The BEST White Cake Recipe
Tender, moist, and fluffy, this white cake recipe is made completely from scratch and is so much better than a box mix. Make this simple but elegant cake for birthdays, family gatherings, and holiday parties!
Whether you’re an experienced baker with dozens of cakes under your belt or are just starting your baking journey, white cake is a classic dessert that every home baker should know how to make.
Why? Because homemade white cake is perfect for any occasion. The layers of tender cake and vanilla buttercream frosting make this simple cake the ideal canvas for any cake decoration you can imagine!
Top your cake with multicolored sprinkles for birthdays, add gel food coloring to the frosting to suit any holiday, or enjoy the cake as is any day of the year.
After one bite, I think you’ll agree that this is the best white cake recipe!
This is a simple white cake recipe topped with my favorite vanilla buttercream. But don’t let the word “simple” fool you — there’s still plenty of flavor in this cake!
A detailed list of ingredients is provided in the recipe card below, but here are the key items you’ll need to make it:
- Cake flour: I suggest sticking with cake flour versus all-purpose flour. Cake flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour which creates a tender, fine crumb. If you don’t keep cake flour on hand, you can make a substitute with just two ingredients.
- Salt: Enhances the vanilla flavor and also balances out the sweetness of the batter.
- Buttermilk: Creates a soft, tender crumb and also provides moisture. Don’t skip the buttermilk! If you don’t have any, you’ll need to make a buttermilk substitute using regular milk and vinegar (or lemon juice).
- Clear vanilla extract: Pure vanilla extract may be used as well. However, clear vanilla will ensure that the cake remains perfectly white.
- Unsalted butter: I recommend using unsalted butter since the amount of salt in salted butters can vary between different brands. The butter and sugar need to be creamed together for a good 4 to 5 minutes to create a super light, fluffy cake.
- Granulated sugar: I love brown sugar in cakes, but for this recipe you want to stick with granulated sugar to get that classic white cake look.
- Egg whites: Egg yolks have fat in them, which can weigh down the cake. By using just egg whites, you’ll create a lighter cake and it will help keep it perfectly white.
How to Make White Cake
If you’ve only eaten white cake from a box mix, you’re in for a treat! This scratch recipe is incredibly easy to prepare.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Whisk together the wet ingredients: In a large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and vanilla.
- Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy: In a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter just until smooth. Then, add the sugar and beat for 4 to 5 minutes or until the mixture is light in color and fluffy.
- Add the dry and wet ingredients: While the mixer is running on the lowest speed, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk mixture to the butter and sugar. You’ll need to do this in three increments, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
- Beat egg whites to stiff peaks & fold them in: In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Make sure the bowl and the beaters are clean; if you use a dirty bowl the egg whites might not stiffen properly. Gently fold half of the egg whites into the cake batter, then fold in the remaining half.
- Bake the cake layers: Divide the batter between two 9-inch round cake pans that have been lined with parchment paper and sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake the cake layers until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool completely: Let the cake layers cool in the pans for about 20 minutes before removing. Then, they’ll need to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
- Make the frosting: Beat the butter until smooth. You can use a large mixing bowl and an electric handheld mixer to do this, or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the powdered sugar to the butter and mix until smooth. I prefer adding 1 cup of sugar at a time to make this process easier. Add the heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and salt last.
- Decorate the cake: Level the tops of each cake layer. You can use a knife or a cake leveler to do this. Place one of the cake layers on a cake stand and frost. Place the second cake layer on top of the first, dollop with more frosting, and frost the entire cake. If desired, reserve some of the frosting to pipe onto the top of the cake. I also added sprinkles to mine for a pop of color!
Frequently Asked Questions
Vanilla cakes typically use the whole egg and have an off-white color. White cakes only use egg whites, which helps to keep the cake light and fluffy and also gives it the classic “white” color.
Absolutely! I opted to make a white layer cake, but you can certainly make this white cake recipe using a 9×13-inch baking dish and increasing the baking time to 35 to 45 minutes.
Yes! You may wrap individual slices with plastic wrap and freeze in a large freezer bag for up to 3 months.
The cake layers and frosting will also freeze well for up to 3 months. I recommend wrapping the cake layers tightly with plastic wrap and storing the frosting in a freezer bag. When you’re ready to assemble the cake, thaw the cake layers and frosting overnight in the fridge. Bring the frosting to room temperature and mix well before frosting the cake.
You can store this cake in an airtight container at room temperature for one to two days or in the fridge for up to four days.
If storing the cake in the fridge, I recommend setting it out a little bit ahead of time so that it can come to room temperature.
Additional Frosting Options
For this particular cake, I used my favorite vanilla buttercream frosting recipe but increased the amount of frosting so I had enough to decorate the whole cake.
If desired, you may frost your homemade white cake with another frosting. Here are a few more options to try:
- Make sure to bring all of your ingredients (butter, buttermilk, and egg whites) to room temperature before getting started.
- Be sure to cream the butter and sugar together until light in color and fluffy. This step may take about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Alternate mixing the dry ingredients and the buttermilk + vanilla into the creamed butter and sugar. This will help to prevent overmixing and create a lighter cake.
- Gently fold the egg whites in until they’re just combined, you want to avoid overmixing them into the cake batter.
White Cake Recipe
For the white cake:
- 2 ¾ cups cake flour (spooned & leveled) (305 grams)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk at room temperature (240 ml)
- 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract or pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened (230 grams)
- 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar (350 grams)
- 5 large egg whites at room temperature
For the vanilla buttercream frosting:
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter softened (340 grams)
- 4 ½ cups powdered sugar (540 grams)
- 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (45 ml)
- 1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract or pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- To make the white cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract in a measuring cup and stir until well combined. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the butter on low speed until smooth, then slowly mix in the granulated sugar. Once all of the sugar is added, increase to medium speed and continue mixing for another 4 to 5 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar in three additions alternating with the buttermilk mixture (begin and end with the dry ingredients) on low speed. Mix in each addition until just combined, making sure not to over mix the batter.
- In a separate clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold half of the egg whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining egg whites until just combined.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pans and spread around into one even layer. Gently tap the cake pans on the counter a couple times to release any air bubbles.
- Bake for 28 to 32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then remove the cakes from the pans and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the vanilla buttercream frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth.
- Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, making sure to mix well after each addition, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, and salt and mix on medium speed until fully combined, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- To assemble the cake: Level the tops of each cake with a knife or cake leveler. Place one of the cakes on a cake stand, top with a layer of frosting, and smooth it out into one even layer. Place the second layer on top, then use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake.
More Classic Cake Recipes To Make!
Adapted from My Recipes
I made this cake but I did my own buttermilk and it made my cake taste weird next time I have to use store brought buttermilk
I really want to make this, but do you think it would be ok if I use two 8 inch pans? I don’t bake often so I don’t want to go out and buy more pans for one recipe.
As long as they’re deep enough, that would be fine! You’ll just need to increase the baking time.
This is soooooooooo good! Your recipes are always a winner. I am a great fan. I want to bake the cake again. Can i use the same measurements for three 8 inch pans or would I have to alter the measurements? The recipe you have provide is for a two 9 inch pans?
Thank you! Yes, you can bake this recipe in three 8-inch cake pans. You may need to adjust the baking time slightly.
Can I use 4 eggs instead? And 2% milk instead of buttermilk?
It would be more of a vanilla cake than a white cake and it will change the taste and texture of it too.
I have a question about the buttercream frosting. Is this recipe thick enough for piping borders, flowers, writing, etc?? Thanks!
Yes, it is! You can start with a little less heavy cream at first if you want to make it a bit thicker.
Thank you for your fast response! One more question about the icing, if I may? I’ve been looking at reviews on Amazon for clear vanilla, and they all seem to have just awful reviews of the taste. What can you suggest, and do you think that using regular would tinge the color of this frosting a whole lot? I’m really wanting a nice, white cake. :/
I don’t find the clear version to have a bad taste, but it’s certainly fine to use pure vanilla extract. It will give the frosting a slightly off-white color, but it will still be pretty white.
made this cake today for my sister’s 17th birthday… i am more of a person that likes to lean towards cooking rather than baking, but this recipe made it so easy for me and it came out perfectly. The cake itself was so moist and fine and the buttercream frosting came out great! I am not a cake person either, but I could eat this all day!
Does the type of buttermilk matter? Low fat? Whole? Fat free?
Low-fat or whole are fine, I’ve used both in this recipe.
Best instructions ever on a cake recipe.
But I did something wrong my cake did not fluff. I’m so disappointed in myself.
So glad you found the instructions helpful, Stephanie! I believe you messaged me about this and it may have been the egg whites. Hopefully it turns out better for you the second time around!
I am using this recipe for a 2 tier square pan cake. One being a 12 x 12 square and the other being an 8×8 square. Could you tell me how to adapt this recipe for those pan sizes? I figured make 3 batches and fill half way full?
Hi, Cara. I honestly haven’t tried it that way, so I’m not quite sure. You may only need to double the recipe, but it’s hard to say. If you triple it and have any leftover batter, you can always use it to make cupcakes.
Can I use salted butter instead of unsalted?
That would be fine. I would reduce the salt in the cake to 1/4 teaspoon and omit it from the frosting.
Can this be adapted for cupcakes? I made this cake for my daughters birthday and it was such a huge hit I want to do cupcakes for our next celebration!
Yes, I think that would be fine! I would probably only fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 of the way full. I’m not sure on baking time, but I would guess somewhere between 15-22 minutes.
I would like to make cupcakes, will this be enough for 24, and how long should I cook them?
Yes, this would likely make a few more than 24 cupcakes. I would probably only fill them 2/3-3/4 of the way full so they don’t overflow. I’m not sure on baking time, but I would guess 18-22 minutes.
really delicious cake! best one i’ve had in a while
Hi there! Is this cake sturdy enough for a tiered cake? I tried another recipe this weekend testing out a tiered cake for my sisters wedding, yet she thought the texture was a bit dense so I’m looking for something light and fluffy that will still be strong enough for the bottom layer of a two tier cake.
I haven’t tried it, but I think it would work.
Hi, will this recipe work if I just have whole milk, not heavy whipping cream?
Wait, nevermind. I got my answer. 🙂
Hi. I tried this cake..but some how it turns little buttery in taste and very dense ..what can be the reason..i used cake flour substitute for this cake.
The cake may have turned out denser if the dry ingredients were over mixed. I do recommend using real cake flour if possible too because it will create a softer cake.
Cake was delicious! Thank you so much!
I love this cake it’s perfectly moist and delicious, I have a question, for your cupcakes you add sour cream, why not add it in the cake? I use buttermilk but was just wondering why use it one and not the other, thanks again! Love your recipes!
So glad you loved the cake, Vanessa! Are you referring to my vanilla cupcakes? If so, they’re a bit different than white cake so that’s why I use sour cream in them. I prefer to use buttermilk in this cake so it’s lighter and fluffy. That being said, you can use buttermilk in my vanilla cupcakes, but the texture and rise won’t be quite the same.
Ok I was just curious, I’ll be trying out the vanilla cupcakes this week can’t wait, love your recipes!!!
This is the absolute best cake recipe i have ever used! Best cake i have ever tasted. Played around yesterday cutting the vanilla down and adding lemon extract, lemon zest, and just a couple blueberries to each cupcake. Amazing!!! My office is currently devouring them. I wish i could post a photo. They are beautiful! Thank you for the wonderful recipe.
I can’t wait to try this. It reminds me of a recipe I used in culinary school. Do you think it would taste ok with less sugar? If so, how much could be taken out?
I ask bc I’m thinking of making this for a first birthday- and I’m trying to limit sugar for the smash cake. Thx!!
You could probably reduce the granulated sugar in the cake by 1/4 cup, but I wouldn’t recommend much more than that otherwise it will change the texture and taste of the cake. You could probably reduce the powdered sugar some in the frosting too, but it won’t be quite as thick if you do.
I haven´t tried this recipe yet, but I have a question.
I only have one 9 inch cake pan. Can I just leave the second half of the batter outside or in the fridge, in the time the first one is baking?
Yes, that would be fine. Just be sure to bake the second half as quickly as possible to ensure that it rises properly.
ok, thank you for your answer
Hi there, would pastry flour work? Thanks!
I think it would be okay, but I haven’t tried it. I do have a homemade cake flour substitute here. Hope that helps!
For the vanilla buttercream, how much should I increase the ingredients by so I can have enough for the cake?
Hi, Santi! The measurements for the vanilla buttercream in the recipe card are enough to frost the cake.
Hi, I want to bake your cake and buttercream. After baking can I wrap the cake whilst warm and put in the fridge to fully cool before cutting the edges. I will then frost. The following day would be when the cake is needed for … with the cake and frosting being in the fridge overnight, will the cake survive an hour drive to the design on the following day? Or due to the whipping cream will the frosting melt/move?
I wouldn’t wrap the layers while they’re warm. I would let them cool first, then wrap them. The cake will be fine outside of the refrigerator too.
Wondering if this cake would be suitable for a fondant icing covering? If so, any tips? Love your other recipes and hoped I could turn this into a fondant covered and decorated birthday cake I’m imagining for someone. – Thanks!
Hi, Anne! I don’t typically work with fondant, but I think it would be okay to cover the frosting on this cake with it.
I’ve made several white cakes and this really is the best one! The crumb was perfect and the taste was amazing. The only change I made was to make buttermilk with milk and vinegar (because I didn’t have store bought) and I accidentally added 1 T of vanilla instead of 2t. But it turned out perfect!
HI- I love the finished look of this cake! I was wondering if it would be suitable for a Bundt cake? The crumb looks tight enough; what do you think? Would there be enough mixture for a Bundt tin?
Full disclosure, I actually want to make a Funfetti Bundt cake for my daughter’s birthday and this cake is so beautifully whiter than white 🙂
I haven’t tried it in a bundt pan yet, but I think it would be fine!
Hi, I’m thinking to make it 3 9-inch cake baking pans instead of 2 as shown in this recipe, what measurements do I need it for it ? Will be so glad to hear from you 😉
Normally I would suggest increasing the recipe by half, but since this one uses 5 egg whites it may be difficult. If you have a food scale, you can weigh your egg whites. One large egg white will weigh about 33 grams, so if you increase the recipe by half, you’d need 248 grams of egg whites. You could also double the recipe and use the extra batter to make cupcakes.
My cake turned out dense and sunk when cooling. I made my own cake flour. Suggestions for another try?
The cake shouldn’t be dense. Did you make sure to spoon and level your flour? As for the cake layers sinking, this can occur for a few reasons. Over mixing the batter (you only want to mix in the dry ingredients until just combined), opening the oven door too many times, removing the cakes before they’re fully baked through, over mixing the egg whites when you fold them in (this can deflate the egg whites), etc.
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