Angel Food Cake

Using only 6 ingredients, this perfect angel food cake bakes up tall, light, and airy. For best results, follow this recipe and video tutorial closely. The delicate texture can only be achieved with particular ingredients and careful mixing methods.

Angel food cake with berries

Ready for a slice of heaven? We are no stranger to decadent and rich cakes. But what about a cake recipe where butter, fat, and egg yolks run away in fright? Meet angel food cake. Angel food cake is a low fat cake recipe made mostly from egg whites, cake flour, and sugar. It’s pristine white on the inside with a chewy light brown crumb around the exterior. What it lacks in butter makes up for in texture. This tall, tender, and timeless cake has a cloud-like crumb and ultra light flavor.

I’ve published angel food cupcakes and a super fun sprinkle angel food cake on my blog, but now it’s time visit where both originate: classic homemade angel food cake!

Angel food cake slices with strawberries

Angel Food Cake Video Tutorial

Let’s dive right in. First, here’s a video tutorial where I walk you through each step. The steps and ingredients are pretty straightforward, but it’s always helpful to have a clear visual. 🙂

Top of angel food cake

6 Angel Food Cake Ingredients

You only need 6 ingredients to make angel food cake. With so little ingredients, understand that each one is imperative to the cake’s final taste and texture. Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Granulated Sugar: The recipe begins with granulated sugar. Pulse it in a food processor to create superfine sugar. Superfine sugar’s granules are the best size to provide optimal structure for angel food cake. It’s not as coarse as granulated sugar and not as fine as confectioners’ sugar. Granulated sugar is simply too coarse, while confectioners’ sugar dissolves too quickly in the egg whites.
  2. Cake Flour: Cake flour is a low protein flour and yields a tender angel food cake. Do not use all-purpose flour because the cake will taste like white bread…! In a pinch, you can use this cake flour substitute. But real cake flour is ideal.
  3. Salt: Adds flavor.
  4. Egg Whites: You’ll notice there’s no baking powder or baking soda. The egg whites are actually the sole leavening ingredient providing all the cake’s rise. Use freshly separated eggs because they aerate the best. Carton egg whites or egg whites that have been frozen won’t expand as much during the whipping process, which will negatively affect the rise of your cake. You’ll have a lot of leftover egg yolks, so make some lemon curd and serve it with the cake!
  5. Cream of Tartar: Cream of tartar is an acid and stabilizes the whipped egg whites, just as it does in my chocolate swirled meringue cookies too. Without it, the cake would collapse. Other acids, such as lemon juice, can work but they aren’t nearly as effective. Cream of tartar is found in the spice aisle and is actually a common baking ingredient. I have many recipes calling for it!
  6. Vanilla Extract: Adds flavor.

Superfine sugar in food processor

How to Make Perfect Angel Food Cake

I’m confident this will be the most perfect angel food cake to ever hit your lips. We can’t achieve angel food cake perfection for free, so make sure you follow these steps closely.

  1. Pulse the granulated sugar into superfine sugar. Use a food processor or blender.
  2. Set some of the superfine sugar aside. You’ll add it to the egg whites.
  3. Add cake flour and salt to food processor. Pulse them with the remaining sugar. This aerates the dry ingredients.
  4. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar together. Beat on medium-low speed until foamy.
  5. Slowly add 1 cup of superfine sugar. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and pour in the superfine sugar you set aside.
  6. Beat into soft peaks. Whip the egg whites, cream of tartar, and superfine sugar into soft and lofty peaks. This takes at least 5 minutes.
  7. Sift and fold in dry ingredients. In 3 additions, sift and fold in the dry ingredients.
  8. Pour/spread batter into a tube pan. Do not grease the tube pan. Greasing the pan causes the batter to slip down the sides, preventing it from properly rising. If you already greased it, wash and wipe it completely clean.
  9. Bake at 325°F (163°C). A higher temperature won’t properly cook the cake.
  10. Cool upside down on a wire rack. If cooled upright, the cake’s own weight will crush itself. Cool it upside-down on a cooling rack so it holds its shape and air can reach it.
  11. Run a thin knife around the edges to release. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to help loosen the cake, too.
  12. Slice with a serrated knife. A regular sharp knife squishes the cake.

Can I use a bundt pan for angel food cake? No, do not use a bundt pan for angel food cake. You’ll have a very hard time getting it out in one piece. You need a tube pan which has a flat bottom and straight sides. If you don’t have one, I recommend this tube pan. It’s relatively inexpensive for its great quality. Though it’s labeled as nonstick, the coating is VERY thin and has never been an issue for my angel food cakes.

And good news: here’s a helpful trick for how to bake angel food cake without a tube pan.

Cake flour in measuring cups and food processor

You need 1 cup (16 Tablespoons) + 2 Tablespoons of cake flour. Sounds like an odd amount, but 18 Tablespoons is the precise quantity to bring enough structure to the cake.

Whipped egg whites

Soft Peaks, Not Stiff Peaks

Remember, whip the egg whites into soft peaks. (Pictured above.) Soft peaks don’t hold a stiff shape. Instead, they “wilt” back into the mixture after a few seconds. Soft peaks are the optimum consistency because they’ll continue to expand in the oven. Stiff peaks, on the other hand, means that the egg whites have been over-whipped for angel food cake and will likely collapse in the oven.

Important to remember: Don’t let a drop of egg yolks into the mixing bowl. Any lingering fat could prevent the egg whites from forming peaks at all. Crack eggs over an egg separator into a small bowl, then add the whites one-by-one into the mixing bowl. This way if the yolk breaks, it doesn’t break directly in the mixing bowl.

angel food cake batter in mixing bowl and tube pan

Sift the dry ingredients over the beaten egg whites in a few additions, gently folding together after each addition. The goal is to retain as much of the whipped volume as possible. Pouring the dry ingredients on top all at once will quickly deflate the egg whites.

Angel food cake cooling in pan

The Magic is in the Details

I’ve thrown a lot of information at you in this post, so here’s a quick summary of all the important success tips. Remember that the magic is all in the details.

  1. Use freshly separated egg whites.
  2. Pulse granulated sugar into superfine sugar.
  3. Whip egg whites into soft peaks, not stiff peaks.
  4. Sift and gently fold in dry ingredients.
  5. Do not grease the tube pan.
  6. Cool the cake upside-down on a wire rack.
  7. Use a serrated knife to slice.

Angel food cake on marble cake stand

Helpful Tools

Want to make angel food cupcakes? I have you covered. 🙂

angel food cupcake

Angel food cake doesn’t need to hide under frosting, but tastes blissful with fresh berries and a dollop of whipped cream! Feel free to dust the top with confectioners’ sugar, too.

I know what you’re thinking: is this cake really worth it? The answer is YES. Angel food cake boasts a texture like no other and once you go through the process, you’ll understand the preparation isn’t that difficult– it’s just a little picky. 😉 Let’s do this!

Angel food cake on marble cake stand

Print
Angel food cake with berries

Angel Food Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: serves 10-12
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Using only 6 ingredients, this perfect angel food cake bakes up tall, light, and airy. For best results, read the recipe in full before beginning and have all your ingredients ready to go. Enjoy! 


Ingredients

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar*
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons (130g) cake flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 large egg whites, at room temperature*
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • optional: confectioners’ sugar for dusting, whipped cream, and berries

Instructions

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position and preheat oven to 325°F (163°C).
  2. In a food processor or blender, pulse the sugar until fine and powdery. Remove 1 cup and set aside to use in step 3; keep the rest inside the food processor. Add the cake flour and salt to the food processor. Pulse 5-10 times until sugar/flour/salt mixture is aerated and light.
  3. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip egg whites and cream of tartar together on medium-low until foamy, about 1 minute. Switch to medium-high and slowly add the 1 cup of sugar you set aside. Whip until soft peaks form, about 5-6 minutes. See photo and video above for a visual. Add the vanilla extract, then beat just until incorporated.
  4. In 3 additions, slowly sift the flour mixture into the egg white mixture using a fine mesh strainer, gently folding with a rubber spatula after each addition. To avoid deflating or a dense cake, don’t add the flour mixture all at once. Sift and very slowly fold in several additions. This is important! Pour and spread batter into an ungreased 9 or 10 inch tube pan. Shimmy the pan on the counter to smooth down the surface.
  5. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through baking. The cake will rise up very tall while baking. Remove from the oven, then cool the cake completely upside-down set on a wire rack, about 3 hours. (Upside-down so the bottom of the tube pan is right-side up, see photo and video above.) Once cooled, run a thin knife around the edges and gently tap the pan on the counter until the cake releases.
  6. If desired, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Slice the cake with a sharp serrated knife. Regular knives can easily squish the cake. Serve with whipped cream and fresh berries.
  7. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare the angel food cake one day in advance, then cover tightly and store at room temperature overnight. Angel food cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before serving.
  2. Sugar: In this recipe, you use granulated sugar and pulse it in a food processor to make superfine sugar. If you have superfine sugar or caster sugar, use that. Pulse 3/4 cup of it with the dry ingredients in step 2. Use 1 cup of it in step 3.
  3. Egg Whites: I strongly recommend using fresh real egg whites instead of egg white substitutes, previously frozen egg whites, or egg whites from a carton. Separate the eggs when they’re cold, then bring the egg whites to room temperature. Fresh room temperature egg whites whip into the fluffiest volume. With the extra yolks, make lemon curd or some of these recipes.
  4. Pan: An angel food cake pan (aka tube pan) is imperative. Do not use a bundt pan. Angel food cake’s structure and stability requires the tube pan’s particular specifications. Some angel food cake pans come with little feet, which makes cooling the cake upside down easy. If your pan has feet, no need to use a wire rack. Whether your tube pan has feet or not, cool the cake upside down as directed in step 5.

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Keywords: cake, whipped cream

445 Comments

  1. Fantastic recipe. However, despite the warning about using a Bundt cake pan, that’s exactly what I did, and it came out perfectly. I have a great picture I’d love to post, but that doesn’t seem an option. I researched a bit online and found others who had successfully done the same thing. So, I braved it and the cake came out beautifully!

  2. Jessica Pacheco says:

    I finally made this cake for my husband and it is deliciously perfect!! I don’t really care for Angel Food cake, myself, but this recipe has me changing my mind. Thank you, Sally, for such an easy recipe that a baking novice like myself can turn out wonderful delights. Your instructions to follow and I appreciate the time you take to break it all down to understand the “why” to the science of baking. Thank you!!

    I’ll definitely be making this again!!

    1. I made this cake as a birthday cake and everyone loved it! Came out perfect! Thank you for such a complete recipe …. they loved it so much, I had to make a 2nd one !

  3. This was my first attempt at a from scratch angel food cake. I was nervous even though I am a regular from scratch baker but it turned out perfectly. So light and delicious, we turned it into strawberry shortcake.
    I’ve made many of your recipes and they always turn out great because you have such dectailed instructions. Thanks!

  4. I made this with carton egg whites with no problem!

  5. Would it be okay to use “stevia in the raw” in place of regular sugar? I recently found out I’m pre diabetic and I’m trying to use stevia in place of regular sugar when possible.

    1. Hi Lexi, I have not tested this recipe with a sugar substitute but let me know if you try.

  6. Haven’t tasted yet, but when I cooled upside down, the cake fell out of the pan and split. So not sure about that step.

  7. Leah Davis says:

    Your recipe came up from a quick Google search and I’m glad it did! This was a well written recipe and easy to follow, and the cake is spongy, tasty and fantastic. I’ve only ever had angel food from the box and the same for my husband, but this was fresh and didn’t have that fake texture. I’ll be adding this one to list of go to recipes. Thank you!

  8. I just made this cake and it turned out beautifully! The texture is perfect and the vanilla flavour is delicious. It is just a tad too sweet for my personal tastes. Do you think I could cut down on the sugar next time or will that throw off the proportions and cause the cake not to rise? Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe!

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed this cake, Juno. With only 6 ingredients, each one plays a crucial role so I don’t recommend altering the ratio. Best to stick to the recipe!

  9. Patrick McClave says:

    Excellent recipe wish I had heeded the bunt pan warning but don’t have a tubular pan. It’s so moist, soft, melts in your mouth. So much better than store bought. Egg whites took a bit longer to make peaks though guess they were too cold.

  10. I’m looking forward to making this cake. Would I be able to replace the vanilla with lemon juice plus zest? Have you tried this?

    1. Hi Kolina, I haven’t tested this with lemon but if you decide to I suggest you use half of the vanilla extract and half lemon instead of all lemon. Let me know if you try it!

  11. AMAZING! This is the best recipe, so light and airy and is a favourite from all of the family. I have made this with the cake flour substitute (four + cornstarch) and it worked out beautifully. I also used a normal bunt pan as I don’t have a tube pan and I lightly sprayed it (I know risky) and flipped the pan over once out of the oven and let it cool for about an hour, since my family is so inpatient but it worked! I have also made this using a half recipe and it worked just didn’t have the extra puffed crust you get from the full recipe. Overall, amazing recipe and highly recommend.

  12. Great Angel Food Cake recipe! Followed instructions exactly. So much better than store bought just like most things homemade are. Not as sweet and I really liked that. This is the third recipe from this website I’ve tried. All have been great and I’ve gotten a lot of great baking tips as well. Thank so very much!!

  13. I am planning to make angel food cake for Father’s Day, however, I only have a non-stick pan. Will that work? I have read both that it works and it doesn’t work. Also, do I have to use the processor or can I skip that step? Thanks and always a big fan!

    1. Sorry, one more question. If I want to just put 1 1/2 cup of sugar would that alter the recipe at all? And can I also add some almond extract? Sorry I’m 16 and still learning things. Thanks so much!

      1. Unfortunately, I don’t recommend decreasing the sugar. With so few ingredients each one plays a crucial role!

    2. Hi Serena, You really need a tube pan for this recipe. I link to the one I use in the post above and also list a helpful trick for how to bake angel food cake without a tube pan. If your sugar is already superfine sugar then you don’t need a food processor – however regular granulated sugar is simply too coarse and it’s necessary to use a food processor.

      1. Alright. Thank you so much for the quick response. I’ll look into a tube in pan. By the way I made your chocolate cupcakes. Absolutely fabulous.

      2. Update to rate this recipe: Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe! I just made it for Father’s Day today and it’s already all gone. It’s so wonderful and fluffy and not overly sweet. I added half a teaspoon of almond extract with the vanilla and I used a non-stick bundt pan with only a light nonstick coating. It’s so simple and so your video helped a lot. It worked and was Devine. Thank you so much!

  14. My first attempt at making angel food cake from scratch! Even with your very thorough directions and video, I still managed to not get it 100% right. My cake fell significantly after I took it out of the over, over an inch. I think I may have under-whipped the egg whites for fear of over-whipping them lol! Is that something that would make the cake fall a bit? It’s the only thing I can think of that I did wrong, my peaks melted back into the bowel way too fast.

    Other than the fall, it was still a great cake with wonderful texture and taste, everyone loved it! But I’m trying it again soon and want to nail it this time! Thanks 🙂

  15. I followed this recipe step by step and the cake was perfect and beautiful! It tastes and looks so much better than store bought or from a box mix. After reading your recipe and watching the tutorial, I can understand where I went wrong with other angel food recipes. I am now a huge fan and cant wait to search your blog for other recipes!

  16. Which cake flour did you use?

    1. Hi Renata, For brands of cake flour I love Swans Down and Softasilk. (Not working with either, just a genuine fan!).

      1. Thank you Sally for replying. I live in Mexico, we don’t have that brands. Do you think Betty Crocker will work?

  17. I made this today. It was so beautiful in the oven, nice and flat with just the slightest crack in the top. The recipe was very easy to follow and I was so excited to take it out of the oven, at which time I burned myself on the oven door and dropped it! I was crushed! I turned it upside down on a cooking rack anyway and it tasted heavenly, just didn’t look that way. Good thing it was only for my husband and me. I’ll make this again!

  18. maria caballero olins says:

    Hola Sally. Te cuento que hice el pye de lima y me salió exquisito. Lo base lo hice con galleta soda como es un poco saladita, y las nueces que uso para mi aji de pollo utilicé y quedó muy bien.
    Por la mañana de hoy hice tu bizcocho angel, me quedó muy bien y alto, y suavecito a mi paladar. Te pasaste eres un genio. Lo corté a las 4pm. no me aguante mas , como aquí es invierno enfrió rápido, lo puse boca abajo y utillicé un molde de chifón con patitas. Me salió perfecto, y rico, muy buena tu explicación. Se puede hacer el bizcocho ángel con cacao? Ojalá que sí. Inténtalo por favor para que nos enseñes todas tus delicateces.
    Besitos Mary

  19. This is without a doubt the best Angel food cake I have ever made. It is now the only recipe I use for Angel food cake. After making a full sized cake quite a few times I decided to cut the recipe in half and use my 7” Angel Food cake pan. Came out perfect. The baking time was not a lot different about 40 minutes, the big one was 45 minutes. Thank you for this excellent recipe, and the many others I have been tempted to try on this website! Happy 4th of July!

  20. Priya Menon says:

    Made this cake for a trifle I was making for July 4th and it was delicious- my family loved it. I found the cake a little too sweet but that was just a personal opinion because my husband said it was perfect (he has a sweet tooth haha). The trifle I had made included a no-bake cheesecake which matched perfectly with this homemade angel cake. I had a lot of egg yolks left after this so I made lemon curd!
    I didn’t have cake flour so I used the method of combining all-purpose flour with corn starch. Additionally, I didn’t have a tube pan so I used a DIY tub pan (per the directions provided). Despite all of this, the cake still came out amazing – light and airy and it rose properly.
    I’m an amateur baker so this took a while for me to make but it was worth it! Would definitely make it again and recommend this recipe. Thank you!

  21. Hi, I was wondering if anyone has used this recipe to turn into a layered strawberry cake? Does the cake cut easily on the horizontal?

  22. Wonderful recipe! Everyone loves it. It is so fluffy and sweet, that it almost tastes like a cotton candy. We will do it again for sure.
    Even though I followed all the steps and watched the video, I had a hard time getting the cake out of the flute pan. I didn’t grease it, just like it was recommended. I did cool it off on a rack.
    So what went wrong? I am tempted to grease the pan next time. Will it effect the cake? Or will it just come out flawlessly?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kriszta, We are so happy that you loved the cake! Do not grease the tube pan. Greasing the pan causes the batter to slip down the sides, preventing it from properly rising. Once cooled, run a thin knife around the edges then and gently tap the pan on the counter until the cake releases.

  23. Can I use gluten free flour?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Stephanie, We have not tested this recipe with gluten free flour so I’m unsure of the results.

    2. I used Cup4Cup gluten free flour and turned it into cake flour with the recipe provided. I followed all other steps and it worked out perfectly! Nobody could even tell that it was a gluten free cake!

  24. Hi!! Quick question— I plan to make this tomorrow.. I have a two piece tube pan and no matter what type of batter I’ve used, it always seems to leak out of the pan. can I use a piece of parchment in the bottom to prevent that with this cake? Or would you happen to have any other tricks? Thank you!!

    1. Hi Emily! Lining the pan with parchment is certainly worth a try– that’s what I would do first and see how it turns out.

  25. Hi! Do you think I could add chocolate chips to this batter?

    1. I haven’t tried it, but I can’t see why not. I would stick with 3/4 – 1 cup. Fold them into the finished batter slowly and gently.

  26. Thank you for another awesome recipe. I don’t have a tube pan and hate buying things that only have one purpose so I used a Bundt pan. My Bundt pan isn’t very detailed and I sprayed it with cooking spray, then rubbed the heck out of it with butter and then sifted cake flour over it and have successfully made this recipe twice in my Bundt pan so it’s possible with proper greasing! My in-laws and husbands grandmother had never had homemade angel food cake before and everyone loved it. It’s so easy to make I just made it again on a week night. We have chickens and lots of eggs! Now I just need a recipe to use up my egg yolks! Thanks!

  27. Follow the recipe and it comes out perfectly. Over whipping the egg whites reduces the volume of the final cake a bit but does not change the flavour. Can recommend Chantilly cream (whipped cream with vanilla) and strawberries for a perfect topping.

    For a non baker, this is a great introduction: if you follow the instructions, you will get the advertised result!

  28. Marie-Lynne Boudreau says:

    I have a question about the sugar. Do you pulse only the amount that the recipe requires? Once it is pulsed it seems to make less than what the recipe asks for… My cake seemed too sweet so I think I did something wrong.

  29. Been working on this cake on and off for a couple weeks–as a new baker, it’s a little intimidating since I know Angel Food is quite picky.

    Each time has been better than the last–but more importantly ever iteration (including a rather disastrous first attempt) has been delicious. Firmly recommend this recipe!

  30. My first time making an angel food cake. Excellent!!! Very easy and I had to gift some as I could have eaten the whole thing. Thank you for the recipe

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