Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake (Depression Cake)

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake is a moist chocolate cake in a sheet pan with chocolate buttercream frosting. One of my favorite recipes from Grandma!

overhead shot of sliced chocolate mayonnaise cake on cooling rack


 

Mayonnaise Cake is sometimes touted as “cake without eggs or oil,” which I find to be hilarious. Because mayonnaise is made with eggs and oil. It’s also sometimes called depression cake, wacky cake, or just plain mayo cake or mayonnaise cake.

Chocolate and Mayonnaise Cake?

As a child I hated mayonnaise. Despised it. I would get SO upset if accidentally came on my food. So imagine my surprise when I caught a glimpse of my most beloved cake being made and it contained, gasp, mayonnaise!!!

For whatever reason, it was years until I had it again. Seeing an article on nostalgic recipes jogged my memory, so I requested the recipe from my mother.

Simple ingredients make a splendid basic chocolate cake. A sheet cake made in a 9×13 pan. Just an easy cake made with ingredients you probably already have.

overhead shot of frosted mayo cake recipe on cooling rack

Why You’ll Love This Mayo Cake

A decadent cake that uses pantry ingredients- what’s not to love!

  • Cheap to make – This isn’t called a “depression cake” for nothing! I’d be willing to bet you already have these ingredients on hand.
  • Bold chocolate flavor – In addition to the cocoa powder, I have one secret ingredient that really sends this flavor over the top.
  • Quick and easy – From start to finish you can have this cake ready to enjoy in under an hour.

Ingredients for Mayonnaise Cake

I’d be willing to bet you have all, if not most, of these ingredients already on hand.

  • Flour – All purpose flour will work perfectly for this quick cake recipe. Always make sure to sift when measuring.
  • Baking soda – This will act as a leavening agent to give our chocolate cake recipe the perfect rise.
  • Cocoa powder – Unsweetened cocoa powder is what gives this delicious chocolate cake its rich chocolate flavor.
  • Instant espresso powder – This is optional, but it really helps to bring out that bold chocolate taste. It’s the secret ingredient for many chefs and will help even the most bland cocoa powder taste like a million bucks.
  • Fine sea salt – Adding a little bit of salt to baked goods helps to bring out the natural flavors and balance sweetness.
  • Milk – Milk keeps things moist. Try to use a 2% or even full fat milk for the most impact.
  • Sugar – This is a rich cake, but not an overwhelming sweet cake. While it seems like a lot of sugar, this is also a LARGE cake and needs to balance out unsweetened cocoa.
  • Mayonnaise – If you notice, this cake has no eggs or oil. Well, that’s exactly what mayo is made from! So we can easily swap them for mayo. Try making homemade mayonnaise!
  • Vanilla extract – Pure vanilla extract brings a warmth to any baked good you add it to. You can try making vanilla at home too.
  • Chocolate frosting – You can make our homemade easy chocolate frosting, use store bought, or even your favorite homemade recipe.
close up shot of frosting on chocolate depression cake

How to Make Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

You’re going to love how easy it is to make this chocolate mayonnaise cake recipe.

  1. Prepare oven and pan. Preheat the oven and coat a baking pan with cooking spray or vegetable shortening. Set aside.
  2. Soft dry ingredients. Sift or whisk together the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder and espresso powder (if using). Set aside.
  3. Beat wet ingredients. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together milk, sugar, mayonnaise, and vanilla.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Slowly add dry ingredients, mixing well after each addition, but only until just mixed.
  5. Bake. Pour batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake until it passes the toothpick test. Allow to cool completely.
  6. Top with frosting. Frost with our best chocolate frosting recipe or another frosting recipe of your choice.

Espresso Powder

One of my biggest tricks (or secret ingredient) is instant espresso powder. Yep- I keep a jar in my pantry at all times.

Did you know that just 1 teaspoon added to any chocolate dessert will amplify the flavor tremendously? Like double! I highly suggest getting the caffeine free kind though, otherwise that after dinner slice of cake might keep you up later than intended. Especially for the kiddos!

overhead shot of frosted and sliced mayonnaise chocolate cake on cooling rack

Variations

There are plenty of ways you can make this chocolate mayonnaise cake your own. Here are a few ideas.

  • Cake pans – You can use whatever pan you choose, however baking times will vary and since there are so many sizes, I can’t really give you a guide. If you use two round pans, reduce cooking time to about 22-25 minutes.
  • Frosting – Use whatever frosting you prefer on chocolate cake. My favorite is just a basic Chocolate Buttercream. You could also use cream cheese frosting or… white chocolate cream cheese frosting!
  • Add ins – Take the chocolate flavor up a notch by throwing some chocolate chips into the batter! You could even add in some chopped nuts.

Storage and Freezing

I wouldn’t make it longer than 24 hours in advance. Regardless of how you store it, cakes start to lose moisture the moment you take them out of the oven.

How to Store Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

You do not need to keep it chilled. In fact, chilling cakes can dry them out faster. I recommend storing covered with plastic wrap or in an airtight container at room temperature and then eating them up fast.

Can I freeze chocolate cake?

This is a tricky one. You can store this chocolate cake in the freezer, but I do not recommend freezing the frosting.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does adding mayonnaise to cake mix do?

Adding mayo to cake batter really makes a cake moist. The texture is unbelievable without changing the flavor.

What does mayonnaise replace in a cake?

Because it is made with both eggs and oil, mayo replaces both of those things when making a cake.

More Delicious Cakes

One of my favorite desserts has got to be a moist cake. Here are a few of our favorite easy cake recipes, you all know I am a lazy baker.

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No-Bake Mini Chocolate Chip Cheesecake recipe

5 from 1 vote
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Pistachio Icebox Cake

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angled shot of slice of honey bun cake on plate

Honey Bun Cake Recipe

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A soft and buttery Honey Bun Cake recipe with a spiced sugar filling and a shiny glaze. This classic is EASY to make in under an hour!
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overhead shot of sliced chocolate mayonnaise cake on cooling rack with text overlay
overhead shot of sliced chocolate mayonnaise cake on cooling rack

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake (Depression Cake)

4.27 from 61 votes
Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake is a moist chocolate cake in a 9×13 pan with chocolate buttercream frosting. One of my favorite recipes from Grandma!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 16 pieces

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray or vegetable shortening. Set aside.
  • Sift or whisk together the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder and espresso powder (if using). Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together milk, sugar, mayonnaise, and vanilla.
  • Slowly add dry ingredients, mixing well after each addition, but only until just mixed.
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepared 9×13 baking dish.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test. Allow to cool completely.
  • Frost with our Best Chocolate Frosting recipe or another frosting recipe of your choice.
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.

Nutrition

Calories: 204 kcal, Carbohydrates: 25 g, Protein: 2 g, Fat: 10 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 5 mg, Sodium: 227 mg, Potassium: 43 mg, Sugar: 12 g, Vitamin A: 10 IU, Calcium: 5 mg, Iron: 1 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 204
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake from scratch, chocolate mayonnaise cake, homemade chocolate cake
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!

Check out all the delicious recipes from our Grandmas:

collage of chocolate mayonnaise cake for pinterest
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Recipe Rating




Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    A good chocolate cake recipe is always a winner! I need to make this for my husband ASAP because he loves chocolate!

  2. I haven’t had a cake like this in forever. It definitely brings back memories and the cool nights at the end of summer.

  3. 5 stars
    I love recipes that are passed down through generations, there is something so special about them and the memories they evoke. Love the simplicity of this amazingly looking moist cake.

  4. I bet the mayonnaise makes these super moist and delicious! Spring is a great time for chocolate cake so the perfect time to try this recipe!

  5. 5 stars
    Yummy! Any recipe that is a favorite from grandma is okay by me! I actually have always loved mayonnaise and using it in recipes because it adds such great flavor and texture qualities.