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

image of a wedding cake sized out using a cake portion guide to determine how many servings and what size of cake needed to be made

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.

assembled semi-naked tiered wedding 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 a 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 the one below! 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.

Amanda

Tuesday 2nd of August 2022

Are the single tier servings based on a 2 or 3 layer cake? THANKS!

Chelsweets

Sunday 7th of August 2022

Hi Amanda,

These are based on 3 layer cakes! Happy baking :)

Ann Salee

Wednesday 27th of July 2022

This is a timely post for me. I wonder why haven't taken time to read this though I watch your tutorials a lot. Though the cubical maths sounds crazy I must confess that I have picked some points from there. Gal you are such a blessing to me. I have struggled with cake height since I started baking as a home baker. Looking forward to apply these principles in my next order. Be blessed for your selfless heart mammy!

Chelsweets

Sunday 31st of July 2022

Ann you're too sweet! I'm so happy you found this helpful!! :)

Bella

Tuesday 26th of July 2022

Hi Chelsey,

So I came over from your how to price your cake guide". It was great! Especially that formula that you use: Cake Price = Labor (hours of estimated work x your hourly rate) + Cost of Ingredients + Overhead.

However, you mentioned that you price wedding cake by number of servings. Now everyone has different price points for this e.g. $4.00 - $7.00 per cake portion etc. But how can this be used in conjunction/ alongside your formula? In fact is there a formula that you have that includes this?

For example, if I was charging $4.00 per portion for a cake that serves 60 people, does this mean that mean that the cost of my ingredients are covered in this $4.00 and I don't account for them separately? OR should I get rid of my profit margin? OR Should I calculate the price per portion (in this case $4.00 x 60 people = $240.00) and then add everything from the formula?

I guess my question is that when you calculate the price for the cake per portion, what is being covered in each portion and specifically what else do you add to it come to your final price?

I hope you can help as I am really confused and it's hard to move forward because of lack of understanding

Thank You

Chelsweets

Sunday 31st of July 2022

Hi Bella,

Great question!! The way people calculate their prices for wedding cakes varies, and I think that's why there's so much variety in price per slice. Some people factor all their labor into the price per slice, some people have a fixed cost per slice based on the ingredients and labor to stack and frost the cake, and then add on the decoration labor as a separate cost (i.e. if someone wants something special like sugar flowers, that's an additional amount either fixed or based on the time estimate).

There is no right or wrong way to price it, and I think it all comes down to the types of wedding cakes you make. Some people want to know a set price up front, so I could see why some cake makers fit it all into the price per slice. However, it might make a cake seem more affordable if you have a base price plus an additional fee based on decoration options. Hope that helps!!

Rylee McGuire

Thursday 7th of July 2022

Hi!

I need your suggestion… I am baking a cake for a 3 year old and I know there are 24 people coming to the party. I also need the cake to be round and to be tall enough to have 6 inches in height based on my decoration plans. What pan size and layers would you recommend?

Chelsweets

Tuesday 12th of July 2022

Hi Rylee,

I would make 4, 8-inch cake layers that are slightly taller than an inch once leveled, and I would add a thick layer of frosting between the layers (1/4 inch thick). That should make a cake that is exactly 6-inches tall :) Hope that helps, happy baking!

Katie

Saturday 11th of June 2022

This is great, thank you ? can I ask though, does the diagram represent one layer of cake? So I've got three 6 in cakes asmine tier, and three 4 inch cakes as a top tier. Would that serve 60 based on the diagram?