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

4.96 from 48 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!

Get my free cake decorating guide
Everything you need to know about decorating a cake like a pro!

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Recipe Rating


  1. This recipe is a keeper! The cake turned out moist and fluffy and the frosting was yummy and easy to spread on my cake. Your site is my go to for cake recipes – I bake an average of two cakes a month for an organization I volunteer for. Thank you for such reliably good recipes

  2. I love making cakes!! For a while I was in a slump. Thank you for giving me new excitement and motivation! Loves your training class at the pinners conference! file:///var/mobile/Library/SMS/Attachments/98/08/E07700CE-DD7D-4742-B522-2CAC2AA27E29/IMG_1081.HEIC

  3. Hi, I am hoping to make cupcakes for my son’s upcoming birthday. How would you adjust the recipe and baking technique for cupcakes rather than cake? Thanks! -Emily

  4. I live in the Netherlands and we don’t really use butter extract here. I was wondering if I could leave it out or replace it with real butter? If I can replace it with real butter (or something else), how do I do this?
    Thanks, Perihan!

  5. Hi! I am making a taco cake for my best friend and I’m going to be cutting the cake in half (after being baked) so it’s looks like a shell and the middle filling. Since it will but upright and not stacked like a regular cake layer (flats) do you think this recipe will hold? Thank you

  6. Hello! How can I make this with regular flour ? I do not have cake flour and I am making a cake due tomorrow :/

  7. Hi!!
    How many layers does it make?
    What is a good substitute for sour cream? I live in Brazil and they don’t sell it here
    Thank you!!!

  8. Hi Courtney,

    Do you happen to know if this cake would work if I added crushed Oreo’s to the batter for an Oreo drip cake?


  9. 5 stars
    I am making this today, but my nephew really wants salted caramel somewhere in the cake. Would it work to add a little between the layers with the frosting? Or just drizzle on top? I don’t want to ruin the cake by adding something that will weigh it down.


  10. 4 stars
    I made this as a cake before and it was perfect! I made recently into cupcakes and my cupcakes looked so fluffy, until I took them out of the oven and as they cooled they shrunk so much in size and were no longer fluffy. Any tips on reason for this and how to avoid?!

    1. They may have been overbaked a tad if they shrank. It may also be from too much moisture so depending on where you live you may need to add a tad bit more flour.

  11. The cake was moist and delicious. I will
    make it again. Thank you.
    I made two batches but ran out of sour cream. To make it up I added a half cup of vanilla flavored greek yogurt. Still turned out great.

  12. 4 stars
    I just made this recipe and the fluffiness and taste is on point! But my cakes had spots in them that would not cook, which made it impossible to stack and use. What could have gone wrong? Thanks!

    1. Hmmm, that’s interesting… I wish I could see a picture. Sounds like it could be an oven issue or the ingredients didn’t mix evenly. Feel free to email me a picture and I’ll try to dissect it a bit more. [email protected]

  13. 5 stars
    Made cupcakes with the yellow cake recipe and using a 1/4 c scoop, got 32 cupcakes. Perfect for the two dozen order I had and allowed for some taste testing extras. ❤️

  14. 5 stars
    I think this will be my go-to cake from now on. It is perfect in every way! I made it with gluten-free flour and the texture was beautiful; not a bit dry or grainy. Thank you, Courtney, for another excellent recipe.

  15. This chocolate frosting recipe is my absolute favorite! If I wanted to do a 10″ Milk Bar style cake, should I double the recipe?

  16. Can you make this cake GF? If so, what’s the measurements and best flour for that? It’s my husbands birthday and he’s GF and yellow cake is his fav!!

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