Classic Vanilla Cake

Classic Vanilla Cake – tender and flavorful vanilla cake layers with a light and fluffy vanilla buttercream.

Classic Vanilla Cake

Happy Monday, friends! Thanks for helping me decide which cake recipe to publish today! I’m excited to share with you my new Classic Vanilla Cake. I’d like to think this is the only vanilla cake recipe you’ll need in your life from here on out! It’s that good!

I’ve had requests for a this cake for a while now. I usually suggest using my Classic White Cake as a vanilla cake, but felt like I needed a true vanilla option for you too.

This cake is similar to my Classic White Cake, with a few minor changes in ingredients – but major changes to texture and flavor! This cake is so tender and flavorful.

What’s Different

For the cake layers, I’m only using egg whites to keep a whiter color in the cake layers. Since I’m only using whites, that means I don’t have any fat from the egg yolks – which is what helps create moisture in cakes. To supplement the batter with more fat, I’ve added sour cream (which you’ve likely seen in the Golden Oreo Cake and my Champagne Cake). It’s my new love.

Moist Cake

I’ll be writing an entire blog post about how to get a moist cake every time you bake, but for now, my best tip (other than making sure you don’t over bake your cake) is: sour cream! Adding a little sour cream to a cake recipe that tends to bake dry will do wonders to the texture. More on that later!

Vanilla Bean Paste

This recipe calls for vanilla bean paste in the cake layers and buttercream. The bean paste is what creates those gorgeous specks you see. There are so many brands of vanilla and vanilla bean paste. I say, use whatever you can find and is cost efficient. I know prices have gone up significantly and it’s likely they’re not going down any time soon either. You can find vanilla bean paste at Walmart, Michaels craft store, Amazon and even some grocery stores now too. If you’re having a hard time finding paste, use extract – same amount.

Vanilla Buttercream

The buttercream for this one is my basic vanilla buttercream with vanilla bean paste. It’s one of the tastiest and easiest buttercream recipes you’ll ever have.

Buttercream Tips

Remember these few tips when making buttercream:

  • Start with slightly cold butter
  • Beat the butter alone for a few minutes
  • Sift your powdered sugar
  • Use heavy whipping cream
  • Beat the buttercream for 3 to 5 minutes

For all my tips for making the best buttercream ever, head over to THIS post.


Room Temperature Ingredients Matter

Remember, for your cake batter, make sure all of your refrigerated ingredients are ROOM TEMPERATURE. Having room temperature ingredients for the cake batter ensures your cake will bake evenly AND that it has a light, fluffy texture and rises well.

For more explanation on why room temperature ingredients matter, check out THIS IGTV post.

Flavor Combinations

If you’re looking to add more flavors to this classic vanilla cake, I’d suggest these as great fresh fruit or compote fillings:

  • Strawberry
  • Blackberry
  • Raspberry
  • Mango
  • Peach
  • Coconut

Happy baking!


Classic Vanilla Cake

5 from 2 votes
Tender and flavorful vanilla bean cake layers with vanilla buttercream.



  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
  • 6 large egg whites room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. (13 g) vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream room temperature
  • 3 cups (345 g) cake flour
  • 1 tbsp. (10 g) baking powder
  • 1 tsp. (5 g) salt
  • 1 cup (240 g) buttermilk room temperature


  • 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter slighly cold
  • 6 cups (750 g) powdered sugar measured and then sifted
  • 1/4 cup (57 g) heavy cream cold
  • 1 tsp (4.2 g) vanilla bean paste
  • pinch of salt
  • *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping, you’ll want to make an extra 1/2 batch.



  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch or four 6-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray and then line with parchment. Spray again. Set aside.
  • In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar for 3 to 5 minutes on medium-high speed. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg whites on medium speed, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between addition.
  • Add the vanilla bean paste or extract and beat until incorporated.
  • With the mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by 1/2 cup of the buttermilk. Repeat the additions, 1/3 cup flour mixture, 1/2 cup buttermilk and the final 1/3 cup flour mixture. Only mix until the flour mixture is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again for another 20 to 30 seconds on low. Fold in the sour cream.
  • Pour about 16 ounces of cake batter into each of the three 8-inch cake pans or 12 ounces in each of the 6-inch pans and bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs on it. Let cool in the pans for about 15 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. (Tip: spray your wire cooling racks with nonstick spray).


  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy and pale in color.
  • With the mixer on slow, gradually add the powdered sugar, followed by the heavy cream, vanilla, and pinch of salt.
  • Once all of the ingredients are combined, turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for about 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for a couple minutes more.
  • Before using the buttercream, make sure to beat it by hand with a wooden spoon or large spatula to help push out the air pockets.


  • Place the first cake layer top side up, in the center of the cake board.
  • Spread about 1 cup of the the buttercream over the cake layer.
  • Place the second cake layer on top of the buttercream and spread more buttercream across the layer.
  • Place the final cake layer top side down on the buttercream.
  • Apply a thin layer of buttercream around the entire cake. Freeze the cake for 10 minutes. This is your crumb coat.
  • Once the crumb coat is set, continue frosting the cake with the remaining buttercream.
Cuisine Cake
Course Dessert
Keyword Cake recipe, Vanilla CAke

Courtney Rich

I’m a self-taught baker, obsessed with cake.

I long ago ditched box mixes in pursuit of melt-in-your-mouth, to-die-for flavor combinations, fillings and textures. I believe cake must be decadent, life-changing and worthy of celebration! And I believe anyone should be able to bake that kind of cake – and I’m here to teach you just that!

Get my free cake decorating guide
Duis mollis, est non commodo luctus, nisi erat porttitor ligula.

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Leave a Comment


  1. Hi! Quick question… I baked this cake tonight (my house smells INCREDIBLE) but it’s too late to crumb coat and frost. What is the best way to store your cake layers so you can come back to? Do I freeze them until I’m ready to frost? What if I wanted to bake up several so I have them on hand, how should I store?!

    1. To make sure it didn’t brown at all around the edges and I noticed that when I bake these lighter cakes at a lower temperature, they’re less likely to give you problems with dryness from overbaking

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe! I got married 1 month ago and LOVED my wedding cake but only got one piece. This recipe is almost exactly like it!

    I used what I had, i.e. regular vanilla instead of vanilla bean paste, and it still turned out great.

    This will forever be my go to classic vanilla cake.

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Courtney!

    Can this recipe be reduced by half pretty straight forward or is there a ratio for the ingredients to be mindful of?


  4. Hi Courtney: Im so excited to try this receipe out this week. I was curious if I would be able to sub greek yogurt for the sour cream?

    1. You can certainly make your own cake flour if you’re in a pinch and can’t find premade cake flour. Here’s what you do:

      1 cup all-purpose flour – 2 tablespoons
      2 tablespoons corn starch
      1 cup cake flour
      For one cup of AP flour, take out two tablespoons and replace with two tablespoons cornstarch. Then sift the mixture at least six times. You need to get the mixture as fine as actual cake flour, so don’t skip this step.

  5. When all frosting is also completed how much will this cake weigh? Any idea about the completed cake weight?

    1. Well you are putting in two pounds of butter in the frosting plus two pounds of powdered sugar and the cake is probably a pound so maybe 5 pounds?

  6. 4 stars
    This cake had great flavour but for me it took a lot longer to bake and came out quite dense. Any suggestions?
    I added the egg whites slowly but all at once, would adding them one at a time work better?
    I made your green velvet cake and it was amazing in flavour and so soft.

  7. 5 stars
    So I have been using a recipe for vanilla cake that I found off Pinterest for the last three years. Don’t get me wrong its a good cake but yesterday I was craving something different. A vanilla cake that lighter and more sophisticated in flavor. I came across this cake… lets just say WOW. This is the best from scratch vanilla cake I have ever tasted. SO GOOD. Light, tender, and with subtle hint of vanilla… just go make it now! you wont regret it! (also always always always room temp ingredients 🙂

  8. How did your cake come out so white? Are you using the vanilla bean paste? Or the extract? I used the paste and my cake is definitely not white. It’s delicious, but definitely has a brown hue from the vanilla paste.

    1. You can if you mix it with greek yogurt. half milk half greek yogurt. Otherwise it needs to be buttermilk.

  9. This looks delicious. My daughter is asking for an almond cake. Could I substitute almond for the vanilla? Thank you!

  10. Just curious to why there is baking powder and no baking soda? Given the acidic ingredients. So many recipes and they’re all so different and it’s confusing 🤣

    1. Baking powder and baking soda can work similarly but need different amounts. I tend to use baking powder in my recipes.

  11. Hi,
    Why do you use 6 egg WITES in this recipe, and normal eggs in the marble cake (the vanilla one). What is the difference in using egg whites?

  12. Just baked this exactly as you have it and ran into a few snags. The cake is a bit under done on top and the sides baked at an angle instead of straight. It also didn’t raise as much as I thought it would, and I made sure to use fresh and room temperature ingredients. Just wondering if you have any ideas for troubleshooting? Thanks!

    1. Bake it until a few moist crumbs come out. And then use a cake leveler to flatten the top! It’s ok if they aren’t huge layers!

    2. I’ve made this twice and also have had very white or “underdone” looking top, despite getting a few moist crumbs on my toothpick and the edges looking done. Is the white top normal? I’m used to cakes turning a little golden when done. Thank you!

  13. 5 stars
    This is the most delicious vanilla cake I have ever had!! I doubled the recipe for a thick 9.2 three layer cake. AMAZING!

  14. 5 stars
    Oh my gosh this recipe is heaven! Even when…you are super distracted… and accidentally add the frosting recipe amount of butter… into the cake batter. Still turned out amazing! Thanks for sharing your incredible talent and recipes!!

  15. 3 stars
    Hi! I have made this recipe 5 times now and I have only gotten it to taste good once. I altered the recipe slightly and it worked only once. I cut the sour cream down by 20 grams and added a splash more vanilla because i had made it twice and the sour cream taste was overpowering. Do you have any tips?

  16. I am at 7k ft. I’ve noticed you have some high altitude adjustments on some recipes. Do I need to make any adjustments to this one?

  17. I’m going to try to make this cake I’m a 9 by 13 and I know you have to turn down the temperature and cook for longer but do you have any suggest about what temp and how long? Is 300 to low?

  18. 4 stars
    I had a couple of problems that I’m hoping you can shed some light on. Admittedly, I over baked the cake a little so it was a bit dry. But, it was also incredibly dense – like a pound cake. Do you think this is because I overbaked it? Or was the density because of something else I might have done wrong? (Note: my ingredients were room temp) I will say the actual flavor of the cake was pretty delicious and probably the best vanilla flavor I’ve tried out of many different recipes. If I could just get the density fixed (and don’t overbake it again) this cake will be perfect! Any advice appreciated! 🙂

    1. The over baking could have something to do with it! It’s also a heavier cake than my others like chocolate. Remember to beat the sugar and butter for awhile at the beginning! That helps get it more light and fluffy.

  19. Courtney, I’ve made your cake – this vanilla Cake recipe in the past, I am looking at this current recipe and it now has sour cream, I want to make the same recipe without the sour cream, is it possible to get the recipe before you added the sour cream.
    Thank you!!

  20. 5 stars
    WOW!!! If I could give a hundred stars, I would!

    My husband requests vanilla cake with vanilla frosting all the time. I have tried every recipe out there with “meh” results…until this one!

    This cake was what my 1970s childhood memories of boxed cake was…what I mean by that is I have been searching for a vanilla cake recipe that had the same moistness and crumb of the boxed cake mixes from the 70s…before they tasted like baked chemical sponges. This is the highest of compliments in MY eyes bc of what I have been trying to recreate for years.

    I thought i had found the ultimate vanilla buttercream recipe until I made yours! Almost the same proportions but 100 times better!!!

    I used my cake discs and my cake is not only GORGEOUS but insanely delish!! I used vanilla bean paste to get those flecks! I am so so so very pleased with this recipe…thank you!

    I can’t wait to try more flavors!

  21. Hi! i’m currently searching the internet for the best vanilla cake base. i’m wondering if i can use whole eggs instead?

  22. 5 stars
    I have been searching for an amazing vanilla cake and after trying this recipe, I have finally found it! It was so tender, fluffy and moist. I used vanilla extract, but next time I will try vanilla bean to see if there is a noticeable difference. Thank you!

  23. I made this cake for a special occasion and followed the directions to a tea. When I asked them how the cake was they said it was dry. I was surprised at that response so wanted to ask if keeping the cake in the fridge overnight caused that. I wasn’t there so trying to figure out what might have caused it to be dry. I made the cake on a Friday night, stored it in my fridge covered and it was delivered Saturday (after a 3 hour ride) and they didn’t have it till Sunday evening. I don’t know if they covered it or not. Is there a point where best to have a cake stored at room temperature?

  24. Hi there. Im made this cake in 3, 8 inch pans but it seems really thin. like maybe it didn’t rise like it should have. Normal or should I double the recipe and put more batter in the pans to make thicker cakes?

  25. 5 stars
    I’ve made several of your cakes and LOVE all of them! I have made this cake before and it was fantastic! I am using this recipe to make cupcakes for a baby shower. How would you change the baking time and/or recipe if needed?

  26. 5 stars
    Hi Courtney!! I love this recipe and have used it several times since I found it and it has always been a crowd pleaser! I need to make a tiered cake and the bottom layer being a 10 in cake. Would I adjust the temperature at all for a 10 inch cake? Or just adjust the cook time? Thank you!

  27. 4 stars
    Hi Courtney, when I started adding the eggs, I found by the time I got to the 5th and 6th egg white the mixture has curdled. Am I adding the eggs too quickly? I had to add a bit of the flour to compensate for the curdling. It got worse when I added the sour cream. Should I wait longer between each addition to prevent curdling? Your recipe still tasted yummy though but wasn’t sure if the texture was affected by the curdling. Thank you!

    1. It will curdle a little bit but shouldn’t be a problem after you add the flour. Make sure you are taking your time adding the eggs one by one.

  28. 5 stars
    Hi Courtney! This has become my go to vanilla cake recipe! It’s so delicious and can be paired with all sorts of flavours for the filling and icing. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe 🙂

  29. Hi Courtney!

    Cant wait to try this recipe! I have a butter vanilla emulsion at home and wondering if I could substitute that in for this recipe or any recipe really.


  30. 5 stars
    LITERALLY THE BEST VANILLA CAKE IN THE HISTORY OF EVER!!!! So delicious!! I made a 6” layer cake and cupcakes for a baby shower and everyone raved. Didn’t believe they weren’t from a speciality bakery😜

  31. Hi! I’m so excited to try this recipe! Im Making cupcakes and it has been requested that I do half of them chocolate. Would it turn out well if I were to half the batter and add cocoa powder? If so, how much would you add?

  32. I made this cake and the layers looked beautiful but when slicing them into thinner layers, I noticed that it is quite a dense can not light and fluffy. Is this correct?

  33. 5 stars
    I tried this recipe and it is so good!!! It was an absolute hit. The cake almost tasted like a sugar cookie. Thanks Courtney!

  34. 3 stars
    The flavor is wonderful, but maybe I did something wrong. I divided it between 3 8″ rounds, and when I took them out of the pan, the layers were so thin! Maybe 1 inch thick each? If I put all three together, the height wouldn’t exceed 4 inches. From the picture, I think this is way too short, right?