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.
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  1. good bundt cake recipes to make for an upcoming birthday. The only problem is I have to travel 12 hours in the car with it. (I figured a bundt would travel better than a layer cake.) If I make the sauce in advance, will it thicken to much, could I just reheat it in the microwave or something to get it pour-able again?

  2. HI, I’m planning on bringing this to someone else’s house, do you recommend keeping the caramel in the fridge separate from the cake, then heating the caramel sauce in the microwave before pouring it over the cold cake? Or what do you think will work best?

    • The caramel soaks into the cake once it sits. Which tastes wonderful, but maybe bring a jar of it with you to drizzle on top for effect.

  3. Made this for my Hubby’s 40th birthday and boy was to a hit! That caramel sauce! I added twice as much liquor in the sauce and we loved it. The cake is so deliciously chocolatey. This was just phenomenal.

  4. I I made this cake and it was amazing!! A huge hit, my husband loved it! I’m curious what you think about using Spiced Rum instead of Bourbon? 

  5. I made this for a dinner party yesterday and OMG was this yummy!  Recipe was easy to follow. Will be making this again for sure!

  6. I made this cake for my family (6 adults and 3 kids) last night and we all LOVED it! The cake is light, moist, and flavorful! The adults loved it because it wasn’t super sweet. The kids loved it because it was chocolatey. In addition to the caramel sauce, I made a chocolate sauce as well for the kids/adults, just in case, they didn’t like or want caramel. It didn’t even need anything on top, it was so good. I will absolutely make it again. Thank YOU! 

  7. I made this a couple of years ago for my husband’s get together with his school buddies .Two years down the line another get together and one of them says …” That cake ” ….you got to get that cake ..I’m still dreaming of it .So kudos for the amazing recipie .I added coffee as well into the warm water in the batter just deepened the flavour

  8. This cake came out beautifully. And the Whiskey sauce is delicious

  9. Cooked 45 min in dark pan and that was a bit too long as it was not moist enough and drier. Caramel topping was very thin so it did moisten cake some but it was a strong whisky flavor in caramel sauce (used scotch whisky).

    • I imagine scotch would have an overpowering peaty flavor here. American whiskeys would be better, ideally one that’s rather sweet with notes of vanilla like the Jack Daniels I used. Also, if your caramel was too thin it likely wasn’t cooked long enough or cooled long enough (the sauce thickens up quite a bit as it cools).

  10. Do you think it would be ok to make the caramel sauce a day ahead of the cake?

    • Definitely! The sauce will keep very well for days. Just rewarm it a tiny bit before you use it so it’s nice and pourable. ;)

  11. I just wanted to let you know I’ve made this cake now twice. The first time I auctioned off the cake, which went for $400! I didn’t get to try that attempt. I just made this cake again for the second time, and I absolutely love it. The whiskey adds a really nice “kick” and just elevates it to more than your average chocolate cake. The caramel is fantastic. Thanks for this great recipe!

  12. I made just the caramel sauce for another cake and it’s YUM! Glad you mentioned about how it might seize up, because it did….but eventually it loosened up and it came out great. Will try the cake next time, as I like bourbon-chocolate cakes!

  13. I made this cake today. I’m not a baker and still I found it quite easy. The instructions are perfect and the cake was delicious. I will definitely make again and I would not change a thing.

  14. i gonnal make this cake this weekend, wow can’t wait to have it.

  15. Just made this for our family’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration tomorrow ???! Used Hell-Cat Maggie Irish Whiskey (which is a touch on the sweet side) and a generous pinch of salt in the caramel… OMG the caramel is amazing and I want to just drink it right now!! (*must wait for cake… must wait for cake…). I think my husband will be verrrry happy!! Thanks for the killer recipe!!

  16. To die for!!! Delicious!!!! Best cake ever!!

  17. I made this about a year ago and please please please know it is possibly the BEST cake I’ve ever made in my life. Hands down a recipe that I will be making for years and years to come.

  18. Hello Lindsay!
    I’m a fan of your blog. I tried this as my first bundt last weekend and it was absolutely fabulous!
    So much so that one of my friends now wants me to bake this for her whiskey loving husband’s birthday :)
    The only issue is that they are vegetarian and I need to try this minus the eggs. Please please help me with a substitute and quantity for eggs in this recipe! I would be forever grateful! Thanks.

    • Vegetarians usually eat eggs; vegans, on the other hand, do not. Maybe clarify to make sure?
      Unfortunately I’ve never baked extensively with any egg substitutes, so I can’t say what will/won’t work in this recipe. Eggs give the cake much of its structure, without them the cake might not rise properly.

    • Thank you so much for your quick response!
      I’m from India, here ‘vegetarian’ implies no meat and eggs (Dairy is okay) :)
      I will do another eggless cake for her in that case, and top it with your sauce. Thanks so much again :)

  19. OMG!!! Amazing recipe!!! Made it this week for 2 friends Birthday that love whiskey! Made it with scotch called Ardbeg (very smokey whiskey), because it’s their favorite and turned out amazing! Made 2 caramels, one with Ardbeg other with Johnny Walket and also made a chocolate sauce! Everyone loved it! Followed the recipe just substituted the buttermilk for plain yogurt! Will def be making this again!!!

  20. Awesome recipe! Was a hit!

  21. I made both the cake and the caramel sauce this week. Both were a HUGE hit! I had never made caramel sauce before and wondered it I could do it. Your recipe was super easy! Thank you so much for sharing!! 

  22. Hi,

    I want to bake this for my 3rd year Anniversary! It looks divine :) Would it be okay to use a 10 cup or smaller Bundt pan?

  23. Could I use Cake Flour for this recipe? What would change on the ingredients list?

  24. Made this today and the caramel sauce is straight up delicious. Unfortunately, the cake itself was overly dense and totally bland! I could not taste any chocolate, and the whiskey just barely came through. Not sure what went wrong, as I followed the recipe as written.

    Any thoughts? I don’t think I overmixed, but maybe that’s the culprit?


  25. I just made this for an office potluck lunch. I have never had accolades thrown at me in such a manner. Thanks for making me look good. This cake is off the hook. 

  26. Hi! Novice baker here, wanting very much to bake this cake at high altitude (6500-7000 ft above sea level). Any special tips I can get to make sure this thing goes off without a hitch would be much appreciated!

    • Altitude baking can be tricky, but this one should work as written, no adjustments needed, as it’s a pretty dense cake to begin with. In fact my mom baked it recently at 7,000 feet and said it was perfect. :) Good luck!

  27. AWESOME!!!

    I made this cake for my cousin using Canadian  Mist and it was delicious!  Rich and moist and by the way I doubled up on the whiskey for the caramel sauce  and it was still great!  Thanks for the recipe!

  28. If I were to use whole wheat flour, what would change? And would it work?

    • I might start with half and half all-purpose to whole wheat. Straight whole wheat flour tends to produce very dense baked goods, and you may not be entirely happy with the result. I’d also suggest using a whole wheat pastry flour, which is finer textured than regular whole wheat. I haven’t personally tried it so I can’t say for sure what will happen!

  29. I’m looking for good bundt cake recipes to make for an upcoming birthday.  The only problem is I have to travel 12 hours in the car with it. (I figured a bundt would travel better than a layer cake.)  If I make the sauce in advance, will it thicken to much, could I just reheat it in the microwave or something to get it pour-able again?  Great recipe — love JD!

  30. I am excited to try this recipe, has anyone tried refrigerating it?   If so, how long did it last?
    Also do you feel the Jack Daniels tasted the best? Thank you so much

    • Sure, you could definitely refrigerate the cake (although it’s not required). Should keep about 3 days or so. Or, if you wanted to keep it longer, try freezing it. Chocolate cake especially tends to hold up very well in the freezer for a few months.

      Feel free to use your favorite whiskey/bourbon in the recipe, it doesn’t have to be JD (though not really worthwhile to use expensive brands, the cheaper stuff will work just fine here).

  31. My cake is cooling right now and it’s so hard not to taste it! It smells amaaaazing. And what a funny story behind the recipe! :)

  32. This cake was fantastic. We enjoyed every decadent bite. I’ll definitely be making this one again. 

  33. This cake was so good and easy to make, so so moist. Great recipe!

  34. This cake was so easy & quick to  put together. I was really happy with how the cake and caramel sauce tasted! I had so many compliments and people asking for the recipe :) Thank you, I have a “Go-To” cake recipe that never fails!

  35. This cake is singing to me. Looks so delicious.

  36. Awesum looking cake……….perfectly moist and yummm!!

  37. Made this for my hubby’s birthday, it was a huge hit with everyone!  What little remained was gone the next day.  Super moist and yummy!

  38. I will be making this cake for the SECOND time! It is a go to cake when I want to impress. The first time I made it for my bosses birthday and his gift was also an $80 bottle of whiskey. This next time, I’m making for the 4th of July for our very best friends – they are hosting dinner and they are gourmet cooks – I know they will love it!

  39. Wow! This looks delicious – cant wait to make it – and the touch of whiskey makes it even better :-)

  40. This looks amazing! Especially the sauce, looking forward to making it – hopefully mine will look AND taste as amazing as yours :-) Thanks!

  41. Hi. I really enjoy  your website. Honestly, this cake is the first thing I’ve made from the site. The positive: the caramel bourbon sauce was DELICIOUS!!! The negative: the cake was moist BUT the taste was not good. It had an unpleasant aftertaste. I know it was because of the bourbon. I just made it yesterday for my sister’s birthday/ Easter- the family was a bit disappointed- I had to pour lots of caramel on it to enjoy it. :(

  42. Good read. The whisky caramel syrup seems like the wining part. Thanks for the post.

  43. I don’t know what went wrong but I had a complete fail on the caramel sauce. It was looking good and suddenly paled and solidified. Whisking in the butter and cream over heat somewhat helped but there were still hard chunks in the edges of the pan. It never looked like caramel and had a very sugary texture. I’ve made caramel before and never had that happen. 

    • I’m not a sugar expert but it sounds like maybe your caramel crystallized? The cream of tartar should help with that but if a stray sugar crystal made its way in there its possible. At least that’s what it sounds like to me. A bit of corn syrup might help next time, or just being very diligent about washing down the sides of the pan.

  44. Sooo, my husband hates caramel (he also detests chocolate & peanut butter together…such an odd duck) and I’m not sure what else to use for the sauce. The cake is FANTASTIC & I tried using a butter-type glaze that I make for a whiskey cake we love…and it was just so-so. Don’t get me wrong, we still ate it all but do you have any suggestions for a caramel-free alternative? 

    I’m about to make it for a friend’s birthday with the caramel sauce. Can’t wait to taste the whole shebang since I love, love, love caramel.

    • a little late, but here’s a chocolate whiskey icing recipe:
       For the Jack Daniels Fudge Icing:

      • 1/4 cup Jack Daniels whiskey
      • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
      • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
      • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
      • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
      7. In a medium saucepan, combine butter, sugar, and evaporated milk.
      8. Stir together until rolling boil and time for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
      9. Remove from heat and add in chocolate chips and Jack Daniels.
      10. Immediately pour over cake (will set up quickly).

  45. My husband made this for ME on my birthday and mannnnnn did it turn out good. I make the red wine chocolate cake quite often, and this was one step up!  I’ve got a version in the oven now made with Kraken rum, but I had to do a bunch of substitutions based on what’s missing from my larder (eggs, cocoa powder- I used hot chocolate mix) so it will probably be weird. 

  46. Hi!!! I just discovered your blog and I loved it … I will try more than one of your recipes. Especially this one, I’m sure that to my husband will love this cake. Thanks for publishing your recipes

  47. Wow!  That sauce is delicious!  I could just drink it all day long :)

  48. This cake was fantastic! I was wondering if you thought it would work for cupcakes as well?

  49. What a cute story! I love these pictures. love ’em! Oh, and I could drink that caramel sauce all day.

  50. Can this chocolate whisky bundt cake be baked in two springform pans?

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