Vanilla Cake

Jump to Recipe

There is nothing more classic than a rich vanilla cake. This vanilla cake recipe is light, fluffy and great to make for any occasion!

This vanilla cake is a classic cake recipe, which makes it great for any occasion—but especially birthdays! Our other favorite birthday treats include Easy Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake.

Vanilla cake with vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles

Best Vanilla Cake Recipe!

Are you ready to make the BEST vanilla cake recipe ever? Don’t worry if you’ve never made a cake from scratch because this recipe is a cinch and totally fool proof.

I love how light and fluffy this cake is. It has the best and most delicious texture and taste. The buttermilk makes the cake layers super moist. No dry cake here!!

Once it’s baked, smooth this vanilla buttercream frosting over the sides and tops for a beautiful finish. Sprinkle with your favorite sprinkles (I LOVE rainbow sprinkles so much) and serve to all your loved ones. This is definitely a recipe you’ll want to keep on hand when you need a cake. Perfect for birthdays, dinner parties, picnics, potlucks, and more!

Step by step pictures for vanilla cake recipe

How to Make Vanilla Cake

PREP. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper, grease them and set aside.

BATTER. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and set aside. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, egg whites, and vanilla, and mix until smooth.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients, until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Pour in the buttermilk and mix until combined. 

BAKE. Divide the cake batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans. Bake the cake layer for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

TIP: If you don’t own three pans, you can bake the batter in batches. Be sure to cool the pan completely, line with parchment, and grease before adding the next batch of cake batter.

Layering your cake:

Level it! You’ll notice that each cake has a rounded top. To make even straight layers, you are going to want to make each cake level. You can use a cake leveler, but a long serrated knife works too. Just eyeball it to make it as flat as possible. It doesn’t have to be perfect. The frosting will cover errors and help straighten the cake. 

Be sure that your cake layers are completely cool, otherwise the frosting will just melt and you’ll get a lot of cake crumbs in the frosting. Many bakers like to freeze the cakes before adding the frosting because it helps with both of those factors.

Vanilla frosting to put on top of vanilla cake recipe

The Frosting

This vanilla buttercream frosting is divine! I could just eat the frosting…but don’t forget to save some for the cake!

To make the frosting, beat the butter in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt, and mix to combine. Add milk or powdered sugar as needed to make a smooth frosting. Beat on high for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.

ASSEMBLE. To assemble the cake, level the tops of each of the cake layers with a serrated knife. Place one cake layer down on a cake turntable or serving platter. Spread with one cup of the frosting. Place the second cake layer on top and spread with another cup of frosting. Place the final layer on top, then spread the frosting around the top and sides.

For a smoother look, add a light layer of frosting (known as a crumb coat) around the top and sides of the cake, then refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. Once the cake has chilled slightly, spread a thicker layer of frosting around the sides and over the top, and add dollops of frosting for decoration, if desired. Sprinkle with multicolored sprinkles. 

Step by step photos of layering homemade vanilla cake

Helpful tips

Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when making this cake. 😉

  • Cake flour: If you don’t have cake flour on hand make your own. For every cup of flour remove 2 tbsp of flour and replace it with 2 tbsp of cornstarch. Sift well. 
  • Buttermilk substitute: Add 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup Milk. Allow it to sit for 5- 10 minute before using.
  • All refrigerated items should be at room temperature before using
  • Don’t over mix
  • Bake times can fluctuate depending on your oven so watch carefully. 
  • Lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and greasing the sides can help with cake removal from the pan.. 
  • Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan before transferring to a rack to finish cooling. Unless you’ve over-baked, remove form the pan right away to cool. 

Vanilla cake from scratch on a cake stand

Change it Up

Variations: From using different pan shapes to frosting flavors, this recipe is easy to change up. 

  • Bundt Cake: This vanilla cake makes a beautiful bundt cake. You will need a 10 cup or larger bundt cake pan. Be sure to grease and flour the pan  before pouring in the batter. Bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes. (45 minutes if you are using a dark pan) Check for doneness when a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  • Cupcakes: Fill the cupcake liner about  ⅔ of the way full with batter. You should be able to get about 36 cupcakes with this recipe. Bake at 350°F for about 18-22 minutes.
  • Frosting: The vanilla pairs well with any frosting you can think of. You can try a fancy fondant or use a simple dusting of powdered sugar. Even whipped cream with fresh berries would be delicious. 
  • Sprinkles: Holiday sprinkles are really fun to add. If you want to make a “funfetti” type cake fold some jimmies into the batter before baking.  

Close up of homemade vanilla cake

Storing Tips

MAKING AHEAD OF TIME: You can plan to make this cake ahead of time as both the cake and the frosting can be stored in the freezer until you are ready to use them. Once the layers of the cake have cooled wrap them each with plastic wrap and again with aluminum foil, or stick them in a freezer safe container.

Store the frosting in a separate freezer safe container. Freeze for up to 3  months. 

STORAGE: Leftover cake can be stored in an airtight container for several days and longer if refrigerated. To store leftovers in the freezer you’ll want to flash freeze the cake by placing the pieces on a baking sheet in the freezer. Once solid wrap each piece with plastic wrap and again with foil freeze for up to 3 months. 

A slice of best vanilla cake on a white plate

For more cakes, check out:

Vanilla Cake Recipe

5 from 8 votes

There is nothing more classic than a rich vanilla cake. This vanilla cake recipe is light, fluffy and great to make for any occasion!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 16
Calories 715 kcal

Ingredients

for the cake:

  • 3 2/3 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups butter softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

for the frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk or half and half
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line 3 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper, then grease and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, egg whites, and vanilla, and mix until smooth. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients, until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Pour in the buttermilk and mix until combined.
  4. Divide the cake batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans. (If you don’t own three pans, you can bake the batter in batches. Be sure to cool the pan completely, line with parchment, and grease before adding the next batch of cake batter.) Bake 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  5. To make the frosting, beat the butter in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt, and mix to combine. Add milk or powdered sugar as needed to make a smooth frosting. Beat on high for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.

  6. To assemble the cake, level the tops of each of the cake layers with a serrated knife. Place one cake layer down on a cake turntable or serving platter. Spread with one cup of the frosting. Place the second cake layer on top and spread with another cup of frosting. Place the final layer on top, then spread the frosting around the top and sides.
  7. For a smoother look, add a light layer of frosting (known as a crumb coat) around the top and sides of the cake, then refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. Once the cake has chilled slightly, spread a thicker layer of frosting around the sides and over the top, and add dollops of frosting for decoration, if desired. Sprinkle with multicolored sprinkles. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Author

Kristyn Merkley

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative – from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

More by Kristyn

Let Us Know What You Think!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for sharing this fabulous cake recipe. It was such a big hit at my daughter’s bday party. I followed all of your instructions and the cake turned out to be moist, light, and had nice crumb. The videos helped so much. I will be making this again!

  2. 5 stars
    Buttercream frosting is my favorite! This cake is so moist, we loved it! Love it in the round pans, to get that frosting in the middle!