Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream: Tender yellow cake layers with chocolate buttercream.

best Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream.

Classic Yellow Cake

Is there anything more classic than a yellow cake with chocolate frosting? I continue to hear that it’s a favorite for so many people, especially the box mix. And while I said goodbye to box mixes years ago, I’ll admit, there’s something pretty alluring about the flavor and texture of a yellow cake mix: rich butter and vanilla extracts in a moist and fluffy cake… you just can’t go wrong (except for the fact that it’s not homemade).

I’ve tried a couple of yellow cake recipes in the past but was never impressed enough to save them or send myself on a mission to find the best yellow cake recipe – until now, that is. This new mission started when I offered to make my friend, Brooke from, a cake for her review. I told her she could pick any cake she wanted, and without hesitation, she said a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. 

Trial and Error

Of course, I immediately threw out every yellow cake recipe I had, knowing they weren’t nearly good enough and started my research from scratch. I scoured Pinterest, cookbooks, and my go-to cake blogs selected a handful of recipes and started comparing ingredients. I wanted something that screamed flavorful and moist, so when I saw Grandbaby Cakes recipe with a full cup of sour cream, seven whole eggs and butter extract, I knew I had to give it a try. (Taste of the South Magazine also loved this cake.)

best recipe for a Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream.

I had high hopes that it would meet my expectations for flavor and texture, but I have to admit, I was slightly let down. It’s a good cake but it was a little too dense for my taste and didn’t resemble any of the flavors from a box mix that I was looking for. 

I was about to try a completely new recipe, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this recipe could be a keeper… with a few tweaks. Since I was going from a slightly artificial flavor, I decided to substitute clear vanilla extract with pure vanilla extract. I also liked Sweetapolita’s idea of using egg yolks in addition to the whole eggs, so instead of seven whole eggs, I used five whole eggs and two yolks the second time around, hoping to get a slightly more yellow color and richer flavor. (The color didn’t change but I was happy with the flavor.) The other change I made was adding more baking powder to get the cakes to raise a little more and feel a bit more fluffy.

Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream.

After making my revisions, I gave the first slice to my toughest critic, Westin. I literally sat next to him as he ate, staring at his face for a glimpse of his first, initial, most honest reaction. Luckily, it was a good one. Two thumbs up. (Phew!)

the best homemade yellow cake with chocolate buttercream.

As for the frosting, I first tried the recipe Grandbaby Cakes provided with her yellow cake, but I found it hard to spread and didn’t love the dense texture, so I’ve included my favorite chocolate frosting recipe below.

The real test will be tomorrow night (11/17) when Brooke and I get together for a live Periscope broadcast about this cake, some tips and tricks, and her taste test. Brooke will also be showing us how to make one of my favorite desserts: peanut butter ice cream. I’m so excited! I hope you’ll join us. Check my Instagram for reminders about when we’ll broadcast. 

 how to make the best homemade yellow cake with chocolate buttercream.

I hope you enjoy this classic yellow cake with chocolate buttercream! 

Photography by Brooke Liason, Female Foodie

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Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

4.97 from 63 votes
Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream.
Tender yellow cake layers with delicious chocolate buttercream.


  • For the Cake
  • 1 cup 226 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup 72.6 g canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon 5.6 g salt
  • 1 3/4 cups 350 g granulated sugar
  • 5 whole eggs room temperature
  • 2 eggs yolks room temperature
  • 3 cups 345 g cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons 8 g baking powder
  • 1 cup 240 g sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon 4.2 g clear vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon 4.2 g butter extract
  • For the Chocolate Frosting
  • 2 cups 452 g unsalted butter, slightly cold
  • 5 cups 625 g powdered sugar, measured and then sifted
  • 1 tablespoon 13 g pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 oz. 150 g good quality semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup 57.75 g heavy whipping cream
  • *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 ½ batch.


  • For the Cake
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch or four 6-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray, add parchment and another coat of spray. Set aside.
  • In a medium size bowl, whisk together the cake flour and baking powder. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, canola oil, salt and sugar on high until fluffy and smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time to the bowl and beat on medium until well incorporated. The mixture should look smooth and fluffy.
  • Turn the mixer on low and add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until fully incorporated. Then add half of the sour cream and blend well, followed by another ⅓ of the flour mixture, the second half of the sour cream and lastly, add the remaining flour mixture and mix until incorporated.
  • Add the clear vanilla extract and butter extract and beat on low until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on low for another 30 seconds.
  • Evenly distribute the cake batter among the three pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean or with just a few crumbs. Make sure not to over bake.
  • Remove cakes from the oven and let cool in pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto cooling racks.
  • Once completely cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer or refrigerator to chill before frosting.
  • For the Frosting
  • In a microwave safe bowl, heat the cream and then pour it over the chocolate to melt. Stir until the mixture is smooth and silky. If needed heat the mixture for another 20 to 30 seconds and stir until the chips are melted. Set aside.
  • In a bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, combine beat the butter on medium-high until light and fluffy.
  • Turn the mixer to medium-low and gradually add the melted chocolate ganache. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat again for about one minute.
  • With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt.
  • Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for another 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  • Stir by hand to push out air pockets.
  • Assembly
  • After leveling each cake layer, place the first cake layer (top side/crumbly side up) on a cake board that has a little frosting on it (which acts like glue to hold the cake in place).
  • Spread about 1 cup of the frosting over the cake layer. Place the second cake layer on top and add another cup of frosting. Make sure to get eye level with the cake to check that your frosting is spread evenly across each cake layer. 
  • When you get the final cake layer, place it top side down on the second layer of frosting. Spread a thin coat of frosting around the entire cake to lock in the crumbs. Freeze the cake for 10 minutes to set the crumb coat.
  • Continue to frost and decorate the cake with the remaining frosting.

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!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Made this cake and frosting yesterday. It was the bomb!!! I have been looking for a great yellow cake/chocolate frosting recipe. My search is over! Can’t wait to try more of your recipes.

  2. Is it better to use an extract over an emulsion? We love yellow cake with chocolate frosting but I was curious if using one over the other would change the flavor?

  3. 5 stars
    I made this recipe exactly as is except in 3 9” cake rounds. I measured my ingredients by weight. It turned out delicious and beautiful. My husband and kids loved it! He has an obsession with boxed yellow cake and this gave all of us exactly what we wanted! So much better than from a box though! Thank you. I’ll be making the PB&J cake next and my kiddos can’t wait.

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