Yellow Cake Recipe

A yellow cake recipe that is full of flavor, moist and a family favorite

A good yellow cake recipe is hard to find! This recipe will be your go-to yellow cake from now on! It’s full of flavor and pairs perfectly with a good chocolate ganache and chocolate buttercream.

Yellow cake is considered the “classic” American cake. It is the standard to which all other cakes are held. Why do you think that is? Probably because the best cake you ever ate was most likely a “yellow cake”. But what IS yellow cake exactly? Why is it so magical and what gives it that pretty yellow color?

yellow cake recipe

Is a yellow cake recipe and vanilla cake recipe the same thing?

I know you want so very badly to believe that yellow cake has some sort of magical ingredient that makes it taste special but… you’re right. It does. They are called egg yolks! (gotcha) Vanilla cake and yellow cake are basically the same thing except that a yellow cake contains more egg yolks than a vanilla cake.  Therefore, yellow cake is technically vanilla cake in flavor (kinda). Technically you could call my vanilla cake recipe a yellow cake but it is very pale. Usually people want more yellow in their yellow cake so the added egg yolks provide a pretty color!

Pro tip: If you use farm eggs over those little white ones, you’ll have a much more intense yellow color in your cake due to the darker color of the yolk. There will also be more flavor in the cake.

yellow cake recipe

Best yellow cake recipe with chocolate frosting

To be honest, when I was growing up, my favorite cake was german chocolate cake with coconut pecan filling (because that was my Dad’s favorite so therefore, also my favorite). I never thought yellow cake was all that special until I had it at a friends house in college. YES COLLEGE!

The cake was still warm out of the oven and as we spread on that gooey chocolate frosting, it melted all over the place and parts of the cake tore as we tried to frost it. Somehow this made the cake taste even better. I’m pretty sure we ate it right out of the sheet pan with a spoon and it was delish!

That’s the feeling you get when you eat this cake. Like warm buttery/chocolate-y goodness and all is right with the world again.

yellow cake recipe

To make our cake, I bake up two layers of yellow cake and let them cool for about 10 minutes before wrapping in plastic and putting into the freezer to partially freeze. This locks in the moisture so it doesn’t evaporate out of your cake.

After the cakes are cooled but not frozen, I tort them (cut them in half length-wise). Then I slather on a good 1/4″ of ganache so that you’ve got a good amount of filling in your cake.

Remember, ganache is hard at room temperature so you might need to nuke it for about 15 seconds and give it a stir before putting onto the cake.

yellow cake with chocolate frosting

After I fill the cake, I frost it with a good amount of chocolate buttercream! I love the velvet-y smooth texture of my easy buttercream combined with some dutch cocoa powder for the perfect chocolate buttercream combo.

I topped my pretty birthday cake with some fun sprinkles from sprinkle pop! I’m obsessed with all of their fun colors! Great for a birthday cake.

Is this yellow cake recipe sturdy enough to carve or cover with fondant?

I decided not to cover my cake with fondant but you definitely could. I always work with chilled cakes so they are easier to hand and you can get cleaner, sharper edges with the fondant or buttercream.

When I cover my cakes with fondant, I like to chill the cakes first as stated before, then crumbcoat and let chill overnight in the fridge. This gives the cake time to settle and you’ll get less air bubbles later. The next day I apply my final coat of buttercream and then my fondant. Don’t worry, once the crumb coat is on the cake it doesn’t lose it’s moisture.

yellow cake recipe

Is this yellow cake recipe moist?

The thing about cakes is that sometimes they can be dry. The reason for that varies. Sometimes the cake is over-baked, sometimes the ratios are off, sometimes it’s even more basic than that. Lack of fat. Fat is what makes your cake taste moist (not liquids). This yellow cake tastes moist because it has oil and butter in it. Oil keeps the cake from drying out and even if the cake is a little cold, it will taste moist in your mouth. If you where to use butter rather than oil, you might end up with a dry cake. Butter doesn’t actually add a lot of moisture but it adds flavor so don’t leave it out.

The mixing method to this cake can by tricky because it’s the reverse creaming method which means you cream the butter with the flour instead of the sugar and then add your liquids. Because we’re using cake flour, you have to mix for longer than you might think.

Watch my video on how to make this yellow cake recipe before you try it for yourself and remember! Ingredients MUST be at room temperature, don’t forget to measure (weigh) everything and follow the directions for mixing.




Yellow Cake Recipe

yellow cake recipe
A moist and flavorful yellow cake recipe that pairs perfectly with chocolate ganache and chocolate buttercream! The classic example of a birthday cake
Servings: 6 cups


Yellow Cake Recipe

  • 14 oz cake flour
  • 12 oz granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large egg
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 8 oz whole milk
  • 2 oz vegetable oil
  • 6 oz butter

Chocolate Ganache Filling

  • 16 oz semi sweet chocolate
  • 8 oz heavy whipping cream

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 16 oz unsalted butter
  • 16 oz powdered sugar
  • 2 oz cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz pasteurized egg whites


Yellow Cake Instructions

  • NOTE: It is SUPER IMPORTANT that all the room temperature ingredients listed above are room temperature and not cold so that the ingredients mix and incorporate correctly. 
  • Heat oven to 335º F/168º C — 350º F/177º C. I tend to use lower setting to prevent my cakes from getting too dark on the outside before the inside is done baking.
  • Measure out the liquid ingredients and place them into a bowl. Whisk gently to fully incorporate the eggs into mixture.
  • Measure out dry ingredients and place them into the stand mixer bowl.
  • Attach the paddle to the mixer, and turn on the slowest speed (setting 1 on Kitchen Aid mixers). Slowly add chunks of your softened butter until it is all added. Let mix until batter resembles coarse sand.
  • Add 1/3 of your liquid ingredients while mixing on low until just moistened. This part is crucial. Don't add too much liquid.
  • Increase mixing speed to medium (setting 5 on Kitchen Aid mixer). Let the mixture whip up until it has thickened and lightened in color. It should look like soft-serve ice cream. If you do not let the batter mix fully, you will end up with very short, crumbly cakes. 
  • Scrape the bowl. This is an important step. If you skip it, you will have hard lumps of flour and unmixed ingredients in your batter. If you do it later, they will not mix in fully.
  • Slowly add in the rest of your liquid ingredients, stopping to scrape the bowl one more time halfway through. Your batter should be thick and not too runny. I have to spoon mine into pans with a rubber spatula.
  • Lightly grease two 8" cake pans with vegetable shortening and dust with cake flour. Tap out excess flour. Fill pans 1/2 full. Give the pan a little tap on each side to level out the batter and get rid of any air bubbles. 
  • I always start by baking for 20 minutes for 8" and smaller cakes and 30 minutes for 9" and larger cakes and then checking for doneness. If the cakes are still really jiggly, I add another 10 minutes. I check every 5 minutes after that until I'm close and then it's every 2 minutes. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs.
  • After cakes have cooled for 10 minutes or the pans are cool enough to touch, flip the cakes over and remove from the pans onto the cooling racks to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the freezer.
  • Once the cakes are chilled, tort, fill and crumb coat all at once. If you do not plan on crumb coating the same day, you can leave the wrapped cakes on the countertop. Chilling can dry out your cakes before they are iced, so avoid keeping them in the refrigerator longer than necessary. Cakes can be frozen in freezer bags for later use as well.

Chocolate Ganache Instructions

  • Heat heavy cream to a simmer and pour over chocolate and add in vanilla. Let sit 5 minutes and whisk until creamy. Let firm up to a soft peanut butter consistency before using to fill the cake. 

Chocolate Buttercream Instructions

  • Place egg whites and powdered sugar in the stand of your mixer with whisk attachment. Mix on low to combine. Add in your butter, salt and vanilla and whisk on high until light and fluffy. Add in your cocoa powder and whisk until combined. Optional: switch to paddle attachment and mix on low for 10-15 minutes for a smoother/bubble-free frosting. Frost cake as desired. 


Calories: 825kcal | Carbohydrates: 107g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Cholesterol: 218mg | Sodium: 847mg | Potassium: 323mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 59g | Vitamin A: 980IU | Calcium: 152mg | Iron: 1.3mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: yellow cake
Calories: 825kcal
Author: Elizabeth Marek