How Much Cake Batter Per Pan?

Once you’ve decided what size of tiers you need to make, it’s time to figure out how much cake batter you need per pan.

There are a couple different ways to do this. This first is a simple calculation with cups. I include a chart below showing how many cups of batter you need to make different sized cake layers.

However, you need to know exactly how many cups one batch of the cake recipe you plan to use makes. This can vary drastically recipe to recipe.

The second method is a bit more math intensive, but I actually prefer it! I think it’s more precise, and less messy 🙂

baked cake layers for a tiered wedding cake

Method 1: The Cup Method

If you don’t want to do any calculations, this method if for you! It will quickly give you the answer you need.

In the below table, I share how many cups of batter you need per pan. It’s based on pan size and shape. My one caveat is that certain recipes rise more than others.

My vanilla layer cake recipe rises less than sponge cake recipes, so I’ve also included a column with the calculations for it as well.

Based on the recipe you use, you may want to use slightly more or less batter to make your cake layers the perfect height (once baked and leveled). This is why it’s important to test a recipe before making a large tiered cake.

Testing a recipe in advance helps you know the rise of the batter, so you can adjust as needed.

I’ve included the amount of batter you need for a 1-inch cake layer, or a 2-inch cake layer. Traditional wedding cakes are made with two, 2-inch cake layers.

However, I like to make my tiered cakes with three, 1-inch cake layers. I also add a very generous amount of buttercream between each cake layer (about 1/4 of an inch). This makes my tiers the perfect wedding cake height (4 inches tall).

adding cake batter to 12 inch cake pans for a tiered cake

The height of my tiers can vary though! The amount of frosting I use, how many cake layers I use, and how I level my cake layers all affect the height of each tier.

While a standard wedding cake serving is 4 inches tall, sometimes I make my tiers taller based on the the look I’m after for a cake. I also vary the height based on what the bride and groom request.

My Cake Batter Calculator

cake batter guide for different sized pans

One batch of my vanilla cake recipe makes about 10 1/2 cups of batter. If I wanted to make a round cake with four, 7-inch cake layers, I would need about 1 batch of cake batter (2 1/2 cups per 7-inch layer, x 4 layers = 10 cups of batter)

I highly recommend testing out a cake recipe ahead of time, to know how many cups of batter it makes, and how high it rises as it bakes.

You also need to account for the finished height of your cake layers once they’re leveled.

assembled semi-naked tiered wedding cake

If you’d like to learn more about serving sizes for weddings and parties, I highly recommend checking out my cake portion guide.

It walks through how many people different tiered cakes feed, and what size of cake you should make for big events.

Method 2: The Calculation Method

Now for the nerdier, more precise method. You can use math to figure out how much batter you need per pan!!

To do this, you need to know two important bits of information. The first is knowing how much batter 1 batch of the recipe you plan to use makes.

The second thing you need to know is the equation of a circle! Get ready to relive traumatic memories from high school geometry 😛

Using A Recipe You Know

If you have a tried and true cake recipe that you know and love, you can use what you already know about the cake recipe to figure this out!

I love using my vanilla layer cake recipe or my chocolate layer cake recipe for wedding cakes, because they’re incredibly moist and have great structure.

Image of 3 tiered wedding cake with edible lace

When I bake a batch of either recipe, they both make four, seven-inch cake layers that are roughly 1-inch tall (once leveled).

I can back my way into the amount of batter one batch makes by knowing this!

The Equation Of A Cake Pan

This is where math comes into play. It’s nothing crazy. It really just uses the equation of a circle, which is Pi (3.14) x radius squared. In this example with my vanilla cake recipe, I would first calculate the volume of one cake layer.

I’d take 3.14 (Pi) and multiple it by 3.5in x 3.5in (the radius of the cake layer squared). This would give me 38.5 inches squared.

I know that my 7-inch cake layers are about 1 is inch tall one they’re baked and leveled. With that in mind, the volume of the a single cake layer would be 38.5 inches squared x 1 inch, or 38.5 inches cubed.

Since one batch of batter makes four cake layers, that means it makes about 154 cubic inches of batter (38.5 cubic inches x 4 cake layers). With this number, I can now calculate the number of batches needed to make for any size of tiered cake.

Example – Calculation For A Three Tiered Cake

Say I wanted to make a tiered cake with 12 inch, 9 inch, and 6 inch cake layers. Each tier would be made with 3 cake layers that are 1 inch tall. I would make the below calculations:

  • General Formula for any sized tier: Pi (3.14) x cake layer radius squared x cake layer height x number of cake layers
  • 12 inch tier: 3.14 x (6 in. x 6 in.) x 1 in. x 3 layers= 339 cubic inches
  • 9 inch tier: 3.14 x (4.5 in. x 4.5 in.) x 1 in. x 3 layers = 191 cubic inches
  • 6 inch tier: 3.14 x (3 in. x 3 in.) x 1 in.x 3 layers = 85 cubic inches

This means in total, I will need 615 cubic inches of batter (339+191+85). Since I know one batch makes about 154 cubic inches, I will need to make 4 batches of batter.

Let Me Know Your Thoughts!!

I hope this helps you know how many batches of batter you need to make for tiered cakes!!

For those of you who just want to know how much batter you need for different sized pans, I hope you find this helpful too.

Let me know your thoughts, whether you use my cake batter calculator chart, or whip out your calculator!! 🙂

100 thoughts on “How Much Cake Batter Per Pan?

  1. Hi. In your example for the 3 tiered cake right. You calculated that you would require 154 cubic inches of batter house do you measure that on the scale, if that makes sense

    1. Hi Tebogo,

      I would just take the overall weight of the batter, then divide that by the number of pans you plan to fill (based on the formula you used). I hope that helps / makes sense. I do the formula in pieces, for each tier.

      1. Hi! Thanks soooo much for taking the time to explain this to us! You are absolutely amazing!!!

        To clarify to Tebogo a bit more, 1 cubic inch=0.554113oz.

        Example:
        12” tier is 339 cubic inches so it would be 188oz.

        This way you can make all your batter then measure out for each tier…then divide that by 3 for each layer.

        Sending lots of sweet and floury hugs! ?

  2. I AGREE WITH EVERYONE THIS IS THE BEST CAKE!!!!! I HAVE THE CONE SHAPE HEATING CORES FOR CAKES, DOES THE NAILS WORK BETTER THAN THE CONE SHAPED HEATING CORES, I WOULD LIKE YOUR RECOMMENDATION, IF THE NAILS WORK BETTER I WOULD LIKE TO BUY SOME AND HAVE ON HAND IF I EVER HAVE TO BAKE A LARGE CAKE

    1. Aw thank you Carol, you are too sweet!! I like the heating cores that are shaped like nails better than the cores, but I think both work! I use these ones made by ateco, and I get them on amazon: https://amzn.to/2tsw08Z

      Hope that helps, happy baking!

  3. Hello. Would you please clarify “sponge” vs “butter”. Is sponge made with oil and butter is made with, well..butter. I see on your batter recommendations for a 12″ square you recommend 8 cups of batter per 1″ butter layer, but 10 cups of batter for 2″ sponge. I am planning a 12″ square cake and making your vanilla recipe, looking to yield a 1″ ish cake. As this is a butter based recipe, I would think 8 cups of batter, but I am hearing 10 cups from the manufacturer of the pan, Fat Daddio, and some others that I have asked. Help! Thank you!

    1. Hi Paula,

      A lot of it has to do with how the batter is made. Sponge cakes cream together butter and sugar to whip a lot of air into the batter, and use more eggs to make a cake a light texture that is dryer. People usually have to add simple syrup to sponge cake to make them moist.

      Butter cake usually uses a reverse creaming method, and is more dense and moist. Most people don’t add simple syrup to butter cakes, because they don’t need it.

      I suppose to be safe you can follow fat daddio’s advice and use 10 cups if you’re worried. Hope that helps!

  4. In the pan that has red velvet cake you have a metal item in the center, what is that for and why aren’t they in the other pans?
    Thank you
    Shirley

    1. Hi Shirley,

      For large cake layers (pans bigger than 8 inches), I suggest adding a couple heating cores to the center (these are the ones I use: https://amzn.to/2NQ0lVZ) to help the layers bake more evenly and quickly! Hope that helps, happy baking!

  5. Thank you so much! I have to let you know that I have searched for the perfect vanilla cake recipe, for…maybe a few years??? My family has tried so many vanilla cakes over time, but yours is the best. I am very, very happy with the texture (I love denser cakes), flavor (great flavor and I do add the teeniest bit of almond extract), and color. It is perfect and I look forward to making it into different flavors and colors. I did put 10 cups of batter in my 12″ pan and I got about 1 1/2″ rise to the layer. I think you were correct on the 8 cups being fine. Next time! I am pairing your vanilla cake with a chocolate butter cake, 3 layers of chocolate and 1 vanilla, with homemade raspberry puree and chocolate buttercream between. Thank you so much for your reply and I love your site!!

    1. I am so happy to hear you love my vanilla cake recipe that much Paula 🙂

      And I’m even happier that my chart is ok!!! haha I was pretty worried/second guessing my chart after our convo earlier, so I really appreciate you following up and sharing this!! <3

      Oh man your next cake sound AMAZING!! Whoever is getting it is one lucky person! Happy baking!

      1. I made a little error: My cake is actually 3 layers total: 2 chocolate and 1 vanilla. It is a beast! 12″ square and almost 5″ tall. If I had put less batter in my pan, I would have had shorter layers, which was what I was going for. My friend’s eyes are going to bug out when she sees her cake! Next time, less batter, shorter layers, and maybe a 4″ cake. Thank you!!!

      2. haha I don’t think anyone has ever been upset that their cake is bigger than expected !! 😛 I’m sure she’s going to love it!

Let me know what you think!