This is a tall, towering confetti layer cake filled to the brim with rainbow sprinkles and finished off with sweet vanilla buttercream frosting. It’s classic and party-perfect in every way! The recipe has lived on my website since 2014 and has become a popular favorite, even scoring #1 (out of 9!) in a sprinkle cake bake-off. Below you’ll find my detailed recipe, video, and best success tips.
Just Like Box Funfetti Cake
This thick, plush confetti birthday cake is filled with the flavors of childhood party nostalgia: butter, vanilla, sugar, and rainbow sprinkles. Close your eyes and you can practically hear the sound of balloons being blown up and smell the extinguished birthday candles. But this cake shouldn’t be limited to birthday parties—or to childhood! This happy cake is a joy to serve and eat at any celebration. It’s like the boxed Funfetti cake, but better.
Why You’ll Love This Confetti Layer Cake
- From-scratch and loaded with happy colorful sprinkles
- Topped with sweet & creamy classic vanilla buttercream
- Soft crumb from cake flour
- Fluffy from extra egg whites
- Buttery & cakey from creamed butter & sugar
- Stick-to-your-fork moist (without tasting greasy!) from eggs, oil, & buttermilk
- Extra flavor from pure vanilla extract
This towering rainbow delight has been on my site for a number of years, and during that time, I’ve made a couple small updates. This was a great confetti birthday cake recipe before; in fact, it was rated No. 1 (of 9) in the Pancake Princess’ best sprinkle cake bake-off, and came in a close 2nd in the Kitchn’s Funfetti cake bake-off. But with 3 small updates, the cake is now even greater.
From the Kitchn’s review: “This cake was seriously delicious. It had a nice light texture but was still super moist. The vanilla flavor was bold without being overpowering, and the cake was sweet without being cloying. I loved how easy the frosting was to make and appreciated how smoothly it went onto the cake. My only critique is that you have to whip the egg whites in a separate bowl, so it’s a bit tedious, but that’s the only negative I can think of.”
I have some egg-cellent news: that egg-stra step is gone. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
What’s New in This Birthday Cake Recipe?
- Add the egg whites at the same time as the whole eggs: 4 whole eggs provide structure, moisture, and richness. 2 extra egg whites keep the cake lighter. Though whipping the whites separately does assist in preventing a dense cake, in recent testing, I discovered that removing this whipping step can be offset by 2 other changes to keep the batter light. (Both are next.)
- Decrease the butter and add oil: Previously, the recipe called for 1.5 cups of butter (3 sticks, about 345g), but using all creamed butter in a cake can certainly weigh down the crumb. I love using oil in cake recipes because it adds moisture and a delicate texture. And I love using butter in cake recipes because of its unparalleled flavor. Finding the right proportion of each? Now that’s the sweet spot, and I found it by reducing the butter by ¼ cup and adding in ⅓ cup oil in its place.
- Use cake flour: If you want a fluffy and soft bakery-style cake, use cake flour.
After years of testing cake recipes, I’m more confident than ever in this updated version. The cake closely resembles my vanilla cake, but uses a bit less sugar because we’re adding sweet sprinkles.
These Step Photos Will Help
Here is the butter, sugar, and oil mixture. You’ll cream butter and sugar together first, and then mix in the oil. Mixture will be creamy and mostly smooth:
Jimmies-type sprinkles are best for this Funfetti-style homemade cake. Expect a thick batter:
Divide the batter between 3 9-inch cake pans. You can squeeze the cake batter in 3 8-inch cake pans if needed, but be sure to extend the bake time as noted in the recipe. Always line your round pans with parchment paper rounds before adding the batter. Cool baked cakes for 20 minutes in the cake pans, and then remove the warm cakes and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Sprinkle Success Tips
I’ve been baking sprinkles into cake & cupcake batters for years and have learned exactly which sprinkles work, and which don’t. Happy to share my best advice:
- My top sprinkle tip: Do not use nonpareils (the little balls) in cake batter. They will bleed their color as you fold them in, result in a less-than-appetizing-color cake.
- Rainbow sprinkles (aka “jimmies”) sold in the U.S. are intensely colored, but sprinkles sold in other countries may lose their color when baked. “Sugar strands” may be the same shape as jimmies, but they dissolve in the wet batter. For best results, try to use American-style rainbow sprinkles. The pictured cake uses Betty Crocker “Parlor Perfect” rainbow sprinkles. I also really like Canadian-brand Sweetapolita sprinkles.
- Confetti quins (the little discs) are also great to use in a sprinkle birthday cakes & cupcakes. They rarely bleed their color in batter. These shimmery ones hold their color nicely too.
- Naturally colored sprinkles are wonderful as decoration, but—depending on the brand—can lose their color in cake batter.
I use the same frosting as my 3-layer vanilla cake, but add a little more vanilla. It’s basically my vanilla buttercream recipe, only scaled up to yield enough for a tall layer cake. If you prefer chocolate frosting, use the chocolate fudge frosting from my piñata cake recipe. (It’s enough for this size cake.)
For a less sweet frosting option, use this recipe for Swiss meringue buttercream.
Can I tint this frosting? Yes! Feel free to add gel food coloring to the frosting to change its color.
Decorating Success Tip: Add a Crumb Coat
Because it’s so moist, the confetti cake can be a little crumbly when you’re decorating it. I recommend applying a thin crumb coat, which is a layer of frosting around the exterior of the cake to catch any crumbs. The frosting recipe below includes enough frosting for that thin crumb coat, then another thin layer of frosting on top of that. Note that I applied a slightly thicker crumb coat in the video tutorial below. Doesn’t matter either way; you’ll just have less or more frosting for that final frosting layer.
Use a flat icing spatula to spread on the frosting. Icing spatulas are handy if you decorate cakes and cupcakes often. Then you can run a bench scraper around the sides of the cake to smooth out the crumb coat as well as the top layer of frosting. You can watch me use both in the video tutorial below.
Chill the crumb-coated cake for 30 minutes, and then apply the final frosting layer.
Looking for a fun sprinkle cake that requires less effort than a 3-layer cake? Try these recipes:
- 1-Layer Homemade Sprinkle Cake
- 6-Inch Birthday Cake
- 12×17-inch Sprinkle Sheet Cake
- Super-soft Confetti Cupcakes
- Buttery Funfetti Cupcakes
- Prefer cheesecake? Try confetti sprinkle cheesecake!
And here are the best tools for baking & decorating cakes.
Confetti Birthday Cake
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 4 hours (includes chilling & cooling)
- Yield: serves 12-14
- Category: Cake
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Buttery vanilla layer cake filled to the brim with rainbow sprinkles and finished off with sweet vanilla frosting. Pictured cake is 9 inches; for thicker cakes, use 8-inch pans. Review the recipe notes and bring all ingredients to room temperature before you begin.
- 3 and 3/4 cups (443g) cake flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 and 1/4 cups (2.5 sticks; 290g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature*
- 2 large egg whites, at room temperature*
- 3 teaspoons (15ml) pure vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) buttermilk, at room temperature*
- 3/4 cup (135g) rainbow sprinkles*
- 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks; 345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 5 and 1/2 cups (650g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream, at room temperature
- 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
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease three 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper rounds, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans. (If it’s helpful, see this parchment paper rounds for cakes video & post.)
- Make the cake: Whisk the cake 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 and sugar together on high speed for 5 full minutes until completely creamed together and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the oil and beat for 1 minute until combined. Add the eggs, egg whites, and vanilla extract and beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
- Add dry ingredients and buttermilk in three additions, mixing after each addition just until incorporated. Do not over-mix this batter. The batter will be velvety and thick. Gently fold in the sprinkles. Pour and spread the batter evenly into each cake pan.
- Bake for around 25–26 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. (8-inch cakes may take about 27–28 minutes.) Tent the cakes with foil after about 15 minutes to prevent the sides and top from over-browning. 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 in the pans set on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and then remove cakes from pans. Place cakes directly on wire racks to cool completely. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
- 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. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds and then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. Add more confectioners’ sugar if frosting seems too thin; more cream if frosting is too thick; or an extra pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
- Assemble cake + apply crumb coat: 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 one cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Using a large icing spatula or small offset spatula, evenly cover the top with about 1 cup (about 250g) of frosting. Repeat with second cake layer, 1 more cup of frosting, and then the top cake layer. Spread a thin layer of frosting on the top and around the sides as a crumb coat. Run a bench scraper around the cake to smooth out crumb coat. Chill uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours to set the crumb coat.
- Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Garnish with extra sprinkles, if desired.
- Serve cake immediately, or if you need to store it for a few hours, place it in a cake carrier at room temperature for up to 4 hours. For longer storage, refrigerate covered cake for up to 1 day. Cake is best served at room temperature, though, so if it’s been refrigerated, let it sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
- Cover leftover cake tightly and store it in the refrigerator for 5 days. Again, I like using a cake carrier for storing and transporting.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared and then covered and refrigerated overnight. When ready to decorate, let the frosting sit at room temperature to slightly soften for 15 minutes, then give it one more mix with the mixer on medium speed for about 1 minute before frosting cake. (Add a splash of cream to thin out frosting if needed.) See step 10 if you want to store the frosted/decorated cake before serving it. Frosted cake or unfrosted cake layers can be frozen for up to 2–3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before decorating/serving. See how to freeze cakes for detailed instructions.
- 2022 Update: Recipe above was slightly updated in 2022. Old version used to call for 3 sticks (about 345g) of butter and no oil. The slight reduction of butter and added oil makes a moister cake, but feel free to use the old version. Also, the extra egg whites are now added when you add the whole eggs. You used to have to whip them separately until soft peaks form and then fold them in before adding the sprinkles. This step isn’t really necessary because we’re using a little oil and cake flour now. (See next Note.)
- Eggs: 4 whole eggs provide structure, moisture, and richness. 2 extra egg whites keep the cake light. I don’t recommend using 5 whole eggs as a replacement; stick to the 4 eggs + 2 egg whites combination.
- 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.
- Sprinkles: Avoid using sprinkles that will dye your batter. Steer clear from nonpareils, which are the little balls. The pictured cake uses Betty Crocker “Parlor Perfect” rainbow sprinkles, which I find in my regular grocery store. I also like to use these rainbow jimmies or pastel colored quins. Note that naturally colored sprinkles may lose their color in cake batter.
- Chocolate Frosting: Use the frosting from this piñata cake recipe. It makes enough for this size cake.
- Amount of Cake Batter & Other Size Cakes: This recipe yields nearly 8 cups of batter, which is helpful if you need it for different Cake Pan Sizes & Conversions. For a 1-layer cake, 12×17-inch sheet cake, or 6-inch layer cake, see the list of recipe links in the post, above the recipe card. For a 2-layer cake, divide batter between 2 9-inch cake pans instead of 3. (This is too much batter for 2 8-inch pans.) Increase bake time to about 30 minutes and use a toothpick to test for doneness. For a Bundt cake, use a 10–12-cup generously greased Bundt pan and bake for about 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. There is too much batter for a 9×13-inch quarter sheet cake. I have 2 recipes on my website that would work for a 9×13-inch sprinkle cake. You could use this light and fluffy white cake recipe and fold 1/2 cup (about 90g) sprinkles into the batter before pouring into the pan. See those recipe Notes for a 9×13-inch cake. Or you can use this buttery sprinkle sheet cake recipe. See those recipe Notes for a 9×13-inch cake.
- Cupcakes: Use this batter for 3 dozen sprinkle cupcakes. Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full to avoid over-flowing. Or use my confetti sprinkle cupcakes or funfetti cupcakes recipes.
Keywords: confetti birthday cake
Reader Comments & Reviews
Is this icing a good consistency and amount to cover the three layer cake with all over rosettes?
Hi Jenise! This vanilla buttercream will be great for piping rosettes, though rosettes use quite a lot of frosting. You may need multiple batches, but we’re unsure of the exact amount. Let know how it goes!
I have about 40 guests coming to my daughter’s birthday party. Will a 3-layer 9-inch cake cut it? Really didn’t want to make a sheet cake but will if I have to.
Hi, could I use clear imitation vanilla for the base cake recipe? I usually use real vanilla but I see some other recipes calling for it and wondering if I should use for yours too. Thanks!
Hi Nav, yes, you can use imitation vanilla if desired.
I want to make this cake in a 10 inch pan, still with 3 layers. Should i do 1,5 times this recipe or would that be too much?
Hi Anna, you could 1.5x the recipe, fill your pans half way, and then use any leftover batter for a few cupcakes on the side. This cake pan sizes and conversions guide will also be a helpful resource.
Hi Sally! I’m making the cake on Friday, but the party isn’t until Saturday. What is the best way to store the cake so it isn’t too dry the next day? Last time I made a cake it got dry when I put it in the fridge for a day.
Hi Natasha, do you have a round cake carrier or cake box? Those are great for storing cakes in the refrigerator while keeping them fresh!
Love this recipe! Can I convert it into a 3 layer 10inch?? Looking to make it for a big party!
Hi Stef! Here is everything you need to know about converting recipes to different Cake Pan Sizes.
Hi! I am so excited to make this cake! I was wondering, instead of using three 9″ pans, would it be possible to use three 6″ pans to make a smaller cake? Do you happen to know how much I would need to alter the recipe to do this? Thank you!!
Hi Becca! For a three layer 6 inch cake, we actually recommend using our confetti cupcakes batter instead – it makes the perfect amount. You can read more about making 6 inch cakes from cupcake batter in this 6 inch cakes post.
Show stopper! The cake batter was easy to make and the cake itself came out incredible. For the frosting, I copied everything but used about 3.5-4 cups of powdered sugar, only because I ran out, and it was still delicious. I actually think I enjoyed it more less sweet, but that’s just personal preference. I will be making this cake again, such a great recipe and cake. My guests were so impressed!
Just wondering do i have to use egg whites or can i just use the whole egg?
Hi Gabriella, 4 whole eggs provide structure, moisture, and richness. 2 extra egg whites keep the cake light. We don’t recommend using 5 whole eggs as a replacement; stick to the 4 eggs + 2 egg whites combination.
Can I use this recipe (maybe add another half stick of butter) to make a confetti, pinata cake? The recipes are very similar besides the oil, extra egg white, and half stick of butter. Thank you! I love your recipes!
Hi Kate, you can use this recipe to make a piñata cake. No need to change the recipe, you can use it as written. Enjoy!
I just made this a few days ago for the first time. The texture is lovely, and it has just enough sweetness without being overpowering. I made the vanilla buttercream to go with it and the combo was delightful! Plus, it’s just such a cute cake.
I followed the recipe to a T but I found my cakes to be a little thin—maybe an inch fall each. The cake itself isn’t dense or dry, it’s actually very moist so I’m confused. The only thing I can think is that I opened the oven halfway through to rotate and tent… plus I have a gas oven. How tall is this cake supposed to be? Once I put the batter in the 3rd pan I realized I probably could have just done 2 to yield thicker cakes as well. It didn’t go halfway up the pan…
Hi Maria, these layers aren’t particularly tall, but if yours seem a bit squat, make sure your baking powder and baking soda are fresh. We find they start to lose their freshness after 3 months. It sounds like the texture is spot on though! Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try!
Can I make this a chocolate chip cake and if so, how many cups do I add and would extra flour be needed to toss them in beforehand?
Hi Amanda, feel free to swap the sprinkles for the same amount of mini chocolate chips. You can toss them in some flour before adding to the batter to help prevent sinking. Or you can use the cake recipe from our Cookie Monster Cake which uses mini chocolate chips in the batter. (Of course, feel free to decorate it as you wish!)
Absolutely amazing cake, made this one and it is now my wife’s new favourite!
If I am trying to make a 9×13 cake, can 8 cups in this recipe work for that pan?
Thank you 🙂
Hi Kait, see recipe Notes for details about 9×13 confetti cake options — “I have 2 recipes on my website that would work for a 9×13-inch sprinkle cake. You could use this light and fluffy white cake recipe and fold 1/2 cup (about 90g) sprinkles into the batter before pouring into the pan. See those recipe Notes for a 9×13-inch cake. Or you can use this buttery sprinkle sheet cake recipe. See those recipe Notes for a 9×13-inch cake.”
I made this cake last year, as a standard-size *half sheet* cake (12×17, not a *jellyroll* standard-size 10×15). It was perfect, and I don’t think I made any high-altitude adjustments, since it was a thin cake. Because I already know this fits the pan and was a tasty cake, I’m wondering if this recipe is suitable for rolling into a cake roll, or whether you recommend a different confetti recipe to fit into a smaller jellyroll pan. Thank you!
♀️Now that I found the (renamed?) “Sprinkle Sheet Cake,” I’m uncertain which one I used, since that one specifies a half-sheet as the primary option. But my question still stands. Can you advise me on making a cake roll? Thank you!
To make a sprinkle cake roll, we would try using the vanilla cake recipe from this strawberries ‘n cream cake roll, adding sprinkles to the batter. We would try 1/4-1/3 cup sprinkles. Let us know if you give it a go!
I love this recipe, I am just wondering if you’ve made this in a fan oven and if you have any suggestions on timings and temp for one.
Also I would like it to be a bit more vanilla flavour, have you tried with more vanilla?
Hi Leah! We always recommend conventional settings for baking (not convection/fan). The flow of air from convection heat can cause baked goods to rise and bake unevenly and it also pulls moisture out of the oven. If you do use convection/fan settings for baking, lower your temperature by 25 degrees F and keep in mind that things may still take less time to bake. You could increase the vanilla extract a bit if you like. Are you using pure vanilla extract? That will give the cake the best vanilla flavor!
Thank you so much! I now live in the Uk and seems most ovens are fan now. We have a smaller top oven that has the top and bottom setting so could try that. Absolutely finding it hard to navigate the UK ovens.
I think because of how fast they cooked it changed the flavour. Yes it’s pure!
I also struggled to find cake
Flour without it being self raising. So might try this without adding the baking soda and powder. Do you have experience with self raising?
I used a pre sifted plain flour to help, I can also get 00 flour but not sure that’s quite cake flour.
I made this twice and am an experienced baker. Followed the recipe exactly. Cake was dense not fluffy at all. Not sure why. I use all your recipes with success. This one not so much
Hi Mona, Thank you for trying this recipe and sorry it’s giving you trouble. Did you use cake flour? If you used all purpose, make sure you sift the flour before measuring. Sifting is KEY. Otherwise, your cake layers could taste much too dense. Also be sure to only mix the ingredients together until just combined. For more tips you can visit our post on How to prevent a dry or dense cake.
I also found this cake dense, heavy and with an oily texture. It was chewy rather than light. I followed the recipe exactly, including using cake flour and everything at room temperature. I’m wondering if our butter in the UK is richer than that of the US?
Made this for my sons first birthday and it was awesome – thanks so much! Don’t know why mine took about 40 minutes to cook the layers but the cake still turned out great
Quick question, do you know how many cups of batter it makes? I only have two pans, so I have to bake those first before I can do my third. Just trying to determine roughly how to divide it into thirds! Thank you!
Hi Jamie, this recipe yields about 8 cups of batter.
Quick question, I only have two round pans, is it okay if I bake the first two layers, clean the pan, and bake off the third layer or do you think the batter will flatten too much?
I love all your recipes, make them all the time, you’re my #1 go-to, I’m scared to try someone else and have a fail, so I stick with what I know hehe.
Hi Steph, absolutely! Just keep the leftover batter covered at room temperature while waiting for the other layers to bake. Enjoy!
Hello. Just a follow up on the question above. I have just 1 8 inch pan. Can I wait and bake each of the three layers one by one?
Absolutely. Keep the batter at room temperature while you wait for the pan.