This Yellow Cake Recipe is made completely from scratch, incredibly moist, fluffy, and topped with a homemade chocolate buttercream frosting. This is the perfect cake for any time of year!

This post is sponsored by Danish Creamery. As always, all opinions are mine.

A yellow cake sitting on top of a marble cake stand. A bowl of sprinkles and a box of Danish Creamery butter are sitting next to the cake stand.

If you’ve only ever made a yellow cake from a box mix, then you are seriously missing out! While box mixes can be easier, the flavor and texture just don’t compare to the homemade version.

This yellow cake recipe is made completely from scratch and beats anything that you can bake from a box. In fact, I tested this cake side by side with a box mix. Both cakes were soft and fluffy, but the homemade cake was richer and much more flavorful!

To keep this cake as classic as possible, I topped it with a homemade chocolate frosting. However, I’ve included a few other frosting options for you to try as well.

An overhead view of the ingredients needed to make this cake recipe.

Ingredient Notes

Many of the ingredients in this cake are staples you can usually find in your pantry or refrigerator. But I wanted to touch on a few important ingredients:

  • Cake Flour: I prefer to use cake flour in most of my cake recipes because it makes them softer and fluffier. If you can’t find any or don’t have any on hand, then you can use my cake flour substitute here.
  • Danish Creamery European Style Unsalted Butter: If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know I’m a huge fan of Danish Creamery! Their butter has an 85% butterfat, which is higher than most other European style butters. The higher butterfat makes it perfect for cakes and also creates an ultra-creamy buttercream frosting.
  • Oil: The butter adds flavor and richness to the cake, while the oil helps to keep it moist and prevent it from drying out. It’s best to stick with a neutral-flavored oil like canola or vegetable oil, but melted coconut oil will work too.
  • Egg Yolks & Egg Whites: The egg yolks are what give this classic cake its signature yellow color and the egg whites are whipped separately to make it fluffier. You will need a total of 6 large egg yolks and 4 large egg whites to make this cake. I recommend separating the yolks and whites before you get started to make things easier. You can save the two leftover egg whites and use them in an omelet or another recipe like my candied pecans.

How To Make A Yellow Cake

While there are a few extra steps to making a homemade cake, it’s not too difficult! Here’s exactly how to make this yellow cake recipe:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare your cake pans: Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. It’s also best to line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper to make it easier to remove the cake layers.
  • Whisk together the dry ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Whisk together the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla: You will mix these in with the dry ingredients later.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together: 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. Increase the mixer to medium speed and continue mixing for another 4 to 5 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy like the picture above on the left.
  • Mix in the egg yolks: I recommend mixing them in one at a time, making sure to stop and scrape around the bottom and sides of the bowl once or twice. At this point, your mixture should look like the picture above on the right.
  • Alternate the dry and wet ingredients: Add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk mixture. Make sure to begin and end with the dry ingredients and mix on low speed to avoid overmixing the batter. 
  • Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks: In other words, when you lift your beaters up out of the bowl the tips of the egg whites should stand straight up.
  • Fold the egg whites into the batter: Gently fold in half of the egg whites until just combined to help lighten the batter, then fold in the remaining egg whites. 
  • Bake the cake layers: Divide the cake batter between the three prepared cake pans and gently tap the pans on the counter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  • Cool in the pans: Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 20 to 30 minutes, then run a knife around the outside of each one. Carefully remove the cake layers from the pans and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

An overhead view of a yellow cake coated in chocolate buttercream frosting and topped with sprinkles.

To make the frosting, beat three sticks of butter for 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth and creamy. I also used Danish Creamery’s European style unsalted butter for the frosting. It’s made with high-quality cream, which gives the frosting a smooth, velvety texture. I use their butter in all of my cakes, including this homemade strawberry cake and Italian cream cake. The flavor can’t be beat!

Once the butter is smooth, mix in the powdered sugar. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the cocoa powder and mix until fully combined. Lastly, mix in the milk, vanilla extract, and salt.

Once the frosting is done, you can assemble your cake. I like to use about ¾ cup of frosting in between each cake layer, then use the rest to frost the outside of the cake. To keep things simple, I just used an angle spatula to spread the frosting and the back of a spoon to swirl it.

A slice of yellow cake on a white speckled plate. The rest of the cake is sitting on a cake stand in the background.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does yellow cake taste like?

Yellow cake is similar in taste to a vanilla cake, but the flavor is richer! The texture of this cake is soft and fluffy like a white cake, but the added egg yolks give it that classic yellow color.

Most yellow cakes are typically frosted with chocolate frosting, which is what I used for this recipe. However, this cake would taste great with another flavor like my vanilla buttercream, chocolate cream cheese frosting, or whipped chocolate ganache.

How long will it stay fresh?

This yellow cake may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days or in the fridge for up to 4 days. While it’s not necessary to refrigerate this cake, it will stay fresher longer if you do. 

For longer storage, I recommend freezing the cake. The cake layers and frosting will freeze well for up to 3 months, just thaw them to room temperature before assembling the cake.

You may also freeze the frosted cake (whole or sliced), just be sure to wrap it tightly with plastic wrap, and store it in a large freezer bag or freezer-safe storage container.

Can I bake this cake in a different pan?

Absolutely! You can make this cake in two 9-inch pans or a 9×13 pan.

  • For 9-inch pans: Grease two 9-inch round pans with nonstick cooking spray, line the bottom of both pans with parchment paper, and divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
  • For a 9×13 pan: Grease a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray, pour the batter into it, and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. 

Two slices of yellow cake on white speckled plates. A fork is cutting into one slice of cake.

Baking Tips

  • Line your pans with parchment paper! While this is an extra step, it will make it much easier to remove your cake layers from the pan and prevent them from breaking.
  • Set a timer for your butter and sugar. I recommend setting a timer for 5 minutes to ensure that you mix your butter and sugar together long enough. This may seem like a long time, but it incorporates more air into your cake batter and gives you a fluffier cake!
  • Fold the egg whites into the cake batter very gently. You only want to fold them in until just combined so that your egg whites don’t deflate.
  • Do not over mix your batter: Once you’ve added the dry ingredients, only mix until just combined. Over mixing the batter can overdevelop the gluten, which results in a denser cake.
  • Need more frosting to decorate your cake? You can use the frosting measurements in my homemade chocolate cake recipe if you need more to decorate the top of your cake.

Recipe Video

A slice of yellow cake on a white speckled plate.

Yellow Cake Recipe

Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 30 mins
Cooling Time: 2 hrs
Total Time: 3 hrs 30 mins
This Yellow Cake Recipe is made completely from scratch, incredibly moist, fluffy, and topped with a homemade chocolate buttercream frosting. This is the perfect cake for any time of year!

Ingredients

Servings: 8 slices

Yellow Cake

  • 3 cups cake flour spooned & leveled (345 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk room temperature (240 ml)
  • ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil (60 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Danish Creamery unsalted butter softened (2 sticks; 230 grams)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (400 grams)
  • 6 large egg yolks at room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites at room temperature

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 ½ cups Danish Creamery unsalted butter softened (3 sticks; 340 grams)
  • 4 ½ cups powdered sugar (540 grams)
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder sifted (65 grams)
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • teaspoon salt

Optional: Sprinkles for decorating

    Instructions
     

    • To make the yellow cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper, and set aside.
    • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until well combined. Set aside.
    • In a large bowl or measuring cup, whisk the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract together 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.
    • Mix in the egg yolks, one at a time, making sure to stop and scrape around the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.
    • Add the dry ingredients 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.
    • Use a rubber spatula to scrape around the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is well combined. Set aside.
    • Add the egg whites to a separate large mixing bowl and beat to stiff peaks.
    • Gently fold half of the egg whites into the cake batter until just combined, then fold in the remaining egg whites.
    • Evenly divide the cake batter between the three prepared cake pans and spread it around into one even layer. Gently tap the pans on the counter to bring any air bubbles to the top.
    • Bake for 25 to 30 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 pans for about 20 to 30 minutes. Run a knife around the outside of the cakes, then carefully remove the cakes from the pans, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
    • To make the chocolate buttercream frosting: 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 medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth.
    • Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, making sure to mix well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the cocoa powder and mix until fully combined.
    • Add the milk, vanilla extract, and salt and mix on medium speed until fully combined, making sure to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
    • To assemble the cake: Level the tops of each cake layer with a knife or cake leveler.
    • Add a tablespoon of buttercream to the center of a cardboard cake round or a cake stand to help the cake stick to the surface.
    • Place the first layer of cake onto your work surface. Scoop ¾ cup of frosting onto the first layer of cake and spread it around into one even layer with an angled spatula or the back of a spoon.
    • Place the second cake layer upside down on top of the frosted cake layer. Spread another ¾ cup of frosting on top and spread it around into one even layer.
    • Place the third cake layer upside down on top of the frosted cake layer. Use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake. Top with sprinkles, if desired.

    Notes

    Storage Instructions: Cake may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days or in the fridge for up to 4 days. 
    Freezing Instructions: The cake layers and frosting will freeze well for up to 3 months, thaw them to room temperature before assembling the cake.
    You may also freeze the frosted cake (whole or sliced), wrap it tightly with plastic wrap, and store it in a large freezer bag or freezer-safe storage container.
    Cuisine: American
    Course: Dessert
    Author: Danielle
    Did you make this recipe?Mention @livewellbakeoften on Instagram or tag #livewellbakeoften.