Crazy for Crust

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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slice of white cake on white plate
4.2 from 15 votes
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Servings: 24 cupcakes

Basic Yellow Cake Recipe

Prep Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 30 mins
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 // 9x13-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.

Recipe Video

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (1 cupcake) — Calories: 334, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 74mg, Sodium: 175mg, Carbohydrates: 42g, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 30g, Protein: 3g

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!**

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  1. I made this as a vanilla cake and as a orange/lemon cake. Both were delicious. Receipe was very versatile. I will use again.

  2. Such a great recipe! Perfect consistency and very easy to make. I put a Golden Oreo in the bottom of the cupcake wrapper before pouring in the batter and then frosted and decorated with half an oreo on top. Looked and tasted great.

  3. It’s a decent recipe but it says best yellow cake recipient then only shows cooking time for cupcakes. Very disappointed with that 

  4. I would like to make this with a 12 inch x 3 inch cake pan. What would you say the ingredient measurements?

  5. Flavor is great and easy to make; however, very thick and hard to swallow. Could I used less flour to make more moist and fluffy?

  6. I made used this recipe to make mini-cupcakes and had enough batter left over to make a single layer cake…holy cow! This cake is delicious. It baked up perfectly, is super moist and the flavor is spot on. I usually make a cream cheese icing, but used the icing suggested here and it’s the perfect compliment. Thanks for sharing!

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