Cake Portion Guide

image of cake portion guide

This cake portion guide is exactly what you need if you’re making a cake for an event or a wedding. While the cake flavor and decoration are important components of a cake, one of the most fundamental aspects of a cake is its size!

When making a cake from scratch for an important event, it’s crucial that it has the right number of servings.

You want make sure every guest gets a slice. That’s where this cake portion guide comes into play.

image of a simple rustic wedding cake decorated with fresh flowers

What Is Considered A Serving Of Cake??

Throughout this post I refer to a serving of cake.

Generally, I mean a slice of cake that is 4 inches tall, 1 inch wide, and 2 inches in length. This is the standard size of a slice of wedding cake.

This post isn’t just about wedding cakes though. It’s also for cakes to be served at parties or events.

image of properly cut slices of wedding cake, in the standard size of 4 inches tall, 1 inch wide, 2 inches deep.

Strangely enough, the size of a cake serving for a wedding is smaller than a party cake serving! Cakes cut for parties are normally 1.5 inches wide.

While this is a small difference in size, it’s important to note that a slice of cake at a party is bigger.

This can impact the number of servings included below. To be consistent, I’m going to be referring to wedding cake portions throughout this post.

Impact Of Cake Height On Number of Servings

The standard size of a cake slice is definitely the golden standard.

However, my vanilla cake recipe makes a 7 inch layer cake that is way taller than 4 inches. In general, tall layer cakes have increased in popularity and are quite common nowadays.

This can make cutting and serving a cake a lot more challenging. The height of a cake can be influenced by a lot of factors.

It’s based on the number of cake layers used, the height of the cake layers, and the amount of buttercream between each layer.

Photo of a three tiered candy drip cake

If I make a cake taller than 7 inches, I cut it into thin slices (about 1 inch wide).

Then I cut each slice in half, horizontally. This means that out of each slice I make, I create 2 servings.

For tall cakes, I double the servings shown below, since those are based on a shorter cake (4 inches).

When trying to determine the right size of cake to make based on the numbers below, please refer to the far right column.

image of assembling a tiered cake  made as part of a cake portion guide to show how many people this cake will feed

Standard Layer Cake Servings

Once you know the number of servings you need, you can start to think about what size of cake you should make.

If you don’t plan to make a tiered cake, things are quite a bit easier.

image of funfetti cake slices, cut and surrounded by pink frosting and rainbow sprinkles

A single-tiered layer cake has set number of servings. However, this can vary based on the shape of the cake.

For example, a square 8 inch cake will have more servings than a round 8 inch cake.

Round and square cakes are by far the most common shapes. With that in mind, I chose to focus on these shapes in the diagram below. It includes the number of portions, based on the cake layer diameter:

image of cake portion guide for square and round cakes

If you want to make a cake that is a different shape, Wilton has a great chart that shares the serving sizes of a variety of shaped cakes.

Tiered Cake Servings

If you need to feed a large number of people, you may need to make a tiered cake. Tiered cakes have a lot more variety and flexibility in their number of servings.

Different sized tiers vary in serving size, and you can combine them in a ton of ways.

Photo of four tiered Tropical Inspired floral wedding cake

In the past, I’ve made a tiered cake with 10 inch, 8 inch, 6 inch, and 4 inch tiers that fed 84 people.

I’ve also made a cake with 12 inch, 9 inch, and 6 inch tiers that fed 100 people.

While we’re on the topic of different sized tiers, I have a wonderful cake batter calculator that helps you know exactly how much batter you need for different sized cake layers and tiers.

Part of picking the right size of cake comes down to having the right number of servings, but other factors can come into play. This decision can also be influenced by the look you’re after.

Some people want a specific number of tiers, or a cake design that requires extra space between each tier to add decorations.

Photo of a three tiered semi naked wedding cake

For example, sometimes I add fresh flowers to my tiered wedding cakes. When doing this, I like to have at least a 3-inch variance in the size of each tier (i.e. 12 inch, 9 inch, 6 inch).

This creates a 1.5 inch ledge between the tiers, which leaves me enough room to position and secure the flowers onto the cake.

Cake Portion Guide – Different Sized Tier Combinations

To figure out what size of tiers you should use for a big event or wedding, I highly recommend reviewing a cake portion guide, like this! It shares the number of servings of different sized tiered cakes.

This cake portion guide also shows combinations of different sized tiers, which is extremely helpful.

Image of cake portion guide

It’ll help you see what options you have for however many people you need to feed. This will also help you determine what makes the most sense with the cake design you plan to make.

Keep in mind there are tons of other options for tiered cakes that aren’t included here, so don’t feel limited by this chart! These are simply the most common sized tiered cakes.

photo of chelsey white with her wedding cake sharing how many people it feed in her cake portion guide

Let Me Know What You Think of This Cake Portion Guide

If you are making a tiered cake for the first time, I hope this cake portion guide is helpful. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

Please let me know if you have any questions I didn’t cover, or if you have any other tips or advice that would be helpful.

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95 thoughts on “Cake Portion Guide

  1. What if ur doing cake layers that are shorter than the 4” how would u go about portioning those like for example a 3” or even a 2 1/2” thick layer maybe a 8” round?

    1. I would do the reverse calculation of what I did for the tall cakes! so take half of the normal serving size. You’d probably end up cutting a wider slice!

    2. Really good an detailed article. I’ve struggled with this for a long time. Nowadays i use which does all the calculations. Works quite well.

  2. Your cakes are beautiful you are amazing thank you for the cake chart but still don’t know how to measure the batter how many cups of batter would I need for example for two 9 inch cakes or four 6 inch cakes ?????

    1. I’m working on adding that in, I promise! I usually calculate the amount of batter I need based on the volume of the layer in cubic inches, rather than cups of batter.

  3. I’m thinking of doing my own cake as well for a small crowd. I’m a little scared cause I’m not sure how much cake batter I will need? #loveyourvideos

    1. There are several options for leftover cake batter; 1. Cupcakes, 2. Cakepops or other sweets, 3. Freeze and use another day.

    2. Hi Chelsweets!

      I love your information and videos! So what heights are you cakes usually and what size do you cut them for a wedding?


      1. Thanks Tasha! Each wedding cake is different, based on what the couple wants! When I make tall tiers, they’re usually 6 inches tall. I cut them into slightly shorter than standard sized slices (3 inches tall, 1 inch wide, and 2 inches in length). Hope that helps, happy baking!

  4. I saw your video and I loved how you made it easy, simple and elegant. My only problem is how to calculate the batter for the cake ?!!!! I really struggle with this step. For example , for 8” pan you need 4cups if batter, how do I do it ? Is there is a certain ratio of the egg:butter: flour?! Please let me know how as I don’t want to use cake boxes. My son birthday is coming soon and I’m planning to do 3tier cake. Please let me know the exact amount of batter do I need . Thanks.

    1. I’m actually working on a guide right now that will help you calculate how much batter you need to make certain sized cakes!! stay tuned, hoping to share it later this week 🙂

  5. Thank you so much for this!!! It’s such a huge help! Love your work so much! I’ve been watching your videos for so long and you’ve inspired me to start making cakes and now I’m OBSESSED!!

    1. You have no idea how happy that makes me! my main goal of chelsweets is to inspire others to get in the kitchen and (hopefully) find as much joy as I do 🙂

  6. Just watched your Awesome YouTube video that included instruction to level your cakes. I found that leveling cakes this way is great if you plan to make cake balls!? Yum! But if not, I’ve found this wonderful method for beautifully baked cake layers!!!

    The reason cakes dome is because the outside edges of the cake cook faster than the center causing the cake to bulge in the middle as it bakes.

    As you stated in the video, using a nail helps to direct heat to the center of the cake, which is very important! But to achieve a perfectly baked cake every time it’s equally important to wrap your cake pans! It’s a bit more time consuming, but so very worth the effort!

    Wrapping the cake pan enables the cake to cook evenly around the edges all the way to the center eliminating overcooked edges and domes. No Trimming necessary!
    There’s no waste…PERFECT cakes everytime!


    1) Using a flexible measuring tape, measure the circumference of the cake pan you’re using.
    2) Tear a length of paper towel equal to the length of the circumference.
    3) Tear off a length of foil to match the circumference PLUS 5″.
    4) Lay the foil out on a flat surface.
    5) Fold the paper towel length-wise to a thickness equal to the height of your cake pan. If you’re using a 2″ tall pan you’ll want to fold it 2″ wide or 3″ wide for a 3″ tall pan.
    6) Now dampen the folded paper towel thoroughly. Gently wring out any excess moisture, you don’t want it dripping wet.
    7) Place the folded paper towel on the sheet of foil centering the towel so the ends of the foil can be flattened. Fold the foil around the paper towel forming a long strip.
    8) Wrap the foil around your cake pan, then fold the flattened ends together and crimp the foil to hold it securely around the cake pan. If it slides up and down slightly that’s okay, your cake will still bake perfectly.

    I reuse these strips several times. Just gently unfold the foil and re-dampen the paper towel before reusing.

    Hope this is helpful! Happy Baking!

    1. This has to be the most detailed comment ever!! Thank you for sharing Holly 🙂 I don’t use baking strips on my layers because they don’t really help in my oven (it’s a mini oven, so the pans are right against the sides of my oven), but i do think that this would be helpful to a majority of people, or anyone with a normal sized oven 😛

      1. My cake pans are all 2 inches deep 🙂 I use the fat daddio brand, which I order on Amazon. They’re my favorite! Here’s the link to them, if you want to check them out:

  7. Thank you so much for adding the tall cake column. I love all your videos and I use your vanilla cake recipe for all my orders and everyone loves it! Thank you so much

    1. So happy you found it useful!! I usually don’t, just because my vanilla and chocolate layer cake recipe have great structure and stack really well <3 if you use a softer sponge recipe, you may need to!

  8. Thank you for this great guide! On average how many layers does the guide use? I bake eggless for allergy reasons. So far vanilla cakes don’t come out that well for me, so i’m using a box mix. I need to make a horse cake for 25 people for this weekend, so it needs to be on the taller side. If I make a 8in or 9in cake do you think it should be at least four layers tall? Or what do you recommend?

    1. A standard cake is usually 2 layers tall (4 inches high), but I have a separate section for taller cakes on the side! It sounds like you should use that column if you plan to make a cake that’s 4 layers tall <3

      1. Hi Chelsey, I struggle with how many layers to do per 6 in, 8 in, etc cake. Do you typically do 3 layers and then they come out taller?

  9. Thank you for your helpful posts!
    I am making a 4 tier wedding cake but they require 200 servings. How shall I adjust the cake to serve for 200?
    Thank you xx

    1. I’m definitely no expert, but what I have done before for a large number of servings is to make a “presentation” cake that is exactly the look I want, then make a separate cake that is the same recipe but not fancy decorated. The second cake is big enough to make up the number of serves required. That way you can have a fabulous looking cake without it being too large and difficult to transport etc, and get your number of serves. Once the cake is cut, no one knows that they didn’t get a slice of the presentation cake.

      1. I’ve heard of that method! Some people opt for a dummy cake for decoration, to try to keep costs down! I’ve heard you can even rent them, but i’ve never seen one in real life!

  10. Hi thank you for this video.
    I am making a 4 tier standard wedding cake but would need to feed 200 guests. What option do I have pls?

  11. How many 12” 9” and 6” layers do I need to bake of each? I’m making a 3 tier cake. What is “typical”?

    1. I usually do 3 layers! Traditional wedding cakes are 2 layers, and some people even do 4 layers for taller cakes.

  12. For tiered cakes, is it preferable to make a 3 inch layer and cut into 2 pieces for frosting in between, or is it better to make a thinner cake (e.g. 1.5″ but 2 cakes)? I’m wondering if it makes a difference in the softness and moistness of the cake doing it one way or the other?

    Love the cakes and the insight. thank you!

    1. I prefer thinner cake layers, so that there’s more frosting between the layers! But that’s just me 🙂

  13. I want to know, why does my cakes bulge out on the sides and how can I create a nice round cake that doesn’t bulge on the sides?

    1. Hi Aurelia,

      There are a few things that can cause bubbles or bulging sides in cakes, including the following:
      1. The cake layers haven’t been leveled, which can cause air to get trapped between the layers. Using leveled cake layers helps avoid this.
      2. Your buttercream might be too thin. You really need to use stiff buttercream. Are you using my buttercream recipe?
      3. You need to allow time for settling. After torting and filling, allow to settle for a couple hours, and preferably overnight. You can also add a weight the cake once it’s crumb coated (like a pan or heavy pot). That speeds up the settling time!

      Usually #1 is the culprit! Hope that helps, happy baking!

      1. I have adopted the following step and It works like a charm in avoiding bulges: right after final coating of b/c and before putting into to the freezer, I poke the center of the cake with a thin skewer all the way to the bottom and this allows any trapped air to escape. Hope this tip helps.

  14. Help!! I don’t understand how you got your numbers for servings on your tiered cakes. Help me !! I feel so blonde because i can’t figure this out. Thank you!!

    1. it’s based on the volume of each tier, divided by the volume of a standard cake serving (which is 1 inch wide x 2 inches deep x 4 inches tall). Hope that helps Jen <3

  15. You are awesome. I Love your videos. Thank you for sharing. I love baking and I am an at home mom. I am hoping to be able to start making birthday and wedding cakes for some extra income. The Birthday cakes are a big thing here in Palm Beach they usually end up being tiered cakes much like wedding cakes. I can’t wait to view the batter portion chart when you create it. Hope your wedding is Beautiful I know the cake will be perfect.?

  16. hello chels!! i have a request for a tall marble 2 tier wedding cake. do you think a 6″ and a 8″ tiers will be good enough? with four layers of cakes each? will it look good?? thank u!!

    1. Depends on how you plan to decorate it, and how many people it’s supposed to feed! I’ve done both 8″ and 6″, and 9″ and 6″. Both work!

  17. Hello chelsie, you are amazing! I live in belgium and here people likes more sponge cakes than normal cakes with butter.. I figure that the portions should be bigger for this kind of cakes. How would you portion a sponge cake from the same sizes?

    1. Hi Patricia! That’s a tough call, here in the US it doesn’t really matter what the cake type is, people just expect that size of cake slice at events or weddings. Maybe try 4 inch x 4 inch x 1 inch would be a slightly better portion?

  18. Hi thank you so much for this! I’m making my best friend’s weeding cake as a gift and it makes me even more nervous thank if it was for my own wedding I think lol! My biggest concern is getting it there! What did you have your cake on? A standard cake board?
    This video is super helpful!

    1. haha I totally could see that!! I had my cake on a thick cake drum (1/2 inch), you definitely need something thicker than a normal cardboard cake round to support it’s weight!! The transportation part is stressful, but if the cake is properly supported it should be just fine 🙂 Best of luck, I’m sure it will turn out great Maria!!

  19. Hi!! I was asked to make a cake that feeds 50 and it’s going to be tiered.. what is your suggestion? Thanks! Stephanie

  20. Hi! Someone asked me to do a tiered cake for 50 people. What sizes would you recommend. They want round shape? Thanks!

  21. Hi Chels!

    I’ve been asked to do a hand bag shaped cake for 20 people but have no idea where to start in terms of the cake size! Would you have any suggestions for the cake tin sizes to use? My worst nightmare would be to make a cake that’s too small ?

    Many thanks!

    1. Eek, that’s tough!! You’ll need to make a pretty big hand bag, I’d say maybe try 3 x 8 inch cake layers (baked and cut from a sheet pan) and use like 6 cake layers?! That’s similar to what I did for my spongebob cake, and he was pretty big. It also depends on the shape of hang bag you’re after! I have never made one, so I don’t have much experience when it comes to them :/ so sorry!!

  22. I’ll be making a 3 tier cake for a friends wedding. I’m going to do 12”, 9” and 6” for 100 people. How many batches of vanilla batter would I need please? Thanks ?

  23. you are awesome and have been sooooo helpful as my 57 year old self have learned how to make my own wedding cake by looking at your videos for over 3 months and next week is the day whereby if I can, I will post the result and YOU will receive all the credit for me being able to make my first 5 tier incredibly beautifuly wedding cake.

    1. Hi Glo,

      I am so happy to hear that!! Please let me know how it turns out <3 I am sure you’ll do an amazing job!!! 5 tiers is epic, I can’t wait to see it!

    1. Hi Suzzanne,

      That is for a 2 layer cake with 2-inch cake layers! Or with my cake recipe, a 4 layer cake with 1-inch cake layers. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  24. One great idea someone told me was to have a rectangular sheet cake in addition to the main wedding cake. The sheet cake is just for cutting extra slices, not for display, as portions get cut away from public view anyway. That way the display cake doesn’t have to feed everyone and you have no worries about not having enough cake.

    1. That’s a great point, and a wonderful idea if you don’t want to make a huge cake but you have a ton of guests to feed 🙂 Thank you for sharing Grace!!

  25. This is so sooooo helpful, thank you so much for sharing this! I usually just make cakes for family and friends, but one person asked me to make a cake for 100 people and I had absolutely no idea how to do that, this will be my first tiered cake for so many people, thank you for your tips and help, and thank you so much for sharing!

    1. I’m so happy you found this helpful Sue!! And that’s awesome, congrats!! Big tiered cakes can be a bit intimidating at first, but with the right preparation / planning they’re not too bad 🙂 Happy baking!!

  26. A “cutting cake” as described above is always a good idea to feed large volumes of people. With regard to the double height cakes I always put a slightly smaller board in between the two cakes that make up the tall tier, that way you just run a knife under the board and separate the tiers for cutting.

  27. Hey Chelsea!!!

    So with serving sizes, based on your chart it’s for 2-layers that are 2 inches, how should i calculate the servings is I’m doing 3- 2 inch layers. which makes the cake 6+ inches tall. And i consider my 4- inch layers to be tall what would the servings be on those?

    1. Hi Bryanna,

      It depends on how tall the tiers are! It’s easier if you do 4 layers, so that you can cut the tall slices in half to make two standard slices. A 4 inch cake is the standard height. I hope that makes sense!!

  28. Hi! If you want to add fresh flowers do you need a 1.5 inch cake size difference? I noticed on your wedding cake you didn’t and wasn’t sure how difficult it would be to add flowers without the 1.5 difference. Thank you!!

    1. Hi Rachel,

      You don’t have to, but it also depends on the style of decoration you want to use! my design worked out fine with a 2 inch difference between by tiers (overall, so 1 inch ledge), but if you have a different design in mind or want to use larger flowers, it’s definitely easier to do with more of a ledge between the tiers. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  29. Hey, thanks alot for sharing. Do these servings also work in a case where the servings are not in slices? For instance back here in uganda the cake is cut in many square issh cubes. Thank you.

    1. Hi Peace,

      I’m not quite sure, but as long as the overall volume of the squares cut is the same as the standard cake slice, it should! I’d measure the dimensions of the square / cube slices that are normally cut and see if they do. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  30. Hi. I’m making a 3 tiered cake for my sons wedding. How many layers is a normal cake? And do I cut the cakes in half to make layers or do I just bake 2 or 3 cakes of each size?
    Thank you so much

    1. Hi Betty,

      Like I mention in this post, it depends on the thickness of the cake layers and your personal preference. I like to do 3 or 4, but if you use thick cake layers sometimes people use only two. I usually bake my layers individually and don’t cut them in half / torte them. Hope that helps, and that your son’s wedding cake turns out great! 🙂

  31. I’m so sorry, I’m a little confused and want to make sure I understand because there’s so much wonderful information in this post! In the grid guide it shows that a 4″ serves 8, a 6″ serves 12/14 and and 8″ serves 20/24. Then below that in the tiered guide it shows that a 4″ and 6″ stack serves 20 and that a 6″ and 8″ serves 40. The 4″ and 6″ add up but the 6″ and 8″ don’t. If fact several tiered cakes shown don’t. Does the tiering of the cakes change the serving sizes? I just want to feel comfortable in my understanding of how this works…thank you so very much for guidance!!
    Sincerely, Over-thinker

    1. Hi Kat,

      No worries, it can be a bit confusing! The photo showing the tiered cakes with serving sizes is based on a party sized cake serving (the second column rather than the third or fourth in the chart above), rather than a wedding serving size or that of a tall tiered cake. It all comes down to slight differences in the size of the slices.

      When I make wedding cakes, I like to make cakes that have more servings than the number of guests to give myself peace of mind and in case anyone wants seconds. Hope that helps and makes sense <3

  32. Hi Chelsea,

    I’ve been asked to make a 2 tier cake to feed 90 people. The photo for inspiration looks like the top tier is 8″ round x 7″ tall and the bottom tier is 10″ round x 6″ tall, would these be enough to feed 90 people? How would you cut and serve the 7″ cake to guests?


  33. Hi Chelsea,
    I’ve been asked to make a cheesecake wedding cake instead of a traditional cake. My question is because it’s not double layered how would I figure how many tiers I need. They asked for 6 but I think that way too many for 45-50 people.

  34. Hi ? thanks so much for your advice it’s so helpful, a customer has asked for a two tier cake to serve 100 people the bottom tier I think needs to be 4 layers and the top shorter so maybe just 3. Is it possible to serve 100 with just two tiers and maintain the elegance of the design? Thank you ?

  35. I’m having trouble finding tier plates with pillars for a rectangular wedding cake (large). Do they just not make them? Can I just use the pillars without the tier plates and secure them somehow to the decorative cardboard under each layer instead?

  36. Great information given here! Actually I want to make afresh cream smallsized two tier sponge cake but without using straws or dowels or any other support for my home party for 6 people. What should be the dimensions of such a cake?

  37. Hi there thank you so much for this information it’s super helpful I wondered if you also have a diagram for the cutting patterns for the party size servings? I have found heaps of diagrams of the wedding cake cutting pattern and would love to know your thoughts on the diagram for the slightly larger slices. I am doing a wedding cake for 100, and have a 6 9 and 12 inch layer and wondering whether to do a 9 or a 12 kitchen cake to ensure there is enough for a good dessert size portion for everyone 🙂 much to think about!

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