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Homemade Vanilla Cake Recipe

4.66 from 81 votes

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This Homemade Vanilla Cake Recipe is one of the best homemade cake recipes 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!

Whole Vanilla Cake with Frosting on cake plate with slice taken out

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 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.

How to Make 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 with exact measurements and baking times see the recipe card below.

Prepare Your 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.

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 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.

Can I use a different baking pan?

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 teflon will give you darker, crispier edges which doesn’t really have a place in vanilla cake, in my humble opinion.

vanilla cake on cake platter

Frost Your Cake

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.

frosted white cake on cake platter

Make Ahead 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.

Cake slice on white plate

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.

Printable recipe card with directions and increments is below! Happy baking, friends!

What others are saying about this 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

4.66 from 81 votes

Homemade Vanilla Cake Recipe

This Vanilla Cake Recipe will become your new favorite. A simple recipe with a tender and moist crumb and just the right amount of sweetness.
servings 12 servings
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 50 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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 recipe, be sure to use lighter colored baking pans (or glass). Using a darker teflon will give you darker, crispier edges which doesn’t really have a place in vanilla cake, in my humble opinion.

Nutrition

Calories: 406kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 223mg | Potassium: 119mg | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 280IU | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 1.5mg
Course: Cake, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Best Vanilla Cake Recipe, How to Make Vanilla Cake, Vanilla Cake, Vanilla Cake Recipe

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Recipe Rating




219 Responses
  1. Andrea l

    5 stars
    I tried this recipe and it was the best vanilla cake ever. I tried it again a week after with brown sugar. I blended it in the blender to give it the consistency of granulated sugar and then followed the recipe verbatim.. it was also fantastic.

  2. Susan Gold

    5 stars
    Thanks Lauren, I totally loved making this, I halved the whole ingredient on the list for a smaller quantity and then substituted some of the milk for froyo, it turned out amazing, couldn’t stop munching

  3. Bree

    I am excited to make this for my daughter’s upcoming 5th birthday cake! She wanted me to add a fruity element… If I stirred in a little bit of strawberry jam, would you scale back the metled butter to keep the texture correct? Or adjust anything else instead? Looking forward to trying this recipe. Thanks for making one so simple to understand!

  4. Halloween Candy Cake – Making the Days Bright

    […] the layers of the cake, I made three thin layers of vanilla cake using this delicious vanilla cake recipe. I frosted the top of the bottom two layers and the bottom of the top two layers with this caramel […]

  5. Tina R

    I followed the directions exactly, why does my cake feel so oily on the bottom when I take it out of the pan to finish cooling?

  6. Melody

    5 stars
    I made this cake it was perfect delicious and right texture. I loved the texture. What is the recipe if I want to make 2x 12 inch round pans do I double the recipe or what ?

  7. Claudia Farr

    Could I use 2 small yoplait fruit yogurt containers instead of the milk. Years ago I made a cake using a yoplait in a cake mix recipe but there’s to many mystery ingredients in cake mixes. I’d much rather use this recipe. What do you think?

  8. raji

    5 stars
    thank you Lauren for this awesome recipe,
    I made it for my 22 year old son’s birthday and the only thing he wanted was a vanilla cake with oreos.
    So mixed some crushed oreos inside the batter and some on the middle layer and top layer as a decoration. Used only 1 1/4 sugar and now this recipe is a keeper. I also have to add that due to this success, I tried your pizza and macaroni and cheese recipes and they were all exceptionally good. More recipes to try now… keep it up and share more.
    Best,
    R

  9. Lee

    5 stars
    I baked half the recipe just to try it and it came out amazing! So moist and flavorful 🙂 I was wondering if I could make it a confetti cake by adding sprinkles and if so how much? Thanks

  10. OJ

    Do I have to mix the sugar and butter until white and fluffy and the sugar has dissolved? I don’t have a mixer so I will be mixing by hand so I want to know

  11. OJ

    Hello Lauren. I do not have baking soda available, just baking powder. Can I bake it like that or should I increasethe qty of my baking powder? What should I do, I really want to try this recipe. RSVP.

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  13. Lorraine

    4 stars
    Hi Lauren i get little bis of something in batter made 3 times so far the same it taste like butter but hard. help

    1. Lauren

      Are you using room temperature butter, eggs, milk, everything? That would definitely help create a completely smooth batter.

  14. Kristal M Phillip

    5 stars
    I tried this recipe just as an after thought of using the one I normally use and I’m very impressed with how the cake came out (I did 1-9″). The batter texture was smooth and so was the cake. I however opted for gluten free cake flour over all purpose flour. I tried the cream cheese frosting also as a topper, but I think it was too sweet, even though i used half of the stipulated powdered sugar. Will try this same recipe again however it’ll be lemon flavor over vanilla. 🙂

  15. Gayatri Bongarala

    Right now I’m making this recipe with half the ingredients for an 8 inch square pan. Also I made my own cake strip for getting flat surface. I’ll comment again after the cake is done. Hoping that it would turn out great! Fingers crossed. Also I’ll decorate using buttercream frosting as mentioned by Lauren with half the quantity.

    1. Gayatri

      The cake turned out soft and great. I got almost flat layers with using my homemade cake strips wrapped around square pan. Coming to icing, it’s summer here and the buttercream recipe was a failure. I had tried cream cheese frosting recipe which worked out well and was holding up good on cake. Anyways I put it back in fridge as soon as I completed decoration. Thanks for the wonderful recipes

  16. Nichole

    2 stars
    I followed the recipe to the letter and the batter would not reach ribbon stage as it was extremely liquidy. I added a tiny bit more flour and a bit more vanilla and then popped it in the pan and put it in the oven.it came out very cornbread like and developed a crust and tasted very much like cornbread. I’m assuming it wouldn’t reach ribbon stage because it’s hot and humid in my area.

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  18. Alexandra S

    5 stars
    Great recipe.. easy to make and the results are as expected. If you’re a plain vanilla cake lover this one is for you!

  19. teal jeep 13

    5 stars
    my brother was turning 15 yesterday and he asked for a vanilla cake, so I made this one. and then I made my cream cheese frosting. everybody that went to the party said that I made the cake very good. I am only 12 years old, and I have been baking for a few years, and this is the best cake ever.

  20. Kristin

    5 stars
    Hello! I just wanted to say I made this cake for a birthday and it was a bit hit! Thank you, I will definitely be saving this one to use again. 🙂

  21. Amanda Peterson

    5 stars
    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! 🍰💛

  22. Marthe

    I’ making this cake for my husband’s birthday, hope it comes out well. With the quarantine I have way more time to make/bake goodies. I am not a baker basically because I don’t looove sweets, also baked goods don’t come out very good when I make them, but hopefully if young bakers 9-11 years old are able to make it so will I… 52! Lol! Wish me luck 😉

    1. Lauren

      I hope you kept baking it until it was done! That seems odd that it wouldn’t bake in 50 minutes. What rack in the oven was it baking on? Were you using a glass or metal pan? Do you have a convection oven?

  23. Louise

    3 stars
    I thought I Followed the recipe to the letter, unfortunately it remained raw on the inside while it burned on the outside. I wish I knew what I did wrong!

    1. Lauren

      What was your oven temperature? Do you have a thermometer in your oven? What rack did you bake it on? Were your pans lighter colored or darker colored? Did you use two rounds or a 9×13?

  24. Heidi

    5 stars
    Thank you for the very easy and uncomplicated vanilla cake recipe. I have tried others and this is now the one I will use. They came out perfectly flat and just the right height for a layer cake. I finished the cake with a sweetened whip cream frosting and put raspberries in the middle with some on top for decoration. It turned out great. Thanks again.

  25. Michelle Heick

    5 stars
    Made for my fiance’s birthday! He loves vanilla! Can’t go to the stores right now so forced to bake at home but, this is better than any cake I’ve ever bought from a store! Great frosting too! Thanks!

  26. alana jones

    heyy 350 degrees farenheit, right? plz reply fast gotta bake cake for my sister’s birthday which is like tomorrow!!!! so pls can u reply fast and btw the recipe seems pretty good.

  27. Elizaveta

    5 stars
    Hi! Yeserday I’ve tried 6 different recipies of vanilla batter from diffferent popular blogs and yours turned out to be the best by far! Thank you very much for sharing this recipe, it is definitely going to be my go-to recipe for vanilla cake!

    Have a nice day,
    Eli

  28. Anna

    4 stars
    I found mixing the milk and flour into the butter mix-back and forth- overmixed the final batter so it was quite stiff when ready to put in the pans. The flavor of batter and final cake are still delicious, but a bit dense! I was hoping for a light and fluffy cake. Did I do something wrong?

  29. Suzzanne

    5 stars
    “Oh my gosh”!!! My cake turned out beautiful, and it smelled so good cooking!!! I didn’t kiss my kitchen floor but I’m so impressed that it turned out so good! I baked it exactly as written, no changes to the recipe except of course the egg mess and kitten interruptions! So ladies if I can do it with my screw up, I know you certainly can!!!
    Thanks to the lovely lady that posted it for all of us!, whew!!

  30. Suzzanne

    “If this cake turns out right I’m going to kiss my kitchen floor”!!!
    I got a real letter in the mail today , stamp and everything from my daughter that I haven’t see in over a year, so I was all happy and thought I would make this cake.
    I am a tenured cook/baker, Mom of four children, Grandma, Great Grandma and I have made plenty of cakes in my time believe me, so I should have had no problem making a cake! My mother used to make jelly cakes ( using jelly as ice as the frosting/icing) when we were small Children, and I loved it! I just found some Cherry preserves while shopping and I thought that would be so good on a vanilla
    Cake. As I never ever find Cherry preserves or Jelly.
    While I was beating the butter and oil and sugar, which I had everything at room temperature, I stopped to crack the eggs and divide the yolk and whites, I bumped the small bowl and spilled the egg white all over my cabinet, had to get a cold egg out of the fridge to replace that one. Already had one egg in the bowl with the sugar mixture, started beat that in, my kitten jumped up grabbed the cord of my mixer to play, my egg yolk jumped out of the bowl, the mixer flew out of my hand onto
    the floor, still beating, the kitten was running in place trying to get away, egg yolk all over my cabinet and floor, another cold egg.! I have no damn idea how many or what parts of the egg I have in that cake, but my mess is cleaned up the cake is in the oven, so we will see!!

      1. Lauren

        This would make enough batter to fill probably 3 6-inch cake pans. I would guess 20-25 minutes at 325, but every oven is different, so start checking for doneness at 20.

        1. Laurie

          Thank you! Last night at dinner, I was trying to explain to a friend why a yellowcake isn’t a vanilla cake isn’t a white cake. I can’t wait to bake this. That a 9-year-old posted in your comments has me so happy. 💕

  31. Reini

    4 stars
    The flavor is amazing, but my cupcakes sunk when I took them out the oven. I did everything according to the recipe. A little disappointed.

  32. Cori

    5 stars
    This cake was delicious and easy for a beginner like me. I used the recipe to make a Victoria sandwich cake and it was divine! The notes were super helpful. Thanks, Lauren!

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