Yellow Sheet Cake

Having a good yellow sheet cake recipe up your sleeve is always a good idea.

A lot of people grew up eating yellow cake, and I feel like it has a special place in so many of our hearts.

Most of us got our yellow cake fix in the form of a sheet cake, and that’s one of my favorite ways to eat it! It keeps things simple, and is so easy to make and serve.

image of yellow sheet cake decorated with chocolate buttercream and rainbow sprinkles, with slice held up in the air to show how moist the cake is

Sheet cakes are definitely easier and quicker to decorate than the layer cakes I usually make.

What Makes A Cake A Yellow Cake?

When you ask someone what the defining characteristics of a yellow cake are, a lot of people don’t really know!

They know it has a tender crumb, and a buttery taste, but beyond that most people aren’t sure.

In my head, every yellow cake also has an amazing chocolate buttercream frosting.

image of ingredients laid out to make a yellow sheet cake

Butter

Yellow cake recipes always call for butter as the fat. This gives the cake its buttery taste, and tender crumb. In this recipe I also include some oil, to add a bit more moisture to the cake.

Butter also helps contribute to the yellow color of the cake layers.

I usually use butter that is pretty light in color, but this is one situation where I encourage you to use as yellow of a butter as you can find!

Some brands of butter are more yellow than others. The color of butter is usually based on the diet of the cows.

Cows that eat a lot of grass make yellower butter because of the beta carotene in the grass. Some brands also add coloring to their butter (always check the ingredients).

I’ve found that artisanal and/or organic butter usually have a deeper yellow color.

image of yellow sheet cake cut into large squares ready to be served

Whole Eggs

Another defining factor in a yellow cake recipe? Lots of eggs!

Most white cake recipes just use egg whites like my vanilla layer cake recipe. Using whole eggs adds to both the color and the flavor of the cake. The yolks add a richer taste to the cake.

Similar to my advice on butter, I recommend using brown eggs instead of white eggs. Their yolks are a deeper shade of yellow, which also helps make the batter actually look yellow!

One of my pet peeves is when a “yellow cake recipe” actually makes relatively white cake.

This yellow sheet cake recipe will still turn out great if you use white eggs, but the color of the batter will be more yellow if you use for brown eggs.

Chocolate Buttercream

The final component of this yellow sheet cake is the frosting!

To truly be a yellow cake recipe, it has to have chocolate frosting. The two go hand in hand!

I like to pair my chocolate buttercream with this yellow sheet cake because it is my very favorite chocolate frosting.

It uses both cocoa powder AND melted chocolate, which gives it an intensely delicious chocolate flavor.

image of chocolate american buttercream

I chose to use melted dark chocolate, but you can also use milk chocolate!

Decorating This Cake

Sticking with the theme of the simple, delicious cakes we remember eating as kids, I kept the decoration of this cake very easy.

I made some swooshes in my chocolate buttercream with a small offset spatula, then added some pretty sprinkles around the sides of the cake.

If you don’t have an offset spatula, you could always use the back of a spoon too!

image of yellow sheet cake decorated with chocolate buttercream and rainbow sprinkles

This decoration only took a few minutes to make, and was such a fun change of pace!

Tips for Making The Best Yellow Sheet Cake:

  • Take the time to properly cream together your butter and sugar! This incorporates air into the butter, and gives your cake that perfectly fluffy texture
  • Be sure to properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients
  • Use a pretty sprinkle blend to take your decoration to the next level!
  • Be sure to use flower nails/heating cores to help your sheet cake bake more evenly and quickly.
  • If you want to make a yellow layer cake, use my yellow layer cake recipe to make 3, 8-inch cake layers.
  • This recipe can be used to make about 20 cupcakes. Fill your liners about half way and bake for about 18 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven.
  • You can also use this recipe to bake a 12x17in sheet cake, but the bake time will be shorter! Bake for about 20 minutes at 325 degrees F.

Making These Cake Layers in Advance and Storage Tips:

  • Make your sheet cake in advance and freeze it: This breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
  • Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • In an airtight container, this cake can sit out at room temp for a day, in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to a month.
image of slice of yellow sheet cake, with tender and moist texture

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you make this yellow sheet cake recipe, I’d love to hear how it goes! Please leave a rating, and let me know your thoughts by sharing a comment.

Or if you share your creations on social media, be sure to tag me @chelsweets!

Yield: 16 servings

Yellow Sheet Cake

Yellow Sheet Cake

This yellow sheet cake is insanely fluffy and moist, and is topped with the most decadent chocolate buttercream.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

Yellow Sheet Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (226 grams) – 2 sticks
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (300 grams)
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature (224 grams)
  • 3 cups cake flour (360 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder (12 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature (230 grams)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (74 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract (12 grams)

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (217 grams)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (340 grams)
  • 2/3 cups of melted dark chocolate, cooled (114 grams, 4 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened baking cocoa, sifted (50 grams)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (2 grams)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (60 grams)

Decorations and Tools:

Instructions

Yellow Sheet Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a 9x13 (quarter sheet) pan with parchment paper, two flower nails / heating cores.
  2. Spray the pan and flower nails with nonstick baking spray.
  3. Place two flower nails in the center of the pan, with the flat side resting flat against the cake pan. Make sure they are a few inches apart.
  4. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium high speed using a whisk attachment for 2 minutes, to incorporate air into mixture.
  5. Mix in the eggs on a low speed, two at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (cake flour, baking powder, and salt).
  7. Add 1/2 of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix on a low speed.
  8. Mix in the buttermilk, vanilla extract and oil on a low speed.
  9. Add in the rest of the flour mixture, and mix until the ingredients are just incorporated.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  11. Reposition the flower nails so that they’re event spaced across the pan.
  12. Bang the pan on your counter to remove any air bubbles, then bake for 35-40 minutes.
  13. Rotate your pan halfway through to help your cake bakes evenly.
  14. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then carefully remove it from the pan to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

  1. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. 
  2. Add in the salt and sifted cocoa, and mix on low until the sifted cocoa is fully incorporated and smooth.
  3. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream.
  4. Mix in the cooled, melted chocolate on a low speed.
  5. Beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached.
  6. If the frosting is too thick, add an extra Tbsp of heavy cream. If it's too thin, add in another 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.
  7. Stir by hand with a rubber spatula for a couple minutes to get the frosting SUPER smooth.

Cake Decoration:

  1. Allow the cake to cool completed, then remove the flower nails from the cake.
  2. Spread an even layer of chocolate buttercream on top of the cake, making swirls with an offset spatula.
  3. Add rainbow sprinkles around the perimeter of the cake, and use a sharp knife to cut the cake into 16 squares.

Notes

Making These Cake Layers in Advance and Storage Tips:

  • Make your sheet cake in advance and freeze it: This breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
  • Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • In an airtight container, this cake can sit out at room temp for a day, in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to a month.

Different Sized Sheet Pan

  • You can also use this recipe to bake a 12x17 in sheet cake, but the bake time will be shorter! Bake for about 20 minutes at 325 degrees F.


Cupcakes:

  • This recipe can be used to make about 20 cupcakes. Fill your cupcake liners about half way and bake for about 18 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven.

Nutrition Information

Yield

16

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 495Total Fat 23gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 84mgSodium 332mgCarbohydrates 68gFiber 2gSugar 45gProtein 5g

20 thoughts on “Yellow Sheet Cake

  1. I have a deep love of yellow cake with chocolate frosting! Thanks for the recipe, looks delicious!
    Random nerdy cow fact: a Jersey cow’s milk has a very high amount of butterfat in her milk and so Jersey cows milk is more yellow in color than Holstein cow’s milk.

    1. Hi Heather,

      Thanks so much! Ah, that’s so interesting! I love learning things like that 🙂 Thank you for sharing!!

  2. Yum! Looks so good! Have you ever used coffee in your chocolate buttercream? My grandma and mom used to use coffee but I’m curious what you would do if you put coffee in it. I don’t even know the recipe of what they did because of course they just eye-balled everything. They never could tell you a real recipe with measurements. ?

    1. Thanks Andrea! I haven’t, but that sounds incredible! I’ve tried it in my chocolate cake batter, but not my chocolate frosting.

      If I were to try it, I’d dissolve a tsp of instant espresso in a Tbsp of hot water, let it cool, then add it in place of 1 tbsp of heavy cream. Hope that helps, happy baking!!

    1. Hi Danell,

      If you don’t have cake flour, use 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour sifted with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch for each cup of cake flour called for in a recipe. Or if you don’t have cornstarch you can also just use AP flour in place of the cake flour, but the texture won’t be quite as soft or tender. Hope that helps, happy baking!

    1. Hi Teresa,

      Omg that sounds incredible! I think it could definitely be used for that. Now I want to try it!!! 🙂 haha happy baking!

  3. Can someone tell me if you want self rising cake flour or not? Thank you. Excited to try this. Hope to find it in the grocery store tomorrow.

    1. Hi Justina,

      Since this recipe already calls for baking powder and salt, you don’t self rising cake flour (which already includes these).

      However if that’s the type you got, you can just omit the baking powder and salt this recipe calls for and use the self rising cake flour in place of the cake flour in this recipe in a 1:1 ratio. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  4. Do you think you could substitute GF flour for regular flour in this recipe?? Would there be any other adjustments needed if using GF flour? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Michelle,

      You can totally use a GF flour blend in this recipe, in a 1:1 ratio! With GF baked goods, I always recommend over mixing your batter to help give it structure, and to let it sit for at least 30 minutes before baking for best results (helps the GF flour absorb some of the moisture in the batter to prevent a grainy texture). Hope that helps, happy baking!

    1. Hi Jacqueline,

      You can in a 1:1 ratio, but it will change the texture a bit!

      Or if you have cornstarch you can use 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour sifted with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch for each cup of cake flour in this recipe. Hope that helps, happy baking!

Let me know what you think!