How to Make Portillo’s Chocolate Cake at Home

You'll never guess the surprise ingredient...

I have a recipe for the single greatest chocolate cake in the history of all chocolate cake.

The Portillo’s chocolate cake.

Now, if you have never had the Portillo’s chocolate cake, I am sorry to say your Chicago experience is simply incomplete. Go one step further and get the chocolate cake shake some time. I promise you it is nothing short of proof that something greater is out there and wants us to be happy. You may think that a restaurant known for its Italian beef and other Midwestern meatly goods would supply nothing but mediocre desserts, but you would be wrong. So, so wrong. The Portillo’s chocolate cake is a decadent, perfectly balanced, delicious example of what a chocolate cake should be.

And I have discovered how to make it at home.

Now, before I get into it, there are a few surprise ingredients in this recipe I am about to bestow upon you. I’d like to first explain, because if I don’t I fear you’ll click out of this article in disgust. I beg you to stay with me. I can assure you if you make this cake and manage to take it to a party before eating it in its entirety, you will be a god among men and women.

What are these secret ingredients, you ask?

Boxed devil’s food cake mix 

As an avid “bake everything from scratch” person I was appalled when I read this. Appalled, I say! The thing is, though, you won’t be able to tell it starts from a box. There is nothing generic about the taste of this cake when you’re done with it. So trust me. Don’t try to get fancy. Buy the red box of devil’s food cake mix. And while you’re at it…

Canned chocolate icing

I swear, guys, it’s better than you remember. It matches the cake and you. cannot. tell. Swallow your pride now because you will need to make room for the best cake in the world and there is no room for pride filling you up.


STAY WITH ME! Don’t leave me now! I’m with you, guys. I hate mayonnaise. As in, the thought of mayo on something makes my stomach turn. I do. not. eat. mayo. But in this cake, it works. Like, really, really, really works. As a bonus, this recipe is so easy and kid-friendly the whole family can help without you having a nervous breakdown about proportions, proper measuring techniques, or any other such nonsenses that tend to occur when anyone other than yourself tries to bake.

Alright, so now that I’ve explained this, I really do urge you to try this cake. Add some fun sprinkles on it, too!

Portillo’s Chocolate Cake Home Recipe (Adapted from Center Cut Cook


  • 1 box devil’s food cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup ice cold water
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (Yes, really.)
  • 1-2 cans canned chocolate frosting (I use one and it’s perfect.)


Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 9-inch round pans and set aside. In a large bowl (preferably one for your mixer, though you can hand mix or use a hand mixer), combine cake mix, eggs, water, mayo. Mix on low for about 30 seconds and then on high for 3-4 minutes. Split batter evenly between two pans, then bake for 30-32 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cakes to rest in pan for five minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack for about an hour until fully and completely cooled. Place one cake onto a plate/cake stand and ice top with about 1/3-1/2 of the jar of icing. Place other cake on top, and ice the top and sides of the cake to your preference. Consume with trepidation and then unabashed delight, bordering on mania.

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