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
  • 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.


  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 877
  • Sugar: 85.8 g
  • Sodium: 94.7 mg
  • Fat: 49.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 108 g
  • Protein: 6.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 190.6 mg

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. Donna

    The cake was great one of the best recipes ever. The frosting had way too much sugar I would go for half and then add sugar from there it sort of ruined the cake. 

  2. Cecelia Dowdy

    This cake is delicious! I forced myself to make it last night, even though I was tired from studying all day! I hesitated since I’d never made a cake where you mix the butter so gradually! It’s moist and delicious! I’d post pics here if I could! Maybe I’ll email them to you! Have a blessed Sunday!

    1. Jacki

      Would you recommend any alterations for high altitude? I live at 10, 000 feet and want to make this for my Bday in a few weeks. I usually add an extra 1/4 cup of flour. Any advice would be great!

      1. Lindsay

        I’m guessing there are adjustments you could make, I’m just not familiar with high altitude baking. I’m sorry.

      2. April Jackson

        Just saw your comment, Jacki. I live at about 7,000 feet. I usually add an extra tablespoon of flour per cup and decrease sugar by one tablespoon per cup. Results are great!

  3. Covesa

    This was delicious! I also found that the backwards method went faster for me. Even my mom looked up and said, “You’re done?” 

    My only question is: Why is there so much frosting? I cut the frosting recipe in half and still had about 2 cups left over. 

    Great recipe! This will be my go to for 3 layer yellow cake! Yum! 

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! As for the frosting, it really depends on the person and how you like to frost your cake. I have a tutorial that shows how I frost my cake and it uses a fair amount of frosting. If you cut it in half and still had that much left over, then you really must not use much frosting. It’s really just a preference.

  4. Mia

    So I love yellow cake, but I’ve always made it with vanilla buttercream. But now I’d like to with chocolate buttercream instead, which I’ve never made before. Can you still do the viva towel smoothing trick with chocolate buttercream?

  5. Brigitte

    I made this cake for a co-worker’s birthday and while the taste is great, the cake is more dense than i typically make. I would compare it to more of a pound cake layer cake but with great flavor. The icing is really delicious and is not too sweet which is what I was searching for. It does crust nicely and makes it easy to frost the cake. I would recommend this recipe as it has great flavor and is definitely better than any box mix. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Hadeal Ali

    So I just made this amazing cake recipe that literally saved my life! After baking 4 cakes I finally found a winner. You guys, this is an amazing recipe and it’s perfect with a cup of coffee! 😁 thank you so much for posting this. I found your tutorials on YouTube first. Lovely videos I must say. I just have one question when making the cupcake version and not adding buttermilk to that recipe. Is buttermilk for cakes usually? Pardon my ignorance. Also are the measurements smaller because it’s cupcakes and not a 3 layer cake? Thanks Lindsay!

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I haven’t tried it as cupcakes, but buttermilk should be fine. You can reduce the amount batter for fewer cupcakes, if you like.

  7. Kate

    Omg too much sugar and too much work. Is all that back and forth mixing necessary? I don’t recall having to do all that for a simple moist yellow cake mix which is all I’m looking for (to make a pineapple upside down cake).

    1. Lindsay

      If you read through the post it talks about the reverse creaming method, which is what is used for this cake. It may seem a little confusing but it’s actually very simple and the result a wonderfully textured cake. You could certainly use another recipe, but this one really is great. For the regular creaming method, you could try this cake.

  8. Lauren Barry

    Thank you! I went w/the cupcake recipe before I saw your reply. They’re delicious, and were devoured at the party I took them too. Love your recipes!!!

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