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50 best cake recipes for any occasion

From lofty angel food cake to luscious lemon, try these sweet recipes.
Angel Food Cake
RECIPE: Angel Food CakeKayla Hoang

Cake, in all its delectable forms, holds a special place in the world of desserts. Whether it’s a humble home-baked one or intricate showstopper whipped up by a professional pastry chef, cake symbolizes one thing: a celebration.

What’s more, there’s a flavor or style of cake for everyone, no matter your palate. Our best cake recipes vary immensely, ranging from timeless classics like carrot cake and red velvet to creative flavor combinations like lemon blackcurrant and pumpkin marshmallow. They go from simple one-bowl bundt cakes to multi-layered confections with all sorts of fillings and frostings — but the one thing they have in common is that they all guarantee a good time

Baking a cake can be as simple as mixing a few basic ingredients or as intricate as mastering the art of piping and rolling fondant. No matter if you’re a novice who is eager to learn or an expert looking for fresh inspiration, cake baking offers an exciting journey filled with endless possibilities. With the right recipe and some baking know-how, you can craft a cake that becomes a centerpiece for parties or simply an everyday indulgence.

Be sure to follow our instructions closely. Baking is a science and techniques such as using  room temperature ingredients or sifting dry ingredients together can make a big difference in the final results. And if decorating or layering the cakes doesn’t go as planned, your cake will still be just as delicious. 

This collection of cake recipes caters to different skill levels, flavor preferences and occasions. From sweet to somewhat savory, the traditional to innovative, they’re guaranteed to fill your kitchen with joy.

Leave it to Martha Stewart to make a classic combination feel fresh and exciting. But you don’t need the domestic doyenne’s expert skills to achieve it at home — getting this cake’s zebra-like interior is surprisingly easy. All you need to do is drop alternating spoonfuls of chocolate and vanilla batters into the pan and they’ll bake into concentric rings that give each slice its fun striped look.

Whether you’re a carrot cake purist or an add-in fanatic, this recipe is guaranteed to satisfy. Keep it plain or toss in walnuts, coconut and raisins — the batter holds up beautifully either way. The cake is super tender and full of warmth, thanks to a duo of ground cinnamon and allspice. What’s non-negotiable is the cream cheese frosting. Along with vanilla, this one gets a splash of lemon extract that adds brightness to the rich cake.

Here’s a trick that’ll help save an over-baked cake or transform a plain store-bought one into a party-ready dessert. Poke some holes and pour a combination of orange juice and heavy cream over the cake to give it a nostalgic creamsicle-like flavor.

This carrot cake is basic in the very best way. The batter is packed with shredded carrots, sweetened with light brown sugar and gets a hint of warmth from ground cinnamon. A combination of butter and grapeseed oil ensures that the crumb is super tender and moist.

Joanna Gaines elevates an everyday Bundt cake with a simple topping made from roasted strawberries, whipped cream and a balsamic reduction. Roasting deepens the summer berries’ natural sweetness and softens them so  that they’re perfect for spooning over the buttery cake, while the balsamic adds a lovely hint of tartness.

The secret to Milk Bar’s intensely flavored corn cake? Freeze-dried corn powder. It goes in both the cake batter and corn crumbs and pairs nicely with the blueberry sauce and sour cream frosting. This cake is baked in sheet trays and in true Milk Bar fashion, the sides are left unfrosted so you can see all the beautiful layers.

The Ina Garten Holiday Special Cake

Think of this recipe as holiday cheer in cake form. A festive mint chip frosting spruces up plain vanilla cake to make it ready for any winter celebration. 

Dylan's Pistachio Cake

Instant pistachio pudding pulls double duty in this Dreyer family favorite. It’s added to yellow cake mix to form a batter and folded into whipped topping to form a frosting. Not only will the pastel green confection be a hit with kids, but, as Dylan proves, it’s one you can actually make together. 

'Rainbow Explosion' Cake

Get ready for a burst of color and joy tucked inside this cake. As it’s sliced open, uncover a hidden treasure trove of colorful sprinkles in all sizes and colors. This is truly a next-level celebration cake.

Funfetti Tres Leches Cake

Tres leches cake gets a colorful funfetti makeover in this fun twist on a classic. The cake batter gets a healthy helping of rainbow sprinkles before it’s baked and soaked in the traditional trio of milk, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. 

Rainbow Heart Cake

Beneath this cake’s plain-looking exterior lies a rainbow heart, concealed as a sweet surprise that’s revealed only when it’s sliced. Perfect for special occasions or simply to spread a bit of joy, this cake adds an extra layer of sweetness to any celebration.

This one-of-a-kind “magic” cake batter transforms into three distinct layers as it bakes: a rich and luxurious crust, a creamy custard center and a delicate angel food cake topping. How it happens is less magic than baking science, but guests will be too busy digging into their slices to question the wizardry.

Easy Tres Leches Cake

A few simple swaps help simplify this tres leches cake. It calls for a one-bowl vanilla cake that’s slightly overbaked (yes, you read that right) so it can fully absorb the milky soak. Poking holes into the cake also speeds up the process so there’s no need to wait for it to completely cool. 

Cannoli Cake

Italy’s beloved dessert serves as inspiration for this cannoli cake. Layers of rum-infused ricotta filling, a mascarpone frosting and semisweet chocolate chips helps capture the essence of the Sicilian pastry.

Aperol is featured in two ways here: in the cake itself to add a spritz-like complexity to the orange and olive oil, and in the eye-catching glaze that drips down its sides. Don’t skimp on the orange zest — the generous amount is needed for its bright, zingy freshness.

Store-bought pound cake is a last-minute entertaining shortcut. To take it from plain to party-ready, simply top slices with a ricotta-mascarpone cream, sliced almonds and an ample amount of fresh berries. Depending on the time of year, feel free to swap the berries for whatever produce is in season.

Valentine's Day Mosaic Sheet Cake

A professional baker’s secret to hacking boxed cake mix? Use milk in place of water and add instant vanilla pudding, both of which will help give the cake additional richness. In this recipe, some of the batter is left plain and the rest is tinted pink and red to form a fun mosaic look. 

This multi-flavored layer cake is truly a labor of love. It features rounds of vanilla and chocolate cakes along with three types of cake crumbs, liquid cheesecake, pickled strawberry jam and two frostings. Luckily, all the components can be made ahead of time so you can assemble and let the cake set before presenting it to your loved one.

Mint Julep Bundt Cake

This mint julep Bundt cake perfectly captures the essence of the classic derby cocktail. Bourbon goes into the cake batter, the minty syrup that’s brushed over the cake and in the finishing glaze. It’s a great make-ahead cake that even novice bakers can easily pull off.

Caramel Cake

Get The Recipe

Caramel Cake

Gesine Bullock-Prado

Homemade caramel is the key to this standout layer cake. Buttermilk in the batter adds a light tang that balances the sweetness of the caramel buttercream and coating, but this is definitely a cake for those with an insatiable sweet tooth.

Gingerbread Bundt Cake

If you can’t get enough of the festive aroma that baking gingerbread brings, but don’t have time to roll out and cut cookies, try this one-bowl cake. The batter, which calls for classic gingerbread ingredients like molasses and warming spices, comes together in a flash using a stand mixer and bakes in an hour.

One-Bowl Olive Oil Cake

Don’t be fooled by the simple nature of this olive oil cake, a recipe that comes from Lidia Bastianich’s grandmother. While the one-bowl assembly makes it easy to pull together, the cake is wonderfully tender and full of citrus flavor. Enjoy a slice as is or dress it up with whipped cream or poached fruit for a special occasion.

The sweet and salty pairing of cake with Ritz crackers will surprise and delight all of your guests. The yellow cake is a nice and fluffy foil to the buttery crackers and a sweet cream cheese frosting ties it all together.

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

This classic St. Louis confection doesn’t hold back when it comes to richness. Jocelyn Delk Adam’s recipe features a chewy blondie-like bottom that’s topped with a custardy cream cheese layer and the cake’s signatured dusting of powdered sugar.

Tint the vanilla batter with any color you like to create this showstopping checkerboard cake. High-quality butter and vanilla extract will yield the best flavor, as does using room temperature ingredients. The white chocolate mirror glaze is just as impressive as the pretty interior, but be sure to pour it on only after the cake has fully chilled so that it sets properly.

The peanut butter fans in your life will appreciate the comforting nuttiness of this layered cake. Smooth peanut butter goes into both the batter and frosting along with a handful of roasted unsalted peanuts on top for crunch.

Chocolate cake recipes

German Chocolate Cake

A good German chocolate cake requires a fine balance between the cake and frosting. Since the buttery condensed milk frosting is irresistibly sweet, this cake batter calls for unsweetened chocolate, plus a cup of freshly brewed coffee to further bring out the cocoa flavor. Toasted pecans and plenty of shredded coconut help set the cake apart from a regular chocolate one.

Even novice dessert makers will have no problem throwing together this delightful icebox cake. Taking inspiration from cinnamon-spiked Mexican chocolate, the recipe layers the spice on top of the graham crackers, into the fluffy whipped cream and as a finishing garnish. Scatter some almonds on top for crunch or add a dash of cayenne for a kick.

Red Velvet Layer Cake

What sets this red velvet cake apart is its non-traditional assembly and fixings. A buttermilk soak is poured atop each layer, which are separated by cheesecake, a red velvet cream cheese frosting and red velvet crumbs.

If you’re looking for a low-effort, high-reward dessert, follow Ree Drummond’s footsteps and doctor up a box of dark chocolate cake mix. All you have to do is add some chocolate chips to the batter and glaze the finished cake with an easy two-ingredient ganache.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

There are few desserts more iconic than a flourless chocolate cake. It’s also one of the easiest to pull together. The cake comes together in one bowl and bakes up in a little over an hour. The key is using high-quality bittersweet chocolate and coffee liqueur to enhance its chocolatey richness.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake

Chocolate and peanut butter are a match made in dessert heaven and just so happen to be the star ingredients in this super simple cake. Adding a cup of smooth peanut butter to chocolate cake mix gives it a Reese’s-like flavor that’s guaranteed to be a hit with adults and kids alike.

The appeal of a classic chocolate cake is undeniable. Here, buttermilk not only adds a slight tang, but gives the two-layer cake a soft, tender crumb. Semisweet chocolate and unsweetened cocoa powder form a not-too-sweet cake that works perfectly with the chocolate ganache frosting.

Some occasions call for a showstopper and this cake is most definitely that! It features three layers of chocolate cake and homemade salted caramel sauce enrobed in a bittersweet chocolate frosting. A finishing sprinkle of flaky sea salt elevates it even further.

Devil's Food Cake

With its deep cocoa flavor and moist, tender crumb, devil’s food cake is the ultimate treat for any chocolate lover. This one is topped with a tangy chocolate cream cheese frosting and per Toni Tipton Martin’s family tradition, done in an easy-to-serve sheet-cake style.

Chocolate Cake

Brewed coffee takes this chocolate cake from plain to phenomenal. Sour cream and buttermilk help cut through the richness, while also adding moisture to the batter. Use a chocolate frosting to further amp up the chocolate flavor or opt for vanilla for both a color and flavor contrast.

Christina Tosi's Valentine's Day Layer Cake

This multi-flavored layer cake is truly a labor of love. It features rounds of vanilla and chocolate cakes along with three types of cake crumbs, liquid cheesecake, pickled strawberry jam and two frostings. Luckily, all the components can be made ahead of time so you can assemble and let the cake set before presenting it to your loved one.

This red velvet cake is as classic as it gets. The cake gets its signature flavor from natural cocoa powder, buttermilk and vinegar, plus its glorious hue from red gel dye. It’s finished with a time-honored cream cheese frosting that gets a pinch of fine sea salt to cut the sweetness and bring all the flavors together.

Fall cake recipes

This crowd-friendly sheet cake is the ideal dessert for the transition between seasons. A full can of pumpkin purée and pumpkin pie spice gives the cake its autumnal aroma, while the fluffy marshmallow frosting is reminiscent of campfire s’mores. Just pop the tray under the broiler to get it toasty and charred.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Bundt Cake

PSL fans, rejoice! This recipe adds instant vanilla pudding and pumpkin purée to boxed spice cake mix to mimic the flavors of the popular fall drink. Top the cake with cinnamon-infused frosting and enjoy a slice with your favorite fall drink.

Dylan's Pistachio Cake

Instant pistachio pudding pulls double duty in this Dreyer family favorite. It’s added to yellow cake mix to form a batter and folded into whipped topping to form a frosting. Not only will the pastel green confection be a hit with kids, but, as Dylan proves, it’s one you can actually make together. 

Give yourself a leg up on Thanksgiving prep by getting dessert out of the way. This apple loaf cake can be made ahead and frozen until the big feast, then thawed just before serving. Even the cream cheese frosting can be stored in the fridge for up to 14 days.

The Ina Garten Holiday Special Cake

Think of this recipe as holiday cheer in cake form. A festive mint chip frosting spruces up plain vanilla cake to make it ready for any winter celebration. 

Spiced Apple Coffee Cake

Coffee cake gets an autumnal makeover,t thanks to the addition of chopped Granny Smith apples and warming chai spices. Ground cardamom, cinnamon, allspice and cloves show up in both the cake batter and the streusel topping as a complement to the sweet-tart apple and tangy cake batter.

Have a few overripe bananas sitting around? Instead of your go-to banana bread recipe, try a cake. This one is soft, nicely dense and loaded with sweetness from the fruit along with tanginess that comes from cream cheese frosting. Toasted walnuts are optional, but add a great crunch. 

Lemon cake recipes

Strawberry-Glazed Lemon Loaf Cake

This lemon loaf cake relies on both oil and yogurt for its lush texture (and to keep it super moist). Lemon zest and juice add a zingy brightness to the cake, while freeze-dried strawberries not only give the icing an assertive berry flavor, but also its bold pink color.

Lemon and Blackcurrant Stripe Cake

Between its multiple layers, a blackcurrant purée and buttercream frosting, this striped cake is definitely a project, but one that’s well worth the effort. The zesty lemon and sweet berries contrast beautifully with the rich buttercream frosting, which is both flavored and colored with blackcurrant purée to yield a gorgeous deep pink.

No-Bake Blueberry and Banana Icebox Cake

The beauty of an icebox cake lies in its simplicity. There’s no baking needed — just layer cookies with both banana pudding and vanilla pudding fillings, coconut whipped cream and lots of fresh blueberries and sliced bananas.

There’s no need to layer and frost this lemon-olive oil cake since it bakes in a Bundt pan. It’s finished with a fragrant limoncello glaze that Anthony Contrino equates to “enjoying a forkful of sunshine.”

Lemon Velvet Cake

Whether you’re whipping one up during citrus season or for spring holidays, this cake is sure to impress with its bright lemon notes. The fragrant aroma comes from lemon extract in the cake batter and both juice and zest in the tangy cream cheese frosting.

Luscious Limoncello Cake

The next time you’re in need of a unique dessert for an adults-only celebration, look no further than this impressive boozy cake. Limoncello liqueur makes an appearance twice: first in the mascarpone-based batter and again in the two-ingredient icing.

Martha Stewart's Lemon Mousse Cake

Evoking the best of lemon meringue, this stunning cake wows with its bright flavor and impressive torched exterior. The cake gets its lemon flavor from freshly grated zest, along with the filling (which also gets lemon juice). A classic Swiss meringue covers the multi-layer confection.

A box of cake mix and some lemonade is all you need to whip up a treat with a little bit of pucker. To infuse it with even more citrus flavor, add lemon curd to the frosting and garnish with candied lemon slices.