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White bowl with chocolate cherry dump cake, a spoon

Chocolate Cherry Dump Cake

  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Few ingredients and minimal work make this cake a delicious dessert for any occasion. You can make it more or less from scratch (with only store-bought components for an easier recipe).


Units Scale

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
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1/3 cup orange juice

For the cake layer:

  • 3 cups (about 3/4 of an 18 oz box) chocolate cake mix
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold (or melted, see Variation in the Notes, below)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
  2. Have ready an 8x11 inch oven dish (ceramic or glass).
  3. 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:

  1. Mix cherries with sugar, orange zest, and cornstarch in a bowl. 
  2. Add orange juice, mix and dump in the prepared dish. 

To assemble:

  1. Add chocolate cake mix with a spoon, making sure it covers all the cherries. 
  2. Smooth slightly but don't mix. 
  3. Cut the butter into thin slices and top the cake. You should cover most of it so that when it melts all the cake mix is moistened. 
  4. Bake in 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. 
  5. Bake for 15 minutes more (1 hour in total) until the top is dry and the filling bubbles around the edges. 
  6. Serve warm plain or with whipped cream. 


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 are as accurate as I they 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 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 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. And you can also use yellow cake mix and make it a cherry dump cake only, no chocolate. 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 1/2 cup of sugar for the filling. 

Melted butter: 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 lightly wet. You can watch the step by step in the Blueberry dump Cake recipe post. I find that this method makes for a crunchier topping. 

Keywords: chocolate cherry dump cake