The Simplest Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

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This from-scratch Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Buttercream is easy to make and full of the most delicious fresh vanilla flavor. It will quickly become a go-to in your household for any sort of celebration!

Looking for a go-to cake recipe for all of your upcoming special occasions? Look no further than this simple vanilla cake topped with creamy vanilla buttercream. It’s so easy to make, you’ll never think twice about using a boxed mix again. It’s also loaded with fresh vanilla flavor thanks to Sonoma Syrup Co.’s Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush” and Vanilla Bean-Infused Simple Syrup.

Once you master this basic vanilla cake recipe, try jazzing it up with any of my other vanilla-based desserts like this Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze or these Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze.

There’s certainly no shortage of good flavor when high-quality vanilla is involved!


  • It has two different sources of vanilla which make the cake burst with flavor.
  • There are no complicated steps, which makes the cake easy to put together – even for the most novice baker.
  • The high-quality ingredients mean it doesn’t take much to put this thing together.
  • The cake and frosting can be made up to a day in advance. You can also either assemble it in advance OR wait and assemble it right before serving.
  • It’s easily customizable. Feel free to add fresh fruit or decorate your cake to fit whatever occasion you’re celebrating.


The simplicity of this recipe goes right down to the ingredients. By using high-quality vanilla extract and vanilla-infused simple syrup, there’s not much else you need to make such a showstopper of a cake recipe!

The first set of ingredients needed to make a simple vanilla cake.

Vanilla Simple Syrup – This will be used as a final touch to your cake layers after baking and before frosting. You can find Sonoma Syrup Co.’s delicious Vanilla Bean-Infused Simply Syrup here.

Vanilla Extract – You’ll want to use the highest quality vanilla extract you can find. Bonus if it has actual vanilla beans in it like Sonoma Syrup Co.’s version!

Buttermilk – This will add the perfect touch of moistness and tang to your cake.

Eggs & Butter – Make sure both of these are at room temperature before you start mixing your cake batter.

The dry ingredients needed to make Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Buttercream.

Cake Flour – This lower-protein flour keeps the cake light and fluffy. Find it at your local grocery store.

All-Purpose Flour – While the majority of the cake is made with cake flour, a little bit of all-purpose flour adds the perfect touch of density to the cake.

The ingredients needed to make the buttercream frosting for simple vanilla cake.

Butter – Just as with the cake, be sure your butter is at room temperature before making your frosting.

Whole Milk – This will add the perfect creaminess to your buttercream frosting.

Vanilla Extract – Once again, use the highest quality you can find to pack the biggest flavor punch.

Powdered Sugar – This adds the structure and sweetness to your frosting. For the smoothest texture, be sure to sift it before mixing.


While there are quite a few steps to making this recipe, they are all incredibly easy to follow. No tricky techniques to make a basic vanilla cake!

Two greased cake pans lined with parchment paper.

You’ll first want to preheat your oven and prepare your cake pans. Grease two 8-inch round pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Use a pencil and scissors to trace the outline of the pans on the parchment paper before cutting them out so they fit perfectly.

The butter and sugar mixture for vanilla cake in a mixing bowl.,

Next, cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.

The dry ingredients for vanilla cake batter in a mixing bowl.

Then it’s time to whisk together the dry ingredients.

The finished batter for vanilla cake in a mixing bowl.

Finally, add the buttermilk and dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar mixture in two alternating phases – first add half of the dry ingredients, then add half of the buttermilk, and then repeat to finish making the batter.

Vanilla cake batter evenly divided into two prepared cake pans.

Divide the cake batter evenly into the two prepared cake pans and bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of each pan comes out clean.

Two layers of baked vanilla cake cooling on a gold cooling rack.

Once the cake layers are cooling, it’s time to make the frosting!

Vanilla buttercream frosting in a mixing bowl.

Simply mix together all of the frosting ingredients in a mixing bowl, being sure to sift the powdered sugar first so you don’t get any lumps.

Next, you’ll want to even out the tops of your cake layers so they rest nicely on top of each other after frosting. I love my large serrated cake knife for this, but any serrated knife should work.

After you’ve finished evening out the layers, use a pastry brush to brush on the vanilla simple syrup.

A cake layer on a white stand with a serrated knife next to it.

Now you’re ready to frost your cake! First and foremost, be sure your cake is completely cool and your buttercream is at a nice, spreadable temperature before starting the frosting process. If the buttercream has gotten too soft, stick it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to let it harden up a bit again.

Once your cake layers and frosting are at ideal temperatures, start by frosting the top of the bottom layer…Be generous here!

An overhead shot of the frosted bottom layer of a vanilla cake on a white cake stand.

Then place the second layer carefully on top…

Two layers of vanilla cake on a white cakestand.

And frost the top of that before finally frosting the sides.

Finally, decorate the cake however you wish! I used some fresh flowers, but you could also use colored frosting, festive sprinkles or in-season fruit.


How far in advance can I make this recipe?

If you’re willing to freeze the cake layers, you can make them up to a couple of months in advance. Simply follow the instructions up to the point of evening out the layers, wrap them individually in plastic wrap and freeze them in a resealable plastic bag.
If you don’t want to freeze the cake layers, I wouldn’t recommend making the cake more than one day in advance of serving it. Wrap unfrosted cake layers in plastic wrap until you’re ready to frost.
You can make the frosting 1-2 days in advance as well and store it in a covered container in the refrigerator. You will probably want to let it sit out a bit to soften slightly before moving forward with frosting your cake.
Finally, you can make and frost the cake entirely up to one day in advance of serving. Just be sure to keep the finished cake refrigerated due to the buttercream frosting.


Do I have to use the vanilla simple syrup in between the layers?

No, but I highly recommend it for extra vanilla flavor and for keeping the cake extra-moist!


Can I add some other flavors to the cake and frosting?

Sure! In keeping things simple, you could mix some citrus zest into the cake batter and/or the frosting. You could also add things like sliced strawberries or blackberry jam into the frosting filling between the two layers. Finally, add unique flavor to your cake by decorating it with a variety of fruits. Feel like getting creative? Mix and match frosting and cake flavors between some of my other cake recipes on this site, like Pistachio Cake with Dark Chocolate Buttercream or Carrot Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting.


How long can vanilla cake last?

Once made, this vanilla cake is best consumed within 3-5 days. Be sure to keep it covered tightly and in the refrigerator for the longest shelf life.

A slice of vanilla cake on a white plate with bottles and fresh flowers behind.


While baking is certainly the most common way to use vanilla in the kitchen, there are many other uses for the barista, the mixologist and even the savory cook.

Wake up every morning with a tasty Mint Vanilla Cold Brew or a homemade Vanilla Bean Café Latte.

Cap off a long day with a Vanilla Bean Creamsicle or Sparkling Citrus Vanilla Punch cocktail.

Or even use it in your day-to-day cooking like these Lemon Vanilla Buckwheat Pancakes or these Vanilla Buttered Carrots.


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