Vanilla Cake

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!

Vanilla frosting to put on top of vanilla cake recipe

Top 5 Cake Ingredients

]The 5 essential ingredients when baking any cake, and especially this Vanilla Cake, include:

  • Sugar: When a recipe simply states “sugar”, then it refers to granulated sugar. Powdered sugar is the same thing as confectioners sugar. There is also brown sugar which comes in both light and dark. If the recipe doesn’t clarify, opt for light brown sugar.
  • Butter/Oil: Be sure to pay attention to whether the recipe asks for salted or unsalted butter. If the recipe doesn’t specify, then choose unsalted. Also, it’s very important to note what temperature the butter needs to be: cold, room temperature, softened or melted. When a recipe calls for oil, use vegetable or canola oil.
  • Eggs add stability and structure. Eggs at room temperature combine better with the other ingredients.
  • Flour can be all-purpose flour, cake flour or pastry flour. Be sure to use what the recipe calls for or it won’t turn out as expected. If you’re feeling adventurous you can sometimes substitute all purpose flour with cake flour for a softer texture.
  • Leavener/Liquids: baking powder and Baking soda are used as leaveners, which just means they cause the batter to grow and add shape and structure. Liquids, like milk and water, are also important for adding structure and texture.
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. 

Step by step photos of layering homemade vanilla cake

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. 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.

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.

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. 

Vanilla cake from scratch on a cake stand

Different Frosting Options

Whether you’re making a classic bundt cake or a fancy wedding cake, the type of frosting you use is very important for the overall look, taste and texture.

  • Glaze is thin and fluid. It pours easily and is used to give cakes a smooth and shiny finish. Allow the cake to cool, otherwise the glaze will run right off if it is too hot.
  • Icing/Ganache: Is thinner than frosting, but thicker than glaze. They are almost the texture of a sauce and will set as it cools. Icing has a powdered sugar base while ganache has a chocolate base.
  • Royal Icing: Is typically used for sugar cookies, but can be used for fancier tiered cakes. It sets very quickly and has a shiny finish.
  • Frosting: Frosting is the thickest and is typically made with a butter or cream cheese base. It’s thick, creamy and can be made in many different flavors and colors. It’s also very stable and can be used to create designs with piping tools and hold up well in between cake layers. 

Here are some of our favorites:

Change it Up

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.

Helpful Cake Baking tips

What is the trick to a moist cake? It can be so disappointing to bite into a beautiful cake to only find it dry. There are several tips and tricks you can use to ensure your cakes are perfectly moist.

  • Many recipes already include sour cream as an ingredient. If it’s not already listed you can add 1-2 tbsp to the recipe.
  • Spoon and level your flour. Scooping packs the flour too tightly and you can end up with more than what is called for which can lead to a dry cake.

How to make soft and fluffy cakes?

  • Cake flour: Some recipes will specifically call for cake flour. It is more fine than all purpose flour and is a wonderful ingredient for soft cakes.
  • The reason so many recipes call for room temperature butter is because when the butter and sugar are mixed together they create a creamy base full of little air pockets that expand as the cake bakes creating a fluffy cake.
  • Be sure that your leavening agents are fresh (aka baking powder and baking soda). These ingredients help the cake to rise to all its fluffy glory.
  • Over mixing can cause too much air to get trapped in the batter as well as over develop the gluten found in flour which leads to a tougher cake. Most recipes ask you to mix until just combined for this reason.
  • No peeking. It can be tempting to open the oven door to check the cake, but this can actually cause the cake to sink. The only time I would suggest that it is ok to do is when you are nearing the end of the suggested bake time.

This may seem like a given, but my number one tip is to FOLLOW THE RECIPE. I will sometimes have people tell me their recipe didn’t turn out and then explain ways they changed it. Sometimes an adjustment does not affect the end result, oftentimes it does.

Best pans for cakes?

  • Light Aluminum baking pans are ideal for baking cakes. The metal is really great at transferring the heat to the cake it is baking. The better quality the pan is, then the better and more evenly it will transfer the heat. Forgo disposable pans and dollar store pans.
  • Skip the glass and ceramic dishes. They are very poor heat conductors. They take much longer to heat up and distribute the heat unevenly. This will lead to a burnt bottom and underdone middle.
  • Using the correct size cake pan can prevent cakes that turn out sunken, flimsy, dense or overflowing.

You want to pour the batter into an already prepared pan. This is so helpful in making sure the bottoms of the cake don’t stick to the pan. You can grease & flour the pans or better yet use parchment paper which come in round and rectangle shapes. Good quality pans also keep the cake from sticking.

Close up of homemade vanilla cake

Making Ahead + Storing

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. 

Leftover cake can be STORED in an airtight container for several days and longer if refrigerated.

To FREEZE leftovers, 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

Transporting Cake

Honestly, the best method is to invest in a sturdy cake carrier. If you want to use disposable cake boxes, I suggest placing the cake in the center of the box then assembling the box around the cake.

Another idea is to transport it on a cake stand that has a lid that you can tape in place.

We hope you love this recipe!!

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
Author Lil’ Luna

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 extract
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

for the frosting:

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350. Line 3 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper, then grease and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, salt, baking powder, and 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Video


MORE EASY CAKE RECIPES

I find myself making cakes for all kinds of reasons—get togethers, birthdays, special occasions, or even a typical family night!

Of course, I don’t want to spend hours making beautifully crafted and decorated cakes every time, which is where these easy cakes come in.

Similar to Vanilla Cake, most of the cakes in this collection of easy cake recipes are made in less than an hour, have simple ingredients, and they’re actually great for feeding crowds! You’ll love these indulgent homemade cake recipes.

Our go-to cakes

To classify as “easy”, these cakes fall into one of the following categories: made in less than 30 minutes, require little prep time, cake mix based, dump cake, or less than 5 ingredients! But don’t be deceived, just because they’re easy doesn’t mean they don’t taste amazing!!

Lemon Buttermilk Cake – Lemon Cake is baked with a lemon zest and topped with a delicious lemony glaze. It is refreshing with the perfect amount of sweetness!

White Sheet Cake With Chocolate Frosting – This White Sheet Cake with Chocolate Frosting is easy to make, melts in your mouth, and is always a crowd pleaser!

Lemon Bundt Cake – This Is The Most Delicious And Moist Lemon Bundt Cake Recipe! It Is Covered In A Sweet Lemon Glaze And Topped Off With An Amazing Cream Cheese Frosting With Lemon Zest, Making It Irresistible.

White Texas Sheet Cake – This white sheet cake is moist, and is topped with an amazing frosting with hints of almond throughout. It also feeds a ton, making it great for parties and get together.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake Recipe – This sour cream chocolate cake is moist, fudgy, completely delicious and so easy to make. It’s the perfect old-fashioned chocolate cake recipe that everyone will love and enjoy at every party! Serve it alone or with ice cream and you’re sure to get rave reviews.

Gooey Butter Cake – Gooey butter cake is a simple and amazingly delicious dessert with a cake batter crust and soft, gooey cream cheese top that makes it addicting!

Mississippi Mud Cake – This Mississippi Mud Cake is a delicious homemade chocolate cake, with melted marshmallows and warm chocolate frosting.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake – Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake is filled with a delicious cream cheese layer in the center and topped with a homemade cream cheese frosting making it a delicious dessert to enjoy all year long.

Boston Cream Poke Cake – Everything you love about Boston cream donuts and pies, in the form of a cool and creamy pudding poke cake! 

Red Velvet Poke Cake – Delicious Red Velvet Poke Cake with homemade Cream Cheese Frosting is oh so moist and velvety. It’s perfectly sweet for any occasion.

chocolate cakes

Chocolate Sheet Cake – Our favorite chocolate sheet cake recipe. It’s simple, moist, delicious and serves a lot making it our go-to party dessert – perfect with ice cream.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake – YUMMY Chocolate Zucchini Cake – so good! Moist and delicious and you’d never know it had grated zucchini in it! Also, has a smooth chocolatey frosting.

Better Than Anything Cake – Quick and Easy Better than Anything Cake is a sweet cake filled with caramel and topped with cool whip and toffee bits!

Chocolate Mug Cake – This Chocolate Mug Cake is a quick, simple and delicious treat and is the perfect size for one (or two if you want to share). Made in under five minutes, this fluffy cake is the perfect treat to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Chocolate Bundt Cake – You will love indulging in this this simple chocolate bundt cake with a chocolate ganache glaze. This moist chocolate cake is just the right amount of rich without being too heavy!

Fruity CAkes

Apple Cake – This Easy Apple Cake is extra moist and filled with cinnamon and apples. Top it off with ice cream and caramel sauce for the perfect fall treat! 

Key Lime Cake – This super easy key lime cake is bursting with fresh lime flavor and topped with whipped cream. It’s a delicious summer cake recipe, and if you love key lime pie – then definitely give this recipe a try. 

Strawberry Sheet Cake – This strawberry sheet cake is especially tasty made with fresh pureed strawberries and topped with an amazing homemade strawberry frosting!

Lemon Sheet Cake – This super moist and delicious Lemon Sheet Cake recipe topped off with a tasty lemon buttercream frosting is our new favorite dessert, and it’s perfect for feeding a crowd!

Coconut Cake – This Coconut Cake is made from scratch, and topped with a scrumptious cream cheese frosting that is so addicting. The toasted coconut topping gives it an incredible flavor, making it a dessert to enjoy all year long!

Lime Sheet Cake – Perfectly moist lime cake, topped with a homemade lime buttercream frosting, and sprinkled with lime zest! Just the right balance of citrus and sweet in this yummy sheet cake. It’s easy, refreshing, and great for feeding a crowd!

Cherry Dump Cake – Everyone loves a good Dump Cake recipe! This one is filled with cherry pie filling, crushed pineapples and is topped with cake mix, walnuts and butter!

Blueberry Dump Cake – This easy blueberry dump cake is made with only 3 ingredients! With a layer of juicy blueberry pie filling and a buttery topping, it’s perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Peach Dump Cake – 3 ingredients Peach Dump Cake is quick, simple, and utterly tasty. It is warm, gooey, and perfectly peachy!!

Cherry Sheet Cake – Moist Cherry Sheet Cake is topped with a homemade almond buttercream frosting. It is easy and SO delicious!!

Strawberry Butter Cake – Easy layered Strawberry Butter Cake whips up with only 5 minutes of prep. It’s a family favorite that can be enjoyed all year long!

Cold Cakes

Patriotic Poke Cake – This cool, light and refreshing jello poke cake is filled with red and blue JELLO making it perfectly patriotic. Make for Independence Day, Memorial Day or Labor Day and it’s sure to be a hit!

Lemon Lime Poke Cake – Lemon Lime Poke Cake is full of lime flavor, topped with creamy lemon pudding and topped with whipped cream and zest!

Jello Poke Cake – I Love Jello Poke Cake! I Went With Raspberry Here, But You Can Easily Make A Cherry Or A Strawberry Poke Cake.

Oreo Pudding Poke Cake – Fluffy Oreo Pudding Poke Cake is filled with creamy cookies & cream pudding and topped with crunchy Oreo cookies. It is so YUMMY!

Banana Pudding Poke Cake – This Banana Pudding Poke Cake has all the flavors of banana cream pie, just in cake form. With layers of banana cake, pudding, cream, bananas, and vanilla wafers, it’s sure to be a hit!

Be sure to check out all of our Cake Recipes.


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About Kristyn

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!

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Comments:

  1. 5 stars
    This simple cake is just classic, and delicious. Whipped it up last night and cut into it. SO GOOD.

  2. 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!

  3. 5 stars
    This was exactly what I needed to cure my sweet tooth! Easily, a new favorite dessert; my whole family loved it!

  4. 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!

  5. 5 stars
    The cake looks perfect and fabulous to bake for a special day. Yes, its definitely the best vanilla cake. Lovely!!

    1. I personally haven’t tried, so not quite sure if you would or wouldn’t substitute. I’m sorry. I would use google.

  6. Hi, I’m confused. So is the crumb coat optional? We just need to frost the cake and refrigerate and then cut and slice? Also can I sub ap flour for cake flour? Also can I not add sprinkles? Also every time I beat butter and sugar together the butter gets stuck inside the whisk. What should I do? Also when a recipe says to mix, do I use a spatula or whisk?
    All answers will be appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Yes, the crumb coat is just if you want a smoother look. Yes, you can use cake flour. You don’t have to add the sprinkles. I just get a spatula & push the batter through the beaters. It’s totally up to you on what to use. There is no wrong answer. Good luck!

      1. Hi Kristyn, I asked if i could use all purpose flour instead of cake flour, and I’m confused you said you can use cake flour.
        Thank you!

          1. Hi, would all purpose flour make the cake denser? That’s what I’ve heard.
            Thank you!

          2. It might. All-purpose flour is a little more dense, but if you don’t have the cake flour, all-purpose will work fine 🙂

  7. My husband and son loved the cake but my husband asked if i could make it more moist. How would i do that? Add a little more buttermilk?

    Thank you!

    1. Glad they both liked it. There are lots of different tips online, so I would go there. Then, you can decide what you’d like to try 🙂