The Secret to Making Perfect Chocolate Cake May Surprise You

You are NOT going to want to bake a cake without this ever again.

Kiersten Hickman/Taste of Home

It was the closing night of my godson’s school play, and I wanted to make him a chocolate cake. As I scrolled through Taste of Home’s numerous chocolate cake recipes, our chocolate mayonnaise cake recipe stopped me in my tracks. Mayonnaise in a cake…really? 

If the concept of having mayonnaise in a cake makes you cringe, let me just say this: Don’t knock it till you try it. If you’re not a pro and are preparing a cake at home, here’s how to make box cake taste homemade!

Why Mayo?

Although mayonnaise is associated with sandwiches and savory dishes, it’s actually the perfect wet ingredient to make the most delicious, moist cake you’ve ever had in your life. Mayonnaise is simply a concoction of oil, egg yolk, and some type of acid (either vinegar or lemon juice). Oil and eggs are certainly not uncommon ingredients to put in a cake. However, the vinegar is what most find to be the odd ingredient of the bunch. Vinegar doesn’t seem like something that goes in a sweet, delicious dessert. This is, however, is where I was so incredibly wrong. 

Turns out, acids (like vinegar) helps to sharpen the flavor of your ingredients. So having vinegar in a chocolate cake will give it an even richer taste. Curious to the genius behind putting mayonnaise in cake, I decided to give it a try. 

Kiersten Hickman/Taste of Home

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

First, this specific chocolate mayonnaise cake recipe is very easy to make. In just under 10 minutes I was able to mix up the ingredients and get it in the oven—which I think is a record for any type of baking experience of mine. After the cake cooled, I smeared on that delicious brown sugar frosting and immediately cut myself a slice. And, wow, it was moist. It is by far the moistest cake I have ever had in my entire life. I embarrassingly scarfed down two slices while vowing to never, ever bake cake without mayonnaise ever again. 

Now if the idea of having vinegar in chocolate cake still freaks you out, don’t worry, our homemade mayonnaise recipe is perfect for you. It’s made with lemon juice instead of vinegar. 

On the other hand, maybe you’re like me and are currently flabbergasted by this amazing secret ingredient. If that’s the case, then we have a ton of other surprising ingredients to put in a chocolate cake that will take that cake to the next level. 

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Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten is a freelance journalist and content strategist who has covered food, health and lifestyle topics for nearly a decade. She covers a little bit of everything at Taste of Home, from testing recipe hacks to investigating TikTok trends. Her work has also appeared in EatingWell, Bustle, Eat This, Not That!, and The Everygirl, to name a few. Armed with a certificate in nutrition science from Stanford Medicine, she debunks nutrition myths and diet culture in "Forkful," her weekly newsletter on Substack. Her debut novel, "Safe Harbor," came out in 2023.