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This Homemade Vanilla Cake Recipe is one of the best homemade cakes ever and will quickly become your new favorite. A simple recipe with a tender and moist crumb and just the right amount of sweetness. Delicious with vanilla buttercream or cream cheese frosting!
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 dare I say I like it more than chocolate cake? It took me several weeks to develop this particular 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.
If you’d prefer to make a rectangular 9×13 cake or cupcakes, see in a section below and in the notes section within the recipe card for baking times, located at the bottom of this post.
Homemade Vanilla Cake Success
After lots of trial and error, here are my best tips and tricks for making a delicious vanilla cake recipe 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 hotter than others) 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.
How to Make a Homemade Vanilla Cake
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 details with an ingredients list, exact measurements and baking times see the printable recipe card below. Here is step by step what you can expect when making this cake:
Prepare Your Cake Pans
Preheat your oven. 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.)
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.
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.
Time to Bake Your Cake!
Divide cake batter between two (8 or 9″) round baking pans, as evenly as possible, smooth the tops and bake on the 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.
Homemade Vanilla Cake Recipe Tips and FAQ:
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 overmix 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.
You bet! This recipe will make:
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)
Regardless of how you bake this cake, be sure to use lighter colored baking pans (or glass). Using a darker pan will give you darker, crispier edges which doesn’t really have a place in vanilla cake, in my humble opinion.
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.
For more frosting options, check out these recipes: Cream Cheese Frosting, Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting, Reese’s Frosting, and Poured Chocolate Frosting.
Make Ahead + Storage Directions for Vanilla Cake
The best thing about making this recipe (and really any baked cake) is they store beautifully if you make them ahead! Here are a few storage options:
Storing at Room Temperature
Once your cake has been baked and cooled, wrap them in plastic wrap and store at room temperature overnight. Prepare the frosting, then cover and store in the fridge overnight as well. When you are ready to assemble and decorate, set the frosting out at room temperature to soften for about 30-45 minutes. Give it a quick mix to loosen it up in your mixer for about a minute, then frost away! (You may have to add a splash of heavy cream or milk to bring it back to life.)
Storing in the Freezer
If you want to make this Vanilla cake even farther ahead of time, consider freezing it! Baked vanilla cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap baked cake layers well in two layers of plastic wrap and one layer of heavy duty foil and store flat in the freezer. To thaw, transfer from the freezer to the fridge overnight and then bring to room temperature before decorating.
Love Vanilla Cake? Try These Other Cake Recipes:
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.
If you make this delicious Vanilla Cake, I would SO appreciate if you would give it a star review and leave me a comment below. Printable recipe card with directions and increments is below! Happy baking, friends!
What others are saying about this Homemade Vanilla Cake Recipe:
This has become my go to vanilla cake recipe. I love making it! ~ MaryJo
This is the best recipe ever. Vanilla cake came out wonderful… ~ ID
This is now my go to Birthday cake. The cake is simple to make and the taste is amazing. ~ Sonia
Made this yesterday…came out beautifully…the cake was moist and flavorful…my family devoured it. ~ Laura
I have combed through the internet, baking through every recipe I could find. This is by far the best one I have made (after 3+ years of trying). ~ Amy
i am just 9 years old and i made it all by myself it tasted so good and sweet ~ Deborah
This is the best homemade cake I have ever tasted. My 11 year old daughter made it for us, and the whole family LOVED it so much. Thank you, we are making it again, tonight! 🍰💛 ~ Amanda
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Homemade 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 ⅔ 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)