Nine Layer Cake Recipe

| July 11, 2021 | 3 Comments

Nine Layer Chocolate Cake Recipe

Follow our easy, step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions to learn how to make this delicious, chocolatey, nine layer cake. An old Southern favorite. Printable recipe included.


Nine Layer Cake, enjoy.
This chocolate cake is an old Southern favorite. We’re doing nine layers, but some folks make them with even more. It’s easier than you might think, just takes a little more time and patience, but well worth the effort.


Nine Layer Cake, slider.

When you need a great cake for a special occasion, this just might be what you’re looking for. It’s sure to impress just about anyone, especially a chocolate lover. Smile.

It might look a little intimidating, but it’s a very basic cake with an old fashioned boiled chocolate icing. The main difference is this one just has multiple smaller layers than your regular cake.

Yes, it will take a bit more time to make all the layers, but not much more. And, Yes, it will be worth the extra time and effort that you place into it.

You’ll see this cake listed many ways, usually by the number of layers it actually contains, but mostly just as a “little layer cake.” I’m not sure where it originated, but it’s very popular around where I live.

You’ll find them in 12 layers, 18 layers, even 24 layers and more. Our Nine Layer Cake is pretty much the starting point for making them. After you get a little experience, you might want to try making thinner layers and adding more. I wish you lots of success with that. Smile.

Mama made a great chocolate layer cake for my birthday each year, but I don’t recall her ever making one of these little layer cakes. Her cakes also used the boiled icing, and it was without a doubt my favorite cake of all the different ones she would prepare.

Set aside a little more time in your day to prepare this cake. You could even make the layers one day and the icing the next if that helps. It’s what I did.

The icing goes on while it’s still warm and it’s best if you can let the cake sit overnight before cutting and serving it. It just gives the icing more time to set up better.

Ready to give our recipe a try? Alright then, let’s head on out to the kitchen, and… Let’s Get Cooking!


Nine Layer Cake, ingredients.
Nine Layer Cake Icing Recipe – You’ll need these ingredients to make the icing. Please note that you will need TWO of the 12oz cans of Evaporated Milk.

PLUS you’re going to need some ingredients to make your cake layers. You can use boxed cake mix to make the layers, or you can use TWO batches of our made from scratch Basic Cake Layers recipe. I’ve got all the instructions on how to make layers from scratch posted at the link here on Taste of Southern.

You will need to do things a bit differently when you go to bake the layers of course, so let’s take a look at that first, then we’ll show you how to make the icing and complete the assembly of your cake.


Nine Layer Cake, measure the batter.
I started out weighing my cake batter to get even layers. As it turns out, I used ONE measuring cup of cake batter in each pan. You could use 3/4ths a cup for a bit thinner layer, but the one cup turned out easy to work with layers for my cake.

I honestly can’t tell you how many boxes of cake mix you would need. I’ve never used a boxed mix. But, I can tell you that you will get SIX layers, possibly 7, out of a full batch of my Basic Cake Layers recipe if you decide to use that.

Yes, I stated earlier that you would need two batches of the batter. Yes, that would be enough to make 12 layers. This also gives you an extra layer or two in case you damage a layer or it doesn’t bake level. Better to have an extra layer and not need it than to come up short. Smile.


Nine Layer Cake, spread evenly.
You’ll need to spread the 1 cup of batter out evenly in the baking pan.

I’m totally sold on using parchment paper in my baking pans. I buy the packages of circles that are pre-cut and find them well worth the few pennies they cost.

I lightly sprayed a baking spray with flour in the bottom of the pan, then placed the parchment paper in the pan. Then, I lightly sprayed the paper. I’ve never had a layer to stick this way.

Place the cup of batter in the center of the pan and use a spoon to spread it out to the sides. You want the batter to touch the sides of the pan and to be as evenly distributed in the pan as possible.

The batter is not going to spread out or move enough to cause it to level out, so take the time needed to get it spread out as evenly as possible. Then, bake your layers. I baked three at a time.

Bake at 325F degrees for 8-10 minutes.


Nine Layer Cake, cool the layers.
Remove the layers when done and place them on wire racks to cool for about 10 minutes.


Nine Layer Cake, pulls away.
Remember, these THIN layers will bake up much quicker than the normal layers you’ve become accustomed to baking.

Watch for the cake to pull away from the sides of the pan and to turn slightly brown on top. They will be done at this point. I found one batch cooked in about 10 minutes, while another batch might have taken closer to 15 minutes. Oven temperatures vary, so just keep a close eye on the layers.

Let them cool on the rack for about 10 minutes.


Nine Layer Cake, turn out of the pan.
After about 10 minutes, flip the layers out of the pans. Let them cool completely on the wire racks before moving them.

After I turned the layers out of the pans, I removed the parchment paper and used a paper towel to wipe out the pans. Then, I sprayed them lightly again with the baking spray, added a fresh parchment cake circle, lightly sprayed again, and added more batter to repeat the whole process of baking more layers.

Some folks like to use the disposable aluminum pans, but I preferred to use my regular cake pans. Your choice of course. Do what works best for you. Smile.

Once you have all the layers baked and cooling, start preparing the icing. Let’s take a look.


Nine Layer Cake, add sugar.
Add 3 cups of Granulated Sugar to a large sauce pot.

I’m using my 5 quart sauce pot. You need something big and deep.


Nine Layer Cake, add cocoa.
Add 1 cup of Cocoa Powder.


Nine Layer Cake, add salt.
Add 1/8 of a teaspoon of Salt.


Nine Layer Cake, whisk well.
Whisk all the dry ingredients together until fully combined.


Nine Layer Cake, add the milk.
Add TWO of the 12oz cans of Evaporated Milk.


Nine Layer Cake, add corn syrup.
Add 3 Tablespoons of Corn Syrup.


Nine Layer Cake, boil the icing.
Place the pot over Medium heat on your stove top. Stir constantly while the sugar dissolves and everything is mixed together.

Place a candy thermometer in the pot and cook the icing until it reaches the soft ball stage which is about 234-236F degrees. Stir it pretty often, scraping the bottom of the pot so nothing sticks to the pot.

Be prepared for it to spit and spatter some. This stuff is hot, and I had more than one speck of it to pop onto my hands and arm while I stirred the pot. Just be careful with it.

This will probably take about 10 or more minutes.


Nine Layer Cake, add butter.
When it reaches the proper temperature, add 2 sticks of Butter to the pot.



Nine Layer Cake, add vanilla.
Add 1 teaspoon of Vanilla flavoring.

With the heat off, continue to stir the butter as it melts until it is completely mixed in. This may take another couple of minutes, but keep stirring until you do not see any traces of the butter left. Remove the pot from the stove and lets assemble your cake. You will do this while the icing is still warm.


Nine Layer Cake, add some icing.
Assemble your cake.

I’m placing my cake on a 9 inch cake board. This is going to get messy, so I suggest you place a large sheet of parchment under your plate or cake board to catch any icing that drips off.

I always place a dab of icing or frosting on the cake board first, then place the layer on top of that. The icing will help hold the layer in place as you work up.


Nine Layer Cake, add the fist layer.
Place your first layer on your plate or cake board.

I placed this layer bottom down because the bottom is always flat while the top of the layer may have a bit of a dome.

I was very pleased that all of my layers baked up nice and flat without that dome. It was a good day in that respect. Smile.

Nine Layer Cake, add icing.
Add a layer of icing on top of the first layer.


Nine Layer Cake, add the second layer.
Add the second layer. I placed this one top side down.


Nine Layer Cake, repeat the process.
Repeat the process of adding icing and layers until you have stacked all nine layers of your cake up on your cake board. Look it over carefully, and adjust any layers that might have tried to slide some and get it as even as possible.


Nine Layer Cake, icing the rest of the cake.
Place some icing on the top of the cake and begin to spread it out to the edge and let it run over the sides and drip down the side of the cake. Using a spatula, add icing to the outside of the cake as needed.

Remember, I did tell you this could get a bit messy. Smile. I had placed a layer of parchment paper on top of my cake decorating turntable because I knew it would probably get covered in icing before all was said and done.

Maybe it’s just a male thing, but I didn’t worry about it and just let it happen. Don’t judge me.

It’s really good to let this cake “set up” overnight. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated, but it helps to let the icing continue to thicken as it cools.


Nine Layer Cake, enjoy.

And there you have it, a Nine Layer Chocolate Cake. Pat yourself on the back because you deserve it. Now, get ready for all the ooohs and aaahs that will be coming your way when your family and friends see and taste your handiwork. Congratulations on a job well done.


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Nine Layer Cake Recipe

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 10-12 servings 1x
  • Category: Desserts, Cakes
  • Method: Oven and Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American, Southern


Nine Layer Cakes, even larger ones, are an old Southern favorite. It’s a really good chocolate cake, and one you can show off your baking skills with. Great for special occasions, or when you’re ready to take your cake skills up a notch. It’s easy to do, just might take a few minutes of extra time.



9 thin cake layers, baked from scratch or use a box mix. Layers about 1/4th to 3/8th of an inch thick.
3 cups of Granulated Sugar
1 cup Cocoa Powder
1/8 teaspoon Salt
2 cans Evaporated Milk (12oz each)
3 Tablespoons Corn Syrup
2 sticks Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla flavoring.


Prepare all of your cake layers and let them cool completely before adding the icing.
Begin the icing by placing sugar in a large sauce pot. I used a 5qt sauce pot.
Add the cocoa.
Add the salt.
Whisk all the dry ingredients together.
Add the milk.
Add the corn syrup.
Place pot over Medium heat on your stove top.
Stir continuously while the sugar dissolves and everything is totally combined.
Place a candy thermometer in your pot.
Let the icing boil, stirring often, until it reaches the soft ball stage. 234F to 236F degrees.
When it reaches the soft ball stage, add the butter.
Add the vanilla flavoring.
Turn the heat off.
Stir the butter until it melts and is thoroughly mixed into the icing.
Begin stacking and icing the layers of your cake.
Spread icing over the top and around the sides of the cake.
If possible, let the cake sit overnight before cutting and serving.


It’s best to have enough ingredients on hand to make a second batch of icing should you need it. I don’t recommend that you double the recipe when making icing. Make single batches instead.

Keywords: little layer cake, nine layer cake, nine layer chocolate cake, boiled chocolate icing. old fashioned icing, butter, sugar, cocoa powder, cake layers

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You might also like: Southern Peach Cobbler

Or, maybe this: Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe

Or this: Old Fashioned Carrot Cake Recipe


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Category: Desserts

About the Author ()

Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Author of three cookbooks. "From Mama's Big Oval Table, From Mama's Big Oval Table - BOOK TWO and Carolina Christmas Sweets and Appetizers." Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (3)

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  1. Phyllis Ivey says:

    Hey Steve! This cake is beautiful! I will have to try making one! Thanks for this recipe!

  2. Kathryn Ransom says:

    Oh My Steve…. this is the top of the heap !! All I can say is my mouth was watering at the Title of the Recipe !! HEE HEE !! We have so many people here in the Robeson County area of North Carolina who make these cakes and no one and I mean NO ONE was willing to give me their recipe !! HALLELUJAH !! You did !! I had envisoned that they took dental floss to cut the layers or a large serrated knife.. and I could also envision a disaster happening if I tried to do that. THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART DEAR ONE FOR SHOWING ME THIS RECIPE !! I CANNOT WAIT TO MAKE IT FOR CHURCH AND SHOW OFF MY SKILLS !!!

  3. Lynne says:

    Hi Steve,
    I am wondering why this one and last week’s are called Chocolate cake when there isn’t any chocolate in the cake layers themselves?

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