Easy Yellow Cake with Buttercream Frosting

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Homemade Yellow Cake Recipe — This is the easiest yellow cake from scratch 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?

Homemade Yellow Cake Recipe — This is the easiest yellow cake from scratch 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?

The BEST Yellow Cake Recipe

This easy 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 homemade 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!

Homemade Yellow Cake Recipe — This is the easiest yellow cake from scratch 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?

Classic Yellow Cake Ingredients 

To make the homemade yellow cake itself, you’ll need:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Baking powder 
  • Salt 
  • Egg
  • Buttermilk 
  • Sour cream
  • Canola oil
  • McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract

And to make the homemade buttercream frosting, you’ll need:

  • Unsalted butter
  • McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • McCormick Red Food Coloring

How to Make Yellow 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. 

Homemade Yellow Cake Recipe — This is the easiest yellow cake from scratch 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?

Can I Make This Recipe as Cupcakes Instead? 

If you’d rather make yellow cupcakes instead, I recommend following my recipe for Classic Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream. I know for sure that recipe works! 

Can I Double This Recipe? 

I personally haven’t doubled this moist yellow cake recipe, but I bet you could. You’d need to bake it in a 9×13-inch pan in that case. 

Can I Freeze Homemade Yellow Cake? 

I’m sure you can! You’d likely need to freeze it unfrosted, though. To thaw, set the cake out on the counter to come to room temperature and whip up a fresh batch of buttercream while it warms up. 

Homemade Yellow Cake Recipe — This is the easiest yellow cake from scratch 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?

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. 

Homemade Yellow Cake Recipe — This is the easiest yellow cake from scratch 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?

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4.45 from 209 votes

Easy Yellow Cake with Buttercream Frosting

By Averie Sunshine
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?
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 9
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Ingredients  

Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 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

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste (helps offset the sweetness)
  • 1 ½ 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 

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

Make the Cake

  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, optional salt; set aside.
  • In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, sour cream, oil, and vanilla.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Place pan on a wire rack and allow cake to cool. After cake has cool completely, make the buttercream.

Make the Buttercream Frosting

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

Serving: 1, Calories: 435kcal, Carbohydrates: 66g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 54mg, Sodium: 228mg, Sugar: 54g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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

Originally posted March 18, 2015 and reposted with updated text April 15, 2022.

4.45 from 209 votes (180 ratings without comment)

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This cake is delicious and so easy!  It is the perfect size and I did not run out of frosting.  I will make this again, thank you.

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and glad it was delicious, easy, and you had enough frosting!

  2. 5 stars
    My daughter who is 23 and just learning to cook and bake , made the the yellow cake with butter cream frosting for Mother’s Day. It turned out great and she got a boost of confidence. Thanks for a delicious no fuss cake. Also, it wasn’t too much cake which is always appreciated.

  3. 5 stars
    My daughter who is 23 and just learning to cook and bake , made the the yellow cake with butter cream frosting for Mother’s Day. It turned out great and she got a boost of confidence. Thanks for a delicious no fuss cake. Also, it wasn’t too much cake which is always appreciated.

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and glad this came out great and gave her a boost of confidence!

  4. 4 stars
    Should have doubled the cake recipe, seemed a little thin. If I doubled it, think it would have been better.

  5. Is the liquid missing from the icing recipe (like buttermilk)?  I tried the recipe as posted above but it was so dry and crumbly?  I added cream to it and then it was perfect.  

    1. You did what I would have done. If you accidentally add more sugar than the butter can handle, it will have that dry texture but a little bit of cream or milk will smooth it out.

      1. But no it’s not missing it in the ingredients, because I start slow with my sugar and add it just up until I get the consistency I am looking for.

  6. 4 stars
    I made this using store-bought buttermilk (not homemade) and full-fat sour cream. This recipe makes a perfect one-layer cake; although next time, I’ll add an egg yolk (just the yolk) for a bit of additional lift and mix it the batter a few seconds longer. Mine still had a lumpy look as the directions state (trying to be careful not to over-mix) and the cake turned out much more coarse than the photo. The taste was still great, but the texture needed to be a little finer. Overall, a very good tasting (and moist) cake recipe!

  7. Just thought of another question after I filled in the form. Sorry. What about using olive oil or I have solid coconut oil? I don’t have canola or vegetable oil on hand.

    1. Melted coconut oil in liquid state would be a better choice in this cake than olive oil.

  8. Since you have changed your web site it has become very hard to navigate, ads cover the content, waaaay to many pictures and can’t pin recipes. used to like it but now I will have to unsubscribe.

    1. Please feel free to unsub if my free recipes and web design don’t suit your personal needs.

  9. If you don’t have buttermilk I have heard there is a way to make your own using white vinegar and milk. Do you recommend this?

    1. You can Google how to do it. Not my fave method but if that’s all you have, you can try it.

    1. I would just pour the batter in a 9-inch round and generally speaking, the volume of an 8×8 square vs. 9-inch round is about the same. You can Google the exact geometry of it all, but it should bake up just fine.

  10. 5 stars
    Hi, just discovered this site and this recipe. For once, I actually had both buttermilk and sour cream (and I’m social distancing, of course), so it was the perfect time to try it.
    So delicious! The cake is tender, and a perfect base for a nice chocolate icing). It’s also the perfect size when no company is coming :(
    Thanks!

  11. 5 stars
    Hi, just discovered this site and this recipe. For once, I actually had both buttermilk and sour cream (and I’m social distancing, of course), so it was the perfect time to try it.
    So delicious! The cake is tender, and a perfect base for a nice chocolate icing). It’s also the perfect size when no company is coming :(
    Thanks!

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you found my site and had the time and ingredients to try this cake and that it was perfect!

  12. 3 stars
    Hello your recipe looks amazing but I don’t want it to be Square can I make the same recipe in an 8 or 9 inch round pan?

    1. I would double for a 9×13 pan.

      For a 12×18, I may do like 2.5x of the recipe. If it’s a half sheet pan, that may work to just double it, but often times they are very skimpy on the sides and you’ll have to watch for overflowing.

  13. 5 stars
    This cake is wonderful! Nearly all scratch yellow cakes I’ve made have a metallic aftertaste (baking powder?) and YAY this one doesn’t. I also LOVE the fact that this is a small cake just enough for two. Thanks for this recipe and all the others I have yet to try :-)