Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze

Vanilla Cake From Scratch — Move over chocolate, because vanilla has arrived. This no mixer, easy vanilla cake is topped with a browned butter glaze that’s impossible to resist!

Vanilla Cake From Scratch

Moist Vanilla Cake From Scratch

Some of my fondest birthday cake memories growing up are of white sheet cakes with inch-thick pink frosting and big frosting roses that my mom had made for me from a local bakery. Some people avoid thick, abundant frosting, but those are the pieces I seek out.

In honor of its 125th birthday on September 28, McCormick has released a new vanilla extract, Extra Rich Pure Vanilla Extract, to help celebrate. McCormick marks its 125th anniversary by celebrating the role flavor plays in all of our lives, inspiring flavorful conversation, and giving back to communities around the world.

The new vanilla is 25% stronger than classic vanilla, and it’s a perfect balance between sweet caramel and bourbon-rummy flavors. For a vanilla, caramel, bourbon, and rum fanatic, it’s absolutely perfect and made this easy vanilla cake taste extra vanilla-ey.

Coupled with the same vanilla bean browned butter glaze I recently made for my Banana Bread Bars, I was in vanilla happy-land. I didn’t miss chocolate one bit as I was going to town on this moist vanilla cake.

This no mixer, easy vanilla cake recipe is adapted from my favorite buttermilk cake base that I’ve used for so many cakes. I love the cake base because it’s fast and easy to make, and the cakes always turn out supremely moist, springy, and fluffy thanks to buttermilk, sour cream, and oil. That trifecta of moisturizing and tenderizing ingredients makes it impossible to have a dry cake.

The vanilla glaze really helps make this from scratch vanilla cake recipe out-of-this-world amazing. The secrets are browned butter and glorious specks of vanilla beans. If you’ve never browned butter, don’t panic — it’s so easy! The 5 minutes it takes is the best 5 minutes you’ll spend all month.

Between the browned butter and vanilla beans seeds, the flavor just explodes from the glaze and helps boost the overall vanilla flavor profile to the next level. The glaze seeps down and soaks into the vanilla bean cake, making it even moister, softer, and richer tasting.

slice of moist vanilla cake with vanilla glaze with bite missing on a plate

Homemade Vanilla Cake Ingredients

For this vanilla cake recipe from scratch, you’ll need the following: 

  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Egg
  • Buttermilk
  • Sour cream
  • Vegetable oil
  • Vanilla extract

And for the browned butter vanilla glaze, you’ll need: 

  • Unsalted butter
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla bean paste
  • Salt
  • Cream or milk 

homemade vanilla cake slice on a white plate

How to Make Vanilla Cake From Scratch

To make the moist vanilla cake, combine the wet ingredients in one bowl and the dry in another. Using a spatula, gently stir the wet mixture into the dry. Turn the batter into a greased 8×8-inch baking pan and bake until the center is set and a tooth pick inserted into the middle comes out clean. 

Once the cake is done baking, let it cool most of the way before adding the vanilla glaze on top. 

To make the browned butter glaze, you’ll first need to cook the butter over medium-high heat until it’s amber in color. Transfer the browned butter to a large mixing bowl and add in the rest of the glaze ingredients. 

Using an electric mixer, whisk until the glaze is smooth and thick, but easily pourable. Pour the glaze onto the homemade vanilla cake and use a spatula to smooth it out, if needed. 

slices of Vanilla Cake From Scratch on white platter

Tips for the Best Vanilla Cake From Scratch

When making the vanilla cake batter, it is so important that you don’t over mix the batter. Stir the wet and dry ingredients until just combined, and no more. If you over work the batter, the cake will be dense rather than fluffy. 

Note that you should watch the butter very carefully as it browns. The only hard part about browning butter is that is goes from perfectly browned to burnt quickly. So once you begin cooking the butter do NOT move away from the stove. 

You’ll know when the butter is ready to come off the stove once it smells nutty and is amber in color. It’ll go through stages of hissing and spitting as it cooks, so don’t let that scare you! 

Lastly, the glaze recipe calls for vanilla bean paste. If you don’t have vanilla bean paste, you can use the seeds from a vanilla bean pod instead or extra vanilla extract. Just use whatever you have! 

Vanilla Cake From Scratch — Move over chocolate, because vanilla has arrived. This no mixer, easy vanilla cake is topped with a browned butter glaze that's impossible to resist!

More Cake Recipes From Scratch: 

  • Homemade Funfetti Cake with Funfetti Frosting — The recipe is as close to cake mix Funfetti that I’ve been able to replicate at home. I love that stuff, but it’s nice to be able to pronounce all the ingredients and make a scratch cake in literally 5 minutes.
  • Triple Chocolate Layer Cake — This is the chocolate layer cake to beat all and the best. It’s rich, decadent, and everything you want in a chocolate cake.
  • Snickerdoodle Bundt Cake — The cake is coated with cinnamon-sugar and there’s a cinnamon-sugar filling that runs through the center of the cake that turns crunchy while the cake bakes.
  • Caramelized Banana Upside Down Cake — While baking, the bananas caramelize in a butter and brown sugar bath giving the cake it’s signature glistening top. There’s so much rich browed butter and alluring caramel flavor, making the cake irresistible! 
  • Sweet Cream Vanilla Coffee Cake — The trifecta of coffee creamer, vanilla Greek yogurt, and splash of oil moisturize and tenderize the cake, and also lend a creamy, rich flavor profile.
Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze

Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze

Move over chocolate, because vanilla has arrived. This no mixer, easy vanilla cake from scratch is topped with a browned butter glaze that's impossible to resist!

Yield: 8x8-inch pan
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Cooling Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch salt, optional and 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 Extra Rich Pure Vanilla Extract

Glaze

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, browned*
  • 1 heaping cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste**
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • about 1/4 cup cream or milk, or as necessary for consistency

Instructions

Make the Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, optional salt; set aside.
  3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, sour cream, oil, and vanilla.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Place pan on a wire rack and allow cake to cool. While cake cools, make the glaze.

Make the Glaze

  1. Brown the butter. Cook butter over medium-high heat in a small saucepan until it’s amber to brown in color, about 5 minutes depending on pan size, but watch it closely so you don’t burn it. I swirl the pan in the last minute or so to make sure I can really see the color changes. Butter will go through stages of hissing, sputtering, and making noise until the water cooks off at which point the browning occurs. Butter will smell nutty and aromatic.
  2. Transfer butter, including brown bits at the bottom of the pan (they’re flavor powerhouses, keep them) from pan to large mixing bowl which stops any carryover cooking.
  3. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla bean paste, optional salt, and slowly add the milk, whisking until smooth or beat with a handheld electric mixer. As necessary, add additional cream (or confectioners’ sugar) to reach desired glaze consistency. Glaze should be of medium thickness and easily pourable.

Assemble the Cake

  1. Evenly pour glaze over cake (doesn’t have to be fully cooled), smoothing it lightly with a spatula if necessary, but glaze will likely just slide into place.
  2. Allow cake to cool in pan uncovered for at least 2 hours (or overnight and cover with a sheet of foil) before slicing and serving so glaze can set up.
  3. Cake will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Notes

*For more info on how to brown butter, check out this tutorial.

**Seeds from 1 large vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon McCormick Extra Rich Pure Vanilla Extract extract may be substituted.

Cake base adapted from my Blueberry Muffins and Buttermilk Pancakes Cake; Glaze adapted from my Fudgy Banana Bars

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 246 Total Fat: 11g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 38mg Sodium: 149mg Carbohydrates: 32g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 23g Protein: 4g

Even More Easy Cake Recipes: 

The Best Pineapple Upside-Down Cake — A cheery, happy cake that’s sure to put a smile on anyone’s face! This 100% from-scratch cake is an EASY reader favorite you’re going to love!!

Easy Yellow Cake with Buttercream Frosting — 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.

Easy Glazed Pound Cake — This EASY, buttery, velvety pound cake will be the star of your next party or celebration! If you’re looking for that PERFECT pound cake recipe, this is the one!

120 comments on “Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze”

  1. OMG I can’t believe it took me all day to get here. I could have used this cake for breakfast, that’s for sure. The second I read the title my mouth was watering. Vanilla is my most favorite flavor!! I need to try that extract. And brown butter. OMG you’re killing me…

  2. I love vanilla over chocolate. Crazy right? And that extract? Sounds amazing, must find it soon :) PINNED>

  3. Hi, im always on the lookout for a perfect vanilla cake and i think ive found it! This cake looks and sounds absolutely delicious, i cant wait to try it. Quick scientific question though, how come theres no baking soda in this recipe? It has both buttermilk and sour cream so im just curious as to why its just baking powder.. i know u probably get bombarded with scientific questions, hope its not a bother but i have a not so good history with baking soda :) so i love how this recipe is without..
    I must say that i absolutely love ur blog, it just makes me happy everytime i visit your site. Ur photos are awesome! :)

    • It’s a complex question and in cakes and muffins that I want slightly lighter and fluffier, I will use a little baking powder. I am generally not a fan since it can be drying and do lean more on baking soda but this cake has been tried and tested as I’ve used this cake base in at least 10 other cake adaptations on my blog (except I’ve never made it as just a ‘basic vanilla’ cake til now) and it comes out perfectly, every time. And all my readers love this base in my other cakes that use it that I linked in the post. Enjoy!

      • Thanks! Ive already bought the ingredients for this cake and cant wait to get it in the oven :) i cant find buttermilk here in Kuwait so will be using the milk/white vinegar substitue (reason for my baking soda concern with acidity) cant wait to see the end result :)

      • IF you can’t find buttermilk but you have yogurt (thick or Greek yogurt is best), you can also do that, too. I would say about 1/4 cup yogurt and about 1/4 milk and that should be fine, too!

      • Hey Averie, just had to come back and say that the cake was absolutely delicious! I used yoghurt/ milk as u suggested since i couldnt find buttermilk and it worked great. Best vanilla cake ever!! Thanks for the recipe :)

      • Thanks for saying it’s the best vanilla cake ever and glad everything worked out great for you!

  4. That cakes looks divine, almost angelic in its blondness – sound delicious!

  5. I need to find that vanilla, I’m a total vanilla over chocolate girl, and this looks amazing

  6. I want to drink this glaze, browned butter and vanilla! Sounds like a match made in heaven :)

  7. This is the QUEEN of vanilla cakes! That glaze in particular looks SO luscious and complex and perfect!

  8. Fabulous cake! And that frosting – OMG! I have never made browned butter frosting but now I will!!! :)

  9. This cake sounds so good, Averie! Love all the vanilla going on here.

  10. I made this cake today and half of it is already gone… I have never tried a recipe with browned butter before but I can definitely say that won’t be the last time.
    The cake itself is light and airy yet filled with intense vanilla flavor. It’s a keeper!

  11. I’m hoping to make this cake in the next few days. I was wondering what type of vanilla bean you would recommend to use for this (I went crazy on Beanilla and bought some of every kind)?

  12. Vanilla cake is my absolute favorite, however I feel like others feel its too boring.
    This looks like a delicious and decadent vanilla creation. Nothing better than real vanilla bean!

  13. I made this cake today and it was really good! I used an Ugandan vanilla bean and vanilla sugar in the cake batter instead of regular sugar and extract. It was delicious! So moist and had such an awesome flavor! I used the same kind of vanilla bean in the glaze, but I’ve never browned butter before and was so paranoid about burning it and I think I did it wrong, but the cake itself was so good that I ate it by itself!! I love your website. I’m really glad I found it! Your recipes are wonderful!

    • With browned butter, if you do happen to burn it, the worst that can happen is you start over. You’re out 5-10 minutes and 1 stick of butter – not a huge deal. So glad you love the cake regardless but if you browned the butter sufficiently, you would know. It’s just THAT good. That much of a difference, it’s like ahh, THIS is it. You will know :) I say try again as a test batch. There’s no harm in having a little extra frosting laying around is my thought process! ha!

  14. Oh my, this recipe looks heavenly! I think that’s the best looking vanilla cake I’ve ever seen! I’m loving everything about this recipe, cakes with sour cream are always my favorite & I am a huge vanilla fan! Now I can’t wait to try the new McCormick Vanilla, I didn’t even know about it. Pinned it!

  15. I always seek out that thick abundant frosting too!! ;) I just love this cake, Averie! That glaze, swoon!! Pinned!

  16. I just made this cake last night and had my first piece this morning and it turned out delicious! The only thing I’m a bit unsure about is if I made the glaze correctly.. It seems to be Oily/greasy and not as solid as I was expecting . It was the first time I’ve made a glaze so I wasn’t really sure what the consistency was supposed to be like before it set. I did think it looked a little runny in the end but it seemed just sweet enough so I didn’t want to keep adding powdered sugar to it to make it thicker. I used my hand mixer and the sugar and butter was kind of separating after mixing it for a while. Maybe I browned the butter wrong or should use less of it next time?

    • It seems to be Oily/greasy and not as solid as I was expecting = that means you have too much butter for the amount of sugar added, more than likely. I suspect you didn’t brown the butter long enough and there was still more water present than maybe I had since it didn’t cook off as much OR you could have added more sugar, or both. Even just 1/2 cup more sugar wouldn’t make it that much sweeter per se, but definitely would have helped it firm up. And/or don’t add any cream/milk next time. Quite a few ways to get around that issue.

      But overall, glad you loved the cake!

      • Thanks for the advice! Will try more sugar next time I use this glaze. Leaving the milk out will also help a lot I think, but would omitting it do anything to the flavor?

  17. Hi!
    There is no end to your genius is there?

    Can you imagine all of San Diego just WAITING in line if you had a bakery there? OMG, you would be so famous with zero doubt.

    :) I made this cake this evening in happy honor of buying vanilla paste for the first time. OMG, that stuff is so strong (I mean the scent). I like the specks in the final product. And the cake is so moist and full of flavor. This month I have made at least 7 of your recipes.

    The thing I still want to make (hopefully by this year) is your french silk-chocolate pie. :) enjoy your weekend

    • Glad you were able to break in your vanilla bean paste with this cake and that it cake out great for you!

      Thank you for making SEVEN recipes of mine in one month! You’re about to be baking more than I am here any day now :)

      That French Silk Pie is actually easy. You just pretty much turn on your mixer for 20-25 minutes and walk away (coming back to add an egg every 5 mins) and that’s it! So.worth.it! LMK if you try!

  18. Wow this looks amazing! Great flavor combinations.. I’ve never tried Vanilla Paste before but use a lot of Vainillin (or vanilla concentrate powder) in my desserts… I will definitely try it to see the flavor difference.
    I love the fact that this keeps at room temperature so you can serve it during get togethers.

  19. At what point do you take it out of the pan & remove the foil?

  20. This cake looks amazing. I have had browned butter on pasta, but never in a dessert. I canNOT wait to try this out soon.

  21. Just made this for a birthday cake for an elderly lady next door! Needed something I had everything for and smallish…..Looks wonderful and was very easy. I’m sure she will love!!!

  22. You had me at Vanilla!! Making this cake right now and my house smells amazing!! I can’t wait to try it in a few hours looks DELICIOUS!!!

  23. This cake looks delicious!! I’m hoping to make this later this week. Quick question…how well would it bake on a half sheet pan? Would I just need to double the recipe and keep the same time and temp?

  24. I stumbled upon your recipe for this cake and loved your picture and thought I’d give it a try. Well, I have now made it 5 times in 4 days. That’s right, twice in one day!! It is truly divine!

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