The Best Easy Vanilla Sheet Cake Recipe

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The Best Easy Vanilla Sheet Cake Recipe – a delicious, moist homemade Texas sheet cake – a perfect vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream – from scratch!

sheet cake on a plate with sprinkles and icing
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We add lots of tips in our recipe – so you can make this dish, understand why it works and what each ingredient means to the flavor of a recipe. I also answer questions my friends and family have asked about my recipes, to help home cooks of any skill level better understand the processes we use and why!

Texas style sheet cake on a plate

Easy Vanilla Texas Sheet cake

Leave boxed cake mix behind for this light and fluffy, decadent and delicious, easy to share and serve, and perfect for picnics, parties, or a special weekend treat.

This easy vanilla sheet cake recipe is from-scratch – and great for layer cake, birthday cake, as a party cake, or just an impromptu dessert – plus we’re also sharing tips on how to make a birthday cake funfetti-style cake with different color sprinkles!

We decorated this cake in red, white, and blue for the 4th of July and Memorial Day – but you could change up the sprinkles for any holiday!

We’re not only sharing our recipe for vanilla sheet cake, but we’re also sharing our recipe for vanilla buttercream – this easy cake frosting is simple, delicious, and completely home made.

To see our web story for this recipe, click here.

We hope you love this recipe as much as we do!

sheet cake on a plate

How to Make Vanilla Sheetcake

To make this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • All-purpose Flour: The base of the cake, providing structure and substance.
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda: These are leavening agents that help the cake rise, resulting in a light and fluffy texture.
  • Fine Sea Salt: Salt enhances the flavors of the other ingredients and balances out the sweetness.
  • Unsalted Butter: Adds richness and moisture to the cake. Using unsalted butter allows you to control the amount of salt in the recipe.
  • Granulated Sugar: Provides sweetness and also helps in the browning of the cake.
  • Egg Whites: Contribute to the structure of the cake. Using only the whites (as opposed to whole eggs) results in a lighter, whiter cake.
  • Whole Milk: Adds moisture and helps create a tender crumb in the cake. The fat in the milk also adds to the flavor.
  • Vanilla Extract: Gives the cake a warm, sweet aroma and enhances the flavor of the other ingredients.
  • Sour Cream: Its acidity helps to activate the baking soda, and its creaminess adds moisture and richness to the cake, contributing to a tender crumb.
  • Patriotic Sprinkles: These are mostly for decoration, adding color and a bit of texture. They’re a fun way to theme the cake for patriotic holidays, but can be swapped out for different colors depending on the occasion.
  • Prep. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with baking spray, set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda, set aside.In the body of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar for 3 minutes until light and fluffy, scrape down the sides as needed. Add the egg whites into the mixer in three batches, mixing them in fully before the next addition, scrape down the sides. Slowly stir in the milk and vanilla until smooth.Add half of the flour mixture and mix in until combined. Mix in half of the sour cream until combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and sour cream. Scrape down the sides and stir in the sprinkles. Pour the batter into the baking dish and smooth out the top.
  • Bake. Bake for 35-42 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Cool. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.

How to Make Buttercream Icing

To make homemade buttercream sheet cake icing, we will need the following ingredients:

  • Unsalted Butter: The foundation of buttercream frosting, providing richness, creaminess, and a smooth texture. It’s best to use unsalted butter to control the salt level.
  • Powdered Sugar: Also known as confectioner’s sugar, this adds sweetness and helps thicken the frosting to the right consistency. Its fine texture ensures a smooth, lump-free frosting.
  • Sea Salt: A small pinch helps to balance out the sweetness and enhance the flavors of the other ingredients.
  • Whole Milk: This adds creaminess and helps achieve the right consistency for spreading or piping. The fat in the milk also contributes to the frosting’s overall flavor.
  • Vanilla Extract: This adds depth of flavor and a pleasant aroma to the frosting. It complements the flavors of both the butter and the sugar.
  • Sprinkles (optional): These don’t contribute to the flavor or texture of the frosting, but they add a festive touch and can be used to coordinate with the colors or theme of your cake.

To make icing and ice cake, we will follow this process:

  • While the cake is cooling, make the frosting by placing the butter into a large bowl with an electric hand mixer and whip until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until incorporated. Add the salt, milk, and vanilla, stir it in until combined then whip it on medium-high speed until light and fluffy for 3 minutes.
  • Frost the cake and add more sprinkles if desired, cut and serve.
 red white and blue funfetti sheet cake on a plate

Tips to Perfect Sheetcake & FAQs

Making a sheet cake is super simple – make batter, bake in pan, and then ice – but there are a couple tips and tricks to making perfect moist sheet pan cake every time!

Make a double batch of frosting: This cake frosting is perfect for one sheet cake with a thin layer – if you like thicker layer of frosting, make a 1 1/2 or double batch of buttercream icing.

Separate wet and dry: Separate dry and wet ingredients and be sure to mix following our directions below to keep your cake moist, with a good crumb and even texture.

Don’t overmix: Don’t overwork cake batter, but mix well to prevent any clumps.

9×13 baking dish: Use a 9×13 baking dish – casserole and lasagna dishes work great, you can also make your cake in an aluminum foil baking pan for easy transport/picnic serving!

Cream well: Make sure to cream butter and sugar together completely to smooth!

Use a sifter: Sift dry ingredients for easiest mixing without overworking batter.

Prep pans: Make sure to use prepared pans – grease pan with shortening, use cake release spray (we prefer sprays with flour for the best nonstick) before adding batter.

Let cool completely: Let cool completely before icing – in the pan or on a cooling rack.

Serve from the pan: Cake can be served in the sheet pan for the easiest serving, but can also be served on a platter.

Let edges brown: Let the edges brown and be sure to check the middle of the cake for doneness – nobody wants a runny cake in the middle.

Don’t overstir batter with sprinkles: Stirring cake batter too much or using the wrong kind of sprinkles can make the colors bleed all over your cake – making it grey and clumpy looking. For the best results, be sure to follow our tips below:

Add sprinkles to top after frosting: To keep color from sprinkles bleeding and turning the icing another color, we recommend adding sprinkles to the top after your cake is iced.

Let cake cool before frosting: Cool cake completely before icing to prevent melting.

Smooth icing: Use an offset spatula or a butter knife to smooth icing, but don’t worry too much – sheet cake is supposed to look home-made!

Add sprinkles at end: Add sprinkles at the very end of mixing batter – minimize the amount of time stirring to prevent colors bleeding.

Pick the right kind of sprinkles: to avoid the sprinkles bleeding into the cake I like to use the jimmie style sprinkles. Nonpareil sprinkles are notorious for bleeding color – very minimally stir if using nonpareil.

Recipe FAQs

How long does sheet cake last?

Sheet cake lasts up to three days, covered in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator.

What size cake pan do I use?

If you want to use round pans, you can use two 9″ round cake pans instead of the 9×13 cake pan or sheet pan.

Can I make a layer cake with sheet cake?

You can stack sheet cakes on top of each other to make a layer cake.

Can I freeze sheet cake?

Yes, you can freeze it. Once the icing has set, cut the cake into slices, wrap each slice tightly in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Why is my Texas sheet cake dry?

If your cake turned out dry, it may have been over baked. Be sure to check your cake for doneness a few minutes before the suggested baking time ends.

Can I make my sheet cake in advance?

Yes, in fact, it tastes even better a day after baking as the flavors have time to meld together. Simply cover it tightly and store it at room temperature.

Why is sheet cake sometimes called Texas sheet cake?

The exact origin of the name is unknown, but there are a few theories. Some suggest it’s due to the cake’s large size (like Texas itself!)

picture of sheet cake in a pan

Other Easy Cake Recipes

If you’re looking for even more delicious cake ideas, check out some of our favorite easy cake recipes:

You can also find our complete easy dessert archives here.

picture of red white and blue funfetti sheet cake on a plate

The Best Easy Vanilla Sheet Cake Recipe

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funfetti 4th of july cake iced with buttercream icing and a fork digging in
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The Best Easy Vanilla Sheet Cake Recipe

Easy delicious red white and blue vanilla funfetti sheet cake – perfect for the fourth of July, cookouts, parties, and more!
Course cakes
Cuisine American
Keyword 4th of july, baking, cakes, dessert, sheet cake
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 15
Calories 360kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell

Ingredients

  • For the cake:
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter room temp
  • 1 & ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large egg whites room temp
  • ¾ cup whole milk room temp
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup sour cream room temp
  • ¾ cup patriotic sprinkles
  • For the frosting:
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • More sprinkles for garnish optional

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with baking spray, set aside. 
  • In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda, set aside.
  • In the body of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar for 3 minutes until light and fluffy, scrape down the sides as needed.
  • Add the egg whites into the mixer in three batches, mixing them in fully before the next addition, scrape down the sides.
  • Slowly stir in the milk and vanilla until smooth.
  • Add half of the flour mixture and mix in until combined.
  • Mix in half of the sour cream until combined.
  • Repeat with the remaining flour and sour cream.
  • Scrape down the sides and stir in the sprinkles.
  • Pour the batter into the baking dish and smooth out the top.
  • Bake for 35-42 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  • While the cake is cooling, make the frosting by placing the butter into a large bowl with an electric hand mixer and whip until smooth.
  • Slowly add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until incorporated.
  • Add the salt, milk, and vanilla, stir it in until combined then whip it on medium-high speed until light and fluffy for 3 minutes.
  • Frost the cake and add more sprinkles if desired, cut and serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 360kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 158mg | Sugar: 34g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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