This fluffy and tender homemade Vanilla Cake Recipe is the absolute best! Top it with creamy vanilla frosting or the frosting of your choice. You’ll come back to this classic recipe again and again.
This recipe was long overdue. For all of the baking and celebrating that goes on around here, I had yet to share a classic Vanilla Cake recipe. This delicious cake can be served for birthdays, year-round parties, last minutes get-togethers, or just because. This Vanilla Cake is a great reminder that a traditional recipe, when done right, can be absolutely perfect.
This recipe produces a Vanilla Cake that is fluffy (almost spongy), light and moist. The vanilla flavor is complemented by just a touch of almond extract (one of my favorite secret ingredients). This cake is made in a 9×13 sheet pan, making it super easy to bake and decorate. It’s simple, homey and comforting, and it is begging to be part of your next celebration.
Vanilla Cake Recipe:
I wanted this recipe to be easy and approachable. Most (all?) of the ingredients are probably in your kitchen right now. Here are some of the ingredients that make this the best Vanilla Cake:
Whole Eggs + Egg Whites: In order to get the right amount richness and fluffiness without any eggy flavor, I found that a combination of 2 whole eggs and 2 egg whites works perfectly. Be sure to use large eggs.
Sour Cream: This ingredient (along with some milk) help to give this cake a fantastic moist texture with a tender crumb.
Almond extract: I love adding a touch of almond extract to bump up the flavor in this cake (and frosting). Although vanilla is the primary flavor, a little splash of almond extract adds a subtle, underlying flavor that sets this recipe apart.
Vanilla Cake Recipe With Oil:
I almost always prefer baking with butter, but this recipe is an exception. Using a neutral-flavored oil keeps the cake super moist, even a day or two after baking. And, as long as you’re using a butter-based frosting on top of the cake you will still get that rich, buttery flavor with each bite.
This cake is perfect for a party. It pretty much begs to be studded with candles, cut into squares, and handed out to your friends and family. You can change out the frosting flavor or even stir some sprinkles into the batter. Although I am including a recipe for vanilla frosting, you can top this with any frosting of your choice (strawberry buttercream would be great, too).
This cake is also delicious when topped with fresh fruit (photo below from my Flag Cake). Feel free to decorate the cake with your favorite fruit instead of sprinkles. Strawberries are our favorite pairing with the vanilla cake and vanilla frosting. Enjoy!
Vanilla Cake Recipe
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour*
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon almond extract , optional, but highly recommended
- ⅔ cup sour cream
- ¾ cup milk , preferably whole or 2%, room temperature
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened, but still cool to the touch
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar (plus more, if needed), sifted if lumpy
- 1+ tablespoons half and half or whole milk
- 1 ¾ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract, optional, but highly recommended
- pinch salt, optional
- Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack placed in the center.
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt until combined. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (preferred) or a hand mixer, beat sugar, oil, eggs, egg whites, and extracts until combined. Add the sour cream and beat until combined. Add half of the flour mixture, beating until just combined. While still beating, slowly add milk, then the remaining flour mixture. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Be careful not to overmix it.
- Pour the batter into a greased 9x13** baking pan and smooth the top. Tap/gently drop the pan on the countertop a couple times to remove any air bubbles.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If necessary, rotate the pan once during bake time to ensure even browning. Place the pan on a rack to cool completely.
- Using a hand mixer, or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and half of the powdered sugar until well-combined (starting out the mixer low and increasing to medium-high). Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar (while beating), followed by extracts and 1 tablespoon half and half (plus salt, if using).
- Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat well for 1-2 minutes. Add more half and half, a little bit at a time, if needed to thin. Alternately, add a little more powdered sugar, if needed to thicken. Beat well after each addition.