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Coca-Cola Cake

This Coca-Cola cake recipe is a Southern classic! It’s a rich, moist chocolate cake finished with cola-infused frosting and toasted pecans.

Coca-Cola Cake piece with corner eaten

What Is Coca-Cola Cake?

Coca-Cola cake is a chocolate cake that uses Coca-Cola as one of its main ingredients. The Coke adds sweetness and moisture, and it also helps keep the cake fresh longer.

I’ve had a strange fascination with this cake for a long time, yet I’ve never made it. There’s something about the thought of making a cake with a Coke that intrigues me. Sort of in a how-can-that-possibly-work way.

This particular recipe comes from Classic Southern Desserts by Southern Living. I don’t know if this cake truly has Southern origins, but it certainly seems Southern enough to me. I mean, who else would pour Coca-Cola into a cake?

Piece of Coca-Cola Cake in bowl

Once I finally made Coca-Cola cake for myself, I was surprised to find that it didn’t actually taste like cola! 

This is really a simple, beautiful chocolate cake, with the novelty of being made with Coca-Cola. It’s delicious, and it smells heavenly. (Even with it covered, I could smell its tempting aroma every time I walked by it in my kitchen.) But yes, it is essentially a chocolate cake. And what could possibly be wrong with that?

(Love trying classic Southern cake recipes? Try my Italian Cream Cake, 6-Inch Hummingbird Cake, or Coconut Cake next!)

Overhead view of ingredients for Coca-Cola Cake

What You’ll Need

Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

For the cake:

  • Coca-Cola – Although I haven’t tried it, I’m positive Pepsi or another cola would work in this recipe.
  • Buttermilk – Here’s how to make your own buttermilk.
  • All-purpose flour – Learn more: How to Measure Flour
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Baking soda
  • Unsalted butter – Learn more: Unsalted or Salted Butter: Which is Better for Baking?
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs – Lightly beat the eggs before using them in the recipe.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Miniature marshmallows

For the frosting:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Coca-Cola
  • Unsweetened cocoa
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Chopped pecans – Toast the pecans on the stovetop or in the oven to elevate their flavor.
Overhead view of Coca-Cola Cake slice in bowl

How to Make Coca-Cola Cake

Timing is everything when it comes to this cake. Getting the cake finished and the frosting done at the right times can be tricky. The frosting mixes up pretty quickly, so it is possible to make it after the cake is finished. I’d recommend having all of the frosting ingredients ready so you can get started as soon as the cake comes out of the oven.

To make the cake:

Buttermilk and cola in mixing bowl

Prepare. Preheat your oven to 350°F and coat a 9″x13″ baking pan with cooking spray. Whisk the Coca-Cola and buttermilk in a small mixing bowl or liquid measuring cup.

Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, and baking soda in mixing bowl. 

Mix the wet ingredients. In another mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on low speed until it’s creamy. Slowly add the sugar and beat it in, then beat in the eggs and vanilla.

Finish the batter. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Alternate with the Coca-Cola mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until combined after each addition, then fold in the marshmallows.

Bake. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before frosting it.

To make the frosting:

Melt the first three ingredients. Bring the butter, Coca-Cola, and cocoa to a boil in a large saucepan set over medium heat, stirring constantly until the butter melts.

Add the next two ingredients. Once the butter has melted, remove the saucepan from the heat. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla.

Frost the cake. Immediately pour the frosting over the warm cake and top it with the toasted pecans.

Coca-Cola Cake in metal baking pan

Tips for Success

These simple tips will help you make a perfect Southern Coca-Cola cake.

  • Use room temperature ingredients. Make sure the buttermilk, cola, and eggs are at room temperature before starting the recipe. This will help them to mix together more easily and give the cake more lift.
  • Mix just until combined. Don’t over-mix the cake batter, or your cake will be tough.
  • Do not make the frosting ahead of time. Both the frosting and the cake need to be warm when you frost it.
Slice of Coca-Cola Cake on spatula

How to Store

Coca-Cola cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. The cake will become more moist as it sits, so it is best eaten within the first day or two.

Can This Recipe Be Frozen?

You can freeze Coca-Cola cake for longer storage. Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap and place it in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag. Frozen cake will keep for up to 2 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, then let it sit on the counter at room temperature just before serving.

Forkful of Coca-Cola Cake

Coca-Cola Cake

Yield one 9"x 13" cake
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Coca-Cola cake is a Southern classic! It's rich, fudgy, and super moist.

Piece of Coca-Cola Cake in bowl

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 cup (236ml) Coca-Cola
  • 1/2 cup (118ml) buttermilk
  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (21g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 & 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 & 1/2 cups (64g) miniature marshmallows

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup (78g) Coca-Cola
  • 3 tablespoons (15g) unsweetened cocoa
  • 16 ounces (454g) confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (90g) chopped pecans, toasted

Instructions

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9″x 13″ baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Combine Coca-Cola and buttermilk. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until blended. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until blended.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the Coca-Cola mixture. Begin and end with the flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in the marshmallows.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before frosting.

To make the frosting:

  1. Place the butter, Coca-Cola, and cocoa in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until butter is melted.
  2. Remove from heat. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla.
  3. Immediately pour the frosting over the warm cake. (Do not make frosting ahead!) Sprinkle with pecans.

Notes

Store this cake wrapped at room temperature for up to 3 days, or freeze it for up to 2 months.

Recipe slightly adapted from Classic Southern Desserts.

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    17 Comments on “Coca-Cola Cake”

  1. Coke & Chocolate! What a yummy combination!

  2. your recipes are so creative! this cake looks and sounds fantastic, by the way have you tried chicken wings with coke? they are simply delicious!

  3. This interests me so I think I will add it to my “to make” recipe list for this year, looks delicious.

  4. I’m thinking I need some of that next Thursday!!!

  5. I’ve never used coke in a recipe either, I’ve seen roast beef made in a crock pot with coke in it. I’d rather take my chances with a cake though. This looks terrifc.

  6. I have seen this recipe before as both cupcakes and cake and I am always intrigued – I definitely think I should make it soon and your review of the cake has spurred me on a little as has your presentation 🙂
    Yay for coke!
    I wonder how it would taste with cherry-berry compote…

  7. Oh, this looks like a fun cake! Is it wrong that I love putting pop in food? Haha

  8. I am so glad you posted this! I love Coca Cola cake! And yeah, I’m almost positive it’s Southern… : )

  9. Fantastic!!!!!!!

  10. I’ve never used coca cola in my baking – I can understand it would be sweet. Your cake looks lovely…I only hope I could follow the “small slices” advice!

  11. Cracker Barrel restaurants have a Coca-Cola cake as one of their desserts. Coke is a Southern creation, so I would definitely call the cake a Southern dessert. It is divine!

  12. I found a cola cake recipe on line last week and it seems the recipe I have written down is very different than six other recipes I just read. This cake recipe has 4 tablespoon of cocoa and NO vanilla flavoring. The cake was baked without marshmallows,,,, I use the mini marshmallows on top after cake baked, but it was a sticky trick to cut a piece of cake. I think cup cakes with marshmallows on top slightly brown as a frosting worked better. I used whole milk, since I did not have buttermilk nor the lemon juice or vinegar to substitute. It still was a tasty cake , and moist.

  13. I grew up with this cake. Both grandmothers and every mama & grandmama in out small Texas town made it. It was at every family get a together, church function, and community picnic I ever attended. It is in every church cookbook I own and it is one I have baked a thousand times. This is a special cake that leaves an impression. Enjoy ♥

  14. You sure are right about it being sweet, and I even used less sugar in the cake itself and less in the frosting. I weighed out 16 oz of powdered sugar (450 grams) but only added maybe 300 grams, and it was plenty sweet. My friends have been asking me for months to make this and I finally caved, but I’m glad I did! It certainly is a moist and tasty dessert.

  15. I dont understand the popularity of this cake !! I love good cakes, and have had hundreds of them in my lifetime. I grew up with people making this cake and taking it to church and family functions, but I have never liked it, not even a little bit. There is not enough chocolate in it to be good, and there is almost no flavor to it at all except, sweet, sweet, sweet. It is also heavy and wet nearly always, with a coarse crumb. Not one thing about it is the way that I think a cake should be, but if you like heavy, wet, large-crumbed cakes with no flavor, by all means try it.

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