This Chocolate Mug Cake recipe is the first one I’ve tried that actually tastes good. It’s cooked in the microwave for a quick chocolate treat serving one or two people!

I remember when mug cakes blew up on the internet many years ago, I got really excited.

Having just a little mug portion of cake ready in five minutes sounded so wonderful.

Chocolate Mug Cake - Overhead View with Spoonful and Scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream

I tried several of the mug cakes floating around the internet, and oh boy, I was always disappointed.

Yes, making a mug cake in 5 minutes is easier than making a real cake, but if the mug cakes weren’t even going to taste good, why bother?

When I saw that Cook’s Illustrated published a recipe for Chocolate Mug Cake, I decided to try it. I know they test things many times and if there was a reliable mug cake recipe out there, this would be the one.

And yes, it was actually good! Finally!

Chocolate Mug Cake Recipe - Served in White Mug with Spoonful Paired with vanilla Ice Cream

Variations To Try

This Chocolate Mug Cake is plenty good to enjoy on its own. But I’ve also tried the following variations and loved it.

Add Peanut Butter Balls – Push a few of these down into the cake, and you will add a wonderful peanut butter swirl to the chocolate. It’s a classic combo!

Add Homemade Chocolate Truffles – Another great option to press down into the cake, it adds supreme richness to the cake.

Top with Peanut Butter Semifreddo – Another great way to add peanut butter, which pairs so well with the chocolate.

Drizzle with Caramel Sauce – Adds a complexity in flavor and richness! Chocolate and caramel are BFFs.

One thing I’ll note is that you use a couple of small bowls here and mix things together separately (as contrasted to some recipes where you dump everything into the mug and simply mix it together).

I get that the dump and mix method is easier, but since I care about how good the end result it is, it’s worth the effort to mix the wet ingredients together, then add the dry, etc etc.

It makes a big difference in the overall texture of the cake.

How to Make Chocolate Mug Cake:

In a small bowl, combine egg, high-quality cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla paste (or extract):

Cocoa Powder, Egg, and Salt in Glass Bowl

In another bowl, melt butter and high-quality chocolate together until smooth (I did this in the microwave):

Melted Chocolate in Glass Bowl

Add the cocoa powder egg mixture to the melted chocolate and butter:

Melted Chocolate Poured in Glass Bowl with Cocoa Egg Mixture

Whisk until smooth, then add the dry ingredients:

Chocolate wet Ingredients in Glass Bowl with Flour and Leavener Added On Top

Gently stir until the flour *just* disappears:

Chocolate Mug Cake batter In Glass Bowl

Portion the cake batter into a mug, then cook in the microwave, stirring partway through to redistribute the batter:

Coffee Mug with Partially Microwaved Batter and Spoon

The trick with mug cakes is to stop cooking the cake earlier than you think, because you want it to be on the gooey side, and the cake will also continue to cook as it cools.

It should look really moist on top:

Moist Chocolate Mug Cake - On Wooden Board with Spoon

In the original Cook’s Illustrated recipe they press a piece of chocolate into the top of the cake, however I’ve found that I prefer not to have melted chocolate intermixed with the cake, and putting the square on top makes it harder to tell what the doneness is in the middle. So I skip it.

But know that you can do this if you’d like, and I’ve included these instructions in the recipe box.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Square Pressed Into Top of Mug Cake

One thing that I do find completely necessary though is a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The cake is pretty good for a quick fix, but I haven’t found any mug cake to be good enough to stand on its own.

The cool and creamy ice cream contrasting with the warm chocolate cake is essential.

Gooey Chocolate Mug Cake - In Mug with Scoop of vanilla Ice Cream On top

I’ve got the full recipe below, plus an instructional video below the recipe card if you’d like more guidance.

Hot Chocolate from ScratchChocolate Crinkle Cookies, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes are some of my other favorite chocolate desserts. Enjoy!

Note: I have had great success making this for both one and two people. The serving size in the recipe box is for two, but feel free to only do one. However, see the recipe notes about reducing cook time slightly. You want to make sure not to overcook the cakes!

Chocolate Mug Cake Overhead View with Spoonful and Scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream

Chocolate Mug Cake

 This chocolate mug cake recipe is the first one I’ve tried that is ACTUALLY good. It’s cooked in the microwave for a quick chocolate treat!

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  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter cut into pieces
  • 1 oz bittersweet chocolate* chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1.25 oz all-purpose flour by weight (1/4 cup, measured)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • vanilla ice cream for serving


  • Select two mugs that hold at least 11oz of liquid in them (about a cup and a half).
  • Microwave the butter and chopped bittersweet chocolate in a large bowl for about 1 minute, stirring halfway through, until fully melted. Set aside.
  • Whisk the sugar, eggs, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl, then whisk this into the melted butter and chocolate. Whisk in the flour and baking powder, then evenly divide the batter between the two mugs.
  • Put the mugs on opposite sides of the microwave turntable, and microwave at 50% power for 45 seconds. Stir the batter well with a spoon, then microwave for another 45 seconds at 50% power. 
  • If you’re adding extra chocolate to the tops of the cake (see recipe notes), now is the time to press one square into the top of each cake. As stated in the blog post, I personally don’t add extra chocolate.
  • Microwave for an additional 35 seconds at 50% power. At this point the cake should still be a little gooey on top, but you can check that the interior of the cake should be around 200 degrees F. Let the cakes sit for 2 minutes while the heat continues to cook the cakes slightly, then serve with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!


This recipe was developed for a full-size, 1200-watt microwave, according to Cook’s Illustrated (as stated above, this recipe is adapted from their issue published in 2013). This is the vanilla paste I use now instead of vanilla extract. I love the little vanilla bean specks!
*If you wish, you may add two 1/2 oz pieces of bittersweet chocolate to press into the tops of the mug cake.
If only cooking one mug cake, you may need to reduce the cook time slightly. Try reducing to three 30-second intervals, keeping your eye on the cake. Be careful not to overcook.


Calories: 523kcal, Carbohydrates: 49g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 33g, Saturated Fat: 19g, Cholesterol: 225mg, Sodium: 360mg, Potassium: 368mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 30g, Vitamin A: 945IU, Calcium: 101mg, Iron: 3.3mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.

Post updated in January 2019. Originally posted April 2015.