Few ingredients and minimal work make this dump cake the easiest dessert for so many occasions. You can make it more or less from scratch, with only store-bought components or with a quick homemade filling. The combination of flavors is wonderful and it can be ready in an hour.
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I was introduced to dump cakes a couple of years ago at a summer barbecue and I didn't make it for years. The idea of using boxed cakes (the ones found at the grocery stores) for some of us bakers is a strong no-no most of the time.
But I'm so glad I tried it!
It's such an easy dessert, very customizable, and a total crowd-pleaser! A bite of this cherry chocolate dump cake recipe and you'll understand what I mean.
The word cake is loosely used in the title. It's not what you envision which is usually layers when you think of one. This is cobbler-like in its appearance (don't know what is a cobbler?), but since it uses the boxed cake it's a little bit of both.
It's also the richer, more sophisticated cousin to our vanilla cherry dump cake.
We have several easy dump cake recipes in this blog, in case you're interested. It's one of the best desserts for hot weather months.
It's interesting that, if using canned filling, this is a 3-ingredient dessert.
- Cake mix: there are different types of chocolate boxed cake mixes, and any other one you like works well.
- Cherry filling: I make my own filling because I can't usually get the canned stuff. But if you use 2 cans of cherry pie filling this cake is a breeze; simply open the cans and dump them onto the baking dish.
How to make it
Three steps are all you need to make this dump cake.
For this layer, you can use store-bought cherry pie filling, and make this a 3-ingredient easy chocolate cherry dump cake. Or make your own.
Homemade cherry filling: mix a few ingredients in a bowl, the pitted cherries, orange juice, zest sugar, and cornstarch. it's still a super easy recipe, but several ingredients are involved.
Cake mix layer
- Choose your oven dish, and dump the cherry mixture in it. Remember you will serve it directly from the pan, so a ceramic or glass one is the best IMO.
- Put the amount of cake mix given in the recipe on top of the cherry pie filling. Don't mix it with the cherries. Images 3 and 4
There are two ways to do this and both work:
- Butter slices: cut the butter into thin slices to cover the cake mix. Or most of it, there will be spaces left without it. First, level the cake dry mix a bit (but don't mix it with the filling!) so the butter is easier to add.
- Melted butter: simply melt the butter and mix it with the cake mix, similar to what we do in the Peach Dump Cake recipe.
- Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. Use a thermometer inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that the temperature is right. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- What type of cake can you use? Any type you like. A favorite of mine is devil’s food cake mix because it's a rich chocolate cake with an intense flavor. But any chocolate cake will do. Or mix chocolate chips with a yellow cake mix and make it a chocolate chip cherry dump cake. Maybe you'll end up finding a new family favorite dessert.
- Serving it: warm and a la mode (that means with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top) might makes this the easiest chocolate dessert that you won't forget easily. But warm and plain is still amazing. Or serve it with whipped cream for a black forest dump cake, which for me is a perfect combination of flavors. If it's cold from the refrigerator, you can reheat it in the microwave or in a medium oven.
- Variations: use some pure almond extract in the filling, or mix in some maraschino cherries for a different touch. A brownie mix can also work and can render something with an extra fudgy feeling to it.
- Small batch: use 1 can of cherry pie filling or make half of the filling recipe here, and use a half package of chocolate cake mix. Bake it in a smaller dish.
Frequently asked questions
The butter melts and the juices in the fruit are released during baking and moisten the dry cake mix. This bakes the floury mix in a cobbler-like way, not like the regular layer cakes we're used to.
You don't need to for the first 8-12 hours. After that, I recommend you do as the cherries will eventually start to ferment depending on the temperature of the space, and it will ruin the dessert. Leftovers should always be stored, covered, in the refrigerator.
No, you don't, in theory at least. What I strongly recommend is that you check that there are no large dry spots on top mid-way through baking, after all the butter has melted and started to seep into the cake mix. If that is the case, you might want to add a thin slice of butter to cover it and continue baking the dessert further.
They last for about 5 days in the fridge and a month frozen. But they can be eaten a few hours after they're baked, especially if you serve them warm.
Related recipes you might like:
Let me know in the comments below if you made this recipe and loved it, and if you had issues, so we can troubleshoot together. I love to hear what you think, always. Thanks for being here, it's much appreciated.
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For the cherry layer:
- 2 cans (21 ounces each) cherry pie filling
OR make it from scratch
- 2 pounds pitted cherries, fresh or frozen
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ cup sugar
- Zest of 1 orange
- ⅓ cup orange juice
- Dash of ground cinnamon, optional
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
For the cake layer:
- 3 cups (about ¾ of an 18 oz box) chocolate cake mix
- ⅔ cup unsalted butter, cold (see Notes, below for a melted butter variation)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Have ready an 8x11 inch oven dish (ceramic or glass).
- If using store-bought cherry pie filling you only have to open the cans and dump them in the dish, spreading to cover the whole dish.
Filling from scratch:
- Mix cherries with sugar, orange zest, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large bowl.
- Add the cornstarch dissolved in the orange juice, stir to combine, and dump the cherry mixture into the prepared dish.
- Add the chocolate cake mix with a spoon, making sure it covers all the cherries.
- Smooth slightly but don't mix. We just want to flatten it a little so the butter slices are easier to arrange.
- Cut the butter into very thin slices and arrange them on top of the cake mix. You should cover most of it so that when it melts in the oven all (or most) of the cake mix is moistened.
- Alternatively, melt the butter and pour it over the chocolate cake mix in a large bowl. Mix with a spoon until you have a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle it over the cherry filling.
- Bake on the middle rack for 45 minutes and check by lifting here and there the chocolate top and, if there are very dry spots, mix it a bit with the juices in the bottom. Otherwise, they might never moisten.
- Bake for 15 minutes more (1 hour in total) until the top is dry and the filling bubbles around the edges.
- Serve warm plain, with whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- Store leftovers in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap. You can also freeze them, well covered or in an airtight container. Defrost at room temperature.
always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
What type of cake can you use? Any type of chocolate cake you like. A favorite of mine is devil’s food cake mix because it has a rich chocolate flavor. But any chocolate mix will do. Or mix chocolate chips with it and make it sort of a chocolate cherry dump cake. Maybe you'll end up finding a new family favorite dessert.
Serving it: warm and a la mode (that means with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top) might makes this the easiest chocolate dessert that you won't forget easily. But warm and plain is still amazing. Or serve it with whipped cream for a black forest dump cake, which for me is a perfect combination of flavors.
Variations: use some pure almond extract in the filling, or mix in some maraschino cherries for a different touch. A brownie mix can also work and can render something with an extra fudgy feeling to it.
Sweetness: the cake mix has sugar, but if you're into very sweet desserts, you can use up to ½ cup of sugar for the filling.
Melted butter topping: there is another way to make the topping for this dump cake, and I think it's even easier. Simply melt the butter and mix it first with the cake mix in a bowl. It will be somewhat crumbly and slightly wet with some dry spots. It's how we make the cherry dump cake recipe. I find that this method makes for a crunchier topping.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
- Category: Desserts
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: ⅛
- Calories: 386
- Sugar: 39.5 g
- Sodium: 347.1 mg
- Fat: 15.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 63.5 g
- Fiber: 3.5 g
- Protein: 3.5 g
- Cholesterol: 30.5 mg
Keywords: chocolate cherry dump cake