Best Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe

I’ve tried several white cake bases, and have found a few favorites. However, this vanilla cake recipe blows them all out of the water!! It’s delicious, moist, and best of all, it keeps its shape!

The layers bake with smooth sides that are perfect for stacking and frosting. I now use this as my go to white cake base recipe, and color or flavor it as needed. I HIGHLY recommend it! Another perk is that it can be made in one bowl! That’s right, ONE BOWL!!!

The secret ingredient to this recipe?? BUTTERMILK! I don’t know what is is, but I’m absolutely crazy about buttermilk. I love baking with it, and use it in most of my cake recipes! It such tender cake layers, and adds so much moisture! It also gives my cakes such a delicious tang.

While buttermilk can be found in most grocery stores, some parts of the country or foreign countries don’t sell it! If you’re having a hard time getting your hands on buttermilk, fear not. You can make your own! For each cup of buttermilk that the recipe calls for, use 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to fill 1 cup.

You also can use plain, low-fat yogurt as an equal substitute, cup for cup!

These layers can be made in advance, and can be stored in the freezer for up to 5 days! If you do plan to freeze them overnight, be sure to either place them in an airtight container, or wrap them tightly in saran wrap.

I also love to color my cake batter using Americolor gel food coloring (I order it on amazon), and used this recipe to make this checkerboard cake.

IMG_7391 (2)

The layers turned out perfectly! Level, delicious, and perfect for stacking!! You can see a full tutorial on exactly how I make the batter below.

The recipe is adapted from Kara’s Couture Cakes, and can be found below.

NOTE: The thing that make this recipe an amazing layer cake recipe (baking flat), cause it to make terrible cupcakes! They stick to liner and don’t rise enough. If you want to make vanilla cupcakes, I highly recommend using my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe.

If you do decide to trim your cake layers once they’re baked, be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart. Below is a full tutorial showing how I trim my layers:

Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword vanilla layer cake recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 36 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 1 seven inch layer cake


  • 3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (416 grams)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar (600 grams)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder (13 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (5 grams)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (226 grams) - 2 sticks
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (9 grams)
  • 1 cup egg whites (or about 7 egg whites) (244 grams)
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature (360 grams)
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil (28 grams)
  • green gel food coloring


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7 inch pans (for taller layers) or 8 inch round pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.
  3. Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.
  4. Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated. Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds. 

  5. Add in a couple squirts of green gel food coloring. Mix the batter on a low speed, scrapping the sides and bottom of the bowl part way through. Mix until the batter is evenly colored.

  6. Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. I like to use a digital kitchen scale to weigh my pans, and ensure they all have the same amount of batter. This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.
  7. Bake for 35-37 minutes if using 8 inch pans, or 37-38 minutes for 7 inch cake pans (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers into the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process.

Recipe Notes

Once the layers have fully cooled, I sometimes like to trim the caramelized bits from the sides of the layers using a serrated knife. While these layers bake pretty flat, sometimes I’ll also trim the top of the layers too if I’m working a super special partnership 🙂



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I work in finance during day, and like to think of myself as a baker by night! Follow me here at, on instagram @chelsweets, and on YouTube ( ) to see my creations :D

500 thoughts on “Best Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe

  1. Hey lovely. Wondering if i can turn this recipe into pistachio one. Cs i saw the pistachio recipe you got but i vsmt find pistachio pudding . Thanks heaps x

  2. Hi
    Can’t wait to try your recipe!
    Small question- their is no bettermilk in my country, is there enything I can put instead that would bring the same result?

  3. I made your recipe and it was a huge success. One thing that I could not figure out was after taking the cakes out of the freezer (just overnight), did I let them reach room temp first or frost right away. I let them reach room temp but they were very sticky. I had a hard time frosting them without pieces of cake mixing into the frosting. Fortunately it was a pink flamingo cake, so the bits of pink cake looked nice with the white frosting, but wanted to know your trick to avoid cake pieces in the frosting. Thanks!

    1. I only let them thaw for about 20 minutes before I decorate them! they’re easier to frost when they’re chilled!!

  4. Hi, I’m doing a wedding cake soon and they want a 1/2 sheet cake also. Do you happen to have measurements for a 1/2 sheet cake for your vanilla cake batter?

  5. I make this cake often and everyone loves it! Love how even it bakes! I’ve been asked to do a sheet cake, do you know if this will work or how many batches I’d need? Thanks!

    1. def! it can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a month, or the freezer for several months! just give it a good stir once it’s back at room temp <3

      1. Thank you for your replies!
        Just one more question, with 10 inch pan how long should I bake for?

      2. I think I usually bake them for 40-45 mins, with a flower nail inserted in the center to help them bake more evenly!

  6. Please Help Me!!!, This cake is awesome!!!, i have a request to make a cake using a 11×15 inch pan, they would like it two layers. I would like to make two flat layers instead of making a large cake and then torte it in half. How may cups of batter should i use or do you suggest making batter x 1-1/2 or x 2 for each layer. please help me

    1. I don’t really look at it as cups of batter, I more so consider how many batches of batter I need to fill the pan to the right height! One batch makes 2 layers that are 1 inch tall in 9×13 inch pans, so I think you’d need at least 1.5 batches of my cake batter for your size of pans.

  7. I want to decorate my cake like this with the pink do you have a video to that ? Also for the icing, how to make it

  8. I so want to make your recipe! But I live in a high altitude area (6000 ft) and I have never had luck with anything but boxed mixes 🙁 and I would like to make a cake from scratch! Any advice on how to keep it from sinking in the middle when it bakes? I usually use 8 inch rounds. Thanks!!

    1. I’ve actually heard my recipe works great at high altitude! So this should be good to use as is, without modification!

  9. Ni Chelsea; Is 3 1/2 of flour to 3 cups or sugar right ? More sugar in weight Tham flour; is this ratio correct?
    Thank you un advanced

  10. Hi, I’m attempting to make this cake next week for my son’s 1st birthday. I had a question about the baking time. Is the 35-37mins for baking all 4 layers at the same time? Or should the time be reduced if I’m baking 2 at a time or individually (I only have 1 cake pan!).

    1. Yes, I bake all 4 layers at the same time! I’ve honestly never baked only 2 at a time or individually, so i’m not sure! I’d just keep an eye on the first layer, and test is a few minutes before you pull it out to ensure it’s not overbaked. Happy baking <3

  11. Hi there, I made this cake and the taste is awesome!! But they fell in the middle. What happened? I am at 6500 ft. What changes should I make ?

  12. Hello, is the baking time of 35-37mins for baking all the layers at the same time? What would it be if I was baking 2 x 8″ cakes at a time as I only have 2 tins.
    Also, what temperature should I use in a fan oven?

  13. Hello would this recipe work well if I used mini Bundt pans? Or should I use your cupcake recipe?

  14. Hello, how much batter would be needed for four 9inch round 2.5 inch deep cake pans, and how many cups per pan to have them come out even. Thank you 🙂

    1. I don’t really look at things by cups of batter! but one batch of my vanilla cake batter makes 2 nine inch layers that are about 1 inch tall once baked! I make sure I have the same amount of batter in my pans by weighing them. It’s much easier than dealing with cups! 🙂

  15. Hello Chelsweets ,
    Love your cakes , I decided to give your vanilla cake recipe a try i made 2 batches and both batches the batter curdled im not sure what im doing wrong i still put in the oven and they came out good but when i seen that i thought they would not bake correctly. Im not happy with how the batter looked so i know im doing something wrong just not sure what it is do the eggwhites need to be room temp as well , im thinking it was buttermilk because it happend after adding the buttermilk each time ?

    1. my batter sometimes will separate a bit if it sits out for a while, but normally is pretty smooth when I make it! Yes, all the ingredients should be at room temp, to help them mix together better.

  16. I LOVE watching your vids and have learned so much from you… so thank you!! A question on this… if I only have two pans should I leave the remaining batter to be used out at room temp or put it into the fridge? Also, do you freeze after baking and then again after a crumb coat? Thank you in advance for your help 🙂

    1. You can leave the remaining batter out at room temp, as long as you plan to use it right after the first wave of layers bake. I do freeze the layers once they’re baked, and freeze the crumb coated cake for a bout 5 minutes, to help it firm up. Hope that helps, happy baking!

    1. I’ve never actually weighed a finished cake! Do you mean how much does one batch of batter make in grams?

  17. Hi Chels, sometimes i have orders for two or three cakes for the week, I would like to know if i make my cakes say on a monday for the order on say saturday and sunday will it be ok to bake them a week ahead, wrap will good and freeze until the next week for decorating? How far in advance can i make my cakes and freeze if using your recipe, it is sooo!!!!!Awesome. Thank YOu

  18. Hi I’m making a wedding cake, and my usual batter recipe is too moist, I’ve come across lots of recipes but yours looks fab and I’m going to try it this weekend. I’m making 12” 10” 8” and 6” layers and I’m super confused as to how much batter I should use in each. I’m only working with one of each size tin also so going to make different sizes at the same time, hope this makes sense. Thanks in advance 🙂

    1. i’d use the area of a circle to calculate it (pie x radius squared)! if you know that one batch of batter makes 4 7 inch cake layers that are 1 inch (once leveled), you know one batch of batter makes about 154 square inches. You can then calculate the total area of each tier, and then determine how many batches of batter you will need 🙂 hope that helps, happy baking!

  19. Hi Chelsey! I need to make a cake that needs 6 inch layers. Have you used this recipe for 6 inch pans? If so how long do you think I should bake them for and how many pans did one batch fill? Thank you for this recipe, can’t wait to try it!

  20. Have you ever used the Wilton cake strips to avoid the cake carmelization along the edges? Did you have to extend the bake time?

    1. I have, and I didn’t really find they helped that much! I didn’t need to extend the bake time when I did though!

  21. Hi ther! Just wondering if you could do this cake gluten free? What would you use as your substitute?

    1. gluten free baking is always such a challenge! I actually have one gluten free cake recipe up which i recommend using instead!

  22. Hi! If i want to make just one 9 x 13 in sheet cake, do I just half the recipe? How about the baking time? Thanks!

    1. exactly! I’d bake it for 35- 40 minutes, and add a flower nail or two to the center to help it bake more evenly and quickly.

  23. I love your stuff; I am doing a semi naked cake for a wedding Saturday, baking them off today… can you give me advice on how to plan out and freeze, I was thinking to frost and stuff tomorrow and let it freeze, the venue is outdoor and I’m afraid it will melt. With that said, I don’t know if naked cakes sweat like traditional buttercream cakes do? Help, lol.

    1. They will sweat too. I do NOT recommend freezing it! It will increase the temperature shock once the cake is outside, and cause tons of condensation. I’d say just chill the cake in the fridge once it’s made! You can def make it in advance. Hope that helps!!

  24. Hi – I’m making 4 layers of 12inch x 2inch round cakes – how many batches of your cakes would I need? I also suck at math so I’m sure I’d miscalculate what I need lol

    1. I wouldn’t recommend it!! If you pour out the amount you need and let it sit for about 30 minutes, it’ll warm up pretty quickly! I’d recommend doing it closer to when you plan to bake the cake <3

  25. I made his tonight and it was super good but tastes like corn bread? What did I do wrong, any ideas? Thanks! Love you and you’ve taught me so flipping much!

    1. interesting!! maybe it’s the brand of flour you’re using?? It will have a bit of a tang from the buttermilk, but def shouldn’t taste like cornbread 😛

  26. Hello! I am from the UK and we typically use caster sugar for baking as it is a finer sugar. UK granulated is normally used to sweeten tea or coffee. My understanding is that American granulated sugar is typically finer than UK granulated sugar…which brings me to my question. As I am in the UK, should I be using caster sugar instead of granulated sugar for this recipe? I’m concerned that it will influence the texture of the sponge. Thank you!

    1. I didn’t even consuder this, I’m in Australia and made this last week using caster sugar. The cake had a lovely, fluffy texture

    2. I didn’t know that!! I honestly have no idea which would be better to use, but I think as long as you weight it out and are using the right amount, it should turn out fine with either! 🙂

  27. Hi, I love all your videos and recipes, does it matter if a used low fat buttermilk I couldn’t find any other in the supermarket.

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