Mexican Chocolate Cake

Cinnamon and cayenne pepper give this Mexican Chocolate Cake a little kick! Topped with cinnamon buttercream this homemade cake is easier than you think.

There’s chocolate cake. Sour cream chocolate cake. And dark chocolate cake.

And then there’s Mexican Chocolate Cake. When you need just a little kick of flavor. You’ll find a hint of spice in every bite of this moist homemade chocolate cake. It’s easy, it’s different…and it’s amazing!

a piece of chocolate cake on a plate

Why you’ll love this cake:

  • We used our traditional homemade chocolate cake as a base. If you’re new to homemade cakes, this is the one to start with. It’s easy and delicious.
  • Cinnamon and cayenne pepper add a spicy kick to each bite. Don’t worry…it’s just a hint.
  • Creamy cinnamon buttercream made with real butter and heavy cream. Perfectly spreadable.
  • This is a great make ahead cake and it freezes well too.

What is a Mexican chocolate cake?

What makes a chocolate cake Mexican? No, it’s not a chocolate tres leches cake (although that cake will knock your socks off so you should definitely try it). It’s a traditional chocolate cake with added cinnamon.

The first time I had these flavors together was in a coffee shop in a Mexican hot chocolate drink. Some are spicier than others, and this cake is on the mild side. For more flavor, I added ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper. You can add more if you’d like more of a kick, but cayenne pepper is strong so go slow adding it.

overhead view of a cake with frosting and mini chocolate chips

How do you make a homemade chocolate cake?

Here are some hints:

  • Whisk the dry ingredients first, then set aside.
  • Stir the wet ingredients (all but the coffee) together. We like to use a stand or hand mixer to make sure everything gets combined well.
  • Use buttermilk. We recommend buying buttermilk from the store, but if you can’t get to the store, make your own buttermilk by adding 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to a cup of milk. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes, then use the homemade buttermilk in the recipe.
  • Mix the dry into the wet.
  • Add the coffee.

**Pro Tip: “Do I have to add coffee?” If you are 100% against coffee, you can use hot water instead. But coffee makes chocolate cake have a more intense flavor so we highly recommend using coffee.**

closeup of a bite of mexican chocolate cake

Cinnamon Buttercream

To make your buttercream recipe REALLY stand out, here are the best ingredients to use.

  1. Powdered sugar. Using granulated sugar will make your frosting grainy, or not very smooth in texture.
  2. Salted Butter. While it’s up to preference, using butter in your buttercream frosting will make your frosting more flavorful, and less sickeningly sweet. If you don’t want to use all butter, you can use shortening. Salted butter is important because it enhances the flavor even more.
  3. Saigon cinnamon. We use this cinnamon in our best cinnamon roll recipe ever. If you’ve never tried it, do it!
  4. Whole milk or heavy cream. While substitutions like fat-free milk or almond milk can be used, whole milk or heavy cream is the best for your buttercream!
  5. Vanilla. A little vanilla goes a long way – but you’ll love what it adds to the flavor of your frosting!

Use a stand mixer or high powered hand mixer to mix the buttercream. It will be fluffiest that way.

How do you store cake?

Because this frosting has butter in it, it is best to refrigerate the cake if you will have it for more than 24 hours.. Make sure it is covered well so the cake doesn’t dry out.

a slice of mexican chocolate cake on a spatula
a slice of mexican chocolate cake on a spatula

Mexican Chocolate Cake

4.61 from 192 votes
Cinnamon and cayenne pepper give this Mexican Chocolate Cake a little kick! Topped with cinnamon buttercream this homemade cake is easier than you think.
Servings 15
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


For the cake:

For the frosting:

For topping:

  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips


Make the cake:

  • Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  • For the cake, put flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cayenne pepper (optional) and salt in a large bowl and mix well.
  • In a stand mixer, mix the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla together. Slowly add in the mix of dry ingredients while the mixer is on low. Add the coffee and make sure everything is combined. The batter will be very thin.
  • Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back when you touch it. You can also insert a toothpick into the center and it should be mostly clean.
  • Allow the cake to cool on a cooling rack. While the cake is cooling, make the frosting.

Make the frosting:

  • Whip the butter alone in a stand mixer on medium for 2 minutes or until fluffy, almost white in appearance and lighter in texture.
  • Add the vanilla and cinnamon. Add the powdered sugar slowly, mixing between each addition.
  • Alternate the last bit of powdered sugar and the heavy cream, and whip the frosting on high for at least 2 minutes. If the buttercream is too thick after 5 tablespoons of heavy cream, add another tablespoon.
  • Spread the frosting over the cooled cake. Sprinkle the top with mini chocolate chips.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


Refer to the article above for more tips and tricks.
The calories shown are based on the cake being cut into 15 pieces, with 1 serving being 1 slice of cake. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**


Calories: 554kcal | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 448mg | Potassium: 160mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 63g | Vitamin A: 557IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 2mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 554
Keyword chocolate cake, easy cake, easy homemade cake

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About Julie Clark

We are Julie, Maddie, and Kinslee – a mother and daughter team sharing with you the best cakes to satisfy any need or sweet craving that you may have. Welcome to our family’s kitchen!

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4.61 from 192 votes (192 ratings without comment)
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5 stars
Hi. I just made this cake for guests and if came out so good… But unfortunately the guests can’t make it. Can it be frozen?

5 stars
I made this cake for a family Cinco de Mayo dessert and it was a big hit. The base recipe is very like my grandma’s and mother’s chocolate cake recipe. I made it using Pillsbury’s Gluten free flour as my husband and I both have celiac and it turned out great. The frosting is also delicious and really made the cake even better.