Our Best Vanilla Birthday Cake Recipe

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This vanilla birthday cake recipe is simple but delicious. It's perfect for a sweet celebration!

It’s your birthday—so you deserve nothing less than the best. Either that, or you’re baking for someone else’s birthday party, and your guest of honor deserves the best, too! This fluffy vanilla birthday cake recipe is a showstopper when topped with luscious vanilla buttercream and confetti sprinkles.

How to Make a Vanilla Birthday Cake

Ingredients

  • 2-1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons 2% milk
  • Confetti sprinkles

Editor’s Tip: You can set out the butter an hour or two before baking—or soften butter with one of our quick tricks.

Tools You’ll Need

Directions

Step 1: Prep the ingredients

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottoms of two greased 9-in. round baking pans with parchment; then grease the parchment. In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. (Be sure you’re measuring dry ingredients correctly!)

Beat in the softened butter. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in milk and extracts.

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Step 2: Bake the cake

Transfer batter to your prepared pans. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks; remove the parchment paper. Cool completely.

Not allowing a cake to cool is one of the most common cake mistakes, so be patient here.

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Step 3: Make the frosting

To make the vanilla buttercream, beat butter until creamy in a large bowl. The Test Kitchen loves this stand mixer for all things baking, especially tasks like this that would be a workout with a hand mixer. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough milk to achieve your desired consistency.

Step 4: Frost the cake

Use about 3/4 cup of frosting between the layers, then frost the outside of the cake as desired and decorate with confetti sprinkles. You can use our simple cake decorating instructions below, or if you’re feeling ambitious, explore more birthday cake decorating ideas.

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How to Decorate a Vanilla Birthday Cake

Using a small amount of frosting and an offset spatula, give your cake a crumb coat: a thin and even layer of frosting. Let it chill in the fridge about an hour so the frosting can harden.

Next, fold about 1/3 cup of sprinkles into the remaining frosting and apply a generous layer to the tops and sides using an offset spatula. With what’s left of your frosting, fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe a border around the top of the cake.

Decorate with remaining sprinkles and dig in!

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How to Store Your Vanilla Birthday Cake

Keep any leftovers in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap. It should last in the fridge about 3-4 days, but we doubt it will make it that long.

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Sarah Tramonte
Sarah Tramonte tests, styles and photographs recipes for Taste of Home’s digital platforms. You may also recognize her (and her hands) from Taste of Home's social media pages, as she produces of variety of videos. In addition to visual production, she writes articles on food trends and recipe comparisons, among other things. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Art and Design from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and is the author of The Moody Foodie, a self-published cookbook that was the catalyst for her culinary career. Sarah currently lives in Bayview, Milwaukee with her two cats/spoiled roommates, Mochi and Cleo.