Admittedly, I’ll find a way to work Duke’s mayonnaise into any dish, but I swear this chocolate cake recipe is a classic Southern trick. You’re probably thinking, Mayonnaise in a cake? Really? Chicken salad is one thing, but this is a step too far! Stay with me, though, because this is one recipe you need to taste to believe.

I first encountered chocolate mayonnaise cake when living with a friend from Lynchburg, VA. An impressive Southern home chef, even in her early 20s, when most of us were subsisting on pasta and grilled cheese, she made a decadent chocolate mayonnaise cake one crisp fall Saturday for a football watch party. One bite and I was hooked!

Of course, it hasn’t taken much convincing for a mayo fiend like myself to give it a try. But, for all of those who hadn’t witnessed the secret ingredient making its way into the mixing bowl, they were simply left wondering how a cake could be so impossibly moist. The addition of mayonnaise makes for an incredibly luscious cake, one that puts boxed cake mixes to shame (though, you can certainly try this mayonnaise move on a boxed mix to doctor it up).

RELATED: A Southern Classic Recipe: Banana Pudding From Peregrin

Chocolate cake made with Duke's Mayonnaise

You can SEE how impossibly moist this secret-ingredient chocolate cake is. Imagine how it tastes!

Where did this mayonnaise secret come from? Some say it originated during the 1930s when the Great Depression led to a scarcity of eggs and oil. Looking for a cheap, accessible alternative that would work successfully in baked goods, the oily quality of mayonnaise was a hit.

Generations later, even with eggs and oil readily available, we’re still making this unlikely treat, and now, it’s become a classic Southern dessert passed down through the years.

And, one last thing to address: Do you have to use Duke’s mayonnaise, specifically? Well, that’s up to you, but I’m not messing with a timeless Southern tradition!

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Heather BienHeather Bien
Duke's mayonnaise adds extra moisture and a decidedly Southern twist to classic chocolate cake.
4.13 from 54 votes
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Southern
Servings 12 servings
Calories 509 kcal


Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Duke's mayonnaise
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee powder

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • cups butter slightly softened
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp heavy whipping cream


Chocolate Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two 9-inch round baking pans.
  • Mix dry ingredients, flour, sugar, baking soda, and cocoa powder well in large bowl.
  • Dissolve instant coffee powder in water.
  • Combine wet ingredients, vanilla extract, Duke’s mayonnaise, and coffee/water in another bowl.
  • Blend wet ingredients into dry. Mix until smooth.
  • Pour batter into two pans and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Let cool before frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • Using a mixer, beat butter on high speed until creamy and light.
  • Add cream and vanilla extract, beat until blended.
  • In another bowl, mix sugar and cocoa powder.
  • Slowly, add dry ingredients into wet and continue to mix on low speed.
  • Scrape bowl as needed to blend all ingredients thoroughly.


Note: Frosting can be made ahead and refrigerated! Just make sure you bring it back to room temperature before spreading.


Serving: 1SliceCalories: 509kcalCarbohydrates: 79gProtein: 4gFat: 40gSaturated Fat: 19gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 509mgPotassium: 162mgFiber: 3gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 795IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Chocolate Cake, Cake
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

All photography by Heather Bien. 


Visit our archives for more delicious recipes.