Moist Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe

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!

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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

577 Comments
  1. Valene

    Since the 1st time I’ve used this recipe I haven’t looked back. It’s definitely an amazing vanilla recipe!

    Been using recipe with 6 and 8 inch pans. Will attempt a ¼ Sheet pan in a day or 2.
    🌸

  2. Akeyla

    This is my forever go to recipe I LOVE it. Thank God I found your page…. however I would love to use this recipe for a rich chocolate cake; do I have to substitute some flour? And add coffee to hot water to make it richer? Can you please help? Thanks alot in advance

  3. Amy Liepins

    Can I add coffee to make a coffee cake?! Do I need to take an ingredient out like the milk if I add coffee? Thanks Amy

    1. Lindsay

      I’m not sure how much coffee you would need to add to really get a good coffee flavor. I would personally dissolve powdered coffee or espresso into the milk. Then you can add as much flavor as you want and not sacrifice having the fat from the milk in the cake, which helps make it tender.

    1. Lindsay

      I do not know and I personally would not recommend baking it all as one tall cake. It will turn out very dense and far different from the intended result.

  4. Vanessa

    In the article it states to use six eggs for the cake, but the ingredients lists only FOUR large eggs. Which is it?

  5. Alexandria Ronalds

    Tried this recipe, loved it, the client also loved the cake, I’ve never had a successful sponge so I was really happy that this was perfect. Thank you so much, looking forward to trying all your other sponge recipes.

  6. Anna

    Did you recently change the recipe for the vanilla frosting? I could have sworn that this recipe called for both butter and shortening?

    1. Lindsay

      Yes, it did originally. You can definitely do it either way. If using shortening, just use half butter and half shortening.

  7. Courtney

    Hi
    I absolutely love this cake recipe but I need to make it gluten free. Would I just need to change the flour or change anything else in the recipe?

    1. Lindsay

      It’s hard to say without seeing it. I would say that the layers (assuming you did 3 layers) should be about an inch or so each.

  8. Olwyn

    In the demo it shows adding shortening to the frosting but the instructions only mention 3 cups of butter. Just checking. Thanks!

      1. Olwyn Fleury

        Thanks Lindsay. I prefer the taste of all butter but I know you often add shortening for stability. I’ll use all butter for this one.

      1. Olwyn Fleury

        Stove repair guy showed up just as I was about to put the cakes in the oven, so they had to sit out in the counter for 30 minutes before baking. I was concerned that may have caused an issue. Still am really.

  9. Steph Drillsma

    My go to vanilla cake recipe, will never use a different one! Really easy to do and comes out amazing! Do you think you can make it dairy free, if I used maybe vegan butter and oat milk?

  10. Maxine

    This is perfection. I used sour milk, cuz that’s what I had, and this cake is one of the moistest, most tender and flavorful cakes I’ve ever eaten in my whole life. I only needed about a quarter of the frosting. We tried it with both chocolate and vanilla buttercream, and it’s perfect with both. I think it would also be great with a layer of jam, though honestly it doesn’t need a thing. It’s just that good. This is what all vanilla cake aspires to be. It’s more like a yellow than a white cake, because of the yolks, but to me it hits just the right balance.

  11. Johanna

    Hi! I made your cupcake recipe that is the same recipe as this, but halved (the cupcakes were amazing by the way), but that recipe calls for 2Tbsp oil and this only calls for 3 Tbsp. I want to make a cake for my daughter’s birthday so I’m wondering if I should double the cupcake recipe and use 4 or use 3 like this recipe says. Thank you so much! I’ve been looking for a good cupcake/cake recipe for a while and this is my (and my husband’s favorite).

    1. Lindsay

      Either way is fine. Since making this recipe, I have started adding that extra tablespoon of oil for a touch more moisture, so you certainly could do that.

  12. Jess

    This recipe really is amazing. I’ve made this cake for a few different events and every time it’s a hit and there’s never any left overs (much to the disappointment of whoever I made the cake for). My friends told me it was better than the profession wedding cakes they’d test run and another friend who’s an event manager for restaurant (who always samples any of the big event cakes) has said that it’s one of the best she’s tried. Thank you for this recipe!!!!

  13. Val

    I’ve made this recipe twice and it’s amazing! 
    I’m wanting to make a strawberry cake and was wondering if I could add in fresh strawberries into the batter?

  14. Jass Conners

    I love all of your recipes and they have never failed! Moist delicious cakes and cupcakes! Thank you so much!

    1. Sahar

      And which one do you suggest for carving and sculpted cake between your swirl rainbow recipe and this cake recipe?

      1. Lindsay

        I don’t really do sculpted cakes, so I’m not sure. I think the rainbow one is just slightly more dense than this vanilla one.

    2. Lindsay

      Are you looking for a pretty dense cake? I don’t think of this one as being particularly dense, but you could try it.

  15. Caitlin Johnson

    hi! i was wondering if i could reduce the amount of sugar in the buttercream to make it less sweet? if i did that would i have to adjust any other ingredients?

    1. Melissa @ Life, Love and Sugar

      Yes, you can reduce the amount of powdered sugar. Just keep in mind it will change the consistency of the frosting.

  16. DelieshasTreatz

    Hi Lindsey i tried the cake recipe however my cakes crumbled?

    What could i do to stop them crumbling?

    1. Lindsay

      They shouldn’t crumble and it’s hard for me to say what happened. You want to be sure to handle them carefully.

  17. Dora Dondi

    Hello x I just finished making this and it’s summer here in New ZealaNd — will the icing last in the warmer air temp or should I put it in the fridge

    1. Lindsay

      I’m not sure what the temperature is like there. Do you have air conditioning? Did you include the shortening in the frosting? The shortening would help it stay more stable in warm temperatures.

  18. Eimear

    Hi there, Im looking to try this recipe for a birthday cake and I want to cover with fondant. Do you think this this cake is robust enough to hold up under the heavy fondant or is there a different recipe that you would recommend? Thank you in advance

    1. Lindsay

      I don’t work with fondant a lot so I’m not the best person to ask. It’s not a particularly dense cake so if that’s what you need then this may not be the right one.

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