tube pan, you can typically use 2 loaf pans. The volume of batter should also fit in either two 9-inch round cake pans or in one 9 x 13-inch pan. I haven’t tested this particular recipe in anything other than a Bundt pan, though, so try it at your own risk…and remember to allow plenty of room for the cake to rise (don’t over-fill the loaf pans).
Close overhead image of a traditional chocolate pound cake recipe dusted with powdered sugar

Tips for the Best Chocolate Pound Cake Recipe

  • Properly measure the flour. Spoon flour into the cups and lightly level with the straight edge of a knife. Packing the measuring cups too tightly and using too much flour will result in a dry cake.
  • While most cakes do best with cake flour, I recommend all-purpose flour for this recipe. That’s because the chocolate cake includes cocoa powder – which already has a soft, dry texture. The combination of both cake flour and cocoa powder can result in a flimsy cake. All-purpose flour has a higher protein content and is milled to a slightly coarser consistency, which keeps this cake nice and sturdy.
  • Always sift the flour for pound cake. This extra step prevents any dry lumps in the batter and helps to evenly distribute and incorporate the ingredients.
  • Make sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature so that they blend together smoothly.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. This can take up to 15 minutes! Whipping this air into the batter will help it rise during baking.
  • Don’t leave the cake in the pan for too long after baking — about 10-15 minutes is plenty. After that, condensation will start to form and the moisture will negatively impact the crust.
  • Make the cake about 1 day ahead of when you plan to serve it. The cake just gets better as it sits!
  • Dust with powdered sugar right before serving.
Side shot of a slice of moist chocolate pound cake on a plate

More Delicious Cake Recipes to Try

Front shot of sliced chocolate pound cake on a white cake stand

Chocolate Pound Cake

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 35 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 20 minutes
Cooling Time 2 hours
Total: 3 hours 55 minutes
Servings 16 slices
Calories 367 kcal
A classic Southern Chocolate Pound Cake is the perfect easy dessert for any occasion!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 ¼ cups buttermilk, warmed but not boiling
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325° F.
  • Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 10-15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a separate bowl or glass measuring cup, stir together the instant coffee granules and the warm water until the coffee granules are completely dissolved. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla extract; set aside.
  • Also while the butter and sugar are creaming, use a separate bowl to sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
  • Once the butter and sugar have finished creaming, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl; mix on low speed for 5 more minutes.
  • While the mixer is on low, alternately add the flour mixture and the warm buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary.
  • Grease and flour a Bundt pan. Pour the batter into the pan, just until it is about 1-1 ½ inches from the top. Do not over-fill the pan. Tap the pan on the counter once or twice to release air bubbles.
  • Bake for 75-85 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pan for about 10-15 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Once the cake is cool, dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

Notes

  • Properly measure the flour. Spoon flour into the cups and lightly level with the straight edge of a knife. Too much flour will result in a dry cake.
  • While most cakes do best with cake flour, I recommend all-purpose flour for this recipe. That’s because the chocolate cake includes cocoa powder – which already has a soft, dry texture. The combination of both cake flour and cocoa powder can result in a flimsy cake. All-purpose flour has a higher protein content and is milled to a slightly coarser consistency, which keeps this cake nice and sturdy.
  • Always sift the flour for pound cake. This extra step prevents any dry lumps in the batter and helps to evenly distribute and incorporate the ingredients.
  • Make sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature so that they blend together easily and smoothly.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. This can take up to 15 minutes! Whipping this air into the batter will help it rise during baking.
  • Don’t leave the cake in the pan for too long after baking — about 10-15 minutes is plenty. After that, condensation will start to form and the moisture will negatively impact the crust.
  • Make the cake about 1 day ahead of when you plan to serve it. The cake just gets better as it sits!
  • Dust with powdered sugar right before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 367kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 6gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 255mgPotassium: 169mgFiber: 2gSugar: 39gVitamin A: 475IUCalcium: 49mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: chocolate buttermilk pound cake, chocolate pound cake, southern chocolate pound cake recipe
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

    1. Hi, Sharon! There’s a recipe box at the bottom of the post with all of the specific measurements for the ingredients, as well as the baking instructions. The recipe calls for 6 eggs. Hope you enjoy the cake!

      1. Hi, my name is vasavi. I don’t have butter milk at home, but I make my own by adding lemon juice to milk. Can we warm that up?

        1. Yes, that will work! I recommend using a whole milk, if possible. It has a thicker, richer texture than reduced fat. 🙂

  1. 5 stars
    Recipe followed per directions. Turned out beautifully and taste delicious! Will be my go to chocolate pound cake recipe.

    1. Awesome! I’m so glad to hear that, Janice. Thank you for taking the time to come back here and let me know. 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I made the cake in a 9×13. It turned out really good, but IMO it needs more chocolate. Everything else about it is great. Easy recipe. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Diana! The addition of chocolate chips would be delicious! 🙂 Or a chocolate ganache on top…

    1. Hi, Jennifer! The brewed coffee won’t be an equal sub for the coffee granules since you’re adding extra liquid to the batter. I would omit the coffee granules and replace the 1/4 cup of warm water with 1/4 cup of brewed coffee instead. Hope you enjoy the cake!