Last updated on January 27th, 2022
Don’t let the name fool you — this 1930s Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake is wickedly delicious. Mayonnaise replaces the butter and milk that are ordinarily found in chocolate cake batters, rendering a super moist, incredibly chocolaty dessert. You can mix the batter by hand or by machine as you please. Although I baked the cake in a rectangular baking dish, you might prefer to use two 8- or 9-inch cake pans, just as the original 1937 recipe recommended. The same batter can be used for delectable cupcakes. Scroll down for notes, printable recipe, and video demonstration:
From reports I’ve read, the recipe for Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake was printed on jars of Hellman’s mayonnaise as early as 1937. The cake remained popular during the WWII years, when butter wasn’t easily available. Since mayonnaise is composed of egg yolks, vegetable oil, and an acid of some sort, it made a suitable replacement for butter, milk, and oil in cake mixtures.
How to Freeze Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
This cake freezes perfectly. To freeze, first let the cake cool to room temperature. Then cut it into either wedges or squares, depending on the shape of the baking pan you used. Put the pieces in an air-tight container, and freeze. When frozen at 0°F or lower, the cake will remain fresh and wonderful for up to 1 year.
Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake is so moist and rich that it really doesn’t require any adornment. For the sake of appearance, you can dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar. If you are the kind of baker who likes to “gild the lily,” then you can do what I did, and thickly spread the cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (recipe included below), or with the frosting of your choice. Hungry for more? Get my email updates.
Other cakes you might like to try:
Here’s the printable:
1930s Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
For the cake:
- 2 cups|260g all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup|65g unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 2/3 cups|335g sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup|220g real mayonnaise
- 1 1/3 cups|320ml water
For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
- 1 cup|226g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 4 1/2 cups|540g confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 3/4 cup|62g unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2-5 tablespoons milk, cream, or half-and-half -- use enough to achieve a spreadable frosting
Making the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13x2-inch baking dish with butter, shortening, or vegetable spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl if using electric beaters), beat the egg and sugar at high speed until pale and creamy -- about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and mayonnaise. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Next, at "low" speed, and in alternating additions, add the flour (3 additions) and the water (2 additions), beginning and ending with the flour.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean -- 30-35 minutes. (Add additional time if your baking pan is smaller than 9x13x2-inches.) Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.
Making the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
- In a bowl of a standing mixer equipped with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl if using electric beaters), beat the butter and confectioners' sugar at low to high speed until light and fluffy -- 2-3 minutes. Next, starting at low speed and increasing to high speed, beat in the cocoa powder and vanilla. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Beat in the milk one tablespoon at a time until a thick but spreadable frosting develops. Spread the frosting on top of the cake.
Ann Burke says
Can u sub vegaterian Mayo for real Mayo and can u use almond milk for those with dairy restrictions for the cake? It would be great to have the gluten free versions posted.
U r amazing!
Beth Moore says
Hi Kevin – This recipe was my mom’s standard chocolate cake recipe. And the only difference with her frosting was she always used a tablespoon or two of cold coffee in the chocolate butter cream. Yum!! Now I have to go make a cake!
Darla Metro says
I’m 71 years old and mayonnaise cake has been my favorite since I was a kid. I would venture to guess that I have had mayonnaise cake on my birthday for ninety percent of those 71 years. We like it with cream cheese frosting but really any one will do. It’s the cake that “takes the cake”! So moist and dense and such a deep chocolate flavor. I love to have mine with a big glass of cold milk. Heaven!
Grandma always made Chocolate Mayo cake. Love it!
Thanks for sharing the recipe! Really appreciate it ~
Kathy passie says
It was great to see this mayonnaise cake recipe. I have been making it for 70 yrs and it is STILL my favorite cake. I hope all your readers will try it. Thank you for sharing.
Debra Elliott says
This is such a moist and delicious little number:) Thanks for the reminder!
My Grandma used to make this wonderful cake. She passed it to my Mom and she passed it to me. I’ll admit I was skeptical about a cake made with mayonnaise, but it’s the most tastiest, moist cake I’ve ever had. I’ve made it for special gathering’s and always get praise for such a delicious dessert. I don’t dare tell them it’s made with mayonnaise. Lol. I’m passing it to my daughter next. Thanx for the memories of this timeless cake.
My mom use to make this cake. I’m so glad I found out how to make it on your web site. Can’t wait to make it for my brother’s 60th birthday. All he wants is a really good chocolate cake. This one is the one he will get. God Bless
Hi Kevin, I have not tried this recipe yet but I wonder if it is dense enough to be used to bake old fashioned chocolate donuts?
Pat C says
This cake was delicious. Rich, chocolaty and tender. I had cream cheese frosting left over from a red velvet cake I made last week. It went very well with this rich chocolate cake. I frosted half of it and topped the other half with powdered sugar. (My husband doesn’t care for frosting.). My friend and I had a piece with tea and she asked for the recipe. It is a keeper! Thanks for another wonderful recipe.
P.S. A piece of this cake paired with a glass of cold milk helps you sleep like a baby.
I remember your recipe for mayonnaise cake from a posting a year or 2 ago, and it was delicious. So moist and soft !! So since then, I have, on several occasions ( mostly when cake mikes are on sale for $ 1 or so) I have used a cake mix, and I substitute 1 cup mayonnaise for the oil. Chocolate, red velvet, but even buttercream or white can still be used. Makes the cake so much better than a plain old cake out of a box. it is amazing how this one ingredient swap can make such a difference!
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Chris – Great to know!!!