Classic Buttermilk Vanilla Cake Recipe

Have you ever met someone who doesn't like vanilla cake? It's highly unlikely — vanilla cake is such a timeless crowd pleaser, and if you don't have a classic vanilla cake recipe in your repertoire, it's time to change that. Recipe developer and registered dietitian nutritionist, Kristen Carli, MS, RD, brings us this recipe for a classic buttermilk vanilla cake, and there's no doubt that you'll return to this recipe time and time again.

Not only is vanilla cake delicious, it's incredibly versatile. It is notable enough to be served for a special occasion like a birthday, with the simple addition of rainbow sprinkles. However, it is also easy enough to whip up on a weekly basis. You have freshly baked cake in your house at all times, don't you? We sure do. Make this cake on a weekend and then serve up slices all week long — it's guaranteed to make those Mondays a little more bearable.

Gather your ingredients for classic buttermilk vanilla cake

To make this classic buttermilk vanilla cake, you can start by gathering your ingredients. For this recipe, you will need flour, baking powder, salt, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk.

We know first hand how annoying it is to get ready to bake something and realize you are missing one key ingredient. In this case, you may not always have buttermilk on hand. "If you don't have buttermilk in the fridge, don't go to the store solely for this ingredient," Carli says. "You can easily substitute 1 cup of whole milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice for 1 cup of buttermilk."

Whisk the dry ingredients

Get your oven preheating to 350 F. Also, grease two 9-inch round baking pans, then set them aside.

In a large bowl, add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Use a whisk to combine these ingredients. While only a small amount of baking powder is required in this recipe, it is really important that you thoroughly mix it into the other dry ingredients. "Just like in other recipes requiring baking powder, it's essential to make sure it is evenly distributed," Carli explains. The reason for this is because baking powder acts as a leavener, creating air bubbles in the batter. This helps to provide a light and airy texture in the cake. If you do not mix thoroughly, the cake will end up dense in certain spots and no one wants that.

Use a stand mixer to mix wet ingredients

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and the sugar. Using the paddle attachment, cream these ingredients together until the sugar is thoroughly incorporated into the butter. Then add the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract. Again, mix these ingredients well using the paddle attachment.

Be sure to start with softened butter before adding the sugar. If your butter is rock hard, the sugar will not cream together easily. Didn't leave out your butter beforehand? Don't fret. It's happened to the best of us. "I have a great hack for softening butter quickly," Carli says. "Fill a mug with boiling hot water, then pour it out in the sink. Place the warmed mug on top of the butter, sealing it inside like a cozy sauna. In about 5 minutes, your butter will be softened".

Combine dry and wet ingredients before baking the cake

Next, pour the dry ingredients into the stand mixer along with the wet ingredients. Continue to use the paddle attachment to combine these ingredients together into a wet batter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, before baking in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Once your cakes are baked, make sure to allow them to cool completely. This will take about 30 minutes. Once the cakes are completely cooled, you can slice the dome off of one of the cakes and frost with buttercream frosting, or any frosting of your choice. If you rush this process, the frosting will melt right off the cake, so use that last bit of patience to ensure you end up with a perfect vanilla buttermilk cake.

Classic Buttermilk Vanilla Cake Recipe
5 from 62 ratings
Every home baker needs a vanilla cake recipe in their repertoire, and this buttermilk vanilla cake is one you'll return to again and again.
Prep Time
Cook Time
slice of buttermilk vanilla cake
Total time: 40 minutes
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional Ingredients
  • vanilla frosting
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and the sugar. Cream until combined. Add the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until fully combined.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix until fully combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the baking pans. Bake the cakes for 30 minutes.
  6. Once baked, allow the cakes to fully cool.
  7. If desired, decorate the cakes with vanilla frosting before serving.
Calories per Serving 333
Total Fat 16.7 g
Saturated Fat 10.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 81.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 42.2 g
Dietary Fiber 0.6 g
Total Sugars 26.2 g
Sodium 225.9 mg
Protein 4.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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