Best Marble Bundt Cake

The best of both worlds, this Marble Bundt Cake boasts strong vanilla and chocolate flavors, while staying perfectly moist and decadent (no crumbly or dry marble cakes here!). Can’t decide what kind of cake to make?  This is the answer – truly the BEST marble bundt cake!

marble bundt cake on decorative gold plates with gold chargers.

If you thought the end of 2017 meant the end of my bundt cake obsession… think again.  I did not make any bundt cakes at all in January, and after a year of making one each month, it felt strange.

So to make up for it, I’ve made two thus far in February.  Aaaah.  Life is normal again.  Bundt cake’s back… ALRIGHT!

So let’s get back into bundts with what I am officially deeming the best marble bundt cake recipe out there.  I’m not usually one to toot my own horn or call things “the best!” but guys, this one really is.

Let’s talk about marble cakes in general.  They always look so pretty, with the deep contrasted colors, but let’s be honest: they’re usually not that great.

If you’re allowed to choose any cake flavor out there, who requests marble?  No one.  Maybe a half-and-half cake if you’re trying to please a crowd, but marble?  Nope.

Because frankly… marble cakes are usually not very good.  A plain vanilla cake or plain chocolate cake is usually better than a marble cake. 

The flavors mix, you don’t get a distinct feeling of chocolate and vanilla, and don’t even get me started on the texture. 

What if I told you… I solved all this? A bundt cake that boasts both bold chocolate and vanilla flavors, and most importantly, remains moist and rich, and not at all dry and crumbly? Impossible? Not at all! A little Kitchen Chemistry solves everything – including dry bundt cakes.

Chocolatey and vanilla-y.  Super duper moist.  Simultaneously a little dense (like a bundt cake should be), with a light crumb.

This just might be the bundt cake that knocks my funfetti bundt cake out of my personal favorite bundt spot.  Because much like my beloved black and white cookies, this cake really is the best of both worlds.

single slice of marble bundt cake showing the dark chocolate swirl in the middle.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Butter: Make sure your butter is at room temperature – which in terms of baking, is 65°F – it should be slightly cool to the touch, but if you press hard on it with a finger, you can indent the butter.
  • Sugar
  • Eggs: The eggs should also be at room temperature.
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Sour Cream: Full-fat sour cream provides the best flavor and texture, but full-fat Greek yogurt can also be used instead.
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Flour: To keep the cake gluten-free, use a 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose baking mix which includes xanthan gum.
  • Buttermilk: The thicker the buttermilk, the better the cake – if you can find high-quality higher-fat buttermilk, use this! If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice or vinegar to 3/4 cup of whole milk, let it sit for 5 minutes, and then add to the recipe as usual.
  • Cocoa Powder: I love using black cocoa powder in this recipe – it creates a beautiful visual contrast between the vanilla and chocolate and really brings a lot of chocolate flavor. If you don’t have black cocoa powder, use the best quality Dutch processed cocoa powder you can access.
  • Vegetable Oil
unglazed bundt cake on a wire cooling rack.

Moist Marble Cake

Here’s the problem with most marble cakes: the recipe calls for you to make a vanilla cake and add some cocoa powder to half of the batter to make chocolate.

Easy? Yes. Delicious? No. Because all you’re doing is adding dry ingredients to an already appropriately made cake batter. This means that the chocolate part of a marble cake is often drier.

Alternatively, some recipes call for adding melting chocolate, which sounds better in theory – but a cooled cake made with melted chocolate is often pretty crumbly (since chocolate solidifies at room temperature). Plus, melted chocolate has extra “fillers” which dilutes the taste – a cake made with melted chocolate doesn’t taste as rich and chocolatey.

So how are we going to solve this?

Vegetable oil. That’s it. Why is vegetable oil the solution here? Let’s turn to our favorite subject… kitchen chemistry!

Kitchen Chemistry

Cocoa powder is derived from cocoa solids after the cocoa butter (the fat in cocoa beans) has been removed. The process results in a fine, dry powder that absorbs moisture from other ingredients in a wet batter. By adding additional oil along with the cocoa powder, more moisture is present to hydrate the cocoa powder and the fat helps to disperse the cocoa powder evenly throughout the batter.

All it takes is adding a little oil to the cocoa powder to make the chocolate batter so much better. Not hot water, not more milk, not melted chocolate. Just two tablespoons of vegetable oil to take your marble bundt cake from meh to wow.

So wow, in fact, that one of my coworkers, who loves sweets and desserts more than anyone I’ve ever met, came up and gave me a high five and told me this was his favorite thing I’ve ever baked.

bundt cake in a spiral mold shape covered with chocolate glaze.

Black Cocoa Powder

I used black cocoa powder (Amazon links may be affiliate) to achieve a really rich, dark chocolate color and flavor.  Black cocoa powder is highly alkalized cocoa powder with an intense dark color and a deep, rich flavor – it’s like super duper Dutch-processed cocoa powder.

Black cocoa is much darker and chocolatier than Dutch process cocoa powder, so much so that it’s often not used on its own. You’ll usually see it in recipes paired with either natural unsweetened or normal Dutch process cocoa powder. In this case, however, because we’re adding so little (since we’re starting with a vanilla cake base), we’re just going to use all black cocoa.

If you don’t have black cocoa powder, substitute in regular Dutch-process cocoa powder – the better quality and higher fat content, the better! Just know the chocolate swirl will not be as dark as pictured here or have quite as prominent of a chocolate flavor.

overhead view of two slices of chocolate and vanilla swirled bundt cake on decorative plates.
  • 10 Cup Bundt Pan: This recipe is written for a 10-cup bundt pan. The link is to the exact spiral pan used in this post.
  • Stand Mixer: Use an electric mixer, like this stand mixer, to beat together the butter and sugar.
  • Beater Blade: Any time I would use the paddle attachment for my stand mixer, I swap it out for this Beater Blade – it scrapes down the sides of the bowl while it mixes!
  • Black Cocoa Powder: I recommend ordering some black cocoa powder to really make the best marble bundt cake!
  • Cooling Racks: This three-tier cooling rack is sturdy enough to support a heavy bundt cake but folds down flat for storage.
slice of vanilla bundt cake swirled with dark chocolate.

Tips and Tricks for the Best Marble Bundt Cake

  1. Room Temperature Ingredients: Ensure that your butter, eggs, buttermilk, and sour cream are all at room temperature. This allows for better mixing and a smoother batter.
  2. Use High-Quality Cocoa: Choose a good quality Dutch processed cocoa powder, as it significantly impacts the flavor of the chocolate batter.
  3. Cooling in the Pan: Let the bundt cake cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before attempting to remove it. This helps it set and comes out more easily.
  4. Flavor Variations: Experiment with different extracts or flavorings for the vanilla batter, like almond or citrus, to add a unique twist to your cake.
  5. Storing: Store your marble bundt cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or freeze it for up to 3 months.
  6. Make the Best Bundt Cakes: Looking to perfect your bundt cake baking skills?  Give this post on ESSENTIAL BUNDT CAKE TIPS a quick read — it covers everything from how to make sure your batter fills any nooks and crevices in decorative bundt pans to how to prevent the bottom of the cake from doming! 

More Recipes Using Black Cocoa:

Best Marble Bundt Cake

Best Marble Bundt Cake

Yield: Serves 16
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

The best of both worlds, this Marble Bundt Cake boasts strong vanilla and chocolate flavors, while staying perfectly moist and decadent (no crumbly or dry marble cakes here!). 


For the Cake:

  • 1 1/4 cup (283 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (396 grams) granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) full-fat sour cream, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (360 grams) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (170 grams) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (21 grams) black cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the Chocolate Glaze:

  • 1 cup (113 grams) confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons black cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla and sour cream.  Beat until smooth.  Add in the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and half the flour, continuing to mix.  Add in the buttermilk, followed by the rest of the flour.  Continue to mix just until no streaks of flour remain.
  3. Scoop half the batter into a small bowl.  Whisk in the cocoa powder and vegetable oil.
  4. Generously grease and flour a 10 cup bundt pan.  Spread half the vanilla cake batter in the pan and smooth the top with a spatula.  Scoop in all the chocolate batter, again smoothing the top.  Scoop in the rest of the vanilla cake batter, smoothing the top to cover the chocolate batter.  Gently but firmly bang the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.
  5. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely.
  6. To make the chocolate glaze, whisk together the confectioners sugar, cocoa powder, heavy cream, and vanilla extract.  Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes to set, then slice and serve.


  1. Use high-quality black or Dutch-processed cocoa powder for the best flavor and texture.
  2. For fun flavor variations, add different extracts or flavorings, like citrus, mint, almond, or banana, to the vanilla cake batter.
  3. The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
  4. To freeze, wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil.  Allow to thaw at room temperature before serving.

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Best Marble Bundt Cake: the best of both worlds, boasting a strong vanilla and chocolate flavor  while staying perfectly moist and decadent (no crumbly or dry marble cakes here!). The best!