Birthday Cake Recipe

filed under: White Cakes on January 31, 2018

Ever wanted to make the perfect Birthday Cake? I have the recipe for you! Classic yellow cake paired with rich chocolate frosting. You can’t go wrong with this timeless birthday treat!

Birthday Cake

How to Bake the Perfect Birthday Cake

First, you want to start with a great recipe. The yellow cake recipe listed below is a classic, but some folks also like chocolate cake or white cake. Next, pair that classic with the best homemade chocolate buttercream! Once you have made your cake and covered it in buttercream, top with some festive rainbow jimmies. The final touch can be personalizing it with a handwritten “Happy Birthday” or you can also fill the center of the cake with candles. No matter what you decide to do, the birthday boy/girl is sure to love it!

How to Make Birthday Cake

To make this birthday cake you will need:

yellow cake recipe (below)

chocolate buttercream (below)

small offset spatula

piping bag and #32 tip

rainbow jimmies

green buttercream, piping bag, and piping tip #5 for writing a message

Birthday Cake Recipe

Birthday Cake Recipe

When you are creating a cake for someone special on their birthday, you want to make sure the recipe you are using is NO FAIL. This is that recipe! It works every time and tastes amazing! My no-fail Birthday Cake Recipe is perfect for everyone of all ages!

If you happen to watch the video of me making this cake you will see that I did not spend 1 second fussing over perfection.  When I was a child I never noticed things like ripples in the frosting or uneven edges or less-than-perfect writing. All I could see what a cake covered in brightly lit candles being walked slowly towards me as friends and family sang loudly. There is nothing quite as magical as that special moment when you see a cake made just for you!

No one ever wanted to sit back and admire the cake… everyone just wanted to dig in! My mom was never a master cake decorator, but I will never love another cake as much as I loved her birthday cakes, made special for me.

Birthday Cake Recipe Ideas

How to Decorate a Birthday Cake

Birthday cake decorations don’t need to be fancy or over the top! Don’t let the decorating part of making a birthday cake be stressful at all. I used a small offset spatula to spread the frosting on my cake, but you could just as easily use a butter knife.

One fun trick is adding the piped dollops along the edges of the cake. This technique requires no special skills and the supplies are often carried at your local grocery store! Drop the tip in a piping bag (can also use a plastic sandwich bag, just be sure to make a very small hole as plastic bags tend to stretch more) and then add your frosting. The shell border on most birthday cakes is a “swooping” motion. Apply pressure to the piping bag, allow a little frosting to come out, then swoop down. Repeat the around the entire cake on the bottom edge and top edge. (Once you master this technique you can explore new ways to decorate!)

Tips, Tricks, Variations

For this recipe, I like to have my ingredients at room temperature. If that is not possible the cake will still turn out! You just need to make sure you give it enough time in the stand mixer for that the ingredients can fully incorporate and mix together. What if you don’t have a stand mixer? Using a hand-held mixer is a great option. Or maybe you are SuperMom and are using a whisk and some elbow grease! 🙂 No matter what method you use, this sturdy recipe should hold up and still taste delicious.

Ever wondered how to write on a cake? The very best thing you can do it practice. Get a piece of wax or parchment paper and your tip and frosting out. Try writing different words in cursive, block letters, capitols letters, etc. The more you can practice the easier it becomes. Pretty soon everyone will be asking you to make their birthday cake!

Want to make this a smash cake? You can cut the ingredients in half and bake the layers in 6-inch round pans. (Baking times may vary, make sure an inserted toothpick is removed clean) You will end up with a small 2-layer cake perfect for baby’s 1st birthday!

The BEST Birthday Cake!

Popular Birthday Cake Recipes

My newest addition to the search for the PERFECT Birthday Cake… Funfetti Cake!!!

Chocolate Cake

White Cake

White Cake (easy boxed mix version)

Pink Velvet Cake

Ribbons & Rosettes Birthday Cake

4.44 from 32 votes
Happy Birthday Cake
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins

Ever wanted to make the perfect Birthday Cake? I have the recipe for you! Classic yellow cake paired with rich chocolate frosting. You can’t go wrong with this timeless birthday treat!

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: birthday cake
Servings: 12
Author: Amanda Rettke
Yellow Cake
  • ½ cup (1 stick or 113g) butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups (307g) whole milk
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 ¼ cups (281g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, if using table salt use ½ tsp
Chocolate Frosting
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks or 340g) butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups (500g) confectioners sugar
  • ¾ cup (94g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoon (60ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
  • teaspoon kosher salt
Yellow Cake
  1. Place softened butter and granulated sugar into stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add milk, oil, vanilla, and eggs and mix on medium for one minute or until ingredients are fully incorporated.
  3. Place dry ingredients into stand mixer and mix on low until fully combined about 1 minute.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pans 8-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350°F for 18-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for about 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.
Chocolate Frosting
  1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with whisk attachment whisk butter and sugar on medium-high speed until very pale and fluffy or about five minutes.
  2. Be sure to stop at least once and scrape the bowl.
  3. With the mixer off, add cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt.
  4. Turn mixer on low and blend for about 30 seconds.
  5. One tablespoon at a time, add in heavy cream.
  6. Once all cream has been added and the mixture is mostly combined, turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Now turn the mixer onto medium-high to high and whisk for 3-5 minutes or until mixture is lighter and fluffier. The frosting will be shiny and seem to have many large air bubbles throughout and this is exactly what we are going for. (You can smooth those out on the cake if so desired.)

Recipe Video

Perfect birthday cake recipe made of yellow cake and paired with the best homemade chocolate buttercream! Your birthday kid will definitely love it! #birthdaycake #birthday #cake More easy and creative baked desserts on!

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  • Bennie says:

    This recipe was great. I will use it again and again. Light and fluffy cake crumb! Thank you so much!

  • Michelle says:

    I’m trying to make a yellow cake but the size a 9×13 would I use the birthday cake recipe? And would the cook time be different?

  • Billy says:

    If I were to make in 9in rounds instead how would I modify it?

  • Laura says:

    Any cake good to make for type 2 diabetics.i soo miss sweet .

  • Naina Katoch says:

    Hi Amanda,
    Isn’t 31/2 teaspoons of baking powder a bit too much
    for the

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      It’s a big cake!

  • Anthonia says:

    How does one achieve the yellow color.

  • Review says:

    But i have diabetes but still like to read your recipes. Love u

  • Deidre says:

    I just made this cake and frosting today for my son’s 10th birthday! This is my very first time making a round layer cake. It was super easy to put together. Super excited to dig in after dinner. Thanks for sharing all your amazing, yummy recipes!

  • Khush says:

    Hi Amanda,

    I tried birthday cake today. My cake turned out very hard and stiff. Not sure what went wrong. But over all not a very good cake. I baked for my son’s birthday, felt very sad because of the hard cake. I followed every step. Please let me know where did I go wrong.

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      So sorry! That is very disappointing. 🙁 Sounds like it was just overbaked a bit which can happen. Every oven is different, unfortunately.

  • Hilda says:

    Unfortunately, the cake was too dry. Followed the directions as posted. Not sure what went wrong and I did not over bake it either.

  • Denise says:

    So, I tried making this cake using 2 9” cake pans. Thinking it would take less time to bake compared to 8” cake pans, boy was I wrong!!! Now I’m throwing away this cake that didn’t bake enough. I’ll try another recipe now for my husbands birthday today! I baked mine over 25 minutes, so be prepared if you do use 8” pans, there is NO way they will be done in 18-25 minutes!

  • Julia says:

    I loved this cake! My cake turned out super well even though I used 9” rounds instead of 8” (I just kept an eye on them at the end of baking for doneness). The frosting turned out super well too. It was a little sweet for my taste, but that’s not the recipe’s fault plus a lot of my family who ate the cake raves about the frosting. Overall, a great cake and I would definitely make again and recommend!!

  • Carl Brown says:

    looking forward to trying this. i dont bake like i used to when i was in my teens and twenty’s, so now it seems like a chore having to measure so meticulous, i just ant stand as long as i would like to. Thanks for the recipe…

  • Erin says:

    Could you use buttermilk in this recipe?

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Erin! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. We have not tried using buttermilk in this recipe, so I can’t say how it would affect the cake. Let us know, and have a great day!

  • Abigail Wenderson says:

    Wow, such amazing cake, adding this recipe in my favorites.

  • Ann Tanner says:

    I made birthday cake recipe following instructions. It failed. At 25 min it was wet inside. Baked 10 more minutes it stuck to pan. Big waste of ingredients and my time. I’m not a novice baker. I bake homemade cookies and pound cakes regularly. ????

  • Holly says:

    Getting ready to try this s recipe Are there and special directions for high altitude

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Holly! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. Here are some high altitude baking tips that may help. Have a great day!

  • Elissa says:

    Hi Amanda
    Wow if was my first time baking a “practice” caked for my turning 3 ! And it was perfecto!
    My question can I make the base the day before the party without the icing or is it better to make in the day?

    Thank you!!

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      Hi Elissa – you can absolutely make the day before, I just recommend covering the cake in a crumb coat. It locks in the moisture as well as the crumbs. 🙂

  • Teresa says:

    I made this and love the chocolate buttercream icing.
    The cake had a nice flavor also, but seemed a little dry.

  • Elaine DaSilva says:

    I love everything you bake it is truly a blessing and it turned out so good.

  • Sunitha says:

    This is my first attempt at baking. I tried it out and came out perfect. Made the yellow cake and applied nutella on top…yummy😋 Thanks a lot ….Gonna try the lemon pound cake next😘

  • Lamona says:

    Made this cake for my Aunt for her Birthday (last year) and she requested it again this year. Love it quick and easy.

  • Darlene Spencer says:

    Delicious cake! I doubled the recipe and made my granddaughter a triple-layer 9″ unicorn cake.

  • Darr says:

    The cake was perfect and moist. I did bake it for longer, but the texture and taste was phenomenal. I’m going to bake an Easter cake w/the same recipe. Love it!

  • Stephanie says:

    This cake was just okay. I made it twice… once following the instructions and once using the traditional dry-wet-dry addition method. Both times the air bubbles in the crumb were bigger than I like and there was a bit of a rubbery texture. The second cake was better but I still didn’t enjoy the crumb. And I’m no novice, I literally wrote baking & pastry curriculum for an accredited culinary school but I searched online when I discovered that I didn’t have a yellow cake in my repertoire. It’s on my R&D list now, though.

  • I Am Baker Logo

    Brand new recipes that people find kinda acceptable.