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!!! If you want to see a full tutorial on how I make the batter, click here.

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

Vanilla Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cup (416 grams) all purpose flour
  • 3 cups (600 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp (13 grams) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 grams) salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter or 2 sticks (226 grams), room temperature
  • 2 tsp. (9 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup egg whites (244 grams) – about 7 large egg whites; I use egg whites from the carton to avoid wasting egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 grams) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7” (for taller layers) or 8″ round pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

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.

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.

Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans. 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.

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 🙂 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.

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. The layers turned out perfectly! Level, delicious, and perfect for stacking!!

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285 thoughts on “Best Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe”

      1. Would you add your choc recipe to your vanilla? Or the other way around? Youre choc recipe is more liquid than the vanilla-Im just concerned it wont look right- thank you for your help! Love your site and ig!!

  1. I am looking for a good yellow cake to use for decorating and I LOVE tall cakes. However, I struggle with the outside rim baking before the middle, resulting in a dry cake. I usally put simple syrup on my cakes but I really want to figure out how to fix this issue. Do you have any tips on how to bake thick cake layers without them drying out? Thanks!

    1. it really comes down to the cake recipe you’re using! No matter what, the sides of a cake layer will always bake first! but if the cake is dry and it’s a sponge cake base, simple syrup is a great way to add moisture! I don’t add simple syrup to mine, as it’s a butter cake base that’s pretty moist and is denser than a sponge cake!

  2. I love your cakes!!! I’ve learned most of what I know from you :). I’m baking a cake for 40 people to be served at a restaurant . Advice on how big and how many layers?

    1. Oh geeze! really depends on your expected serving sizes! I’d make two batches of this cake batter, and that should feed 40! You can either make 10 inch cake layers, or do a 2 tiered cake! Best of luck, and happy baking ❤

      1. Thanks Chelsey 🙂 I just pulled out my 10 in baking pans before i read your response. About to start. I’m thinking of doing 4 layers of 10in cake using 2 batches of this recipe?

  3. Can I only make a two layer cake with this recipe? Just starting with the whole learning how to decorate cakes and would like to possibly start small.

  4. I’m looking for a recipe for a coconut cake and wondered if I could adapt your vanilla cake recipe as I use this all the time and love it – it also stands decorating with fondant… what would you recommend?

  5. I love the flavor so much, and the recipe was so easy, but I found my first attempt to be too dense(almost snapped my cake leveler). Is there any way you’d recommend to make it less dense?

  6. I have made this cake several times and like it but was wondering about the amount of sugar. I’ve never made a recipe that had almost equal amounts of flour and sugar. 3 cups of sugar sounds high..have you ever tried it with less?

  7. Is there a way I can turn this into a strawberry champagne cake? Sub in gelatin or puree somewhere for the strawberry and champagne for liquid?

    1. exactly! i’d swap mayb 3/4 of a cup of buttermilk for champagne, add in a packet of strawberry jello in place of about 1/2 cup of sugar, and add in a tiny bit of strawberry puree! The champagne can make the batter curdle initially, but it will come back together as you stir 🙂

  8. Love this recipe! Nice even layers ! I’ve made it before in 8 inch pans. If I bake this recipe in 4 x 6inch pans do you think it’ll be okay?? I’ll bake them for longer at 320degrees.

  9. Hi Chelsweets! 🙂
    I quartered this recipe so I could test it out as I am doing a wedding cake for my brother-in-law and his wife. They requested a semi-naked style cake and you have wonderful recipes and tutorials for this! When I baked it, the sides failed to get brown. Maybe it’s because I quartered it and it’s not as accurate? I used an 8″ Nordic ware cake pan. Do you think I should try using a 7″ like you do and possibly just halfing the recipe?

    1. That’s crazy, I’ve never had that happen before! Did you bake then for the full 35 minutes?? I’ve never quartered the recipe, but I have halved it and it worked fine! So maybe try that next, hopefully it’ll work! Happy baking 🙂

      1. Thank you!! It carved so well for the mermaid tail and I have an order for a snook shaped cake 😂

  10. I am using 10″ x 2″ pans. Do I need to increase the batter that I make for this size pan? In other words, do I need more than 1 recipe for 2 of these pans?

  11. Hi! I was wondering how many batches of your cake recipe you typically use. Your cakes seem to always be 4 layers and a decent height. 8” pans I’m assuming?

  12. Hi,
    This recipe sounds delicious, thanks for sharing it. Any idea on how it’ll hold up as a 3-tier semi naked cake? I’ll make a 6″, 8″, and 10″ x 4″ height tiers, but want to make sure that the weight will hold up using the standard wooden dowels and cakeboards for support.

      1. I did a test run on this cake today and I can’t express how impressed I am. The cake looks perfect, crusts beautifully, and it’s the best I’ve ever tasted! I’m over the moon. My husband also loved it. THANK YOU so much Chelsweets!

  13. Hi! I am planning to use your recipe, but instead of 8″ pans I’m going to be using 9″. Will it still make 4 layers and will the temp and cook time need to be adjusted? Thanks!

  14. Hi !
    first i want to thank you for all your recipes and your teaching methods..
    i want to ask can i use regular milk instead of the buttermilk in the (BEST VANILLA LAYER CAKE RECIPE)

  15. Hi!! I was wondering what the adjustments would be for high altitude? I’m at about 4500 and newly here from the ocean so I’m finding all my recipes need various tweeking…

    1. I’ve actually heard that this recipe works well at high elevations! I would try it as is! it’s a buttermilk cake recipe so it’s on the denser side of the cake spectrum.

  16. I made a version of the recipe with all ingredients halved:
    • 1.5 cups + 2tbsp all-purpose flour
    • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
    • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt

    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter or 1 sticks, room temperature

    • 1/2 cup egg whites

    • 3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 2 tbsp cup vegetable oil

  17. Hi just found your site, I love, love the site!!!!!, I only have 2 7-inch pans, would it be better for me to invest in buying 2 more 7-inch pans and bake all 4 layers at one time? can i reserve the cake batter for the other 2 layers while the first 2 layers are baking?

      1. Thanks!!!!, i made the cake for my daughters birthday, i made the batter according to the recipe. I divided it in two 9-inch pans and baked for about 5-8 minutes longer, came out perfect. Then I half the second batter i made and it was just enough for a single layer, baked the same way. This cake was a HUGE HIT!!!!, THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. no! It bakes very flat, which is great for making layer cake, but terrible for cupcakes. It also sticks to the liners. I have a vanilla cupcake recipe up that’s great, and I recommend using that instead 🙂

  18. I’m going to be making BB8 cake. I have a 13 inch round and 10 inch round. Will 2 batches of your white cake work? They will be 1 layer cakes. I think I will need 16 cups of batter. Thank you!

    1. 1 batch of my cake batter makes 4, 8 inch layers that are about 1 inch tall, so based on the area of a circle (pie x radius squared), I think you’d need closer to 4 batches!! 13 inch layers are huge!

  19. Me again!

    Do you think this cake would serve well as a base for a key lime pie flavored cake?

    Adding key lime juice and zest?

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