Already have an account?
Get back to the
Food & Recipes

Easy Butter Cake Recipe Bakes Up Deliciously Golden — Ready for the Oven in 20 Minutes

Plus, expert tips for baking your cake perfectly (every time). 

Baking lies at the heart of Southern cooking, where every treat tastes like it was made with love. Staple pantry ingredients like butter and buttermilk lend their rich flavors to beloved recipes like biscuits, cornbread and fluffy pancakes. But among these Southern delights, none quite match the indulgence of old-fashioned butter cake. This isn’t your typical pound cake recipe — its light, moist texture, golden crust and buttery flavor makes butter cake an instant classic. And we love how it comes together quick and easy in one bundt pan. Keep scrolling for everything you need to know to make butter cake, plus expert tricks that guarantee delicious results.

What is butter cake?

Here’s a fun fact from Angela Latimer at Bake It With Love: “Butter cake … originated in Platte City, Missouri, when Neil Lewis entered his original butter cake into a Pillsbury baking contest.” Also known as Kentucky Butter Cake, its star ingredient, butter, is not just found in the batter but also in a luscious glaze that gets drizzled on top and soaked into the cake right after baking. This glaze sets this treat apart from others, giving it a soft, moist texture and a delicious crisp coating similar to a glaze donut. And trust us when we say that sugary-buttery, melt-in-your-mouth crust is worth every bite. It’s usually made in a bundt pan to maximize that crispy exterior.

Butter cake doesn’t take much effort. In fact, you can whip it up in one bowl with the simplest ingredients already in your kitchen. They include eggs, butter, flour, sugar, baking soda and vanilla, along with buttermilk, which plays a key role. According to Blair Lonergan of The Seasoned Mom, “buttermilk gives the cake a slightly tangy, rich, and buttery flavor that you can’t achieve with regular milk. Additionally, the acid in the buttermilk reacts with the leavening agents to help the cake rise, giving it a light, fluffy texture and a tender cake crumb.”

Butter cake vs. other cakes

butter cake: pound cake slice

You may be thinking that butter cake sounds a lot like pound cake, and they are similar. Both have a golden yellow color. But butter cakes differ from pound cakes in several ways. For one, any recipe for butter cake calls for more butter. “Pound cake is an older European recipe from the 18th century, made of four ingredients: butter, flour, sugar and eggs. one pound of each per the original recipe,” says Latimer. Without dairy products, it typically comes out dense and heavy. Furthermore, pound cake recipes don’t include any glaze or cake soaking. The lighter texture of butter cake allows for easy absorption of the glaze.

Related: Cold Oven Pound Cake Recipe Bakes Up Perfectly Tender + Golden Every Time

Butter cake might also be confused with yellow cake. However, yellow cake uses egg yolks in the batter to achieve a rich coloring. Additionally, yellow cakes have a more neutral flavor profile and a lighter texture. This makes them perfect for additional components including various frostings or fillings.

St. Louis gooey butter cake recipe

Another Midwestern version is the St. Louis gooey butter cake. Unlike traditional butter cake, gooey butter cake bakes in a standard baking sheet. Uniquely, this cake has an additional “gooey” top layer made from cream cheese, sugar and eggs. The batter swaps in cake mix instead of flour, sugar and leavening agents for a dense, chewy and slightly tangy bite. Watch this video from Martha Stewart to learn the recipe:

Tricks for baking the best-ever butter cake

Baking a perfect butter cake requires some attention to detail, but don’t let that scare you. It’s surprisingly easy to make this cake at home and nail that moist texture, flavorful glaze and crispy crust. Here, some expert tips to elevate your cake.

1. Use the right ingredients

Latimer suggests using “the best high-fat butter you can get. European brands are best for this, but Land O Lakes is my more commonly found go-to.” Additionally, don’t skip on buttermilk. If you don’t have it, combine regular milk with an acid like vinegar or lemon juice. (Click through for buttermilk substitutes.)

Lonergan adds, “If using unsalted butter, add an extra ½ teaspoon salt to the batter and a pinch of salt to the glaze as well. The salt balances the sweetness in the cake.”

To go full Kentucky, Lonergan recommends a splash of bourbon. “It adds a hint of Kentucky goodness to both the cake and the glaze without overpowering the dish.”

2. Keep butter and eggs at room temperature

Allow the butter, eggs and buttermilk to come to room temperature before using them in the recipe. This ensures proper incorporation, a smoother batter and a better cake rise.

3. Butter and flour your pan

Remember to grease your Bundt pan with butter and flour to prevent the cake from sticking. This method works better than a non-stick spray, which can create an unwanted crust on the bottom of your cake after baking.

4. Let your cake cool

“It’s important to let the cake cool in the bundt pan for about 30 minutes before inverting it onto a serving platter,” advises Latimer.

The benefits of a bundt pan

Bundt pans are a popular choice for baking due to their distinctive shape and even heat distribution. The center tube allows heat to reach the cake faster than other pans, resulting in a uniformly baked cake with a beautiful golden crust. Additionally, the intricate designs of bundt pans create an elegant presentation that’s worthy of a picture.

For more bundt pan cake recipes, click through for Mini Lemon Curd Bundt Cakes and Raspberry Chocolate Bundt Cake.

Easy butter cake recipe

You can’t go wrong with butter cake for any occasion. This recipe from Preppy Kitchen bakes to buttery perfection in an hour.

Butter Cake with Glaze

butter cake



  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk


  • 5 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract


  • Active Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour a 10-12-cup Bundt pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Then using a hand mixer, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, 3-4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides occasionally. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well.
  3. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
  4. While cake cools, combine butter, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook until opaque and slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  5. Pour glaze over cake in pan. Let cool for 15 minutes. Invert cake onto a wire rack, and let cool completely before serving.

Note: Store the cake covered in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Storing in the fridge will dry out your cake.

What to pair with your cake

Butter cake pairs well with a variety of accompaniments which enhance its rich flavor and texture. And while a stand-alone slice certainly speaks for itself, treat yourself with some add-ons. Here are few delicious ideas to serve with your cake.

1. Powdered sugar

A light dusting of powdered sugar adds a delicate sweetness and a touch of pizazz against the browned crust.

2. Fresh berries

Juicy and vibrant, fresh berries provide a burst of fruity flavor and a refreshing contrast to the rich butter. Try blueberries, strawberries or raspberries.

3. Vanilla ice cream

Creamy and indulgent, a scoop of ice cream cools the palette and amps up the vanilla flavor.

4. Whipped cream

A dollop of whipped cream adds an airy, textural contrast and presentation points to impress your guests.

For more delicious cake recipes, check out these stories:

This One-Bowl Chocolate Pound Cake Recipe Is a Dessert Lover’s Dream: So Rich + Easy

Cherry Pineapple Dump Cake Is the Ultimate 5-Minute Dessert — Zero Clean-Up Required

Guinness Chocolate Cake Is the Ultimate Rich + Fudgy Treat — Easy Shortcut Recipe

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.