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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 slices of yellow sheet cake that have been cut up and are 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 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!

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.
  • Properly measure the cake 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 F /175 C 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 F / 162 C.

Making These Cake Layers in Advance and Storage Tips:

Make this sheet cake in advance and freeze it. This breaks the process up and makes it more approachable.

Make the 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.

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 if stored in an airtight container.

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 what you think! Please leave a rating and comment below.

If you share on social media, be sure to tag me @chelsweets and use #chelsweets so I can see your delicious creations.

Yield: 16

Yellow Sheet Cake

image of a delicious slice of a yellow sheet cake that's been frosted with chocolate buttercream

This yellow sheet cake recipe makes an incredibly fluffy and tender cake and is topped with delicious chocolate frosting.

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

Ingredients

Yellow Sheet Cake:

  • 1 cup or 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (226g)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (300g)
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature (224g)
  • 3 cups cake flour (360g)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder (12g)
  • 1 tsp fine salt (6g)
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature (240g)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (75g)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract (12g)

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

  • 2/3 cups of dark or milk chocolate chips, melted and cooled (120g)
  • 1 cup or 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (226g)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (50g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (3g)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (375g)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream, room temperature (80g)

Decorations and Tools:

Instructions

Yellow Sheet Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F / 162°C. Line a 9x13-inch (quarter sheet) pan with parchment paper. Place two flower nails / heating cores in the center of the pan with the flat side sitting against the cake pan. Make sure they are a few inches apart. Spray the pan and flower nails with nonstick baking spray.
  2. Place 1 cup of butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl. Beat on a medium-high speed using a whisk attachment for 2 minutes. The mixture should become lighter in color as air is incorporated into it.
  3. Mix in 4 eggs on a low speed, two at a time. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the 3 cups cake flour, 1 Tbsp baking powder, and 1 tsp salt.
  5. Add half the dry ingredients into the butter/egg mixture and mix on a low speed until combined.
  6. Then mix in 1 cup buttermilk, 1/3 cup oil, and 1 Tbsp vanilla extract on a low speed.
  7. Add in the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until the ingredients are just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Reposition the flower nails so that they’re evenly spaced across the pan.
  9. Bang the pan on your counter to remove any air bubbles, then bake for 35-40 minutes.
  10. Rotate the pan halfway through to help the cake bake evenly.
  11. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then carefully remove it from the pan and place it on a wire rack to finish cooling. Once it's fully cooled, carefully flip the cake and remove the heating cores.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

  1. While the yellow sheet cake bakes and cools, make the chocolate buttercream frosting.
  2. Melt 2/3 cup of chocolate first so that it has time to cool off before it's added into the frosting. Heat it in 15 second intervals, stirring between each interval until the chocolate is fully melted. Set aside.
  3. Beat 1 cup of butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer until smooth. 
  4. Mix in 1/2 cup cocoa powder and 1/2 tsp fine on a low speed until combined.
  5. Gradually mix in 3 cups of powdered sugar and 1/3 cup of heavy cream on a low speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  6. Then mix in the cooled, melted chocolate on a low speed.
  7. Beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached.
  8. If the frosting seems too thick, add an extra Tbsp of heavy cream. If it's too thin, add in another 1/4 cup of powdered sugar.
  9. Stir by hand with a rubber spatula for a couple minutes to get the frosting SUPER smooth.

Yellow Sheet Cake Decoration:

  1. Spread an even layer of chocolate buttercream on top of the cooled sheet cake. Make swirls with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
  2. Add rainbow sprinkles around the perimeter of the cake and use a sharp knife to cut the cake into 16 squares. Then enjoy!

Notes

Making This Yellow Sheet Cake in Advance and Storage Tips:

  • Make the sheet cake in advance and freeze it. This breaks the process up and makes this recipe more approachable.
  • Make the 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.
  • 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 if stored in an airtight container.

Using a Different Sized Sheet Pan:

You can also use this recipe to bake a 12x17-in (half sheet) cake, but the bake time will be shorter! Bake for about 25 minutes at 325°F/162°C.

How to Make Yellow Cupcakes:

This recipe can be used to make cupcakes. Fill your cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for about 18 minutes in a preheated 350°F/175°C oven. The yield varies based on pan and liner size, but one batch makes about 2 dozen cupcakes!

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

Melissa

Wednesday 30th of November 2022

If I make the 1/2 sheet cake, about how tall will the cake be?

Chelsweets

Sunday 4th of December 2022

Hi Melissa,

If you make this recipe as 1/2 sheet cake (18in x 13in) it should bake up to be a little over 1/2 inch tall. Hope that helps, happy baking!

Eva

Tuesday 21st of June 2022

Hello! I’m in a predicament. I’ve used your recipes for years (love), but a friend of mine wants a similar cake to your vanilla round layer cake with vanilla buttercream recipe, but as a sheet cake. Is there a way to blend the two without compromising the end result? ?

Chelsweets

Thursday 23rd of June 2022

Hi Eva,

One batch of my vanilla layer cake recipe can totally be used to make one 9×13-inch sheet cake. Bake it at 350 F / 175 C for 40-50 minutes and use a couple flower nails or heating cores to help the cake bake evenly. It should be just as delicious as when it's made as a layer cake :) Hope that helps, happy baking!

EJ

Saturday 14th of May 2022

I only use the chocolate icing from the recipe. The cake did not workout for me. The icing is amazing!!

Chelsweets

Monday 30th of May 2022

Glad you love the frosting recipe! What happened with the cake when you made it? Hopefully we can figure it out together!

Marclyn

Sunday 20th of March 2022

I have everything I need, but buttermilk. I also don't have any yogurt. I don't keep regular milk in the house, so I'm wondering if the lemon juice/vinegar technique would work with the non-dairy milk? I'm thinking no?? If not, any other suggestions on what I can use in place of buttermilk? Thanks!

Amy

Friday 28th of January 2022

Can you use a sheet cake and cookie cutters to make mini cakes?

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