Fair warning:  Once you have tried making this Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting you will never be able to go back to a boxed cake mix or canned frosting again. This is the best yellow cake with chocolate buttercream I've ever had and I'm preeeeeetty sure you will agree.

two slices of yellow cake with chocolate frosting below a cakestand of chocolate frosted yellow cake

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Happy 2nd Blogiversary to House of Nash Eats! It's been a big second year of blogging for me and that means it's time to celebrate!

And is there anything more iconic for a celebration than a yellow cake with chocolate frosting? It's pretty much the classic birthday cake, right? With sprinkles and candles?

An image of a yellow cake frosted with chocolate buttercream frosting and sprinkles on a white cake stand.

Except that I always had yellow cake made from a mix when I was growing up, from what I can remember. Which, to be clear, I'm not hating on those and still believe they have a time and a place (like when you are making a gazillion cupcakes for preschool carnivals and such).

Truthfully, I actually loved those yellow cake mixes enough and tried too many disappointingly dry or tasteless yellow cakes made from scratch over the years that I didn't feel a need to say good-bye to my beloved Duncan Hines for a long time.

Except then I finally found the best ever moist chocolate cupcake. And the difference in flavor between those chocolate cupcakes and the ones from a mix was stark and eye-opening.

So I set out to find a classic yellow cake recipe that I could make from scratch that would be superior in both flavor and texture to the best cake mixes out there. And this one definitely delivers on both counts.

An image off two slices of yellow birthday cake with chocolate frosting with a bite taken out of one piece and candles beside it.

I looked at lots and lots of yellow cake recipes before settling on adapting the yellow cupcakes recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction to make this 2-layer yellow cake.

I actually met Sally at a blogging conference last year and she is seriously the nicest, sweetest person and every recipe of hers that I have made has been delicious. One of my favorite things about using her recipe as a starting point was that it only used ingredients I already had on hand.

I adapted and simplified things a bit, and changed some measurements slightly, and I am super, duper happy with the result.

This yellow cake is so moist and tender, while still being super easy for any home baker to make, with ingredients almost everyone already has on hand, without any extra steps.

An image of a slice of yellow cake made from scratch with homemade chocolate buttercream frosting and sprinkles.
An image of the best yellow cake with chocolate frosting pipped on in swirls around the border, then sprinkled with rainbow colored sprinkles and sliced to serve.

How to Make a Yellow Cake From Scratch

Nothing is revolutionary here. This yellow cake recipe has flour, sugar, butter, a little salt, and eggs, with baking powder for a leavening agent, vanilla for flavor, and whole milk as the liquid.

You can sub buttermilk for whole milk as the liquid, but I actually prefer whole milk in yellow cake and buttermilk when making chocolate cake.

The butter and egg yolks are what give this yellow cake it's signature golden color, which is a beautiful, pale buttery yellow.

Other recipes I looked at add two extra egg yolks in an effort to nudge the cake just a shade or two closer to a true yellow, but I am perfectly happy with the simpler approach of using just 3 whole eggs. And in a layer cake like this, I don't actually think you notice a difference in texture or flavor from those two extra yokes.

An image of yellow cake batter in two round 8-inch cake pans.

It DOES make a difference to use room temperature ingredients when baking cakes from scratch.  Using melted butter or cold milk and cold eggs can totally sabotage your efforts at achieving a beautiful, delicious yellow cake.

But other than that important step, this is an easy cake for anybody to make!

  1. To make this cake, start by creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Give it about 2-3 minute in the stand mixer. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, to make sure that everything gets incorporated really well, then mix in the vanilla.
  2. Then alternate adding the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt quickly whisked together) with the milk, mixing after each addition just until combined.
  3. Then just pour the batter into two 8-inch round baking pans and bake at 350 degrees F. for 30-35 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean when you poke it in the middle of the cake.

Be sure to cool the cake completely before attempting to frost it (even though you will be tempted to do otherwise).

Level the top of the individual layers for a nice, clean look to your cake, then frost generously with chocolate buttercream.

Or if chocolate isn't your thing, this homemade rainbow chip frosting is seriously so good, so fun, and easier than you might think to make at home.

An image of layers of yellow cake being frosted with chocolate buttercream frosting.

How to Make Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Making the best chocolate buttercream frosting is easy and it's honestly 1,000x better than the stuff that comes in plastic tubs from the store.

An image of a bowl of chocolate buttercream frosting for yellow cake.

Here's how you do it:

  1. Use a hand mixer to beat the softened butter and cocoa powder together until totally smooth and creamy.
  2. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar and cream, about 1 cup of powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of cream at a time.
  3. Mix in the vanilla extract and a pinch of salt, adjusting the consistency of the frosting by adding more milk or more powdered sugar, if necessary.
An image of two beaters with chocolate buttercream frosting on them.

Use the homemade chocolate frosting to generously frost between the layers, on top, and around the sides of the yellow cake.

You can try for a smooth look and pipe on swirls around the top, like I did here, or go for a more rustic look and simply swirl the frosting on thick with a knife.

Either way, I think sprinkles are totally appropriate for this celebration cake.

An image of a frosted yellow cake with chocolate buttercream and sprinkles.

More of my favorite from-scratch, better than box cake mix recipes you will 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.

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Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

4.93 from 88 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Additional Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 people
Fair warning:  Once you have tried making this Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting, you will never be able to go back to a boxed cake mix or canned frosting again.  This is the best yellow cake with chocolate buttercream I've ever had and I'm preeeeeetty sure you will agree.

Ingredients
  

Yellow Cake

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup salted butter softened to room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 ½ cups salted butter, softened to room temperature 3 sticks
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • cup milk or cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions
 

Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans or line bottoms of each pan with parchment paper circles.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  • In bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times during mixing.
  • Add the eggs to the butter and sugar, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then mix in the vanilla.
  • Add the flour mixture and the milk alternately, about ⅓ of each at a time, mixing between additions just until combined.  
  • Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared round pans, then bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean.  If using larger 9-inch pans, the cakes will be a little thinner and bake in slight less time (around 23-27 minutes), and if making cupcakes, they will bake for 18-21 minutes.  
  • Remove the cakes from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before running a sharp knife around the edges, then gently turning the cakes out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.  
  • Trim the tops of the completely cooled cakes so they are level, then frost with chocolate buttercream and decorate with sprinkles.

Frosting

  • In a large bowl, beat the butter and cocoa powder together until creamy and smooth.  
  • Gradually add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, with 1 tablespoon of the milk or cream at a time, mixing between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add the vanilla and salt and mix well, adjusting the consistency by adding powdered sugar or milk as needed.  Use to frost a 2-layer cake.

Nutrition

Calories: 737kcal | Carbohydrates: 99g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 141mg | Sodium: 570mg | Potassium: 201mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 76g | Vitamin A: 1175IU | Calcium: 110mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. Hi,
    What kind of cream to use for the frosting? Can I use whipping cream? I have 2 packs of unused whipping cream and I thought of making use of it.

    Thanks.

    Regards,
    Genn Lee

    1. Yes, you could use any frosting you like! I don't often use whipping cream to frost cakes, and it wouldn't be stable for very long, but you could certainly use it if you wanted to.

      1. Great! Also, do you prefer cream or milk for the frosting? If cream, would you use heavy whipping cream?

  2. Maybe I did something wrong, but the cake I made today is heavy and dense, not light and moist as I’d expected. I believe I followed the directions, using room temp butter, milk and eggs.
    I’ve baked for many years, but not cakes recently. The idea of a white cake with chocolate frosting was going around in my head for a while and today I did it. But I”m disappointed with the cake. 
    I’ll use a a recipe from a real cookbook next time, I have had better luck with those.

  3. Can some of the milk be substituted for water. What would this do to the cake flavor and texture?

    1. Milk both adds richness and tenderizes baked goods. But I would imagine you could use water instead for this recipe.

  4. The frosting turned out good however, but the cake was way too dry, and dense. I think there was too much salt and rising agent also as it could be tasted. I did everything exactly as described, and I even cooked it for just 25 minutes, it was perfectly light golden brown, and it was just too dry still. I felt that the cake didn't have much flavor either for some reason. I'm not sure what could be changed as I really liked the simple recipe it just needs to be tweaked a bit I think.

  5. So, the first time I tried it, it had a great flavor but was a bit dry. The frosting was amazing and taste like the canned frosting but much better. I made this cake a second time and substituted some butter for oil, 8tbs butter, and 4tbs oil. Amd omg, this time is turned put absolutely perfect, moist, buttery, the icing was great again. Definitely try the substituted oil for butter and you will not be disappointed. On a side note,y over cooks too fast so I turned the temperature down to 325 degrees F, and cooked for 30 minutes, rotating the cake from the bottom rack to the top halfway through.

  6. You had me at salted butter! Can't wait to make this for my dad's 86th birthday on Sunday! The texture and simplicity make it a winner in my book. Looks perfect. Thank you!

  7. This is the best yellow cake recipe I have ever made before! The recipe was super easy to follow and the cake was amazing! I would definitely recommend this recipe if you are looking for an easy and tasty yellow cake recipe.

  8. 4 stars
    I only used the yellow cake part of the recipe, not the frosting. I liked the recipe overall. I made cupcakes instead of a cake. I felt they were a tad dry and could have been a tiny bit sweeter. Like it was missing something. Other cupcakes I’ve made are definitely more moist. It was still really good and what I made with them turned out really well. The recipe was easy to follow. But when I make yellow cupcakes or cake again I might look at another recipe just to see if they could be more moist. I followed the recipe exactly as well.