Vanilla Sheet Cake

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This Vanilla Sheet Cake is a wonderfully moist and fluffy vanilla cake recipe that is easy to make! It’s covered in a creamy vanilla buttercream and made in a 12×18 inch pan, so it’s perfect for a crowd!

Vanilla Sheet CakeVanilla Sheet Cake recipe

Is it weird that I’m already starting to think about what I’ll do for the boys’ first birthday? Yes, they are just over 6 months old, but they are already starting to show preferences for things and gravitating towards certain foods and toys, so themes are popping into my head.

If you’re like my mom, then you don’t understand the whole first birthday party thing and why people make a big deal out of it when the kids don’t even remember it. Well I’ve discovered as a new parent to twins that the real reason for a first birthday party is not for the kids – it’s for the parents. When we make it to that one year mark, it’ll not only be a celebration of a whole year with those sweet boys, but a celebration that we made it! These early months are precious, but boy are they hard too! Especially with two!

Seriously though, if there’s one thing I should be good at as a mom, it should be cakes and birthday parties. I’m thinking that parties with friends and such will feature my fair share of cakes, so I’m getting ready with this Vanilla Sheet Cake. It’s a classic birthday party cake! Pink frosting is optional, of course. 🙂

One thing that’s great about sheet cakes is the ease of making them. You know I’m a lover of layer cakes, but when baking for a larger group or with only a little time to prepare, sheet cakes are handy to have.

Best Vanilla Sheet CakeFavorite Vanilla Sheet Cake recipe

How to make a Vanilla Sheet Cake

To get started with this vanilla sheet cake, you’ll want to cream your butter, sugar and vegetable oil together until they are light in color and fluffy. Don’t skimp on the creaming – it adds air to the batter that gives the final cake part of its fluffy texture. The butter adds great flavor and moisture to the cake, while the vegetable oil adds some additional moisture that sticks around for days.

The remaining ingredients are all staples – eggs, vanilla extract, flour, baking powder, salt and milk. I chose to go with all purpose flour and regular milk, but I also tested this sheet cake with cake flour and buttermilk.

The hubs and I really preferred this cake with the all purpose flour, but cake flour was also delicious. The texture is completely different! The all purpose flour gave a looser crumb, while the cake flour was tighter and reminded me a little more of a “bakery-style” cake. Even though we had our preference, you really couldn’t go wrong with either.

As for the milk, I liked both but didn’t see enough difference using buttermilk to use that as the final ingredient. While I always have buttermilk powder handy and ready to use, most people don’t and for the purpose of keeping this sheet cake simple and approachable, I stuck with trusty, classic milk.

The frosting is a lovely, light vanilla buttercream. I added a little corn syrup to it, but you could substitute that with a little honey. The corn syrup helps keep it soft and smooth and perfect for topping a light cake! I finished it off with some fun sprinkles, because what birthday cake doesn’t have sprinkles?

This vanilla sheet cake was a BIG hit! It is so soft and moist with a tender crumb. The flavor is rich and buttery with great vanilla flavor. Everything just melts in your mouth. I shared a good bit of this cake with a friend and I dare say we took forks to it and left few crumbs behind. It’s totally addicting and so delicious!

Decorated slice of Vanilla Sheet Cake


Read transcript

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slice of Vanilla Sheet Cake
Recipe

Vanilla Sheet Cake

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, plus cooling time
  • Yield: 25-30 slices 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Vanilla Sheet Cake is a wonderfully moist and fluffy vanilla cake recipe that is easy to make! It’s covered in a creamy vanilla buttercream and made in a 12×18 inch pan, so it’s perfect for a crowd!


Scale

Ingredients

Vanilla Sheet Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups (293g) all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (168g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (310g) sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240ml) milk

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening*
  • 6 cups (690g) powdered sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup (or honey)
  • 46 tbsp water or milk
  • Pink, Peach and Ivory gel icing color
  • Sprinkles

Instructions

1. Prepare a 12×18 inch sheet pan/jelly roll pan with non-stick baking spray. 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, and oil to and 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 two at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each addition. 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 vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
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. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
9. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool.
10. To make the frosting, beat the butter and shortening together until smooth.
11. Slowly add half of the powdered sugar and the salt and mix until smooth.
12. Add the vanilla extract, corn syrup and 4 tablespoons of water or milk and mix until smooth.
13. Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add additional water or milk, as needed to get the right consistency of frosting.
14. Color the frosting to your desired shade. I used a little bit of pink, peach and ivory gel icing colors.
15. Spread the frosting evenly onto the cooled cake and then top with sprinkles. Cover the cake well and store at room temperature. Cake is best when eaten within 3-4 days.

Notes

* I like to use some shortening with the butter for reasons you can read about in this vanilla buttercream post. Feel free to substitute it with additional butter, but keep in mind that you might want to refrigerate the cake and frosting.

Keywords: vanilla cake recipe, vanilla sheet cake recipe, best vanilla cake recipe

Enjoy!

 

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Vanilla Sheet Cake collage

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Recipe rating

89 Comments
  1. Abby F

    I made this cake and trimmed off an edge, cut it into four pieces, and made a rectangular layer cake with vanilla frosting and apricot jam. People loved it! I found the baking time not accurate- I think I had to bake it for 20 minutes. But that’s okay. I’ll make this again!

  2. Kdym

    Made this using metric measurements and substituted buttermilk for the milk.  Wow!  Light super fluffy batter like meringue. Baked up beautifully smelled and tasted fantastic.  My new favorite recipe!!
    Thank you!!

  3. A

    U haven’t mentioned what sugar to use inside the cake ??
    And also can I substitue vegetable oil with sunflower oil?
    Thanks x

    1. Lindsay

      I use granulated white sugar unless otherwise specified. I’ve never tried sunflower to be able to say for sure.

  4. Emilie

    I’m not sure if I did something wrong, but this came out so thin/flat. Earlier this week I made your vanilla layer cake and it turned great, so I wanted to try the sheet cake for another baking project I’m working on today. I followed the directions and didn’t make any substitutions, but the cake turned out very thin, like less than an inch tall! Could i have over-mixed the batter? Would love any suggestions as I think I might need to make a second cake to supplement the thin layer I have (I’m stacking to make a fire truck) and don’t want to make the same mistake again! Thanks in advance for any help!

    1. Lindsay

      It’s hard to say. This is a thin cake and meant to be that way. I can’t remember exactly how thick it was, but probably not much more than an inch. I’m not sure if you did anything wrong. How thick are you looking for it to be? This is pretty similar to the layered vanilla cake, just a few adjustments. I would think either should work similarly and be fine for stacking.

      1. Emilie

        Lindsay, thank you so much for taking the time to reply. I realized after posting that my baking powder was a little old… I think that might have been at least part of the problem. I couldn’t get to the store to get more for the second bake so I made a substitute with baking soda and vinegar. And I baked it in a 9×13 instead of the sheet pan just to make sure I got enough height. It worked well, and the cake was delicious. I think the baking powder was the issue, because in addition to height, there was a big difference in texture between the two bakes. The first one was very flat and dense (I like a dense cake but this was different) and the second one was perfect. I need to remember to double check the date on my baking powder next time! I bake enough that it really shouldn’t be a problem, but I must have been overzealous in “stocking up” a couple years ago, because even my backup cab was past its date! Haha! Thank you for taking the time to help me figure it out. The cake turned out great. 

  5. mtngrl84

    Spectacular! This was my FIRST sheet cake, wanting to layer a neapolitan style if I was successful with this recipe. YES I’ve 1/2 the recipe and used a smaller pan and lined it with parchment and spray (paranoia) haha anyway now that this turned out awesome I’ve just got to figure out the chocolate and strawberry sheet cake recipes to complete the project! Thank you very much it smells fantastic. 8300 ft baked for 14 minutes at 350

  6. Yulia

    This recipe sounds so delicious ! 
    I’ll be making it into cupcakes for my gender reveal at work! I’m so excited! 

  7. Jennie

    Hello! I’ve been following you for a while and finally get to use a recipe for a birthday cake. I see above you said this may not stand up to carving. I want to do a simple shield design. (My twins are pretty heavy into Paw Patrol). Is this doable or should I still go for a denser cake? TIA. 

  8. Rashi

    Wow! I just made this and it turned out great! I only eat kosher and I wanted to have this cake with a meat meal. I didn’t have any non-dairy milk, so I substituted the milk with creamer! It tastes delicious and is perfectly fluffy!

  9. nelfwy

    I was wondering if this would be good for carving out as a book cake and being able to support a 6 inch round cake placed on top as well as wilton castle towers.

    1. Lindsay

      I really don’t do any cake carving, but my impression is that people like to work with fairly dense cakes and I don’t know if I would say this cake is that. I feel like you can dowel any cake well and it should support another tier.

  10. Maria B

    I selected this recipe solely because I could have it cooked, cooled (thank you freezer) and frosted in the amount of time I had – 2 hours! This cake went from oven to freezer in order to get it to cool to frost. I started at 8 and was done by 10:08 frosted and a generous shake of sprinkles! The cake and the frosting were hit! For the frosting, I opted to replace the shortening with Coconut oil and use honey in place of corn syrup. This frosting is so delicious, I am making it again to slather on a chocolate cake. Thank you for a delicious (and relatively quick) recipe!

  11. Kari

    To clarify, if you want to bake this in a 9×13 pan, would you need to alter the recipe amount or just the bake time? I would like to bake two 9 x 13 cakes and stack them with filling in the middle. Thanks!

  12. Sarah Rosenberg

    I made this cake on a whim tonight and it is SO delicious! So much vanilla flavour, a light, moist crumb… I will definitely be making it again! 

  13. Tami

    I doubled the recipe as my ‘sheet pans’ are huge… I found the cake to smell really eggy while baking … (8 eggs seemed like a lot)
    But it tasted okay. I don’t think I’d make it exactly the same next time.   

  14. Katia

    How would I make this in a 9×13 size? I need it to be 9×13 and about 3/4 inch thick (because I am stacking 6 layers on top to make a rainbow cake)! Thanks in advance!

    1. Lindsay

      I’m not sure about making that thick, specifically, but you could try cutting it in half and doing the 9×13 pan and see how it does.

      1. Ana

        This cake in batter form tastes EXACTLY like the quintessential “cake batter” flavor. It is so so good and also perfect as a cake!

  15. Helen

    I made this cake for my grand-nephew BD and everyone loved it. Do you have a recipe for a chocolate rather than vanilla?

      1. Steph Twigge

        Hi there, I made this delicious sheet cake tonight and I was impressed with the large flat cake! It didn’t dome in the middle or get too brown. Perfect for what I need!

  16. Cathy Dolan

    Hi Lindsay l really like this recipe for vanilla I’m doing cake for a grade 6 graduation one vanilla and one chocolate my pan is12x18/2 3/16 can I double the recipe or make two cakes I will be putting a filling in between l also need a chocolate recipe please I am making the cakes to Feed around 150 parents and students,teachers ect. Looking forward to hearing from you Cathy

  17. Anthony

    I notice some wanted a deeper cake and considered altering amounts I would rather make two sandwich them with lemon curd warmed with a little peach juice then chilled till cooled enuf to spread easily then finish as in recipe or with a birthday topper on a icing for extra finish looks good tasted yummy or do one lemon one choc a sowerby

  18. Sarah Pardes Ballman

    I thought the result was a bit bland – if I were to make again, I’d add more sugar and vanilla. I did really like the light texture, however.

    1. Lindsay

      I haven’t used that size pan, but you may have extra batter. If you use all the batter, you would probably need to bake it a little longer. I hope that helps!

  19. Anne Chen

    Hi Lindsey, I just finished baking your Vanilla Sheet Cake for Valentine’s Day dessert. I colored the frosting Rose Pink, and covered it with a beautiful Valentine’s Day Sprinkle melange. It looks beautiful! I can’t wait to taste it. Thank you for the inspiration, and thank you for the recipe. Happy Valentine’s Day :)!

  20. Anne

    Hi Lindsay, I just finished my vanilla sheet cake to have for dessert tonight to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It looks great, I can’t wait to taste it. Thanks for the recipe. Happy Valentine’s Day :)!

  21. Sophie

    Used this recipe for double layer sheet cake for kids birthday party – absolutely delicious. So moist. A lot of compliments. I used Earth Balance and Ripple milk to make it dairy free. Will definitely be my go to cake recipe. Thanks!

    1. ASHA

      Hi Sophie,
      I have a question, did you make two 12×18 pans of the cake or did you use a smaller pan size for each layer? If so, what was the pan size and how long did you bake each layer? I want to do this recipe, but I need it to be much thicker. It will be for an adult party. Please help guys! 🙂

  22. Kat

    I have a 16in x 12in pan. Would you have any idea if this recipe would be enough or would I have to double the recipe? 

  23. Neha

    Hi,
    The cake looks really delicious. Can you give me the name of the 12×18 cake pan. I want to make a sheet cake for my sons birthday. But am nervous cos never made it any time. Can you share some tips also.

  24. Abbie

    Hello! Awhile back I made your moist vanilla cupcakes. WOW! Amazing. Anyhow, I have a couple bdays coming up and would like to try this sheet cake recipe. Question: Should I double this if I want to use a 12×18 sheet but with 2 inch sides? I am wanting a nice thick sheet cake. TIA!

    1. Lindsay

      So glad you enjoyed the cupcakes! If you’re looking for this cake to actually be about 2 inches thick, then yes I’d try doubling it. I haven’t ever tried it before, so you’ll want to test out things with the baking time.

    2. Florence

      Hi Lindsay! Can i use all vegetable oil instead og using it with butter? If yes how much oil can i use? Thanks! 😊

      1. Lindsay

        I don’t think it would really turn out the same way. You can’t really cream oil and sugar together and I’m not sure if leaving out the creaming step would give you as nice of a cake texture. Plus I tend to think vanilla cakes that use butter have a better flavor than those with only oil.

  25. Susan Darnell

    Help!!! I only have white wheat flour!! Bugs were in my all purpose flour! Do I need to anything different to this recipe using white wheat fflour? I need to make a half sheet cake.

  26. Karin

    I made this cake over the weekend and it is fabulous! I was a little afraid it would be bland but it has a wonderful flavor and is, unfortunately, the kind of cake you keep going back to – just one more tiny piece every time – until you notice how much you’ve eaten! I’m going to make it for my church picnic this Sunday. Thank you!

  27. Laurie

    Hi Lindsay,
    I’ve been following your blog for over a year. You are so creative and your recipes are fabulous. I’m thrilled that you share your love for God’s word too! Keep on being that Prov 31 gal and may the Lord continue to bless you, your family and your blog. Great job! ????

  28. MF

    Hi Lindsay!
    Your recipes all look totally mouthwatering!
    Have you ever tested any of your recipes in a dairy-free version, like with earth balance buttery flavored sticks or margarine, soymilk, non-dairy whipping cream, etc.?

    1. Carrie

      I made this dairy free using almond or coconut milk and vegan margarine, everybody loved it and no body would know it was dairy free! I plan to make this many more times!

  29. Antonia

    Hi Lindsay,
    This looks lovely and m going to try it for my kids. The largest pan I have is a 13×9 would I need to alter the recipe in any way? Don’t know if my pan may be too small.
    Thank you.

      1. Marylou Moore

        Lindsay! On the video, it looks like you use heavy cream? The recipe doesn’t say that. What do I use, milk or heavy cream?
        Thanks!

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