There’s nothing like sprinkle cake to make you feel like a kid again! Reminiscent of box cake mix, this homemade version is soft, moist, and loaded with rainbow sprinkles. It’s a single layer cake baked in a regular 9-inch cake pan, so it’s perfect for smaller gatherings and celebrations. Top with vanilla buttercream for the ultimate birthday treat!
There’s a lot of recipe testing and baking science background discussed in this post, so feel free to skip it by clicking the button above.
Do you remember when I shared an updated recipe for my pineapple upside down cake? I love looking back at older recipes, reading your reviews, and applying new techniques to make the recipes even better. With constant practice and recipe testing comes the opportunity to bring you the best content that I can. Baking is truly a science and I’m happy to continue to deliver you well tested and improved recipes!
Improved Cake Recipe – Read the Difference
I published a homemade sprinkle cake recipe several years ago. It’s a wonderful one layer cake, but it often tasted overly dense and was prone to overflowing. Though I kept the original recipe written in the notes below, I want to share my new and improved version with you.
This new sprinkle cake recipe, written below, is much softer than the original. Using (1) creamed butter instead of melted, (2) cake flour instead of all-purpose flour, (3) white sugar instead of brown sugar + white, and (4) just egg whites all guarantee a HUGE textural difference. I adapted it from my confetti sprinkle cupcakes and it’s the same base as my new pineapple upside down cake, too. We’re actually using the same ingredients in the updated recipe– just in different forms, ratios, and amounts.
- Old Cake Recipe (in notes below): Overly heavy, dense, overflowed
- New Cake Recipe (below): Softer, pleasantly moist, reduced amount of batter
This Easy Homemade Sprinkle Cake Is:
- Soft, cakey, & fluffy
- Buttery & moist
- Completely homemade and better than a box mix
- Loaded with colorful sprinkles
- Topped with extra creamy vanilla buttercream
- The same batter we use for tie dye cake (so fun!)
Homemade Sprinkle Cake: Video Tutorial
Overview of Ingredients & Why They Work
- Cake Flour: Lighter than all-purpose flour, cake flour produces a soft crumb.
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda: The two add plenty of lift.
- Salt: Balances the sweetness.
- Butter: Instead of melted butter, use 6 Tablespoons of softened butter. Creaming butter and sugar guarantees a buttery soft crumb.
- Sugar: White granulated sugar sweetens and tenderizes the cake.
- Egg Whites: Egg whites create the fluffiest white cake and they’re doing the same job here. Egg yolks, though excellent for moisture, weigh a cake down. Sometimes they’re imperative for flavor, such as in my yellow cake recipe, but we don’t need them in this fluffy sprinkle cake. The sour cream makes up for the lost moisture. And so there’s no waste, here are my recipes using egg yolks.
- Vanilla Extract: Flavor.
- Sour Cream: Along with cake flour and egg whites, sour cream promises a tender cake crumb. Plain yogurt works in a pinch.
- Milk: Liquid is key in most cakes because it thins out the batter.
Best Sprinkles to Use
I’ve been baking cake and cupcake batters with sprinkles for quite awhile and have learned exactly what works– and what doesn’t. Here’s what I know:
- Sprinkles sold in the US are intensely colored where sprinkles sold in other regions tend to lose their color when baked. I actually used Sweetapolia “Bright Skies” medley in the pictured cake batter.
- Use confetti quins (the little discs) if you can. They rarely bleed their color in batter. These shimmery ones hold their color nicely too.
- Do not use nonpareils (the little balls) in cake batter. They bleed their color.
- Naturally colored sprinkles are wonderful in cookies and as decoration, but– depending on the brand– can lose their color in cake batter. I actually use and love this Starfetti mix. They seem to hold their color wonderfully when baked in cake batter. They’re what I used to decorate the top of this cake.
We’re using a slightly scaled down version of my favorite vanilla buttercream.
Creamy, silky, and smooth, this vanilla buttercream is perfect on birthday cakes, cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes, cookies, and more. My #1 tip is to make sure that you use room temperature heavy cream/half-and-half/milk. Using cold liquid can cause the buttercream to break and separate. You need room temperature butter anyway, so simply set out the measured liquid when you set out the butter.
Does your buttercream have air bubbles? See vanilla buttercream for tips to get rid of them.
Other Size Cakes
- 9×13 Inch: Double this recipe for a 9×13 inch quarter sheet cake. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Top with vanilla buttercream, which is slightly scaled up from the frosting amounts here. I also have this vanilla sheet cake, but it’s denser than today’s cake. For a 12×17 inch jelly roll sheet, use my funfetti sheet cake recipe.
- 9-Inch Square: Follow the recipe below. The cake will be thinner and the bake time will be a few minutes shorter since a 9-inch square baking pan holds more batter than a 9-inch round cake pan. I recommend lining with a parchment paper square, just as instructed in step 1.
- Cupcakes: Make this confetti sprinkle cupcakes recipe, which is essentially the same, only slightly scaled up. Same taste and texture.
- Bundt Cake: Doubling this recipe would be plenty for a 10-12 cup Bundt pan. Bake at 350°F (177°C). I’m unsure of the best bake time, but use a toothpick to test for doneness.
- Layer Cake: Use my 2 layer white cake recipe, which is just as light and fluffy. Or use my 3 layer vanilla cake recipe which is a little denser. Gently stir about 2/3 or 3/4 cup of rainbow sprinkles into either batter.
Updated in 2020, this is my favorite recipe for a one layer sprinkle cake. Tastes close to box cake mix, but it’s completely from-scratch. For best success, read the recipe and recipe notes before beginning.
- 1 and 1/2 cups (177g) cake flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 Tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup (80g) sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (70g) sprinkles
- 3/4 cup (12 Tbsp; 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar
- 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream, half-and-half, or whole milk, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- salt, to taste
- optional: sprinkles for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9×2 inch round cake pan, line with a parchment paper round (see #6 in Cake Baking Tips), then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cake seamlessly release from the pan. I recommend using nonstick spray for greasing.
- Make the cake: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until creamed together, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On high speed, beat in the egg whites until combined, then beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer to low speed and as the mixer runs, slowly pour in the milk. Beat on low speed just until all of the ingredients are 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. Gently fold in the sprinkles.
- Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pan.
- Bake for around 27-31 minutes or until the cake is baked through. After about 18 minutes, tent the cake with aluminum foil to prevent the top and edges from over-browning. To test the cake for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done.
- Allow cake to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack. The cake must be completely cool before frosting.
- Make the buttercream: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 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 1/4 cup (30g) more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or a splash of heavy cream if frosting is too thick. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. (I add a small pinch.)
- Spread frosting all over the top. I always use an icing spatula. Top with sprinkles, if desired.
- Cover leftover cake tightly and store at room temperature for up to 1 day or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare cake through step 6. Wrap the baked and cooled cake tightly and keep at room temperature for 1 day or freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature (if frozen) then continue with step 7. Frosting can also be made 1 day ahead of time. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. Bring frosting to room temperature, then beat the frosting on medium speed for a few seconds so it’s creamy again. Adding a splash of cream/milk will help thin the frosting out, if needed. Frosted cake freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature or serve cold. See How to Freeze Cakes.
- Other Size Cakes: See details above the recipe.
- Best Sprinkles to Use: See details above the recipe.
- Old Recipe: The current cake recipe was updated in 2020. If you loved the old cake batter recipe, originally published in 2013, here it is: Follow step 1 in the recipe above, but use a 9-inch springform pan instead of a regular 9-inch cake pan (too small for the following batter). For the cake batter, whisk 1 and 2/3 cups (210g) all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk 1/2 cup (115g) melted unsalted butter, 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar, 1/4 cup (50g) packed light or dark brown sugar, 1 large egg, 1/4 cup (60g) yogurt or sour cream, 3/4 cup (180ml) milk, and 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract together. Whisk wet and dry ingredients together until smooth. Fold in 2/3 cup (90g) sprinkles. Continue with step 4 in the recipe above and extend the bake time to 33-37 minutes.
- Cake Flour: If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, use this cake flour substitute. I suggest doing this 2x, then remove 1/2 cup since you need 1 and 1/2 cups in this recipe.
- Sour Cream & Milk: Full fat sour cream and whole milk are strongly recommended for the best taste and texture. A full fat plain yogurt would work instead of the sour cream, though the cake may not taste as tender. Same goes with a lower fat or nondairy milk.
- Heavy Cream in Buttercream: I love using heavy cream for the creamiest consistency. You can use half-and-half or whole milk instead if needed. The lower the fat, the less creamy your buttercream will be. Whichever you use, make sure it’s at room temperature. Otherwise your frosting could separate or appear grainy.
- Why is everything at room temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information.
Keywords: sprinkle cake, birthday cake