This homemade Vintage Cherry Chip Layer Cake made from scratch is bursting with sweet cherry flavor and tinted the perfect shade of pink from nothing other than the maraschino cherry juice from the jar! Chopped up maraschino cherries are folded into the batter to make sure the cherry flavor really comes through in this super fun, moist Vintage Cherry Chip Layer Cake that is perfect for almost any celebration!
Table of Contents
- Why we love this Vintage Cherry Cake
- What is Cherry Chip Cake?
- Maraschino Cherry Cake Ingredients
- Cherry Cake Recipe Substitutions and Variations
- How to Make a Cherry Cake
- How to Make Frosting for Cherry Chip Cake
- Serving a Maraschino Cherry Cake
- Cherry Chip Cake Recipe Tips
- Cherry Maraschino Cake Storage
- Cherry Cake Recipe FAQs
- More Cake Recipes You'll Love
- Cherry Chip Cake Recipe
This homemade Cherry Chip Layer Cake made from scratch and topped with bright, beautiful maraschino cherries! Is it retro-modern? Is it vintage? Idk, but it's definitely delicious.
I take my cake baking very seriously and work hard to give you recipes that deliver consistently delicious results. If you love making cake recipes from scratch, be sure not to miss my Best Red Velvet Cake, Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting, or Homemade German Chocolate Cake!
Why we love this Vintage Cherry Cake
There is just something about the pretty pink chiffon color and maraschino cherries that make me think of frothy 1950's prom dresses or something. It fills me with nostalgia for times I don't even remember.
And you just can't eat a slice of this perfectly pink cake with lovely, fun cherry flavor and bits of maraschino cherry throughout and feel anything other than happy.
It makes you feel like a kid again and like you don't have a care in the world because you are eating cherry chip cake, of all things!
It's seriously bliss on a plate and I'm in love.
What is Cherry Chip Cake?
I remember eating cherry chip cake from a Betty Crocker cake mix as a kid, although it seems like it was always overshadowed by the flashier Funfetti mix.
But I have to say that a boxed cherry chip cake has got nothing on this from scratch version. Each bite of this homemade vintage cherry chip layer cake bursts with sweet cherry flavor and is tinted the perfect shade of pink from the maraschino cherry juice from the jar.
Lots of chopped up maraschino cherries are folded into the batter to make sure the cherry flavor really comes through and I love the tiny bit of texture that they add to the super moist, perfect cake.
Maraschino Cherry Cake Ingredients
- Sugar - You'll use granulated sugar for the cake and powdered sugar for the cherry frosting.
- Salted butter
- Vanilla extract
- Sour cream
- Egg & egg whites
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Maraschino cherries - You'll also need the maraschino cherry juice from the jar of cherries, so don't pour it out.
- Shortening - I like using half butter and half shortening in the frosting because it lets the cherry flavor shine through better.
Cherry Cake Recipe Substitutions and Variations
- Add chocolate chips to the cake batter for a cherry chocolate chip cake!
- Try cream cheese frosting, chocolate frosting, or vanilla buttercream frosting in place of the cherry frosting.
- Halve this recipe and use it to make cupcakes.
How to Make a Cherry Cake
- Prep. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper circles and spray with baking spray.
- Cream. Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer for about 5 minutes until fluffy and light. Add sour cream, vanilla, egg, and egg whites and beat well. Stop to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Add remaining ingredients. Alternate adding the flour and baking powder with the milk and reserved cherry juice, mixing on low speed just until everything comes together.
- Stir in maraschino cherries. Add the chopped cherries to the cake batter and stir them in by hand with a rubber spatula until evenly dispersed.
- Bake. Pour the cake batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 24-26 minutes or until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean with just a few crumbs clinging to it.
- Cool completely. Level off the tops of the cakes, if needed.
- Assemble. Place the bottom cake layer on a cake plate and frost with about 1 ½ cups of the frosting. Add the next two layers with frosting between them, then frost the outside of the cake, reserving some of the frosting for piping decorative swirls on top of the cake.
- Decorate. Transfer the remaining frosting to a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip. Pipe swirls or a border around the top of the cake and decorate with additional maraschino cherries.
How to Make Frosting for Cherry Chip Cake
Beat butter and shortening in a large stand mixer for 2-3 minutes until creamy. Add powdered sugar alternately with the maraschino cherry juice, beating well between each addition. Be sure to stop and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
Serving a Maraschino Cherry Cake
The gorgeous, bright maraschino cherries on top of the cake make up for a lot of my shortcoming when it comes to decorating anyway, I think.
Cherry Chip Cake Recipe Tips
Alternate Wet and Dry Ingredients
Lots of cake recipes (this one included) have you to add the wet ingredients like eggs and milk or water or buttermilk and oil (um, basically anything wet) and dry ingredients (typically just the flour and leavening agents like baking soda or baking powder and salt) to the creamed butter and sugar in alternating batches, usually ⅓ to ½ of each at a time. Then you mix well between each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.
And there's a good reason for this seemingly fussy extra task. Adding all the wet ingredients at once can make the batter to separate because it overwhelms the butter and sugar that you just creamed together.
And if you add all of the dry ingredients at once, your batter is likely going to be really thick and the chance that you will over mix the batter go way up, which ultimately results in a tougher cake without the moist, tender crumb that you want in a layer cake.
Instead of dumping all the wet and dry ingredients in at once, it's best to add them alternately, in two or three additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and stirring only until just combined each time.
Cherry Maraschino Cake Storage
Keep the cake covered with a cake dome or with plastic wrap until ready to serve. Store any leftover cake slices in an airtight container on the counter or in the fridge for up to 5 days. If stored in the fridge, let the cake come to room temperature before serving. Cold cake always tastes stale.
You can also freeze the cake layers, cake slices, or the full cake for up to 2 months. Just wrap well in plastic wrap before freezing. Let thaw completely on the counter before serving.
Cherry Cake Recipe FAQs
There are three common culprits behind dry cherry cake. The first is simply over baking the cake, which will dry it out every time. I prefer looking for crumbs on my cake tester rather than a totally clean result so I know the cake is still moist in the middle.
The second reason for dry cake is usually too much flour. If this is a common occurrence, I recommend fluffing the flour first, then spooning it into your measuring cup before leveling it off with a knife to avoid adding too much flour to the cake batter.
A third cause of dry cake is over beating the cake batter, which tends to result in a more dense, drier cake.
The best way is to chop the cherries so the pieces aren't too large. You can also toss them with a tablespoon or two of your flour to help suspend them in the cake batter, but I don't typically find this to be necessary.
You could certainly bake a cake with fresh cherries or tart frozen cherries, but it wouldn't be the same as this maraschino cherry cake. I don't recommend using other cherry options as a substitute for this particular recipe.
The secret to a moist cake is the proper ratio of fat to flour to sugar. Too little sugar and a cake will be dry. Too little butter or oil and you won't have nice moist cake layers.
I also recommend using room temperature ingredients to get the best results so the cake layers bake up even and moist.
More Cake Recipes You'll Love
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Cherry Chip Cake
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup salted butter
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 1 egg
- 4 egg whites
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ cup milk
- ½ cup maraschino cherry juice
- ¾ cup chopped maraschino cherries
- 1 ½ cups salted butter, softened
- 1 ½ cups shortening
- 12 cups powdered sugar
- 5-6 Tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
- Additional maraschino cherries with stems for decorating
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare three 8-inch round cake pans by lining the bottoms with circles of parchment paper and spraying the sides with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix well to combine.
- Add the egg and egg whites in two batches, scraping the sides of the bowl and mixing well between each addition.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the maraschino cherry juice and milk, starting with ⅓ of the dry ingredients, then adding half of the juice and milk, then repeating with another ⅓ of the dry ingredients, followed by the remaining juice and milk, and ending with the final ⅓ of the dry ingredients. Be sure to scrape the bowl between additions, and only mix just until everything is combined without overmixing.
- Stir in the chopped maraschino cherries.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans, then bake for 24 to 26 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out with only a few crumbs.
- Cool completely on a wire rack.
- In a large bowl, combine the butter and shortening and beat on medium speed until smooth.
- Add 4 cups of the powdered sugar and beat well until smooth. Add 3 tablespoons of the maraschino cherry juice and beat again to completely incorporate.
- Repeat with another 4 cups of the powdered sugar, followed by 2 tablespoons of maraschino cherry juice, mixing well between additions.
- Add remaining 4 cups of powdered sugar and mix until smooth, adding an additional tablespoon of cherry juice, if necessary, to make a thick frosting that is just slightly sticky to the touch.
- Level each cooled cake round by slicing off any domed tops.
- Place the bottom layer of cake on a cake plate and carefully spread 1 ½ cups of the frosting over it in an even layer. Repeat with the second layer of cake and another 1 ½ cups of frosting.
- Top with the remaining cake layer and frost the top and sides of the cake with most of the remaining frosting, reserving about 1 cup for piping onto the top of the cake. Decorate with extra maraschino cherries with stems, then slice and serve!
Reader questions and reviews
Thanks for the review, can’t wait to try it. What would you suggest for bake time on cupcakes?
I would recommend sometime between 16-20 minutes for cupcakes.
Hi! I'm excited to make this but was hoping to make it Friday for a Monday occasion. Would it be ok in the fridge or better to try to wait?
Thank you for sharing your recipe! I made this today for my husbands birthday when I couldn't find the cake mix I had. He says it ranks right up there with the favourite pineapple cake his grandma used to make him! The kids love it too so I'm going to have to print it and save it a milliin times to make sure I don't lose it!
How would you recommend I reduce the recipe for a two layer cake or a single layer sheet cake?
I don't think I would mess around with adjusting the ingredient measurements for the smaller sizes. Instead, I would just use any extra batter to make cupcakes that can easily be frozen for a treat another day.
Do you ever separate your egg whites and beat them?
Adding them after your other wet ingredients?
I have never beat the egg whites and then added them. I just add the egg whites with the one whole egg like just like with most other homemade cake recipes after the other wet ingredients.
Can you use butter flavored shortening?
I tried and failed... Could you list measures in gms I tried converting cups into grams as per the standards.
Made this today. Wowsa. Delish, beautiful.
Hi, I am excited to try this recipe! I was wondering if you could substitute oil for the butter in the cake ingredients? If so, how much oil?
Yes, you can substitute an equal amount of oil for butter in this recipe.
I made this today for my 40th birthday. Better than the Betty Crocker mix. I I'm highly impressed with this recipe!!!!!
I know my comment is late as I have gotten really behind with homeschooling during the shelter-in-place, but HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I was born in 1980 too and will celebrate my 40th later this year! So glad you loved this recipe!
I'm so sorry but I was not a fan at all. Did not have much of a cherry flavor. If I choose to make this again I would definitely use grenadine and more of it for a much stronger flavor. The texture was amazing.
Fantastic recipe! After reading some of the comments we were nervous. But my daughter and I followed the directions and created the tastiest and most beautifully pink cupcakes! We baked them for 20 minutes. We did add some almond extract as well as vanilla to the frosting and left out the shortening. Perfection!
Hello! I am looking to make this for my dads birthday, however I only have 9 inch pans. Would this change anything too much?
You might want to just do two thicker layers with 9" pans, or three thinner layers. Either way, just watch your bake time. Two thicker layers will take a bit longer than stated, while three thinner layers will bake a few minutes faster.
Will this make a small sheet cake or will i need to cut the recipe? I'm wanting to make it for my mom it's her absolute favorite cake! Thank you 🙂
Hmm, I haven't tried this one as a sheet cake yet. I'm sure it will work but there might be extra batter. If so, I would just make a few cupcakes with whatever is leftover and throw them in the freezer to have on hand!
Afraid the cake would be too dense without whipping the egg whites separately, I did whip and added the egg whites only at the very end (after alternating dry and wet ingredients) and the result is fantastic : a moist and flavorful (you are right the cherry flavor sets in as the cake cools) and not spongy at all. Made it as cupcakes for myself for mother's day (!) and your estimate of 18 minutes 350 degrees was spot on. Yielded 24. We froze the extra (with icing on for which I replaced shortening by cream cheese - incredible!) and I just had another tonight. Thank you!
Loved it! Reminded me of a neighborhood bakery cake from when I was a kid. I made it as cupcakes to share. Good thing I did or I would have eaten the entire thing. This makes 30 standard cupcakes. Also I cut the frosting in half. So fun!
I’m not sure if anyone else had this problem but mine tasted like it had too much baking powder.
This cake is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! My husband LOVES cherry chip cake and asked that I make one for him. I made it for this past weekend (when I knew I’d see a lot of family who would also enjoy it) and they all raved how good it was. Thanks again!
Hi, I’m from the UK and would love make this cake. I have converted it to grams/oz but I find cups so confusing so I’m worried in case I haven’t converted it properly. Do you have this recipe converted at all. Thanks so much in advance. I cannot wait to make this cake. I’m making it for a 90th birthday party. Thanks Sam
I'm sorry but I haven't converted this one yet. It's something I know I need to work on as I have quite a few readers in the UK who have asked on other recipes as well. It's on my to-do list!
I made this cake with a cherry buttercream frosting over the weekend for my mother in law’s surprise 60th birthday party. She has mentioned in the past that she loved Cherry chip cake growing up and would request it for her birthday. I made both the 3 layer cake and 24 cupcakes (350 for 19 minutes) it all turned out perfect!!! Everyone at the party LOVED it! Thank you for such a fun and nostalgic recipe!
Can I convert this recipe to a sheet cake? Making this for my sons birthday this weekend can’t wait till he try’s it!!!
Hey. What size cake pans do I need? Also what is cups in grams? I’m in the UK 😃
I used 8-inch cake pans for these layers. You can use 9-inch or 6-inch pans, although you will need to adjust your baking time accordingly. And I'm working on converting some of my more popular recipes like this to include grams as well as cups!
Imade this xake for my mther in law. She couldn't find the Betty Crocker box mix...why would she even TRY? I'm a baker...lol. I made this with cherry pie filling between the layers. Heaven! I bet she never buys the bix mix again!
Made this for my son’s 4th birthday party, and it was a huge hit. I added almond extract to the cake batter, instead of vanilla, for an extra cherry flavored punch. Great recipe!
Can I use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream?
I have a question: do you beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, then add them - or are you just adding them straight out of the egg?
I add them straight from the egg. I do not beat them separately first.
My 7 year old son wanted a cherry cake for his birthday. I found this recipe and made it. Very moist cake and very sweet! It is best in small slices, but definitely a treat!
Thank you for this recipe. My daughter LOVES cherry chip cake with cherry icing but has developed an allergy to red dye. I found cherries without red dye to make this recipe and she was so excited. It tastes better the second day!
Hi! I love cherry chip cakes! My mom made a box cherry chip every year for my birthday. I don’t do box cakes, as I enjoy making from scratch. I want to know how I could make this using three 6” pans instead of 8”. Thank you.
I would start checking them around 20-22 minutes and see how they are doing.
I tried this recipe today, the cake part of it. I used natural maraschino cherries and for whatever reason it would not turn pink for me. So that was a little bit of a bummer but it did end up tasting good.
This was fabulous! My husband who doesn’t eat sweets often couldn’t keep away from it!
I made this cake and it was a hit!! So delicious.
I made this cake for a ladies meeting at church and everyone liked it.
This looks absolutely delicious, and I can't wait to try it. A three tiered frosted cake is a work of art, but for those of us who don't have 3 cake pans, is it possible to bake this in a 9 x 13 pan? If so, can you recommend a baking time?
Yes, you can make this in a 9x13 pan! I would probably start checking it around 25 minutes, but it might take up to 40?
This was my favorite birthday cake request when I was a little girl. So happy to have found what I remember as Mom's "Cherry Dream Cake." It's been over 70 years and I can still picture it on the musical cake plate! Thank you Amy!
I'm so glad you found it!
Is there anyway I can make this cake in a 9×9 cake pan. And would i have to cut down on the ingredients to do so .
Yes, I would only do half the recipe if you want to do one 9x9 cake pan.
Hello Amy ,
I made this cake last night and it turned out beautifully. It was lovely texture and easy cake to mix . I only gave 4 stars not 5 simply because I was confused and did not follow the icing recipe as the sugar quantity was super high. I was scared also because of the shortening in the icing never have used before in icing . I was also thinking that ratio of fats in icing ( 3 cups total ) seems super high. Ok I am just saying it freaked me out. I made my own icing and it was still tasty. I love the cake it was delicious and everyone loved it perfect for my Moms 74th birthday party so thank you so much I will make this again and again.
I made this for a coworker's birthday after searching the shelves for a boxed cherry chip cake mix and finding none. It was a huge hit. I made a 9x13 cake and a deep dish 8x8 cake (family was happy there was one for them to eat). They were perfect after 32 minutes bake time. I don't like cherries, but everyone at worked raved about it. It was 3/4 of the way gone by lunchtime! I did cut the frosting recipe in half since I wasn't layering it. I also sprinkled some cherry Jell-o powder in the frosting which everyone said was good.
I like the cherry Jell-o powder idea! That's very creative!
Hi,I made this cake today for my 40th birthday as a nostalgic reminder of the box mix cherry chip cake my mom always made for my birthday as a kid. It was delicious and so full of flavor. I am writing this recipe down because it's a keeper. I'm going to share it with my mom so she can have it too!
Happy belated birthday, Nicolette! So glad you enjoyed this recipe!
Made this cake for my birthday this past week and loved it! My husband already requested I make this for his birthday in June but with double the cherries lol
Amazing, everyone always request I make this cake 🎂 poor Amy has been tagged a thousands times by me on Instagram showing off this cake
How many cups of batter does this cake make?
My pan size is 11x15 I think. Just wondering if I need to double them measure by cups.
I'm not entirely sure since that's not a size I'm very familiar with, but yes, I would probably double the batch, then if you have additional you can just use it for cupcakes.
I need to make it again to double check, but I think it makes 7 cups.
I give the cake 5 stars, but the frosting is what lowered the rating for me. I think the shortening made it taste more artificial and it was harder to work with. I would recommend using a standard buttercream recipe that uses unsalted butter. The cherry flavor would probably stand out more too - I even added another Tbsp and a half of juice to no avail in taste or consistency. I used C&H powdered sugar, Kerrygold butter, and Crisco shortening, so it wasn't that I was using cheaper ingredients either.
Oh I am sorry the frosting didn't work out! I like to use shortening sometimes because it helps the frosting be more stable and easier to work with. It helps the buttercream from melting or getting too soft and gives the frosting a little bit of texture and stability. But feel free to omit the shortening! Just use a regular buttercream! It will still be delicious! I'm glad you liked the cake!
I’ve tried this recipe twice now & it’s flavourful, moist & fluffy but both times I’ve made it it’s been a bit oily. Any thoughts on what may cause this? Thanks!
Is the cake part itself oily or is it once you add the frosting? Some people don't like using shortening in their frosting, so it might be that. You could just replace the shortening with butter and that might help achieve the result you are looking for.
Any time/temp alterations for higher altitude baking? Thanks!
Hi! higher temp, less time is a general standard for high altitude baking. Increase the oven by 15 - 25 degrees and decrease the time by 4 minutes or so. But again, every oven varies so keep an eye on the cakes and you will know when it's done when a cake tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out with only a few crumbs.
Can you use cake flour instead of AP flour?
Yes, that should work just fine!
Delicious! Super moist and very pretty. I baked it off in a 9 x 13 pan, done in about 34 minutes. I only made a third of the frosting, which was a perfect ratio for a sheet cake. I did add 1/2 tsp almond extract to both the cake and the frosting. Hubs has already requested that this recipe be put on the “keepers” list!
This cake turned out phenomenally. It was moist and delicious. The only changes I made were adding cherry chips and cherry flavoring to boost the cherry. 5 days after making this for a birthday party I ate the last slice and it was still very good.