6 Inch Cake Recipes

Learn how to make a deliciously soft and buttery 6 inch vanilla cake, plus a dozen other cake flavors for your smaller 6 inch cake pans. These are perfect for smaller gatherings and much easier to decorate, too!

6 inch vanilla cake with sprinkles on a teal cake stand

More and more over the past few years, I see questions about adapting large layer cake recipes to fit smaller 6 inch cake pans. 6 inch cakes are very popular and yet most traditional cake recipes don’t accommodate the smaller size.

But last year I discovered an easy solution when I made a 6 inch birthday cake. I no longer adapted cake recipes to fit the smaller cake pan size. Instead, I began using cake batter from my CUPCAKE recipes. (And most of my cupcake recipes are actually adapted from the larger cake variety, so the work is already done!)

I know it’s nothing groundbreaking, but it was a total lightbulb moment as I suddenly had dozens of 6 inch cake flavors to bake. I love the 6 inch size for children’s birthday cakes, small gatherings and celebrations, or bridal/baby showers where there’s a lot of other desserts. And when it comes to decorating, 6 inch is a very non-intimidating size cake!

6 inch chocolate cake on blue cake stand

Cupcake Batter = 3 Layer 6 Inch Cake

Cupcake batter that produces about 12-15 cupcakes is the perfect amount for a 3 layer 6 inch cake. One dozen cupcakes usually takes about 3-4 cups of cake batter, which divides perfectly between 3 6 inch cake layers. This means that you can essentially turn any batch of cupcakes into a small layer cake. I’ve tested this several times with many different flavors, but usually stick with vanilla cake and chocolate cake, which are made from my vanilla cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes respectively.

6 Inch Cake Flavors

Use the batter for the following recipes to make different flavor 6 inch cakes:

All 6 inch cake layers take about 18-21 minutes at 350°F (177°C). You need about 2.5-3 cups of frosting for a 3 layer 6 inch cake, which is usually the amount used for 1 dozen cupcakes. Any of the frosting recipes paired with the listed cupcakes would be perfect. 🙂

6 inch vanilla cake with sprinkles on teal cake stand

6 inch chocolate cake on a teal cake stand with a slice on a cake server

How to Prep Your 6 Inch Cake Pans

After you choose your 6 inch cake batter, it’s time to start prepping the cake pans. First, make sure you have quality 6 inch cake pans. I started using Fat Daddio’s 6 inch cake pans last year and loved them so much that I switched out my 9-inch and 8-inch cake pans for the Fat Daddio’s brand. From one baker to another– these pans are incredible quality for the price. Not working with this brand, just a genuine fan.

The smaller the cake, the more difficult it is to neatly release from the baking pan. Here’s my guaranteed solution so that your 6 inch cake layers glide right out:

  1. Make a parchment paper round. Trace the bottom of the cake pans on a large piece of parchment paper. Cut out the parchment circles.
  2. Very lightly grease the baking pans.
  3. Place the parchment round inside.
  4. Grease the parchment round too. Using butter or baker’s nonstick spray, I grease the pan AND the parchment. This promises an ultra non-stick environment for your cake. Never any sticking.

I usually keep a stack of parchment rounds on hand just in case I’m in a rush to get a cake in the oven. For cake emergencies, of course.

2 images of cut out parchment paper rounds and parchment paper rounds in cake pans

Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and bake.

2 images of cake batter in 6 inch cake pans and baked cake layers in 6 inch cake pans

How to Frost & Decorate a 6 Inch Cake

You need about 2.5-3 cups of frosting to frost a 3 layer 6 inch cake. The frostings paired with the cupcake recipes listed above are plenty for your 6 inch cake, such as vanilla buttercream or chocolate buttercream. Assembling and decorating a 6 inch cake is just like putting together a larger cake, but the smaller size is definitely easier to work with.

Tools I find helpful:

  1. Cake Turntable: This size is great for larger 9 inch cakes as well. A cake turntable makes it easy to frost the sides of a cake with a bench scraper.
  2. Bench Scraper: I like to run a bench scraper around the sides of the cake to smooth out the frosting. This works for any size cake. If you’ve never used one before to decorate a cake, you can watch me use it in my vanilla cake video. They’re very handy!
  3. Small Offset Icing Spatula: Use this for spreading the frosting between the layers and on top of the cake. The small size is great for frosting cupcakes too.

2 images of spreading frosting on a 6 inch cake and cake on cake turner

Since this is a small cake, it’s easy to pick up with a couple flat spatulas and carefully transfer to a cake stand or serving plate. You can also use cake boards, which are cardboard cut-outs that provide a sturdy foundation for your cake if you need to move it to another surface.

6 inch vanilla cake on blue cake stand

2 images of 6 inch vanilla cake and chocolate cake slices

Small cakes are taking over! Which flavor will you try first?

PS: I bought the pictured teal cake stand from Home Goods and unfortunately can’t find a link to it for you! Make sure you find a cake stand that’s about 8 inches in diameter to comfortably fit the 6 inch cake. I love this one from Anthropologie too!

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6 inch vanilla cake on blue cake stand

6 Inch Vanilla Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: serves 8
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Learn how to make a deliciously soft and buttery 6 inch vanilla cake, plus a dozen other cake flavors for your smaller 6 inch cake pans. 6 inch cakes are perfect for smaller gatherings and much easier to decorate, too!


  • 1 and 3/4 cups (210g) cake flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120g) full-fat sour cream at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk at room temperature

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 1 cup (230gunsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 – 5 cups (480-600g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream or whole milk
  • 2 teaspoonpure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste
  • sprinkles for decorating


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease three 6×2 inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the small cakes seamlessly release from the pans.
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg whites and vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the sour cream. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk until combined. Do not over-mix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick.
  4. Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for around 18-21 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling
  5. Make the frosting: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add 4 and 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, the heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to medium-high speed and beat for 2 full minutes. Add up to 1/2 cup more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or another Tablespoon of cream if frosting is too thick. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. (I add 1/8 teaspoon salt.)
  6. Assemble and decorate: Using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand, cake turntable, or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with about 3/4 cup of frosting. Top with 2nd cake layer and evenly cover the top with about 3/4 cup of frosting. Top with the third cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. A bench scraper and small offset spatula are handy for decorating. Decorate with sprinkles if desired.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 30-45 minutes before slicing. This helps the cake hold its shape when cutting.
  8. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions for any flavor: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. Let the frosting sit at room temperature to slightly soften for 10 minutes before assembling and frosting. If the frosting is still too stiff, beat it on medium speed with an electric mixer until it’s soft and spreadable again. Add a splash of milk or cream to thin out if needed. Frosted cake or unfrosted cake layers can be frozen up to 2-3 months. See How to Freeze Cakes. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before decorating/serving.
  2. Cake Flour: If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, use this cake flour substitute.
  3. 6 Inch Chocolate Cake: Skip steps 2 & 3 and instead, use the chocolate cake batter from my chocolate cupcakes. Frost with chocolate buttercream.
  4. More Flavors: See post above for links to more cake flavors using my cupcake batters. Skip steps 2 & 3 above, swapping out the vanilla batter for your chosen flavor.

Keywords: cake, vanilla cake


  1. Hi Sally! Love your recipes. Is baking powder absolutely needed for this recipe? Because I want to bake these today, and I just noticed that my baking powder supply is over.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Purvija, Unfortunately they won’t rise much without the baking powder.

      1. Oh ok, thanks Stephanie 🙂

    2. Hi Sally! I love your recipes and the wonderful way in which you explain the process. Is there any substitute for four cream in vanilla cake recipe? Thanks

      1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Pooja, thanks so much for your positive feedback! You have a couple options: 1) You can use buttermilk in place of sour cream AND milk- use it to replace both the sour cream and milk. (1 cup total.) or 2) Use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream for a 1:1 swap. Happy baking!

  2. Hi! Curious if you’ve ever tried baking in those deep cake pans where then you must cut into 3 layers. Do you know how this would affect temp and bake time? Planning to make a 3 layer 6in confetti cake using one of your recipes but that’s the pan I have. Love your site, Thank you!

    1. Hi Lisa, I have. The cake won’t bake very evenly. There is also too much batter for 1 deeper 6 inch cake pan. I recommend baking all 3 layers separately. If you need to bake it in batches, leave any unused cake batter lightly covered at room temperature until the pan is ready again.

  3. Hey I’m interested in baking a 3 tiered vanilla cake with 6”, 8” and 10” pans.

    How would I go about making the appropriate cake batter and frosting?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Venise, This Simple Homemade Wedding Cake recipe uses one 9-inch 3 layer cake and one 6-inch 3 layer cake. The 9-inch cake is 8-9 cups of batter and the 6-inch cake is 4 cups of batter. If you need to substitute other size cake pans, see the Cake Pan Sizes & Conversions post to determine the appropriate amount of batter you need for your desired cake pans.

      1. Thank you!

  4. Hi Sally!

    This has been my go to recipe for a long time because it is just amazing! How can I turn this recipe into a 4 inch three layer mini cake?


    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Teresa, We haven’t made this in a 4 inch pan but you can use the post Cake Pan Sizes & Conversions to help calculate how much batter you will need. Or simply use this batter, fill your pans 2/3 full and use the rest of the batter for some cupcakes 🙂

  5. I’m wanting to add another layer, so 4 layers all together. How much extra of the ingredients would I need to add, is it possible?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Chelsea, To be exact you would need to make 1 1/3 of this batter. Or simply make 1.5 times the batter, fill your pans 2/3 full and then use any left over batter to make a few cupcakes on the side.

  6. Joy Vickers says:

    Hi Sally – I can’t wait to bake this cake! Quick question- I am hoping to achieve a “yellow” cake (so am planning on using 3 whole eggs to achieve the color – instead of just the whites). Do you think I should I adjust anything else in the recipe, since I am doing this? (Bake time, etc.. )

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Joy, if you are wanting a true 6-inch yellow cake (instead of a white/vanilla cake colored yellow), try using our yellow cupcakes recipe! Cupcake batter that produces about 12-15 cupcakes is the perfect amount for a 3 layer 6 inch cake. All 6 inch cake layers take about 18-21 minutes at 350°F (177°C). Enjoy!

      1. Joy Vickers says:

        Perfect – thank you!!

  7. Maria Gabriela says:

    Hi Sally, I don´t have sour cream, how can i replace it??? Using the same amount of milk will work or buttermilk???

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maria, Plain yogurt is the best substitute for the sour cream.

  8. I love all your cookie recipes but I am a complete novice when it comes to cakes!

    Is it possible to cook this recipe with (2) 6″ x 3″ pans instead of (3) 6″ x 2″ pans? like the recipe calls for?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Stacey, I fear you’ll have too much batter and those extra thick 6 inch cakes won’t bake properly. We still recommend dividing the batter between three 6 inch pans, even if they are 3 inches deep. If you only have two 6 inch pans, you can bake the last layer after the 1st two layers are done. Keep unused cake batter covered lightly at room temperature.

  9. Hi Sally, love your recipes. Can I substitute the butter with grape seed oil?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tina, It’s not possible to cream oil. The creaming step is crucial to the cake’s texture. You’ll also lose a lot of flavor. You could try solid coconut oil instead, but I fear the texture will be greasy (and, of course, lacking butter flavor).

  10. Your sprinkles are so cute. What kind are they?

    1. Thanks Donna! They’re confetti pastel quins. I forget the brand, but you can usually find them in grocery stores or even a quick search online!

  11. Elizabeth Jenkins says:

    I just noticed that your 6″ white cake recipe calls for 1 3/4 cup flour but your chocolate cupcake recipe that you use for your 6″ chocolate cake only has 3/4 cup flour. I realize it also has 1/2 cup cocoa but will this still make enough batter for 3-6″ layers?
    P. S. Hope you and baby and the rest of the family are doing well! My oldest granddaughter just had our 1st great-grandchild and we’re totally in love with her!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes! They both make the perfect amount for a three layer 6 inch cake 🙂

      1. Thanks! Just made your vanilla cake with vanilla icing for a friend’s birthday. It looks very nice. Can’t wait to taste it.

    2. Hi Sally,

      I have 3 6inch x 3 round pans but plan on only using 2 cakes. I know I should divide my batter between 3 pans but I will bake my first two pans together and bake the 3rd after my first two are done. Will my baking times change since I am only baking two at a time?


      1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Jess, The bake times should stay the same. Enjoy!

  12. Would this work if I used an 8inch pan thats 1 inch deep? Or do I need to have a 2 inch deep pan?

    1. 1.5 or 2 inch depth would be best.

  13. You recommended the Fat Daddy 6″ baking pans,
    Would you recommend the 6″ spring form pans or the regular baking
    pans? Are the 3″ high pans the best to use?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      The regular pans that are 2 inches high are fine!

  14. Hi sally. I only have 2 6×3 inch pans, so was wondering which recipes (any flavor) would be best for it? I’ve been searching for so long but can’t find any. Thank you so much!!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lalia, you can still make a 3 layer cake even if you only have 2 pans! Simply leave the extra batter at room temperature while the first 2 layers bake. Or, if you want a 2 layer cake, bake 2 layers and use any extra batter for cupcakes. Happy baking!

      1. Oh I didn’t know that you can leave out cake batter! Thank you so much! I love your website

  15. Love this vanilla cake recipe! I use King Arthur Measure for Measure gluten free flour + corn starch instead of cake flour and it comes out perfect.

  16. I totally butchered one of the variations of this cake recipe and it made too much batter. I somehow made a 9” cake, 6”, 3” and a mini loaf. Ha! It wasn’t until AFTER they all came out of the oven, that I realized there is one for just 6”!! I’m trying to practice cakes for my daughter’s 1st birthday in another cpl of weeks, and I’m failing horribly. Now that I’ve saved this 6” recipe to use, do you think I could use fondant to decorate? Would the cake be firm enough? Thank you for your time! Love your recipes.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Melissa, I’m glad you found this post! 🙂 Yes, this cake should hold up to being covered in fondant. Happy baking!

  17. Hi! I love your recipes since it’s so easy to follow for a beginner like me. I do have a question my cake doesn’t feel cake-y that much and it feels crumbly. I’m not sure when I went wrong or was it suppose to be like that?

    1. Hi Nicole, thank you so much! Perhaps the cake was over-baked? Did you change anything in the recipe?

  18. Hi Sally! Thank you, your 6-inch cake methods were a success 🙂
    I want to make 4-inch cakes and was wondering if it’ll work if I half the recipe and if it’ll make 3 layers?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sarah, I’m so glad you enjoyed the 6-inch cake! We haven’t tested a 4-inch layer cake- the amount of batter you need depends on how tall your 4-inch cake pans are. You could make a 6-inch cake recipe as written, fill your 4-inch cake pans, and then make cupcakes with any leftover batter. Let us know how it goes!

  19. Hi Sally!
    Do you buy the 6×3 in or 6×2 in fat daddios cake pans? I am looking for some great 6 in cake pans that will last me forever!
    Thank you! 🙂


    1. Hi Amanda! I have both, but use the 6×2 inch ones most! (That’s what I use here.)

  20. Can we replace sour cream ? What can be used instead of that ?

    1. Plain yogurt is the best substitution for the sour cream.

  21. SO glad to have all this info on 6” pans!! I just bought some to make a friend’s birthday cake along with some cupcakes for a party, and I’m excited to try them. I already purchased funfetti cake mixes, but i would love to try your recipe another time! For cake mixes, do you think their consistency will be too light/springy to withhold a 3 layer stack??

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Grace, We are glad you found this post helpful! Your box cake mixes should be fine to stack as a layer cake. Next time if you want a homemade 6 inch funfetti cake I highly recommend using the recipe for Confetti Cupcakes!

  22. I use this strategy all the time to make 6 in cakes!! Love it!!

  23. Hi Sally

    I was just reading your in preparation to make the 6 inch vanilla cake. I don’t have any whole milk in the fridge but I do have heavy cream. Could I do a straight substitute or would that add to much fat

    1. Hi Helene, unfortunately heavy cream is much too thick for the cake batter. Milk is best.

  24. Hi, can I substitute chocolate buttercream frosting to your chocolate ganache recipe? How much ganache do I need to frost the 3 layer 6″ chocolate cake? Also, can the ganache works as filling for the cake?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amanda, Yes! Whipped ganache is great as frosting. This amount of whipped ganache will be plenty for frosting and filling the small 3 layer 6 inch cake. I would use 1/2 – 2/3 cup between each layer, then use the rest for frosting the layer cake.

      1. Thanks! Should I double the recipe if I choose to use piped chocolate ganache as topping and filling for the cake?

      2. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Yes, you can easily make double or even 1.5 times the ganache recipe. No matter how much ganache you are making, you always need equal parts chocolate and cream.

  25. Made this for a birthday yesterday and it turned out great. The perfect size for us! Thank you so much for the recipe!

  26. Hi Sally. this was my first 6 inch cake. My cakes have larger holes in it like french bread. what did I do wrong? Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ande, The most common culprit of tunneling in cakes is over mixing the batter. When you overmix the batter you over develop the gluten so that when the cake rises in the oven the bubbles get trapped. It’s also very important to have all of your ingredients at room temperature so that they properly mix together. For details and even more tips you can visit the post 10 Baking Tips for Perfect Cakes.

  27. How thick are the layers after being baked? 1”? I want to make a rainbow cake, so just trying to see if I can make 6 thin layers with this recipe.

    1. Hi Erin! The layers are about 1 inch thick.

  28. Hi Sally.. Love ur recipes… since we r vegetarian can u suggest something which we can replace for eggs.. Plz suggest would love to try without eggs..

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Surya, we haven’t tested this recipe with an egg replacement. If you try anything, let us know how it goes. Here are all of our egg free recipes!

  29. Evening Sally,
    I definitely want to give you your props in baking. You have some AMAZING cake recipes. Thank you for sharing. I do have a question about your 6 inch Vanilla cake. Can I replace the whole milk for buttermilk? I find that buttermilk makes cakes really moist. That is the only change I want to make for this cake. I compared the ingredients to other cakes you have and the ingredients are very similar. The only difference between this cake and the chocolate is the AP flour, you’re using 2 whole eggs instead of egg whites and you’ve added cocoa powder but everything else is consistent. Please advise. Thanks, Sally.

  30. Hi Sally, I’m just wondering how to adjust proportions for an 8-inch version of this.

    1. Hi Sureshi! My white cake batter is enough to make a 3 layer 8 inch cake. Bake time will be about the same as the 2 layer 9 inch cake pictured in that post.

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally