Simple Buttermilk Cake

Buttermilk cake recipe

The Spruce 

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
219 Calories
11g Fat
26g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 219
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 5g 26%
Cholesterol 130mg 43%
Sodium 418mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 9%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Protein 5g
Calcium 77mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Buttermilk cake is light yet flavorful. It's also a snap to make. This recipe will make a single 8-by-8-inch cake, perfect for serving as-is with coffee or tea with its simple sprinkling of sugar on top. You can dress it up in a lovely way with sweet, delicate berries alongside, or frost it with vanilla or chocolate buttercream or cream cheese frosting.

For a larger sheet cake or making a layer cake of two layers, you can double the recipe. You will need to adjust the baking time for a sheet cake, with 35 to 45 minutes for a doubled single-layer cake in a 7-by-10-by-2-inch pan. If you make 8-inch round layers, no baking time adjustment is needed.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Optional: 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, cardamom, or nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
  • 1/4 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Buttermilk cake
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  2. Preheat an oven to 400 F.

  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

    Combine flour and baking powder
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  4. If you want to add some spice, add that to the flour mixture (but know the cake is perfectly lovely without any spice). Set this dry mixture aside.

  5. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter together until the mixture turns much lighter in color and very fluffy.

    Beat egg and butter
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  6. Scrape down sides of the bowl to bring the mixture together again and beat in the egg and vanilla until thoroughly combined, at least 30 seconds.

    Scrape down sides of bowl
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  7. Add half of the buttermilk and stir to combine.

    Add half of the buttermilk
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  8. Add half the flour mixture and stir to combine.

    Add half the flour mixture
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  9. Repeat with the remaining buttermilk and flour mixtures until everything is in the bowl making a lovely smooth, if quite thick, batter.

    Repeat with remaining buttermilk
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  10. Scrape the batter into an 8-by-8-inch baking pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with a bit of sugar for a prettier crust.

    Scrape the batter into a baking pan
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  11. Bake until golden and a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean - about 25 minutes.

    Bake until golden
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  12. Let cool on a cooling rack until the cake pulls away from the edges of the pan - 10 to 15 minutes.

    Let cool
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  13. Cut pieces or slices and serve warm or at room temperature.

    Buttermilk cake
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  14. Enjoy!

Buttermilk Substitute

If you are out of buttermilk but want to make this simple cake, you can make fake but serviceable buttermilk. Add 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar in 1/2 cup of milk and letting it sit out for 10 to 15 minutes. It won't be real buttermilk, but it will have the thickness and tang needed for this cake. Alternatively, use plain, unsweetened yogurt for a yummy yogurt cake. It will be a tad heavier, but just as delicious.