Yellow Cake Recipe

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There are some days when only a BIG slice of buttery Yellow Cake will do. Preferably, frosted with a generous layer of rich chocolate buttercream, but I'm not picky!

If you've been searching for a great scratch Yellow Cake recipe, look no further. Today we're excited to share a perfectly fluffy, moist yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

Sliced yellow cake from scratch on a white pedestal, frosted in chocolate buttercream.

Versatile Yellow Cake

Everyone needs a go-to yellow layer cake recipe, and this one deserves a place in your recipe file of favorites. This recipe is not only delicious, but it's so versatile!

This moist scratch yellow cake recipe also works perfectly for yellow cupcakes! The cake layers are very moist and soft, but sturdy enough for fondant, and it makes a great base cake recipe for adding extracts and flavorings.

We use this yellow cake recipe in a couple of our favorite cake recipes, including our homemade Marble Cake , our Pineapple Cake, and our scratch Coconut Cake

Closeup of a slice of Yellow Layer Cake from Scratch

Mixing Method for this Yellow Cake 

The mixing method for this recipe is somewhat of a cross between the reverse creaming method of mixing and the traditional creaming method.

As with our other reverse creaming method recipes (like Chocolate Cake from scratch and Orange Dreamsicle Cake), the dry ingredients are combined in the beginning, followed by butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand.

The difference is that the eggs are then added one by one, as with the traditional creaming method. Then, the wet ingredients are added at the end. 

The final result is an ultra moist cake with tons of flavor and a finer crumb. 

How to Make Yellow Cake from Scratch

  • You can find the full, printable cake recipe further down in this post- but here is a quick look at the process.
  • First, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour three 8x2 inch round cake pans. I also like to place a piece of parchment in the bottom of each pan.
  • Next, add the first five ingredients to a large mixing bowl for your stand mixer (This is the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt). Mix on low speed for at least 30 seconds to combine.
  • Add the slightly softened unsalted butter to the bowl in slices and mix on low speed just until it looks like coarse sand. This is caused by the dry ingredients being coated by the butter. Don't over-mix or it will turn into a large dough-like ball.
  • Next, add the room temperature eggs one at a time, mixing until blended. 
  • Add the vanilla extract to the 1 cup buttermilk. With the mixer on lowest speed gradually pour into the mixing bowl. Increase the speed slightly (#2 or # 3 on a KitchenAid mixer). Mix for two minutes. Batter will be fluffy and smooth. If you are using a hand mixer rather than a stand mixer, you will need to mix a bit longer.
  • Finally, divide the yellow cake batter evenly between your three prepared 8-inch round pans.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow the cake layers to cool still in the pans on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before turning them out. 

Why is Buttermilk used in Cakes?

Many of our favorite cake recipes call for buttermilk. The acidity of the buttermilk softens the strands of gluten which results in a softer more tender cake.

You can find a collection of our favorite Buttermilk Cakes (including our popular Vanilla Buttermilk Cake and Lemon Buttermilk Cake recipes) here: Buttermilk Cake Recipes.

For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Today, we've paired our yellow cake with chocolate buttercream. This simple recipe is an American Buttercream, meaning it calls for combination of softened butter, confectioners sugar, a bit of salt, vanilla extract, milk, and in this case, cocoa powder.

This chocolate frosting is cream and delicious, and pipes perfectly! You can find the full, printable recipe in our recipe card further down in this post. Here is a quick rundown of the steps!

  • First, add the softened unsalted butter and mix on low to medium speed until smooth. Add vanilla and blend into the butter. Add powdered sugar, salt, and unsweetened cocoa powder.
  • Add most of the milk. Begin mixing at low speed so you won't have a cloud of powdered sugar in your kitchen.
  • Continue to mix adding remaining milk as needed. It may take 5 to 6 minutes to reach the smoothness and consistency you like.
  • As you mix, the chocolate frosting will become very smooth. You can add additional milk (1 Tablespoon at a time) if the frosting is too thick or additional powdered sugar if too soft.

What Gives a Yellow Cake its Yellow Color?

Yellow cakes like this recipe have a lovely light shade of yellow thanks to the eggs and butter. Not only do these ingredients add richness and flavor, they add color as well! 

There can be some color variation when comparing some yellow cakes to others-- depending on the amount of eggs & butter used, as well as the brand. Some brands of butter have a brighter yellow shade, and some egg yolks are brighter than others also. 

However, no matter what brand/variety of eggs or butter, your yellow cake is going to have a deeper color than most white cakes (which often omit the egg yolks), as well as recipes that call for oil or shortening rather than butter. 

This yellow cake is wonderful- definitely a keeper.

The BEST Yellow Cake from Scratch

More Yellow Cakes

We've made quite a few vanilla cakes on our site (including yellow cakes, white cakes, and vanilla cakes).

Today's scratch yellow cake recipe is buttery, moist, and tender thanks to the cake flour and buttermilk in the recipe. See our other delicious variations of Yellow Cake below!

Yellow Velvet Cake has a fine crumb and wonderful richness from the block of softened cream cheese added to the cake batter! It is velvety soft. (We have a series of "velvet" cakes that contain cream cheese, including our White Velvet Cake, Lemon Velvet Cake, Vanilla Velvet Cake, and more!)

Yellow Birthday Cake is also soft and tender, and has added richness from sour cream in the recipe.

Here are a few featured vanilla cakes!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Make sure to check out our favorite cakes from scratch as well as cake mix recipes!

If you are interested in cake decorating, we have hundreds of cake decorating tutorials to share with you!

You'll find everything from how to make a cake, how to frost a cake, elegant cakes, themed birthday cake ideas, and more! Or, if you are interested in a more rustic, simple cake decoration, check out our post on naked cake designs!

The BEST Yellow Cake from Scratch

Yellow Cake from Scratch

This buttery scratch Yellow Cake recipe tastes SO good. It is soft, moist, and oh so delicious!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Course: Cakes and Cupcakes
Servings: 15 servings
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Ingredients

  • 3 cups (342g) cake flour
  • 2 cups (400g) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) salt
  • 2 sticks (226g) unsalted butter, softened 226g unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cup (299g) buttermilk *if you do not have buttermilk see note below
  • 1 Tablespoon (12g) vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Buttercream

  • 3 sticks (339g) unsalted butter, softened. (do not soften butter in the microwave)
  • 7 cups (805g) powdered sugar Adjust amount slightly up or down to your liking.
  • 1 cup (82g) unsweeteded cocoa (not Dutch processed, measure then sift
  • ½-3/4 cup 123g-180g milk (Adjust amount in small increments if needed to reach desired consistency.)
  • 2 teaspoons (12g) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour three 8x2 inch round cake pans. Place a piece of parchment in the bottom of each pan.
  • Put the first 5 ingredients into the bowl of your mixer. Mix on low speed for at least 30 seconds to combine.
  • Add the softened butter (cut into pieces) mix on low speed just until it looks like coarse sand. The dry ingredients will be moistened/coated by the butter and will stick to together if you press some between two fingers. Don't over-mix or it will turn into a large dough-like ball.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until blended. 
  • Add the vanilla to the 1 ¼ cup buttermilk. With the mixer on lowest speed gradually pour into the mixer. Increase the speed to #2 or # 3 (on a KitchenAid mixer). Mix for 2 minutes. Batter will be fluffy and smooth. If you are using a hand mixer rather than a stand mixer, you will need to mix a bit longer.
  • Divide batter evenly between your three prepared (8 inch) pans.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and turn out of pans. 

For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • Add butter and mix on low to medium speed until smooth. Add vanilla and blend into the butter. Add powdered sugar, salt, and cocoa powder.
  • Add most of the milk. Begin mixing at low speed so you won't have a cloud of powdered sugar in your kitchen.
  • Continue to mix adding remaining milk as needed. It may take 5 to 6 minutes to reach the smoothness and consistency you like. It will take longer if using a hand mixer. As you mix, the frosting will become very smooth. You can add additional milk (1 Tablespoon at a time) if the frosting is too thick or additional powdered sugar if too soft.
  • This is my favorite chocolate frosting! Recipe can easily be doubled or halved. This recipe makes approximately 6 cups of frosting.

Notes

** Buttermilk Substitute: In a measuring cup add 1 Tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice. Fill the cup with milk to the 1 ¼ cup mark, stir and let sit for 5 minutes. 

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154 Comments

  1. I am planning to make the sheet cake dump truck for my grandson's birthday and was wondering if i can use this recipe for a 9X13 pan. Same baking instructions?

  2. Hi Laurie, I have not bake it in a 9x13 pan, but it will be fine to do so. Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes, keep an eye on it. It will be done when a toothpick comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached.

  3. Hi! I love your site! Question, please. Before I found this recipe, I was looking at several different ones. This exact recipe is on another site, but doesn’t have baking soda...only the baking powder. I’m not terribly good at the science of baking, but I’m trying to learn. Why would the recipe be the same, but without the baking soda. What would leaving the baking soda out do to the cake? Thank you!

  4. Hi SaintsBaker, Using buttermilk in a recipe will help to give you a tender cake. The buttermilk is acidic and baking soda will help to neutralize the acidity. The other recipe you saw may have used more baking powder than usual to cover this. I hope you will enjoy the recipe, it is one of our favorites.

  5. Hi David, I have not tried this substitution but read that you could add 3 to 4 Tablespoons milk into a 1 cup measuring cup then fill with sour cream to the 1 cup mark.

  6. Hello! I love all of your cakes so I was excited to try this one and replace my original yellow cake that was not your recipe. I made it tonight and the cakes sunk in the middle, not sure why? Do you have any suggestions

  7. I’m so excited to make this for my first marble cake this weekend! I plan on using 6in pans, should I cut the recipe in half? Thank you!

  8. Hi Jenny, This recipe makes approximately 6 1/2 to7 cups batter. We usually use three 6x2 inch pound pans. A 6 inch pan holds 2 cups of batter so I would use the whole recipe. If you should have leftover batter, you could use for a few cupcakes.

  9. I made this cake for a family dinner. It was a touch on the dry side. I'll try again, but will add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. I hope that works. If it does, I will keep recipe as my go to for vanilla cake. It made 3 nice size layers that didn't go flat.

  10. Can the yellow cake from scratch be made in a 9 x 13 inch pan ? If so what temperature and how much time ?

  11. I made this Cake on the weekend came out just find I add 1/2 teaspoons of almond extra in the mix taste great! I Just Love your recipe