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Square side shot of a table full of slices of vanilla buttermilk cake
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5 from 1 vote

One-Bowl Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

This old-fashioned vanilla buttermilk cake requires just one bowl, a whisk, and 10 minutes of prep!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Southern
Keyword buttermilk cake, easy buttermilk cake, vanilla buttermilk cake, vanilla cake
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Cooling Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings 9 slices
Calories 400kcal
Author Blair Lonergan


FOR THE VANILLA FROSTING (enough for the top of one 8-inch or 9-inch cake):

  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) salted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 ½ tablespoons whole buttermilk or heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • Optional garnish: sprinkles


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch or 9-inch square or round cake pan or line with parchment. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the egg, oil, and buttermilk. Whisk to combine.
  • Add the hot water and whisk again until smooth. Add the vanilla extract; whisk to combine. At this point you should have a very thin, smooth batter.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the pan gently on the counter a few times to release any big air bubbles. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool completely before frosting.


  • In a large bowl, beat the butter, buttermilk (or cream), and vanilla extract with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to medium-low, and gradually add the powdered sugar. Beat until smooth, about 4 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 4 more minutes.
  • Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. Garnish with sprinkles, if desired.


  • For a larger cake, double all of the ingredients and bake the cake in a 13 x 9-inch pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  • For a layer cake, double all of the ingredients, and divide the batter evenly between two 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pans.
  • This recipe yields enough frosting for the top of an 8-inch or 9-inch cake. If you'd like to frost the sides of the cake as well, or if you want to bake a larger cake, you'll need to double the frosting ingredients.
  • Frost the cake with buttermilk chocolate icing or a creamy chocolate buttercream frosting. Really, any frosting will work (even store-bought from a can)!
  • Use sprinkles for any occasion -- rainbow sprinkles for a birthday, red and blue for July 4th, red and green for Christmas, and so on. It's a festive cake at every celebration!
  • Fold rainbow sprinkles into the batter for a funfetti cake.
  • Line the cake pan with parchment, allowing some of the parchment paper to hang over the sides, if you'd like to be able to lift the cake out of the pan before frosting and slicing.
  • Use thick, full-fat buttermilk. This adds richness, moisture, and flavor to the cake that you don't get with low-fat varieties.
  • Make sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature. This helps them blend together more easily and smoothly, and helps to avoid over-mixing (which can result in a dry, dense cake).
  • Do not over-bake the cake or it can become dry. Start checking for doneness by the 25-minute mark, since total baking times will vary depending on your personal oven and the pans that you use.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 400kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 334mg | Potassium: 83mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 43g | Vitamin A: 529IU | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg