I've seen this question about how to alter a chocolate cake recipe to make a plain cake, my question is the other way around, how to alter a vanilla cake recipe to make a chocolate cake? I read in a website that replacing 1/2 cup of flour with cocoa powder would do, is that right? I'd like to know a formula to use for every recipe but in case that is not possible and depends on the recipe one is using, here is the recipe for my vanilla cake:

4 eggs
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 and 1/2 cups flour
2 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla powder

  • 2
    Someone will likely add a more comprehensive response, but the basic answer is to do the opposite of what SAJ14SAJ said in your linked question. The only thing I'd add is to be careful doing a direct substitute of cocoa powder for flour: with lighter cakes, the removal of too much flour can weaken the gluten structure and cause the cake to fall. With denser cakes, it's less of an issue. And you can also substitute some chocolate instead of cocoa powder (while removing a little fat) for a somewhat richer or denser texture.
    – Athanasius
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 13:20
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    Why would you do this instead of simply finding a good chocolate cake recipe? There are millions of them out there. Seems silly to try to stab at it rather than getting a recipe designed to suit.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 15:22
  • @Catija - I agree. But trying any new recipe is also an unknown. I've occasionally tried recipes that were highly rated by hundreds of people and simply weren't what I was looking for at all. If someone has found a cake recipe they really like (with a specific texture, etc.), it may be worthwhile trying to tweak the flavors of that recipe, while making some minor changes as necessary.
    – Athanasius
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 16:27
  • @Athanasius Sure... but there's a huge difference between making a white (vanilla) cake some other flavor... like almond or strawberry or orange... than trying to make it into a chocolate cake.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 16:32
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    @Catija - I disagree, though this probably isn't the place to debate this. Except for "chocoholic" type recipes, chocolate is usually a relatively small proportion of cake batters. In many cases it is quite easy to make a chocolate version by minor substitutions, just like you could make chocolate waffles or chocolate pudding or whatever from an existing ("vanilla") recipe. Sometimes one just wants a chocolate-flavored version of what one knows, rather than some engineered decadent chocolate specialty.
    – Athanasius
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 17:12

2 Answers 2


I did this as an experiment last month, because I wanted a marble cake. The part that I wanted chocolate, I just swapped out a half-cup of the flour for cocoa. I should note, however, that while it tasted great, it made a denser, slightly drier cake than did the white cake batter. Next time, I plan to add a couple of teaspoons of grapeseed oil and some extra baking powder to counteract that problem.


Simply add 3 tablespoons of high quality cocoa powder and 100g of melted dark chocolate.

There is no need to subtract from the amount of flour.

  • 4
    While I mostly agree, 100g melted chocolate could definetively be too much and cause a soggy, overly dense dough. Some recipes will do well, others nit so.
    – Stephie
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 20:38

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