This post may contain affiliate sales links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This Vanilla Cake Recipe will become your new favorite. A simple, 1-bowl recipe with a tender and moist crumb and just the right amount of sweetness. Delicious with vanilla buttercream or cream cheese frosting!
Vanilla Cake | Sweet Sweet Simplicity
Being a true vanilla lover, I’ve tried my fair share of homemade vanilla cake, cupcakes, sheet cakes, you name it. It’s my go-to flavor and much to my husband’s horror, I like it more than chocolate cake. It took me several weeks to develop this particular vanilla cake recipe, yielding an end result that is moist, lightly sweet and very vanilla-y. I’m confident that if you don’t like vanilla cake, you haven’t truly had GOOD vanilla cake. So, friends, meet my vanilla cake recipe.
While the ingredients list is relatively simple, the execution is way more important. Do your best to use room temperature ingredients, whip the egg whites into the batter well and then not over-mixing in the flour.
Below are a few photos of the cake making process. If you’d prefer to make a rectangular 9×13 cake or cupcakes, see the notes section within the recipe card for baking times, located at the bottom of this post.
My Vanilla Cake Recipe | Main Ingredients Needed
This recipe is a simple one with even simpler ingredients. Lots of ingredients you probably already have! One item I’d highly recommend is parchment paper so your cakes release easily, especially if you’re planning on stacking and decorating them.
- Flour– obviously needed for structure and a *little* gluten to hold this cake together.
- Baking Soda + Baking Powder– our leavening agents for this vanilla cake. I like using both.
- Salt– believe it or not, salt makes a huge difference in the finished product of your final cake. Instead of sweet on sweet on sweet, the salt helps balance the flavor and brings out the vanilla flavor.
- Granulated Sugar– used to make the cake sweet.
- Vanilla Extract– ok, friends, you’re going to want to use a good vanilla extract. Look for ‘pure vanilla extract’ instead of imitation vanilla for best results. (Both will work, I just recommend pure vanilla extract. This is a great one.)
- Butter + Vegetable Oil– I love the combination of the two of these in cakes. Butter gives great flavor and vegetable oil helps keep the cake really moist. Canola oil also works in place of the vegetable oil.
- Eggs + Egg Whites– Eggs are needed for structure in the cake but the egg whites are whipped into the batter to lift and lighten the cake.
- Milk– used for moisture and the protein in the milk gives a soft crumb texture to the finished cake.
How to Make My Vanilla Cake Recipe | Directions
Making a scratch vanilla cake is easier than you think! Just make sure you don’t over bake! Dry vanilla cake is NOT delicious. For full recipe with exact measurements and baking times see the recipe card below.
Step 1: Prepare Your Pans
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking pans with parchment paper and/or spray well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. (I spray my round cake pans, add the parchment paper circles in the bottom and spray lightly again.)
Step 2: Whisk Dry Ingredients
In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together to combine (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt). Set aside. Whisking helps aerate the ingredients and works well in place of sifting.
Measure Milk and Vanilla separately and set aside.
Step 3: Make the Vanilla Cake Batter
In a separate large bowl, mix butter, oil, and sugar together until combined.
Mix in eggs and egg whites, one at a time, until the mixture becomes very light and fluffy. You want to incorporate a lot of air at this point. Because we aren’t separating the eggs and whipping the whites separately, you want to whip the eggs well.
Alternate adding in flour mixture with milk mixture, being sure to start and end with flour.
Step 4: Bake!
Divide cake batter between baking pans as evenly as possible, smooth the tops and bake on a middle rack in the oven. Cakes will be done when the edges look golden and the middle of the cake comes out clean when tested with a toothpick.
Cool 15-20 minutes in pans or until you can handle the warm pans with your hands. Turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely.
Baking Flat Cakes
Here’s a little trick for getting flat cake tops! The tops of my cakes actually weren’t all that flat, but when I flipped them out of their cake pans, the bottoms certainly were! So that’s why they look so flat. You’re seeing the bottoms of the cakes! So when I frost them, I place them all upside down to have flat “tops” to my cake.
If you over mix your batter, you will tend to have more of a peaked top. If you are wanting to frost a two or three layer cake, use a serrated knife to cut off the tops to achieve that flat, level cake.
Step 5: Frost!
The purist in me would recommend making this cake with this Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe but this chocolate frosting would be equally delicious. Both frostings will make you fall in love with vanilla cake, possibly more than you’ve ever loved it before.
Homemade Vanilla Cake Success
After lots of trial and error, here are my best tips and tricks for making a delicious vanilla cake the first time around.
- Follow the recipe. Use the listed ingredients in the recipe card below.
- Use room temperature ingredients. Believe it or not, using butter, eggs, egg whites and milk all at room temperature yields you a smoother, better incorporated cake batter and thus a better cake.
- Do not over bake. Moist vanilla cake comes with just the right amount of time in the oven. Start checking your cake for doneness after 30 minutes and then go from there. Every oven is different (some run hot, some run cold) so be sure you are checking your cake for doneness every few minutes once you’re getting close to it being completely baked.
- Line baking pans with parchment paper. Parchment paper is my favorite kitchen tool. Your cakes will come out with ease!
- Cool completely before frosting. Frosting is primarily made up of butter and the butter will melt if your cakes are not cooled completely.
Love Vanilla Cake? Try These Other Cake Recipes:
- Perfect Carrot Cake Recipe
- The Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe
- Ultimate Banana Cake Recipe
- Lemon Raspberry Cake
- Vegan Cupcakes
- Favorite Coconut Cake
You really don’t need a reason to make this vanilla cake but it goes without saying this would be the perfect Birthday, Anniversary or Holiday cake. Maybe you had a rough day. Someone else had a rough day. You had a good day and want to celebrate. Basically, this recipe is perfect for any occasion.
Printable recipe card with directions and increments is below! Happy baking, friends!
Vanilla Cake Recipe
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking pan with parchment paper and/or spray well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. (See notes)
- In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together to combine. Set aside.
- In a liquid measuring cup, stir milk and vanilla together. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, mix butter, oil and sugar together until combined. Mix in eggs and egg whites, one at a time, until mixture becomes very light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again briefly.
- Alternate adding in flour mixture with milk mixture, being sure to start and end with flour. Scrape the sides and mix again to ensure a smooth batter. Divide evenly between baking pans and smooth the top. Bake 30-40 minutes in the lower 2/3rds of the oven. Cake will be done when a toothpick comes out clean or mostly clean with a few moist crumbs.
- Cool 15-20 minutes in cake pans before trying to invert on cooling racks. Cool completely before frosting and decorating.
- 1- 9×13 thick cake (bake for 40-55 minutes)
- 2- 8 or 9-inch round cakes (40-50 minutes)
- 24 cupcakes (bake for 18-20 minutes)