Light and Fluffy Sugar Free Vanilla Cake that Tastes Like the Real Deal

Sugar Free Vanilla Cake – sugar free vanilla cake layers with sugar free Swiss meringue buttercream.

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Why Sugar Free?

The new year is off to a good start around here and I’m excited to re-share with you a recipe that has been frequently requested over the years – a sugar free cake!

To be honest, I’ve pushed this request to the back burner for a while because I didn’t want to come across as if I was making a “diet friendly” cake. I whole-heartedly believe in balance and moderation, and that cake, in it’s full fat, full sugar, full carb form, should be part of that balance.

However, I realize there are many cake lovers reading this who want to have cake in its truest form, but can’t due to health reasons. So, today, this cake is for you!

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Sugar Replacements for Baking

As I started out on this cake, I knew from previous experiments with sugar replacements that I wasn’t a fan of Splenda or Stevia. I find they leave an after taste and are definitely noticeable in the recipe.

Just like when I made my Dairy Free and Egg Free Vanilla Cake, I wanted to make sure this cake taste as close to the real deal as possible. I just don’t think flavor and texture should ever be compromised, even in a healthier version.

So, with Splenda and Stevia already a no for me, I grabbed coconut sugar (which isn’t sugar free but is lower on the glycemic index) and monk fruit.

What is Monk Fruit?

Monk fruit is a small round fruit in the gourd family. It is considered a healing herb in Eastern medicine and has been used since its discovery to treat all kinds of ailments. Unlike other fruits, monk fruit’s sweetness comes from antioxidants called mogrosides. Monk fruit extract is all-natural, so there are not the same drawbacks of other artificial sweeteners.

Monk fruit extract is rated a zero on the glycemic index and has zero calories and zero carbs, so it won’t spike blood sugar. Diabetics can incorporate it into their diet more easily than sugar.

Recipe Testing

Round 1

In my first attempt, I thought about just doing a low-sugar cake and used a combination of coconut sugar and monk fruit. The result was a slightly golden brown colored cake that had a bit of a brown sugar flavor to it. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t the classic vanilla cake flavor I was going for. I do think coconut sugar would make a great substitute in any of my cakes that call for brown sugar, like my Biscoff Cake.

Round 2 and 3

For my second round, I used all monk fruit. Unfortunately, in this round, the cake sunk a bit. So, in round three, I increased the amount of cake flour by ¼ cup to help stabilize the cake more. It baked beautifully!

You’ll find that the “crumb” of this cake is quite fine, but isn’t not super airy. It’s a really nice, tender, flavorful cake.

How to Make a Sugar Free Cake

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Lakanto sugar free monk fruit sweetener and powdered sugar version – this brand is specifically important because there are fewer additives compared to other monk fruit sweeteners.
  • Unsalted butter
  • Cake flour
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Buttermilk
  • Sour cream
  • Grapeseed oil

To make this Sugar Free Vanilla Cake, you’ll start by beating the butter, monk fruit, and oil together on medium-high speed until it becomes light and fluffy. You’ll then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition and then adding vanilla.

You’ll then turn the mixer to low speed and alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk, followed by folding in the sour cream.

How to Make Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Swiss Meringue Buttercream is a buttercream made by heating egg whites and sugar together over a double boiler, whipping them until medium-stiff peaks form, and then adding butter and flavoring.

While SMB is a bit more involved than my usual American Buttercream, and can sometimes be a little tricky, once you master the steps to a Swiss Meringue Buttercream, you’ll love it. It’s a lot lighter in texture and flavor than an American Buttercream, which is why I don’t often use it. My family and I love the richness of an American Buttercream.

And before we get into some of the key points for making Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I have to introduce you to Tessa Huff of Style Sweet. She is a dear friend and taught me everything I know about SMB!

Tips for Making Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • Make sure your mixing bowl is completely clean and dry before making this buttercream.
  • Egg whites should be completely free of any yolk.
  • Whisk the sugar and egg whites together before heating over the double boiler.
  • Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature of the egg and sugar mixture. It’s ready when the thermometer reaches 160 – 170 degrees F.
  • Use the whisk attachment to beat the egg whites and sugar mixture.
  • Switch to the paddle attachment when you add the butter and flavoring.
  • You’ll know the meringue is ready for butter when the outside of the mixing bowl is no longer warm to the touch. Use your inner wrist to check.
  • Butter should be room temperature when you add it. If it’s not, and it’s too cold, the meringue will start to curdle.
  • If the buttercream looks soupy, refrigerate it for about 10 to 15 minutes and then mix again.

Cake Making Tips

Don’t forget to follow my go-to tips for getting your cakes to rise and bake well:

  • Preheat your oven for 30 minutes prior to baking.
  • Beat the butter and sugar for a few minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. 
  • Use good quality pans like Fat Daddio.
  • Spray your pans with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper. 
  • Don’t overmix your cake batter once you add the dry ingredients.
  • Use room temperature wet ingredients.
  • Use fresh baking powder.
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs on it.

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Sugar Free Vanilla Cake

4.78 from 80 votes
Sugar free vanilla cake with a sugar free swiss meringue buttercream.
Prep Time 1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr 50 mins

Ingredients
 

FOR THE CAKE

  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (350 g) Lakanto monkfruit sweetener Use THIS brand
  • 1/3 cup (72.6 g) grapeseed oil
  • 3 large whole eggs at room temperature
  • 3 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 3 1/4 cups (373 g) cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons (12 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 1 tablespoon (12 g) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240 g) buttermilk at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) sour cream at room temperature

FOR THE BUTTERCREAM

  • 1/2 cup (115 g) egg whites
  • 1 1/3 cups (280 g) Lakanto monkfuit powdered sugar or, you can use a blender or food processor to blend the monkfruit granules to create a monkfruit powdered sugar.
  • 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (12 g) vanilla extract
  • *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 DRIP

  • 1 cup (150 g) white chocolate chips I prefer Guittard White Cookie Drops (Orson Gygi(
  • ¼ cup (57.75 g) heavy whipping cream

Instructions
 

FOR THE CAKE

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare two 8-inch or three 6-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray, parchment paper on the bottom of the pan, 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, oil, and monkfruit on high until fluffy and smooth, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the eggs and the egg whites, one at a time and beating well between each addition, to the bowl and beat on medium until well incorporated. It may look curdled, don't stress.
  • 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 buttermilk and blend well, followed by another ⅓ of the flour mixture, the second half of the buttermilk and lastly, add the remaining flour mixture and mix until incorporated.
  • Add the vanilla extract and beat on low until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on low for another 30 seconds. Fold in the sour cream.
  • Evenly distribute the cake batter among the two 8-inch or three 6-inch pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it.
  • Remove cakes from the oven and let cool in pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto cooling racks.
  • When cakes are completely cooled, I like to wrap each cake layer individually with plastic wrap and stick it in the refrigerator or freezer until I’m ready to frost. The cake will be easier to work with if it’s cooled a bit. If I’m making the cake a day or two before I actually need to frost it, I put it in the freezer to ensure freshness. If I’m frosting same-day, I’ll just put it in the refrigerator to chill until needed.

FOR THE BUTTERCREAM:

  • In the bowl of your electric mixer, or any heat proof bowl, combine the egg whites and monkfruit. Whisk until combined.
  • Heat about 1 to 2 inches of water in a medium pot over medium heat. Place the metal mixing bowl, or other heat proof bowl, over the pot to create a double boiler. Stir continuously, until the mixture because smooth, light in color, frothy and reaches 160 – 170 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
  • Once the mixture has reached the desired consistency, use a whisk attachment to beat the mixture until you reach medium-stiff peaks, about 10 minutes. It takes a bit of time, so be patient. You'll know it's ready for the next step when you touch the outside of the bowl with your inner wrist and it's room temperature. If it's still warm, keep beating until there's no heat coming off the bowl.
  • Once you've reached medium-stiff peaks, change to the paddle attachment and then gradually add the butter in small squares, followed by the vanilla. Continue to beat for about 3 to 5 minutes until smooth and silky.

ASSEMBLY

  • Place the first cake layer, top side up. Add about 1 cup of frosting. Spread over the cake layer as evenly as possible. Make sure to get eye level with the cake to ensure the frosting is spread evenly over the cake.
  • Place second cake layer on top and apply a thin coat of frosting around the entire cake to lock in the crumbs. Freeze for about 10 minutes.
  • After the crumb coat is set, continue frosting and decorating the cake.
Cuisine Cake
Course Dessert
Keyword monk fruit cake, sugar free cake, sugar free vanilla cake, swiss meringue buttercream

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




Comments

  1. I made this cake using the measurements and it turned out great!! But first I had tried the weights and it was a failure. The liquids are actually milliliters and not grams. It took me staring at the recipe for longer than I want to admit to figure this out ha!

  2. This looks amazing! And I’m so excited that it is sugar free! If anyone could make a great tasting sugar-free cake it would be you Courtney! I’m wondering if it is possible to substitute the cake flour for almond or coconut flour?

  3. Thanks for posting this! Can’t wait to make this for my Mom. Now that you have this tackled, can you please make a Keto Cake that is Sugar Free, Gluten Free? 😁

  4. Things were going great, but when I took the cakes out of the oven, they fell. What might I have done to make that happen?

  5. Hi! If we can substitute coconut flour for the cake flour, would it be a 1:1 ratio and would we need to change anything else in the recipe? Also if we wanted to make a dozen cupcakes, would we simply half the recipes for the cake and buttercream? Would the bake time and temperature be any different? Thanks!

  6. 5 stars
    Thank You so so so much for this recipe! My birthday is coming up and I needed something that I could make and it wouldn’t make me feel bad or sick. Do you think there’s a way I could make this into a strawberry cake? Also how long does this cake keep? Could I make it the night before?

  7. Can I do the buttercream without the egg whites? And would adding sugar free strawberry jello be ok to add?

  8. First of thank you for making this recipe. My sons a T1D and we’re always trying to find ways to reduce his sugar intake instead of completely removing certain foods from his diet. So this is perfect! How can I make this a chocolate cake instead of vanilla? He loves chocolate 😄

  9. I’m interested in trying this recipe out today but have everything except grape seed oil-are there any other alternatives you can recommend?

  10. Hi I’m confused about the chocolate drip in the recipe but see it nowhere in the instructions. And is the drip sugar free?

    1. You can use the carton egg whites, but still need to follow the process for everything else to make this buttercream.

  11. 5 stars
    Hi Courtney! I made the cake yesterday and the cake is delicious. I started to make the buttercream but it has a bit of a grainy texture. I tried to microwave a small portion and then put it back in and whipped it again. It tasted a little better but I still taste a little bit of the grittiness. Can you help with this?

    1. Yes, so the grittiness is from the sugar. If you make it again, just use your blender or food processor to pulse the sugar a few times to make it even finer.

  12. 3 stars
    It was good but super dense. I tested it at 40 minutes and the tooth pick was still covered in dough. Three minutes later, there were no crumbs to speak of. Took it out of the oven, it fell. Obviously this is user error. What happened?

    1. Oh no! So sorry to hear that. Have you checked the internal temperature of your oven lately? I wonder if it’s off just a bit? If it fell after it came out of the oven, I don’t think it was quite done yet. As for the density, did you use all room temperature ingredients and beat the eggs and sugar sub for a few minutes to get light and fluffy?

  13. I deeply appreciate your dedication to testing and getting it just right. Love all of your work and OF COURSE, your cakes!!! For medical reasons, I am super excited about trying this sugar free version. I had just about given up on my inner cake lover. I would love to get all the ingredients right on my first try. Just to make sure, you were using the Lakanto POWDERED Sweetener, not the baking Sweetener or the Classic. Thanks so much Courtney! Let Them Eat Cake !

  14. I want to try this cake. I’m new in sugar free. I’ve always been kind of leary about doing Swiss Buttercream Icing. I live near Houston Texas and the humidity is always 60% and most times in summer around 75%. That’s not good with meringues.

    Is there a sugar free regular buttercream you could suggest?

    Thanks

  15. 5 stars
    This was the BEST sugar free cake recipe I’ve used. The texture was velvety and so soft. I haven’t achieved this with any cake that isn’t loaded with sugar. I forgot the sour cream and used avocado oil but it ended up working out and being a dream textural and in taste. It was wonderful. We used this recipe to make blueberry muffins and it worked out so well. Thank you for sharing I cannot wait to try the buttercream too

  16. 4 stars
    I love this recipe thank you!! I was wondering can you make the frosting ahead of time and put it in the fridge or how long will it last at room temperature?

  17. Hi, wondering if these layers freeze well? (baked ahead of time, frozen and then assembling the cake later?)

  18. Hi…I plan to make this recipe this weekend…was wondering whats a good substitute for the grapeseed oil? Will any other oil work?? I couldnt get any from my country 🙁

  19. What might have gone wrong? I did everything as it was and the cake is dense and not light snd fluffy. temp? the taste is good.

    1. Be sure to beat sugar, eggs and butter really well at the beginning and use room temp ingredients. That will help your cake rise tremendously.

  20. I am making this right now, and I am wondering if the grams or the cup measurements for the flour would be better to use it seems like it doesn’t match up.

  21. I baked this cake, and froze it like i do all of my cakes. I thawed it to frost, and the texture seems really dry on the outside. Does it soften up? At least in the middle?I know sugar replacements act different, but I’m worried.

  22. 4 stars
    Hello! I was looking at the nutrition facts for the Monkfruit Sweetener and saw that it has 8 grams of Sugar Alcohol (which I know is not exactly pure sugar) per 2 tsp and I’m strictly restricted to only 2-3 grams of sugar. I was wondering if you would know any other sweeteners to use in your recipient that would strictly have 0-3 grams of sugar. Thanks!

  23. Hello! I was looking at the sweetener site and there is an option for baking sugar and regular (comparable to white sugar). Should I choose one or the other? The baking sugar is twice the price!

    Thank you!!

  24. I’m making a sugar free cake for a baby shower. The mama to be is gestational diabetes and this will be my first sugar free cake. I’m scared making it and I don’t have time to pre-make to try the recipe out. Is it moist? Because from the image it seems a little dry and that’s always my concern serving a cake to others.

    1. Cake flour and buttermilk have lots of carbs so not really diabetic friendly to be honest. There’s a difference between sugar free, no sugar added and low carb. This recipe is not diabetic friendly.

  25. Hiw long do you freeze the cake for? I’ve only froze for 1 week and hoping 2 weeks to freeze is still fresh.

  26. 1 star
    Baked this cake for my daughters birthday. Beat the eggs and sugar “really well” yet the cake is dense, certainly not “fluffy”. Followed directions s to the T! I’m so disappointed and frustrated to,have spent the time and money on this only to end up with something I’ll have to throw out.

    1. Hi! Sounds like there may have been another issue and I’d love to help you figure it out. I’m wondering if your ingredients were room temperature. If they were cold at all, they won’t blend as well together nor will the dry ingredients be able to absorb them as well as they need to. The dry ingredients need the wet ingredients to be totally room temp to absorb them well – and that is what helps to create cake layers that rise well and have that light and fluffy texture. Cold ingredients will create dense cakes. I’d also check your baking powder to make sure that it’s fresh. Hope that helps some!

      1. 3 stars
        Hi. Yes. Everything was at room temp and well blended. I salvaged the cake and we tried it tonight. I tasted good and I was happy that it wasn’t super sweet. I use monk fruit all the time so I was excited to find the recipe. I’m just now sure why it didn’t rise as much as I thought it should. I did use 2 eight inch pans. Maybe I was expecting too much.

  27. 5 stars
    The cake has turned out to be great and delicious! The only thing I was confused about that the frosting is not pink, but kind of natural color. Did you add any color to the buttercream? If yes, which one and how much? Thank you!

  28. So, I followed the directions and this cake failed for me. It was taking forever to cook and browning on the top while I waited for it to be done. It then fell and is incredibly dense. I am wondering about the measurement. It’s says three 6 inch pans–should it have been four?

    1. Sorry to hear it didn’t work out for you. Either two 8-inch pans or three 6-inch pans is correct, but you could certainly use four 6-inch pans for thinner layers. I’m wondering if your baking powder was possibly old (which could cause the cake to fall and be dense).

  29. 2 stars
    I was so looking forward to this cake, it was so soft in texture on the inside, great color, great rising but unfortunately the erythritol caused a slight but uncomfortable burning sensation in my throat! I looked it up and it said some people react to it that way 😐 . I am sensitive to chemical smells and will get nausea and headaches that travel to the base of my neck etc. but first time ever affected this way. Please let me know if you figure out how to make it taste sweet and yummy with just pure monkfruit and rebalancing the rest of the bulk. I love that you are trying to make things people can enjoy without sugar as well.

    1. So sorry to hear Monkfruit does that to you. I haven’t found another non sugar sweetener I love that doesn’t have a weird aftertaste, but I’ll keep looking.

  30. I have to say I was A little sceptical about how this recipe would taste using an artificial sweeteners , but to my surprise the taste is amazingly good . I will definitely make it again for but next time I will grind the sugar before make the buttercream.I skipped this step and immediately had regrets after tasting the buttercream .the flavour was delicious but it was grainy. Also I would add more vanilla to both the cake and SMBC. Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe .

  31. 5 stars
    So sorry I left a comment earlier but forgot to rate the recipe . This is definitely a 5 star recipe

  32. 1 star
    This recipe is a disappointment all around – and a very expensive one at that! When it didn’t work the first time around, I bought another $20 worth of sweetener to try again – only to end with the same, spectacularly awful results! The cake? Dense and flavorless. The frosting? I didn’t even try it based on the insane measurements called for – wore than twice the amount of sweetener as egg whites? unreal. It’s obvious this blogger was compensated for writing a ‘recipe’ that uses copious amounts of the particular brand recommended.
    I wish I could rate this recipe minus five stars.
    Shame on you, Ms. Rich.

    1. I’m so sorry you feel this way. There was no compensation for making this recipe at all. Just a lot of requests for a sugar free cake. Sounds like it wasn’t up your alley. Good luck finding a cake that you like!

  33. 4 stars
    Hello! I was asked to make a sugar free cake for a 80th birthday party. I have only tried the sugar free box cake. Ran into your recipe and did a sample to try and have other people try it.
    Everyone agreed it was delicious, great texture and similar to a regular cake.
    I used Monk fruit sweetener, since it was what I had. I ordered the Lakanto as you recommend in your recipe.
    I found the cake too sweet for my taste. Wonder if I can reduce the sugar without changing the texture of the cake.
    I plan to use your recipe for the birthday cake requested. I know it will be a hit!
    Thanks a lot!

  34. Can you tell me whose brand of cake flour d8d you use for this cake? Thank you! Looking forward to making it!!

  35. 5 stars
    Best sugar free cake I’ve ever made.
    Cake was tender and moist . It could have been moister but it was due to my own error of over baking. I only had 9” cakes pans and should have adjusted the time for bigger pans. I followed the recipe to tee. I had some old cake flour but decided to buy a new box and new can of baking powder to insure recipe would work well.
    A also added an extra 1/2 tbs of vanilla extract. I just felt like it needed the extra vanilla for more flavor. I also used a high quality Keri gold butter.
    I didn’t frost the cake because I wanted to use fresh strawberries in between my layers.

  36. Haven’t tried this yet but plan to make for mother in law’s birthday, she’s diabetic. Just had a question about the sour cream and buttermilk. Did you use the full fat or will the reduced fat work as well? Thank you

  37. I see that quite a few people in the comments say that erythritol didn’t work for them, but there is no erythritol in the recipe…. have I missed it somehow…?

    Also could allulose be used instead of monkfruit?

    Thank!!