Classic Birthday Cake

Active Time:

30 mins

Total Time:

2 hrs 30 mins

The flavor of birthday cake has no rival, and this scrumptious cake requires no leveling or layering. With all the flavor of a confetti cake and a delightfully fluffy vanilla frosting, this recipe yields an easy homemade sheet cake that will forever change the way you think about birthday cake. In addition to adding nostalgia and color, the rainbow sprinkles provide perfect bites of crunch throughout the moist cake.

Classic Birthday Cake



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. rainbow sprinkles, divided, plus more for garnish


  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pinch baking powder


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9- x- 13-inch metal baking pan. Set aside.
  2. To make the Cake: Using the paddle attachment, mix the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a stand mixer on low.
  3. Cut the butter and shortening into small pieces and add to the dry ingredients in the mixer. Turn the mixer on low and leave to incorporate while you whisk together the buttermilk, oil, eggs, egg yolk, and clear vanilla extract in a separate small bowl.
  4. Add half of the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients in the mixer, and combine on low for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add half of the remaining liquid ingredients, and combine on low for another 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl again and add the final amount of liquid ingredients, combining it on low for another 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the rainbow sprinkles and fold into batter with a spatula.
  5. Pour Cake batter into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle surface with remaining 2 Tbsp. rainbow sprinkles. Bake, rotating halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out dry, about 30 minutes. Allow the cake to cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.
  6. To make the Frosting: Beat together butter and cream cheese on medium in a stand mixer for 3 minutes. Add powdered sugar, and combine on low until just incorporated, then increase the speed to high and beat for another minute. Add the remaining ingredients and beat on medium-high for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
  7. Cover the surface of the cake with the Frosting and decorate the surface with more sprinkles.

Chef’s Notes

Clear vanilla extract is essential in this recipe for providing the nostalgic flavor of a classic birthday cake. Do not use pure vanilla extract, as the flavor will be very different.