Basic Vanilla Cake Recipe

This made from scratch Basic Vanilla Cake Recipe is a one that must be added to your repertoire. It’s light, tender, and full of vanilla flavor.

This made from scratch Basic Vanilla Cake Recipe is a one that must be added to your repertoire. It's light, tender, and full of vanilla flavor.

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I’ve been on the hunt for a great vanilla cake recipe that I can use over and over again. I tried many and never found one that was wonderful enough to claim a spot on my blog until now.

This is the same recipe I used in my “how to make the perfect cake” post. You all kept asking me for the recipe but I didn’t feel that it was quite perfect enough to be shared.

Thank you for your patience while I took the time to tweak and test the recipe. It is now perfect and ready to made in your kitchen!

Make sure you follow all the tips I gave you in the “how to make the perfect cake” post to ensure great results every time.

Pair this vanilla cake with a basic vanilla buttercream frosting for a simply perfect dessert!

This made from scratch Basic Vanilla Cake Recipe is a one that must be added to your repertoire. It's light, tender, and full of vanilla flavor.

Make ahead tips:

Wrap baked and cooled cake layers tightly in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator. Assemble and frost the cake within 2 days.

Once the cake has been assembled, cover it and keep it stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Bring it to room temperature just before serving.

The frosted cake can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature just before serving.

Create your own perfect cake

  • Use this basic vanilla cake recipe as a base for your own creative flavors.
  • Sandwich the layers with pineapple curd in between or slather the entire cake with cookie butter frosting.
  • Swap the vanilla extract for almond or any other fun flavor.
  • Fold fresh berries into the batter before baking for a delicious fruity cake.
  • The possibilities are endless!!

This made from scratch Basic Vanilla Cake Recipe is a one that must be added to your repertoire. It's light, tender, and full of vanilla flavor.

The great thing about this recipe is it can be made in two 9-inch pans, three 8-inch pans, or two 12-cup muffin pans. It’s versatile and pairs wonderfully with a wide range of fillings and frostings. The batter can even be enhanced with other extract flavors, like almond!

Whip up this cake the next time you have a craving and I promise you won’t be disappointed!

This made from scratch basic vanilla cake is a must try!

If you want more cake recipes, try this pineapple carrot cake and this chocolate coconut cake.

*Update* – Due to numerous complaints on the texture and taste, I retested the recipe and made a couple adjustments. If you made the previous version and liked it, you can continue to make it that way by using 4 teaspoons of baking powder and 2 1/2 cups of cake flour in place of the amounts listed below. Both versions are delicious but the updated version is less bitter for those who are sensitive to baking powder.

This made from scratch Basic Vanilla Cake Recipe is a one that must be added to your repertoire. It's light, tender, and full of vanilla flavor.
4.75 from 27 votes
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Basic Vanilla Cake

This made from scratch Basic Vanilla Cake Recipe is a one that must be added to your repertoire. It’s light, tender, and full of vanilla flavor. The great thing about this recipe is it can be made in two 9-inch pans, three 8-inch pans, or two 12-cup muffin pans. It’s versatile and pairs wonderfully with a wide range of fillings and frostings. The batter can even be enhanced with other extract flavors, like almond! Whip up this cake the next time you have a craving and I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Please read How to Make the Perfect Cake before beginning this recipe. It will help ensure you achieve success each and every time you bake a cake.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Cake
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Yields 12 servings
Calories 360 kcal
Author Jen Sobjack

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs or 6 egg whites*
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 and 3/4 cups cake flour **
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour 2 9-inch round cake pans; set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the extract.

  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir with a whisk and add it to the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beating well after each addition. 

  4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

  5. Fill and frost the cake with your favorite frosting.

Make ahead tip

  1. Wrap baked and cooled cake layers tightly in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator. Assemble and frost the cake within 2 days.

  2. Once the cake has been assembled, cover it and keep it stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Bring it to room temperature just before serving.
  3. The frosted cake can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature just before serving.

Recipe Notes

*For a lighter cake, use egg whites in place of whole eggs.

**If you don't have cake flour, you can make it at home. For every 1 cup of flour remove 2 tablespoons of flour. Then add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch for every 1 cup of flour. Sift 4 times and it's ready-to-use as cake flour.

Adapted from Bigger Bolder Baking.

120 Comments

  • Maurisa

    I would like to make this cake for my husband’s birthday. I just don’t understand the part where you have to refrigerate the cake after baking it? Is this a recipe that requires to be made several days before being served? Thanks in Advance

  • Jacqueline

    Can you substitute oil for the butter, or smart balance instead of butter? I tried using smart balance with another cake I made and it came out dense. So, I was wondering if that would happen if I used oil or smart balance with your recipe.

  • Rebecca

    Would this cake be suitable for a two-tiered cake? My plan is the first tier being 8″ and the second tier 6″, and I intend to use dowels to hold up the second tier. I also plan on using fondant. I need a cake that is firm and moist, but not so soft it might compress under the weight of the fondant.

          • Jasmine

            I made it with fondant and it holds the fondant perfectly i wish i could share the picture of the cake here. It came out lovely. Great Recipe! I’ll be using it for years to come.
            Thanks Jen

          • Rebecca Shorten

            I did end up making this cake with the fondant. I used a simple vanilla buttercream as a crumb-coat, then covered the whole thing in fondant. It worked BEAUTIFULLY! I also made a smaller tier for the cake. the crumb of the cake is firm enough to support the fondant, but it is still a moist cake with a great flavour. I’m linking to my Facebook post about the cake. Lol! Not exactly a professional job, but it came out well. Too bad I got too tired to finish it. She loved it anyway. 🙂

  • Ashley

    I don’t have unsalted butter on hand and was wondering if it would work to just use regular butter. Do you have any idea?

  • Christiana uloko

    Hi, just saw your vanilla recipe and am in love with it. Please can l use the same measurements of ingredients for a 10inches size pan? If no, what are the measurements to use? Thank you

  • Debbie

    My 10 year old daughter has recently taken an interest in baking. She’s been using a kids cookbook she purchased at Barnes & Nobles. Tired of the recipes in her cookbook she asked me if we could purchase another book, I directed her to the internet as there are millions of recipes. I’m not sure how but she stumbled across your blog and found this recipe. The cake came out AMAZING, soft, moist and melt in your mouth. She measured, prepared and baked this all on her own with absolutely no assistance from any adult or sibling. She added a glaze of icing between the layers, delicious. We all loved it and her older brothers think she’s a superstar. I felt compelled to write and to thank you so much for taking the time to share this recipe. You have several new followers.

    NOTE – She asked me what is an introvert!

  • Sarah

    Amazing! Made this on a whim tonight as Going-Away cake for a coworker. I even subbed a mix of half and half and skim milk for the whole milk which I didn’t have on hand. Delicious!

  • Jacqueline

    Just made this cake for my family, it’s the first cake I’ve ever made from scratch and it came out amazing!!!! Everyone said it was the best cake they’ve ever had, and everyone wants it as our traditional birthday cake! It’s so good it didn’t even need icing lol. We put a super thin vanilla homemade frosting n boy error & strawberries! Thanks for sharing! I’m so excited to make it again!

  • Nicole

    This is delicious I halved the recipe to make 1 dozen cup cakes and only cooked for 18 minutes. I would prefer them to be a little more moist though the texture is wonderfully fluffy. What do you suggest as best option? (Adding oil to substitute a portion of butter?)

    • Jen Sobjack

      You can certainly use a little oil in place of some of the butter. I would keep it to about 1/4 cup so you don’t lose that wonderful buttery flavor. But, for best results with just butter, make sure you are measuring the flour correctly and not using too much flour in the recipe. I wrote an entire post about this. I also recommend reviewing my “how to make the perfect cake” post for tips on ensuring the cake turns perfect every time.

      • Ilona

        Hey,,the cakeflouris it sifted or b4 difting 2 3/4 cups? And substitute of cake flourst home by removing two table spoonof white flour and adding 2 table spoonof cornstarchright?

        • Jen Sobjack

          I don’t sift the flour before measuring. You can refer to my “How to measure flour” post to see the correct way to measure flour for all my recipes. To make homemade cake flour, remove 2 tablespoons per every 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Then add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch for every 1 cup of flour and sift 4 times.

  • Kerry

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, i made it for my daughters first birthday and it was light and fluffy and delicious! Everyone loved it!

  • Maria

    Hello!!! I tried out this recipe and it came out A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! I think I put a little less sugar, luckily I first tested it out in a mug, and it seemed less sweet. So, I just added it in the actual mix.
    Thank you SOO much for the recipe!!!

    • Maria

      But, my frosting did not come out white instead it looked pale yellow. It tasted fine, but what did I do wrong?

      • Jen Sobjack

        You didn’t do anything wrong. That’s the nature of buttercream. It’s butter based so it will be slightly tinted. Keep in mind different brands of butter range in color. For example, butter made from the milk of grass-fed cows tends to be darker in color. If you want the frosting to be pure white, you can try using clear vanilla and/or white icing color. Also, the more you beat the frosting the lighter it will become so don’t be afraid to turn the mixer up and let it whip.

        • Christa

          You can also add the tiniest bit of purple gel food colouring to the butter cream and it will make it more white. Add too much though and it starts to go grey.

  • Jason

    I made this last night for my wife, a cakeaholic.

    It cooled when I went out with friends, and I iced it when I came home (she was asleep).

    As I finished icing, she crept out of bed, hardly awake, glad to sample the wares.

    Then, she mostly only said, “it’s so rich”. I couldn’t get a read on her otherwise.

    4pm today, she skyped me to say, “sooooo, good”.

    Thanks. I’m very happy with it.

  • Nuskwa

    Considering no one else had a problem with the timing I’m assuming my oven must be broken because sadly o had to keep my cake in for an additional 10 minutes and it still fell apart 🙁 still a delicious cake though! I wish it would’ve turned out for me

  • James M.

    Judging from the taste of the batter, I’m sure these cakes will be awesome, but I definitely had an issue with the cooking time. At 24 minutes, the cakes had only begun to brown at the edges and the centers weren’t even close to done. I gave them an extra 10 minutes and now they look just the way they should and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Perhaps the time should read 32-35 minutes?

    • Lea Vener

      Did you use baking powder? Using baking soda will effect the cake and cooking time, so make sure you read the recipe. If you accidentally used baking soda, it won’t be as good in taste, texture or cook time.

  • Mallory Rogers

    I made this for my first ever so called professional cake since starting cake decorating I used almond extract instead and it was absolutely amazing everyone was blown away thank you so much!! Also I’m trying to find a good chocolate cake and I thought I would ask you since this one topped the rest!

  • Marietta Greene

    Just made this tonight for my son’s birthday party tomorrow. OMG!!! absolutely delicious!!! I may have over mixed it since it wasnt quite as light and fluffy, but i chalk that up to user error, not recipe error.

  • Talia Rotman

    **If you don’t have cake flour, you can make it at home. For every 1 cup of flour remove 2 tablespoons of flour. Then add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch for every 1 cup of flour. Sift 4 times and it’s ready-to-use as cake flour.

    I was wondering about the method of substituting cake flour. Should I take out two tablespoons of flour from each cup and add two tablespoons of cornstarch or should I take out the two table spoons from each cup and measure one cup of flour from the new amount of flour and put in two tablespoons of cornstarch for every cup of flour.

    • Jen Sobjack

      Remove 4 and 1/2 tablespoons of flour from the already measured 2 and 3/4 cups of flour. Add 4 and 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch to the remaining 2 cups of flour and sift 4 times. There’s no need to remeasure as long as you measured properly to begin with.

    • Jen Sobjack

      If that’s what you typically use as a sugar substitute then it should be fine. However, I’m not exactly sure how much stevia is equal to the amount of sugar called for in the recipe. I would assume the package would state this information though.

  • Anamika

    Hi..i was looking for a vanilla cake and found your recipe..am writing this while my vanilla cake is baking 🙂 very nice recipe thanks

  • Amber

    The cake came out amazing! As others have said, it did require a longer bake time than the one given. About 20 mins longer. Except for the slight panic that the csle wouldn’t turn out, great recipe!

  • Danah

    I live in 6000 feet elevation and want to make this cake what am I supposed to increase or reduce in this recipe ?

  • Kelly

    I’m going to try this cake using 2 half sheet pans (since a whole sheetpan won’t fit in my home oven) and I was wondering how much to increase this recipe by? Double? The dimensions are somewhere around 15×11

  • krystal soodhoo

    I wan to use wheat white flour instead of cake flour; how can i guarantee that the cake is not too dense

  • Amber

    This looks incredible. I need the recipe for two 10″ square pans. If I double it will that be sufficient? Thanks for any input.

    • Jen Sobjack

      I’d leave the vanilla but also add the cotton candy extract. I’m not sure how much cotton candy extract you’d need though. I’ve never used it and have no idea how potent it is.

  • Mary

    I’ve just made this recipe today and it didn’t work out, it has like a pancake flavor and the texture was too greasy.

  • Doc

    Looks delicious! Thanks for putting all this together.

    One thing: Does it also work with all-purpose flour?

    • Jen Sobjack

      Cake flour will yield the best results. There’s note at the bottom of the recipe with instructions on how to make your own if you don’t have it on hand.

  • Dhatri

    Oh my God!!!!! I had never baked such a perfect cake. Everybody who ate it just loved it. They didn’t find a single fault with it. It took a few minutes longer to bake completely. But it was totally worth the time and effort. Thank you so much for this recipe.

  • Christine

    My cake turned out really flat, not like the picture at all…
    Don’t know what I did wrong…

  • Nareefa

    Can you please tell me how much cake batter would i need to make a 3 layer 12 inch cake? Please asap

  • Salina

    Baking this cake tonight for my sons birthday tomorrow do you think this will work in a giant metal Wilton cupcake pan if ao how long should i bake for?

    • Jen Sobjack

      I’ve never used the pan in question but I would assume it would come with baking instructions. If not, you might be able to find that info on the Wilton website.

  • Katie

    I am wanting to do a cake with layers, one vanilla and one chocolate. How would you recommend I make half of the batter chocolate?

  • Brittany

    Hi, not sure if my comment posted or not. Would it be possible to just use one 9in pan? And cut the cake in half? Or would it be too much batter and make the cake fall?

    • Jen Sobjack

      I don’t recommend trying to bake all the batter in one 9-inch pan. The cake will rise as it is baking and may spill out of the pan, making a huge mess in your oven. To use one 9-inch pan, you need to cut the recipe in half. Unless your 9-inch pan is 4 inches tall. Then you can fit all the batter in and adjust the baking time as needed.

  • Ria

    Hi Jen,is the batter liquid enough if I want to make something like zebra cake but with colours.
    Thank you !

  • Helen Diana

    This recipe is fantastic, it produced the fluffiest, lightest vanilla cake my kitchen has ever seen. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Hillary

    I have to make larger cake for a party on Saturday. I bought 2 12 inch round cake pans. Just not sure if I should double the recipe? It would be too much..

    Help! I need to be able to serve 30 people.

    • Jen Sobjack

      I’m not sure how much batter a 12 inch round pan holds. I typically bake with smaller pans. My recipe makes about 12 cups of batter so if you know how much your pans will hold, you can adjust the recipe from there.

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