Top 5 Layer Cake Recipes

From weddings and baby showers to church picnics and holidays, few Southern gatherings are complete without a showstopping layer cake. Adding unexpected ingredients, from fruit preserves and candied nuts to candy pieces and fresh berries, adds interest and appeal to the classic dessert.


For nicely stacked and evenly baked layers, weigh your batter after transferring to pans. Kitchen scales are a great tool for this and make it easier than guessing!

Lemon Layer Cake

The lemon flavor in this layer cake is bright and zippy with a hint of zest. The lemon cream cheese frosting adds a soft and creamy texture. Both can be made ahead and stored at room temperature in an airtight container until ready to assemble.

To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare pans (we used two 9 inch pans). Sift dry ingredients, adding the leavening and zest and set aside. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients: buttermilk, oil, sugar and lemon juice. Whisk to blend and set aside.

If desired, brush the cakes with a simple syrup just prior to baking. The syrup is simply a combination of lemon juice and sugar, stirred until boiling and the sugar has completely dissolved. Cool before assembling and frosting the cake. This is optional, but the added moisture helps to keep the cake moist and delicious.

Peppermint Layer Cake

Nothing dresses up the holidays like this old-fashioned peppermint layer cake. Alternating white and red cake layers are smothered with a gooey chocolate frosting and sprinkled with crushed candy canes. The best part is that this easy-to-make recipe doesn’t require a specialty cake mix!

To make the cake batter, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add both sugars and whisk to combine. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until tripled in volume, then gradually pour hot sugar into egg white mixture and beat until well incorporated.

Spread a thin layer of frosting over each cake layer, then top with chopped peppermint candy and another thin layer of frosting. Top with crushed candy canes and refrigerate until serving.

The frosting can be made a day ahead and stored in the fridge until ready to use. You can also freeze the frosted cake (without the peppermint pieces) for up to 3 months, but you’ll want to bring it to room temperature before serving.

Praline Layer Cake

If you love pecans, you’ll love this show-stopping cake made from a boxed chocolate cake mix and an amazing homemade praline topping. This cake has layers of rich, creamy milk chocolate and dark chocolate with a praline frosting that looks like caramel.

The cake layers are baked in round pans, but you could also make this into a shaped layer, such as a horseshoe, by using a template and cutting the shape out with a knife. The praline frosting is prepared by melting butter, sugar and evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in pecans and vanilla. Cool until a spreading consistency, then spread over the cooled cake layers.

Serve with whole pecans and chocolate curls, if desired. To serve, place one of the cake layers on a serving plate with the praline side up. Spread with half of the praline icing, then top with the second layer.

Vegan Chocolate Layer Cake

If you love chocolate cake and have been looking for a vegan recipe, you’ve come to the right place! This simple vegan chocolate layer cake is easy to make and comes with the best chocolate frosting you will ever have!

This cake is perfect for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and graduations. You could even serve it as a dessert for afternoon tea!

Start by mixing together your dry ingredients. You will need flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Then add your dairy free milk and vinegar. This is to mimic buttermilk and helps the cakes rise. You can use soy milk, almond milk, or any non-dairy milk you have on hand.

Next, add in the vanilla extract and oil. The oil will keep the cake moist. Finally, pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Then bake and cool until you’re ready to frost!

Bourbon Pecan Layer Cake

Bourbon elevates this cake to an occasion worthy dessert. Finely chopped pecans add texture and nuance to this boozy layer cake with a brown sugar maple frosting.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray; line bottoms with wax paper and spray again. Dust with flour (or confectioners’ sugar, if preferred). In large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy; add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. In batches, alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beating well after each addition.

Stir in vanilla and bourbon. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 30 to 32 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely. Serve with Brown Sugar Maple Frosting and garnish, if desired. This cake tastes best the second or third day and freezes well.

Mocha Layer Cake

A mocha layer cake is the perfect dessert for anyone who loves coffee. This dense chocolate cake is elevated by espresso powder and brewed coffee, then smothered in a decadent coffee buttercream that’s spiked with Kahlua.

The batter for this mocha cake recipe comes together very quickly in a single bowl. A blend of all-purpose flour and whole wheat pastry flour helps keep the cake light and fluffy, and a small amount of sugar and salt balances the flavors. A sprinkling of baking soda and a bit of water help the flour paste to rise and spread properly in the pan.

As with all cakes, it’s important to use a toothpick to test for doneness. A clean toothpick will indicate the cakes are baked through. If there is still a bit of batter stuck to the toothpick, bake the cakes for another 5-10 minutes and retest again until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.