My decadent Chocolate Lava Cakes recipe is so simple to make! With just 6 ingredients that you probably already have on hand, I think you’ll be surprised by how easy this recipe really is! Recipe includes lots of tips and a how-to video!
Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes
Molten chocolate lava cakes. Was there ever a sweeter string of words? Was there ever a better, more decadent or more chocolate-y dessert? I don’t think so.
With their soft, cakey exteriors and positively molten chocolate interiors, these aren’t just decadent and rich, they’re also quick and easy to make. Yes, really! Lava cakes are so easy to make it’s almost a straight-up crime that I didn’t share this recipe sooner.
I’ve shared a lot of desserts for my fellow chocolate-lovers in the past, from chocolate pie to my favorite homemade brownies and chocolate cake, but this one (ahem) takes the cake. Let’s get started.
What You Need to Make Homemade Lava Cake
- Chocolate. I recommend using a quality chocolate bar and prefer 60% dark chocolate myself. Chocolate chips can be substituted but it’s not my preference and you lose some of that nice molten lava-ness (see my FAQ section for more info).
- Butter. I recommend a quality butter and like to use European-style myself. Of course, regular unsalted butter will work just fine.
- Sugar. Light brown sugar adds a beautiful depth of flavor to the lava cakes, but you can substitute regular granulated sugar in a pinch.
- Eggs. You need two whole eggs plus two additional egg yolks (save the egg whites to make meringues or Eton mess!).
- Flour. This recipe uses just a small bit of all-purpose flour. Make sure you measure your flour properly, otherwise you may not end up with as much lava as you should!
- Vanilla extract & instant coffee are both optional, but each adds their own lovely flavor to the chocolate lava cakes. I highly recommend both!
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Chocolate Lava Cakes
- Melt together chocolate and butter until completely melted. Stir in instant coffee and vanilla extract, if using.
- Separately, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until foamy.
- Combine chocolate mixture, egg mixture, and sifted all-purpose flour and stir until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
- Portion into greased and floured ramekins and bake until edges are set and centers are still jiggly.
SAM’S TIP: Your oven must be fully preheated to 450F (235C) before you add the lava cakes, so turn it on before you begin baking. My oven takes 15-20 minutes to get to temperature, and it’ll often “beep” that it’s preheated and ready long before it actually is so I keep two oven thermometers in it to keep it honest.
Let your lava cakes cool for several minutes before (carefully) inverting onto a plate and serving warm. The top may cave just a bit, this is fine! That chocolate cake ring will keep the lava contained to the center, right where it’s supposed to be.
For a pretty appearance and bonus taste, I always like to dust mine with powdered sugar or serve topped with homemade whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and some strawberry sauce.
Frequently Asked Questions
Technically you can, and I have. However for best taste and lava flow I recommend using baking bars. Because of the additives in chocolate chips that help them keep their shape, the lava isn’t as rich and obvious when you use chips.
You can make the batter in advance and leave it in the refrigerator in an airtight container or pre-portioned in the ramekins (cover with plastic wrap). Bring to room temperature and then portion into ramekins and bake as instructed. The batter will keep up to 3 days in the fridge.
Once baked, lava cakes are best served still warm from the oven.
Yes! If you have a large 6-count jumbo muffin tin you can use that instead, see my notes in the recipe.
Baking in anything smaller is tricky as the lava can bake out in a hurry, so proceed with caution if you’re trying to use something smaller than a jumbo muffin tin.
This happens if the cakes are baked for too long. Could your oven be running a bit hot? Check the temperature or try taking the lava cakes out of the oven a few minutes sooner next time.
More Decadent Chocolate Recipes You May Like:
Let’s bake together! Make sure to check out the how-to VIDEO in the recipe card!
Chocolate Lava Cakes
- ½ cup unsalted butter cut into 8 pieces (113g)
- 6 oz premium semisweet or dark chocolate bar¹ coarsely chopped (I like to use Ghirardelli 60%) (170g)
- ½ teaspoon instant coffee optional²
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract optional
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks room temperature
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar firmly packed (66g)
- ¼ cup all purpose flour (32g)
- Preheat oven 450F (235C) and prepare four 3 ½" diameter ramekins (see note 3 if you don't have ramekins) by greasing the bottom and sides with baking spray or lightly grease and flour. Set on a baking sheet and set aside.
- Combine chopped chocolate and butter in a medium-sized microwave safe bowl. Heat in 20 second increments, stirring very well in between, until chocolate and butter are melted and mixture is smooth.
- Add instant coffee and vanilla if using and salt and stir well.
- In a separate bowl, combine eggs, egg yolks, and brown sugar. Use a whisk to beat vigorously for 15 seconds or until mixture is well combined and foamy on top.
- Add egg mixture to chocolate mixture and stir until well-combined.
- Sift flour over chocolate mixture and stir until combined.
- Evenly divide batter into prepared ramekins or muffin tin. Transfer to 450F (235C) oven and bake for 9-11 minutes if using ramekins and 6-7 minutes if using a jumbo muffin tin. Edges should be set and baked and look "cakey", centers should spring back to the touch but will be slightly jiggly and may appear under-baked.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the lava cake to loosen it from its container then carefully (the ramekin will be hot! use an oven mit!) invert onto a plate.
- Serve warm (be careful, the "lava" inside is HOT and may need another 5 minutes or longer to cool) topped with a dusting of powdered sugar or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
¹Substituting chocolate chips:I’ve tried this recipe with semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup) instead. The lava cakes will still turn out but I personally felt they were sub-par in comparison to the ones made with premium chocolate bars and the filling was not as molten.
²Coffee:This doesn’t make your lava cakes taste like coffee, it just accentuates the chocolate flavor. Highly recommend!
³Making without ramekins:If you don’t have ramekins, you can use a 6 count jumbo muffin tin instead (because of the smaller size of the muffin tin cavities, the recipe will then yield 6 cakes). They will need to bake for about 6-7 minutes this way.
Making in advance:The batter can be made up to 3 days in advance. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container then bring to room temperature and bake as indicated. While baked lava cakes technically could be stored up to two days or frozen for several months before enjoying, I feel that the quality degrades when not enjoyed warm from the oven.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
Recipe originally published 01/21/2019
This was my first cheesecake ever. It cracked on top a bit but was absolutely delicious! I’ve made several of your recipes and this is now my go-to website!
I am so glad you have enjoyed everything Lindsay! 🙂
I have used several of your recipes recently and my family and I have been very impressed so thank you!
I always make my kids birthday cakes from scratch my daughter wants a chocolate lava cake but she is 10 so she wants a tiered cake. Would I be able to do this with this recipe? I am thinking 2 9″ rounds with a 6″ round on top. Do you have any suggestions for baking times to do this?
Hi Samantha! I am so glad you have enjoyed the recipes so much! Unfortunately this cake probably will not work for a layer cake. The cakes are just way too fragile in the center. A better bet would probably be to make my chocolate cake, then put a dam of icing and fill the that with ganache. It won’t be quite the same effect but you will have that great chocolatey flavor. 🙂
These were so good, I baked them for a couple of friends, and one of them told me it was exquisite. Totally love it!
I am so glad everyone enjoyed it so much, Abby! 🙂
First I’d like to thank you for your delicious recipes and easy to follow instructions I had a quick question for you. I’ve noticed that some of my chocolate cakes or cupcakes have almost a bitter taste to them. What could be causing this? Thanks again
Sugar Spun Run
Thank you so much for being a fan of my recipes, Jodi! To answer your question, it really depends on the recipe that you are using for your chocolate cake/cupcakes. Too much baking powder can cause the batter to be bitter tasting, the type of cocoa used or expired baking soda can also cause a bitter taste. You are welcome to try my chocolate cake or easy chocolate cupcake recipe to see how they compare. 🙂
Could you use dark brown sugar instead of light brown? Not sure if there is much of a difference between the two.
Sugar Spun Run
Hi, Anna! Yes, that will be fine. 🙂
Hi! I was researching different recipes and some called for powder sugar. Have you tried it with that? I wonder what the difference is? If I don’t get as much “lava” inside, is it because I baked it for too long? It was still chocolatey and delicious though. 😋
Hi Cindy! I have not tried it, I wouldn’t recommend it with this particular recipe but I’ll have to look into that! And yes, if there’s not much lava that is typically the reason why. Glad it was still delicious, though! 🙂
Can I use chocolate chips instead? And thank you for the lovely recipes! ❤
Sugar Spun Run
Thank you so much, Maria! I’ve tried this recipe with semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup) instead. The lava cakes will still turn out but I personally felt they were sub-par in comparison to the ones made with premium chocolate bars. 🙂
What do you consider to be “premium chocolate”??
Sugar Spun Run
Hi, Joanne! I like to use the Ghirardelli brand. 🙂
Another hit, Sam!
Sugar Spun Run
Thank you so much, Lauren! I am so glad that you enjoyed the chocolate lava cake! 🙂
Just a question, if the middle of the lava cake is still runny, will it be safe to eat without the risk of getting salmonella since its batter? (Just being cautious!!)
Hi Stacy! Great question. You can always use an instant read thermometer inserted halfway into the center of the cake. If the temperature reads 160F (72C), your lava cakes have been heated enough to be safe for eating! Enjoy! 🙂
Can you prepare the mixture ahead of time and how long can you let the finished mixture sit in the containers before cooking.
Hi Larry! I have not tried letting it sit, I would be worried about some of the ingredients starting to solidify, like the melted butter. I wouldn’t recommend it.
I have never tried lava cake but it sounds delicious🙈👍
I hope you love it! 🙂
What over thermometer do you recommend?
Hi, Shauna. I actually keep two different brands in my oven! One I bought for under $5 at my grocery store and this is my affiliate link for the other one.
What is the volume of the ramekins, I am most concerned that my English ones will be the wrong size?
Hi, Julia. My ramekins are 4 inches (just over 10cm) in diameter and about 2.5 inches (just over 5 cm) deep. 🙂
I suggest, rather than flouring the ramekins use cocoa powder instead. That way you don’t get a white coating on the outside of the cakes when you turn them out.
Yes, that would work too! Thanks for the suggestion, Heather!