Vanilla Buttermilk Cake Recipe

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This Vanilla Buttermilk Cake Recipe is so moist, fluffy, and has wonderful flavor.

We've made many buttermilk cake recipes over the years that we just love. This vanilla cake recipe is one of our favorites!

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake Recipe by

Our popular Almond Cake and Lemon Buttermilk Cake recipes were inspired by this flavorful recipe. It works perfectly for vanilla cupcakes also. You will love this wonderful go-to vanilla cake!

Keep this versatile vanilla cake recipe in mind the next time you need a great baby shower cake, birthday cake, bridal shower cake, baby shower cake, or a delicious dessert for no occasion at all!

Ingredients for Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

Here's a quick look at the ingredients for our Vanilla Buttermilk Cake Layers. Make sure to see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete recipe!

There are so many frostings that would be perfect with this vanilla cake, including the Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting used in our featured photo, as well as Chocolate Buttercream, Cream Cheese Frosting, and more!

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake Ingredients.

A Few Ingredient Tips

Cake Flour: We often use cake flour as its lower protein content makes for a softer, more tender cake.

Buttermilk: We recommend whole buttermilk rather than reduced fat, for added richness. Buttermilk's boost of acidity softens the strands of gluten in the cake batter, which enhances the texture of the cake.

Unsalted Butter: We use unsalted butter so that we have more control over the amount of salt in the recipe. However, if you are using salted butter, you can eliminate the additional salt that the recipe calls for.

How to Make a Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

Make sure to find the full recipe for Vanilla Buttermilk Cake at the bottom of this post. Here is a quick rundown of our steps!

  • First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour three 8 inch round cake pans. We also like to line the bottoms with parchment paper circles to ensure that nothing sticks.
  • Start off by whisking together these dry ingredients: cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt for 30 seconds so that everything is well combined.
Bowl of Dry Ingredients, with a whisk.
  • In another bowl, add the buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.
Buttermilk Mixture for Cake
  • Next, mix the softened butter until nice and smooth, then mix the sugar for 3-5 minutes until it lightens and becomes fluffy.
Butter and sugar mixture in mixing bowl with paddle attachment
  • Next, add the room temperature eggs one at a time.
Adding Eggs to Cake Batter in Stand Mixer
  • Almost done! With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. After the last addition, mix just until the batter is combined.
Cake Batter in mixing bowl with spatula.
  • Once ready, divide the vanilla buttermilk cake batter between three prepared 8 inch cake pans. Bake for about 25-30 minutes.
  • Then, cool the cake layers, still in the cake pans, on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out.
Vanilla Buttermilk Cake Layers.
  • Make sure that the layers have cooled completely before filling and frosting with your preferred frosting recipe! We used our Classic Vanilla Buttercream.

Recipe FAQs

Yes, just as with most of our cake recipes (from lemon cake to marble cake, strawberry cake and more), these vanilla buttermilk cake layers freeze beautifully.

Even if we don't need to bake in advance, we often freeze our cake layers as we find it makes them even more moist! We do this for all of our cakes, whether scratch cake recipes, or cake mix recipes.

Cool your freshly baked cake layers (still in the pan) on the cooling rack for about 10 minutes. Then, flip them onto foil-wrapped cake boards, individually wrap the warm cake layers tightly with plastic wrap, foil, and freeze (for up to three months).

When ready to use, thaw on the countertop still wrapped, until condensation forms on the wrapping. Then unwrap and decorate!
(I often begin assembling and filling my cake layers while the layers are partially frozen. They are less fragile this way.) 

No, buttermilk doesn't change the flavor of this cake. It simply tastes like a delicious vanilla cake!

We love adding buttermilk to cakes as it adds richness and makes for a wonderful texture.

The acidity of the buttermilk softens the strands of gluten, which makes for a moist, tender cake. Many of our favorite cakes call for buttermilk! Just a few more of our favorites are Lemon Buttermilk Cake, Orange Cake, and Chocolate Buttermilk Cake!

We frosted our cake with our Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting but so many frostings would be perfect with this cake!  Other great options are: Classic Chocolate Buttercream Cream Cheese Frosting, Strawberry Buttercream Frosting, Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting, and more!

Many of the cake recipes on our site call for cake flour. Cake flour has a lower protein content than all purpose flour, which leads to less gluten formation. The lower amount of gluten makes for a softer, more tender cake.

A few favorite cakes that call for cake flour are our orange cake, white chocolate cake, yellow cake, and many more!

Delicious Vanilla Buttermilk Cake Recipe by

More Vanilla Cake Recipes

In addition to our gluten free version of this recipe (Gluten Free Vanilla Cake), and popular Vanilla Velvet Cake, we have more delicious vanilla & white cake recipes to share with you!  Don't miss our section of Vanilla Cake Recipes. Here are just a few favorites:

 Enjoy the Recipe

Thanks so much for stopping by! We hope that you enjoy this delicious vanilla cake recipe. Keep it in mind for your next special occasion. It would make a perfect birthday cake recipe, baby shower cake, and more!

In addition to our cake recipes, don't miss our huge collection of videos on cake decorating! If you prefer a more rustic (and super easy) design, check out our post on naked cakes!

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake, sliced, on a glass pedestal.

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake Recipe

This Vanilla Buttermilk Layer Cake is so moist and flavorful! The buttermilk in the recipe makes the crumb so tender and soft. This is a wonderful go-to vanilla cake!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Servings: 9 servingss
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Vanilla Buttermilk Cake Recipe

  • 1 ½ sticks (170g) unsalted butter, softened. (Holds it shape but dents when pressed)
  • 2 cups (400g) sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature (If in a hurry, place eggs in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes.)
  • 3 cups (342g) cake flour (If not using a digital scale, lightly spoon flour into measuring cup and level off.) See notes for substitution.
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) salt
  • 1 ¼ cups (296g) buttermilk (If you do not have buttermilk, see substitution below)
  • ¼ cup (54g) vegetable oil (We use canola oil.)
  • 1 Tablespoon (12g) vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour three 8×2 inch round pans.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt for 30 seconds. Set aside
  • In another bowl, add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla.  Set aside..
  • In the bowl of your mixer, add the butter and mix at medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and continue to mix on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes until lightened in color and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time mixing until the yellow of the yolk disappears.
  • With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients (3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of liquid). After the last addition, mix just until combined. Be careful not to over-mix.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just few crumbs attached. Let cool 10 minutes and turn out.


Substitute for Buttermilk: No Buttermilk? Here is a substitution: To a measuring cup, add 1 Tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice. Add milk to the 1 ¼ mark, stir. Wait 5 minutes and it is ready to use.
Substitution for Cake Flour: Using all purpose flour (plain in UK) to make Cake Flour: For each cup of flour in a recipe, remove 2 Tablespoons of flour and replace with 2 Tablespoons cornstarch (cornflour in the UK). This recipe has 3 cups of flour so you will measure out 3 cups of all purpose flour, remove 6 Tablespoons and replace with 6 Tablespoons cornstarch, whisk to blend
Recipe makes 7 ½ cups batter
4.54 from 382 votes (381 ratings without comment)

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  1. Hi Kitcheniest, Thanks so much for your nice comments on the recipe. Your cake sounds delicious!

  2. I have made this Vanilla Buttermilk cake several times now because it's that good. I really like the butter flavor but also the moist texture. We love it so much that I even made it gluten free, using Bob's Red Mill GF 1:1 flour and it was just as good. These 2 versions will be my go-to for vanilla cakes from now on.

  3. Hi Melissa! Hope you and your family are doing well. :-)
    So, I have a couple of questions about this vanilla cake recipe. I have made your vanilla bean cake a few times and it's very good. I was looking at the recipe again and read that this recipe is recommended for a "fluffier" crumb, which is exactly what I am looking for. For vanilla cake, I prefer fluffy, as opposed to tight crumb. I see that both recipes use cake flour, which I think gives the tighter crumb? What makes this recipe fluffier then the vanilla bean recipe? What would the outcome be if I used the same quantity of all purpose flour instead of cake flour? I know that all purpose and cake flour weigh differently, so if I did want to use all purpose, would I use the same gram weight, but in a/p flour? And...I like to use 6" cake pans for a bit taller layers. I hope this all makes sense. Happy Thanksgiving and thank you!!!

    I am looking for a good recipe with oil, buttermilk .sour cream fora special 90th birthday coming up very soon

    1. Hi Margaret- I haven't tried substituting the butter for oil in this recipe. We have a Fudge Cake that doesn't call for butter but not a vanilla recipe. Most of our cake recipes either have both or are all butter. It would be an experiment. Let us know if you give it a try!

  5. I can't decode if I want to make this vanilla buttermilk cake or the vanilla velvet cake. What is the difference in texture, moisture or flavor?

    1. Hi Sheena! That is a tough one as we really like both of them. The vanilla flavor is great with both, and both are moist. This buttermilk cake is a bit fluffier while the velvet cake has a finer crumb and "velvety" texture.

  6. Anyone have problems with it shrinking? It bakes up beautifully and when I take it out it shrinks up in the pan.

  7. I don’t have three 8inch pans. I have 9inch only. One that’s deep and the two others are shallow, what would be the best to use?