Best Ever Yellow Cake

Best Yellow Cake

Oh, yellow cake. It’s simply iconic and as versatile as blue jeans! It can be paired with every sweet flavor profile from chocolate to vanilla to fruit to herbs to coffee. It’s the go to cake flavor for most box cake mixes, bakeries, and supermarkets. It also seems to be the most frustrating cake flavor to bake from scratch!

I (kind of) won’t knock box cakes―I love a good box cake mix on occasion (I have a weakness for Trader Joe’s cake mixes). But, in every home baker’s life, there exists the desire to make a good yellow cake from scratch to match our childhood dreams (or adult pleasures) without the added artificial flavors.


  • 10 ingredients or less
  • Easy to bake and decorate
  • Rich buttery flavor
  • Super delicate yellow cake crumb
  • Super moist texture
  • Goes well with ANY icing

Best Yellow Cake
Yellow cake and cupcakes

This is a basic yellow cake recipe is for when you want to bake a 6″ cake, 6″ bundt cake, loaf cake, or 10 to 12 cupcakes, but need a foundation recipe. You might have your own fillings and frostings, but need a good cake to bring your dessert to life. The good news is that the resulting cake is anything but basic! The resulting cake is buttery, rich, and moist. A light layer of simple syrup is added after baking to keep the cake moist while it cools.

Yellow Cake with buttercream icing
Yellow Cake decorated with buttercream icing.

This is my favorite yellow cake recipe; it’s not only easy, but the flavor is intensely buttery and custard-like. It isn’t eggy at all and the sweetness is well balanced. Combine all of this with a delicate crumb, and you have a delicious, fluffy, flavorful yellow cake that can hold its own without the frosting!

If you see frosting in your future, however, try this easy Vanilla Buttercream. If you’re looking for something light and fancy, try my Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

Yellow Cake with chocolate fudge icing.
Yellow Cake with chocolate fudge icing.

Whether our decision to tackle the scratch cake comes from the desire to “eat healthier (haha) or to not give all of our money to corporate bakeries, the most common issues we face baking yellow cake from scratch are:

  1. The cake comes out dry.
  2. The cake comes out dense.
  3. The cake just crumbles, becoming a flavorless sponge, and then we feel so miserable about the result that we decide never to bake anything ever again.

There is good news! Baking a delicious yellow cake has less to do with the recipe and more to do with the type of ingredients you’re using and whether or not you beat your cake batter to oblivion with an electric mixer. The keys to making a yellow cake from scratch are:

  1. Do not beat your cake to death. This can make your cake dense. Mix and beat your cake for 1 to 2 minutes. Beating it for longer can make your cake develop gluten, making it chewy and bread-like.
  2. Do not use all-purpose flour. Using all-purpose flour will make your cake even denser because it contains a higher percentage of protein. This in addition to beating the batter to death with result in a double whammy of dense, chewy, cake destruction. Instead, use cake flour because it has the lowest protein structure, resulting in that delicate crumb we all love in a soft, cloud-like cake. If cake flour is unavailable, pastry flour is acceptable. Some people make their own cake flour by mixing all-purpose flour with cornstarch, but even this will not create the ideal texture you’re looking for in a cake because the protein structure is still too high.
  3. Brush your cake with simple syrup after baking. When a cake comes out of the oven, it will lose moisture as it begins to cool. Brushing your cake with simple syrup after it comes out of the oven will help restore and maintain its moisture.
  4. If you can afford them, use quality ingredients. Although you’ll still have a delicious cake using conventional dairy and flour, the flavors of your cake will truly shine if you use quality ingredients. If money isn’t tight, try European or Amish butter (many conventional butter companies use “natural flavors”, carrageenan, and other additives to cheapen butter, thus cheapening the taste). Also try vanilla extract instead of artificial vanilla flavor. Also, try full fat milk with cream over low fat milk. Cake is meant to be decadent, so don’t be afraid to use richer ingredients.


Mini Vanilla Sheet Cake

Mini Funfetti Sheet Cake

Berry Chantilly Cake

Vanilla Buttercream

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Candy Apple Cupcakes

TAG US! Let us know if you try it! Comment and rate! We love seeing your dishes, so tag your photo with #homestylealchemy on Instagram!

Best Yellow Cake


Two 6″ aluminum cake pans, 6″ bundt cake pan, or cupcake tray

Silicone spatula

Hand mixer or stand mixer

Large, medium, and small mixing bowls

Best 6″ Yellow Cake

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 inch cake


  • 4 large egg yolks Save the whites to make Swiss Meringue Buttercream or an omelet
  • 2/3 cups (162g) whole milk
  • 1 tsp (6g) vanilla extract
  • 1 stick (113g) butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (230g) cake flour
  • 1 cup (230g) granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp (13g) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5g) sea salt
  • simple syrup for brushing


To make a 6" cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF/177ºC
  2. In a medium bowl, gently whisk together the egg yolks, milk, and vanilla and set aside.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients until combined. Beat in the butter until it is fully incorporated into the flour. Don’t over mix it; it should be just combined and partially dry.

  4. A third at a time, slowly beat in the egg yolk mixture until the ingredients begin to incorporate.

  5. Beat the cake for no more than a minute or until cake batter is slightly fluffy.
  6. Generously grease two 6” cake pans with butter, vegetable oil, or cooking spray. You may also line the bottoms with circular cut-outs of parchment paper. Divide batter equally between the two tins and bake for 40-45 minutes or until cake is golden yellow and bounces back when touched or a toothpick comes out clean when probed at the center.

  7. With a spoon or pastry brush, brush the tops of each cake with an even layer of the simple syrup. You do not have to use a lot of the syrup; you just want to use enough to evenly coat the tops of the cakes.

  8. Let the cakes cool completely before releasing them from the molds and serving and/or frosting.

  9. For the best frosting results, let cake chill overnight in the freezer before cutting into layers.

To make cupcakes

  1. To make cupcakes, prepare a standard cupcake tray with 10 to 12 liners, and fill each cup no more than 2/3 high. Bake the cupcakes for 30-40 minutes or until the cake is golden and bounces back when touched or a toothpick comes out clean at the center.

  2. With a spoon or pastry brush, brush the tops of each cupcake with an even layer of the simple syrup. You do not have to use a lot of the syrup; you just want to use enough to evenly coat the tops of the cakes.

  3. Let the cupcakes cool completely before releasing them from the molds and serving and/or frosting.

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  1. […] couldn’t post the best yellow cake recipe without also posting the best buttercream […]

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