A basic vanilla cake recipe made with vegetable oil instead of butter or shortening.
This was my first attempt at baking a vanilla cake using vegetable oil instead of butter or shortening. I wanted to bake a cake for someone’s birthday that had severe food allergies. They couldn’t have butter or shortening and the only two oils I could use were either soybean or sunflower oil. I have to admit at first I didn’t know if it was possible to make a good cake with oil. But now that the birthday has passed and the cake has been eaten I can safely say it is possible!
I recommend using a high quality vanilla extract for this recipe, Nielsen-Massey makes one of my favorites.
The cake reminded me of something that was in between a pound cake and a shortcake. I think it works great as a basic cake recipe that can be used for anything from birthday cakes to strawberry shortcake. It would have tasted great with strawberries and whipped cream frosting on top but I had to keep the cake very basic. I used my Nordic Ware Bundt Pan for this recipe but you can also use a 9×13″ pan or two 9″ round cake pans. I chose to make mine in a bundt pan because a glaze doesn’t require any butter or shortening unlike frosting recipes.
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring the cake pans
- 2 cups sugar
- ¾ cups vegetable oil (or 1½ sticks of butter)
- 2¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup whole milk
- Oil or butter, for greasing two cake pans
- Optional Glaze:
- 1½ cups powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, 3-4 tablespoons milk
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Add the flour, sugar, vegetable oil, baking powder, vanilla and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. (If you don't have a stand mixer you can use a hand mixer but the batter it pretty thick to mix, I used a hand mixer.) Mix on slow until the ingredients are blended together, then mix on medium for about a minute.
- With the mixer on, add 1 egg at a time & mix until each egg gets absorbed. Stop to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula when needed. After all the eggs have been added, continue to mix for an additional minute.
- With the mixer on, add the milk, ½ cup at a time, stop to scrape the sides. Continue to mix for another minute or until the mixture appears smooth. Grease two 9-inch cake pans or a bundt pan with oil or butter, and flour them.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans or pour into bundt pan.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes for the 9" cake pans or 35-45 minutes for bundt pan or until the top is starting to turn golden brown and is springy to the touch.
- Remove from oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes. The cakes should be at room temperature before you remove them from the pan.
- Frost or glaze the cake as desired. If you want to make a glaze just mix a little over 1 cup of powder sugar, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, & a couple tablespoons of milk together in a bowl until you have a thin glaze, using a spoon drizzle or pour over the top of cake.
Adapted from Buddy Valastro’s Vanilla Cake Recipe.
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That is a lovely recipe and a beautiful looking cake. But I have a doubt; does the batter get clumpy? Is it better to add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. . Thank you in advance for your response.
Hi. No, I didn’t have any issue with the batter getting clumpy. I would mix the ingredients as stated. The mixing technique is Buddy Valastro’s (aka The Cake Boss) & it worked really well for me. He made this cake on the Rachael Ray Show.
I have made this cake and others similar using the directions and it comes out perfect. I used canola oil instead of vegetable oil and carnation milk. Mmmm good!
Hi Judy, I’m glad the cake recipe works for you, thanks for sharing!
Till now it is my best cake. Thanks guys
Glad you liked it!
Corey M. Goodman says
I made the cake this evening. It was moist to touch but I didn’t like the spongy interior of the cake. My family loves pound cake and never complained. I used corn oil and this may be the reason for the spongy interior
This cake definitely has a unique texture, it reminds me of something between a pound cake & a shortcake.
Easy & yummy recipe! It was moist, flavorful and perfect for the Fall weather we are having. The only change I made was I added an extra Tsp of Vanilla to the cake recipe and I used French Vanilla creamer for the glaze instead of milk. As you can see I LOVE Vanilla ha! Thanks for sharing!!
I’m so glad you liked it! Love the changes you made, you can never have too much vanilla!
Amanda Manda says
I just made this cake it was easy and delicious. I also used extra tsp vanilla. Kids loved it.
Hi Amanda, I’m glad you & your kids liked it!
Sarah Reid, CNP (@jo_jo_ba) says
Interesting that you couldn’t use shortening (made from soy oil most of the time) but could use soybean oil, and not butter but you could have whole milk! Love the way allergies work…:-S. Props to you for going out of your way!
Yes, it is an interesting the way allergies work. Shortening might have worked but the brands I saw like Crisco also has palm oil in it plus other ingredients. I have no idea how people can be allergic to butter but not milk but I think it has something to do with the protein. Either way I was thankful that this recipe worked & did not make the person sick. Plus I had to make homemade powdered sugar for the glaze using a coffee grinder because powered sugar has corn in it which was another no-no.
This is recipe is awesome! I am at high altitude (5400 ft) so I reduced the baking powder to 1 1/12 tsp and it worked perfectly! =)
Hey Amber! I’m so glad you liked the recipe! I am glad it worked for you at high altitude with your adjustments.
Can I substitute 2% milk for whole milk if so will there be a huge difference in the taste of the cake
Hi Christine, I think using 2% milk vs whole milk would be fine. I do that a lot with recipes & have never noticed a difference.
I made this today for my husband’s birthday and frosted it with chocolate frosting. It was dense but we liked that about it. I just found a new go to recipe for vanilla cake!!
Thanks for commenting Cori! I’m glad you both liked it! :)
Deborah Pearson says
Hi. I just baked this cake. It’s the easiest cake to make and my family loved it. I used a tube cake cake and it worked just fine. Thanks so much for sharing.
Hi Deborah! I am so glad to hear your family loved this cake recipe! :)
Frances Flink says
Hi, do you think this would be suitable to use in a wilton 3d cake tin?
Hi Frances, Yes, I think this recipe can be made in any kind of cake pan, you will just need to adjust the baking time.
Awesome, I’ll give it a crack! Thank you
It worked perfectly!!!! I baked it Thursday and we ate it Sunday and it was delicious and moist. It was ideal for the 3d tins and I suspect it’s just become my go to vanilla recipe.
Thank you so much!!
I’m so glad it worked!! :)
ALEXA CAVER says
IT CAME OUT PERFECT I ADDED MINCED PEACHES TO THE GLAZE. CAN WE SAY YUMMY. THANKS AGAIN LOVE
Hi Alexa! So glad you liked the cake! Adding peaches to the glaze sounds delicious! Great idea!
Virginia Gibbs says
Can I use buttermilk in place of milk?
Hi Virginia, I think buttermilk would work in place of milk. I am reading that it reacts poorly with baking powder though. Online it says “To achieve the desired result when using buttermilk instead of milk, be sure to substitute baking soda for some or all for of the baking powder. For each cup of buttermilk used in place of sweet milk, reduce the amount of baking powder by 2 teaspoons, and replace with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.” via: https://www.thespruce.com/buttermilk-substitutions-measures-and-equivalents-1807462
Oh my Gosh, this is the best pound cake recipe ever!
Hi Tammy! So glad you liked it!
A quick and easy to follow recipe. The cake was awesome and the children loved it however, the recipe took over twice as long to bake in my 9″ Bundt pan at 350. I tried to again but separated the mix among the Bundt, a 4.5 x 1″ round and 3×7″ loaf pan and the smaller ones took 45 mins; the Bundt twice as long. That being said, the cakes we’re GREAT! Thanks for sharing the recipe.
Hi Alison, I’m glad you liked the cake recipe. I’m not sure why the cake took so long to bake, I’ve never heard of a bundt cake taking double the time to bake. A 9″ round cake pan should take about 25-30 min. & the standard baking time for a 6-cup bundt cake recipe at 350 degrees is 35 to 40 minutes.
Sunny Barbados maybe?. . .I do not know either but the end product is definitely worth the wait.
Mine took longer too, 10 minutes longer in the NW Bavaria pan. The the wooden skewer test didn’t fail me though:)))) love this cake
can we make cupcakes from this recipe and for how long to bake?
I’ve never tried making cupcakes with this recipe but it should work. Cupcakes usually bake for 15-20 minutes.
This recipe sounds yummy. I need to make a pumpkin shaped birthday cake for a little boy. (His specific request!) How will this cake be covered in buttercream frosting?
Hi Patti, I think this cake would be fine with buttercream frosting. A pumpkin shaped cake sounds cute! Thanks.
Saima Sattar says
Can I please ask the duration of the beating time if using a electric beater since I don’t have a heavy stand mixer.
Mix on slow until the ingredients are blended together, then mix on medium for about a minute. I used a hand electric mixer when I made it, the batter is just thick. Thanks!
A keeper! Terrific cake. Moist, soft springy texture… a little on the spongy side. The batter is liquidy, but follow the directions. So good that I’m going to look through this site for more recipes
Myra, So glad you liked the cake recipe! Thanks for taking the time to comment and provide feedback, we appreciate it.