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

463 Comments

  1. I haven’t made this yet but I really appreciate that you included measurements in grams as well, it makes it way easier for me as I live is Australia and our cup measurements are different.
    Thank you! 😀

  2. Hi Sally!!

    I’ve made so many of your recipes and cannot wait to make this cake!! What is the best way to store this cake overnight? I plan on making it tonight and bringing it in tomorrow for a co-worker’s birthday. Should it be refrigerated or stored at room temperature?

    1. Thanks so much Chelsea! If the cake is already assembled, you can cover it as best you can and refrigerate it overnight. Make sure it sits out at room temperature for a little before serving. It tastes best that way 🙂

  3. Hi Sally, 
    My friend wants a funfetti cake for her baby shower it needs to be a two tier cake would this cake be OK to have a second tier?? I usually do a more dense cake for a double tier cake.
    .thanks Nicole 

    1. This cake could hold up a 2nd tier.

  4. HEY!

    GREAT CAKE! I would definitely want on for my b-day 🙂
    which recipe should I use for the cake?

    Thank you 🙂

  5. Can you let me know if this really takes 4 hours to make? I want to try this tonight for a friend’s birthday but am curious as it doesn’t seem to take 4 hours when reading the instructions.

    1. The 4 hours includes the cake fully cooling. 🙂

  6. I made this for my daughter’s 9th birthday party with friends. It was absolutely delicious. Rave reviews from everyone! 

  7. Hi Sally I am going to make your Funfetti layer cake for my daughters birthday and was just wondering if your over temp is for conventional or fan forced?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Katrina! Conventional.

  8. I am a novice baker who seems to have bad luck with cakes. The flavor is spot on. They did not sink. They baked to perfection. The key is measuring as directed, whipping and creaming as directed, and the result is just awesome. Flash freezing them now to frost them. No sinking, no problems. 

  9. Hi Sally – what difference would it make if I use cake flour? Or do you suggest keeping to the all-purpose flour? Thanks as always! Making this tomorrow for my daughter’s birthday party!

    1. Just a slightly lighter crumb– yum! See my recipe not about switching 🙂

  10. Lesly Simmons says:

    I’ve been making your vanilla granola for about a year and my family LOVES IT. Today I decided to try my hand at a birthday cake for my daughter and came across this recipe on Pinterest–looks like another winner!

  11. Made this cake for my daughters birthday. It deflated while cooling and got very dense. Maybe my butter was to soft? Could the egg whites been to warm? Should have let it bake a few more minutes? Pans to close to each other in the oven? So many questions.  I left the egg whites out in a pretty warm kitchen for quite a while. I was disappointed, but the tasted was great, and the cake disappeared even though I cut smaller slices. Everyone commented on how good it was, and I agree the taste was great! Should have bought higher quality jimmies too. I grabbed the first ones I saw at the supermarket.

    Going to try again to see if I can get it to be fluffy. All in all, great taste, looked beautiful on a plate and the birthday girl was thrilled.

  12. Lisa, I have just started baking cakes with damp towels wrapped around the outsides of the pans, and the results are excellent. Flat tops, and nice soft cake edges. Definitely recommend.

  13. Just made this cake again. (First time tasted very good, but got dense while cooling.) this time, I was VERY careful about following all directions. I also scattered the pans and rotated them half way through. But I believe the culprit of the first dense cake was my oven. This time, I tested the temp, and it was a full 25 degrees to cool!!! I upped the temp so I got 350, but it was already about 10 min in. So I left the cakes in a bit longer. 
    Cake turned out so much more fluffy almost perfect, if I had caught the temp problem right away, I’m sure it would have been perfect. I left out the jimmies this time, my daughter invited some friends over and half of the cake is already gone. Even tasted yummier than the first cake, and the first one tasted great!  So fluffy and moist, love this cake! Glad I tried again.

  14. Absolutely delicious cake! I wanted two thick layers, so I decided to divide the batter into two deep 8″ pans.  I’m not sure if I’ll do that again because by the time the middle was cooked, the edges had turned quite brown.  It still tasted delicious, but next time I’ll divide into 3 pans like the recipe states.  

  15. Oh my goodness! I just made this with a gluten free flour blend and coconut milk and it turned out aaah-mazing!!! So light a fluffy, I think I just died and went to heaven. Thank you for this gem!! My three-year-old is in birthday cake heaven <3

  16. Hi Sally! I can never get get the frosting to be so white? Please help, it always has a tint, is there any way to get it to be stark white like in the pictures? Thank you and love your stuff!! xx You are super! 🙂

    1. Hi Dalia! if you use clear vanilla extract (it’s imitation) you can achieve stark white frosting.

  17. Hi Sally~ Is it okay to bake and frost the cake on the same day and leave it out of the fridge overnight to be served the next day? I found that when I put the cake in the fridge after applying sugar water and covering with cling wrap, the cake was slightly dense and a bit dry. So I’m thinking of assembling it without putting it into the fridge.
    Also, great recipe! My family loved it xoxo

    1. That would be fine. Enjoy!

  18. I made this cake at an elevation of 4500 ft and it turned out great!

  19. I made this for our Easter dessert, and I had to tell you how amazing it was! The cakes turned out beautifully! I always get a little nervous with cake recipes, because sometimes cakes sink and sometimes they turn out great, so I always get nervous opening the oven for the first time after they’ve baked. I think the key to a successful cake is great instructions. Yours were SO helpful! I like knowing how long to mix something–the time and the speed. I like having the gram/mL measurements. I love all your tips at the end. I really appreciate clear directions. I used cake flour. The crumb of the cake was perfect–it had a light, fine crumb. The frosting was delish. Although, I measured out 580 grams of powdered sugar, then I sifted it. For kicks and giggles, I decided to measure in 5 cups of the sifted powdered sugar, and once I measured the 5 cups, there was quite a bit left in the bowl, SO, I did not use 580 grams of powdered sugar. I also used my butter vanilla emulsion instead of the vanilla extract, since that emulsion is white, and I could keep that beautiful white frosting. Thanks so much for a great recipe! This is definitely a keeper!

  20. Ida Quarteyson says:

    I love the look of this cake, but my daughter wants a pinata cake for her birthday! I’m therefore hoping to combine the two to make a funfetti pinata cake with white frosting. Would this recipe work for a pinata cake if I increase the quantities to make 4 layers? Or could I add sprinkles to your pinata cake recipe and use the frosting from the funfetti cake? Thanks 🙂

    1. I recommend making the Pinata Cake and adding sprinkles to the batter 🙂

      1. Great- thanks so much for the quick reply.

  21. Georgie-Bea Cook says:

    Hi Sally, thanks so much for this wonderful recipe. I made a raspberry swirl layer cake with this as the basic recipe (omitting the funfetti), and using a skewer to swirl homemade raspberry puree through the batter. It’s totally delicious. This is my new staple vanilla cake for sure – can’t wait to try it with the funfetti too!

    1. That sounds delicious! Did you make raspberry frosting for it?

      1. Georgie-Bea Cook says:

        I certainly did – I used your raspberry frosting recipe, amazing as usual! 🙂

    2. This is exactly what I wanted to do…omit the sprinkles and just use this recipe as a basic vanilla cake. I also make homemade puree and have swirled into white batter for a raspberry marble cake. I need to check out Sally’s raspberry frosting recipe!!

  22. I have been on the hunt for a go to, from scratch, white cake recipe and I think I have found it! I used this recipe last weekend to make red, white and blue cupcakes for our neighborhood block party. I also used your buttercream recipe and LOVED it. The cupcakes turned out denser than I had thought they would (thought it was going to be light and fluffy like a box mix) but not sure if that’s normal or because I had to refrigerate (didn’t want to leave it out since I had already added the egg whites) the batter after mixing it before I baked it. I was in a time crunch and thought I had time to bake it but as usual I didn’t so I stuck it in the fridge and baked it when I got home. When I took it out of the fridge it was hard, like when you refrigerate buttercream for a bit then try and spread it (probably because of all the butter!) but I did a test bake with six cupcakes and it worked so I was happy I didn’t have to remake the whole thing. Next time I’ll definitely give myself enough time to mix and bake all at the same time. Everyone loved the cupcakes too so that’s all that counts! Wish I could add a picture of them to this but I did tag you in my instagram post! 

  23. Hi Sally! Per your usual, this recipe is fantastic! Thank you for the very detailed instructions as well! Turns out I haven’t been creaming my butter and sugar long enough, for years! I’ve never seen the consistency the creamed mixture got with the 5 minutes of mixing. I guess patience is important:) 

    The cake is so delicious that it really doesn’t need the frosting and I’m a frosting girl! My only issue is that I got too lazy to cut parchment for the bottoms of my cake pans so one of my layers got stuck and broke apart when I tried banging it out. Nothing a little frosting surgery can’t fix (I hope!). I learned my lesson 🙂 

  24. Hi, I’d love to bake the funfetti cake for my daughter’s 3rd birthday. She’s asking for a layer cake with one blue, one pink, and one yellow layer. I’ve never used food dye when baking before. Could I add coloring to each layer of this recipe? If so, what kind of coloring do you recommend and how much? She likes pastels. Thank you! 

    1. Absolutely! I recommend americolor gel food coloring and adding 2 drops (or more) depending how bright you want the cakes.

  25. Hey Sally,
    Would this funfetti go well with a buttercream icing? Is that what your icing recipe is like? My son’s first birthday is this week and I’ve never made a cake from scratch (and always used jar frosting) but wanted to attempt #momstatus

    Thoughts??

    1. Yep this is a buttercream-type frosting. Delicious!

  26. Just finished baking the cake…the texture was great nice and fluffy the icing was ok, I will be making it again but I might try a cream cheese frosting instead since I he cake wasn’t super sweet like I thought because of the candies in it. Great recipe though

  27. Hi –
    trying to make this into a sheet cake. Do you think it can be baked in two 9×13 or do i have to alter the recipe?

    1. This will be too much batter for a 9×13. You can use it, however, and only fill he pan halfway. Use the rest for cupcakes if you’d like.

      1. Thanks – I’ll probably do two thinner layers and bake half the batter at a time. Hope you’re feeling well!

      2. I just realized I need a half-sheet or a bit smaller (11×15) cake. Would this recipe fit in that ok?

      3. I haven’t made it in that size pan before but if there is leftover batter you can make a few cupcakes 😉

  28. Let me just start off by saying ommmg this so good!! The frosting literally the the greatest thing I’ve ever eaten I used the clear vanilla extract and this frosting to me tastes just like Costco’s whit sheets cake frosting it’s so good!! The cake is so versatile but you can’t go wrong with sprinkles

  29. If I am wanting to make these cupcakes for 2 different functions on 2 different days, could I make half of the batch, and then refrigerate the batter to make the other half the next day? 

    1. I would make all of the cupcakes and just store the baked cupcakes for a day. Happy baking!

  30. Hey Sally!
    I want to make a 2 layer cake instead of 3. Can you possibly give me the adjusted ingredients? (for my daughter’s 17th birthday on Sunday…she looooves Funfetti cakes!)

    1. For this particular recipe I would make the whole thing and either freeze the third layer or use the extra batter to make some cupcakes 🙂 Using only 2/3 of the ingredients would be too difficult!
      You could also use this recipe for a single layer and just double it: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/03/19/easy-homemade-funfetti-cake/

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