Molten Chocolate Cakes

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Molten chocolate cakes, also known as lava cakes, are rich individual chocolate cakes with oozing molten centers.

Molten chocolate cake on a plate with raspberries.

Molten chocolate cakes—also known as chocolate lava cakes—are rich individual chocolate cakes with oozing molten centers. The original recipe was created by master chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten fortuitously, when he pulled a chocolate cake out of the oven before it was done and discovered the center to be enticingly warm and pudding-like. Surprisingly, molten chocolate cakes are easy enough for even the novice baker to make at home. What’s more, they can be prepared ahead of time, stored in the fridge, and then baked at the last minute. The key is to serve them right out of the oven; if they sit too long after baking, the molten centers will cook through.

“I made this for a dinner party, and it turned out perfectly…All my guests raved about it, and it is a wonderful stress-free dessert because it can be made ahead of time.”


What you’ll need to make Molten Chocolate Cakes

molten chocolate cake ingredients

Find the printable recipe with specific measurements below.

  • Butter: Gives the cakes a rich flavor and smooth texture, plus more for buttering the ramekins.
  • Bittersweet Chocolate: Bittersweet chocolate offers a deep, rich chocolate taste. The quality of chocolate significantly impacts the flavor of the cakes, so use a high-quality brand.
  • Eggs + Egg Yolks: Provide structure and richness to the cakes. The additional yolks make the cakes extra rich.
  • Light Brown Sugar: Adds sweetness and a hint of molasses flavor, which complements the chocolate.
  • Vanilla Extract: Complements the chocolate flavor.
  • Salt: A small amount helps balance the sweetness and intensify the chocolate flavor.
  • All-Purpose Flour: Gives the cakes structure, but only a small amount is used to keep them moist and fudgy.

How to make Molten Chocolate Cakes

You’ll need six oven-proof 6-ounce ramekins for the recipe, which you can find at any kitchen store. If you have ramekins that are slightly larger, the recipe is still doable, but you’ll likely need to add a minute or two from the baking time (and this will also impact the number of servings you get from the batter).

Begin by buttering the ramekins liberally to ensure the cakes release easily.

Buttered ramekins on a baking sheet.

Melt one stick of butter and add the chopped chocolate to the bowl.

melted butter and chocolate in bowl

Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. If a few chunks of chocolate remain, place the bowl back in the microwave for 20 seconds, then stir again.

melted chocolate and butter mixture

Next, combine the eggs, egg yolks, brown sugar, salt and vanilla extract in a bowl.

eggs, vanilla, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl

Beat until pale and thick, about 4 minutes.

beaten egg mixture

Add the flour and melted chocolate mixture (the chocolate mixture sinks to the bottom).

adding the flour and melted chocolate mixture to the egg mixture

Gently fold to combine.

folding the chocolate and egg mixtures

It will deflate a bit—that’s okay.

molten chocolate cake batter

Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared ramekins.

molten chocolate cakes ready to bake

Bake for 10 minutes in a 450°F oven. (If you’re not ready to bake the cakes right away, you can cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and store them in the fridge; just bring them to room temperature before baking.)

baked molten chocolate cakes

They’ll puff up just over the edge of the ramekins. Be sure not to overcook them, or the centers won’t be molten. Let the cakes sit in the ramekins for a minute, then carefully invert them onto plates.

inverting the cakes onto plates

Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream and berries.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can molten chocolate cakes be made in advance?

Yes, the batter can be spooned into the ramekins, covered and refrigerated for several hours before baking. Take them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before baking so they come to room temperature.

What type of chocolate should I use?

Use the a good-quality bittersweet chocolate, such as Ghirardelli or Guittard. It makes a difference!

How do I get the perfect molten center?

Achieving the perfect molten center in a chocolate cake can be a challenge, mainly because every oven is different and, unlike other cakes, you can’t tell by looking at them. The typical baking is about 10 minutes, but it’s a good idea to start checking a couple of minutes before the suggested time, as even a minute too long in the oven can result in an overcooked center.

Molten chocolate cake on a plate with raspberries.

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Molten Chocolate Cakes

Molten chocolate cakes, also known as lava cakes, are rich individual chocolate cakes with oozing molten centers.

Servings: 6
Total Time: 30 Minutes


  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the ramekins
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, best quality such as Ghirardelli
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour

For Serving (optional)

  • Confectioners sugar, vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream, and berries


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Generously butter six 6-ounce ramekins (really be generous, and do not substitute non-stick cooking spray). Set the ramekins on a baking sheet.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium bowl in the microwave. Immediately add the chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely smooth and melted. If a few chunks remain, place the bowl back in the microwave for 20 seconds, then stir again. Repeat if necessary. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle or beaters, beat the eggs, egg yolks, brown sugar, vanilla and salt at high speed until thickened and pale, about 4 minutes. Add the melted chocolate mixture and flour to the egg mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until just combined (the chocolate sinks to the bottom so be sure to scrape it up into the batter).
  4. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared ramekins and bake for 10 minutes, until the cakes are set and puffed over the edges of the ramekins. Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 1 to 2 minutes; then, holding the hot ramekins with a dish towel, carefully invert the cakes onto dessert plates. They should pop right out, but you can run a thin-bladed knife around the edges if necessary. Serve immediately. (It's important not to let the cakes sit after baking, as the centers will continue to cook.)
  5. Make-Ahead Instructions: The batter can be spooned into the ramekins, covered and refrigerated for several hours before baking. Take them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before baking so they come to room temperature.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 416
  • Fat: 31 g
  • Saturated fat: 18 g
  • Carbohydrates: 35 g
  • Sugar: 29 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Sodium: 85 mg
  • Cholesterol: 174 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • I made this recipe yesterday for Valentine’s Day. It was AMAZING! I did cut the recipe in half as I only needed for 2 people. I used 8 oz. Ramekins so adjusted cooking time to 13 minutes. It came out delicious! I may try to cook for 12 minutes next time to compare how ‘gooey’ the inside is with 1 minute less cooking time. Jen never disappoints ☺️

    • — Annmarie on February 15, 2024
    • Reply
  • Finally got this right after 2 fails. Every attempt was following the batter recipe exactly.
    First try I used 3 6oz ramekins and 1 8oz. You can imagine the results. All were mush.
    Second try was with 2 8oz ramekins and cooking for 12 minutes. Mush but not quite as bad. That being said by the way, there wasn’t anything left on the plates by my testers.
    Third try was two nights ago only difference was cooking time. Went for 16 (yes 16) minutes. Perfect, so now I have my benchmark. I like the larger ramekins because it’s usually just the queen, myself and one set of our adult kids when I make them, so they are great for sharing. I also usually make them in the morning when I’m going to cook them, in Jenn’s instructions she says to put the batter in the ramekins then cover them, remove for 30 minutes then bake. I followed this verbatim for the ones that turned out great as well. Now I just need to come up with a Bailys sauce. Thanks Jenn, site is great as always.
    US Navy Retired

    • — Jon on February 1, 2024
    • Reply
  • It became fluffy cupcake… what did I do wrong?

    • — Yuka Yamagishi on November 23, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Yuka, I’m sorry this didn’t come out well for you — it sounds like they were a bit overbaked.

      • — Jenn on November 24, 2023
      • Reply
  • Can you use unsweetened chocolate? It’s all I have on hand.

    • — Kate on November 19, 2023
    • Reply
    • I wouldn’t recommend it — sorry!

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2023
      • Reply
  • I’ve made these a couple of times and my husband loves them!! Thank you for the recipe. I am wondering if I can substitute the butter for margarine?

    • — Meira on October 15, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Meira, I haven’t made these with margarine, but I suspect it should work. Just make sure you use margarine that comes in stick form.

      • — Jenn on October 16, 2023
      • Reply
  • Have made several of your recipes and all were great… until this one. After 10 minute in oven no rising of cake at all…left in another 5 minute and rose 2/3 of the way but dried the cake out and followed recipe to the letter…

    • — Jim on April 9, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Jim, I’m sorry you had a problem with these! Did you use 6 ounce ramekins?

      • — Jenn on April 11, 2023
      • Reply
  • Love this recipe! I have milk chocolate wafers in the house that need to be used up…should I make any adjustments to the recipe? Thanks so much ❤️

    • — Elisha on February 26, 2023
    • Reply
    • Glad you like it! I’d cut the brown sugar back by a tablespoon so the cakes aren’t too sweet.

      • — Jenn on February 28, 2023
      • Reply
  • Can I make a half recipe ?

    • — Nina on February 14, 2023
    • Reply
    • Yep that’s fine 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 15, 2023
      • Reply
  • Chilling made the batter a thick paste. Bringing to room temp batte like a soft ganache. Baked up as a pudding, did not puff up or even get cakey at the edges. So I don’t suggest chilling the batter. I’ve made lava cakes before but never chilled the batter. Will not do that again or one will get baked pudding!

    • — Joan on August 28, 2022
    • Reply
    • Exact same thing happened to me with this recipe last night. 🫤 Still tasty, but was basically a dense brownie rather than a lava cake. When I saw that they weren’t rising at all, I decided to leave them in for a couple more minutes to bake them through… with the dense texture it was going to be weird to have the thick, undone center. Guests were happy with their dessert, but I was disappointed!

      • — Alison on September 26, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn

    I only have 5-ounce ramekins. How long is the baking time?

    • — Sindy Ang on July 22, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Sindy, I’m guessing 8 to 9 min. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 22, 2022
      • Reply
  • Thank you for this wonderful recipe!
    They turned out just perfect! My whole family enjoyed them!

  • Can l make this in a cupcake pan and pipe the lava into a whole l make snd then close it. Trying not to use so much of the lava. It will be way to sweet. Want to make this for an adult birthday party.

    • Unfortunately, I don’t think that would work, Rose — sorry!

  • I just made these with my grandson helping, and the only substitution we made was to use light brown sugar as my dark brown sugar was hard as a rock. I was very disappointed in the outcome and think the 450 degree temperature was too high. They were dry and the molten centers were not especially molten. Has anyone else had the same problem?

    • Hi Marge, I’m sorry these came out dry for you! I haven’t heard that about this recipe before did you use 6-ounce ramekins? If so, you may want to double-check your oven temperature to see if it’s accurate here are some tips for how to go about that.

  • Hi Jennifer I’m really looking forward to making this molten lava cake for Valentines. Except I can’t find Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate in our stores. Now I can get Lindt brand. But none of them say bittersweet. Is bittersweet like a high percentage of cacao like 70% or more? Can I use a semi sweet chocolate maybe? Hopefully you see this message before Valentine’s Day lol so I can figure it out. Thanks!

    • Hi Judy, Semi-sweet and bittersweet are generally interchangeable, so semi-sweet will work well here. Hope you enjoy!

      • Thank you for the tip Jennifer. I prepared the ingredients and put them in the fridge in order to cook them tomorrow. I followed your recipe measurements exactly and of course as expected I have more cake mix than I do containers. I didn’t have the heart to throw out the extra so I’m wondering if I just leave the remainder in the fridge in a plastic container and then when we’re done our dinner tomorrow and I have cleaned the used ramekins, I can cook them in those afterwards. Will the cake mix keep OK for a day and a half in the fridge? I obviously can’t put them in a muffin tin to freeze because it’s metal and that’s why I’m asking.The only other thing I thought of is if I cook them in the muffin tins with cupcake liners then I can take them out of the muffin tins and put them with the cupcake liners in the freezer. But I don’t know if cupcake liners will burn at a temperature of 450°?? Hope you don’t mind me asking but I don’t like wasting food and I’m really looking forward to this treat tomorrow. Thanks!

        • Hi Judy, A day and a half in the fridge should be fine. 🙂

  • Jenn. In your pictures, the ramekins you show buttered are straight-sided but your baked ones look as if they were in a dome-shaped mold. I am confused. I have 6 oz anchor hocking custard cups that can handle a 450 oven and picked up some straight-sided things at Home Goods that I think are about 6 oz. Can’t tell they are in a box, which will unmold better? I think that I like the looks of your domed ones better.

    • — Carol Winkelman
    • Reply
    • Hi Carol, I understand how it could look like the cakes came from a dome-shaped mold, but they came from the ones that you see buttered. I think the little lip inside the ramekins creates the illusion that the sides of the ramekins aren’t straight. Hope that clarifies!

      • Scharfenberger 62% chocolate, almost effortless for a beautiful presentation and a dramatic finale to my dinner…only two of us, so just made half a recipe. My guest swooned over this desert. I realize that I ate this many many years ago at Jean Georges in New York. Have never made it, don’t know why, but believe me, this will be my go to recipe whenever I want to knock the socks off my guests. Thanks Jenn for another winner

        • — Carol Winkelman
        • Reply
        • So glad they came out well!

  • I plan on making these but don’t have ramekins. I do have two muffin trays (6 muffins each). What adjustment, if any, should I make in baking time?

    • Hi Linda, The cook time should be the same. Enjoy!

  • I’ve made these several times and have always used Ghirardelli chocolate bars and chopped them up. But I am wondering if I can just use bittersweet chocolate chips instead? Will the outcome be the same?

    • Hi Seema, Because chocolate chips have stabilizers that help them maintain their shape (like for chocolate chip cookies), I prefer chocolate using chocolate bars for this recipe. That said, a number of readers have commented that they’ve used chocolate chips with success. Hope that helps!

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