Favorite White Cake

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, 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 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. In a pinch, use this homemade cake flour substitute.
  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 even a chocolate cream cheese frosting. Each frosting is 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

Simple, yet glamorous. Happy baking!

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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 10-12
  • 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) sifted 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. Cake Flour: If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, use this cake flour substitute. I suggest doing this 3x, then remove 1/2 cup since you need 2 and 1/2 cups in this recipe.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

Soft, fluffy, and perfect white layer cake made from scratch!! Get the recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com
Soft, fluffy, and perfect white layer cake made from scratch!! Get the recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com
Soft, fluffy, and perfect white layer cake made from scratch!! Get the recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com


  1. Patricia Pérez says:

    Hi,I’m planning to use two 8 inch pans instead of 9. How long should I bake them for? Thank you

    1. The bake time should be about the same. Enjoy!

  2. Thanks for sharing this recipe Sally! I saw it in your cake email series which I just signed up for and I’m glad you shared it because I’ve been looking for a regular white cake recipe. This one did not disappoint as promised. It is so soft and I used leftover egg yolks to make lemon curd. Very good!

  3. I made this cake and it completely stuck to the bottom of the pans and completely fell apart. I followed the recipe to a T and greased and floured the pan, so I don’t know what happened. Do you have any tips on how to avoid that?

    1. I always use a piece of parchment in the bottom of my cake pans. I lightly spray the pans with baking spray, place a round piece of parchment on the bottom, and then spray again. This guarantees the cakes will come out clean!

  4. Arianna Mabon says:

    I was hoping to get a better measurement and bake time for a 3 tiered cake. Bottom is 8 inch, middle is 6 inch and the top is 4 inch wide. Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Arianna, The 8 inch cake will be about the same as this 9 inch cake. All 6 inch cake layers take about 18-21 minutes and I have not tested a 4 inch cake so I can’t say for sure how long that will take. All of them will still be at 350 degrees.

  5. Chantelle Pretorius says:

    HI Sally, i have a couple of questions – I am reading through the recipe and it says it serves 10 – 12 but it says to use 2x 9-inch pans which offers 24-32 approximate number of servings? I am very new at baking so just want to make sure. Unless is serves 10 – 12 lovely healthy servings? 🙂

    Also do all same size pans e.g. 9 inch pans (round, square, rectangular etc) required the approximate same baking time when using recipes?

    Last Question – If i use the batch in 1 pan as opposed to 2 or 3, how does the baking time work? Does it touble/triple in baking time?


    1. Hi Chantelle! Happy to help. I don’t think a 2 layer 9-inch cake could feed 24-32 people unless the cake slices were incredibly small. I usually get 12 generous servings from a 2 layer 9 inch cake, but feel free to cut the slices as small as you’d like. It’s not the size of the pan that determines the bake time– it’s how much batter is inside/how thick the cake is. This batter will not fit into 1 9-inch pan, but it fits nicely into a 9×13 inch pan, see recipe note. Hope all of this helps!

  6. Hi Sally,

    I made this recently and loved it! I wanted to use it for my birthday cake, would there be enough batter for three 8-inch layers or should I do a 1.5 batch?

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! You can use this for 3 layers keeping in mind they will be slightly thinner and the bake time will be shorter. Or use this recipe for my favorite 3 layer funfetti cake: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/funfetti-layer-cake/

  7. Probably a silly question but could I add some cocoa powder to this to make a chocolate version? I’m making a sheet cake for a birthday that’s half chocolate half vanilla and I’m afraid to use two completely different recipes in fear they won’t rise the same and the cake will be extremely uneven.

  8. Hi Sally,

    Is it possible to make this entire cake without a stand or hand-held mixer (just arm power)?

    1. Hi Natalie, While it’s probably possibly – it is very difficult to properly cream the butter and sugar by hand. It will take a good bit of arm power!

  9. Hi sally i have a few questions im hoping you can answer them all, my family and i
    Love this white cake recipe its so good but i used the 1 1/2 buttermilk instead of 1 cup milk 1/2 sourcream because i dont like to bake with sourcream or yogurt etc. it came out delicious but i am wondering is 1 1/2 buttermilk too much liquid for this recipe? Is it possible for me to leave out the sourcream all together and just use 1 cup buttermilk i dont want to give this recipe up just yet please get back to me with your reply . Thank you!!

    1. Hi Angie, The best way to use buttermilk is to have it replace both the sour cream AND milk in this recipe. Use 1 and 1/2 cups of buttermilk, then leave out the sour cream and whole milk. Use full fat buttermilk for the best results.

  10. Hi Sally,

    I want to make your recipe for my boyfriends birthday, but I only have 1×9″ pan & 1×10″ pan. Should I bake half the batter, let it cool, then bake the other half? Or can I fit it all into the one 9″ or 10″ pan and then just cut it in half for the layers?

    1. Hi Samm, I recommend baking 1 layer at a time in your 9 inch pan. Cover the leftover batter at room temperature until the pan is ready.

      1. Hey Sally, thanks for replying! I had actually gone ahead & tried to bake it all in my one spring-form pan since they’re a bit bigger than your regular round pan & it worked beautifully! took about 45-50min, but, it worked! Your recipe makes an absolutely wonderful cake, i ended up making 2 & cutting them in half to make a 4 layer cake & we finished it in a weekend! Just 4 of us! It was AMAZING

  11. Will this cake recipe taste all right with Italian merengue buttercream? I know this cake calls for more of a classic American buttercream but I’ve always found that too sweet however I wasn’t sure if IMBC is not sweet enough for the cake. Thanks!

    1. Hi Julianna, It’s 100% personal preference which frosting you use! This cake will work with American buttercream as written, or Italian or Swiss meringue as well as a whipped ganache – really anything you can imagine!

  12. Hi Sally! A quick question for you – I have a fan assisted oven, could I make the cake in that? I’d be very grateful if you could help with what the temperature and baking time should be for a fan assisted oven.
    I was also wondering if you might have any recipe for a cream cheese frosting that might work well with this cake (just so it’s a bit healthier for my two year old!) – but please feel free to ignore this if not!

    I’m looking forward to trying this recipe, your website looks amazing:)

    1. Hi Ria, I generally prefer to use the regular conventional settings on my oven when baking cakes, but the general guidelines for convection or fan assisted ovens are to lower the temperature by 25 degrees for baking recipes. Also the bake time could be a bit shorter so be sure to keep en eye on your cakes towards the end of the bake time.
      This is my favorite cream cheese frosting: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/favorite-cream-cheese-frosting/

  13. This by far the best vanilla cake recipe. Very easy to make and taste like it’s fresh from a bakery, except better. I was able to get three six inch rounds with a little left over. Paired with your vanilla icing, it’s amazing! Definitely a recipe you print and put in the recipe box.

  14. I made this for my daughters birthday for tomorrow as a 9×13 and the cake is much thinner than I would have expected. It will be really hard to slice it in half and fill it, which is what I usually do. Do you know what could have happened? I followed every single step and note you had.

    1. Hi Julianna, I’m unsure why this would have turned out so thin! Did you make any ingredient substitutions? How does the texture seem?

      1. No, I didn’t make any substitutions. I realized after I made it that I sifted my flour after measuring. When the cake came out thinner, I started looking through the comments to see if anyone had said something similar and noticed someone asked about when to sift flour. It never occurred to me to sift it before measuring, so perhaps that’s why?

      2. All that being said though, the cake tasted great and the texture seemed fine as well. Although this is my first time using cake flour so I have nothing else to compare it to except a box mix.

  15. Michelle D Brayton says:

    I made this and followed the directions precisely. Room temp ingredients etc. The only difference was cake flour. But I used the cake flour substitute. I ended up with pancakes. I tested my baking soda and baking powder. Both were fine. So frustrating. Going to make cake pops with the disasters I made. They still taste fine.

    1. Michelle D Brayton says:

      After reading the comment above mine, I realize that I also sifted after weighing(measuring). I make a lot of bread and I weigh all of my ingredients so, I am not sure if that was an issue. I subtracted the flour for the replacement of corn starch after weighing and sifting. I then re-sifted so the cornflour was properly mixed in.

  16. Hi Sally, I made this using coconut oil instead of butter and left in the egg yolks and left out the milk. I also reduced the amount of sugar to 200g. The cake turned out so lovely, delicious and definitely sweet enough. Thanks you!

  17. I am planning to use this recipe for a friend’s wedding cake. (I used it for another friend’s cake two years ago). I am trying to calculate how much batter I need for an 8”, 10”, and 12”. Do you happen to know the yield of batter? Or is there a rule for multiplying it for the bigger pans?

    1. Hi Maya, I’m so glad you are using this recipe again! This recipe as written is enough for a 2 layer 8-inch cake. For the larger sizes this is a useful chart that tells you how much batter you will need: https://www.wilton.com/cake-serving-guide/cms-baking-serving-guide.html
      Just remember for the best taste and texture I recommend making this recipe one at a time and not doubling it.

      1. Great! Thank you so much!

  18. Hi Sally! Can I reduce the amount of sugar in this recipe without changing the texture too much? If so, how much would you recommend reducing it by? I’d like to make this for my daughter’s first birthday and would like it to be less sugar.

    1. Hi Meghan! A slight reduction in sugar is just fine, but reducing a lot of the sugar (more than half) will alter the texture of the cake. I recommend reducing to 1 and 1/4 cups.

  19. I am concerned about eggs and dairy sitting out at room temperature and going bad. How long do you recommend these ingredients sit out before baking? Do you have any other tips or recommendations for these ingredients sitting out?

    1. Usually just 1 hour. For eggs, you can place in a cup of warm water for 5-10 minutes and here’s my trick for softening butter quickly.

  20. Thank you for taking the time to reply. 🙂

  21. Do you think this cake would hold up well structurally for cutting and stacking into shapes? Specifically I plan to bake two 9×13 cakes, cut each one into 9 even rectangles, then stack two layers of rectangles per “car” arranged in a line like a train. So only 2 layers tall but cut before layering and frosting, if that makes sense.

    1. That does make sense and sounds SO cute! Yes, I think this cake should be able to be cut into rectangles before decorating. Be sure to share a picture by emailing me or tagging me on social media! 🙂

  22. So delicious!! This will be my go-to white cake going forward; the whole family went nuts for it. Close crumbs and moist while still having a light mouthfeel. I accidentally used 8″ pans instead of 9″ but whacked the temp down to 325 and baked another 15 min and it turned out great!

  23. Hi. I love the sound of your white cake and the vanilla cake, but I have a question. Can you use egg whites from a carton just for the two extra egg whites? I know you can’t do that for an Angel food cake, but is it okay in these two recipes?

    1. Sure can! Use the equivalent of 5 large egg whites.

      1. Thanks! I want to use three eggs plus two egg whites from a carton. Does that work?

      2. Hi Gene, For this cake only use only the egg whites – no yolks! You can use egg whites from a carton if you wish (just be sure they are 100% whites and not a product like Egg Beaters).

  24. Sally, I made this cake and love it but am wondering if you have used this recipe to make cupcakes instead? If so, do you have instructions for filling the pans and how many this recipe would make? Sorry if this is a repeat question but there are so many comments to sift through!

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Erin! My vanilla cupcakes are essentially this same recipe, only halved. If you want more cupcakes, you can follow this white cake batter recipe and use the filling/baking instructions for the cupcakes.

  25. Hello ,
    Could you please suggest if I can convert this cake into half sheet cake (12*17) cake for my sons birthday ?
    I always make it but now need it for a bigger gathering

    1. Hi Kiran, You can use this recipe as a written for a thinner half sheet cake or 1.5x the recipe for the half sheet pan. Doubling the recipe would be too much.

  26. Could I sub in honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar for the granulated sugar? Has anyone tried this?

  27. Thank you for sharing your recipe. I just made it for my granddaughter’s 9th birthday. I actually made 2 because she wanted a soccer field; I made a 9 ×13 and a soccer ball. It took me much longer than 24 min to mix, but it was worth it. I also used the buttercream recipe but used almond instead of vanilla. It was nice and fluffy, but not as moist as my usual recipe, but I liked it and will make it again.

  28. I am so worried! My 5 year old distracted me and I didn’t add the sour cream, milk and vanilla until AFTER I added the flour … please tell me I did not ruin this cake?! I imagine it is still going to have GREAT flavor, but what texture should I expect?

  29. Sheree Edwardson says:

    can you make this a 9 X 13 also? You are the best baker. I have all your books.

    1. Thank you so much, Sheree! You can absolutely make this as a 9×13 cake. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Happy baking!

  30. Sounds great. If I wanted to make smaller 7″ cakes, how many tins would this recipe make? Also, at what temperature and for how long would I need to bake them? Thanks.

    1. Hi, Rhia! You could make about three 7″ cakes, but the layers may be a bit thinner. Same temperature and I’m unsure of the exact bake time – I’d imagine pretty close to this recipe, but I would just keep a close eye on them!

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally