Easy Vanilla Cake (One Bowl)

The best easy vanilla cake recipe! This cake has a fantastic flavor and texture. Everything comes together in one bowl, no special mixing method required!
↓ Recipe ↓ Video Never Miss A Cake
Total Time: 50 mins
Serves: 8 cups
close up of vanilla cake slice

This easy vanilla cake recipe is perfect for anyone who’s new to baking cakes! No special mixing method! Just incredibly velvety, tender vanilla cake layered with smooth rich, decadent easy buttercream frosting! If you like my easy chocolate cake recipe, then you will absolutely LOVE this easy vanilla cake recipe!

close up of vanilla cake slice


Any baker can master this easy vanilla cake recipe! There’s a good chance you already have the ingredients you need to make this cake in your pantry, too! What’s even better is that this recipe only requires ONE BOWL (check out my FAQ section to learn how!)

Easy Vanilla Cake Ingredients

easy vanilla cake ingredients

Buttermilk: Buttermilk is the star of this easy vanilla cake recipe! Buttermilk works to break down the gluten in the all-purpose flour and is what will give your cake a velvety, soft texture. 
If you do not have buttermilk, you can create your own buttermilk substitute to achieve a tender cake texture.
Pasteurized egg whites: For this easy buttercream frosting recipe, you will need pasteurized egg whites. Pasteurization is what makes eggs safe to eat without cooking. 
If you can’t find pasteurized egg whites, you can pasteurize them yourself and just use the egg whites. NOTE: all eggs in the USA are already pasteurized so you can use shelled egg whites separated from the yolk as well.

Why Use A Kitchen Scale?

white digital kitchen scale on white background

If you’ve never used a kitchen scale before to measure your ingredients then you might feel intimidated but trust me, once you use a scale you’ll never go back. You may not know this but using cups is a recipe for disaster. One cup of flour is not the same weight as one cup of water etc. Going by weight takes out all the guesswork.

  • More Accurate: Never again will you have a recipe fail because you accidentally put too much flour in. Especially with bigger recipes.
  • Less Dishes: When you use a scale, you can measure directly in the bowl. No dirtying multiple containers.
  • Easy to double and triple recipes: When need to make a triple batch, it’s easy to scale up and quickly add ingredients when you’re not having to measure everything one cup at a time.

How to Make Easy Vanilla Cake

  1. First, preheat the oven to 335ºF (168ºC).
  2. Prepare two 8” cake pans with cake goop or another pan release.
  3. Then, measure out all of your ingredients using a digital kitchen scaleYou can mix the wet and dry ingredients separately for a finer texture, or just measure and add directly into the bowl of your stand mixer for fewer dishes.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine and mix together the buttermilk, butter, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Your wet ingredients should all be slightly warm. I microwave my buttermilk for about 30 seconds and place my eggs (still in the shell) in a bowl of warm water. Whisk gently to combine. easy vanilla cake wet ingredients
  5. Next, in the bowl of your stand mixer using a paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix on low to combine for a few seconds. I just put my bowl on the scale and measure everything into the same bowl, zeroing out the weight of the ingredients after each addition. Yay less dishes!easy vanilla cake dry ingredients
  6. While the mixer is on low, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.adding wet ingredients into dry ingredients
  7. Then, turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until the batter is combined. Scrape the bowl to make sure all of the ingredients are combined.
  8. Let the batter mix on speed 2 for 1 minute. It should look kind of like pancake batter. close up of easy vanilla cake batter
  9. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Pro Tip: Weigh your cake pans to make sure each pan has the same amount of batter for more even layers. pouring cake batter into the cake panweighing cake pans on a scale
  10. Place them into the oven on a middle rack. Bake the cakes for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  11. Finally, allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes and flip out onto a cooling rack. If you plan to frost and decorate the cake on the same day, you can place the cakes into the freezer unwrapped for about an hour or until they are cold (but not frozen). If you plan to decorate your cake at a later date, then you will wrap the cakes in plastic wrap first before placing them in the freezer.two vanilla cakes cooling on a rack

Preparing the Easy Buttercream Frosting

This is the easiest and tastiest buttercream! So creamy and not too sweet.

  1. First, place the egg whites and the powdered sugar in a stand mixer bowl. Attach the whisk and combine the ingredients on low, and then whip them on high for 4-5 minutes (until shiny) to dissolve the powdered sugar.close up of egg whites and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl
  2. Then, add in the salt and the vanilla extract. If you are adding in any food coloring, this is the point where you would do that. 
  3. Next, add in your softened butter piece-by-piece, and whip it with the whisk attachment to combine. It will look curdled at first. This is definitely normal. It will also look pretty yellow. Keep whipping.adding butter to buttercream mixture
  4. After your buttercream looks like this, remove about 1 cup of buttercream and melt it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds until it is just barely melted. close up of cold buttercreampouring melted buttercream back into the mixer
  5. Then, pour it back into the whipping buttercream to bring it all together.
  6. Then, whip it on high with the whisk attachment for 8-10 minutes until the buttercream is white, light, and shiny. Taste test the buttercream. If it tastes like sweet ice cream, then it’s ready!close up of whipped buttercream
  7. Finally, switch to a paddle attachment and mix the buttercream on low speed for up to 15-20 minutes to make the buttercream ultra smooth and remove any air bubbles. Ultimately, this step is optional. But, if you want really creamy frosting, then you don’t want to skip this final step.close up of mixed buttercream

Stacking and Assembling the Vanilla Cake

  1. Optional: Trim the brown layer off of the top of the cake and on the sides. This is an extra step I like to take for my cakes to get a cleaner look.close up of trimming the brown edges off the cakes
  2. First, place your cake on a cake board. Or, you could use a flat plate or cake platter.adding buttercream to the first layer of cake
  3. Then, spread a layer of buttercream over the top of the cake. It should be about 1/2“ thick since this is only a two layer cake.
  4. Next, stack the second layer of cake on top.adding buttercream to cake layers
  5. Add another layer of buttercream about 1/2“ thick and spread it out over the top of the cake.
  6. Then, spread a thin layer of buttercream all over the cake. Scrape off any extra buttercream off of the top. This is called the “crumb coat.” The crumb coat will seal in the crumbs so that they do not get into your final layer of cake.crumbcoat on a vanilla cake
  7. Put your cake in the fridge or freezer for 15 minutes, or until the buttercream is firm to the touch.
  8. Next, place your final coat of buttercream on your cake and smooth it out. PRO TIP: Start by scooping your buttercream on top of the cake and then smooth out the top first to make it flat. Then, apply a thick layer of buttercream to the sides and smooth it out.applying buttercream to the top of the vanilla cake
  9. Then, use your bench scraper to slowly scrape away the excess frosting. Hold the scraper straight up and down, and slowly turn the cake until you’ve removed all of the excess buttercream This will give your cake straight edges.smoothing the buttercream
  10. Wipe off any excess buttercream off the top starting at the edge of the cake and moving toward the center. Now your cake is ready to decorate!final layer of buttercream on vanilla cake

Decorating the Vanilla Cake

  1. You can decorate this cake however you prefer! If you want more cake decorating ideas or if you are new to cake decorating, you can read my tutorial on how to decorate your first cake. But for this cake decoration, here is what I did:
  2. Start by placing your spatula in the center of the top of the cake. Apply a little bit of pressure on the buttercream, and turn the cake. As you turn the cake, slowly move your spatula outwards toward the edge so you begin to create a spiral in the buttercream. If you don’t like your spiral and want to start over, you can smooth the buttercream out and start over.using an offset spatula to smooth buttercream
  3. Then, after you’ve created your spiral, use your spatula to add small dabs of buttercream to the sides of the cake to create a rustic texture. As you transfer the buttercream to the cake, make a slight swoop (backwards “C” shape) and layer them on top of one another.adding a rustic texture to the side of the cake
  4. Next, prepare a piping bag with your buttercream. I used a Wilton 1M piping tip, but you can use whatever one you have!
  5. Pipe small dollops of buttercream along the top edge of the cake, and add one dollop of buttercream in the center.close up of piping buttercream
  6. Finally, add some confetti sprinkles or whatever sprinkles you like all around the top of the cake!adding sprinkles to vanilla

taking a slice of cake out of the vanilla cake

FAQ

Can I cover this cake in fondant?

Yes, this cake will hold up well under fondant and is great for stacking multiple tiers. Keep in mind that fondant will melt if you use cream cheese frosting or whipped cream underneath, so use frosting like my easy buttercream, Swiss meringue buttercream, or Italian buttercream recipe instead.

Can I freeze this cake?

Absolutely! If you’re in a hurry, let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, flip them out onto a cooling rack, and pop that directly into the freezer for an hour to flash freeze your cakes. If you want to make your cakes the day before, flip the cakes out of the pans, wrap the cakes in plastic wrap while they’re still warm, and freeze for up to 1 week. Make sure to defrost your cakes for about an hour before you frost them. Freezing your cakes locks in the moisture of the cake and it won’t dry them out.

How long does this cake last after cutting?

This cake will only stay good for 3-4 after cutting into it, I recommend covering the cut slice with a piece of plastic wrap and leaving it at room temperature as much as possible. The refrigerator will dry your cake out.

How long can this cake stay out at room temperature?

This cake and buttercream are very stable and can last out at room temperature for up to 2 days. It’s perfect for a wedding or event, just keep it out of direct sunlight. Keep in mind that if you add a fruit filling or use a different frosting like cream cheese or whipped cream, it can only stay out of the refrigerator for about 4 hours.

What does buttermilk do for this recipe?

Buttermilk breaks down the gluten in the cake, resulting in a very velvety and tender cake. It adds moisture and a slight tangy taste to the vanilla cake. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own using my buttermilk substitute recipe.

What’s the difference between white cake and vanilla cake?

If you use only egg whites and no egg yolks, it’s a white cake. If you use whole eggs with yolks and whites, it’s a vanilla cake. If you add extra egg yolks, it’s a yellow cake.

Can I stack this cake for a wedding cake?

Yes, this cake is firm enough to use for stacking, just make sure to properly chill your cakes and use supports for tall cakes.

Can I reduce the amount of sugar in this recipe?

No, I do not recommend reducing the sugar for this recipe. Why? Because sugar acts as a tenderizer and helps soften the all-purpose flour so that the cake texture is velvety and soft.

Can I use cake flour in this recipe?

This recipe uses all-purpose flour because it needs structure to hold the cake together. The buttermilk breaks down the gluten in the flour, and cake flour has a lower protein and gluten content.

Why does my buttercream taste like butter?

If your easy buttercream tastes like butter, you did not whip the frosting long enough. If you’ve added in all of your ingredients, you will need to whip your buttercream on high speed for 8-10 minutes. Once everything is whipped together long enough, your buttercream will appear white and should taste like melted ice cream.

Do I need a scale?

Yes! Weighing your ingredients using a simple, digital kitchen scale will ensure your cake recipe does not fail. Not sure how to use a scale? Check out my tutorial on how to use a digital kitchen scale.

Can I mix this recipe in one bowl?

Absolutely! You do NOT have to separate your ingredients for this recipe. You can add all of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix them together for one minute (either by hand or in your stand mixer). However, you may have a slightly better texture if you do separate and mix the dry and wet on their own before combining them.

Would this recipe work for cupcakes?

Yes, this recipe can be used with no adjustments for cupcakes.

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Did You Make This Recipe?Leave a rating and tell me how it went!
close up of vanilla cake slice

Easy Vanilla Cake (One Bowl)

The best easy vanilla cake recipe! This cake has a fantastic flavor and texture. Everything comes together in one bowl, no special mixing method required!
4.89 from 84 votes
Print Rate Never Miss A Cake
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Serves: 8 cups
Calories: 913kcal

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces (454 g) all-purpose flour
  • 16 ounces (454 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs slightly warm
  • 5 ounces (142 g) vegetable oil
  • 10 ounces (284 g) buttermilk slightly warm
  • 4 ounces (113 g) melted unsalted butter melted, but not hot
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Easy Buttercream Ingredients

  • 6 ounces pasteurized egg whites (from a box)
  • 24 ounces powdered sugar sifted if not from a bag
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 24 ounces unsalted butter, softened You can use salted butter, but it will affect the taste and you need to leave out the additional salt
  • 1 tiny drop of purple food coloring optional for white frosting

Equipment

  • Digital Kitchen Scale
  • 2 8" cake pans

Instructions

How to Make Easy Vanilla Cake

  • First, preheat the oven to 335ºF (168ºC).
  • Prepare two 8” cake pans with cake goop or another pan release.
  • Then, measure out all of your ingredients using a digital kitchen scale. You can mix the wet and dry ingredients separately for a finer texture, or just measure and add directly into the bowl of your stand mixer for fewer dishes.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine and mix together the buttermilk, butter, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Your wet ingredients should all be slightly warm. I microwave my buttermilk for about 30 seconds and place my eggs (still in the shell) in a bowl of warm water.
  • Next, in the bowl of your stand mixer using a paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Let the mixer slowly combine for a few seconds.
  • While the mixer is on low, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
  • Then, turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until the batter is combined. Scrape the bowl to make sure all of the ingredients are combined.
  • Let the batter mix on speed 2 for 1 minute. It should look kind of like pancake batter.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and place them into the oven on a middle rack.
  • Bake the cakes for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Finally, allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes and flip out onto a cooling rack. If you plan to frost and decorate the cake on the same day, you can place the cakes into the freezer unwrapped for about an hour or until they are cold (but not frozen). If you plan to decorate your cake at a later date, then you will wrap the cakes in plastic wrap first before placing them in the freezer.

Preparing the Easy Buttercream Frosting

  • First, place the egg whites and the powdered sugar in a stand mixer bowl. Attach the whisk and combine the ingredients on low, and then whip them on high for 4-5 minutes (until shiny) to dissolve the powdered sugar.
  • Then, add in the salt and the vanilla extract. If you are adding in any food coloring, this is the point where you would do that. PRO TIP: Use a toothpick to transfer 1-2 drops of food coloring to your frosting to avoid putting too much color in your buttercream.
  • Next, add in your softened butter piece-by-piece, and whip it with the whisk attachment to combine. It will look curdled at first. This is definitely normal. It will also look pretty yellow. Keep whipping.
  • If your buttercream looks curdled, remove about 1 cup of buttercream and melt it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds until it is just barely melted. Then, pour it back into the whipping buttercream to bring it all together.
  • Optional: Add in 1 drop of purple food coloring to make the buttercream whiter. You can use any food coloring you want, but if you want my recommendation, I use Chef Master gel food coloring.
  • Then, whip it on high with the whisk attachment for 8-10 minutes until the buttercream is white, light, and shiny. Taste test the buttercream. If it tastes like sweet ice cream, then it's ready!
  • Finally, switch to a paddle attachment and mix the buttercream on low speed for up to 15-20 minutes to make the buttercream ultra smooth and remove any air bubbles. Ultimately, this step is optional. But, if you want really creamy frosting, then you don't want to skip this final step.

Stacking and Assembling the Vanilla Cake

  • Optional: Trim the brown layer off of the top of the cake and on the sides. This is an extra step I like to take for my cakes to get a cleaner look.
  • First, place your cake on a cake board. Or, you could use a flat plate or cake platter.
  • Then, spread a layer of buttercream over the top of the cake. It should be about 1/2“ thick since this is only a two layer cake.
  • Next, stack the second layer of cake on top.
  • Add another layer of buttercream about 1/2“ thick and spread it out over the top of the cake.
  • Then, spread a thin layer of buttercream all over the cake. Scrape off any extra buttercream off of the top. This is called the “crumb coat.” The crumb coat will seal in the crumbs so that they do not get into your final layer of cake.
  • Put your cake in the fridge or freezer for 15 minutes, or until the buttercream is firm to the touch.
  • Next, place your final coat of buttercream on your cake and smooth it out. PRO TIP: Start by scooping your buttercream on top of the cake and then smooth out the top first to make it flat. Then, apply a thick layer of buttercream to the sides and smooth it out.
  • Then, use your bench scraper to slowly scrape away the excess frosting. Hold the scraper straight up and down, and slowly turn the cake until you’ve removed all of the excess buttercream This will give your cake straight edges.
  • Wipe off any excess buttercream off the top starting at the edge of the cake and moving toward the center. Now your cake is ready to decorate!

Decorating the Vanilla Cake

  • You can decorate this cake however you prefer! If you want more cake decorating ideas or if you are new to cake decorating, you can read my tutorial on how to decorate your first cake. But for this cake decoration, here is what I did:
  • Start by placing your spatula in the center of the top of the cake. Apply a little bit of pressure on the buttercream, and turn the cake. As you turn the cake, slowly move your spatula outwards toward the edge so you begin to create a spiral in the buttercream. If you don’t like your spiral and want to start over, you can smooth the buttercream out and start over.
  • Then, after you’ve created your spiral, use your spatula to add small dabs of buttercream to the sides of the cake to create a rustic texture. As you transfer the buttercream to the cake, make a slight swoop (backwards “C” shape) and layer them on top of one another.
  • Next, prepare a piping bag with your buttercream. I used a Wilton 1M piping tip, but you can use whatever one you have!
  • Pipe small dollops of buttercream along the top edge of the cake, and add one dollop of buttercream in the center.
  • Finally, add some confetti sprinkles or whatever sprinkles you like all around the top of the cake!

Notes

Important Things To Note Before You Start
  1. The best investment you can make when you’re getting started with baking is a digital kitchen scale! Weighing your ingredients will help you avoid cake failure. Using a kitchen scale for baking is super easy and gives you the best results every single time. 
  2. Practice Mise en Place (everything in its place). Measure out your ingredients ahead of time and have them ready before you start mixing to reduce the chances of accidentally leaving something out.
  3. Need more help with making your first cake? Check out my how to decorate your first cake blog post. 
  4. Make sure all of your cold ingredients (e.g. butter, eggs, milk) are at room temperature or a little warm. Why? Because we want to create an emulsion and allow the ingredients to fully mix together. 
  5. Make your own pan release (cake goop!) The best pan release ever! 
  6. If you are baking your cake in a large baking sheet pan that’s 10” or larger, apply cake goop or your preferred pan release and add in a layer of parchment paper. This cake cools differently in larger pans, and the added layer of parchment paper will ensure the cake comes out of the pan better.
  7. Chill your cakes before frosting and filling. You can cover a frosted and chilled cake in fondant if you wish. This cake is also great for stacking!
  8. If you want to add food coloring to this frosting, then you will add in any food coloring while you are mixing the egg whites with the powdered sugar (before you add in the butter). PRO TIP: Use a toothpick to transfer 1-2 drops of food coloring to your frosting to avoid putting too much color in your buttercream. 
  9. You can use whichever food coloring you have, but if you want a recommendation I would suggest the Chef Master gel food coloring. Use code “SUGARGEEKTEN” to get 10% off your order!

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 913kcal (46%) | Carbohydrates: 187g (62%) | Protein: 9g (18%) | Fat: 15g (23%) | Saturated Fat: 9g (45%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 104mg (35%) | Sodium: 742mg (31%) | Potassium: 169mg (5%) | Fiber: 2g (8%) | Sugar: 142g (158%) | Vitamin A: 514IU (10%) | Calcium: 76mg (8%) | Iron: 3mg (17%)
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