The Most Delicious Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

July 12, 2024

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

A yellow layered cake with chocolate buttercream on a plate, with decorations on it.

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. It was time to create my own recipe.

A slice of yellow cake with chocolate buttercream with a pink table and accessories.

What is Yellow Cake?

Yellow cake is a classic type of vanilla-flavored cake characterized by its rich, golden-yellow color and tender, moist texture. The yellow hue comes from the use of whole eggs and butter, which also impart a rich, buttery flavor. This cake is a popular choice for birthdays and celebrations due to its versatility and ability to pair well with a variety of frostings, such as chocolate, vanilla, or buttercream. Yellow cake is typically made from scratch using simple ingredients like flour, sugar, eggs, butter, milk, and vanilla extract, resulting in a deliciously homey and comforting dessert.

A slice of Yellow Cake with the full cake next to it on a plate.

What Makes a Moist Yellow Cake?

To create a tender and moist yellow cake, I use a combination of butter, oil, eggs, egg yolks, and sour cream. Of course there’s sugar, flour and a few other ingredients, but the ones I first listed help to create the moisture thanks to all the fat added. Fat creates and retains moisture in our cakes, so don’t skimp and grab the low fat sour cream. Get the good stuff!

How to Make a Moist Yellow Cake

Let’s make sure you create the most delicious yellow cake layers! Check out my step-by-step video tutorial below:

How to Decorate a Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

I love pairing these yellow cake layers with my silky, smooth chocolate buttercream. Here’s a step-by-step picture tutorial to walk you through the process:

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

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A yellow layered cake with chocolate buttercream on a plate, with decorations on it.

Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

4.98 from 69 votes
Tender yellow cake layers with delicious chocolate buttercream.


For the Cake

  • 3 cups (345 g) cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (6 g) salt
  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (72.6 g) canola oil
  • 1 3/4 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
  • 5 whole eggs, room temperature
  • 2 eggs yolks, room temperature
  • 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 Buttercream

  • 8 oz. (150 g) semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup (57.75 g) heavy whipping cream
  • 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
  • *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 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, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, canola oil, 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. This will take another minute or two. Stir in the extracts.
  • 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.
  • 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 Buttercream

  • 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.


  • 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.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Cake
Keyword: Beginner, Yellow Cake

Join the Conversation

  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.

    1. This makes me so happy!

  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?

    1. They just have different bases! But it does give a different taste.

  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.

    1. So happy you loved it!

  4. 5 stars
    How would I need to change this recipe to make it into a dozen cupcakes instead?

    1. You’ll use half the recipe for cupcakes and bake for a little less time.

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