Yellow Sheet Cake

There are certainly times when I want to make a fancier cake with all of the bells and whistles, but sometimes I just want to whip up a traditional, comforting style of cake. That’s when I make this yellow sheet cake.

side view of slice of cake on a white serving plate


 

One of the best things about this cake is its simplicity. It’s not fussy or fancy — but it is moist and delicious, and the perfect base for nearly any frosting flavor. We all know I am a lazy baker so for something to be good enough to make from scratch… you know it is tasty!

As for the topping, I’m partial to chocolate buttercream frosting — it reminds me of a classic birthday cake. I’ve actually made it for plenty of birthdays, but even when it’s not for a celebration, I’m still half-tempted to put a few candles in it.

Why Make Yellow Sheet Cake From Scratch?

There are plenty of reasons to fall in love with this classic cake.

  • Easy – The ingredients are simple and the steps to incorporate them all are straightforward. It isn’t much more work than a box mix.
  • Traditional – This traditional cake is easy for everyone to love, no matter what event or celebration you take it to; mother’s day, birthday cake, random Sunday.
  • Customizable – While you may not want to change up the recipe itself too much, once it’s baked it’s a perfect blank canvas for your creativity. You can choose any flavor frosting or glaze and you can decorate it as simply or ornately as you like. You can even make it a snack cake with a light powdered sugar dusting.
  • Affordable – Many of the ingredients are staples you likely already have in your fridge or pantry. So, you don’t have to drop a lot of dough to make this cake.

Ingredients

This homemade cake doesn’t require a long list of ingredients, mostly pantry staples, and it comes together so quickly.

  • Large eggs plus egg yolks – This cake gets its beautiful shade of yellow from the butter but also from the extra egg yolks as well so be sure not to skimp by skipping the extra yolks.
  • Buttermilk – Buttermilk adds a touch of tanginess to the cake.
  • Vanilla extract – Vanilla balances the ingredients and highlights their flavor.
  • Bleached cake flour – While all-purpose flour is great for making dough for breads or pizza crust, or for when you’re baking cookies, its gluten content makes it less ideal for cakes. Instead, use cake flour which has a lower level of gluten that makes for a softer texture in this cake.
  • Sugar – Granulated sugar is perfect for baking since it dissolves so quickly when it’s mixed with wet ingredients.
  • Baking powder – This leavening agent will help the cake to rise.
  • Baking soda – This recipe calls for both baking powder and baking soda so be sure to use both — it affects the way that the cake rises as well as its color.
  • Fine sea salt – Just a bit of sea salt helps to balance out all of the flavors. It also enhances the sweetness of the sugar and the tang of the buttermilk.
  • Unsalted butter – Since the cake gets its color from the yolks and the butter, be sure to use high quality yellow European butter for the best results. Also be sure to soften (but not melt) the butter prior to mixing the batter.
  • Vegetable oil – While butter is one of the fats that is necessary to make this cake, oil is crucial, too. While butter provides some necessary fat, its role in this cake is more involved with imparting buttery flavor while the oil is used to make it more moist.
overhead square slice of cake with chocolate fudge frosting

How To Make Yellow Sheet Cake

Make sure to use the reverse creaming method of adding the wet ingredients and fats to the mixed dry ingredients. This better ensures that the flour mixture is moistened throughout resulting in a moist, delicious cake.

  1. Wet Ingredients. Add the whole eggs, yolks, buttermilk, and vanilla to the medium mixing bowl. Whisk together the ingredients until combined. 
  2. Dry Ingredients. Add dry ingredients to a separate bowl of a stand mixer. On low speed, mix the ingredients together until they are evenly dispersed.
  3. Add Fats. Slowly add the butter and oil while continuing to mix. Then, gradually turn the mixer to medium-high speed, incorporating all ingredients completely. 
  4. Mix Well. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue to mix. Don’t shy away from mixing for the recommended amount of time — since cake flour is being used instead of all purpose flour, there is little chance of the cake ending up too dense.
  5. Transfer to Pan. When the cake batter is ready, pour it into a prepared pan sprayed with cooking spray. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to get all of the batter into the cake pan.
  6. Release Air Bubbles. Gently tap the pan several times to ensure that any air bubbles in the batter are released.
  7. Bake. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  8. Cool and Frost. Place the cake on a wire rack to cool. Once the cake cools, frost it or store it — it’s important to make sure the cake is completely cooled to ensure that your frosting doesn’t melt.
bite missing from a piece of cake with fudge frosting

Variations 

Since baking a perfectly moist cake does require some precision in terms of ingredients and techniques, you probably don’t want to stray too far from this standard recipe. But there are a few things that you can switch up.

  • Extracts – If you’re looking for a different flavor, swap out some or all of the vanilla extract for another flavor — almond extract works well. Do be mindful that if you use an extract that has color it will affect the color of the finished cake. 
  • Applesauce – Applesauce is an option that you can swap in to replace some or all of the oil.
  • Simple syrup – To keep your cake from drying out, once it has finished baking you can brush a slight bit of simple syrup over the top. This is a great trick for when you’ve baked a cake a couple days before you intend to serve it — just don’t overdo it.
  • Topping  – Instead of the classic frosting, you can make a glaze or a whipped cream-based topping. You can even just dust it with powdered sugar for a simple presentation.
  • Cupcakes – Instead of a full sheet cake you can make yellow cupcakes.

Storage, Make Ahead and Freezing

While you may be able to leave this cake out at room temperature you’ll likely find that it stays fresh for a longer period of time if you refrigerate it. You can also freeze cake, either frosted or unfrosted.

How Far In Advance Can I Bake a Cake?

You can make this cake a day or two ahead of when you’re intending to serve it, however baked goods are more often than not, enjoyed sooner rather than later.

How to Store a Sheet Cake

If you’re storing the entire cake in the refrigerator, just wrap it with aluminum foil or cover it with plastic wrap — it should remain fresh for 4-5 days. You can also store slices in an airtight container.

Cake can be stored covered at room temperture, but will start to dry out faster.

Can I Freeze Cake?

You can freeze individual slices in ziploc bags or wrap the entire cake tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Thaw at room temperture.

If freezing the whole cake, wait to frost it until after defrosted. If storing individual slices, frosting should be fine.

fork in a slice of yellow cake

More Easy Cakes and Cupcakes

We love easy dessert recipes, here are a few more simple cakes to add to your recipe box.

sliced butter cake on a platter with blue linens

Gooey Butter Cake

4.82 from 11 votes
With lots of rich, buttery flavor, this EASY Gooey Butter Cake recipe is the best! The butter sauce really sends it over the top!
See The Recipe!
overhead of lemon blueberry cake on a wire cooling rack with fresh blueberries and lemon zest

Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake Recipe

5 from 7 votes
With flavors of juicy blueberries and lemon, this Lemon Blueberry Cake is made in a bundt pan for an EASY spring dessert!
See The Recipe!
straight on shot of peach dump cake topped with ice cream

Peach Dump Cake Recipe

4.79 from 14 votes
Quick and easy, this peach dump cake recipe uses only 4 ingredients and is ready in 40 minutes using zero mixing bowls.
See The Recipe!
side view of slice of cake on a white serving plate

Yellow Sheet Cake Recipe

5 from 6 votes
With simple pantry ingredients, you can make this classic Yellow Sheet Cake, perfect for any occasion! Great for birthdays, too!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Cooling: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack to the center of the oven. Spray a 9×13 baking dish liberally and then flour, tapping out excess. Set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, buttermilk and vanilla, approximately 1 minute. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt, mixing on low for 30 seconds.
  • Add the butter and oil, slowly increasing speed and mixing for about 1 minute. Slowly add the liquid mixture while still blending until no dry spots appear. Stop and scrape down the sides and then beat for an additional 3 minutes on medium speed.
  • Pour into the prepared cake pan, tapping several times to release air bubbles.
  • Bake for 28-32 minutes or until the cake passes the toothpick test. Cool fully on a wire rack.

Nutrition

Calories: 375 kcal, Carbohydrates: 47 g, Protein: 5 g, Fat: 19 g, Saturated Fat: 7 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g, Trans Fat: 0.4 g, Cholesterol: 76 mg, Sodium: 197 mg, Potassium: 62 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 30 g, Vitamin A: 329 IU, Calcium: 50 mg, Iron: 1 mg
Calories: 375
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade yellow cake, how to make a yellow cake from scratch, yellow sheet cake
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
collage of yellow sheet cake images for pinterest
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    Love this yellow sheet cake recipe, easy and looks delicious, we love baking cakes and will make this recipe soon. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    This simple and delicious yellow sheet cake with chocolate frosting is perfect for those days you need to serve dessert but don’t want to spend hours on it.

  3. 5 stars
    This was great! You just can’t beat that classic yellow cake with chocolate frosting, and it was big enough to feed a crowd – we loved it!

  4. 5 stars
    This is my new go-to yellow cake recipe! It’s easy to make and works nicely with a variety of frostings – including your chocolate buttercream.