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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!

3 layer yellow cake cut open on cake plate.

Homemade Yellow Cake Recipe for cake or cupcakes!

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.

I wanted to come up with one that would work cupcakes and cake. I needed a recipe with a texture that is moist, light and airy, and wouldn’t make me miss my good old standby, the box mix. And guess what? THIS is the recipe I was looking for – and you have been too:

  • It makes an 8-inch or 9-inch layer cake, 24 cupcakes or a sheet cake
  • It holds up to stacking with a tender yet sturdy crumb and tastes like the perfect moist cake you expect from a yellow cake recipe.

If you’re ready to never have to buy a box cake mix again – this is the scratch cake recipe you need in your life!

Ingredients in yellow cake

Important Ingredients Needed

  • Melted Butter: Instead of softened, I use melted butter. I find it keeps the cake moister than with softened butter, and it has more flavor than oil.
  • Eggs: Eggs give the cake structure and the fat in the yolk keeps the cake moist (and gives it the telltale yellow color).
  • Vanilla: For flavor. For even more flavor use vanilla bean paste!
  • Baking Powder: Helps the cake rise and be nice and fluffy.
  • Buttermilk: I use buttermilk to add a little extra flavor, plus the tang from the buttermilk keeps the cake moist.
  • All-Purpose Flour: 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).

How to make the Best Yellow Cake Recipe

  1. Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. Add sugar to melted butter in a large bowl. Mix until smooth.
  3. Add an egg and mix. Continue mixing on low speed, adding eggs one at a time. You can use a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  4. Add flour mixture and buttermilk in alternate additions, mixing in between.
  5. Don’t over mix! Add your cake batter to your desired pan and bake at 350 degrees f.
Yellow cake cupcakes with vanilla frosting and sprinkles on top and around bottom

Pan Size Equivalents – Make Cupcakes or Cake

You can make this recipe a few different ways:

  • Three round 8-inch pans
  • Two 9-inch rounds
  • 24 standard size cupcakes
  • 9×13-inch sheet cake

It makes this the perfect all-purpose cake recipe! I always spray my cake pans with nonstick baking spray (the kind with flour) or I grease and flour them. Learn how to prepare your cake pans here.

Frosting Choices

slice of 3 layer yellow cake on white plate.

Tip From Dorothy

Expert Tips

  • The buttermilk helps to keep your cake moist, tender, and airy. Although it is possible to make your own buttermilk, I recommend buying it for this recipe, as the homemade version doesn’t always produce the same result.
  • If you really can’t find buttermilk, you can substitute with sour cream: 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sour cream and 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup milk.
  • Be sure not to over bake the cake: a cake is done baking when a toothpick entered in the center comes out clean.
  • Cake layers can be baked ahead and covered with plastic wrap for up to 24 hours before frosting, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Store leftover frosted cake in the fridge.

FAQ about my Yellow Cake Recipe

What is the difference between yellow cake and white cake?

Yellow cake uses whole eggs, while white cake uses just egg whites. The egg yolks add a richness and color to the batter of a yellow cake recipe.

Can you make yellow cake without buttermilk?

If you don’t have buttermilk, don’t worry. You can make this cake with ANY kind of milk, as long as you add 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to the batter. However, I recommend using whole milk or full fat non-dairy milk – the more fat in the liquid the better the cake.

Can you make this yellow cake recipe with oil?

You can substitute vegetable oil for the melted butter. This makes it easy to make dairy-free. I recommend adding a bit of butter extract for flavor, but it’s not required.

Gluten-Free Cake Option

I have substituted Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 GF All-Purpose flour in this cake with success.

slice of 3 layer yellow cake with vanilla frosting on white plate with fork.

Basic Yellow Cake Recipe

4.09 from 257 votes
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.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Assembling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yield 24 servings
Serving Size 1 serving


For the Cake:

  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 ½ cups (310g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 ½ cups (297g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups (296) ml buttermilk

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups (452g) powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) heavy whipping cream
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For the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare cupcake pans with liners or grease and flour cake pan(s).
  • Whisk salt, baking powder, and flour in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
  • Using a hand mixer, cream sugar into melted butter until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then mix in vanilla extract.
  • 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.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans and bake as directed. Cool completely before removing and frosting.
  • Bake Time: 24 cupcakes: 14-17 minutes // Two 9-inch round pans: 24-27 minutes // Two 8-inch round pans: 25-33 minutes // 9×13-inch pan: 30-40 minutes

For the frosting:

  • 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.
  • Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and beat on medium speed until crumbly. Mix in salt and vanilla.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream at a time, mixing between each addition, until the frosting is smooth and the desirable consistency.
  • Frost cake or cupcakes as desired.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

  • You can use a 9×13-inch pan, two 8-inch or 9-inch rounds, or make 24 cupcakes.
  • This is also great with chocolate frosting!
  • Store cake on counter for up to 3 days. Cake can be frozen (with or without frosting) for up to 2 months. Be sure to wrap it well in plastic wrap or an airtight container.

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 334kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 175mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 30g
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Reader Favorite Cake Recipes

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

Last Updated on February 6, 2024

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I use this recipe when I’m in a hurry comes out perfect I substitute 1/2 strawberry powder for 1/2 c flour add strawberry emulsion in place & dried strawberry pieces makes an excellent cake