Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

October  4, 2022
8 Ratings
Photo by Posie Harwood
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Makes one 9" double layer cake
Author Notes

This Depression-era cake recipe might sound bizarre, but the addition of mayonnaise yields a beautifully moist chocolate cake with a rich flavor and tender crumb. Use your favorite frosting: Here, I did a caramel sauce for the filling and a simple chocolate buttercream, but 7-minute frosting, caramel frosting, or salted peanut butter frosting would all be delicious. Adapted from Hellman's. —Posie (Harwood) Brien

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is a part of Mayo Week—seven days celebrating all things mayonnaise—presented in partnership by our friends at Primal Kitchen.
—The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional, for enhanced chocolate flavor)
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (or grease and line with parchment rounds) two 9" round cake pans.
  2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and espresso powder (if using).
  3. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla on high speed until very light and fluffy (at least 3 minutes).
  4. Reduce the speed to low and add the mayonnaise, beating until well-combined.
  5. Add the flour mixture and the water to the batter in three additions, alternating between the wet and dry. Mix until just combined. Don't overmix!
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake just begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
  8. Fill and frost with your favorite recipes: Any buttercream works well. In the photos, I filled the cake with a simple caramel sauce and frosted it in a basic chocolate buttercream.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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40 Reviews

sweetpea November 21, 2023
Hi there! Just a quick question, please. Should the water be warm or boiling? Just wanted to double check before making. Thanks!
Michelle April 13, 2019
How would I adjust the recipe to make in a 12-inch round pan? That’s my go-to when making cakes for my kids’ parties and we all LOVE chocolate cake!
Diane March 27, 2019
I love that this recipe is pareve (dairy-free). Now I'd like a great dairy-free chocolate frosting or ganache recipe. Thanks!
Posie (. March 27, 2019
Diane March 27, 2019
Looking for more of a frosting. Ideas?
Posie (. March 27, 2019
Laurie September 24, 2018
This makes a great bundt cake. I added a cup of chocolate chips to the batter, reduced the sugar to 1 1/4 cup and poured a bittersweet chocolate glaze over the top. This is a new favorite
Rebecca M. August 15, 2018
This has quickly become my new go to chocolate cake recipe. We have a family of 5 and I make a chocolate cake for every birthday. I pair it with Ina Garten's chocolate buttercream frosting and it makes a beautiful cake. It is easy, simple and delicious. It's incredibly moist and holds together well.
Allison C. August 6, 2018
This cake is not moist enough for me. It needs butter instead of oil.
Allison C. August 6, 2018
I mean mayonnaise.
Risottogirl September 2, 2018
I have often found it to be overly moist...maybe you are baking it too long...
Julie M. August 28, 2023
The beauty of using mayo is that it delivers a moist cake, every.time. Other ingredients must be off? I hope you try it again as it is a great cake when you get it right!
Kelly September 18, 2017
Yum - Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake! This beauty was the star of every birthday in our home growing up. It took many shapes throughout the years, too--cupcakes, sheet cakes, and the beloved layer cake. We always new what it was and our guests did too, eating it with delight and served with a big glass of milk (today its served with coffee). This tried and true family delight is still one of my favorites!! I like to weigh and sift all the dry ingredients and mix them into the liquids 1/3 at a time. I get a fluffy, airy, gorgeous result every time.
Bmoore August 21, 2017
use a small package of frozen raspberries, cooked down & thicken up with cornstarch. Once the raspberry filling cools, That becomes my filling for the center layer of cake. Then ice entire cake with the dark chocolate ganache. It's incredible!
Patricia N. August 20, 2017
I am thinking of baking the cake in a loaf pan. Should I half the recipe or just use the whole recipe? Thank you.
Posie (. August 22, 2017
Definitely would halve the recipe, unless you want extra batter to use for cupcakes!
Rprp August 2, 2017
Make in advance...yes. very moist cake
You could even freeze it overnight

Christina August 2, 2017
this is an old post i know but anyone have an idea of how far in advance i could make this cake? would it last overnight unfrosted and saran wrapped? thanks!
Tim April 24, 2017
A link to the buttercream frosting mentioned would have been nice.
DK B. April 13, 2017
If a cake or cookie recipe only calls for baking soda, it likely uses acidic natural cocoa. If it only uses baking powder, it'll probably ask for Dutch process cocoa instead. If a recipe calls for both baking powder and baking soda, you'll need to follow the recipe to get the proper balance of acid and alkaline. Recipes that use baking powder will likely rise regardless of tweaking, but not as well; it's best to stick to the cocoa that a recipe calls for. So, I guess you probably could use Dutch process with that reasoning, but I used regular unsweetened natural cocoa powder.
milly April 13, 2017
can you use dutch process or natural cocoa powder since the recipe has both baking soda and powder? thanks!
DK B. March 28, 2017
My daughter is a chocoholic and absolutely loved this cake. She thought it was the best chocolate cake that she's ever had and has requested it for her 15 birthday.
Rprp March 23, 2017
I thought i saw a comment a few days ago from someone who said she/he did this recipe without the eggs. Did that comment go away? Or did I see it elsewhere?
S. R. March 23, 2017
There are two distinct posts - the article, and the recipe - and two distinct comment streams. The comment you remember is on the article.
Jennifer B. March 17, 2017
This sounds like it would make awesome cupcakes as well.... Any idea on cooking time?
Lisa March 16, 2017
Before I got to the "mayonnaise" part of this article I had a feeling it was a chocolate mayonnaise cake for its moistness. My mom has an old Chocolate Mayonnaise cake I use all the time.... but I always leave out the part when shared that it's made with mayo! I absolutely love the pictures taken for this recipe/article and the options for different icings and the idea to add a smudge of espresso powder!
Nan March 16, 2017
Or a 9x13? Sometimes it's easier for transporting somewhere...
Would it even work or too much batter? I'm very anxious to try this!
Marti March 13, 2017
Was thinking of making this in a 10-inch bundt pan instead of two round pans. Any suggestions on the baking time for this option? I was planning on drizzling a chocolate ganache glaze all over the top as a yummy finish!
Marti March 16, 2017
Does anyone have advice on actual cooking time for this cake if I make it in a 10-inch bundt?
Margo W. January 20, 2021
Took 50m for me in a bundt pan