Moist Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

This Moist Yellow Cake recipe is tender with a soft crumb! It’s made completely from-scratch and is way better than any box cake mix. The vanilla flavor pairs perfectly with the chocolate buttercream frosting for the perfect classic yellow cake!

collage of images - full yellow cake and a slice of cake

The Best Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

I’m sure you’ve probably heard me say before that I grew up on cake mixes, not cakes from scratch. Yellow cake, white cake, funfetti cake – you name it, we made it from a box. I have absolutely no issues with a box mix and have used them in plenty of recipes, including this Lemon Blueberry Poke Cake. But there’s no doubt after baking from scratch for many years now that from-scratch cakes are amazing and have even better flavor. So today we are going to ditch that yellow cake mix and make one from scratch!

What is Yellow Cake?

Yellow cake is basically a variation on a vanilla cake. There is yellow cake, white cake and then plenty of vanilla cakes that may not be especially white or yellow. While all of these cakes are basically vanilla in flavor, there are some subtle flavor and/or color differences that come from the ingredients used. In general for flavor, you could consider yellow cake to be a little more “egg-y” and buttery.

As for appearance, yellow cake is going to have more of a yellow color that comes primarily from the eggs. You can use whole eggs or a combination of whole eggs and egg yolks to achieve the yellow color. I have chosen to use some whole eggs and egg yolks to help both tenderize the cake and to add color. A white cake, on the other hand, is going to use only egg whites for color purposes. You can find that style vanilla cake here.

angled photo of a slice of yellow cake with chocolate frostingimage of whole yellow cake with chocolate frosting

How to Make Yellow Cake from Scratch (So Much Better Than a Cake Mix!)

To get started making this yellow cake from scratch, we want to make sure we have our signature ingredients – eggs and butter. We are also going to use the reverse creaming method for this cake to achieve a truly tender and moist cake.

The first thing you want to do is combine your wet ingredients. That’s going to be your buttermilk, eggs and vanilla extract. Pour about 3/4 cup of the wet gradients into another measuring cup and set both containers aside.

Next, combine your dry ingredients. You’ll need all purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Combine them in a large mixing bowl.

From there, begin adding the butter to the dry ingredients. Slowly add the butter about a tablespoon at a time, allowing it to combine before adding the next bit of butter. As you continue adding butter, the mixture should start to resemble damp sand.

slice of cake with a bite taken outclose up of full yellow cake

Once your butter is all incorporated, you’ll add the larger amount of wet ingredients and stir until all of the dry ingredients are wet, then turn the mixer up to medium-high speed for about 45 seconds to a minute until the batter is light and fluffy.

Add the remaining wet ingredients and mix until well combined. Divide the cake batter between the cake pans and bake away!

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

When your cake is ready to go, you’ll make the chocolate buttercream. It’s a simple combination of butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, some water or cream, and some salt. Once combined, you’ve got the perfect chocolate buttercream and it pairs perfectly with this yellow cake. However if you’re looking for a fudgy-er frosting with some melted chocolate in it, you could also check out my Fudgy Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

This Yellow Cake is seriously delicious! I’m in love with the texture of the cake created by using the reverse creaming method. It makes such a tender and moist cake. Paired with the classic chocolate frosting, it’s the best yellow cake and makes a wonderful celebration or birthday cake!

overhead photo of a slice of moist yellow cakeoverhead of full moist yellow cake

Read transcript

More from-scratch, better than box cake mix recipes you will love!

Best Moist Chocolate Cake
Moist Vanilla Cake
Homemade Strawberry Cake
Best Angel Food Cake
Best Carrot Cake Recipe
Red Velvet Layer Cake
German Chocolate Cake

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Slice of Homemade Moist Yellow Cake

Moist Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 slices 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


This Yellow Cake recipe is tender and moist, with a soft crumb! It’s made completely from-scratch and is way better than any box cake mix. The vanilla flavor pairs perfectly with the chocolate buttercream frosting for the perfect classic yellow cake!



Moist Yellow Cake

  • 1 1/4 cups (300ml) buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (310g) sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (224g) unsalted butter, room temperature

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 2 1/2 cups (560g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 9 cups (1035g) powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (114g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 45 tbsp (60-75ml) water/milk
  • 1/41/2 tsp salt
  • Carousel sprinkle medley


1. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C) and prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper in the bottom and baking spray on the sides.
2. Combine the buttermilk, eggs, egg yolks and vanilla extract in a large bowl, then separate about 3/4 cup of the mixture into another bowl or measuring cup. About 1 1/4 cups should remain in the other bowl. Set both aside.
3. In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
4. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the butter about a tablespoon at a time, allowing it to incorporate before adding the next tablespoon. As you add more butter, the mixture will start to clump together a bit a should end up resembling wet sand.
5. Add the larger of the reserved egg mixture (about 1 1/4 cups) to the dry ingredients/butter mixture. Stir on the lowest speed until it’s incorporated, then scrape down the sides of the bowl.
6. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds to a minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
7. Turn the speed down to low and slowly add the remaining egg mixture in a slow stream until incorporated.
8. Scrape the sides of the bowl, then turn speed back up and mix until well combined, about 10-15 seconds.
9. Divide the batter evenly between the three cake pans and bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
10. Remove cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
11. To make the frosting, add the butter to a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth.
12. Slowly add half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
13. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla extract and mix until well combined and smooth.
Add 3-4 tablespoons of water or milk and mix until well combined and smooth.
14. Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and salt and mix until smooth. Add additional water or milk, as needed to get the right consistency of frosting.
15. 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. Refer to my tutorial, if needed.
16. Place the first cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round.
17. Spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake.
18. Add the second layer of cake and another cup of frosting.
19. 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.
20. Use a decorating comb to add pattern to the sides of the cake, if desired.
21. Pipe shells of frosting around the top edge of the cake. I used Ateco tip 844.
22. Add a few sprinkles to the top of the cake. I used this sprinkle mix. Store in an air-tight container until ready to serve. Cake is best for 3-4 days.

Keywords: yellow cake, moist yellow cake, best yellow cake, yellow cake with chocolate frosting, cake mix yellow cake, yellow cake recipe, easy yellow cake recipe

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Recipe rating

  1. Leighann

    Hi Lindsay~
    I’m going to give your recipe a try. We are new to a high elevation area. Would you have any suggestions as to altering the recipe for high altitudes?

    1. Mikayla

      I just did this recipe and live at altitude (6800 ft). I didn’t do any adjustments and aside from sticking to the pan it seems to have turned out fine.

      Next time I’ll make sure I put parchment rounds on the bottom to help with removal. I also only had 2 8” rounds so my layers are a bit taller and that could have cause some of the issues removing too. Altitude baking can be a bugger.

  2. Chanel watkins

    This will be my first time making the cake and wanted to know can I use whole milk instead of butter milk?

  3. JoeC

    Thank you Lindsay. The cake was perfect. I did substitute sour cream for buttermilk since I didn’t have any buttermilk. I also let the cake freeze overnight before frosting. Everyone said it was very moist. I love a lot of frosting and this recipe had a cup left over and was very creamy and non-greasy. I don’t think I’ll ever buy another grocery store cake again.

  4. Stephanie Burns

    Hello! I was wondering how I would adjust the recipe to make 3 10inch layers. Would you double or triple the recipe? I love all of your recipes they are all so tasty!

    1. Lindsay

      I haven’t tried it to see how it turns out, but you can certainly try it. I would lower the baking temperature to 325 though. Also, I would expect it to be slightly denser than one made as three rounds.

  5. Stephanie Burns

    Hi! I was wondering how I would adjust this recipe for a 3 layer 10inch cake? I absolutely love all of your recipes!

    1. Lindsay

      I have not done a 10 inch, so it’s a little hard to say. I would think you might need to double it. So glad to hear you enjoy everything!

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