Moist Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe

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This Moist Vanilla Layer Cake is just what it sounds like – a classic vanilla cake recipe topped with vanilla frosting and sprinkles. This is one of those easy, homemade cake recipes that everyone needs to know how to make!

A slice of vanilla layer cake with frosting

Easy Homemade Vanilla Layer Cake

So it’s basically a running joke with a few friends, my mom and the hubs that vanilla cake is like my obsession. At this point, I have a handful of vanilla cake and cupcake recipes and I won’t pretend that I won’t have another at some point. It could totally happen.

Here’s the thing.

Vanilla is like the most illusive, most basic, most important flavors in all the cake land. I wouldn’t declare it my favorite flavor, but it’s super important to have a good vanilla cake in your repertoire and most people have trouble finding one they like. It’s basically become my life’s mission to have a vanilla cake recipe for everyone. And since nobody can agree on a “best” vanilla cake (just read the comments on my other vanilla cake/cupcake recipes and you’ll see what I mean), I have several options. This new one is based on feedback from the others.

Frosted vanilla cake on a stand with sprinkles

This is Not My First Attempt at the Best Vanilla Cake Recipe

Before I get into this one, let’s review the old ones. You never know, you might want to try those too, if you haven’t already. 😉

  • Vanilla Cupcakes – My very first attempt at the best vanilla base was with these vanilla cupcakes almost 4 years ago. Crazy! There are hundreds of comments and most people love them, but there are some that don’t. You can sometimes get little chunks of butter in them (which is actually fine) and they are a little denser than some expect. But they are super straight forward to make, always turn out and delicious, in my opinion. However, they are on the denser side, especially when made into a cake.
  • Vanilla Layer Cake – So then I shared this vanilla layer cake. It’s a super light cake, has a nice fluff factor and again is nice and moist. This cake has been a long standing vanilla cake around here and for the most part satisfies. It’s not that fabulous as a cupcake though, in my opinion.
  • Vanilla Cupcakes Take 2 – So then I decided I needed a new recipe. One that was great as a cake and a cupcake. So I introduced this moist vanilla cupcakes recipe. I was sure this was it. Everyone would finally agree that this was “the one”. It’s like the most straight forward ever. Reminds me of a cake mix with it’s ease of putting it together. Like, how does it get better than that? And yet, some people don’t seem to get the right results. I can’t figure it out, but it’s a sad thing. Yet again, some people think I’m a genius and others think I’m crazy. Not totally unlike other parts of life. 😉
  • Vanilla Cupcakes Take 3 – Not one to be a quitter as far as finding the one recipe above them all, I shared this one – my Favorite Moist Vanilla Cupcake. I’m still a major fan of this cupcake and it’s been my go-to for some time now. Moist, fluffy, flavorful, my love. You can find it in various forms around the blog – both as a cake (like this Rose Water Vanilla Layer Cake) and as cupcakes. It’s near and dear to my heart, but alas still not all are satisfied.

slice of cake on plate

What Makes this Cake Different?

So that brings us to today’s cake. I have no doubt that this will not satisfy all. But my goodness with all the choices, surely there’s something here for everyone. 🙂

What’s different about this cake, you ask? Great question!

  • Whole eggs: First, most of the other recipes use just egg whites. This vanilla cupcakes recipe, when made as a cake, uses six. That’s very sad for the yolks that are left on the sidelines wondering what they did wrong to not get picked as players in the cake-making game. So this cake uses whole eggs.
  • Milk instead of sour cream: Plus, lots of people aren’t into sour cream. Who knew?! I personally love the flavor and moisture it adds to cake, but I omitted it from this one for those are aren’t into it. It’s all about the milk in this cake!
  • Butter + Oil: This cake also uses butter with a little bit of oil. Oil vs butter can be a touchy topic with strong opinions, but this one is the best of both worlds. Overall, I love a butter-based vanilla cake. But there’s no denying that the oil adds some nice moisture so there’s a touch of it in here for a nice mix of the two.
  • Easier recipe: And finally, the mixing method is somewhat simplified. It still uses the creaming method, so it’s not as easy as the throw-and-go style of some of the other options, but there’s a few less steps and such.

overhead view of cake showing highlighting sprinkles

How to Make Vanilla Layer Cake

  • Prep your equipment: Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
  • Mix dry ingredients: Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar: Add the butter, sugar, oil and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined.
  • Slowly add the milk and mix until well combined. The batter will look curdled, but that’s ok.
  • Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
  • Bake: Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
  • Cool: Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

Slice of vanilla cake with a bite taken out

How to Make the Frosting

This vanilla cake is covered with a classic, easy vanilla buttercream frosting. Here’s how to make it:

  • Cream: Beat the butter and shortening together until smooth.
  • Add sugar: Slowly add half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  • Add vanilla: Add the vanilla extract and 4-5 tablespoons of water or milk and mix until smooth.
  • Add rest of the sugar: Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  • Adjust as needed: Add additional water or milk, as needed to get the right consistency of frosting.

I have a helpful post that show you how to frost a cake and this post from Beyond Frosting demonstrates how to color frosting if you’re interested in that info!

Can This Recipe Be Used for Cupcakes?

I also tested this cake as cupcakes and they turn out just as delicious – which is a wonderful thing. Any time you have a great vanilla recipe that works as both a cake and a cupcake, it’s a big win.

decorated Moist Vanilla Layer Cake angled view

It’s hard to describe exactly how all these versions are different, but I’ll say that this one is a nice blend of things that people like and dislike about some of the others. The final cake is moist, super soft and delicious, with relatively straight forward ingredients and method. It’s a winner in my book, so I hope you enjoy it!

Read transcript

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image of Moist Vanilla Layer
Recipe

Moist Vanilla Layer Cake

  • Author: Life, Love and Sugar
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 Slices 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Moist Vanilla Layer Cake is just what it sounds like – a moist, soft vanilla cake that’s easy to make too!


Scale

Ingredients

VANILLA CAKE

  • 2 1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (168g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (310g) sugar
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups (300ml) milk

VANILLA FROSTING

  • 3 cups (672g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 cups (1380g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 67 tbsp (90-105ml) water or milk
  • Salt, to taste
  • Violet get icing color
  • Cornflower blue gel icing color
  • Sprinkles*

Instructions

For the Cake:

  1. Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the butter, sugar, oil and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  5. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined.
  6. Slowly add the milk and mix until well combined. The batter will look curdled, but that’s ok.
  7. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
  9. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

For the Frosting:

  1. To make the frosting, beat the butter until smooth.
  2. Slowly add half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla extract, 4-5 tablespoons of water or milk and salt and mix until smooth.
  4. Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add additional water or milk, as needed to get the right consistency of frosting.

To Assemble the Cake:

  1. To put the cake together, use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cakes so that they’re flat. These cakes don’t have a large dome, but I like to make sure they’re completely flat.
  2. Place the first cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round.
  3. Spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake.
  4. Add the second layer of cake and another cup of frosting.
  5. Top the cake with the remaining layer and frost the outside of the cake. Refer to my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake, if needed.
  6. Press sprinkles into the sides of the cake
  7. Color the remaining frosting to your desired shade. I used a mix of purple and cornflower blue gel icing color.
  8. Pipe swirls of frosting around the top edge of the cake. I used Ateco tip 844.
  9. Add a few more sprinkles to the top of the cake. Store in an air-tight container. Cake is best for 3-4 days.

*I used a mix of sprinkles similar to this Sweetapolitas sprinkle medley and ones similar to these rainbow sprinkles.

Notes

For cupcakes, use the same temperature. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs. This recipe should make about 24-28 cupcakes.

Keywords: best vanilla cake recipe, easy, homemade, from scratch, homemade, moist vanilla cake, basic cake recipe

Enjoy!

Moist Vanilla Layer Cake

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Recipe rating

545 Comments
  1. Charity

    I absolutely love your vanilla cake in your cookbook, everyone raves about it when I make it! But this one reminds me of the old fashioned yellow vanilla cake. I’m guessing with the yolks it adds more of the yellow color to the batter. I’m going to have to try it, maybe with a chocolate fudge frosting too! I’m also going to have to break down and order those gorgeous sprinkles! The shipping cost just makes me irk every time! Love your cakes!!! 

    1. Lindsay

      Sounds delicious with chocolate frosting! And I’m so glad you love the cookbook one – that’s also a favorite of mine. 🙂

      The sprinkles ship from Canada, which is why the shipping is so high. Definitely a bummer. I usually try to meet the minimum for free shipping and just order fun ones to use over a few months. Sometimes you can find her sprinkles in local specialty cake decorating stores.

      1. Charity

        I thought about that, I will save up and do that next time, but I went ahead and ordered the ones you used here and some valentine ones! They always look so sparkly and happy and pretty on your cakes!! 
        Don’t know why but I used to love the yellow cake mix boxed cakes with the chocolate frosting as a kid. Something about the buttery moist vanilla-y goodness with the rich chocolate frosting seemed heaven to me! This cake reminded me of that but I KNOW it will be wayyyy better than the boxed mix!! Your vanilla frosting is to die for too! ????

  2. Vanessa

    OMG!!! Lindsay, I know exactly what you mean. I have been baking for about 10 years and every time I feel like I found “the one,” I start looking for another vanilla cake recipe. I am actually on the search right now. I love oil based cakes, because they stay moist for days and even after being put in the fridge, but all oil vanilla cakes taste like nothing but oil! BLECH!

    I feel like I found the PERFECT vanilla cupcake recipe in September, but when I make it as a cake, it is so dense and heavy. I want something light, fluffy and super moist. I think I am going to try your recipe this weekend. Also, I am going to email you the vanilla cupcake recipe that I really love and have been using for awhile. 🙂 Thank you for your awesome recipes. I really love your recipes and look forward to trying as many as possible! Happy Baking Pretty Lady!!

    1. Lindsay

      Yes, you get it! 🙂 And I tend to agree about oil based vanilla cake. For chocolate, I’m all in on the oil though. I’ll check out the recipe you sent for sure, thanks!

      1. Josh Depeiaza

        I made this recipe and really enjoyed the taste. However, once baked, the cakes were soo soft that they were breaking apart slightly. I’m not sure but I’m thinking they were soo soft perhaps due to the oil content? 

      2. Lindsay

        I’ve never heard of it being an issue. I don’t know that the oil would be causing the problem. There’s enough of it to help keep the cake moist but it shouldn’t cause the cake to be crumbly. I’m honestly not sure.

    2. Jana

      Vanessa,
      I’ve been in the search for the perfect all oil vanilla cake recipe that stays soft when it’s still cold. I have an amazing all butter vanilla cake that I use for my business but I can’t offer cakes with fillings that need to be refrigerated because butter cakes are so hard when cold. I’d love to try your all oil based vanilla cake recipe. Maybe we can swap?

    3. Charleen

      Hello Lindsay, I just love baking cupcakes with Buttermilk + I want to use whole eggs.
      This recipe sounds just perfect with the exception of the milk – Could I substitute it with Buttermilk

    4. JustSweets

      @Vanessa
      JAN 31, 2018 AT 9:58 AM Oh wow! I feel the same way,,, I started out with the perfect vanilla CAKE recipe and tried it out as cupcakes, the bottoms are way to oily. So I too, have been going through great recipes but I am quickly learning cake recipe does not equal cuppie recipe. It seems like that should be okay, but then I am thinking a good baker should be able to pull it off, so I go the extra step and use greaseproof liners. The last recipe I used was very nice, but should the cupcake be so light it doesn’t weigh anything???

      I am more than excited to try this recipe… JUST LOOK AT THAT SLICE👀. Chef’s kiss. I just hope as a cuppie it will give me just enough density. Have you tried substituting cake flour at all?

      1. Lindsay

        You can find this cake as a vanilla cupcake here and it has plenty of good reviews. I hope you enjoy it!

        I have tried cake flour. I don’t prefer it in most cakes, personally. But you could certainly try it.

  3. Eva Dankers

    Sounds delicious! How many cupcakes will this recipe make and could you please suggest a baking time/temp?
    Thank you 🙂

      1. WS

        The cake had lovely texture – soft, moist, and fluffy.

        I initially creamed the butter on its own and after adding my cold eggs (oops!), it split. But after adding the sugar, the batter looked better.

        I did not have vegetable oil but was able to use olive oil without affecting the taste. However, I did add double the amount of vanilla.

        Another substitution was using cake flour.

        Lastly, half of the recipe filled the 9 inch cake pan perfectly.

        Thanks for a perfect recipe!

  4. Valerie

    Re: Your newest moist vanilla cake-
    You stated that the recipe uses 6 eggs– however when printing the recipe at the end of the message
    the recipe shows 4 eggs. Please advise. Thank you.

    1. Lindsay

      In the description I believe I mention that a different cake uses 6 egg whites (unless I missed something, which is always possible ???? ). This cake does use 4 whole eggs, as written in the recipe itself. I hope that helps!

      1. Christine

        You were definitely specific on how other cakes use 6 egg whites and that this cake will use whole eggs so that the yolks won’t go to waste. It wasn’t your wording but others reading. Keep up the good work! Can’t please everybody, but love the recipes that come out as you try lol.

      2. Julie

        Hi Lindsay, do you use fan forced when baking this cake? Thank you. Looking forward to try the recipe

    1. Lindsay

      I would really suggest using the oil in these. It was intentionally added for moisture purposes, so without it you won’t get quite the same result. You could certainly try them with all butter, or use one of the other cupcake recipes mentioned above that doesn’t use oil, like this one.

      1. Antonia

        I tried it in a 9×13 and baked for 28-30 mins. Perfection! Baked Saturday evening….all gone Sunday midday. Thank you!

      2. Elizabeth

        Hello Lindsay, I need to make this recipe in a 10” baking pan, how much should I alter the recipe?
        Warm regards….Elizabeth 

      3. Lindsay

        I haven’t baked it in that size pan before, so it’s a little hard to say. I’m thinking you might want to double it.

    1. CMarie

      I haven’t made this yet. In reading the blog I thought this cake requires 6 eggs? The recipe ingredients list 4 eggs. I just want to be sure I use the correct number for best results.
      Thank you

      1. Lindsay

        I see where I mention 6 eggs in the blog post, but I’m referencing an older vanilla cake recipe. In this one, it’s only 4 eggs.

    2. Marileigh Chappel

      Thank you for this! I had been wondering because I wanted to make this a poke cake and you need to make it a 9×13 so I am glad someone tried it! Thanks so much!

  5. ellen

    cant wait to try this, looks wonderful! my grandson loves vanilla cake. definitely trying this for his birthday. can I ask where you get your sprinkles from? they look so good.

    1. Lindsay

      There’s a note just below the instructions for the recipe with a link to the sprinkles. They are from Sweetapolita.

  6. Samaresh Biswal

    Hi Lindsay,

    Thanks for sharing the simple layered vanilla cake recipe . look forward to making it 🙂

    1. Anna

      I made this cake for fourth of July…cake was great, however, the frosting ruined it….is 12 cups of sugar accurate for the frosting? I’m thinking that’s the typo on this recipe that ruined this cake.

      1. Lindsay

        It’s not a typo. A pretty standard amount of powdered sugar for the amount of butter in a typical american buttercream. However, you can definitely reduce it, if you prefer.

      2. Sidney

        Im planning on making this cake soon. I want to know if i can reduce the sugar a bit and do you know what will happen if i use butter milk instead? Thank you

      3. Lindsay

        I think buttermilk would be fine. Reducing the sugar also reduces the moisture in the cake, so it will change the texture.

      4. Dorine

        Recipes is very good but next time i want to make a.small cake for a friend. So can i half this recipe??

    2. Tonya

      Hey lindsay,
      So i tried your recipe baked it as instructed , it came out light and fluffy as you said . One major problem after 2 to 3 days of baking the cake, it gets sour and strands appear when sliced there’s also an unpleasant smell . Why does that happen ?

      1. Lindsay

        I have never had that happen in all the times I’ve made this cake. Seems very strange. Maybe an ingredient had spoiled before adding it to the cake?

      2. Cheryl

        Hi Tonia,
        I’ve experienced what you described, not with this cake, but with other baked goods I’ve made. It’s because microbes are beginning to grow, and the cake is starting to go bad, as indicated by the “strings” and the bad odor. A very moist baked item should be refrigerated to retard microbial growth. And make sure your ingredients are the freshest they can be before you bake. I hope this helps, and happy baking!

    3. Rachela

      I only have 2 pans that are 8 inches.  Can I just split the batter among the 2 and cut the cakes in half creating 4 layers?  If so, do you suggest how long to cook for?  Thank you 

    4. Katie

      I made this cake for Father’s Day, I decorated it differently however it tasted absolutely amazing ! Was soooo moist and I haven’t baked for years, I hate a dry cake but this was lovely! I used a ready made frosting for the outside and vanilla butter cream for the layers ! Was delish!  Kids want to bake a cake at weekend and I will be using the recipe once again ! But I’m gonna add coco powder to the mix to make it chocolate this time, chocolate frosting to the outside and whipped cream for the layers ❤️

    5. DJ

      I can’t be the only person confused here. At first it said “ 1/2 cup (325 grams) of flour. Now it says “2 1/2 cup (325 grams) but 325 grams is 1 1/2 cups so now I’m trying to make this cake and I don’t know how much flour it actually needs. Help!

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12