28 Sweet and Celebratory Graduation Cake Ideas

German Chocolate Cake

The Spruce _ Abbey Littlejohn

Celebrate the new grad in your life with our best graduation cake ideas. We've rounded up party-worthy cakes that will help make it a celebration to remember, from show-stopping layer cakes to rich and fudgey chocolate cakes, lighter cakes made with summer fruits, potluck-ready sheet cakes, and frozen ice cream cakes with no baking needed.

  • 01 of 28

    Rainbow Cake

    Rainbow Cake

    The Spruce/Abby Mercer

    When you need a showstopping cake for a party, look no further than our colorful and impressive rainbow cake. With each layer tinted a different festive hue, this gorgeous dessert always wows and entertains guests. Best of all, it doesn't require any complicated decorating skills. You just bake, stack, and frost.

  • 02 of 28

    Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake

    Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    Raspberries and chocolate are a classic flavor combination. Take advantage of fresh summer berries to make our spectacular chocolate raspberry layer cake (or swap in frozen fruit when seasonal berries are unavailable). While there are several steps to this recipe, you can prepare the cake layers, fruit filling, and frosting a day in advance, for quick assembly on the party day.

  • 03 of 28

    Banana Pudding Cake

    Banana Pudding Cake

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Banana pudding cake is a layered, Southern-style dessert that delivers all the feels. You kick things off with a base layer of moist and sweet banana cake, baked in a rectangular pan. This gets topped with creamy instant pudding, and then crushed vanilla wafer cookies, sliced fresh bananas, and finally, fluffy whipped cream, to deliver a fun and delicious treat for all ages.

  • 04 of 28

    Piña Colada Cake

    Pina Colada Cake

    Kristina Vanni

    The classic piña colada is sweet cocktail make with rum, coconut, and pineapple. It is usually served blended or shaken with ice and enjoyed in the warm sun on a tropical vacation. This decadent layer cake incorporates everything you love about this classic cocktail in a sweet dessert treat.

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  • 05 of 28

    Blue Velvet Cake

    Blue Velvet Cake

    Kristina Vanni/Eric Kleinberg

    If you love the delicate texture and bold color of red velvet cake, you will love this fun twist: blue velvet cake. The flavor of blue velvet cake is the same as a red velvet cake—fluffy vanilla cake with a hint of chocolate slathered in tangy cream cheese frosting. It's easy to make a blue velvet cake from scratch with a blend of cocoa powder, vinegar, buttermilk, and bright blue food coloring. 

  • 06 of 28

    Texas Sheet Cake With Chocolate Frosting

    Texas Sheet Cake With Chocolate Frosting

    The Spruce / Rachel Riesgraf

    Moist and chocolately Texas sheet cake with crunchy pecans inside, and topped with a luscious chocolate frosting, is easy to assemble for a graduation potluck. It has a flavor like a fudgy chocolate brownie, but makes a statement on the buffet table. It's a great choice anytime you want to feed dessert to a crowd.

  • 07 of 28

    Coconut Cake With Fluffy Coconut Icing

    Coconut Cake With Fluffy Coconut Icing

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Our perfect coconut layer cake, frosted with fluffy coconut icing, sets the standard for coconut cakes everywhere. The scrumptious cake batter includes coconut milk, coconut oil, and shredded coconut, for a triple dose of tropical flavor. The crumb is light and tender, and the dreamy whipped frosting takes it over the top.

  • 08 of 28

    German Chocolate Cake

    German Chocolate Cake

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

    German chocolate cake may sound like a European invention, but it's actually a homegrown American recipe. We use unsweetened cocoa powder (and optional espresso powder) for this rich, sweet, and surprisingly light chocolate cake with a delicious coconut-pecan filling nestling between the layers.

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  • 09 of 28

    Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Cake

    Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Cake

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni & Eric Kleinberg

    Celebrate the new grad with a festive and fruity ice cream cake that is easy to slice and share. Our strawberry shortcake ice cream cake tastes just like the classic Good Humor ice cream bar, right down to the strawberry crunch crumbles on top. Freeze-dried berries are folded into both the cake batter, and the crumbly topping, for a summery, no-bake freezer cake you can whip up any time of year.

  • 10 of 28

    Key Lime Pound Cake

    Key lime pound cake

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

    You've heard of key lime pie. Now meet key lime cake. This genius recipe transforms the classic Florida pie into a moist and citrusy cake with the most delicious, zesty key lime frosting. Sour cream makes it extra moist, and a simple glaze adds fresh lime flavor and a little pizazz.

  • 11 of 28

    Lamington Cake

    Lamington Cake

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    We have Australia to thank for Lamington cake, a true Down Under wonder that everyone should know about. This innovative dessert named for an Australian royal is a two-layer sponge cake with a chocolate-coconut glaze that hides a surprise inside. When you dig your fork into a slice, you are rewarded with a hidden layer of sweet and tart raspberry jam. The unusual flavor combination is too good to miss!

  • 12 of 28

    Hummingbird Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

    Hummingbird Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

    Hummingbird cake is always a hit at family celebrations. Originally from Jamaica, the moist and fruity triple-layer cake bursts with bright tropical flavor from pineapple and bananas, with fabulous crunch and spice from pecans and cinnamon. Topped with tangy cream cheese frosting, it is a joyous cake for special gatherings and summer parties.

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  • 13 of 28

    Lemon Angel Food Cake

    Lemon Angel Food Cake on a platter and slices on plates

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

    This cake is a classic angel food cake with a lemony twist. While traditional angel food cake acts as a great canvas for other flavors like strawberry, chocolate, or peach, this cake stands all on its own with the addition of lemon. The buttery lemon glaze pairs deliciously with the cake, is visually attractive, and adds more flavor.

  • 14 of 28

    Upside-Down Cherry Cake

    Upside-Down Cherry Cake

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    Please potluck and cookout guests with an easy and eye-catching upside-down cherry cake. You need just 15 minutes to assemble this party cake that bakes up in about an hour, so it's ideal when you are rushing. Store-bought cherry filling is an easy shortcut for creating the fruity topping, without any of the fuss and mess of pitting and cooking cherries from scratch.

  • 15 of 28

    Chocolate Eclair Cake

    Chocolate Eclair Cake slices on plates

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

    Chocolate eclairs are a popular French pastry that require serious baking skills. We transform the bakery favorite into an easy and delicious no-bake cake that even newbie bakers can pull off. Make it the day before guests are expected, to allow plenty of time for chilling and setting in the fridge. It's a great dessert for any celebration with friends and family.

  • 16 of 28

    Butterfinger Cake

    Butterfinger Cake

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Delight kids and adults alike with our crazy-delicious Butterfinger cake. Inspired by the popular candy bar, it starts with a boxed devil's food cake mix, and bakes in a rectangular pan. While still warm, you poke holes in the cake, to help it soak up a decadent drizzle of caramel and sweetened condensed milk. Then you add tangy cream cheese frosting, and chopped Butterfinger candy bars, for a nice crunch and fun presentation.

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  • 17 of 28

    Best Chocolate Bundt Cake

    Chocolate Bundt Cake on a platter

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

    This chocolate Bundt cake is moist, easy, and tastes as good as it looks. The cake is super easy to make—you don't even need a mixer. All you have to do is stir or whisk the ingredients and bake. The glaze is just as easy as the cake—the ingredients are combined and heated until the butter melts. The cake is perfect for chocolate lovers, and it couldn't be easier!

  • 18 of 28

    Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

     Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

    The Spruce / Nyssa Tanner

    Frozen desserts are wonderful at warm weather parties, when guests want something cooling, and you don't feel like spending time babysitting a hot oven. Our delightful ice cream sandwich cake is a terrific treat for grad parties, Mother's Day, 4th of July celebrations, or any summer picnic or party. Kids can even make this no-bake icebox cake by themselves, using store-bought frozen ice cream sandwiches.

  • 19 of 28

    Strawberry and Cream Sponge Cake

    Strawberry and Cream Sponge Cake

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Strawberries and freshly whipped cream are a classic dessert combination. They combine to beautiful effect in this light and luscious sponge cake that tastes like summer on a plate. It looks impressive, but is surprisingly straight-forward to bake and assemble, with fresh fruit and not too many baking ingredients.

  • 20 of 28

    Peanut Butter Cake With Chocolate Frosting

    Peanut Butter Cake With Chocolate Frosting

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    Serve this moist and nutty sheet cake for a graduation potluck or picnic, and see how quickly it disappears. Our homemade peanut butter cake with chocolate frosting is a great choice when you need a party-worthy cake in a hurry. You can even use store-bought frosting to make assembly that much quicker. Either way, we're sure your guests will come back for seconds, and maybe thirds.

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  • 21 of 28

    Southern Mandarin Orange Cake

    Southern Mandarin Orange Cake

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Southern mandarin orange cake makes a pretty sight on the dessert table at any celebration. Also known as Florida sunshine cake, our easy and flavorful one-bowl recipe needs just 7 convenient ingredients, including a boxed yellow cake mix, canned mandarin orange slices, canned crushed pineapple, and instant vanilla pudding.

  • 22 of 28

    Cookie Dough Cake

    Cookie Dough Cake

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni & Eric Kleinberg

    Cookie-loving grads and guests will get a kick out of this outrageously delicious cookie dough cake. You start by making the batter for a luscious vanilla cake, and fold in miniature chocolate chips. When baked, frost the cake with buttercream, and top it with tiny balls of edible cookie dough. Then smother the entire thing with chocolate ganache, and add on more cookie dough balls for a finishing touch.

  • 23 of 28

    Savarin Cake

    Savarin Cake

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    French savarin cake bursting with seasonal fresh fruits is a thing of beauty. What makes this ring-shaped cake special is the use of yeast in the cake dough. The result is a light and spongy crumb with a subtle, bready aroma that is perfect for soaking up a flavorful syrup. Top with freshly whipped cream or whipped topping, and an assortment of fresh fruits in season.

  • 24 of 28

    Nutella Cake Pops

    Nutella Cake Pops

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

    Indulgent Nutella cake pops are a festive and edible flourish for any graduation party cake. They are a great way to dress up any basic cake, including a chocolate sheet cake, and make it instantly special for a celebration. Feel free to use a boxed cake mix for this recipe, which needs just 3 other ingredients, and requires no complicated equipment — just skewers for the cake pops, and time for chilling.

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  • 25 of 28

    Flourless Chocolate Meringue Cake

    flourless chocolate meringue cake

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

    The magic of this cake goes beyond its dramatic top and rich mouthfeel. Where most chocolate cakes eat as soft on soft, this offers a chewy, crisp meringue with a fluffy, yet nutty interior that only serves to enhance the star of the show: the flourless cake. Serve it as is or with whipped cream and berries. It's even better the next day as all the flavors have time to marry together.

  • 26 of 28

    Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

    Gluten-Free Carrot Cake and slices on plates

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

    This gluten-free carrot cake is easy to make in just one bowl and is topped with a classic cream cheese frosting. The taste should be similar to the wheat version with the help of plenty of spices, decadent brown sugar, and a hint of tangy buttermilk. Anyone you feed this cake will love it just as much as the wheat flour version.

  • 27 of 28

    Chocoflan

    Chocoflan on a platter

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

    Chocoflan is simply the perfect dessert. It blends the creaminess and delicacy of a flan custard with the richness of chocolate cake. It's also known as Impossible Cake, thanks to the magical way it bakes.

  • 28 of 28

    Classic Italian Cream Cake

    Classic Italian cream cake recipe

    The Spruce 

    Despite the name, this Italian cream cake is a Southern specialty that is thought to have originated in Texas. This classic three-layer cake is always a hit, and it will probably bring back fond memories for many. The moist buttermilk cake is baked with pecans and coconut and then topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting.