Portillo’s is a restaurant famous for hot dogs and Italian beef, but what you may not know is they serve a very popular chocolate cake. In fact, the Portillo’s chocolate cake is so well-loved there’s a copycat recipe for it.
An Easy Mayonnaise Cake
The Portillo’s chocolate cake copycat is a ridiculously easy mayonnaise cake. It calls for Betty Crocker cake mix, eggs, water, and mayo and is frosted with canned Betty Crocker frosting. People who claim to have worked at Portillo’s say the recipe is fairly accurate, but that the chocolate cake mix is actually Gold Medal. Gold Medal and Betty Crocker are both General Mills brands, and since the Gold Medal cake mix seems to be more of a restaurant industry product (I’ve never seen Gold Medal cake mix in stores), the Betty Crocker cake mix is probably close. Of course I had to know, so I bought a slice of Portillo’s chocolate cake and made the copycat Portillo’s chocolate cake. First up was the real life Portillo’s Chocolate Cake.
Portillo’s Cake Taste Test
The Portillo’s frosting did indeed taste like Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy Chocolate. As a frosting lover who will eat it in just about any form, the lazy side of me was glad I didn’t have to try to duplicate it with a scratch clone. Of course you are welcome to do so (which should go without saying), but if you are going for a clone you might want to stick with Betty Crocker. Next, I tasted the crumb. It too had the texture of boxed mix, but lighter and softer and less sweet with less artificial taste. Since the cake is purported to have mayonnaise, I suspected the mayo was doing its job by adding moisture and masking any chemical flavors. Good job, mayo! Next up was the copycat cake made with Betty Crocker Devil’s Food.
Some of the clones state that you must use Betty Crocker Super Moist Butter Recipe Chocolate while others call for Betty Crocker Devil’s Food. I went to three stores and couldn’t find “Butter Recipe”, so I used Devil’s Food. The ingredient lists for those two flavors were identical, so I wasn’t too worried. However, if I see the butter recipe chocolate I’m going to have to make this again.
Portillo’s Chocolate Copycat Cake Taste Test
The frosting on the clone cake was almost exactly the same as Portillo’s, but the crumb was a little different. As you can tell by the picture the Portillo’s cake crumb was darker with bigger air bubbles. Maybe more liquid was used? Maybe they used a tad more mayonnaise? Or maybe it was just the cake mix itself. Despite the difference in appearance, the taste and texture of the two cakes were very similar, with the Betty Crocker being slightly sweeter. Either way, this is one I’ll make again when I’m in the mood for a boxed cake. I believe the original recipe is from Hellmann’s, since they have the same recipe on their site but call for any cake mix.
Six Inch Mayonnaise Cake
I recently made a six inch version of the Portillo’s Chocolate Cake Copycat. It worked just fine. To make a six inch, weigh out half of the cake mix, use 1 whole egg plus 2 tablespoons of beaten egg, 1/2 cup of mayonnaise and 1/2 cup of ice water. Bake in two six inch cake pans and frost with about 1 can of icing.
And While You’ve Got the Mayonnaise…
Or try something a little different with your cake mix — Chocolate Flan Cake!
Portillo’s Chocolate Cake Copycat
- 1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist chocolate cake mix Devils Food or Butter Recipe Chocolate
- 1 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise (200 grams)
- 1 cup ice cold water (228 grams)
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cans Betty Crocker Chocolate Frosting
- Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
- Beat cake mix, mayonnaise, water, and eggs until mixed, then beat with an electric mixer for 4 minutes.
- Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.
- Let cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and cool completely.
- Frost the cake with canned Betty Crocker chocolate frosting.
Hi Caroline, I’m so glad you liked it! Thank you! And thanks for the tip about the cream cheese. I’ll have to try that.
I’ve made this recipe twice now.. and it came out AMAZING both times. I did add about 4oz cream cheese to the frosting to cut some of the canned frosting sweetness.
I moved away from Chicago almost 5 years ago and of all the places /food I miss the most .. it’s Portillios.
Okay, good! Your expectations are set :).
Wow…yes…psychic connection, for sure. 🙂 It’s okay if it tastes like a box cake mix, because as I recall, Portillo’s chocolate cake tasted like it came form a box mix. And according to your research, it does. I am looking for the authentic memory of the food from my past, which is why we are making the Chicago Dogs (I am even ordering all the ingredients, including the bright green relish) from the city, and now the copycat Portillo’s chocolate cake. It’s gonna be great. I’ll have a bite of cake in your honor. Cheers!
I was literally JUST thinking about you for some reason. There’s a psychic connection.
Anyhow, I hope you like the cake. But just to set your (and anyone else’s) expectations — it tastes like a cake mix cake. If you are used to scratch or don’t like cake mix flavorings, this might not be for you. You could do an homage to Portillo’s cake and make the Reddit Famous Nana’s Favorite Devil’s Food Cake or any other mayonnaise chocolate cake. Or be daring and just go with this one! I still make it for the family, but as mentioned we like the occasional cake mix cake. The texture is very light and soft.
Hiya Anna…Some friends and I are having a movie night later this month, but the real stars of the show will be Chicago Dogs (dragged through the garden) and now Portillo’s chocolate cake, thanks to you! Looking forward to taking a stroll down memory lane. I know that if you worked it out, it’s gonna be good. Hope y’all are enjoying my old hometown. Texas misses you.
Sheila, thanks for the inside scoop! I hope she brought home samples.
The reason you all cant tell the difference is that it is exactly how Portillos makes the cakes. My mom was a many years employee and would go in early to make cakes.
You are lucky! Let me know what you think of the Italian beef sandwiches. I’m trying to replicate them at home for Todd, but don’t think I’ll ever…
A Portillo’s is opening in my neck of the woods March 16th. It must be a popular joint and confident with its fan following to open in the middle of a pandemic. I’ll have to try the original when it opens.
Hi Abby! Both work. I think the regular chocolate tasted the most like Portillo’s, but the milk chocolate is good too.
Chocolate or milk chocolate Betty Crocker frosting?? Thanks!
Thank you Karol! I guess we should thank Betty Crocker. I made the six inch version last week with Triple Chocolate flavored cake mix. It was good, but I’m still on the hunt for the Super Moist Butter Chocolate.
I did make this cake, it was a great replica if one of my favorites, portillo’s chocolate cake.
Tbank you fir this amazing recipe. You definitely got it right.
Try Wallmart for the Super Moist Butter Recipe Chocolate Cake Mix
Hum, just tasted like a chocolate box cake to me. But maybe I’m just crazy. I’m going to keep searching for a go-to chocolate cake. Thanks for the post, though!
I made this today. The only thing I changed was I used 1 cup of ice cold coffee instead of water and it was fantastic! I made it in a bundt pan and heated up the can of frosting in the micro for 35 secs and drizzled it over the top. DELISH!
Lauren, Portillo’s only makes it in chocolate. I haven’t tried using mayonnaise in the yellow cake.
Can you use the yellow moist cake mix for this recipe?
What if to compensate for the “butter recipe” cake mix, we add 1/4 of melted butter and only 2 3/4 cups of water? If anyone has tried it, let me know. I will try it the next time I make the cake. Thanks for the information!
Jamie, thanks for the reminder. I need to make it again, too!
I made it again and it went really fast, it is so easy to make
Glad you made it and liked it! Thanks for posting your opinion.
Yes the cake I made taste the same as portillos,
Erika, just remember to take it at face value. It’s a box tasting cake, but a good box tasting cake. And that too is subjective. As for the frosting, I was convinced I’d have to make it from scratch, but the Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy matched up with the Portillo’s, so that’s what I used. Also, like most everyone, I like scratch frosting too. However, I’ve found that of all the canned ones, the Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy is not bad. But again — I grew up on canned frosting so while I’d prefer scratch, I’ll eat canned. My biggest concern in the past has been the trans fats, but it seems they quietly reformulated the frosting and it now says 0 per serving. Not saying that canned frosting is a super food, just that I believe they have been working to improve it.
We were at a Portillo’s for the first time a few weeks ago. Our meal was one of the best and we plan to go back for our next trip to the Chicago area. One thing we didn’t have was the chocolate cake because it seemed weird to me that a sausage and hot beef restaurant was selling chocolate cake! And THEN we saw it on one of the cooking channel shows- The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Someone was raving about the cake, and moreso, the milkshake made WITH the cake.
We’re headed to Schaumburg in three weeks and we’re going straight to Portillo’s for chocolate cake and milkshakes. Unless I make one first.
Did you actually use the canned frosting? I don’t mind doctored cake mix recipes, but the canned frosting seems like I’d be crossing a line… 🙂
Okay, thanks! I’m going to check Target and Mariano’s.
I used the butter recipe mix. I found it at SuperTarget I think.
Amy, did you use the “butter recipe” flavor or the devil’s food?
Anna I made a Portillo’s clone for my husband’s birthday last year. We did a side-by-side comparison with a piece of Portillo’s cake and none of us could tell the difference. It’s a good box cake – my family raves about the Portillo’s cake & you can taste the “box” flavor when you eat it at the restaurant.That being said, I grew up with nothing but cakes made from mixes and I do like it:)
Nance, I don’t recall seeing fresh bread for sale, but I’ll pop in and check.
Wish I could LIKE chocolate but alas…..but seeing this post got me think’n have you ever come across the fresh bread that is available at some of the older locations?? I love that stuff and would like to make it but the locations close to me don’t have it 8(……….