Easy Yellow Cake with Buttercream Frosting

Homemade Yellow Cake Recipe — This is the easiest, from-scratch yellow cake and it tastes like a million bucks. This yellow cake recipe always turns out supremely moist, springy, soft and fluffy cake thanks to buttermilk, sour cream, and oil. Who needs the bakery?

Easy Yellow Cake Recipe with buttercream frosting

Easy Yellow Cake from Scratch

This yellow cake recipe is a whisk-together batter that’s adapted my favorite buttermilk cake base that I’ve used for so many cakes including my Blueberry Muffin and Buttermilk Pancakes CakeCaramelized Banana Upside-Down Cake, and many more.

I love this yellow cake recipe because the base is a cinch to make, and the cake always turn out supremely moist, springy, soft and fluffy thanks to the buttermilk, sour cream, and oil. Any moist yellow cake recipe should include those three ingredients — you can’t go wrong with them! That trifecta of moisturizing and tenderizing ingredients makes it impossible to have a dry cake.

I frosted this homemade yellow cake with white and then pink buttercream in honor of all the springtime holidays and events coming up like Easter, Mother’s Day, bridal and baby showers. I used McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract in both the easy yellow cake and the buttercream, and McCormick Red Food Coloring to softly tint the buttercream.

This cake is small enough that you don’t have to worry that you’ll be eating cake for days and days, not that that would be a huge problem! Between the soft, fluffy cake and the sweet, rich buttercream it’ll disappear very quickly. And because this is such an easy yellow cake recipe, you will be making it time and time again!

slice of yellow cake with buttercream frosting on a plate with a fork

How to Make Cake From Scratch

To make this homemade yellow cake, you simply need to whisk together the wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls, then combine the two. The ingredients for this yellow cake are mostly pantry staples, so you shouldn’t have to run out to the store before whipping up this cake recipe!

Once you’ve whisked together the cake batter, pour it into a greased 8-by-8-inch pan and bake until done. You’ll know the cake is ready to come out of the oven when the center is set and it springs back when you press it gently with your finger (you can also stick a toothpick in the center to see if it comes out clean).

While the cake is cooling, prep the homemade vanilla buttercream frosting. To make the buttercream frosting, combine room temperature butter, McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract, powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt. You’ll need to let the mixture whip up for a few minutes, or until the buttercream is light and fluffy.

Once the cake is completely cool, spread half the vanilla buttercream on top. Stir red food coloring into the reserved buttercream and then carefully spread the final layer on top.

So easy, right? This is a great cake recipe to make with kids since it’s so straightforward. 

McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract

Tips for the Best Yellow Cake with Buttercream Frosting

If you don’t have sour cream on hand, plain Greek yogurt can be used in this moist yellow cake recipe instead. Just make sure it’s Greek yogurt and not regular yogurt — the thicker yogurt better mimics sour cream! 

I don’t recommend using a buttermilk substitute in this cake recipe, though. You want the real thing here, if possible. Buttermilk adds so much moisture to this yellow cake recipe, and since this cake is so simple it’s best to use all the right ingredients. 

I also wanted to note that it’s so important that you wait to frost the cake until it’s completely cool. If you frost the cake while it’s warm, the frosting will run everywhere and you won’t see two distinct layers of vanilla buttercream frosting. 

But speaking of the buttercream frosting, you don’t have to color the top layer pink if you don’t want to! You can keep the frosting white or make it a different color to suit the occasion. If you’re making this cake with kids, you might want to let them add sprinkles to the top of the cake! It’s an easy way for them to get involved with the baking process. 

slice of yellow cake with pink buttercream frosting on a plate

More Easy Cake Recipes: 

  • Strawberry Poke Cake — This cake is incredibly easy and uses only four main ingredients: cake mix, strawberry Jell-O, Cool Whip, and strawberries. Baking shortcuts make this a fast, easy, and foolproof cake! 
  • Triple Chocolate Cherry Cake — A supremely moist cake that’s loaded with cherry chunks, and the chocolate frosting is wonderfully decadent and velvety smooth.
  • Glazed Pound Cake — If you’re looking for that PERFECT pound cake recipe, this is the one! It’s moist and so flavorful! 
  • Six-Banana Banana Chocolate Chip Cake — Six bananas in one cake means it’s super SOFT, moist, and has robust banana flavor with chocolate chips in EVERY bite!
  • Coca-Cola Cake — This is an easy, no-mixer cake that you can make in one bowl and a saucepan. The cake is supremely moist and soft thanks to a can of Coke in the batter! 

Homemade Yellow Cake Recipe — This is the easiest, from-scratch yellow cake and it tastes like a million bucks. This yellow cake recipe always turns out supremely moist, springy, soft and fluffy cake thanks to buttermilk, sour cream, and oil. Who needs the bakery?

Easy Yellow Cake with Buttercream Frosting

Easy Yellow Cake with Buttercream Frosting

This is the easiest homemade yellow cake! It's a supremely moist and fluffy cake thanks to buttermilk, sour cream, and oil. Who needs the bakery?

Yield: 8x8-inch pan (9 to 12 servings)
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup sour cream, lite is okay (plain Greek yogurt may be substituted)
  • 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract

Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste (helps offset the sweetness)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups confectioners’ sugar (I use 2 cups)
  • 2 to 4+ drops McCormick Red Food Coloring, or as necessary to achieve desired color

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.

Make the Cake

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, optional salt; set aside.
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, sour cream, oil, and vanilla.
  3. Add the wet mixture to the dry, mixing lightly with a spoon or folding with a spatula until just combined. Small lumps will be present, don’t overmix or try to stir them smooth.
  4. Turn batter out into prepared pan and bake for about 29 to 32 minutes, or until center is set and not jiggly, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
  5. Place pan on a wire rack and allow cake to cool. After cake has cool completely, make the buttercream.

Make the Buttercream Frosting

  1. To a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl and handheld electric mixer), add the butter, vanilla, optional salt, confectioners’ sugar, and beat on low speed for about 1 minute so you don’t spray sugar everywhere. After sugar has incorporated some, increase to medium-high speed and continue to beat until very smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Turn all but 1/3 cup frosting out onto cake and spread evenly with a spatula or offset knife to create an even, smooth flat layer of white frosting; set cake aside.
  3. To the remaining 1/3 cup frosting in the mixing bowl, I added 2 drops red food coloring, beat momentarily to incorporate, and added the pink frosting on top of the white to create a two-toned layer of frosting. However, for ease you can tint all of the frosting pink. 

Notes

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

9

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 435 Total Fat: 17g Saturated Fat: 8g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 54mg Sodium: 228mg Carbohydrates: 66g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 54g Protein: 5g

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Post is brought to you by McCormick. The recipe, text, images, and opinions expressed are my own.

143 comments on “Easy Yellow Cake with Buttercream Frosting”

  1. Made this cake and frosting for my sons birthday this weekend, I used blue dye instead of pink. It was a delicious moist yellow cake. Easy and enough for the 3 of us to enjoy. We pretty much ate the whole cake in one day, it’s that good!

  2. This is in the oven! Will comment when done!

  3. Made this cake for a friend’s birthday – came out great! So, so moist and light! YUM! I doubled the batter and used two 9″ round pans. I also used coconut oil, which added a nice subtle flavor.  Thanks for the recipe! Will definitely make it again! 

  4. Would you recommend this for cupcakes (and how many do you think it’d make)? Or should I try your Classic Yellow Cupcakes recipe? :) I’m intrigued by the buttermilk and sour cream, sounds like the cake is super moist and delicious! 

    • I haven’t tried this recipe as cupcakes so can’t say for sure how many it will make. I think it would make great cupcakes but again, haven’t personally tried. The yellow cupcake recipe that I have made are the classic yellow ones that you referred to. Your call what you feel like making. Enjoy!

    • The recipe makes 12 cupcakes 🧁… I’m so anxious to see how they turn out!!

    • Hi, i have 11″ pan i need to use for my kids party. Do i need to double the recipe? How long shouls i bake?

  5. This cake is absolutely wonderful! My 10 year old wanted to make a from scratch cake by herself. She choose this one (because of the cute frosting). With minimal assistance (mostly with the folding technique at the end) she did it by herself. Had to wait till morning to try it. I was a little nervous because we use a 9″ pan, and at 25 minutes, the toothpick came out with minimal crumbs. But we frosted it, and had a bite this morning and OH MY GOD!!! So moist, sweet totally yummy! She did a great job and I’m so proud of her! This cake is totally delish, and I’m sure we will have to make another because I really don’t see it lasting very long. Would be great at a layer cake with fresh strawberries in the middle… MMMMMMMMM….

  6. Can you use regular sugar?  What would be the difference between the powdered sugar and granulated sugar?

  7. What can you use in place of the powdered sugar?  Are there alternatives?

  8. I made this (doubled so I could layer 2 round cakes) for my little’s birthday last month and it was so easy and yummy that I have made it for two more functions in the last month! Thanks for a great (and not dry!) cake recipe!

  9. Just made this cake. I used a 9×9 high sided pan and made 1 1/2 times the recipe. It turned out PERFECTLY. I baked it for 36 minutes. This cake is absolutely lovely and very easy to out together. Thanks for sharing it?

  10. Hi Averie! I’m a fellow food blogger and long-time fan of your site ?
    I tried this cake tonight and fell in love… so moist and tender! My family wants me to make a cake for a big event (where I’ll have to make a half sheet cake), so do you think I could quadruple the recipe and have it turn out?

    • Hi Amanda, I know who you are and I pin your stuff often, love it! :)

      While I haven’t tried to double/triple/quad this recipe, I think you’d be fine in doing so. But…since I haven’t tried it personally AND that it’s for a big event, I just am cautiously saying ‘you’d be fine’ since I don’t have personal experience. If you try it, LMK how it goes!

  11. Hey Averie :) Just wanted to pop in an let you know how the half sheet cake turned out…. ahhhh-mazing!! I ended up tripling the recipe (twice to make 2 layers), and frosting it with a creamy chocolate frosting (birthday boy’s favorite), for a half sheet layer cake. Everyone kept raving about it!! I even ran out of sour cream for the second layer, so I did half sour cream and half mayo (didn’t have any greek yogurt on hand) and it still turned out amazingly well :) I didn’t even have to adjust the baking time :) Thanks for such a great recipe!

  12. Would it be fine to use cake flour instead of AP?

  13. Too bad you didn’t show the actual WHOLE cake. Wanted to see how ‘yellow’ it was. Looking for an easy recipe for a yellow cake without all the egg-yolk-separation drama. Hopefully this is it.

    • It comes out as yellow as any other yellow cake I’ve made with the egg separation, minus the hassle. It’s a very easy cake to whip up in case you’re wanting to trial it for an event or special occasion.

  14. I’m planning to make this delicious looking cake to serve at a party on Sunday and wondered whether it can be made a day in advance and if so, should it be frosted the day of or could the entire thing be made the day before and still look/taste fabulous?
    Thank you so much for all of your awesome recipes…can’t wait to make this one for a very special 6-year-old’s birthday!
    xo

  15. Made this for my hubby’s birthday today and the cake came out perfectly. Moist and delicious. I followed the recipe exactly. Thanks a lot for this one.

  16. Can i substitute more milk for sour cream?

  17. This cake is heavenly and recipe saved now as my only yellow cake recipe. Made it with a 9 year old, in a <3 shaped pan, added a touch of coconut extract, decorated with raspberries. Perfection – so moist and delicious!

  18. Hello Averie. Wow. This simple one layer vanilla cake with buttercream is really really good. It is a simple cake but delicious. The addition of sour cream, buttermilk and vanilla give the cake a really good flavor. Cake is moist and springy. For those that want to buy a storebought vanilla cake with icing, there is no need to do so. Just make this recipe. I am assuming though that to make it bigger, like in a 9×13, I need to double the recipe. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to making it again.

  19. Looking for a yummy yellow cake recipe for my nieces first birthday…extra large cupcake mold for a smash cake! I am going to test it out today. Stay tuned for how it turned out and a pic!

  20. TRYING TO MAKE YOUR EASY YELLOW CAKE RECIPE AND MY QUESTION IS WHY DO YOU WANT US TO WRAP THE PAN WITH ALUMINUM FOIL? THANKS

  21. Hello.. I like your moist cake recepie and i want to make a half sheet cake with this recepie. Can i know the measures for all purpose flour and all. Would be easy if you could guide. Thank you!

  22. I substituted gluten free flour and used melted butter instead of the oil. Made this cake for my daughters birthday. Such a fluffy moist cake! Didn’t last 2days in the house lol.

    Rating: 4
  23. Very light and fluffy cake. Easy to make. Perfect when you want to make a smaller treat. Love the icing. Thanks for sharing.

    Rating: 5
  24. I love this recipe! It is so easy to make and quick as well. I like the fact that I don’t even need to use a mixer to make it.

    Rating: 5
  25. The frosting doesn’t call for any milk or heavy cream????? I will have to add some because it is not going to be spreadable. I have the cake in the oven now.

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