Easy Vanilla Cake

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Vanilla Cake is a CLASSIC cake recipe made with vanilla extract and topped with buttercream frosting, ready in under 60 minutes!

We have a cake recipe for almost any occasion, and if you love this vanilla cake you’ll also love Mint Chocolate Cake (Grasshopper Cake), Carrot Cake, Oreo Cake, and Classic Yellow Cake!

Vanilla Cake with Buttercream

Vanilla Cake is one of my all-time favorite CLASSIC cake recipes, made with vanilla flavoring and topped with my go-to homemade buttercream frosting. You can also top this cake with my chocolate frosting or cream cheese frosting for more variation. We like to serve this for parties, because it’s easy to make and decorate for any occasion!


White cake recipes avoid ingredients that may darken the batter, like egg yolks or vanilla extract, which are both ingredients that help color my yellow cake recipe. Vanilla cake will use vanilla flavor, and can be made with or without egg yolks.


If you run out of butter, you can replace it with canola oil for this vanilla cake recipe, but use 3/4 of the amount of butter in the recipe. But keep in mind that the butter adds some flavor to the cake that won’t be there if you remove it.


  • Don’t substitute the butter, milk, or eggs for lower fat ingredients. The fat in this vanilla cake recipe helps keep everything moist and light.
  • Try using buttermilk instead of milk, because the acid and fat in the buttermilk will work with the gluten to help give your cake a softer fluffy texture.
  • You can add more moisture to the cake by substituting part of the butter with vegetable or canola oil.
  • Bring the cake to room temperature before serving it for the best texture. When cakes are colder than room temperature, they are sometimes mistaken for stale or dry. If I take it out of the refrigerator about an hour before I’m ready to serve, it will be room temperature when I cut into it.
  • You can use half brown sugar and half granulated sugar if you want a deeper flavor, just keep in mind that brown sugar will make your cake turn out darker in color.


If you’re just making the cake layers, you can store the cake on the counter tightly wrapped or sealed in an airtight container. If you’ve frosted the cake, it depends on what type of frosting is used. For dairy frostings, like cream cheese or vanilla butter cream, I recommend storing them in the refrigerator and not sitting out for more than 2 hours.


A vanilla sponge cake recipe will usually have more eggs and less butter than a regular cake. This is why sponge cake has a lighter fluffy texture, and can be used for recipes like my chocolate cake roll. A regular cake like this vanilla cake will have butter, oil, and a more dense sweet texture.


If your cake is falling apart it is most likely too dry. There are a few reasons this might happen.

  • Make sure your oven is cooking at the right temperature, because an over-baked cake can easily be dry and crumbly. Try using an oven thermometer and set your oven temperature, then make sure they match so you’re not over-baking anything.
  • Measure your all purpose flour exactly, to make sure you’re not adding too much. Try weighing the all purpose flour, or using a knife to level the measuring cup.
  • If you’re replacing the eggs or butter in this recipe, make sure you’re not removing all of the fat because it helps keep the texture of the cake soft. I also recommend not using any butter substitutes, like margarine.
  • Make sure you’re not over-mixing the cake batter. Stop mixing when everything is just mixed in.
  • If you cake falls when you take it out of the oven, it’s possible that there was too much baking powder used. The baking powder causes the cake to rise really fast, then fall before it’s done baking. Try leveling the baking powder in the measuring spoon with a knife, similar to how we did the flour.

Classic Vanilla Cake

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  • I like to use two 8″ non-stick cake pans because I’m making a layer cake with this vanilla cake recipe. If you want to make it taller, you can double the recipe and make additional layers, with frosting between each one. If I’m making more than 3-tiers, I usually make this in batches and re-use the cake pans after they’ve cooled.
  • You can also use a bundt pan or make a sheet cake instead of round cake pans with this vanilla cake recipe.
  • After the homemade vanilla cake comes out of the oven, make sure it cools down completely before frosting. You want to make sure the buttercream and cake are the same temperature, or you’ll pull up crumbs when trying to frost.
  • If you’re having trouble with your vanilla cake sticking to the cake pans once they’re done baking, try lining the bottom of the cake pan with a piece of parchment paper. Trace the bottom of the pan on the parchment paper, then cut out the circle and it should fit exactly.
  • For more delicate cakes like white cake, I like to use cake flour because it requires a finer texture, but for this vanilla cake you can use all-purpose without issue. If cake flour is all you have, you can use it for this cake.
  • Make sure you sift together your dry ingredients before adding them to the cake, to make sure everything is evenly dispersed before adding to the wet ingredients. If you don’t have a sifter, you can whisk your dry ingredients together but the texture might be slightly less light in the final cake.
  • I always make cakes in a stand mixer because it makes sure that everything is incorporated nicely, but you can use a hand-held mixer if that’s what you have.
  • You can see if most baked desserts are done by inserting a toothpick into the middle. If the toothpick comes out clean, the dessert is done. This works for both cake and cupcakes.
  • Try making a layer cake with this vanilla cake and use pineapple topping between each layer, then frosting with cream cheese frosting. Or make a layer cake with my strawberry topping between each layer and frost the cake with chocolate frosting! You can also do this with cupcakes and pipe the filling into the middle.
  • For this vanilla cake recipe, make sure you bring the butter and eggs to room temperature before starting. This will make it much easier to evenly mix everything together.
  • I always use unsalted butter, so I can add the salt in as I see necessary. If you want to use salted butter, I would skip adding any salt to the dry ingredients.
  • If you’re making a layered vanilla cake, cut the very top off of any cake layer that will have another one resting on top of it. This helps make it flatter, so the cake will stay together better.
  • Make this non-dairy by substituting the butter with applesauce, and the milk with a non-dairy almond or soy milk. But keep in mind that the butter and milk play an important role in flavor and texture, so it might be less fluffy and buttery.
  • Try topping this vanilla cake recipe with a few tablespoons of powdered sugar and fresh berries instead of buttercream.

Vanilla Cake with Buttercream Frostin

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Vanilla Cake

4.61 from 23 votes
  • Yield: 12 servings
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Course: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder

Vanilla Cake is a CLASSIC cake recipe made with vanilla extract and topped with buttercream frosting, ready in under 60 minutes!


  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Classic Buttercream frosting (recipe)


Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour two 8" cake pans.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt then set aside.

  3. To your stand mixer add the butter and sugar and beat them together until light and fluffy on medium speed, 2-3 minutes, then add in the eggs one at a time 15 seconds apart along with the vanilla then lower the speed to low. Add the flour mixture and milk, alternating a little of each at a time.

  4. Pour into the cake pans evenly and baked for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

  5. Once cakes are cooled frost them with your buttercream frosting.

Recipe Notes

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 12 servings, Amount per serving: 461 calories, Calories: 461g, Carbohydrates: 67g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 193mg, Potassium: 159mg, Sugar: 47g, Vitamin A: 445g, Calcium: 70g, Iron: 1.4g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: vanilla cake

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    1. I haven’t tested it. The sweetness level will be there but it will change the texture and flavor of the cake when substituted. If you decide to try, I’d love to know how it turns out. Thanks!

  1. So. The taste was really great! I did do some wrong things when making mine without realizing it(main thing was keeping ingredients at room temp.) Wr decided to make almost like muffins and it was really good. Keep up the good work!?

  2. I’ve been searching high and low for true vanilla cake recipes that can be baked in a sheet pan so I can cut 6” rounds for a layer cake. Does this bake up in a half sheet, and if so, what is the bake time/temp? Easier still would be this recipe for 6” round pans … two or even three, but I’m fine doing it Christina Tosi-style. Your cake looks gorgeous and I’m gonna convince my husband vanilla cake is as good as he thinks chocolate cake is. I always make chocolate or mocha but I prefer vanilla cake with vanilla frosting

  3. Made this cake (with your classic buttercream frosting recipe) yesterday for my son’s birthday. It was delicious! Thank you!

  4. Really easy and fun to do with little siblings, cousins, grandparents, and parents. Comes out fluffy and not to sweet but just right ;):)

  5. There is something wrong with your recipe, I have tried it 3 times and each time it has curdled. I am using a stand mixer and have followed your instructions to the tee each time and I still have ended up with the same result. I even tried with the milk being at room temperature as everything else and it still made no difference. I have never had this happen to me before with any recipe that I have made! I am extremely frustrated.

    1. I’m so sorry you had issues. I know another person stated once they changed the milk to room temperature, the recipe worked for them. I didn’t need to adjust the temperature personally but want to give as much advice for it to work for others.

  6. i added the sugar, butter, vanilla and milk together in the order you described and the milk seemed to curdle and separate and float to the top?

    1. I’ve never had that happen before. Were you using a stand mixer? Usually milk will curdle if the temperatures are different (milk was too cold and the other ingredients were much warmer) but I can’t imagine why that would happen with these ingredients.

      1. The same thing happened to us. It would be beneficial to add to the recipe that the milk should not be too cold. We took care and time to bring eggs and butter to room temp, but it said nothing about the milk. We that first wet batch and had to start over…money and lots of wasted time. Even on the re-do, with less cold milk, it seemed to be heading in the chunky direction. But we added the milk very slowly and started adding the dry ingredients before all the milk was fully added and that worked well. All in all, a yummy recipe. Lesson learned to read the comments too!

  7. Completely messed up on the ingredients…
    and the instructions were not very detailed…
    but I’m sure it would’ve tasted good if I had done it right!

  8. I’m making this cake today but instead of vanilla I’m using marshmallow extract and making a rainbow cake for my son’s birthday.

  9. It’s almost the weekend and this cake looks like the perfect way to celebrate. So happy to not have to rely on a mix from the store anymore!