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I use this white cake as the base for many other cake flavors. It’s the PERFECT cake with a soft texture, wonderful vanilla flavor, and tastes incredible with creamy vanilla buttercream on top. Cake flour, egg whites, and sour cream are the secrets to the best texture. This cake recipe is the base for my burnt sugar caramel cake, coconut cake, strawberry cake and pistachio cake, too!

overhead image of white cake with a slice cut topped with vanilla buttercream and sprinkles

Let’s start the day the only way we know how: with a buttery white cake.

Why This is my Best White Cake Recipe

This white cake recipe is adapted from my perfect vanilla cupcakes, a reader favorite. The cake is my definition of *cake perfection* and has become one of the most popular cake recipes on my website. Here’s why:

  • Soft & airy crumb
  • Moist, but not eggy
  • Pure sweet flavor
  • Stick-to-your-fork tender
  • Completely from scratch
  • Easy & approachable recipe

I love this cake so much that I used it as the base for several other cake recipes I have published including espresso chocolate chip cake, pineapple coconut cake, cookies and cream cake, and the others mentioned above. I even reduced the quantity of cake batter down to make the perfect 1 layer pineapple upside down cake.

Slice of white cake on a blue plate

White Cake Success Tips

  1. Cream the Butter: To achieve a good rise, properly cream the butter and sugar together. We have a crutch of baking powder and soda, but the recipe begins with that very first and imperative step: beating the butter and sugar together until creamy.
  2. Egg Whites: Use ONLY egg whites. No yolks. Not only will using only egg whites give us a pristine white cake, it will ensure that the crumb is not weighed down by the fat in egg yolks. Think about it: lighter confections such as marshmallows and angel food cakes only require egg whites. Same story here.
  3. Sour Cream: Sour cream is the cake’s security blanket; it keeps everything moist.
  4. Cake Flour: Cake flour is almost 30x finer than all-purpose flour. Using it is a surefire way to achieve a delicate and delicious texture. It’s sold in the baking aisle and you can use the rest of the box in any of these recipes that use cake flour.
  5. Room Temperature: Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature. When ingredients are the same temperature, they bind together more readily than if you had some cold and some warmer ingredients. Colder ingredients, especially egg whites, will produce a thicker batter and, since it’s cold, will take longer to bake. This changes everything.

To summarize, make sure you’re creaming the butter and sugar together properly, all your ingredients are the same temperature and you use egg whites, sour cream, and cake flour. The result is an ultra-light cake with buttery vanilla flavor, just like the kind you find at a bakery or from a box mix. But it’s all made from scratch in your very own kitchen. ♥

ingredients for my favorite white cake

pouring white cake batter into cake pan

White Cake Decoration

While the ingredients in the cake batter don’t leave any room for substitutions, we can have some fun with a variety of frostings and cake pans. I prefer vanilla frosting, which I include in the recipe below. But I encourage you to play around with chocolate buttercream, rainbow chip frosting, or chocolate cream cheese frosting. For a lighter, less sweet option, I love pairing this cake with whipped cream frosting (pictured below). Each of these frostings are absolutely remarkable on this lovely cake. The vanilla frosting makes a lot, so expect a thick layer between the cakes.

9×13 inch pan: Want to bake a sheet cake instead? Follow my recipe note. A single layer white cake is easier to prepare, decorate, and serve!

white layer cake with vanilla buttercream

slice of white cake with vanilla buttercream and sprinkles on a blue plate

You can also frost this cake with whipped frosting:

cake with whipped frosting and rainbow sprinkles
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slice of white cake with vanilla buttercream and sprinkles on a blue plate

Favorite White Layer Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 24 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: serves 1012 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


This white cake recipe is buttery and moist with the fluffiest crumb and creamiest vanilla buttercream. The tricks are to use cake flour, egg whites, and sour cream.


  • 2 and 1/2 cups (285g) cake flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks; 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120g) sour cream, at room temperature*
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract (yes, Tbsp!)
  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, at room temperature*

Vanilla Frosting

  • 1 and 1/4 cups (2.5 sticks; 287g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 5 cups (600g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (or use clear imitation vanilla extract for stark white frosting)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • sprinkles for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch cake pans.
  2. Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg whites. Beat on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Then beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk until combined. Do not overmix. 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.
  4. Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for around 24-25 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 spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Decorate top of cake with sprinkles, if desired. Slice, serve, enjoy!
  7. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


  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 if you have room in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
  2. Amount of Batter: If it’s helpful for using different size cake pan sizes and conversions, this recipe yields about 7 cups of cake batter.
  3. Whole milk and sour cream are strongly recommended for the best taste and texture. A full fat plain yogurt would work instead, though the cake may not be as light. Same goes with a lower fat milk.
  4. 9×13 inch Pan: Simply pour the batter into a greased and lightly floured 9×13 pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Cupcakes: My vanilla cupcakes recipe is essentially this same recipe, only halved. If you want more cupcakes, you can follow this white cake batter recipe and use the baking instructions for the cupcakes.

Keywords: white cake

Here are my perfect vanilla cupcakes. Today’s white cake is just as soft & fluffy.

Vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting and sprinkles on a purple plate

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. The cake is amazing!! The frosting I made as directed and then added about 1/4 cup fresh strawberry purée. The frosting tasted great but had a strange texture which I believe was my fault. Any advice on adding fruit to frosting in the future!? Thanks for another great recipe

  2. Hi Sally, would like to bake this in 12×18 sheet pan with doubling the recipe. I’m worried that the edges might be too dry while the center is still not fully done. Have you ever tried baking this in a 12×18 sheet pan? Would like to bake it this week for my sons party. Thank you.

    1. Hi Marinelle! We haven’t tested this recipe in a 12×18 pan. You’ll need between 1 and 2 times the recipe to have the correct amount of batter. You can see our post on Cake Pan Sizes and Conversions to find out exactly how to calculate the square inches for a pan and then adjust the recipe. Although the easiest thing to do would be to make the recipe twice (for best texture don’t double it) and then fill your pan 2/3 full and use the leftover batter to make some extra cupcakes

  3. Making today! How many grams of egg whites would I use? I have frozen whites left from other baking adventures! Will these whites work?

    1. Hi Karen, using the frozen (and thawed) egg whites shouldn’t be a problem. Egg whites can vary, but a large egg white is usually about 30 grams, so you’ll need about 150 grams of egg whites for this recipe. Hope you enjoy the cake!

  4. I know you said you would not substitute anything in the batter, but I noticed on the vanilla cake you couple sub the heavy whipping cream for whole milk. Could you do the same for this one?

    1. Hi Nicole! Are you referring to the heavy cream in the buttercream recipe? Yes, whole milk can be used in the place of heavy cream if desired. Enjoy!

  5. Hi Sally, I halved the recipe to make a test cake and baked it in one 8 inch pan. It came out really tasty but it’s not very thick, so it doesn’t look like your picture. Are there some troubleshooting steps you might have so I can make sure I’m following directions correctly? Or is it just because the ratios were off?

    1. Hi Lynn, we’re happy to help troubleshoot. We’re your baking powder and baking soda fresh? Even if not technically expired, we find they lose their strength after about 3 months. That could be contributing to the lack of rise in your cake layer. How was the texture? Since yours was made in an 8 inch pan, the layers should be a bit thicker and therefore would take a few minutes longer to cook. If it was somewhat dense and squat, it’s possible the cake needed a bit more time in the oven, which would also help with the rising. Hope this is helpful!

  6. Hi,
    Love your recipes. Your salted caramel sauce is my all time favorite and to go recipe every time.
    This cake recipe measurements, Can I use it in one 9 inch springform tin? or will the batter be in excess for the said tin size?
    Thank you in advance 🙂

    1. Hi Piya, this will be too much batter for a single 9 inch round pan. You can halve the recipe for only one layer, or you can bake the two layers separately, leaving the excess batter covered with a clean towel at room temperature while the first layer is baking. Once that layer is baked and cooled, remove from the pan and bake the remainder of the batter. Hope this helps!

    2. Do you know if you could you use plain Greek yogurt instead of the sour cream and get the same results?

  7. Hi Sally,

    I have just baked and made this white cake, it’s a great recipe, and my family are enjoying this cake! 🙂

    My white cake have come out a little on the dense side. I have been reading some of the reviews and your comments here. I used two 8 inch cake tins (the internal dimensions were a little smaller than 8 inch), why does a smaller cake tin require longer baking time, and not shorter?
    Also on the recipe, after the stage where you beat the egg whites into the mixture, should we fold the dry ingredients in instead of putting the mixer on low speed? Would it not break the air bubbles in the beaten egg whites?
    I may also have used a bit more sour cream than what you have listed, as it wasn’t so easy to measure, would too much sour cream be the cause of the denseness too? I also used slightly less sugar, would this affect the cake too?
    Thanks! 🙂

    1. Hi Karen, happy to help! Cakes bake slower in smaller pans because the layer of cake batter in the pan is thicker. We’ve never had issues mixing too much air out using the mixer, but you can definitely mix by hand if you prefer! Sour cream is definitely a tricky one to measure (you can read about how we measure ingredients like sour cream in this post). Too much wet ingredients will lead to a denser cake. Reducing the sugar will impact the taste, texture, and structure of the cake – we recommend sticking with the recipe for best results. Here’s more tips for baking perfect cakes that may be helpful!

  8. I had made copied this recipe years ago, but just made it again, and remembered how amazing it is. Light and fluffy, but with great body. I used a lemon buttercream with it, and it was fantastic. Thanks for sharing it!

    1. Hi Jen! We’re unsure of the exact thickness, maybe a couple of inches? See recipe notes for 9×13 baking instructions!

  9. This was truly the best vanilla cake ever!!! So moist and pillowy soft with flavor. I cooked it in a 9×13 so I could decorate it as a lego cake. The only thing was that after I added the milk, very slowly, the batter got very separated and clumpy like cottage cheese..
    I decided to bake it anyway and it turned out awesome. I also used plain whole milk yogurt and 2% milk. Thanks Sally and team! Another awesome recipe

    1. Hi Summer, With the proper dowels/supports it should hold up to a 6 inch tier on top. You can see exactly how we support this size tiered cake in the post on Simple Homemade Wedding Cakes. Lemon curd should work just fine as a filling, too.

  10. Hi there!
    Would it be okay to add sprinkles to this cake batter?
    Thank you,
    Izzy 🙂

    1. Hi Izzy, You can fold in 1/2 -2/3 cup of sprinkles (jimmies, not nonpareils) to this batter.

  11. I’m testing this tomorrow for my daughter’s birthday in a few weeks. I want to make 3 layers and cut them in half to put different colored icing between the layers for a rainbow look. Could I bake this in 3 8-inch cake pans? Would I need to increase the recipe? Thanks!

    1. Hi Sarah, For three layers you can use 1.5 times the batter. Or you can use our recipe for Best Vanilla Cake. Using 8 inch pans your layers will be a little bit thicker and may take an extra minute in the oven – use a toothpick to check for doneness.

  12. Hi dear Sally ❤️I’m always one of your fans and I want to try this recipe but couldn’t find cake flour.Can I use home made cake flour with the combination of all purpose flour and cornstarch?Does it work for this recipe?

  13. This is a great base, I decided to add ruby chocolate to the batter (covered in flour so it wouldn’t sink) and matcha to the frosting. It came out so great!

  14. Hi. Is it possible to add some almond extract this recipe along with the vanilla? Thank you

    1. Hi Deborah, Yes! We recommend using 1.5 teaspoons almond extract and 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract. Happy baking!

  15. Can I ask what the purpose of the sour cream is? Also, could I use a box of vanilla pudding in this recipe either with or without the sour cream?

    1. Hi Autumn, the sour cream helps to create a supremely moist cake crumb. We haven’t tried adding a box of vanilla pudding so we’re unsure of what the results would be.

  16. Hi, I’d like to make this cake for my daughter’s birthday next week. I’m in the UK and can’t get cake flour. Can I use plain/all-purpose flour or will the cake go wrong?


  17. Hi,
    Can I reduce the sugar in the cake and the frosting? Can i use this recipe for 8 inches baking tins? Temperature and baking time to remain same for 8 inches? Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks!

    1. Hi Vin, you can use two 8 inch pans instead of 9 inch pans. Bake time may be a minute or two longer — use a toothpick to test for doneness. A slight reduction in sugar is fine, but keep in mind that sugar also plays a role in texture and structure of the cake. We recommend reducing to 1 and 1/4 cups. Likewise with the frosting, you can reduce the confectioners’ sugar, but the sugar helps give the frosting its thickness, so yours may be runnier/thinner without the proper amount of sugar. Hope you enjoy this recipe!

      1. Thanks for your reply! Can I substitute heavy cream in the buttercream frosting with whipping cream? I can’t find any heavy cream, only have normal whipping cream.

  18. Hello! Would I be able to add mini chocolate chips folded into the batter? If so, how much would you suggest?

    1. Hi Cassy, absolutely! 3/4 – 1 cup mini chocolate chips would be plenty.

  19. Absolutely amazing!! So light and fluffy and not overly sweet! By far the best white cake recipe I’ve ever made!!

  20. Hi, if I was to double this recipe, can I make them in the same mixer at the same time, or is it better to do each batch separately?

    1. Hi Suwanee, for best taste and texture, we recommend making two separate batches.

  21. Hi Sally! I love your blog.
    For this recipe, is it possible to add a food coloring to the frosting ?

    1. Thanks Oumy! Yes, you can add food coloring to the frosting. I recommend gel food coloring because liquid could alter the consistency.

  22. Hello. I am looking to make a white cake for my sisters birthday so have reviewed this recipe as well as your best vanilla cake and funfetti layer cake. However I would like to add jam between the layers as well as cream. Can you recommend if this is possible and which cake would work best with jam, as well as roughly how much I should add to compliment the cake?
    Thank you xxx

    1. Hi Sarah! Any of those three cake recipes will work well with jam. We recommend layering it with buttercream to keep it from seeping into the cake layers and making them soggy. Just a thin spread of jam for each layer should do the trick. Let us know how the cake goes!

  23. I have a question. Can I freeze extra batter, and if so what’s the proper way to do it?

    1. Hi Jessy, unfortunately, batter isn’t the best for freezing. Once the leaveners are activated upon mixing, it’s best to bake the layers right away. You can, however, freeze baked cake layers. Hope this helps!

  24. I want to make a double layered funfetti cake using a 9×13 pan. I’ll also be cutting the cake into sections prior to layering to make a flat robot shape. Would adding sprinkles to this recipe be my best bet? Or would you recommend a different base for that? I’m loyal to my Sally’s recipes as they never fail me, so I’m determined to fine one here that will work!! 🙂

    1. Hi Kalee, you can fold in 1/2 -2/3 cup of sprinkles (jimmies, not nonpareils) to this batter for a funfetti cake. Or, you can double this sprinkle cake 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. Hope it’s a hit!

  25. In order to make a 3 layer 10″ cake, what I just doubled the recipe? It sounds delicious. Thank you so much

    1. Hi Joann! Here is everything you need to know about converting recipes to different Cake Pan Sizes. This recipe yields about 7 cups of batter. Happy baking!

  26. What is 5 egg whites in weight? Reason is I am going to buy egg whites in carton rather than break 5 whole eggs. Thanks.

    1. Hi May, Egg whites can vary, but a large egg white is usually about 30 grams, so you’ll need about 150 grams of egg whites for this recipe. Hope you enjoy the cake!

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