Basic Yellow Cake Recipe (Cakes and Cupcakes)

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This is the BEST Basic Yellow Cake Recipe! It’s perfect for a layer cake, a sheet cake or cupcakes! This easy cake recipe is homemade – you’ll never need to buy a box cake mix again.

If you’re looking for a classic yellow cake recipe, you’ve found it!


slice of white cake on white plate

Have you ever wanted to find a recipe for cake that also works for cupcakes? Well, look no further, because this is it!

I got so tired of trying to find a yellow cake that was an all-purpose cake recipe, that I decided to create my own.

If you guys remember, I have a perfect vanilla cupcake recipe and a perfect yellow cake recipe on this blog. BUT! I wanted to come up with one that would work for both. I needed a recipe that was moist, light and airy, and wouldn’t make me miss my good old standby, the box mix.

Since the basic yellow cake recipe was derived from the cupcake recipe, I started there and managed to come up with a cake recipe that works makes a 9-inch layer cake, 24 cupcakes, or a sheet cake…all in one simple recipe!

This recipe is moist yet sturdy (it can hold up to stacking), fluffy and sweet, and tastes just like a yellow or white cake should. If I’m being honest, white cake and yellow cupcakes are my favorite cake. I’m a vanilla girl at heart!

4 vanilla cupcakes

Vanilla cupcakes are perfect for every occasion, because you can dress them up with pretty sprinkles, or chocolate frosting, or any kind of frosting you like. Yellow cake is a blank slate for sprinkles (like funfetti cake), for peanut butter filling, or to make into Twix Cupcakes or anything like that.

If you’re ready to ditch your box cake mix, then print out this recipe. It’s the only one you need from now on, I promise!

If you’ve ever wondered what the flavor of yellow cake is, it’s basically vanilla. This is a Basic Yellow Cake Recipe, and I call it yellow instead of vanilla because most people think of yellow cake when they think of a box mix. What makes it yellow are the butter and eggs. The flavor comes from the butter and the vanilla extract. You can use plain vanilla extract or use vanilla bean paste, which I love.

So, what makes a cake more moist?

I know, moist. It’s such a controversial word in the food world. I mean, I guess I could say tender. Or fluffy? But moist just fits because it encompasses all those things: this cake is tender, fluffy, and not dry. Dry cake *shudder*

There are a few ways you can keep your cake moist, tender, and airy:

  • I use buttermilk in this recipe. The sourness of the buttermilk helps break down the gluten, keeping the cake moist and tender.
  • Extra baking powder: this cake uses 3 teaspoons. Getting the right ratio of baking powder can be difficult: too little and the cake doesn’t rise enough and is tough, too much and your cake tastes bitter. 3 teaspoons is just right for this cake recipe.
  • 4 eggs add structure, color, flavor, and moistness to the recipe.
  • Don’t over mix it.
  • Don’t over bake it.

You’ll notice this recipe has all-purpose flour, not cake flour. I prefer that because it’s easy to come by. Everyone has all-purpose flour in their pantry; not everyone has cake flour. The main difference between cake flour and all-purpose is protein content: cake flour has about 8% and all-purpose is slightly higher. This makes for a bit denser of a cake (hence the extra baking powder and buttermilk in my recipe).

A Basic Yellow Cake Recipe is perfect to make both cake and cupcakes and is better than a box mix!

Basic Yellow Cake Recipe makes cake and cupcakes

A classic yellow cake recipe is timeless and perfect for every occasion. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

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5 / 5 ()
Did you make this recipe?

Basic Yellow Cake Recipe

This is the BEST Basic Yellow Cake Recipe! It’s perfect for a layer cake, a sheet cake or cupcakes! This easy cake recipe is homemade – you’ll never need to buy a box cake mix again.


For the Cake:

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups (310 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups (297g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups (296 ml) buttermilk

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups (452g) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) heavy whipping cream


For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare cupcake pans with liners or grease and flour cake pan(s).
  2. Whisk salt, baking powder, and flour in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
  3. Using a hand mixer, cream sugar into melted butter until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then mix in vanilla extract.
  4. Add dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour, mixing gently between each addition. Mix until just combined. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake as directed. Cool completely before removing and frosting.
  6. Bake Time: 24 cupcakes: 14-17 minutes // Two 9-inch round pans: 24-27 minutes // 9×13-inch pan: 30-40 minutes

For the frosting:

  1. Beat butter until smooth with a hand or a stand mixer. Note: if you’re using a hand mixer be sure to use a very large bowl to avoid wearing the powdered sugar.
  2. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and beat on medium speed until crumbly. Mix in salt and vanilla.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream at a time, mixing between each addition, until the frosting is smooth and the desirable consistency.
  4. Frost cake or cupcakes as desired.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 24 cupcakes, Serving Size: 1 cupcake

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 334
  • Total Fat: 17g
  • Saturated Fat: 10g
  • Cholesterol: 74mg
  • Sodium: 175mg
  • Carbohydrates: 42g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 30g
  • Protein: 3g
All images and text ©. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe. Disclaimer: Nutrition information shown is not guaranteed to be accurate.

If you love yellow cake, check out Jocelyn’s with chocolate frosting, Cheryl’s Raspberry Filled Vanilla Cupcakes, or this milk chocolate icing!

Perfect Funfetti Cake is great for a birthday!

slice of funfetti cake on plate

Twix Cupcakes dress up a plain vanilla cake!

This easy cupcake recipe fills vanilla cupcakes with caramel and tops them with a chocolate ganache frosting like a Twix Candy Bar!

Apple Pie Cupcakes are such a fun idea!

**Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!**

This is the BEST Basic Yellow Cake Recipe! It's perfect for a layer cake, a sheet cake or cupcakes! This easy cake recipe is homemade - you'll never need to buy a box cake mix again.

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  1. hey girl- this looks so yummy!

  2. I love that this is an absolutely all purpose recipe. Cake, cupcakes, layer cake, perfect. And no special ingredients needed such as cake flour. I bake a ton and dont even keep cake flour on hand.

  3. I will try this recipe tomorrow for my family

    Rating: 5
  4. Yummy! I can’t wait to try it!

    Rating: 5
  5. This is definitely my daughter favorite. Thanks so much!

  6. Do the recipe ingredients need to be room temp or is it fine right out of the frig? So many recipes say to have the cold ingredients at room temp. Thanks! Making cupcakes for graduation with this recipe.

  7. Normally I love to have sweets after dinner, sometimes I go out for cupcakes from different baker shops, perfect finishing with decoration is never the same cupcake, but your Cupcakes are well decorated and looks too delicious. 5 star for your recipe and effort.
    Keep up the good work!!

    Rating: 5

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