The Best Classic Yellow Cake Recipe

A classic yellow cake recipe makes an essential cake recipe for any kitchen. Made of simple ingredients, this makes the best yellow cake for every occasion.

Classic Yellow Cake Recipe from addapinch.com

There’s just something about a freshly baked cake topped with swirls of chocolate frosting that brings a smile to my face. Usually, it signals a special occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary, a party of some sort, a celebration. But then, there are times that I think that by the end of a hectic week of my son’s classes and long hours studying, my husband working, and all that goes in and out of a week for any family, the weekend is reason enough to celebrate! Those are the times that I pull out this classic yellow cake recipe that is incredibly moist, tender, and perfect every single time. It’s like the little black dress of cakes – but the favorite one in your closet. You know the one? The one that makes you look slimmer, is the most comfortable and you always get compliments when you wear it out? Yes, that’s like this cake. 

Classic Yellow Cake Recipe from addapinch.com

Made of simple ingredients, this classic yellow cake recipe is easily one of the easiest cakes to make. This one bowl cake can easily be mixed by hand, hand mixer or even a stand mixer, making it a perfect go-to cake recipe. I love that it is also one that my family calls “the best”!

Classic Yellow Cake Recipe from addapinch.com

Here’s my Classic Yellow Cake recipe. I hope you love it as much as my family does!

4.1 from 50 reviews
Classic Yellow Cake Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A classic yellow cake recipe makes an essential cake recipe for any kitchen. Made of simple ingredients, this makes the best yellow cake for every occasion.
Author:
Serves: 1 cake
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (16 tablespoons), softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two or three round baking pans or a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick baking spray or by coating with butter and lightly flouring, shaking away any excess flour and discarding.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar until a light yellow in color, about 2-3 minutes. Incorporate eggs one at a time, being sure they are fully incorporated before adding the next. Then, incorporate egg yolks the same.
  3. Whisk together salt, baking powder, and all-purpose flour in a large mixing bowl. Spoon half of the mixture into the butter, sugar and egg mixture and stir until combined. Add half of buttermilk, then add the remainder of the flour mixture followed by the remainder of the buttermilk. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Divide the cake batter between the baking pans or pour into the 9x13 baking sheet pan.
  5. Bake until the cake springs back to the touch and a toothpick or skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes for two 8-inch pans, 30 minutes for two 9-inch pans, and 35 minutes for a 9x13 baking pan. Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 8-10 minutes in the pan placed on a wire cooling rack. Then, turn the cakes out on the cooling rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!
Robyn xo

226 comments on “The Best Classic Yellow Cake Recipe”

  1. I made this cake for my son’s 28th birthday hoping it would be a great yellow cake. His favorite! Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. I used 2 round 8″ cake pans and needed to bake for over 50 minutes. The sides burnt while the middle was still uncooked. I’ve been a baker for years. Not sure what the problem was. Thought maybe I should have used a rectangle pan but another comment left said hers over flowed. I love baking with buttermilk too. I use it in a delicious chocolate cake recipe and it comes so moist.

    Interested it any other comments….

    • I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you Laurene! I know that must be frustrating. I’m not sure what could have happened, as I’ve not had that problem before with this cake. Thank you.

      • I had a similar problem when trying this recipe, but then the worse was when I went to take them out of the pan, the cake broke to where it was not able to be fixed. Trying it again today.

    • I, too, wish I had read the comments before baking. I am having the same problem as others with the centers not cooking: with 2 9″ rounds I had to bake for 50 minutes, while watching the sides (and even bits of the top) brown and burn a bit. But the cake wasn’t ruined! The flavor was fantastic, but the cakes were quite dense, not fluffy yellow cake. I would give this recipe another shot though, because the flavor was so good! Anyone figure out why some of us were having this problem with the center not baking?

      • I had the same problem. Ive made many cakes over the years. This cake rose beautifully but took longer to bake than recipe stated. Sides were pulling away and center not done. Once tester came out clean, i removed from oven..Cakes fell while cooling. Tasted delicious but much more dense than a pound cake. Could I have over mixed or was it too much buttermilk or eggs?

  2. I wish I’d checked the comments before baking… my cake also came out quite dense! I reminds me of a store-bought pound cake. The flavor is lovely, though. I’m a little worried that it’s going to be overwhelmingly rich once I add the frosting.

    I’ve made tons of cakes, usually with no problems… I wonder why this one turned out so dense, when it doesn’t do that for the author. Maybe she could add some tips for technique?

    • Hi Jessica,
      I think this cake is delicious with the frosting and make it often. I’ve shared tips from a professional pastry chef who uses this recipe in his bakery – the comment is just below the recipe. I hope you enjoy the cake. Thanks so much!

  3. Following up on my previous comment: good grief, I doubled the butter. I’m so embarrassed. How on earth did I misread the recipe so badly??

    Please disregard my review…

  4. How many cups of batter does this recipe made. I halved the recipe recently as a cupcake taster for an upcoming wedding but I completely forgot to measure out the cups.

  5. what recipe do you like to use for the chocolate frosting?

  6. Hi, can this be made into a rum cake and baked in a Bundt pan? If so, would I swap out some of the buttermilk for rum? Or just add the rum to the standard recipe? Thanks in advance for your help ?

  7. Hi Robyn
    I’m thinking about making this cake for my mom’s birthday, except I want to use the yellow cake as just a base. I was wondering if chamomile tea would be a good flavor to add into the batter. Also, should I just brew the tea with the water and just use the tea as my water?

    • Hi Rachel,
      I’ve not used that with it, so I can’t say how it would taste or how it would turn out. There’s no water in this recipe, so it might not turn out well. If you do try it, I’d like to hear how it is.
      Thanks so much!

  8. Please respond ASAP
    Im supposed to make this cake for a party, but dont have any buttermilk! Can I use regular whole milk instead?

  9. Can I substitute the butter for vegetable oil it for a kids party and they normally don’t like cake that have more of a pound texture.

    I need light, fluffy

  10. I just made this cake for the first time with a strawberry filling and a whipped cream vanilla frosting…. IT WAS FREAKING AMAZING!!!! Moist, tender and completely flavorful!. My boyfriend (who is just a little kid who LOVES cake) has already ate 3 slices, I had to literally take the knife from him and put the cake away! This is a wonderful easy recipe, and will be my secret weapon in my baking arsenal for a long time to come, thanks so much for sharing it!

  11. I made this cake today and the center took forever to cook so I kept it in the oven for an additional 15 minutes more. Because of that the edges came out dry and hard while the center was hard to icing as it kept falling apart. Not sure what I did?

  12. This recipe makes the best cupcakes! Light and fluffy with great flavor!

  13. Robyn, this Yellow Cake is amazing. I made it last weekend and it was delicious! Keep up with your delicious recipes!

  14. Made this once and it was fabulous! I’d like to make it again using yolks left over from making angel food cake. Do you think I can substitute some of the whole eggs with egg yolks, and if so what do you think the proportions would be? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Sara,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake when you made it!
      I have not made the cake by just substituting egg yolks when whole eggs are required in the recipe, so I can’t say how it would turn out if that was done. Thanks so much!

  15. I have sort of a stupid question … is it 4 eggs and 2 yolks from those 4 eggs or 4 eggs and two separate eggs yolks ?

  16. HI! I haven’t tried the recipe yet but it sounds great! Does it turn out fluffy in a cake?

    Thanks!

  17. I made this cake today and it came out watery n i added a little more flour then asked for but still took 50 mins to cook in the center . is there an error on the cups of butter milk portion? Should it be 1 cup instead of 2 cups?

  18. This suggests preparing 2 or 3 pans round pans but the baking time only addresses 2 pans. What is the estimated baking time for three 8 inch round pans?

  19. Idk what I did wrong, I measured everything correctly, and the cake came out dense and too floury rather than how creamy the batter was. Perhaps it was over mixed. However, your chocolate cake recipe is like heaven

    • I’m sorry it didn’t turn out for you Michelle. I don’t know exactly what could have happened – possible it was overmixed like you say but not sure.
      I am happy you enjoy the Chocolate Cake – it’s such a delicious favorite in my house too. Thanks so much! xo

  20. I had the same issue as a couple of the commenters above. It seems that the milk should only be one cup when compared with other cake recipes I’ve used. Two cups of buttermilk makes the batter too liquidy and the cake doesn’t bake properly. If I make it again, I will use half the called for amount of milk.

  21. I’ve tried to make this recipe a couple times now, and each time it’s come out very dense. I tried mixing the batter as little as possible once I combined the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients, but it still hasn’t turned out right. I bake pretty regularly but can’t seem to get this one right. Any other tips or suggestions I could try? I’d hate to give up on this recipe, as I LOVE your chocolate cake recipe and that one has come out perfect every time I’ve made it. Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Kellie,
      If it is too dense can either be from over mixing, or difference in flour. White Lily flour is a softer and lighter texture flour than most others. Hope this helps.
      I’m happy you enjoy the chocolate cake recipe!
      Thanks so much!

    • I had the same issue! I thought I did something wrong…

    • I made this and turned out great. Have you tried sifting flour before measuring? And Lilly’s flour works best for my baking needs!

  22. Hi! Can I make the cake layers ahead of time and freeze them? I love all your recipes!

  23. I was really hoping to find a good yellow cake recipe and while the flavour was decent, the end cake result was disappointing. I kept it in the oven for 38 minutes, but got paranoid so I took it out. it turned out to be very custard or poundcake-like. I was disappointed that I had messed up so badly, though I couldn’t think of what I did wrong. I only wish I had read the comments beforehand. Seeing as so many people have had the same problems as I had made me realize that there’s some fault in the recipe (my mum thinks too much buttermilk)

    • Hi Gray,
      The texture can either be from over mixing, or difference in flour. White Lily flour is a softer and lighter texture flour than most others. Hope this helps.
      Thanks so much!

  24. Hi! Like some of the other commenters, I used two 8in round pans, and the cake took over 50mins to bake through. It came out delicious in the end, but I’m surprised about the wildly different baking times. Any thoughts? (Just for the record, I don’t live at a high altitude, and my oven temperature seems decently calibrated.) Aside from the long baking time, it was a great recipe, thanks! Cake was very well received!

  25. I tried this recipe tonight using a springform pan. I did end up baking longer (50 minutes) but this is a great recipe. I almost didn’t frost it because the cake was do darned pretty. I eventually did opt for the Unfrosting, Makes frosting method. DELISH!

  26. I made this cake today and it was super moist! I found it to be too sweet to put icing on, so I think I will reduce the sugar. However it was sticky, so much that it stuck to the pans. Any tips besides using parchment? I did grease and flour the pan. I will try this recipe again, with some tweaks.

    • Hi Jasmine,
      I would just say that if you greased and floured the cake pans well, then make sure to finish cooling the cake on a wire rack, after cooling for designated time in the pan. I hope this helps. Thanks!

  27. I have made quite a few different yellow cake recipes, and yours was the best I have tried. I made it for my daughter’s birthday party, and several people asked for the recipe. I used Gold Medal unbleached flour, being careful to measure lightly. In my oven with thermometer, it took 30 min in two 9″ rounds for a toothpick to come out clean and cake to spring back. The top was pale in color, but the sides and bottom were well-browned. The texture was moist and delicious. I have also made your easy chocolate cake, which was amazing! I am excited to try more of your wonderful recipes! Thank you so much.

    • I’m so happy to hear this, Sarah! We love this cake and I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed it! I’m so glad you’ve found other recipes to try and hope that you enjoy them all! Wonderful to hear from you, Sarah! Thanks so much! xo

  28. I’ve made this recipe multiple times since it’s been posted and it turns out perfectly every single time. I’m a “Bundt” enthusiast so I just have to keep it in a little longer. I also add about a 1/4 c of sour cream and it’s sooo moist. Thanks for the great recipe!

  29. I made this with regular organic 2% milk. It looks/tastes great. Cooling right now. can’t wait to ice it!

  30. well I know I’m not much of a baker but this cake was a disaster for me.  I baked it in a 9×13 NEW CAKE pan and it came out flat as a pancake!  the top never browned however, the bottom almost was burnt – when I place a toothpick into middle of cake it came out dry (baked for 35 min @ 350 degrees).  After letting it cool for 15 minutes, I cut into it and it was not done!  ECCK!

    where did I go wrong – won’t do this again, time, effot and expense!  Diasppointing at least!

    Rating: 1

    • Hi Alyce,
      I’m so sorry it didn’t work for you. I would recommend not making this as a 9×13 cake, but making it as the layer cake described. xo

  31. I have made this cake three times each time came out perfect the seceret is to cream the sugar and butter if directions are followed cake comes out great, and I don’t use buttermilk. Thanks for this receipe

    Rating: 4
  32. I made a 3 layer 9 inch cake with this recipe and it came out perfectly! Wonderful flavor and texture! The layers were done at 25 minutes. I did not have any problems with the middle not setting. This will be my”go to” yellow cake recipe from now on. 

    Rating: 5

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