Chocolate of the Day: Coca-Cola Cake

I’d like to think of this recipe as a Southern recipe, as in, a recipe that is very much indicative of Southern cooking. Apparently, this was a much-loved recipe at church potlucks when my mom was growing up. When the recipe popped up in an issue of Southern Living, my Memaw added it to her already impressive repertoire. For the record, I’m willing to bet very good money that many secret family recipes that Southern mamas and grandmas pass down are actually from Southern Living.

Before we get started, I must tell you that this baking session also included Mama Stephens. Baking is a family affair with us and when we do lots of baking (especially at Christmas) I’ve always acted as my mom’s sous chef. Today, she acted as mine and took some of the pictures.


  • 1 cup Coca-Cola
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsps vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups miniature marshmallows
  • ¾ cup toasted pecans, for garnish, optional
Ingredients for Coca-Cola Cake: Classic coke, flour, sugar, cocoa, buttermilk, etc
Yes, we use a hand mixer. There is a story, I promise.

Coca-Cola Frosting

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1/3 cup Coca Cola
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 (16 oz) package powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Let’s Get Started

Pre-heat oven to 350° F. I always do this first thing, otherwise I’ll have everything mixed and in the pan only to realize I haven’t turned the oven on. First off, you’ll need to combine the Coca-Cola and buttermilk and set it aside. Make sure you’re using regular Coke. Better still: use the kind with real cane sugar if you can get it.

Beat butter on low until creamy, then add in the sugar gradually and beat on low until blended. A trick I learned from my parents is to dump all the cups of sugar and other ingredients you need into a bowl, even if you don’t need to mix dry ingredients together. That way, you don’t have to stop and refill the cup with more ingredients.

Slowly adding in sugar to creamy butter until everything is blended
Beat softened butter on low and then gradually add in sugar, still beating on low until it’s blended.

Next, add egg and vanilla and blend on low speed. After that’s all blended, combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda. Add to the butter mixture. We use self-rising flour, so we didn’t use baking soda for this particular cake.

In a separate bowl, we combine the flour and cocoa through a sifter.
Combining flour and cocoa. We sift everything.

If I were cooking this by myself, I would combine the flour and cocoa first thing, but since I had my mama helping me, she did this while I was blending the sugar and butter. Pro-tip: my parents taught me to ALWAYS sift the flour and cocoa, even if the recipe doesn’t call for it.

Add the flour and cocoa combo and then the Coke and buttermilk combo and alternate the two.
Combine the flour and cocoa mixture and the Coca-Cola and buttermilk.

Now you add a bit of the flour and cocoa mixture and blend and then add the Coca-Cola/buttermilk mixture and blend. You alternate between the two, but you must BEGIN with the flour/cocoa mixture and END with the flour/cocoa mixture.

Funny Family Story Interlude

My mother and I had bought my dad (who is actually the head baker in the family) a KitchenAid mixer one year for Christmas. He used it once and declared he didn’t like it and went back to using a handheld mixer, which is hell on your wrists. We still have it somewhere and I’m taking it with me when I move out because even on a low speed, that handheld Cuisinart is rough to use.

Sorry! Back To Recipe

Finally, mix in the marshmallows.

Mix in marshmallows

Then, pour the batter into a greased and floured 13 x 9 pan. Try and get the marshmallows distributed evenly. Then bake for 30-35 minutes at 350° F until a toothpick comes away clean. Remove and let cool for 10 minutes.

Cake with no icing yet
Bake for 30-35 mins and then cool for 10.

Frosting Time!

Bring the 1/2 cup butter, Coke and cocoa to a boil in a large pan over medium heat.  Stir until butter melts. Then, remove from heat and whisk in sugar and vanilla. I sift in the powdered sugar as I whisk.

Lots of chocolate frosting in the bowl.
End result of making the frosting! Yummy goodness!

Spread the frosting over the cake, which still should be warm.

My mom and I licking the bowl
The most important thing you have to do. Test the icing after you’ve put it on the cake.

Most importantly, any frosting that is left in the bowl, must be eaten. Otherwise the cake will be TERRIBLE. It is known! The final optional step: sprinkle the top of the cake with pecans. We laid some on a cookie sheet and roasted them in the oven, still on 350, for a couple of minutes. Then we chopped them up and sprinkled them on top of the cake. And you’re done!

Finished Coca-Cola Cake
Coca-Cola Cake

By Stephens

Florida girl, would-be world traveler and semi-permanent expat. Her main strategy of life is to throw out the nets and hope something useful comes back, but many times it's just an old shoe. She also really, really hates winter and people who are consistently late.

6 replies on “Chocolate of the Day: Coca-Cola Cake”

Leave a Reply