Basic Vanilla Sheet Cake

Good ole’ fashioned vanilla cake “almost” just the way grandma made it, but without the sprinkles, boxed cake mix, and canned frosting. When I was growing up and made trips down south to visit my relatives, my maternal grandma always had something sweet. The cake was a basic box cake mix with chocolate, vanilla or strawberry canned icing. Even today, when I see vanilla cake slices with chocolate icing in the grocery store, it makes me think of my grandma. I was mesmerized how she allowed me to have as many slices as I wanted during my visit.

My love of cooking/baking started at a young age and grandma would make homemade sweet potato and coconut pies, brownies and other treats, but she never strayed from making boxed cake mix which tasted a lot like homemade. She made everything with her favorite ingredient anyway-LOVE. Therefore, everything was going to taste like she had spent the entire day in the kitchen. Very clever thinking on my grandma’s part.

Basic Vanilla Sheet Cake

4 from 4 votes
Recipe by Madison Course: DessertDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




  • For the Vanilla Cake:
  • 3 cups 3 cake flour

  • 1 teaspoons 1 baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon 1 baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon 1/2 salt

  • 3 large 3 eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups 1 1/2 granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon 1 pure vanilla extract

  • 1 cup 1 buttermilk

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 unsalted butter

  • 1 cup 1 vegetable oil

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 sour cream

  • For the Vanilla Frosting:
  • 4 cups 4 powdered sugar

  • 1 cup 1 unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 milk

  • 1 teaspoon 1 pure vanilla extract


  • For the Making the Vanilla Cake:
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C. Grease and flour a 13×9 inch pan. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together by combining the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Meanwhile, in a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, butter, oil and sour cream until combined.
  • Mix in the dry ingredients and buttermilk.
  • Spread the batter in the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting and decorating (about 35 minutes).
  • For Making the Vanilla Frosting:
  • Using a mixer, on a medium speed, beat together the butter until creamy and smooth. Add in the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth and combined.


  • Any frosting works well with this cake

I decided to give grandma’s cake a makeover. The boxed stuff is good if you’re in a rush, and just want something sweet, but if not, why not spend a little extra time making it from scratch. And, boxed stuff has changed a lot since the 90’s. Some for the better. Today, you have many options. You have Gluten-Free, Vegan, Low Fat and even Organic. There is something for everyone. Again, no judgment. Boxed cakes or store packaged treats are great for baked sales and that last minute party invitation you received.

Fortunately, things are now beginning to reopen since COVID’s numbers are dropping and that is a good thing. My hope is that we can all get back to normal. And, instead of sharing our baked cookies with just our immediate family members or ourselves, we will all soon be able to spread the joy, memories and calories equally.

This cake was fun to make from scratch. I had all of the staples on hand which saved me a trip to the grocery store. Before I make a recipe, I take inventory of what I already have available, to save myself unnecessary store trips. I even had sour cream. The trick for a moist cake–sour cream. If you want your cake less moist, then do not include the sour cream. I like moist, not dry, and that is why I added it.

I have learned from baking for years now, that as long as you have eggs, butter, flour, sugar, milk and vanilla extract, you can pretty much make any concoction of a delectable treat. I put this cake in a 13×9 inch pan and baked at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes and let the cake cool before icing it.

In fact, while the cake was baking in the oven, I made the homemade icing. It was so simple to do. I had everything that I needed, and the frosting was not nearly as sweet as the store bought kind. I still don’t know how grandma made hers taste like homemade, but she did. If she was alive today, I would be serving her a delicious piece of my homemade version of her delicious boxed version. I know she would be so proud of me. I used sprinkles. Although, grandma never sprinkled anything. She didn’t have to add anything, because I’m guessing she really did sprinkle everything she cooked and baked with LOVE. 


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1 thought on “Basic Vanilla Sheet Cake”

  1. This homemade cake recipe looks amazing. It probably will taste a whole lot better than store bought as well. I am definitely eager to try it but with chocolate frosting instead of vanilla.

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