Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting (From Scratch!)

This fluffy vanilla cake recipe is the absolute best yellow cake from scratch and paired with the silky smooth chocolate frosting, you can’t beat it for a classic birthday cake or any other celebration!

A slice of yellow cake with chocolate frosting on a plate.
Are you a box mix yellow cake person? Or a from-scratch yellow cake person?

Truth be told, it’s REALLY hard to replicate that always-moist-and-fluffy texture that everyone loves about a box cake mix, but at the same time, we also love homemade, right?!

It took me a LONG time to find a homemade yellow cake that I really, really loved. Box cake mixes seem to always bake up perfectly fluffy and moist yellow cakes, and the ones I’ve had from bakeries have been great as well, but I just couldn’t seem to replicate it at home no matter how many recipes I tried. (Consequently, I haven’t had the same issue with chocolate cakes! See: Snickers Cake – the base recipe for all of my chocolate cakes!)

Many were too dense, too dry, too chiffon-like, too fussy in their preparation. I just wanted a fantastic yellow cake recipe I could use for birthday cakes that was easy to make and turned out delicious. I came across this recipe from Joy while I was on the hunt for yet another recipe to test out for Joseph’s birthday.

This was IT. The recipe that had eluded me for years!

Three slices of yellow cake with chocolate frosting on plates.

I love that this can easily be mixed together in one bowl using my hand mixer; there’s nothing fussy about the ingredients or preparation, and it produces an absolutely perfect yellow cake. The layers are light but sturdy, buttery and moist, and the ideal base for your very favorite chocolate frosting.

I used the chocolate frosting recipe from my ultimate chocolate cupcakes, and it was a wonderful companion to this cake. The frosting is more buttery than sugary, satiny smooth and full of rich chocolate flavor. It glides on like a dream!

Prepared cake batter in pans.

Chocolate frosting in the bowl of a food processor.

A layer of yellow cake with a dollop of chocolate frosting on top.

Yellow cake tends to be the elusive unicorn of homemade baking; so many cakes can turn out too dry, too crumbly, too dense, too cornbread-like, and I have one major piece of advice for ensuring yellow cake perfection:

Make sure all of the ingredients listed “at room temperature” ARE ACTUALLY AT ROOM TEMPERATURE.

I’ve totally been there and have used still-cool butter, eggs or dairy in a recipe when I’m in a hurry, but it’s actually vitally important here. Having all of those ingredients at room temperature ensures that they emulsify, which traps air in the batter and, once in the oven, that air expands and produces a fluffy cake.

Room temperature ingredients also ensure that the batter comes together well and is ultra-smooth, which keeps the resulting cake from being crumbly or cornbread-like.

Cake covered in chocolate frosting on a platter.

Every recipe binder needs a fabulous recipe to make yellow cake from scratch; a recipe that can be transformed into the most special birthday cake, and this is definitely the recipe. It got rave reviews at Joseph’s party, and I’ve since made it again and again to countless rounds of huge applause.

This is the only yellow cake recipe you need!

A slice of yellow cake on a plate with a forkful taken out of the front.

Five years ago: Morning Buns
Six years ago: Greek Lamb Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting (From Scratch!)

Servings 8 to 10 servings
Prep 1 hour
Cook 35 minutes
Total 1 hour 35 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Michelle

This fluffy vanilla cake recipe is the absolute best yellow cake and paired with a silky smooth chocolate frosting, you can't beat it for a classic birthday cake or any other celebration!

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • cups
    all-purpose flour
  • 2
    teaspoons
    baking powder
  • 1
    teaspoon
    baking soda
  • 1
    teaspoon
    salt
  • ½
    cup
    unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • cups
    granulated sugar
  • 3
    large eggs
    (at room temperature)
  • 1
    teaspoon
    vanilla extract
  • cups
    buttermilk
    (at room temperature)

For the Frosting:

  • 20
    tablespoons
    unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
  • 1
    cup
    powdered sugar
  • ¾
    cup
    Dutch-processed cocoa
  • Pinch
    of salt
  • ¾
    cup
    light corn syrup
  • 1
    teaspoon
    vanilla extract
  • 8
    ounces
    milk or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

Directions:

  1. Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition. Beat in vanilla extract.
  4. Add the dry ingredients all at once and beat on low speed until just combined. Add the buttermilk and beat on low for 1 minute, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 3 additional minutes.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 33 to 38 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then turn out onto wire racks and cool completely before frosting.
  6. Make the Frosting: In a food processor, process the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powdered, and salt until smooth, about 30 seconds, stopping once to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape the sides of bowl, then add the melted chocolate and pulse until smooth and creamy, 10 to 15 seconds.
  7. Assemble the Cake: Place one of the cake layers on a serving platter and spread 1 cup of the frosting evenly over the surface. Place the second cake layer on top. Use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake. The cake can be kept at room temperature for up to 1 day before serving. Once cut, leftovers should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Recipe Notes:

  •  You can make this cake in 9-inch pans, you will just need to reduce the baking time slightly. It can also be made in a 9x13-inch pan (again, reduce baking time).
  • The only substitution I'm aware of for the corn syrup is Lyle's golden syrup, which has a more pronounced flavor. If you cannot find (or do not want to use) corn syrup, I would recommend using The Best Chocolate Frosting.
Nutritional values are based on one serving

Nutrition:

Calories: 660kcal
Fat: 45g
Saturated fat: 27g
Cholesterol: 174mg
Sodium: 535mg
Potassium: 380mg
Carbohydrates: 112g
Fiber: 3g
Sugar: 80g
Protein: 9g
Vitamin A: 1425%
Calcium: 159%
Iron: 3.1%

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

Update Notes: This recipe was originally published in February 2016; updated in September 2019 with new photos and extra recipe tips.

[photos by Ari of Well Seasoned]