Love and Olive Oil
Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake with Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake with Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake Recipe drizzled with Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Last week was Taylor’s birthday. I had the day all planned out, an afternoon screening of Anchorman 2 and a nice dinner afterwords, but considering we are together all day every day, finding time to bake a birthday cake without him knowing is no easy task.

Luckily, I had a two hour block of time earlier in the day, while he was out running errands and getting his hair cut, in which to prepare his cake. So as soon as he walked out the door, I got to work. I had a brilliant idea for a cake recipe, and just enough time to execute it.

As I balanced on a kitchen stool perusing our liquor stash, the whiskey I had planned to use in this recipe was long gone, but luckily Taylor is not one to be out of whiskey (ever), so I had other options. There was a nice bottle of bourbon, but I wanted a more robust whiskey flavor for this cake. I cracked open a small bottle of Jack Daniels Single Barrel whiskey, inhaled the sweet vanilla aroma, and decided it would be perfect. I knew it was the good stuff, more expensive than I’d usually use in baking, but I figured I’d just buy him another bottle and he’d forgive me (especially once he tasted the cake). So I dumped the entire thing into the bowl and kept on baking.

Whiskey-spiked Chocolate Bundt Cake with Whiskey Caramel Drizzle

Fast forward two hours later. Taylor walks in the door and promptly declares that “it smells like cake in here.” Well, duh, what’d you expect me to do while you were gone? Work? I showed him the chocolate cake on the cooling rack, and the seemingly innocent caramel sauce that was cooling in the fridge.

Then I braced myself to tell him the news. “Don’t be mad,” I said, “but I used your Single Barrel. I’ll buy you another, I promise!”

He looked at the empty bottle, and then at me, and then chuckled and proceeded to tell me how he had been saving that bottle from our wedding.


It was a ‘day of’ gift from his step father, a joke mostly to help calm his nerves. But instead of drinking it he had set it aside, and was planning to open it down the road on our 10th anniversary or some other momentous occasion.

I stood with my mouth agape, stunned, first of all that he’d kept this little bottle for 4 1/2 years, but also kind of pissed that he had left it in plain sight. If it was so special wouldn’t you stash it upstairs or somewhere where your lovely, well-intentioned wife wouldn’t accidentally use it in a cake? I mean, really husband. What’d you expect?

Still, the thought was sweet. And I couldn’t help but smile.

And luckily, this cake was so freaking amazing that he promptly forgave me for any and all wrongdoings.

Ultra moist chocolate bundt cake, spiked with whiskey and drizzled with whiskey-infused caramel

In fact, he enthusiastically (with his mouth full) declared it the best birthday cake he had ever had.

Which is some feat, considering every year, when I ask Taylor what he wants for his birthday cake, he requests a chocolate cake.

“But what kind of chocolate cake?” I ask.

“Just chocolate. Plain chocolate. Don’t do anything weird to it.” He replies.

But I’m a food blogger. Doesn’t he realize that? Weird is what I do.

I sigh, and begin to brainstorm how I can make something more interesting than just a chocolate cake that he won’t see as “weird”. I’ve realized that booze is usually an acceptable addition, and decided to run with that idea this year and make him a cake that combined his ‘plain chocolate’ with another favorite of his, whiskey. And not just a little whiskey, either. Enough whiskey that you might think twice about driving afterwords (ok, not really, but I wanted to be able to taste the booze in the final cake).

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake with Homemade Whiskey Caramel Sauce Recipe

After one bite of his “Single Barrel Bundt” he looked up and told me that THIS was what he meant by chocolate cake. Moist, flavorful, deeply chocolate, and not weighed down by a sugary frosting that he’d have to scrape off anyway. The caramel, in all its boozy glory, took the cake over the top.

I kind of want to put that caramel on everything now.

Homemade Whiskey Caramel Sauce Recipe

The cake itself is a very similar base to the Red Wine Chocolate Cake I made for his birthday two years ago. It’s still one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes, and the liquid can easily be replaced with water or coffee or beer or, as I now know, whiskey. And the yield is just as perfect for a 12-cup bundt pan as it is an 8-inch layer cake. The oil-based cake is tender and flavorful on its own, but with the whiskey caramel drizzled on top, well, like Taylor said, it’s pretty much the best birthday cake ever.

I have a feeling I’ll be making this one on an annual basis, as I highly doubt I’ll be able to do anything to top it.

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake with Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake with Whiskey Caramel Sauce

One of our favorite cake recipes of all time, this rich and moist chocolate bundt cake recipe is infused with plenty of whiskey, and topped with a homemade whiskey caramel sauce for even more boozy goodness.


For Cake:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dark or dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup decent quality Tennessee whiskey or bourbon

For Caramel:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whiskey or bourbon


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Generously butter a standard (12-cup) bundt pan. Dust with 1 tablespoon each flour and cocoa powder, and tap and turn until pan is completely coated. Dump out excess.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, whisking until thoroughly combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and mix with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until dry ingredients are almost incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add warm water and whiskey and mix until just combined and no dry ingredients remain (do not overmix). Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the deepest part of the pan comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle, then gently invert onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.
  4. To prepare caramel, place sugar and cream of tartar in a medium, high-sided saucepan set over medium-high heat. Pour water around edges. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook for 2 minutes (the steam buildup will help dissolve any stray sugar crystals on the sides). Remove cover and continue to boil, without stirring, until sugar caramelizes to a light amber color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Watch it carefully, as it can go from golden brown to burnt in no time if left unattended.
  5. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in cream and butter (mixture will bubble vigorously), then return to low heat and whisk until completely smooth. It may seem like it is seizing, but keep whisking and all the hard caramel chunks should dissolve. Remove from heat and let cool for about 2 minutes, then stir in whiskey. Transfer to a heat-proof container and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, or until thickened yet still pourable.
  6. Pour about half of the caramel over the top of cake, letting it drip down the edges and pool at the base. Slice and serve and drizzle with additional caramel as desired. Cake will keep, stored in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.
All images and text © / Love & Olive Oil

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  1. This is hands down the best cake I’ve ever made.  So moist, and the whiskey gives it a nice flavor!

    Thank you SO much for the recipe! 

  2. I made this cake and it is AWESOME. Thanks for the recipe

  3. Uh wut. Chocolate whiskey bundt cake? This sounds fabulous.
    Also, you have such a knack for storytelling! I was hooked after the first paragraph. What are the odds that the one bottle of whiskey you decided to use was the bottle from your wedding day?
    Anyways, I’m so inspired by your blog. Excellent writing and great photos. Well done!

  4. This is my kind of cake! Oh my, that sauce looks and sounds amazing :)

  5. You just clubbed two of my favourite things, baking and story telling into one very amazing posts. Belated birthday wishes to Taylor! Definitely baking this one soon. Cheers. :)

  6. I made this for a super bowl party and was told it was the best cake they had ever had by several people.  So good in fact that I’m making another one this weekend!  This will be a regular for events.

  7. I LOVE baking with booze! It’s just feels so fun! I most definitely will be making this…how could I not?! Looks amazing! Love the story too…how sweet :)

  8. What a lovely story and the cake looks delicious!!

  9. This looks delicious! Worth the saved bottle of whiskey and all. That caramel sauce sounds like it would be good on just about anything :) 

  10. hi, would it okay if i leave out the whiskey all together? this cake looks so good but i cant use alcohol. would you suggest any other non alcoholic substitiue? or would be okay if i leave it out completely?

    • Yes, the entire quantity of liquid (water + whiskey) could be replaced with coffee which I think would be quite good. For the caramel just add a teaspoon or two of vanilla at the end instead of the whiskey.

  11. Oh, dear. This is irresistible! So funny about Taylor. 

  12. I just made this today, and it was delicious! I think I may have over-mixed a bit, but it still turned out really well. I also made them in cupcake form to maximize sharing ability, and I baked them for 18 minutes. Instead of drizzling the caramel sauce, I dipped the tops of the cupcake in it, and there was enough to do that twice for each cupcake. I’m hoping it will thicken really nicely. I also used Makers Mark because that is what I had in the cupboard, and I love that I can actually taste it. 

  13. You had me at chocolate, but I’ll gladly stay for the whiskey caramel sauce, since you twisted my arm ;)

  14. This is absolutely stunning, Linds! Bravo! And Happy Birthday, Taylor :)

  15. This cake. It’s amazing. Your husband is a lucky guy. I want my wife to snatch my bourbon for a cake on my birthday too.

  16. I would’ve cried after I heard his sweet reasoning for having it! But yeah, he should’ve stashed that! Or had a sign on it! Sheesh. I use my husband’s whiskey for baking too!
    And my husband requests cake that’s “not weird” for his birthday every year too. He wants it “regular” and without frosting. Um, yeah…ok. That’s like telling me he’d rather I call DQ and order an ice cream cake and pick it up instead. But I bake him a plain Jane cake, because he’s the birthday boy :)
    The cake is beautiful Lindsay! You’re amazing!

  17. Lindsay, this is one stunning cake. It’s simple and complex all at the same time. What a lucky hubby.

  18. Wow! This looks delish! I saw it on Pinterest and I was just wondering if I could make this recipe gluten-free? Can you or someone from the audience give me any tips that might be helpful? Thanks for sharing such a fun recipe!

    • I don’t have any experience with gluten-free baking, sorry! I might suggest using a chocolate cake recipe that was developed to be GF originally, and then top it with the caramel from this recipe. Although, is whiskey itself gluten free? I’m not even sure.

    • I have made several recipes GF. My favorite way is to sub whatever amount of flour called for with 1/2 brown rice flour, 1/4 tapioca flour (or tapioca starch), and 1/4 sweet sorghum flour. I’ve done this with bread, cookie, and cake recipes and it’s always come out great. Be sure to add xanthan gum to help hold everything together. The usual ratio I use is 1/2 tsp xanthan gum per cup of GF flour used.

      Bob’s Red Mill makes great GF flours. They also have an “all purpose” blend, but I find it has an odd taste in sweet baked goods. That’s why I prefer the rice, tapioca, and sorghum blend.

      Here is a good reference for using xanthan gum in different recipes to make them GF:

    • p.s. You should be fine using whiskey. If in doubt, rum would probably be a good substitute and isn’t made with any wheat-related grains (barley, rye, etc.).

  19. I am not a plain chocolate lover, and all that whiskey talk and that caramel sauce on top totally wins me over. P.S. I can’t believe it’s leftover from your wedding!

  20. Absolutely beautiful looking (and sounding) cake! Wonderful idea to add alcohol to chocolate cake. I’ve heard beer goes well too!

  21. late to the party but gorgeous pour pic for a gorgeous cake!!! looks awesome Linds!

  22. What a funny story! You’ll just have to get a new bottle to celebrate 10 years with!

  23. These photos need to be printed and framed. Absolutely stunning! And how adorable about the bottle. Such a sweet story. Happy birthday Taylor!

  24. Such a sweet story! It seems like the whiskey has served a delightful purpose! This cake looks amazing!

  25. L-O-V-E coming to see what’s been baking in your kitchen!  Your photos….amazing!  Fab cake :)  xo

  26. Oh my, Lindsay, sounds like something I would do.  We have a liquor cabinet so full you would think we were big drinkers.  In reality, most of it was given to us as gifts or I bought it to bake with.  Knowing me, I would probably reach for the one bottle of Port, out of the half dozen bottles in there, that my husband has been saving for years.
    Well, if you were going to use his keepsake whiskey, at least you used in a delicious cake meant for him.

  27. What a story! I love it :) Cake looks so awesome too :)

  28. Well at least you two enjoyed the cake! (because, I mean, how could you not .. it looks insanely good!!)

  29. love to hear this kind of story-a memory to tell around the fire pit w/all your friends and family-so many well intentioned gifts that the meaning takes on a whole new life-congrats and thanks so much for an awesome recipe for us to add to our recipe files for the men in our life

  30. This is a beautiful cake!! And I am sure it tastes amazing because your red wine chocolate cake is one of my favorites!! Sorry he lost his whiskey…but it’s so sweet that he was saving it!!

  31. This sounds amazing!! Can you imagine if you had replaced the bottle without him knowing and he didn’t tell you for another 5 1/2 years?!! Such a sweet story though!

  32. This looks beyond divine!! and yes, I remember that red wine chocolate cake.. and has it really been two years!! jeez.. time flies!

  33. woah.. looks incredible.

  34. This looks amazing..whiskey,chocolate and caramel, Yum..

    I am adding this to my St. Patricks Day brunch ,Thank You !

  35. How do I print just the recipe without the rest of the post? Not that I don’t like the rest of the post (I do!), but don’t want to use that much paper.


  36. Good Gracious…that cake looks and sounds amazing and a cute story to boot!

  37. that looks so delicious!!

  38. At least you now have a great memory made of whiskey and cake! Happy Birthday Taylor!

  39. This cake looks absolutely phenomenal! So funny (not?) about the whiskey, but you’re totally right – don’t leave it in an easily accessible place!

  40. Love this post!  This sounds like a great candidate for my boyfriend’s birthday.  He’s also funny about desserts…the past two years I’ve made him an ice cream cake, but this looks way better!  

  41. You had me at chocolate…and whiskey…and cake.

  42. I have to catch  my breath from laughing…  Amazing storytelling!  I definitely needed that this monday morning!  Happy to hear he loved the cake.  Your pictures are just stunning.

  43. What a lovely cake and it will be filed away to be made for Derby Day in May! I made caramel yesterday too to drizzle over Monkey Bread and have a cup of Hot Caramel (instead of Hot Chocolate!) What a comforting recipe, XOXO

  44. Wow what a gorgeous cake! And nothing better than a boozy baked good :)

  45. Oops! lol At least he laughed and enjoyed the cake :) It’s gorgeous btw

  46. That caramel is calling my name!! YUM!

  47. Whoa. What a cake! I was going to be surprised if he wasn’t pleased with how you used his special booze. ;) Can I come to your house for my next birthday?

  48. I wish I could say I read the story because judging by the comments above, it was a really good one, but I actually just scrolled through the pictures and drooled.  THAT CAKE!  My goodness, it makes the oatmeal I’m eating for breakfast right now taste like mush.  I must make it, and then I will devour it in exactly three bites.  Thanks for the recipe!

  49. This is incredible. I can’t believe he saved that for 4 1/2 years! I don’t think my hubby would have that kind of willpower, Whiskey is his THANG.  Booze in dessert is always a good idea and I think I am going to join you in pouring that caramel sauce on everything…maybe even my face!

  50. Happy Bday to Taylor!

    And wow, the story-telling is just awesome, Lindsay! The little bottle, saved from your wedding, requests choc cake every year, nothing weird but weird is what you do, Consider maybe not driving after the cake….getting drunk off chocolate cake, omg, please, let me try :) I love the whole thing, the boozy caramel, this is my favorite post and recipe to date of yours! And you have some PB posts and other witty stories that are awesome but this trumps all! pinned of course.

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