Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake Recipe

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake Recipe

"It might sound weird and gross to put mayonnaise in a chocolate cake, but it makes sense when you think about it."

You can't seriously tell me that doesn't look incredibly tasty. [Photographs: Liz Gutman]

Some things just go together—peanut butter and jelly, cheese and crackers, chocolate and mayonnaise. Wait, what? You don't yet know about how awesome chocolate mayonnaise cake is?

Today's recipe was actually inspired by a SE Talk thread. I can't say I know its exact origins, but it's certainly nothing new—many recipes refer to it as "World War II" or "Depression-Era" chocolate cake. It's a testament to the resourcefulness of home cooks through the ages; in times of food scarcity or limited budgets, you have to get creative. It's no wonder this recipe has lasted—this chocolate cake is moist, tender and delightful. And really easy to make.


Could you actually make my slice a little bigger?

It might sound weird and gross to put mayonnaise in a chocolate cake, but it makes sense when you think about it. Mayo is just oil, eggs, and a little vinegar. The oil makes the cake beautifully moist and tender, and the vinegar punches up the chocolate flavor a little.

What's nice about it is it's not too sweet, and extremely chocolatey. I decided to make it a 2-layer 9" cake, with a simple chocolate frosting recipe from Smitten Kitchen; but it's just as delicious by itself with a little whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. When chocolate cake is this good, you don't need to dress it up too much.

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake


  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, generous
  • 1 1/3 cups hot water


  1. 1.

    Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9" cake pans, or a 13" by 9" baking dish.

  2. 2.

    Using an electric hand or stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl on medium-high speed until thick and very light in color; about 6 to 8 minutes. Don't be shy about this—you can't overbeat whole eggs like you can with whites.

  3. 3.

    Add the mayonnaise and vanilla extract, and beat on medium speed until combined.

  4. 4.

    Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt, and beat on low speed until combined. The mixture will look thick and fudgy.

  5. 5.

    Add the water and mix on low speed until it's incorporated. The batter will be much thinner. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake for about 30 minutes (check it at about 25 minutes), or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

  6. 6.

    Allow the cakes to cool on a rack, in their pans, for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are cool enough to handle. Invert them onto the rack and allow to finish cooling to room temperature.

  7. 7.

    Enjoy! The cake may be frosted at this point if you like; I used Smitten Kitchen's delicious chocolate-sour cream frosting, which is incredibly easy to make and works wonderfully with this cake. 20100421cakeslice.jpg