Vanilla sheet cake is the perfect cake to serve for any occasion. The tender, moist cake is topped with a luscious buttercream frosting.

slice of vanilla sheet cake with vanilla frosting sprinkles and white birthday candle

Vanilla cake is a classic crowd pleaser dessert. Tender, sweet and with a deep vanilla flavor, this sheet cake is a reliable dessert for any occasion. Be it birthdays, graduations or baby showers, vanilla sheet cake is just what you need to celebrate.

Why this recipe works: This is a rendition of my ever popular vanilla cupcake recipe. It uses both oil and butter for the ultimate texture and flavor, respectively. A healthy addition of eggs makes the cake tender and rich while the sour cream guarantees a moist cake. Finally, a generous amount of pure vanilla extract provides noticeable taste.

photo collage demonstrating how to make vanilla sheet cake batter in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer
photo collage demonstrating how to make vanilla sheet cake in a mixing bowl and 9x13 cake pan

How to make vanilla sheet cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9×13 cake pan with parchment paper or grease it with magic cake pan release.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, then mix in the oil, sour cream and vanilla.
  4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk, mixing just until combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
  5. Bake cake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with little to no crumbs. Cool cake completely.
  6. Make the buttercream frosting. Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and salt, and mix until well combined. Add the vanilla and milk, then mix again until smooth.
  7. Frost the cake, decorate with sprinkles, cut and serve.

Helpful tips

Cakes are a delicate dessert and require accurate measuring with a kitchen scale. It’s also necessary to bring all ingredients to room temperature to guarantee a silky smooth batter. Use full-fat sour cream and milk for the best flavor and texture in the cake.

When making the batter, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. The addition of the remaining ingredients should only be mixed just until combined. I encourage you to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary for even mixing. Avoid over-mixing, especially when adding the flour and milk. By alternating those two ingredients, you are ensuring the milk is equally absorbed throughout the batter.

vanilla frosting and sprinkles on rectangle cake on parchment paper

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my cake batter look curdled?

This often happens if the ingredients are not truly room temperature so the fats and liquid separate. Give the ingredients time to come to room temperature, about 1 hour, which can vary according to climate.

How can I prevent my cake from doming?

There are plenty of methods to prevent domed cakes. Some bakers say bake at a lower temperature for a longer time, others swear by baking strips.

Can I make this cake in round baking pans?

Yes, however baking times will vary. The batter will fill two 8-inch round baking pans.

How to freeze vanilla cake

Once cake is cooled and frosted, place either the whole cake or individual slices in the freezer for 1 hour so the frosting firms up. Then, wrap the cake (or individual slices) in plastic wrap and again in aluminum foil to prevent freezer butter. Freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before bringing to room temperature and serving.

square slice of vanilla sheet cake with vanilla frosting and bite taken from corner of cake slice

Related recipes

As I mentioned, this recipe is an adaptation of my vanilla cupcakes. They are just as tender and flavorful! I use my buttercream frosting not only on cakes, but also on these sugar cookie bars.

If you are more of a chocoholic, then you have to try this chocolate sheet cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. It is so flavorful and chocolate-y!

vanilla buttercream frosting and sprinkles on top of square vanilla sheet cake slices

As Julia Child once put it, “A party without a cake is simply a meeting.” Whatever the occasion, there’s always a reason to make cake. This vanilla sheet cake will be perfect for your next celebration! If you try the recipe, be sure to leave a review and tag @ifyougiveablondeakitchen on social media.

vanilla sheet cake with square slices cut off the corner of the cake

Vanilla Sheet Cake

Vanilla sheet cake is the perfect cake to serve for any occasion. The tender, moist cake is topped with a luscious buttercream frosting.
5 (5 ratings)

Ingredients

Vanilla Sheet Cake

  • 2 ¾ cups (325 g) cake flour, (see notes)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cup (300 g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (113 g or 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
  • cup (75 g) full-fat sour cream (or plain yogurt), room temperature
  • 1 ½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, room temperature

Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup (226 g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 ½ cups (300 g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
  • Confetti rainbow sprinkles for garnish

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9×13 baking pan or line with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract, sour cream and vegetable oil. It’s okay if the batter looks a little curdled. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary.
  • Gradually add in the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with milk (So it goes flour, milk, flour, milk, flour). Mix until batter is uniform and smooth.
  • Transfer the batter to prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake at 350 F for 30 to 35 minutes. The cake is down when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with little to no crumbs. Place pan on a wire rack and allow cake to cool completely before frosting, about 2 hours.
  • For the frosting, beat butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt, then mix until medium speed until combined. add vanilla and 1 Tablespoon milk. Mix just until combined. Scrape down bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. If a thinner frosting consistency is desired, add another tablespoon of milk.
  • Transfer frosting to cooled cake and spread evenly. Garnish with sprinkles, slice and serve.

Notes

Store vanilla cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Freeze vanilla cake for up to 1 month. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. 
High altitude adjustments (Denver, CO): Use an all purpose flour with high protein content such as King Arthur flour. Decrease baking powder to 1/2 teaspoon. Add 2 extra teaspoons of milk. Baking times may vary. These adjustments will work at an altitude around 5,280 ft.
Recommended tools: kitchen scale, hand mixer or stand mixer, 9×13 cake pan
Serving: 1slice, Calories: 380kcal, Carbohydrates: 43g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 107mg, Potassium: 80mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 31g, Vitamin A: 518IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 41mg, Iron: 1mg

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