If you’re looking for a rich, moist cake, loaded with flavor, you’ve come to the right place. This Old Fashioned Chocolate Mayonnaise cake is a southern favorite guaranteed to please everyone on your guest list. And this yummy recipe takes things a step further, adding a rich chocolate frosting with mayonnaise in it, as well!
Mayonnaise. . .in a cake? Is that a thing?
Believe it or not, it is!
If you stop to think about it, mayonnaise is made up of egg yolks, oil, and vinegar. When you use it in your cake, you can totally skip the eggs and oil. Some folks don’t even add milk to their mayonnaise cakes but I did because I wanted the additional fat to add moisture.
Here’s another fun fact: the best cakes in the world have buttermilk in them. Want to know a key ingredient in buttermilk? Vinegar, (which you will find in mayonnaise, as I mentioned above). So, in essence, when you add mayonnaise and milk to this cake, you’re adding eggs, oil, and buttermilk to the recipe. . .and that combination always results in a win!
This old fashioned mayonnaise cake recipe is truly going to knock your socks off!
The History of Mayonnaise Cakes
Mayonnaise cakes date back to the 1920s and 30s (the Great Depression era) but they didn’t really take off until the 1940s, when eggs and sugar were rationed during WWII. By the time the 1950s rolled around, recipes for this cake were appearing in newspapers. (To coin a modern phrase, the recipe went viral). Housewives across America started making and serving them routinely.
Mayonnaise cakes were marketed as moist, rich. . .and quick. And let’s don’t underestimate that last part. Back then, most every meal was made and served at home and homemade desserts were common. Busy housewives were always looking for shortcuts and the mayonnaise cake offered that: three ingredients in one handy jar.
I Blame Lucille Ball for the Popularity of the Mayonnaise Cake
Hear me out.
I talked it through with a good friend today (the one who gave me the recipe) and the conversation went something like this:
ME: I think I know why mayonnaise cakes were a thing in the 1950s.
HER: Why is that?
ME: By the ’50s most people had moved off of the farm and were living in suburbia. Fresh eggs and butter weren’t as accessible, but mayonnaise was very popular.
HER: Oooh! I never thought of that!
ME: Remember I Love Lucy? That episode where she made Aunt Martha’s Old Fashioned Salad Dressing? She popularized the stuff!
HER: Oooh, that’s right!
Okay, so I can’t prove Aunt Martha’s Old Fashioned Salad Dressing was mayonnaise, exactly, but (for sure) busy housewives in the ’50s and ’60s were excited about using ready-made foods like mayonnaise. No doubt those poor gals were exhausted from their hours in the kitchen!
Hey, a shortcut is a shortcut!
And, things aren’t much different now. We’re always looking for ways to speed things up. (That’s why I often reach for a box of cake mix). Handy is dandy! And, where I live (in the south) mayonnaise is pretty much a staple! So, every cook has a jar of the stuff in her fridge.
Which is ironic, because I had to go to the store to fetch a jar before making my cake. I don’t actually use real mayo. We’re Miracle Whip people in my family. (Don’t judge me.)
CHOCOLATE MAYONNAISE CAKE INGREDIENTS:
Are you ready to make this luscious cake? Great! It’s an easy recipe and you’ve probably got the ingredients in your pantry and refrigerator right now!
You’ll find a full, printable recipe at the bottom of this post, but for now, here’s a quick peek at what you’ll need:
- milk (or water)
- instant coffee (or instant espresso powder)
- vanilla extract
- granulated sugar
- all-purpose flour (sifted)
- unsweetened cocoa powder
- baking soda
CHOCOLATE MAYONNAISE FROSTING INGREDIENTS:
Let’s also look at what you’ll need for the frosting. Don’t worry. There’s not much mayo in this recipe, just enough to enhance the flavor of the chocolate.
- unsweetened cocoa powder
- mayonnaise (use a full fat mayonnaise)
- room temperature butter (I used salted)
- powdered sugar
- vanilla extract
How to Make this Delicious Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake:
Start by dissolving the instant coffee powder in the milk. Set aside.
Place mayonnaise, sugar, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl and whisk together until smooth.
Slowly work the milk into the mayonnaise mixture until fully incorporated, whisking until smooth. You could use an electric mixer for this or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, but I mixed mine by hand.
Sift your flour before measuring out two cups. Place in a separate bowl. Add salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder.
Add half of your flour mixture to your wet ingredients, mixing with a wooden spoon, rubber spatula, or electric mixer.
Now add the rest of your flour mixture, folding in until fully incorporated. Be careful not to over-mix!
This is a gooey, thick cake batter. You’ll want to eat it by the spoonful. . .but don’t!
Pour batter into two prepared 8 inch cake pans (round).
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 28 minutes or until cake springs back to the touch. Be careful not to over bake or your cake will lose its moist texture. Make sure the center of the cake is baked through.
How to Make this Luscious Chocolate Mayonnaise Frosting:
You can make the frosting while the cake is baking.
Place butter in a medium bowl. Soften in the microwave until mushy (20-30 seconds). Whisk together with milk, mayonnaise, and vanilla until creamy.
In separate bowl whisk together the cocoa powder and powdered sugar.
Slowly incorporate dry ingredients into wet until the frosting reaches the consistency you like. (At this point I switched to a hand mixer because I wanted to get any lumps out.)
You will have to gauge how much sugar you add. Texture is a matter of preference with this frosting. If it’s too thick, just add a little more milk to thin it down.
For the last minute or so, mix at a high speed. Frosting should be light and fluffy.
How to Assemble this Cake:
Let the cake cool on a wire rack in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out and let them cool for another 15 – 20 minutes. Don’t attempt to frost while warm or the frosting will melt!
I used a cake leveler to cut my layers in half. I wanted a total of four layers. If you don’t have a leveler, you can achieve this with a large flat bread knife. The purpose of multiple layers is to have a great distribution of chocolate frosting.
Place a dab of frosting on your cake board to keep the cake from shifting.
Place one layer of cake on a cake board and add frosting. I added some chocolate syrup on top of mine and then spread it out before adding the next layer of cake.
Just keep going until you reach the top.
Frost the entire cake.
(Note: You don’t have to frost the sides of the cake if you don’t want to. This recipe would make a lovely naked cake!)
Slice and serve to your guests, pausing only to say, “You’re welcome!’ as they offer amazing compliments in-between bites.
My Thoughts on this Cake?
Y’all. This cake is so rich, so decadent, that I felt absolutely sinful eating a slice! It’s so good. I finally see what everyone was raving about.
Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
You guys know that I love doctored cake mixes. I almost always start with a boxed mix. (See my Ultimate Chocolate Cake Recipe for proof!) But I might have been converted, now that I’ve tried this recipe!
Variations on this recipe:
I can’t wait to try this mayonnaise cake again and again! Here are some things I plan to do next time:
- Use this recipe for cupcakes. Because it’s a dense batter, it will be absolutely perfect for cupcakes! (Bake for 16 minutes in muffin tins with paper liners.)
- Use this recipe as a base for brownies. Instead of a full cup of milk, only add 1/3 cup, then add 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Bake in a 9×13 inch cake pan. Melt chocolate chips on top during the last five minutes of baking. (Yum!)
- Turn this recipe into a mint chocolate cake by adding a cup of mint chocolate chips to the batter. Coat the chips in flour before stirring into the batter.
- Use this cake in my Oreo Dirt Cake recipe or my Mint Oreo Trifle.
- Add raspberry preserves between the layers, along with fresh raspberries on top.
- Make an Almond Joy cake: Add chocolate frosting, toasted coconut, and slivered almonds between every layer and on top of the cake.
- Make a Turtle cake! Add chocolate frosting, chopped pecans, mini chocolate chips, and caramel topping between every layer.
- Make a chocolate mayonnaise sheet cake, (Texas sheet cake), topping with chocolate ganache frosting and chopped pecans.
- Make in a bundt pan. Add chocolate chips for more flavor then drizzle with chocolate syrup or caramel sauce after placing the cake on a serving dish.
- Serve with my Chocolate Ganache Frosting. (This would be an amazing combination!)
- Serve with my Raspberry Whipped Cream frosting. (Heavens! This would be amazing!)
- Serve with peanut butter buttercream. (Reese’s, anyone?)
- Serve with a traditional cream cheese frosting, but add a bit of cocoa powder to it. (Yum)
The possibilities are endless! (This is truly the best chocolate mayonnaise cake recipe out there, y’all!)
How to Store this Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
Store in an airtight container. This chocolate mayo cake will stay fresh for up to three days. It will last a few extra days in the refrigerator. You can freeze in an airtight container for up to two months. Thaw and serve. (Do not warm in microwave. The frosting will melt.)
Other Chocolate Treats
If you love chocolate cake, you’re sure to love the following great recipes from Out of the Box Baking:
- Double Mint Chocolate Cookies: These yummy bites of deliciousness are “doubly” good because of the addition of cocoa powder. It’s chocolate on chocolate on mint. And, oh my! The result is powerful!
- Stuffed Brownie Cookies: If you love brownies but want the convenience of a gooey cookie, you’ve come to the right place! In this recipe you’ll learn how to make ridiculously easy stuffed brownie cookies. They’re not like anything you’ve ever had, I promise!
- German Chocolate Cake: This is a traditional German Chocolate Cake with a homemade coconut pecan frosting (my mama’s recipe)
- Double Dark Chocolate Espresso Muffins: You love chocolate. You love coffee. You love muffins. These amazing, gooey Double Dark Chocolate Espresso Muffins merge all three of those things into one delicious bite! You’ll swoon, I promise!
- Enjoy the great Weekend potluck offerings over at South your Mouth, one of my favorite food blogs!
That’s it for now! Thanks so much for stopping by. Let me know if you try this Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake. I can’t wait to hear your reviews.
About the Author
Janice Thompson is an author, baker, and all-around mischief maker! She has overcome a host of baking catastrophes, including a toppled wedding cake, to learn more about the baking process. Janice has published over 150 books for the Christian market but particularly enjoys writing recipes and baking devotions. To learn more about Janice or to drop her a note, visit her About the Author page.
- CAKE INGREDIENTS:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon powdered coffee
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted)
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- FROSTING INGREDIENTS:
- 1/8 cup cocoa
- 1/8 cup Mayonnaise
- 1/8 cup milk
- 1 stick salted butter (room temperature)
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Place mayonnaise, sugar, and vanilla extract into a medium bowl and whisk together until smooth. Slowly work in the milk until fully incorporated.
- In a separate bowl place your dry ingredients: (sifted) flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Whisk together.
- Add half of your flour mixture to your wet ingredients, mixing with a wooden spoon, rubber spatula, or electric mixer. Now add the rest of your flour mixture, folding in until fully incorporated. Be careful not to over-mix!
- Place batter in a prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cake springs back to the touch.