Funfetti Layer Cake

Buttery vanilla layer cake filled to the brim with rainbow sprinkles and finished off with sweet vanilla frosting with piped pink and blue border. No celebration is complete without a funfetti layer cake! Learn how to make it completely from scratch using this detailed homemade recipe.

slice of funfetti layer cake on a pink polka dot plate

stack of colorful bowls with sprinkles and a 3 and 0 candle inside

funfetti layer cake on a serving plate with a 3 and 0 candles

In the spirit of this “no-more-excuses-you’re-seriously-a-grown-up-now-because-you’re-thirty” day, I’m sharing the most obnoxiously vibrant, playful recipe in all the land. I’ve shared a plethora of sprinkle-packed cakes on my blog before:

Each one is a little different in both preparation and ingredients, which just goes to show that there are many ways to enjoy this classic birthday masterpiece.

I made today’s cake for my birthday. Sidenote. Is that weird? I always make my own birthday cake? Do you do that too? #bakerproblems

For my 30th, I wanted a towering colorful cake with a soft, cakey interior that is perfectly moist without tasting greasy. Lots of vanilla and butter flavors in each crumb with a sweet vanilla frosting that can only be compared to big fluffy clouds. I realize these are high standards for a cake but it’s completely doable. Are you ready? Apron = on. Butter = softening. Sprinkles = obviously I just dropped those on the floor. Let’s do this!

slice of funfetti layer cake on a pink polka dot plate

My tip: Do not use nonpareils (the little balls) in this cake. They will bleed their color as you fold them in, resulting in a less-than-appetizing color cake. Use rainbow sprinkles, also known as jimmies. I buy them in bulk from here. Or you can use confetti quins. Confetti quins are the little circle sprinkles I used as decor on top of today’s pictured cake. I love quins because (1) they never streak the batter, (2) are adorable, and (3) they’re my last name. Win win win.

layer of funfetti cake with frosting on top

We’re going to frost this rainbow delight with vanilla frosting. If chocolate is more your style, use the chocolate fudge frosting recipe in this post. (It’s enough for this size cake.)

It’s a basic vanilla frosting recipe that is creamy, smooth, and complimentary to the buttery funfetti cake underneath. I had a little frosting leftover, so I tinted it pink and blue to use as garnish for the top of the cake.

Reminds me of pretty pastel cotton candy. 🙂 You can certainly do this too, or you can tint the entire bowl of frosting any color you’d like.

funfetti layer cake on a plate and a slice of cake on a pink polka dot plate

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slice of funfetti layer cake on a pink polka dot plate

Funfetti Layer Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes
  • Yield: serves 12-14
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Buttery vanilla layer cake filled to the brim with rainbow sprinkles and finished off with sweet vanilla frosting with piped pink and blue border.


Ingredients

Funfetti Cake

  • 3 and 3/4 cups (443g) sifted all-purpose flour* (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks; 345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons (15ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) buttermilk, room temperature*
  • 3/4 cup (142g) rainbow sprinkles*

Vanilla Frosting*

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks; 345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 6 cups (700g) sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream
  • 3 teaspoons (15ml) pure vanilla extract (or use clear imitation vanilla extract for stark white frosting)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • optional: additional sprinkles for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease and lightly flour three 9-inch cake pans.*
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. 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 5 full minutes until creamed together fairly well. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On medium-high speed, add 1 whole egg at a time, beating well after each addition until all 4 whole eggs are mixed in. Set the 2 egg whites aside for now. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix this batter. The batter will be smooth, velvety, and slightly thick. Vigorously whisk or beat the 2 additional egg whites until thick, foamy, and soft peaks form- about 3 minutes. Gently fold into the batter. Finally, fold the sprinkles into the batter. Spoon/pour batter evenly into each cake pan.
  4. Bake for around 25 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 is 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: In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy – about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Add more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin, more cream if frosting is too thick, or a pinch more of salt if frosting is way too sweet.
  6. Assemble and frost: First, 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 or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and evenly cover the top with frosting. Finish with the third cake layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. I tinted extra frosting both pink (1 drop pink food coloring) and blue (1 drop blue coloring) and used a Wilton 1M tip to pipe it around the top edges. Decorate top of cake with sprinkles, if desired.
  7. Slice, serve, enjoy!

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: 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. Assemble and frost the cake the next day when you are ready to serve. Frosted cake can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving. Honestly, it tastes much better fresh.
  2. Flour: Make sure you sift the flour before measuring. Sifting is KEY. Otherwise, your cake layers could taste much too dense. You can also use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. Use the same amount, 1:1 substitution.
  3. Buttermilk: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make a DIY sour milk substitute. Add 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Then add enough whole milk to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1 and 1/2 cups. (In a pinch, lower fat or nondairy milks work for this soured milk, but the cake won’t taste as moist or rich.) Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in the recipe.
  4. Sprinkles: Avoid using sprinkles that will dye your batter. Steer clear from nonpareils, which are the little balls. I use rainbow jimmies and pastel colored quins. Always be gentle adding these to batter and do not overmix.
  5. Chocolate Frosting: Try my chocolate fudge frosting instead! Use this frosting recipe. It makes enough for this size cake.
  6. 4 Layer Cake: You can pour this batter evenly into four 9-inch cake pans to make a 4 layer cake instead of a 3 layer cake. The bake time is around 23-24 minutes. You can also use a cupcake pan to make about 3 dozen cupcakes, more or less. Fill halfway, bake for about 20 minutes.

Keywords: funfetti layer cake, funfetti cake, sprinkle cake

427 Comments

  1. Sally, this cake was divine! Everyone closed their eyes and moaned with each bite. The texture and flavor were just so perfect. I made this as a small 6 inch layer cake and about 24 cupcakes for my twins 4th birthday. They had requested a rainbow cake and I just had a feeling this pretty funfetti would be spot on. I used a cream cheese marshmallow frosting that I’m fond of although I’m certain this cake would be amazing with your buttercream as well. Thank you for the easy and detailed instructions and thank you for this recipe!!

  2. I’ve tried a number of Sally’s recipes but this one did not turn out super great. In hindsight, with all the butter this called for, I wish I used the ingredients for another recipe. I found the cake to be very dense. I took the time to sift my flour and measure it with my scale. I also found the icing to be a tad to stiff and sweet. The cake was edible and still enjoyed it just wasn’t great. Wouldn’t make it again

  3. Hi! How many cups of frosting does this recipe make?

  4. Can I use mini chocolate chips instead of sprinkles?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We don’t see why not!

  5. I made this for my son’s birthday and it was such a hit! Thank you!

  6. I am from the Netherlands and have a question. What is the reason that all the american recipes for buttercream contain so much icing sugar. Nearly in all the recipes the butter : sugar quantity is 1:2, it is very sweet! When I use half of the sugar (so 1:1) for me it is already sweet enough. I suppose there is a reason for that, maybe to get a good texture? In Holland we use very often a mixture of butter and pastrycream.it is delicious for filling, but not very good for frosting.. Thank you for answering me.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lieske! American buttercream is very sweet by nature. Adding an extra pinch of salt can help cut the sweetness. If you are looking for a frosting that isn’t as sweet we suggest trying Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

  7. I made this for my newly adopted son’s birthday, the first dessert they ever had from me, so no pressure. I thought the recipe was great, the end result was delicious, and your tips helped a lot. Thank you!!

  8. do You recommend using both almond and vanilla extract and if so what measurements?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sara, We make this with 3 tsp vanilla extract. But if you would like some almond flavor you can certainly use 1.5 tsp of each or use 2 tsp. vanilla and 1 tsp. almond depending on how strong you would like the flavor.

  9. Kim Goldfeder Clarke says:

    Hi Sally,

    I would like to make this cake, but I need it to serve 20 people. Do you think 3 9″ cake pans would suffice? Also, do you think if I used your recipe for Swiss Meringue Buttercream it would be nice? Thanks so much and all the best,
    Kim Goldfeder Clarke
    [email protected]

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kim, Yes you can use swiss meringue buttercream with this cake! We usually get 14 generous size slices of cake from this recipe so it really depends on how large/small you cut your servings.

      1. Kim Goldfeder Clarke says:

        Thanks so much for your quick reply! Can’t wait to make it this week. All the best!

  10. Im out of vanilla extract, can i use vanilla bean instead? If so how much?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi MJ, Yes – you can use vanilla beans instead of extract in this recipe. Typically 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract is equal to one 2-inch piece of vanilla bean, so depending on the size of your vanilla beans you can use one 6 inch bean to replace the 3 tsp of extract here.

  11. Jess Bramwell says:

    I made this cake for my mums birthday and followed the recipe to the tea, I bake a lot and this cake has been the worse so far it came out too stodgy/dense not light and fluffy. And to top it off the sprinkles didn’t show but that might be the type of sprinkles I used.

  12. Nan Trainor says:

    I tried this recipe last year for a special birthday, and it has now become my go to. Delivers as promised with great crumb and wonderful taste. I also use the buttercream frosting. It also tastes just as yummy days later; it just does not get stale.
    Question: have you tried halving the recipe? I have only a few guests coming and a full recipe would be too much.
    Always have success with your recipes. Yours are my “go to” and I bake a great deal. Thank you.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nan, so glad to hear you love this recipe! You can certainly try halving the recipe, or you might like our one layer sprinkle cake or our two layer white cake (with sprinkles added). Thank you so much for baking and trusting our recipes. We appreciate it!

  13. Sally, could I do this in a bundt pan and ice the top?

    1. Absolutely! I’m unsure of the best bake time though.

  14. Hi Sally! I am wanting to make this cake for my son’s first birthday in 2 weeks, but I had envisioned it to be a 6 inch, layered smash cake. How could I adjust the baking time?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Elizabeth, for a 6 inch funfetti cake, we’d recommend using our confetti cupcakes recipe instead — it’s the perfect amount of batter for 3 layers!

  15. brittany rosenberg says:

    Hi! Can i use 6×2 cake pans for a 4 layer cake?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Brittany! You can reference this handy guide to find out how much batter you’ll need for your cake pans. Enjoy!

  16. I just made your vanilla cake with vanilla frosting for my daughter’s 7th birthday. The cake is marvelous!!!! Thank you so 3

  17. Maria Stevens says:

    I love all of your recipes. I am trying to prep some cakes and butter cream ahead of time for a big dessert weekend coming up. Can I freeze buttercream after I have made it? And if yes, should I color it and then freeze it?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maria! Yes, you can color it first. Cover tightly and store for up to 3 months in the freezer. After freezing, thaw in the refrigerator then beat the frosting on medium speed for a few seconds so it’s creamy again. After thawing or refrigerating, beating in a splash of heavy cream or milk will help thin the frosting out again, if needed. Here’s our tips for freezing cakes as well!

  18. Owen’s Bowl says:

    My 10 year old hit Covid fatigue and was feeling really down. Together we made this cake and it was perfect!! It brightened her up and made her so happy. It was delicious, and so fun to make…Thank you xo

    1. Owen’s Bowl says:

      P.s. to help the sweetness of the frosting other people mentioned, I used 2/3 salted butter! Problem solved!

  19. I made this for a friend’s baby’s 1st birthday and it was INCREDIBLE. I’m usually not a fan of vanilla but this was moist and the buttermilk just made it a little more interesting than plain vanilla. I was wondering if I could make these into cupcakes?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Catherine, absolutely! You can use a cupcake pan to make about 3 dozen cupcakes, more or less. Fill halfway, bake for about 20 minutes. Or, you can use our Confetti Cupcakes recipe instead. So glad the cake was a hit!

  20. Hi Sally, I LOVE your recipes! Your favorite white cake recipe is one of my go-to’s, especially when I am using fondant. Since this funfetti recipe is so light and airy with all the eggs, do you think it would hold up during the decorating process and to the weight of fondant? Or would recommend adding 3/4 cup of sprinkles to your white cake recipe? Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Marie! We’ve had readers cover this cake in fondant before with zero issue. The cake holds its shape beautifully.

  21. How long will this cake last out of the fridge.

  22. I am short on time and have made this cake In Advance of my sons Birthday which is 3 days from now. In the past Ive frozen the sponge and then decorated on the day. Can you do this with this type of sponge? It’s turned out great and I dont want to ruin it! Thanks ☺️

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Joanne! Yes, you can freeze these cake layers – here’s the best way to freeze cakes!

  23. I have 8” and 10” cake pans. Which would be a better substitute? Would I still need 3 layers if I used 10” pans instead?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amanda, either will work here. The layers will be thicker if using 8 inch pans, so increase the bake time. The layers will be thinner if using the 10 inch pans, so decrease the time there. Keep a close eye on them and to test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. Happy baking!

  24. Hi I was wondering if I would be able to bake this recipe in a 9’ spring from pan?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Zoe, There is too much batter here to bake all at once. You can use a springform pan but you will still want to bake it as three separate layers.

  25. Question, I’ve made it and it is not cooking all the way through. Any advice? I don’t want it to burn but I keep putting it in for 5 minutes, checking, and putting it back in. It has now been in for about 40 minutes. Oven is brand new and at 350.

  26. Hi! Can I use half and half cream instead of heavy cream for this frosting recipe? If so, would I still use 1/3 cup to frost three 8″ cakes? If using the amounts in this recipe, would I have enough frosting to decorate the layers as well as the outside of the cake?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kat! Yes, you can use half and half in the frosting instead, same amount, though we recommend heavy cream for the creamiest frosting. This vanilla buttercream recipe yields enough to frost a 3 layer cake (as pictured). Enjoy!

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