Vanilla Cake

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This Vanilla Cake recipe makes two tender and moist 8-inch cakes, using buttermilk and a few pantry staples. Decorate with vanilla buttercream to turn this simple recipe into a stunning vanilla layer cake for any occasion.

A slice of vanilla cake on a plate

Classic Vanilla Cake Recipe

Sometimes I get so excited about trying new flavors and “fancy” cakes that I forget the classics are classics for a reason. This vanilla cake, for example. It’s moist, tender, and has the most perfect vanilla flavor. Quite frankly, it’s probably the best vanilla cake I’ve ever tried and it’s one reason I think every baker should have on hand.

This recipe makes two 8″ cakes, which is perfect for making a layer cake. (You can decorate them separately too, of course). I love vanilla so I keep it simple by adding my vanilla buttercream but you can use any frosting you want and get as creative as you want. That’s part of the fun!

Prefer chocolate? Check out my classic chocolate cake recipe!

A spatula serving a slice of vanilla layer cake

Why You’ll Love This Vanilla Layer Cake

Here are a few reasons why this is the best vanilla cake recipe.

  • Made with pantry staples. I’m almost positive that everything you need to make this cake is already in your cupboard!
  • Soft, tender crumb. Using buttermilk in this recipe helps create a super soft, moist, and tender cake. No dry or dense cake here!
  • Perfect for decorating. Pair this cake with my vanilla buttercream to make a beautiful layer cake for any occasion. This cake is the perfect base for adding sprinkles and designs. The most requested birthday cake!
Ingredients needed to make vanilla cake

Recipe Ingredients

This classic vanilla cake is made with just a handful of pantry staples. See the recipe card below for measurements.

  • Flour – All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder – Helps the cake rise.
  • Salt
  • Butter – Room temperature but not melted.
  • Sugar
  • Eggs – Also at room temperature.
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Buttermilk – Helps create a more tender crumb.

How To Make Vanilla Cake

Here’s an overview of how to make this vanilla layer cake. Scroll down to the recipe card below for more detailed instructions.

  • Make the cake batter. Sift the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Add half of the flour and half of the buttermilk. With a paddle attachment, mix gently for about 20 seconds then add the remainder of the flour and buttermilk. Fold them together with a spatula.
  • Bake. Spread the batter evenly in the two pans. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool in the pans for 20 minutes then cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Decorate. Frost and decorate as desired.
A fork cutting into a slice of vanilla cake

Tips for Success

Here are a few tips to making the perfect vanilla cake.

  • Use room temperature ingredients. It takes about 3-4 hours to get the butter, buttermilk and eggs to room temp.
  • Do not over mix the batter. This will cause gluten to form and create a heavy, domed cake.
  • Do not overbake. The two 8″ cakes should bake in approximately 30 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
  • Cool before frosting. However you decide to decorate your vanilla cake, be sure to allow the cakes to cool completely first.

Decorating Suggestions

You can decorate your vanilla cake any way you’d like. To make a layer cake, place one cake on a plate or tray, spread an even layer of frosting over it, and then place the second cake on top.

You can keep it all vanilla and frost this cake with vanilla buttercream or switch it up with some chocolate buttercream frosting, cream cheese frosting or peanut butter frosting. One batch of buttercream frosting will be enough to frost this cake. Feel free to add sprinkles or use a piping bag to pipe decorations too.

Overhead view of a vanilla layer cake with a slice being served

Proper Storage

  • Fridge. Frosted or unfrosted, this vanilla cake can be covered and refrigerated for 4-5 days.
  • Freezer. Unfrosted vanilla cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Once it has cooled completely, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and freeze. Thaw on the counter.

More Decadent Cake Recipes To Try

Vanilla Cake feature
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Vanilla Cake

This Vanilla Cake recipe makes two tender and moist 8-inch cakes, using just buttermilk and a few pantry staples. Decorate with vanilla buttercream to turn this simple recipe into a stunning vanilla layer cake for any occasion.
Servings: 10 slices
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 50 minutes


  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs room temp
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk room temp


  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and line 2 – 8 inch cake pans.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and then whisk together. Set aside.
  • Cream together butter and sugar for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until each one is incorporated, then add vanilla and mix until combined.
  • Add half of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk and mix gently until nearly combined, about 20 seconds. Add the remainder of flour and buttermilk and gently fold together with a spatula. Don’t over mix or beat.
  • Distribute batter into pan and spread evenly. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Place on wire racks to cool for twenty minutes and then remove from pans to cool on a wire rack.
  • Frost and decorate with sprinkles.

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Calories: 389kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 88mg | Sodium: 164mg | Potassium: 211mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 536IU | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 2mg


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4 comments on “Vanilla Cake”

    1. Hi Carol. The 9×13 is a good substitute for two 8″ round pans. Temp will be the same and cooking time will be similar. Check at 25 minutes to be sure.