Vanilla Sheet Cake

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 Cake

Vanilla 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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Recipe rating

100 Comments
  1. Jennifer Stringer

    Beware! TWO layers are neede to make a standard height sheet cake. This recipe make only one layer. I wish I could post a picture because it turned out great! Everyone raved and raved. It was my first time making a sheet cake this large before and it was so easy to follow this recipe (except that I had to make a second layer really quick, but no big deal because it was easy!) thank you very much for this delicious and simple recipe.

  2. Kiara knight

    If I want to substitute the eggs for mashed bananas what other adjustments would I need
    P.s. I need to make this today for an event pls let me know soon🥺

      1. Lindsay

        I’m sorry, but I don’t work with substitutes like that and haven’t ever tried any from others. Any recommendation I’d make wouldn’t be based on actually trying anything and knowing if it’s good.

      1. Madeline Carraway

        It turned out really well and I have frozen it will let you know how it turns out thank you

  3. 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!

  4. 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!!

  5. 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.

  6. 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. 

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!

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