As Classic as it gets, this Yellow Sheet Cake recipe is delicious and couldn’t be simpler. While there are many types of frosting to choose from, our two favorites are this rich chocolate cream cheese frosting and cream cheese frosting, both of which can be made in minutes while the cake is cooling.
The cake is tender, moist, and buttery, and the frosting is rich, creamy, and chocolatey; it’s perfect for a special occasion or when you want something tasty and indulgent. In addition, this yellow sheet cake recipe can also be used to make three 9-inch round cakes, 24 cupcakes, or a 13 x 18-inch half-sheet pancake.
- Why we love this Yellow Sheet Cake:
- What is Yellow Sheet Cake?
- Yellow Sheet Cake Ingredients
- Tools you’ll need
- How to Make Yellow Sheet Cake
- How to Make Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
- How to Serve
- How to Store & Re-Heat
- How to Freeze
- Tips for Making The Best Yellow Sheet Cake
- Related Recipes:
- 📖 Recipe
Why we love this Yellow Sheet Cake:
- Simple to make, assemble and decorate.
- Easy to transport and serve.
- Tender and moist.
- Buttery and Flavorful.
- Slathered in a decadent and velvety chocolate cream cheese frosting.
- Adaptable for three 9-inch round cakes, 24 cupcakes, or a 13 x 18-inch half-sheet pancake.
What is Yellow Sheet Cake?
Yellow Sheet Cake is a classic and versatile dessert loved for its tender, moist, buttery texture. It is a simple yet delicious cake made with all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, butter, eggs, buttermilk (or whole milk), and vanilla extract. The cake batter is mixed until smooth and baked in a 9×13-inch pan until golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Once cooled, it can be frosted with various options, such as a rich chocolate cream cheese frosting or cream cheese frosting, which complement the cake beautifully. This yellow sheet cake is perfect for any occasion and can be easily transported and served, making it a delightful treat for gatherings or indulgent moments.
Yellow Sheet Cake Ingredients
Note: The full ingredients list is provided in the recipe card below.
- Flour: All-purpose flour that has been sifted 1× to create a tender crumb.
- Granulated Sugar & Light Brown Sugar: It provides moisture and aeration and enhances color.
- Butter & Oil: I love combining unsalted butter, avocado, or grapeseed oil in my cake recipes. It makes it moist and tastes great, but any neutral-flavored oil will work, or you can use unsalted butter or oil.
- Eggs: It provides structure, moisture, and richness.
- Baking powder: It lends the cake light and fluffy texture.
- Buttermilk or Whole Milk: It adds body and a softer texture to the yellow sheet cake. (See Notes for Buttermilk substitution).
- Kosher Salt: Helps to balance the sweetness.
- Pure vanilla extract: Enhances the flavor.
- Cream Cheese & Unsalted Butter: These ingredients must be at room temperature to blend easily. Doing so will make the resulting frosting smoother and more consistent in texture. Also, for the best result, use full-fat, brick-style cream cheese, preferably Philadelphia Brand. Avoid the cream cheese that comes in a tub.
- Powdered Sugar & Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: I use Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa together to help blend them easily, creating a smooth and consistent chocolate frosting.
- Dry Milk Powder & Light Corn Syrup: These two ingredients are optional but highly recommended. The dry milk powder enhances the frosting flavor and gives a thick and creamy texture, while the light corn syrup provides a glossy appearance.
Tools you’ll need
- Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer
- (1) 9 by 13 nonstick sheet cake pan
- Silicone Spatula
- Mitten Oven
- Liquid Measuring Cups
- Dry Measuring Cups
- Fine-mesh strainer
How to Make Yellow Sheet Cake
Note: The full instructions are provided in the recipe card below.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle. Butter and flour, or use nonstick cooking spray with flour, such as Baker’s Joy, a 9×13-inch ceramic baking pan, or a metal pan. Sift the flour and baking powder to remove lumps in a large bowl. Set aside. Combine the unsalted butter, sugars, oil, pure vanilla, clear vanilla, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
On medium speed, beat until light and fluffy for about 5 minutes; stop and scrape the bowl, and paddle with a rubber spatula as necessary. Add the eggs, beat on medium speed until well combined, about 2 to 3 minutes, and scrape the bowl. On low speed, stream in half of the buttermilk. Increase speed to medium-high and mix for about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined.
Scrape the bowl again, add the remaining flour mixture and remaining buttermilk, and mix just until the batter comes together, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Finish folding the ingredients by hand using a rubber spatula to ensure the batter is well mixed and smooth; there should be no streaks of fat or liquid. Evenly pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake Yellow Sheet Cake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the yellow sheet cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan on a wire rack until completely cool.
How to Make Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of hot milk and let it cool. Sift together the powdered sugar, powdered milk, and cocoa in a large bowl to remove any lumps. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, corn syrup, salt, vanilla, and espresso mixture. Mix on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Gradually add 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa mix, mixing at low speed to combine. Once the confectioners’ sugar and the cocoa mix are mixed in, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes; add 1 tablespoon of milk if needed for desired consistency.
When the Yellow Sheet Cake is completely cool, use an offset spatula to spread the frosting evenly over the top. Then, use the back of a spoon to drag the frosting across the cake straight line from one side to connect to the other. Repeat this process to create lovely rustic lines, wiping the frosting from the spoon after each row.
- Buttermilk: Feel free to substitute the buttermilk for this homemade buttermilk.
- Cream Cheese: Regular cream cheese can be substituted for Neufchatel cheese.
- Avocado Oil: Use any neutral-flavored oil instead of avocado oil.
- Sugar: Feel free to substitute the light brown sugar for granulated sugar.
- Flavor Enhancer: Enhance the flavor by mixing the batter with mix-ins like orange zest or lemon zest,
- Vanilla Bundt Cake: See this Vanilla Bundt Cake recipe.
- Vanilla Cake: See this Vanilla Cake recipe.
- Vanilla Sheet Cake: Check out this Vanilla Sheet Cake recipe.
How to Serve
Once the cake has completely cooled in the pan, gently run a knife around the edges to loosen it from the sides. Carefully invert the pan onto a serving platter or cutting board to release the cake. It should come out easily due to the butter or nonstick spray used to prepare the pan. If desired, you can trim the edges of the cake to create clean, straight lines or leave it as is for a rustic look. Using an offset spatula or a butter knife, spread a generous amount of the chocolate cream cheese frosting or cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. Make sure to cover the entire surface evenly.
For a decorative touch, you can use the back of a spoon to create lines or swirls in the frosting, giving it a rustic appearance. Once frosted, slice the Yellow Sheet Cake into individual servings using a sharp knife. Depending on the occasion, you can cut it into squares, rectangles, or any desired shape. Serve the slices of cake on plates or dessert dishes, and if desired, you can garnish them with fresh berries, sprinkles, or a dusting of powdered sugar. Yellow Sheet Cake is delicious on its own, but you can also serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream for an extra indulgent treat.
Enjoy the cake with family and friends, savoring each bite of its tender and buttery goodness!
How to Store & Re-Heat
To store: The Yellow Sheet Cake, allow it to cool completely and ensure the frosting has set. Then, tightly cover the cake with plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. If the cake is unfrosted, it can also be stored at room temperature in a cool, dry place for 2-3 days.
When ready to reheat, individual slices can be microwaved on a low power setting in short intervals, checking after each interval until desired warmth is achieved. For reheating the whole cake, preheat the oven to a low temperature of around 275°F (135°C), place the cake on a baking sheet, cover it loosely with foil, and heat for about 10-15 minutes or until warmed through.
To reheat: Serve the Yellow Sheet Cake, gently warm individual slices by microwaving them on a low power setting for short intervals, and adjust the time based on your preference. For the whole cake, preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C), cover the cake with foil, and heat it for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through. Once reheated, serve the cake as desired, either on its own or with additional frosting, whipped cream, or ice cream. Remember to monitor the reheating process closely to prevent the cake from drying out, and adjust the time and temperature based on the size and thickness of the cake slices.
You can follow these steps to make the Yellow Sheet Cake ahead of time. Once the cake has completely cooled, tightly wrap it with plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. The frosting can also be prepared in advance and stored separately in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, bring the cake and frosting to room temperature.
If desired, you can re-whip the frosting to restore its creamy consistency. Frost the cake just before serving. This make-ahead option allows you to prepare the Yellow Sheet Cake in advance and assemble it when needed, saving time and ensuring a fresh and delicious treat for your special occasion.
How to Freeze
To freeze the Yellow Sheet Cake, follow these steps. First, ensure that the cake has completely cooled and the frosting has set. Wrap the cake tightly with plastic wrap, ensuring it is fully covered to prevent freezer burn. Then, place the wrapped cake in a freezer-safe bag or container.
Label the package with the date for reference. The cake can be frozen for up to 2-3 months. Remove it from the freezer to thaw the cake and let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, bring the cake to room temperature before serving. Freezing the Yellow Sheet Cake allows for longer storage, making it convenient for future enjoyment or for preparing in advance for special occasions.
Tips for Making The Best Yellow Sheet Cake
- Follow the recipe: Follow the Yellow Sheet Cake recipe directions precisely.
- Measure Properly: Measure the flour by spooning it into the measuring cup, then level it with the back of a knife or use the weight measurements. ( I use a 240 ml Dry Measuring cup, every cup is 125g of flour).
- Use room temperature ingredients: Ensure all your ingredients are at room temperature (this helps ensure everything gets incorporated properly; not doing this can result in poor emulsification).
- Butter and Flour the Pan: Butter a 9 by 13 nonstick sheet cake pan, add a few tablespoons of flour, then shake, turn, and tap the pan so that the flour lightly and evenly coats the bottom and sides. Finally, tap excess flour out of the buttered and floured pan.
- Sift Dry Ingredients: Sift dry ingredients but not sugar to combine and aerate, making a fluffier cake. Then, place it in a fine-mesh strainer over a piece of parchment paper, and shake the strainer until everything’s on the paper: When it’s time to add, pick up the paper and let the ingredients slide out into the mixing bowl. However, if you don’t have one, whisk the dry ingredients for 30 seconds to combine.
- Creaming: Beating the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy creates tiny air pockets in the butter, which helps the cake keep its texture light and rise.
- Beat in Eggs: One at a time, add the eggs, ensuring that they emulsify or blend completely with the butter mixture. Then, if desired, flavor with vanilla extract or other flavorings. It’s easier to incorporate eggs that are at room temperature. To get the eggs to warm up faster. For a few minutes, place them in a bowl of warm water.
- Alternate the Wet and Dry Ingredients: Often, a recipe calls for adding wet and dry ingredients in alternating batches. This helps prevent the gluten in the flour from developing too much, which causes heavier and not-so-fluffy cake. Also, do not overmix — overworking the flour makes for tough results.
- Pour cake batter into prepared pan: Pour the batter into a 9 by 13 nonstick sheet cake pan and smooth the top.
- Bake and Test for Doneness: Insert a wooden skewer or a toothpick into the center of a cake and see if it comes out clean; if it does, the cake is done. You may also notice the yellow sheet cake pulling away from the pan’s sides. When you get more practice, you can tell if the cake is done when you lightly press on the top and feel a slight spring back.
- Cool the Cake: Remove the yellow sheet cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan on a wire rack until completely cool.
Can I Substitute the buttermilk?
Yes, you can substitute it with homemade sour milk or whole milk. However, I recommend using the full-fat kind for the best yellow sheet cake.
Is it possible to make this recipe using only oil?
Yes, if you make the yellow sheet cake, it will be delicious.
What is the secret to making moist yellow sheet cake?
You can do a few things to ensure your yellow sheet cake is moist and delicious. First, use oil or a combination of unsalted butter and oil. These fats help create a moist and tender texture while flavoring the cake. Second, before mixing the batter, be sure to preheat your oven; this will help the cake cook more evenly and prevent it from drying.
Third, don’t overmix the batter – overmixing can result in a tough, dry cake. And finally, use a combination of light or brown sugar and granulated sugar for moisture, depth of flavor, and crisp top.
How do you freeze yellow sheet cake after baking?
Double wrap completely cooled yellow sheet cake with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap and place them in a heavy-duty bag—thaw overnight on the countertop.
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How to Make Yellow Sheet Cake
For the Yellow Sheet Cake:
- 375g (3 cups) all-purpose flour , spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
- 1 cup plus 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoons non aluminum baking powder
- 1 cup buttermilk (See Notes for Buttermilk substitution) or whole milk , at room temperature
- 4 large eggs , at room temperature
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) pure vanilla extract
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) clear vanilla flavor
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 170g (1 stick plus 4 tablespoons) unsalted butter softened at room temperature
- 60 ml ( 1/4 cup / 4 tablespoons) avocado oil, grapeseed oil, or vegetable oil
For the Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 226 g (8 oz) brick-style full fat cream cheese, preferably Philadelphia brand, at room temperature
- 113 g (1 stick or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) pure vanilla extract
- 248 g (2 cups) confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon Dry whole milk such as Nido , optional but highly recommended
- 65 g ½ cup natural cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon espresso powder , optional
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup , optional
- 2 tablespoon whole milk or as needed
For the Yellow Sheet Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Butter and flour, or use nonstick cooking spray with flour, such as Baker's Joy, a 9x13-inch ceramic baking pan, or metal pan. Sift together the flour and baking powder to remove any lumps in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the unsalted butter, sugars, oil, pure vanilla, clear vanilla, and salt. On medium speed, beat until light and fluffy for about 5 minutes, stop and scrape the bowl, and paddle with a rubber spatula as necessary.
- Add the eggs, beat on medium speed until well combined, about 2 to 3 minutes, and scrape the bowl. On low speed, stream in half of the buttermilk. Increase speed to medium-high and mix for about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until combined.
- Scrape the bowl again, add the remaining flour mixture and remaining buttermilk and mix just until the batter comes together, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Finish folding the ingredients by hand using a rubber spatula to ensure the batter is well mixed and smooth; there should be no streaks of fat or liquid.
- Evenly pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake Yellow Sheet Cake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the yellow sheet cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan on a wire rack until completely cool.
For the Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of hot milk and let it cool. Sift together the powdered sugar, powdered milk, and cocoa in a large bowl to remove any lumps. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, corn syrup, salt, vanilla, and espresso mixture. Mix on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Gradually add 2 cups of the confectioners' sugar and cocoa mix, mixing at low speed to combine. Once the confectioners' sugar and the cocoa mix are mixed in, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes; adding 1 tanlespoon of milk if needed for desired consistency.
- When the Yellow Sheet Cake is completely cool, use an offset spatula to spread the frosting evenly over the top. Then, use the back of a spoon to drag the frosting across the cake straight line from one side to connect to the other. Repeat this process to create lovely rustic lines, wiping the frosting from the spoon after each row.
- How to Make Homemade Buttermilk: add 4 teaspoons of fresh lemon, lime, or white distilled vinegar to a glass measuring cup, and add enough milk to make 1 cup of total liquid; stir to combine and let stand for 5 minutes (the mixture will begin to curdle). Then, use as stated in the recipe.
- For thinner frosting, add 1 to 4 tablespoons of milk or evaporated milk.
- Cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to 5 days, making sure to bring the flag cake back to room temperature before serving.
- 1 tablespoon of light corn syrup gives the cream cheese frosting a glossy appearance. You can leave it out if you'd like.
- Use a combination of avocado oil and unsalted butter—for moistness and flavor.
- Don't overdo it when it comes to mixing; mix until just combined.
- Do not overcook them.
- This yellow sheet cake recipe can also be used to make 24 cupcakes (baking time should be between 25 and 30 minutes), two 9-inch round cakes (30 and 35 minutes), or a 13 x 18 inch half sheet pan cake ( 20 and 25 minutes)
All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.