Marble Cake Recipe

You’ve been asking me for my marble cake recipe for a while, and I’m finally getting around to it!

While I love to come up with my own ideas for cakes, I also love hearing your suggestions. At the end of the day, I want to make what you want to see!! 

My marble cake layer, ready to be frosted!!

Marble Cake vs. Marbled Cake

On a separate note, I always thought these were called marbled cake layers. I initially titled this post marbled layer cake recipe.

Of course AFTER I created my thumb nails and added text to my videos, google informed me that most people actually call them MARBLE cake layers. Womp womp! Are you team marbled or marble?

swirling my marble cake layer with a chocolate fudge ripple

One Batter, Two Flavors!!

There was a reason I put off sharing this marble cake recipe for so long. I was embarrassed to say  that in the past, I used to just make a half batch of both my vanilla cake batter and my chocolate cake batter

It was SO much extra work!! This meant making two sets of batter, which also meant twice the time commitment, twice the dishes, twice the headache!!

My vanilla and chocolate layer cake recipes are super similar. In fact the main difference is that in my chocolate cake recipe, I swap out some of the flour for baking cocoa.

With that in mind, I’ve adjusted this recipe so that you only have to make one base batch of batter. After making the vanilla cake batter, you can set aside half of it to make the chocolate batter.

All you have to do mix in a few additional ingredients. Now you can forget about the extra dishes, and enjoy the cake once it’s made!

Marble cake layers ready to go into the oven!

The Added Bonus: A Fudge Swirl

If you want to up the ante, I also included a chocolaty fudge swirl! This is totally optional, but is such a pleasant surprise when you bite into this cake.

It also bakes up beautifully, almost like it dissolves into the cake layers as they bake. The fudge ripple adds a rich and chocolatey flavor into each bite!

I’m also big on aesthetics. The melted chocolate swirled into the batter looks BEAUTIFUL! Not only is it worth adding for the taste, it also creates a visually stunning look.

How To Make Marble Cake Layers

Once both cake batters (and the optional chocolate fudge ripple) are made, the real fun starts.

Alternate spoonfuls of vanilla and chocolate cake batter into your pans. Continue until you’ve evenly distributed the batter between the pans.

adding vanilla and chocolate batter into the pan to create my marble cake layers

TIP: It’s much easier to make sure your pans have the same amounts of cake batter if you add the spoonfuls of batter in rounds. Add a spoonful of vanilla to each pan, then a spoonful of chocolate to each pan, and repeat until you’ve used all your batter.

Once you’ve used all your batter, use a spoon to add small drops of the chocolate fudge mixture on top of the cake batter.

Be sure the chocolate drops are relatively spread out. This will prevent them from completely covering the cake batter when swirled.

You want to be able to see each different component in these cake layers once they’re baked!!

adding chocolate fudge drops into my marble cake recipe

Then drag a small offset spatula or butter knife through the batter to create lines that are both horizontal and vertical.

Make sure your offset spatula is lightly touching the bottom of the pan. This helps make sure you’re swirling the batter throughout the layer, and not just on the top.

Swirling together the vanilla and chocolate cake batter to create my marble cake layers

Try to create the lines using one continuous motion, going up and down, and then side to side.

Repeat with remaining cake layers. Then pop the layers into the preheated oven for 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cake Assembly and Decoration

This marble cake recipe is honestly so delicious, it almost doesn’t need frosting. ALMOST.

While I am guilty of eating cake tops plain while I level my cakes, this cake is taken to the next level with my fudgy chocolate buttercream recipe.

My chocolate buttercream recipe uses both cocoa and melted dark chocolate, and boy is it tasty.

adding ripple frosting to my marble cake

If you so chose, the last step is to cover these layers with your favorite buttercream frosting on them, and enjoy!

While I chose to chocolate buttercream with my marble cake this time, I think cream cheese frosting would also taste great!

I used three different types of buttercream to create a fun squiggly pattern.

It was the only design that seemed to fit a marble cake in my mind. This is definitely a buttercream intensive design, but it is so fun to make.

A massive slice of my delicious marble cake recipe

Recipe Notes

  • If you want to make this cake recipe with six-inch cake layers, you can half this recipe to make three, six-inch cake layers
  • You can always make your own buttermilk if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, or if they don’t sell it where you live! Simply add 1 Tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of whole milk
  • You can also swap out the buttermilk for whole milk, if you prefer to bake milk
  • These layers bake relatively flat, but you can also trim and level them with a serrated knife if desired.

If you try this marble cake recipe, please tag me @chelsweets. Also use the #chelsweets, so I can see your beautiful creations!!

Yield: 30 servings

Marble Cake Recipe

Marble Cake Recipe

This marble cake recipe uses one batter to make both the vanilla and chocolate batter, which are swirled with a fudge ripple! It is simply delicious!!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes

Ingredients

Vanilla Cake Recipe*

  • 3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (390 grams)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar (600 grams)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder (10 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)
  • *additional ingredients for the chocolate cake are listed below

Additional Ingredients: (to be added after the vanilla cake batter is made, to change it into chocolate batter)

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
  • 1/4 cup egg whites (60 grams, or 2 egg whites)
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (45 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder (2 grams)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (1 gram)

Chocolate Fudge Swirl:

  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips (170 grams)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (29 grams)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature (60 grams)

Buttercream Frosting

  • 3 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (650 grams)
  • 12 cups powdered sugar (1360 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (or whipping cream) (60 grams)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract (18 grams)
  • 1 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (85 grams)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips, melted and cooled (175 grams, or 6oz)

Instructions

Marble Cake Layers:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four eight-inch pans pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Begin by making the vanilla cake batter. 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. Pour half of the batter into a separate bowl (roughly 950 grams), and set aside.
  6. Next, convert the vanilla batter into chocolate cake batter. Mix the additional 1/3 cup baking cocoa, 1/4 sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp baking powder into the remaining batter.
  7. Add the additional 1/4 cup egg whites, and 1/4 cup buttermilk, and mix on a low speed until smooth.
  8. If desired, make the chocolate fudge swirl. Combine the chocolate chips, butter, and heavy cream into a heatproof bowl. Heat in two 30-second intervals, stirring in between. Allow the mixture to sit for 1 minute, then stir until smooth and set aside to cool.
  9. Alternate spoonfuls of chocolate and vanilla cake batter into the prepared cake pans, filling them roughly one inch high with batter (I like to use a digital kitchen scale to make sure each pan has the same amount of batter).
  10. Add small drops (about one inch in diameter) of the chocolate swirl on top of the cake batter, then drag a small offset spatula or butter knife through the batter in horizontal and vertical lines to create a marbled patter.
  11. Bake for 32-35 minutes (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.
  12. If desired, level the cakes with a serrated knife once they're fully cooled.

Buttercream Frosting:

  1. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream.
  2. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. 
  3. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 Tbsp at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
  4. Place half of the buttercream into a seperate bowl. Mix in 1/2 cup of baking cocoa, and the melted chocolate chips. This will be used to fill the cake, and will be the darkest buttercream of the squiggles. Place in a large piping bag.
  5. With the remaining vanilla buttercream, place half of the into another large piping bag.
  6. Color the rest of the frosting with the other 1/2 cup of baking cocoa, to create a light brown colored frosting. Place in a large piping bag.

To Assemble The Cake

  1. Once all the different components of this cake are ready, begin to assemble the cake!
  2. Stack the cake layers on a grease proof, cardboard cake round.
  3. Spread a thin dab of buttercream on the center of the board, to help your cake layer stay in place.
  4. Next, center the first cake layer the cake board.
  5. Spread an even layer of the dark chocolate buttercream onto the cake layer. Repeat with remaining cake layers.
  6. Place the top cake layer upside down. Cover the cake in a thin layer of frosting, and smooth using a bench scraper. Chill the cake in the freezer for about 5 minutes, until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  7. Pipe squiggly lines of buttercream around the cake, alternating between the vanilla, chocolate, and dark chocolate buttercream.

Nutrition Information

Yield

30

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 780 Total Fat 40g Saturated Fat 24g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 13g Cholesterol 92mg Sodium 331mg Carbohydrates 104g Fiber 2g Sugar 86g Protein 6g

75 thoughts on “Marble Cake Recipe

  1. Thanks sharing the tweaked Marble Layer Cake and making it easier to recreate your marbleized design.You usually show how to assemble the layers and decorate it. I like how the finished cake look in the last photo and wonder if you have a video of how.

    1. I do!! I decided to split it up into two separate videos, just because it was too long! I’ll be sharing the video of the assembly on the cake on youtube, and I can definitely add some more photos to this post 🙂

  2. Lately my marble has been dry am excited to try this. wondering it’s not too chocolaty with the added chocolate chips ? thanks

    1. This is going to be a perfect recipe for you then!! I loved the chocolate swirl, but I’m also a huge chocolate fan! You can definitely skip the chocolate fudge swirl if you think it’ll be too much for your taste ??

  3. Hi Chels! I need to make Character cake and I know I’m going to need to use a 9×13 pan but I dont want super thin layers because I’m going to need to carve. Should I double this recipe and do it in one 9×13 pan or double it and bake in two 9×13 pans and then sandwich then together?

    1. I usually use one batch to make two 9×13 inch cake layers, and sandwich them together! Each layer ends up being about 1 inch tall. If you want them thicker than that you can definitely make 1.5 or 2 batches! Just be sure to use flower nail (placed upside-down in the center of the pan) to help them bake evenly!

    2. Really wanting to make this!! On your ingredients you list an additional 1/2 tsp baking powder but in the directions you say baking soda. Which is it supposed to be.

  4. Hello ? I would love to try this recipe for my daughters birthday. I would be doing a 4 layer cake using 8″ round pans. If I doubled the recipe would this be adequate? Thank you!

    1. If you double it you’re going to have a lot of extra batter! I would recommend making 1.5 batches to make 4, 8-inch cakes layers <3

  5. Hi
    I want to make this cake but really unsure of the measurements I always understood flour to weigh 120g and butter 113g. So 3 1/4 cups flour 390 g but your measurements sugest 3 1/2 cups and a half a stick of butter weighs 113g but your measure sugests 1/4 cup im probably wrong no great math wiz here but if you could help would love to make this cake

  6. Heyyyy…just tried the cake without the fudge swirl. It came out great except for the cracked top. Can you tell me what causes cracked cake tops?

    1. sometimes that can happen if your layers are placed too high in your oven! maybe try placing them on a lower baking rack in the future <3

  7. Hi Chelsea, you mention room temp for butter and buttermilk. Should egg whites be room temp as well? Look forward to making this cake!!

  8. Hi! i tried this recipe for an Easter cake and everyone loved it! I made half of the recipe for 3- 6 in layer cakes.

    Now I want to make it for my sons birthday. I need to fill 2- 10″ round pans. Do you know how much of the batter I should make? Thanks so much!

  9. Hello. Was looking for a good marble cake recipe and i think that i have found it. Instead of baking them in layers i want to bake a deep cake. Could you suggest what size cake tin would i should use for this amount of batter. Also would i need to alter the oven temp and baking time? Sorry for the problem..Thanks.

    1. I never bake in deep baking pans, so sadly i’m not sure! this is a butter cake, not a sponge cake, so it doesn’t bake and tort the same way a sponge cake would! If possible, I’d recommend baking multiple layers in shallower pans <3

    1. It will change the texture of the vanilla cake a bit, and cause it to bake a bit differently! It should still turn out though, I’d recommend adding maybe 1/3 cup of cream peanut butter to the batter if you plan to try it 🙂 Add the peanut butter when you add the butter!

  10. Hi Chels! I also need to make a 9 x 13 but would prefer not to have two thin layers. Could this be baked in a single 9 x 13 pan and if so, for about how long?

    1. This recipe would make two 9×13 inch layers, that would be about 1 inch tall! I’ve done it before, and stacked them, and it’s been great! if you were to put all the batter in one pan, I’m worried it would overflow in the oven, and would take forever to bake! regardless of which method you do, be sure to use flower nails to help the sheet cakes bake more quickly and evenly <3 It’s a life saver!!!

  11. Hi Chelsey! I would like to use this recipe for a two tier (6″ and 8″) cake that is three layers for each tier, would I do a recipe and a half in order to make this? Thank you!

    1. If you plan to do 3 layers in each tier, I’d say 1 1/2 batches should be about right 🙂 happy baking Sam!

  12. Hi Chels! I am interested in making this cake with 2 9-inch pans instead of 4 8-inch pans. Do you think cutting the recipe in half would yield enough batter? Or should I maybe use 75% of the original recipe?

  13. Hello! I’ve made this recipe before, and my family and I absolutely love it! I want to make marble cupcakes, would this recipe work for cupcakes? Thanks!

    1. Hi Erica!! so happy to hear you and your family love this recipe! I haven’t tried making cupcakes with it, so I’m not quite sure! my cake recipes sometimes stick to the liners when people try to make them into cupcakes, so that would be my only concern!

    1. yup! This recipe makes more batter than my normal cake recipes, since you end up adding more ingredients to make the chocolate batter 🙂

  14. This is a great recipe, thank you. I am making a bear cake for my nephew and was wondering if this would be a good recipe for carving?

    1. I’m so happy to hear that! If the cake layers are chilled (I pop mine in the freezer for about 20 minutes), you can carve them with a serrated knife! Just be super gentle 🙂

    1. Hi Susan! A cake can last up to a week in the fridge once it’s frosted! or several weeks if you keep it in the freeze <3

  15. Well I finished making the cakes and noticed the oil still on the counter. I don’t know if you know but in the video you didn’t add the oil. I was following along so I didn’t check the directions. The only thing I looked at was for the chocolate ingredients because you didn’t mention how much of a few things. I guess I learned my lesson. You might want to mention it in your video. I pulled them out of the oven and tried a bite. Definitely doesn’t taste right and it’s for my nephews bday tomorrow. I guess I’ll have to go buy a cake.

    1. Sadly I can’t change that video since it’s already been uploaded and shared! But to be honest, it doesn’t really change the taste at all! I think it makes the texture a tiny bit fluffier, which is why it’s in the recipe. But not including 1/8 of a cup of vegetable oil in that much batter isn’t going to ruin your cake. I don’t include it sometimes when I run out of it, and it still tastes great. if your cake didn’t turn out, something else must have gone wrong. I’m sorry this didn’t work for you!

  16. Hi Chelsey! I will be trying out this recipe tonight and wanted to know if I could use the chocolate fudge mixture to make drips around the top of the decorated cake? Thanks!!

  17. I am in LOVE with this recipe! I tried it for the first time last week and it was a huge hit at the party I brought it to. When I took the last leftover pieces home for my family to taste, they were begging me to make it again for our family cottage weekend. Just baked it again last night (but this time in two 9″ pans) and it came out incredible once again. Thank you so much Chelsey – this is by far the best recipe I have ever tried and will be my new go-to when I want to impress!!

  18. hi im making this cake for may daughters brithday. i only have 2 cake tins.. can i bake 2 and then the second 2 after the first are cooked?

    1. You definitely can Shayla! Leave the batter out at room temp, and bake them as soon as the other layers are done <3

  19. Hi! can the fudge swirl be made with Nutella or some sort of hazelnut chocolate spread? Am Making a cake for a Nutella lover and think would look so cute!

    1. Sadly I haven’t with this specific recipe, but based on the volume of the batter I think it would make at least 3 dozen!! You should bake them at 350 degrees, and I’d guess they’ll take 18-20 minutes to bake.

  20. Far too sweet! Your conversion of 3 cups sugar being 600g is surely wrong if 3.25 cups flour is 426g? Anyways! Too sweet, but great otherwise.

    1. A US cup of granulated sugar is 200 grams, so three cups weigh 600 grams. You can try adding less granulated sugar next time if it seemed too sweet for your palette.

  21. Absolutely love your recipes! I’ve made a few before and its always a hit! Question, for the buttercream for the marbled cake, would it still taste well if milk chocolate chips were used rather than dark? I’m planning to make a Spider-man cake for my brothers birthday tomorrow and have to try this recipe! But he’s not a huge dark chocolate fan. Or does it not have that dark chocolatey taste?

    Thank you!

    1. Thanks Marissa! The frosting will taste great with milk or dark chocolate in it!! I’ve made it both ways, and both are great! It really just comes down to your preferences, so if you’re a milk chocolate gal (or your brother loves milk chocolate!)), def use milk chocolate!!! 🙂

  22. This looks beautiful but I am concerned with how sweet it will be. What kind of frosting do you recommend to keep the sweetness down?

  23. GM Chelsweets, I have reviewed your information of how to fill cake pans. My question is my cake pans are 3 inches deep so I end up measuring my batter most times. So should I use 1.5 the batter for each 8 inch pan and the whole batter for my 6 inch pan? Also can I substitute the oil for butter?

    1. Good morning! This recipe is formulated to use butter, so I’d recommend using that! i’ve never tried using oil, so I’m not sure if that would work. If you try it, please let me know!

      One batch of batter makes about 7 cups, so if you want to make 3, 8-inch cake layers like the recipe recommends, you should add about 2 1/3 cups of batter to each one. Hope that helps!

  24. I have a question regarding baking powder measurements. I usually weigh my ingredients but then check my measuring spoons just to see how accurate they are. I used measuring spoons for the 2.5 t of baking powder but that ended up being 13 grams instead of 10. I just want to make sure that the 10 grams is what you used and if so will back off on my measuring spoons. Three grams off can make a difference.

    Thank you.

  25. Hi Chelsweets!

    I have a client that is requesting a sugar free marbled cake and your recipe was the first one I thought of. Would this recipe work with a sugar free substitute? How would I go about using it? It will be a 2 tiered cake. Thank you!

    1. Hi Jocelyn! I honestly have never tried making a cake with sugar substitute, so sadly I have no clue!! I am so sorry :/

      But I’m sending you all the good cake juju as you navigate that cake order!! <3

Let me know what you think!