While my family didn’t make Coca-Cola cake much growing up (we were too busy drinking it straight), I remember eating it often at potlucks. When Cracker Barrel added it to their menu, it was a big deal. My dad ordered it every time we went.
The cake is lightly chocolatey with a thin, fudgy frosting. It contains actual Coca-Cola, and the flavor really comes through. It’s sweet—there’s plenty of sugar and soda—and decadent. Best of all, it’s served warm—there’s no need to try your patience waiting for it to cool down before you dig in.
When Faith Hill and her daughter Gracie shared their family recipe with Ina Garten on her podcast “Be My Guest with Ina Garten,” the Hamptons icon declared it “crazy good.” I knew right then and there that I had to try it.
A Note on the Recipe
I adapted the following recipe from Food Network, where the episode originally aired. I use the word adapted because I found it to be sparse and different from the one on the show. I fixed a few things, and the version of the recipe you’ll find below will produce a tasty cake, as seen on TV!
Also, I took one big liberty with the recipe: I added salt. The recipe had zero salt and made a big, very sweet cake. I promise the cake needs salt.
How To Make Faith Hill’s Coca-Cola Cake
Adapted from Food Network. Makes one 9×13-inch cake.
For the cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 cup cola soft drink, such as Coca-Cola
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup miniature marshmallows
For the icing:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons cola soft drink, such as Coca-Cola
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar, sifted
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9×13-inch pan.
Add the flour, granulated sugar, and salt to a large bowl and whisk well to combine. Heat the butter and cocoa powder in a saucepan until the butter is melted, whisking to combine. Add the cola and whisk, bringing it to a simmer. Pour over the flour mixture and whisk to combine.
Add the buttermilk and baking soda and whisk to combine. Add the eggs and vanilla and immediately mix, then add the marshmallows. The batter will be thin and the marshmallows will float to the top.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean or with a crumb or two attached, 30 to 35 minutes.
As soon as you take the cake out of the oven, make the icing. Combine the butter, cocoa, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. You can use the same saucepan, no need to clean it! Once the butter begins to melt, stir well to combine. Add the cola and whisk. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla followed by the powdered sugar. Whisk until smooth and thickened.
Use a thin skewer to poke holes in the cake while it’s still hot and pour the icing over the cake. Let cool for a few minutes so the icing can set, then cut into squares and serve warm.
Tips for Making Coca-Cola Cake
My #1 tip is to ignore the instructions on the Food Network site for the icing and follow the steps above. If you combine everything for the icing and boil it, it will become so thin that it will completely soak into the cake and won’t form a pretty, lightly crunchy layer on top. I know this from experience.
My #2 tip is to dust the pan with cocoa powder instead of flour. I didn’t include this in the recipe because it’s totally optional, but it makes for a prettier cake and adds a little more chocolate flavor.
Finally, serve it warm if you can. There are few cakes that encourage you to cut them warm, but this one is best straight out of the pan, still gooey. Who cares what your slice looks like when it tastes this good?