Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

June 24, 2023  ·  Published April 8, 2015

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The best homemade Yellow Cake recipe with chocolate frosting – Tender, moist, and satisfyingly sweet, it’s the perfect dessert for birthday parties, holiday gatherings, and every occasion in between!

Slice of homemade yellow cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles.

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

I’m a big fan of making cake recipes from scratch. While box mixes are convenient, you just can’t beat the taste of a dessert that is truly homemade. They’re just so much better!

Soft and amazingly tender, perfectly sweet, deliciously indulgent, this cake is everything you could want in a yellow cake and more. Plus it’s easy to prepare!

Its tantalizing flavor will leave you convinced this homemade cake is the only way to go. No matter the occasion, this moist yellow cake recipe is always a crowd pleaser.

With its homestyle sweet vanilla flavor, paired with that sophisticated rich chocolate flavor atop, it is destined to impress. This cake proves that sometimes it’s the simplest things that are the best!

What is yellow cake flavor?

Despite its golden, yellow appearance, the cake itself has a simple vanilla flavor. It’s yellow color simply comes from the egg yolks in the cake.

You’ll find that yellow cake is most commonly paired with chocolate frosting, creating a marbled flavor effect which balances out the deep chocolate taste with sweet notes of vanilla.

Layered yellow cake on cake stand.Homemade Yellow Cake Recipe Ingredients

  • Flour: I use a combination of cake flour and all-purpose flour to create a light, airy texture and a tender crumb. I haven’t tested any gluten-free flour options with this recipe, but please let us know how it goes if you do.
  • Baking powder and baking soda: When combined, these ingredients allow the batter to rise and become fluffy as it bakes. For the best results, make sure they’re fresh.
  • Salt
  • Granulated sugar
  • Unsalted butter: Allow it to come to room temperature before baking. I don’t recommend microwave softening.
  • Vegetable oil: Used in combination with the butter, vegetable oil helps enhance the buttery flavor while keeping the cake extra moist.
  • Eggs and egg yolks: The use of both eggs and egg yolks is crucial to creating the custardy flavor that sets yellow cake apart from other cake recipes.
  • Buttermilk: Buttermilk: A natural tenderizer, this contributes to the soft, moist texture of the cake while adding a hint of tangy flavor that balances out the sugar and fat. You could sub the buttermilk subsistute here (1 cup minus 1 Tbsp milk mixed with 1 Tbsp lemon juice).
  • Vanilla extract
  • Chocolate Buttercream frosting ingredients

Alternative Frosting Options

How to Make the Best Yellow Cake Recipe with Chocolate Frosting:

  1. Heat oven, prepare pans: Preheat the oven, and butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the pans with parchment paper, and butter the parchment as well. Then, lightly dust the pans with flour, and shake out any excess before setting them aside.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients: Sift both flours together in a large mixing bowl. Add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and whisk to combine.
  3. Blend fats, sugar and eggs: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip the butter and sugar until the mixture is very pale and fluffy. Blend in the vegetable oil. Next, add the eggs one at a time followed by the egg yolks and vanilla.
  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients: Add in ⅓ of the flour mixture, mixing just until smooth. Add ½ of the buttermilk, and repeat the process until all of the ingredients have been combined.
  5. Bake: Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared cake pans, and place them in the oven until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and comes out clean.
  6. Cool: Set the pans aside on a wire rack to cool slightly. Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cakes, and invert them onto the wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Frost: To make a layer cake, arrange one of the cakes on a cake stand or plate. Spread the frosting on top. Then, carefully place the second cake on top of the icing, and frost the top and down the sides. You can also simply ice the tops of both cakes and enjoy them separately.

Steps of making yellow cake batter.

Helpful Tips

  1. Measure carefully: The key to success when it comes to baking is measuring the ingredients properly. For the best results, I highly recommend using a food scale. Or, if that is not an option, implement the spoon and level method to prevent errors.
  2. Scrape the edges frequently: As you work, make sure to scrape the edges of the bowls down with a rubber spatula frequently to ensure all of the ingredients are well combined in the batter.
  3. Salted butter: If you only have salted butter on hand you can use that but omit the salt from the recipe.
  4. Use the blend of flours: It can seem odd to use two types of flours but it works well for this cake. If you must you can try the cake flour substitute (of all-purpose flour and cornstarch).
  5. Use an electric hand mixer: If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can still make this yellow cake recipe using a hand mixer instead (it just takes longer to whip butter and sugar). Just be sure to stop even more frequently to scrape down the sides of the bowls.
  6. Use cake strips: For the most level cakes, wrap damp cake strips around the edges of the pans.
  7. Wrap the cakes: I recommend wrapping your cakes with plastic wraps once they have cooled about halfway to room temperature. This helps prevent them from drying out.

Continued steps of preparing yellow cake.

How to Store

  • Transfer leftover yellow cake to an airtight container to prevent it from becoming try.
  • Store the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Let it sit out and come to room temperature to serve.

Can I freeze yellow cake?

  • Yes, you can freeze yellow cake.
  • It will keep frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
  • Thaw overnight before serving.

Can I make this in a 13 by 9-inch pan?

  • This can also be baked in a greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
  • Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.

Whole cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and lit candles.

Can I  make yellow cake cupcakes?

  • Yes this batter will work for cupcakes as well.
  • Place cupcakes liners in a muffin pan and fill 2/3 full.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes.

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

  • Yellow cake is a type of vanilla cake that has a yellow hue because it contains eggs, egg yolks, and butter.
  • The confusion often stems from white cakes, which are another form of vanilla cake that use only egg whites along with a combination of butter and sometimes shortening to achieve a pure color.
  • Both have a similar vanilla flavor, with yellow cakes being slightly more buttery.

Can I make this yellow cake recipe without buttermilk?

  • If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can easily create homemade buttermilk in a matter of minutes.
  • Combine 1 cup minus 1 Tbsp of regular cow’s milk (anything but skim), with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Gently stir the ingredients together, and set them aside to curdle.
  • Proceed with the yellow cake recipe as normal.

Yellow cake sliced.

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Slice of homemade yellow cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles.
4.96 from 21 votes

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

This cake is soft and moist with the perfect combination of density and fluff to it, it's somewhere just between the two. And when you top with with a rich, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate buttercream frosting you know it's got to be good!
Servings: 14
Prep15 minutes
Cook30 minutes
Ready in: 45 minutes


Yellow Cake:



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-inch round baking pans, line with parchment paper and butter parchment.
  • Lightly dust pans with flour and shake out excess, set pans aside. For the most level cakes you can also wrap a soaked cake strip around each pan.
  • Sift all-purpose flour and cake flour into a mixing bowl. Add baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk 20 seconds, set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment whip together butter and granulated sugar until very pale and fluffy (if not using a paddle attachment that constantly scrapes bowl, then stop mixer occasionally throughout entire mixing process and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl).
  • Blend in vegetable oil. Mix in eggs one at time then blend in egg yolks and vanilla extract.
  • Add in 1/3 of the flour mixture then mix just until combined, then add in 1/2 of the buttermilk and blend until combined, repeat process once more then finish by mixing in remaining 1/3 of the flour mixture. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula.
  • Divide batter among prepared cake pans. Bake in preheated oven 28 to 35 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  • Cool in pans for 10 to 15 minutes. Run knife around edge to make sure they are loose, then invert onto wire racks to cool (once halfway cool I recommend wrapping with plastic wrap until completely cool).
  • Frost with chocolate buttercream once cool. 


  • Let the yellow cake layers cool completely before topping them with chocolate frosting. 
  • Store this cake in an airtight container to keep it from drying out. 
Nutrition Facts
Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Amount Per Serving
Calories 643 Calories from Fat 324
% Daily Value*
Fat 36g55%
Saturated Fat 23g144%
Cholesterol 144mg48%
Sodium 339mg15%
Potassium 174mg5%
Carbohydrates 76g25%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 56g62%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 1045IU21%
Calcium 66mg7%
Iron 1.5mg8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.


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  • Vicky

    I always get rave reviews when I make this cake for my kids’ birthdays. I was wondering though – how far in advance can it be made? If I need it for a Saturday, but have to start icing on Thursday, would it be ok to make it on Tuesday or would I need to freeze it? I don’t normally need to make it this far in advance!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I would recommend freezing it. I’m happy to know it’s gotten rave reviews!

  • Colleen

    I was just wondering what size cake pan you used. I couldn’t find it anywhere on the recipe and apparently mine must’ve been slightly smaller than yours. Because the cake is coming up and over the sides. I will say that I have never seen a fluffier cake dough. I will come back on and review it after we have eaten it. I still have to make the chocolate cream frosting.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I used two 9 by 2-inch round pans. Sorry to hear it gave you trouble!

      • Colleen Richardson

        Thank you Jaclyn. I will measure my pans next time and not put as much cake in if not big enough. The cake was good, the frosting was delicious!

  • Stephanie Willis

    I absolutely love this cake! I first made it at Christmas time as I offered to bake the family a cake and it definitely pleased everyone. I’ve made it again several times since (including only yesterday and will be again next week; husband & daughters birthday and they both requested it). I’ve also made this recipe into cupcakes too, just as great and easy to share out as it made circa 30 cupcakes. I’ve paired with your chocolate buttercream each time so far, my son loves to eat it directly out of the bowl when I’m done. I will try one of the other buttercream flavours soon. Definitely my go to recipe! I’ve now seen your chocolate cake recipe so I will be trying that one next.

  • Lorene Holderfield

    Great and easy recipe! But I was curious, what do we do if we don’t have cake flour on hand? X_x Is there a substitution for it? Is there a way to make a yellow cake without cake flour?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Yes you can make homemade cake flour by mixing 2 Tbsp cornstarch with 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour, so for this recipe you would need 2 cups + 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour and 5 Tbsp cornstarch. It’s not quite as light and delicate but works in a pinch.

  • Maggie Pinque

    This is light and OH so delicious. It was tasty on the birthday evening and equally tasty for breakfast.

  • rayna

    True yellow cakes can be so finicky, and one person’s definition of perfection might be too dry or too moist for someone else. I followed this recipe to a T and found it to be simply perfect. A nice balanced crumb and not overly sweet. I used powdered buttermilk mixed with water for the buttermilk, and also used your buttercream recipe to finish it. Exactly the kind of comfort we’ve been craving right now! Thank you!

  • Jackie

    I made your chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream last week and it was delicious! I am looking to make a sheet marble cake now. Do you happen to have a recipe for marble cake? Or do you think I could combine 1/2 of your chocolate cake batter with 1/2 of this batter to make one? Also, I don’t have cake flour so I’m wondering if it will ruin my cake if I use just all purpose flour.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Unfortunately I don’t have a marble cake but I don’t know that I would recommend blending these two because one is so much runnier than the other.

    • Molly

      I subbed cake flour by taking two tablespoons of AP flour out and replacing with 2 tablespoons cornstarch and it worked fine for me but I’m also not super picky so I’m not sure of the quality difference.

  • Johnita Skinner

    Was wondering if I could use a Bundt pan? It’s all I have and I don’t go out unless absolutely necessary!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      That should be just fine as long as you don’t fill more than 2/3 full (use any extra batter for cupcakes).