Super rich and decadent moist chocolate layers beaming with heaps of flavor from Guinness Stout and espresso notes. This chocolate stout layer cake recipe is beautifully finished with a Bailey’s Irish cream infused buttercream, a luscious chocolate ganache drip, and topped with crushed salty pretzels!

chocolate stout layer cake on a marble cake stand

Helloooooo you fine lookin’ chocolate stout layer cake…

Lately I’ve been on a cake-making kick and it’s been quite a joy to whip up these sweet creations. Let’s see, there was a momofuku-style cake (that was sooo good!), as well as a strawberry cake that I’m still testing, and then there was is this chocolate stout beauty that I’m pumped to finally share with you! Now, we all know ya girl has zero Irish descent (that I’m aware of, ha!) but this cake was inspired by St. Patrick’s Day.

large slice of chocolate cake on a speckled plate

Yup, we’re getting the luck of the Irish all up and through this chocolate stout layer cake y’all!

The cake layers themselves are so incredibly moist, chocolatey, and have great depth from Guinness stout, and espresso flavor. Additionally, this gorgeous layer cake gets enveloped with a Bailey’s Irish Cream infused buttercream, drippy chocolate ganache, and crushed pretzels. And just in case you missed it; this cake is hitting your palate nicely, on all fronts with the sweet, the chocolatey, and the salty levels!

Looking For More Chocolate Desserts?

chocolate ganache dripping off side of cake

This Chocolate Stout Layer Cake recipe is a must bake for any occasion and I know you’ll love it…read on to learn more about this decadent layer cake or jump straight to the recipe to get your bake on!

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake Ingredients

(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card, directly below.)

  • all-purpose flour
  • sugar
  • dutch dark cocoa powder
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • kosher salt
  • espresso powder
  • eggs
  • vegetable oil
  • guinness stout beer
  • buttermilk
  • vanilla extract

The use of dutch cocoa powder as opposed to natural cocoa powder gives chocolate cake more of a darker and full-bodied flavor since it’s alkalized and isn’t acidic. Espresso powder makes chocolate taste richer and more intense, but does not give off a strong coffee taste whatsoever.

Alternatively, the same goes for the stout beer in this recipe, its taste is very mild in flavor. Lastly, oil and buttermilk helps to make sure that this chocolate stout layer cake has a nice moist cake crumb.

inside shot of chocolate stout layer cake

Layer Cake-Making 101

Okay, let’s be honest…building layer cakes can be a bit daunting for a novice baker. The stacking, the frosting, and all the other things in between can give anyone a headache. Trust me, I get it. That’s why I’ve got you covered with some tips and tricks to help you make a great layer cake without the stress:

  1. If possible, use a kitchen scale, to ensure that the batter is evenly distributed within the cake pans. This will help to ensure the layers are likely even and easier to stack. Also, while not entirely needed, I do recommend the use of cake strips that wrap around the cake pans to help the layers bake evenly preventing domed cake tops that you have to level/cut.
  2. Allow the cake layers to cool down completely. Do not, I repeat, do not frost a warm cake. In fact, I always recommend frosting a cake when it’s cold. Layer cakes are way easier to handle when the cake is cold. To make ahead, you can refrigerate your cake layers for up to 5 days or freeze cake layers for up to 3 months. Be sure to wrap each layer in plastic wrap to ensure freshness.
  3. Don’t forget about the crumb coating! Frost the tops of the lowest level layer and the middle layer completely. Then, use a thin bit of frosting on the top and sides of the layer cake. Cover the cake and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before applying the final coating.
  4. Frosting a layer cake is all about preference IMO. You can give this chocolate stout layer cake a rustic look and just frost the tops or you can frost the entire thing; you do you, boo. If you have piping tips, get creative and do some fancy piping work on top. In my photos, I used an Ateco #849 closed star tip.
crushed pretzels on top of chocolate layer cake

Can This Recipe Make Cupcakes?

Yes indeedy! Depending on the size of your cupcake tin, this recipe should yield at least two dozen cupcakes. Adjust baking time to around 18-20 minutes. Use a toothpick to check in center of cupcakes for doneness.

What About Making a Two-Layer Cake?

Also, yes! For this, use two 9-inch cake pans and bake time should be a bit longer. Use a toothpick to check in center of cakes for doneness.

Likewise, another option would be to make this chocolate stout layer cake in a 9×13- inch pan for a sheet-cake style. Be sure to fill about 2/3 full and this will leave you with extra batter that you could use for cupcakes. Bake time for this would be around 40 minutes. Again, use toothpick in center to check for doneness.

Can The Frosting Be Prepped Ahead Of Time?

It sure can. Just be sure to place frosting in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight for freshness. Allow frosting to come back up to room temperature before frosting/piping.




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chocolate stout layer cake on a marble cake stand

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 1012 1x
  • Category: Desserts & Sweets
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American
Save Recipe


Super rich and decadent moist chocolate layers beaming with heaps of flavor from Guinness Stout and espresso notes. This chocolate stout layer cake recipe is beautifully finished with a Bailey’s Irish cream infused buttercream, a luscious chocolate ganache drip, and topped with crushed salty pretzels!



Chocolate Stout Layer Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup Dutch dark cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Guinness stout beer, dark
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup roughly crushed pretzels

Bailey’s Irish Buttercream

  • 2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Chocolate Stout Layer Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line (3) 8×2-inch cake pans with parchment paper and coat entire cake pans with baking spray for good measure.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder.
  3. Add in eggs, oil, stout beer, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Stir to fully incorporate and combine with dry ingredients. 
  4. Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.
  5. Allow cakes to cool in pans for about 15-20 minutes then invert cakes onto a wire rack to continue cooling completely. If making cakes ahead of time, wrap each cake in plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator/freezer. 

Bailey’s Irish Buttercream

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a handheld electric mixer, beat butter together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5-6 minutes.
  2. Reduce speed to lowest setting and add in powdered sugar, cup by cup. Then increase speed back to medium and add in vanilla extract and Bailey’s Irish Cream. Continue beating until mixture is well combined, light and fluffy, about 6-7 minutes.

Chocolate Ganache

  1. Using a double boiler (a small sauce pan filled with a cup of water) over medium-heat, place a small heatproof bowl directly on top. Water inside saucepan should not touch bottom of bowl. Place chocolate chips in bowl and stir until melted.
  2. Then add in cream and vanilla extract. Continue stirring until everything is fully combined and remove from heat.

To Assemble

  1. If necessary, be sure to level the cakes. Add frosting between the layers, and crumb coat top, and sides of cake. Transfer to fridge to let set, at least 30 minutes. Then apply remaining frosting to entire cake and smooth top if applying the chocolate ganache drip. Transfer cake back to fridge to set for another 15 minutes.
  2. To apply ganache drip, for best results, use a plastic squeeze bottle. Start on the outer edges of cake by applying light pressure of squeeze bottle to allow ganache to “drip” down sides of cake. Repeat process all around cake and then fill in center of cake with remaining ganache. Top with crushed pretzels and serve.


  1. For best results, place finished cake into refrigerator to set for at least 15 minutes. This allows for cake to be cut cleaner and with less mess.