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!

Classic Yellow Cake Recipe from addapinch.com

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.
4.35 from 63 votes

Review Recipe

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Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins
Servings: 24
Author: Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch

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
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Divide the cake batter between the baking pans or pour into the 9x13 baking sheet pan.
  • 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.
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Enjoy!
Robyn xo

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Robyn Stone

..where I share sweet, savory and southern recipes, as well as home and garden tips and tidbits of travel.

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257 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Hello! I was just wondering how much this recipe makes? Can it makes 3 9-inch layers? Or should I double the recipe?

  2. I made this cake and its attendant frosting a week or so ago. First time I’ve had a sugar high since kindergarten. Totally worth it.

  3. This made a really tasty cake, probably the only really good yellow cake I’ve ever had (I’m a fan of chocolate). However I had to let mine go for 42 minutes for a 9×13 pan. My oven bakes at a true temp, so it’s really important to check for doneness before you take it out of the oven! 🙂

  4. The cake was okay. There is way too many eggs called for and makes the cake extremely firm. The taste was fine but unless you want a pound cake like yellow cake I would try a different recipe.

    1. I made this cake the first time today. Used a bundt pan for presentation and the leftover batter for 8 cupcakes. Not sure if I used the electric hand mixer too much because my cake was also extremely firm. Ideas? The taste was great though, just wanted a lighter texture.

    1. Hi! I just made these as regular and mini cupcakes and they turned out great!! …it seems for mini cupcakes, baking them for about 12 minutes (turned the pan around at the half way mark) worked well. For regular cupcakes, I did about 18 minutes (again, turned the pan around at the half way mark). Hope this helps!

  5. This cake has a good flavor but mine really sunk after I took it out of the oven..I followed the recipe exactly and it rose up really nice while baking..but as soon as I took it out of the oven, it sunk to half the height.

    1. I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but before I saw you question I had concerns as well about the recipe. Anytime you have a batter with something very acidic like buttermilk (or yogurt etc.) you should really be using baking soda in some manner in order to still get a nice rise. The flour and egg proportions (structure) look fine as long as everything is measured properly, and the egg to fat ratio looks good too. But you definitely would not want to use all baking powder. I would change it to 1/4 tsp of baking powder per cup of flour. So in this case, 3/4 tsp.

      Some other things to consider: another reason cake may sink, in addition to being over leavened, if you are beating too much air into your recipe at the fat/sugar/eggs stage, this also can cause too much air. So what happens in both cases, is your cake rises seemingly nicely in the oven, but the structure in the cake cannot actually support all the added air, so it collapses. And lastly, doneness: you cannot tell a cakes doneness by the toothpick/skewer method alone. Believe me, I did this for years using solely the toothpick method and occasionally had a batter that frustrated me to no end because it would come out clean or with a nice crumb, but still actually not be done. A cake needs to be fully baked and set, or again it will sink. Always check with the touch method. At the middle, gently press and when the cake springs back and doesn’t leave an indentation is the cake is done. I use the toothpick method and visuals as well for accuracy. But you have to feel the cake. I hope this helps. Also test you oven temperature and make sure it is not running too hot.

      1. Alice, I was also worried about not using baking soda when it has buttermilk. Did you mean 3/4 tsp of baking soda and 3/4 tsp of baking powder? I have forgotten some of my cake baking skills and really want this one to turn out well. Thanks for any replies.

  6. Hello,

    I really enjoy baking but am a little confused as in UK it is very difficult to find All-Purpose flour, please advise on alternative or substitute.

    Many thanks.

    1. You can use 1 part bread / high gluten flour to 2 parts cake flour. Ex if a recipe calls for 3 c AP flour use I c bread flour and 2 c cake flour

  7. You can tell by the photo it is dense like a pound cake and if you know much about baking then you know all those eggs is what makes it that way. I just used it to make a peach cobbler and it was fantastic.

  8. This cake turned out great for me, and I am not the fanciest or most accomplished baker. I halved the recipe as I usually do with a new recipe.

    I did not use the extra yolks, and I separated the 2 eggs I did use. At the end I folded in the beaten egg whites with half a cup of chocolate chips, as the kids wanted chocolate chip cake for their dad’s birthday. I really have no reason for doing this except I just felt experiment-y.

    The cake was moist and light but dense enough to decorate birthday-cake style. Everyone loved it. Thanks!

  9. I made my own version of this cake yesterday and it was amazing, I say my version because I didn’t have Buttermilk, so I substitute it with 1 cup of almond milk and I cup of sour cream and it was totally delicious

  10. Made this cake tonight and it was so moist and delicious! Making a wedding cake for a friend next month and this recipe is it!

  11. Hi I absolutely love this cake. Can it be made as a chocolate cake and if so what needs changed other then just adding cocoa?

    Thanks

  12. Hi, I’ve been testing yellow cake recipes for the past 2 months and with not 100% success. My cakes tend to turn out more of a sponge cake. I tried your recipe and it was a little dense. What do you think I could be doing wrong? I even mixed the flour/buttermilk by hand to ensure not to over mix. Also, are you sifting your flour before you measure?

    Thank you.

    Ro

  13. Amazing cake, loved it! So rich and dense! Only one problem–bake time. The recipe says bake 25-30 minutes. For 2 9″ pans, it took 45 minutes. No, my oven isn’t slow. I don’t know if anyone else has had this issue.

    1. I baked this today myself and found the same thing. My oven also took 45 minutes. It was very dense, had great flavor and everyone loved it.

  14. My just-turned-13-year-old daughter wanted to make her own birthday cake and chose this recipe with the chocolate buttercream frosting. We made the recipes as directed, and this was fabulous! The family was so impressed that she made this by herself from scratch. She put the crumb coat of frosting on and then refrigerated the cake for about 30 minutes and then frosted the rest. It looked and tasted like something out a fancy bake shop. Would definitely make again!

  15. I was so disappointed in this cake. It looked delicious and I followed the recipe to the letter. I baked the cake in a 9×13″ pan. After icing with chocolate buttercreme frosting, I cut into the cake and was surprised to feel the cake’s firm texture. Once cut, the pieces looked like they were gummy and not fully cooked, however a toothpick inserted in the cake came out clean and it baked for the full recommended time. Guess I will go back to a cake mix that I can depend on. Don’t know what went wrong with this.

  16. Super yummy! Similar to a pound cake- very dense. I also had to bake it longer, but it is so good I can’t stop eating it. Thanks!!!

  17. I just made this cake as a pineapple upside down cake – with the butter, brown sugar and pineapple on the bottom before pouring the batter into the pan. I have to say this is the best yellow cake recipe I’ve ever made… so light and feathery. Delicious as a Pineapple cake bottom. I made one change – one cup of buttermilk and one cup of whole milk. I thought the buttermilk was a lot to keep it light. The texture is fantastic, really beautiful when cut. Thank you, Robyn – I’m really glad to have found this recipe! Blessings. Sharon P.S. WHY won’t it let me give it 5 stars?? It stops at 3!

    1. What a great idea, Sharon! I’m so glad it worked well for you for a pineapple upside down cake! I’ll have to give it a try next time I make one. I love the idea of changing up the milks like you did, too! Thanks for sharing that. I’m not sure about the rating. That’s so weird. xo

  18. Hi there, is this recipe good for making cupcakes? If so, how long should I bake it for? Thanks! I love your chocolate cake recipe so I thought I’d give this one a go.

  19. Just used this recipe for a wedding cake. Always had a hard time getting a moist, flavorful vanilla cake…it came out wonderful. Thank you so much. I substituted 1 cup graduated sugar for 1 cup brown sugar and added 1 teaspoon of vanilla. So warm and flavorful. I also didn’t have buttermilk so I substitutedon’t 2 cups whole milk with 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Came out great!!!! I’m so happy. Well done!!!

  20. My quest for a great yellow cake is over. I wanted to use up some leftover heavy cream..so I used 1 cup of that and 1 cup of 2% milk and 1 T of vinegar. Thought it would screw up the recipe but it worked out fine. Baked for 52 minutes. Moist, tender crumb- just absolutely delicious! Did not make icing but used some leftover lemon/sugar syrup. Next time, I will make the recipe and icng as directed. I know it will be perfect!

  21. Found this recipe by accident on a quest to find a great yellow cake recipe. This is THE yellow cake recipe to end all others. Beautiful batter, absolutely stunning cake! I made cupcakes this time, and for anyone else who may want to do so, here is how I did so. Preheat to 400 degrees. When you put the cupcakes in, drop your temp to 350 degrees and bake for 23-26 minutes. Check the middles with a toothpick. I made a milk chocolate buttercream frosting to compliment this delicious cake. It will definitely be my go-to when someone asks me to make a cake from here on out! Thank you for sharing this recipe with us! ?

  22. So im interested in trying this recipe. But i will need to make a 1/2 sheet cake…2 tiered. So my question is how would i adjust recipe to accomodate? First time hobby baker….still learning.

    1. Whenever I make a 1/2 sheet cake I double the batter. This usually gets me one layer (depending on the recipe and how much it will rise). You could either make it in 2 batches or maybe 4 x the original recipe. Good luck!

  23. I made this cake yesterday for my niece 16th birthday party. Everyone loved it, but it didn’t come out yellow. The cake was white. What could I have done wrong? I added the 4 whole large eggs and the 2 large egg yolks. Thanks in advance!

  24. I’ve used this recipe twice now, the first time didn’t bake long enough, then I read all the comments from others, second time it came out perfect! My family really enjoyed it, it lasted about 2 days. Using this recipe again today. Thanks so much for all the helpful hints given.

      1. Hi Robyn!

        I did add a four hour a cup of flour because I live in Colorado. Not sure if that had anything to to do with it. Even though it spilled my over, the cake still tasted delicious!

    1. I made this yesterday with her chocolate buttercream recipe. I made it in a 9×13 pan and it came out VERY dense. Taste is fine, but you almost have to chew it it’s so dense. Also it didn’t turn out very yellow. Also, the frosting recipe was disappointing. It’s, date I say, too chocolate?! Couple people said it tasted like the chocolate milk that didn’t get shaken up and you’re just drinking the bottom.

      1. Dense cake issues are normally a result of over mixing as it created too much gluten development in the flour. This results in a chewy cake. Mixers(electric ) tend to do this VERY easily. If you are not mixing by hand, use the lowest setting of your mixer, almost pulse and scrape down the bowl until ingredients are JUST combined. Hope it helps.

    1. You say to check that your baking powder and baking soda are fresh, but I don’t see soda in the recipe. Could it have been left out somehow, thereby causing the cake to be dense for the folks making it without? Or could people accidentally be using soda instead of baking powder? BP has a much stronger leavening effect.

  25. I’m looking for a yellow cake recipe that i can use to make cream filled cupcakes. The last one I tried was too crumbly and the cupcakes fell apart when a bite was taken. Is this came dense enough to stand up to filling and not crumble?

    1. This recipe is amazing and can certainly hold up to anything! I made it with gluten free flour and it was STILL amazing.
      The only thing I did was cut sugar by 1/2 cup because I don’t care for cake so sweet especially when using frosting which is sweet.

  26. 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….

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

    2. 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?

      1. 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?

    3.  I am amazed at the number of negative comments about this recipe. I followed the recipe exactly and this is by far the best yellowcake ever made. I don’t know what people could have done wrong to yield better results, but everything went perfectly for me. I also use the chocolate buttercream frosting recipe and it was excellent as well.

  27. 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.

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