Chocolate Crazy Cake

This one bowl Chocolate Crazy Cake is the perfect weeknight chocolate cake. This moist and fluffy crazy cake recipe can be in your oven in 15 minutes!

crazy cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles

Crazy ingredients.

Crazy easy to make.

Crazy delicious.

This is Chocolate Crazy Cake, and it’s my favorite easy, everyday chocolate cake. (You’ll have to visit the Best Chocolate Bundt Cake to see my favorite fancy shmancy chocolate cake).

This recipe was a mainstay of my childhood, and it’s GREAT for making with kids. My little one was helping me make this before he could see over the counter top. It’s a quick and fun recipe to whip together, and I’m sure it will become a staple in your family too!

spatula lifting chocolate cake out of a pan

Why is it called Crazy Cake?

  • Crazy Cake (or Wacky Cake as you may also see it called) doesn’t use any eggs or butter. This recipe originated during the depression, when ingredients like eggs and butter were a luxury, hence why it’s sometimes referred to as “Chocolate Depression Cake.” Luckily, nothing about this cake feels like doing without. It has an incredible flavor and texture!
  • Chocolate Crazy Cake is ridiculously easy to make. All you need is one bowl and a whisk! In fact, I think it’s just as quick as a cake mix!
  • It’s CRAZY good. Fluffy, moist, and with plenty of rich chocolate flavor, this checks all the boxes for an intense chocolate craving.

chocolate frosted crazy cake

How to Make Chocolate Crazy Cake

  1. Grab a large bowl and whisk together the dry ingredients–flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Make a well in the center by using a spatula or spoon to push the dry ingredients to the side of the bowl.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients in the center–oil, water, and vinegar. It’s so fun to show kids how the ingredients separate into bubbles–
  4. Use a spatula to mix the wet and dry ingredients together. The batter pops and crackles a bit as it bubbles together. This is my favorite part!
  5. Pour the batter into a greased pan and bake.

step by step photos of mixing up crazy cake

Crazy Cake Frosting

Truthfully, this cake can stand alone with nothing more than a dusting of powdered sugar (and maybe a scoop of vanilla ice cream–HELLO!)

The more traditional way to serve this is with a fluffy chocolate buttercream. We do this pairing quite a bit, because honestly, who doesn’t love crazy chocolate cake with chocolate frosting?

However, our favorite crazy cake frosting is a quick, stove top caramel glaze. The glaze is made by cooking brown sugar and butter together, then stirring in cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla. It’s poured onto the still-warm cake, then hardens slightly as it sits to create a glorious crackly layer of caramel frosting. You can even make it salted caramel frosting, which I highly recommend.

You can also really jazz things up by making a Ho Ho Cake! Start with crazy cake, then add a fluffy whipped vanilla frosting and chocolate ganache for a dessert that tastes just like the classic Hostess treat.

How to Serve Chocolate Crazy Cake

Growing up, we always ate crazy cake warm, in a bowl, with ice cold milk poured on top. It may sound strange, but I promise it’s SO GOOD.

The milk soaks into all the nooks and crannies and creates the most incredible cake and milk soup

That doesn’t sound great, does it? Words fail me. This is just a tradition you’ll have to try for yourself!

If milk on cake isn’t your jam, crazy cake a la mode is also a wonderful option.

slice of chocolate crazy cake with caramel frosting

Storage, Freezing and FAQS

How long does crazy cake last?

This cake can be stored at room temperature, covered, for about 5 days. If you’re using a cream cheese frosting, refrigerate it.

Can you freeze crazy cake?

Yes! I recommend freezing the cake before it’s frosted, either whole or in individual slices. Thaw at room temperature overnight, then frost and serve.

Can you halve the recipe?

The recipe below is for a 9 x 13 inch sheet cake, which I’m both mortified and proud to tell you our family of four can devour in a few day’s time. 

However, you can easily split the recipe in half and bake it in an 8 x 8 inch pan if a 9 x 13 is too much for your family. This is a great opportunity to freeze one cake for later and/or take some to a neighbor or friend.

Can Crazy Cake be vegan and/or gluten free?

Crazy Cake is naturally vegan (hurray!), but you’ll have to make accommodations for the frosting. You can make the caramel frosting with a vegan butter substitute. Or try this vegan chocolate buttercream recipe.

We have tried to make this crazy cake gluten free multiple times, but never been able to replicate the fluffiness and texture of the original. If you’re looking for a great gluten free chocolate cake, we recommend our Flourless Chocolate Orange Cake.

chocolate crazy cake with caramel frosting

More Easy Sheet Pan Cakes

While a gorgeous two layer strawberry cake is sometimes in order, my truest baking love is easy sheet cakes and one bowl recipes just like this one. Here are a few more of my favorites:

One Pot Fudge Brownies

Carrot Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pineapple Sunshine Cake

Chewy Spiced Apple Cake

slice of fluffy chocolate crazy cake with chocolate frosting

Chocolate Crazy Cake

Yield: 20
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Chocolate Crazy Cake is an incredibly easy one bowl chocolate cake that is light, fluffy, and so moist! Crazy Cake is an egg free and dairy free chocolate cake!

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 6 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 5 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons butter (or butter substitute)
  • 4 Tablespoons cream (or cream off the top of full fat coconut milk)
  • 1- 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, flour, salt, soda, and baking powder. (Note: If your cocoa powder is clumpy, you may need to sift it before whisking in).
  3. Make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients then pour in the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.
  4. Mix all the ingredients together until smooth. Pour in the prepared baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For the frosting:

  1. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add the cream and bring back to a boil.
  3. Remove from heat and sift 1 cup powdered sugar into the pot. Whisk until smooth. Continue to add powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. (It should be thick, but pourable--like the consistency of maple syrup).
  4. Pour the glaze over the cake while it's still hot, then allow to cool on the cake.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 234Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 304mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 1gSugar: 31gProtein: 2g

Please note nutritional information for my recipes is calculated by a third party service and provided as a courtesy to my readers. For the most accurate calculation, I always recommend running the numbers yourself with the specific products you use.

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22 Comments

  1. Oh my, does this bring back memories! I was born in 1945 in Oakland California. I remember our grandma made this cake often. She baby sat for my brother and me while our mom worked at the Sunshine Biscuit factory. We called it Crazy chocolate cake then too. I used to make this simple recipe with my brother when I was 8 years old. The way we made it was with half the ingredients. We mixed the dry ingredients in a prepared round cake pan using a fork to mix everything. Then we made three impressions in the dry ingredients and put the vinegar in one, the vanilla in the second one, and the oil in the third one. Finally we poured the water over it all and waited for it to bubble up, then a quickly mixed it all together and popped it in the oven of our wood burning stove. Most of the time we ate it just as it was, but sometimes we would make a cocoa powdered sugar frosting. To my brother and I, it was the best cake ever! I taught my own children to do it the same way. Thanks for letting me share an old memory!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! I love hearing how this crazy cake has been passed down through generations. It’s definitely a favorite in our family too.

  2. I’ve made this twice now, subbing in carob powder for the cocoa since I can’t have chocolate. This cake stays wonderfully moist even a week after baking it. Great light texture and not overly sweet. Plus, it’s so quick and easy to make. Love it!

  3. Do you think the glaze would work with almond milk? We have dairy and coconut allergies so those aren’t options. Any idea if this could be made as cupcakes? We are on lockdown due to the coronavirus and it’s my 40th birthday so we wanted to do something fun with our 6 year old twins.

    1. Hi Erin,

      I think these would definitely work as cupcakes, but you wouldn’t want to do the caramel glaze with cupcakes because it would just run down the sides since you pour it on while it’s still warm. I’m pretty sure almond milk would work in the glaze, but I’d only do the glaze on a cake! Hope that makes sense. I hope you have a wonderful birthday celebration at home with your family!

  4. Been making whacky cake for years for my children and grandchildren but have never used a bowl for the dry ingredients, I mix everything in the greased pan with a whisk or my trusty pastry fork then bake away.

  5. This is the exact recipe I was looking for! My grandma always made this cake when we visited. I’m excited to make
    It this Thanksgiving. My family always eats it in a bowl with milk too! It’s the ONLY way to eat it. ?

  6. So I came across this post after looking at the Peach Slump – which I will be making this week. For the record, in our house we call it Wacky Cake (since before I was born I think) and I agree with everything you posted about the recipe. It is our go-to chocolate cake, never anything else, simple butter icing. I am reprinting your version to try the Caramel Glaze which looks delicious and am completely open minded about the milk idea – call it chocolate bread pudding if nothing else!!

    1. I love that this goes by different names in different places. I’ve honestly only tried it with a chocolate sour cream frosting and this caramel glaze. The caramel is just so good I have a hard time choosing anything else. I hope you give the milk a try! It’s my favorite way to eat it.

  7. In my house we always ate cake and pudding with milk on when I was a kid. I still do- my daughter thinks I am odd! Love the recipe – thanks.

    1. I’m so glad we’re not the only ones! This cake is so perfect for sopping up the milk. It may seem odd, but I couldn’t share the recipe without sharing our favorite way to eat it. Hope you love it as much as we do!

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