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Confetti Cake

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Party on a plate.

There’s no cake quite as happy or festive as a confetti birthday cake. This confetti cake recipe combines a fantastic vanilla buttermilk cake with rainbow sprinkles for an all-time favorite layer cake.

slices of baked funfetti cake
A little slice of happiness.

Why I Love This Confetti Cake Recipe

I made this buttermilk cake for the first time several years ago, when I offered to make my nephew’s fifth birthday cake — a milestone birthday if there ever was one. His main request was “lots of sprinkles.”

I wanted a vanilla cake that would be sweet but not cloying, moist but with enough structure to hold up in a big size. Naturally, I turned to Maida Heatter, whose recipes I trust implicitly. Enter this rainbow sprinkle confetti cake, a Funfetti-style layer cake made from from scratch that everyone will love.

The cake emerged from the oven in a sweet waft of butter and vanilla. The party took place two days later. The cake was still moist, with a slight buttermilk tang to complement the sweetness. Maida did not disappoint.

confetti cake batter with rainbow sprinkles

What is the difference between Funfetti and confetti cake?

Funfetti cake is like Xerox or Kleenex: a name that is technically owned by a company, but has entered the general lexicon of usage. The name Funfetti is trademarked and held by the J.M. Smucker Company, which did own Pillsbury until it was sold to General Mills in 2018.

If you are making a homemade cake from scratch, like this one, it is technically a confetti cake: a vanilla white cake mixed with sprinkles. A funfetti cake is made from a Pillsbury mix.

rainbow sprinkle cake baked in cake pans
Cool the cakes in the pan for about 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

The Confetti Cake Flavor, Texture, and Looks

This is a moist, classic vanilla layer cake mixed with rainbow sprinkles. The sprinkles melt in the cake batter while baking, resulting in that signature confetti look when you cut into it.

  • Flavor: This confetti cake has a sweet vanilla flavor, with just a touch tang from buttermilk to cut the sweetness. The rainbow sprinkles do not add any flavor, just fun. If you want to add a little something to the flavor, I suggest lemon zest or playing around with complementary buttercream flavors, such as strawberry or chocolate. Vanilla buttercream is also perfect. Because it’s a vanilla cake, it is endlessly adaptable.
  • Texture: Because of the butter and buttermilk, the texture of this cake is very moist, but with good structure and fine crumb. It will stay moist for several days at room temperature once baked.
  • Appearance: Pure joy! The rainbow sprinkles in this white cake are scattered throughout the cake batter before baking. When you cut into the baked cake, you’ll enjoy a colorful confetti reveal.

“This is perfectly plain/beautiful/delicious, and is easy to make,” reads Maida’s headnote for her buttermilk vanilla cake. I made the cake batter (adding extra vanilla for good measure), tossed in rainbow sprinkles, and baked it up. Five stars.

This confetti birthday cake has become one of my go-to cake recipes. You can opt out of the sprinkles, of course. Add a teaspoon of lemon or orange zest for hint of fragrant citrus, then frost it generously with fluffy buttercream.

homemade confetti birthday cake

Confetti Layer Cake Tips, Substitutions, and Notes

This is a standard creaming method cake, which I make in an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. As always, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy before adding the eggs and vanilla. Once the dry ingredients start to go in, do not overmix. This develops gluten.

Use rainbow sprinkles as confetti for this cake, not nonpareils. Nonpareils (those tiny little rainbow sprinkle balls) are just too small and will melt and turn the cake color muddy, without the good definition of colors you get from rainbow sprinkles (a.k.a. rainbow jimmies).

This cake can be made in two 9-inch round cake pans. Grease the cake pans well and line the bottoms with parchment paper so the cake doesn’t stick. Wait until the cake layers cool for about 15 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool fully outside of the cake pans, peeling off the parchment paper.

Don’t want to make a cake? Make cupcakes. This recipe will make about 24 confetti cupcakes.

funfetti cupcakes
Nonpareils are great for decorating, but don’t use them in the confetti cake batter. They are too small.

Love this confetti cake recipe? You may also enjoy:

confetti cake recipe

Confetti Cake

A perfect, moist vanilla cake loaded with rainbow sprinkles for the sweetest birthday celebration ever.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Course: Dessert
Keywords:: birthday cake, buttermilk, dessert, layer cake, recipe, sprinkles cake, vanilla
Servings: 8 people; two 8-inch round layers, or one 10" loaf pan
Calories: 648kcal
Author: Lisa Ruland (adapted from Maida Heatter)
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Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • zest of one lemon or orange (optional)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans or one standard loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in one bowl and set aside.
    PRO TIP: Don't feel like sifting? (For the record, I avoid it whenever possible.) Do a quick, "fake" sift by stirring the dry ingredients together for a minute with a whisk. It won't be quite as fluffy and powdery, but it will work fine in a cake like this -- though it is best to do a full sift for extra-light baked goods like soufflés and sponge cakes.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium or medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl once during this process to make sure everything is smooth. Scrape again.
  • With the mixer on low, add the eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest (if using). Once it starts to incorporate, kick the mixer up to medium again, and beat until it is lightened and fluffy, about one minute. Scrape the bowl and briefly mix again.
  • On low speed, alternately add the sifted dry ingredients in three additions and the buttermilk in two: dry, wet, dry, wet, dry. When everything is fully incorporated, remove the bowl from the mixer. Scrape the bowl as necessary, and fold in the sprinkles by hand using a spatula.
  • Pour the cake batter evenly into the two cake pans or loaf pan. Use the back of the spatula to smooth the batter evenly, and bake. Two 8" round pans will take about 30-35 minutes. One loaf pan will take around 1 1/2 hours.
    PRO TIP: Your cake is done when a cake tester, skewer, or toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, and the top feels firm but not hard, like a sponge. You may also notice the edges pulling away from the pan.
  • Cool in the pans for about 15 to 20 minutes. When the pans are cool enough to handle, run an offset spatula or a knife around the outside rim, and turn the cakes out onto a wire cooling rack. Let fully cool.
    PRO TIP: This cake can be made a day or two in advance, and I recommend doing so. Cake always tastes better the next day.

Nutrition

Serving: 8people | Calories: 648kcal | Carbohydrates: 94g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 146mg | Sodium: 559mg | Potassium: 130mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 58g | Vitamin A: 877IU | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 3mg

Disclaimer: Nutrition information is provided for courtesy purposes only, and is an estimate not verified by medical or nutrition experts. Read the full nutrition disclaimer.

19 comments

  • 5 stars
    Tried this for the first time, turned out delicious, Loved the cake. Thanks so much

  • I’m so excited to bake this; for my daughter’s birthday this weekend! I don’t have the set up for a double boiler and the swiss meringue. Would you recommend another frosting?

    I’ll report back once I make. Thank you!

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, Amy! So glad you’re looking forward to making this. The Swiss meringue is definitely a bit more of a project 🙂 You can easily substitute any vanilla or chocolate frosting as you like. This is my go-to recipe for vanilla frosting, which would be closer to the Swiss buttercream than chocolate would be: https://unpeeledjournal.com/vanilla-buttercream-frosting-recipe/ . Hope you enjoy and a very happy birthday to your daughter!

  • I am printing this out so I can try it in a few months’ time.

    In the headnote, the link for the buttercream frosting returns a 404 error.

    • Unpeeled

      Thank you so much for pointing this out! The link has been corrected; much appreciated.

  • Can you make this recipe with cake flour instead of all purpose? Also, would it work to divide the batter to make a four layer cake or would you adjust the batter recipe? Thank you!

    • Unpeeled

      Hi and good question! Cake flour has a lower gluten (ie, protein) content, so you risk having a cake with a little less structure, which could sink in the center, for example. If you use cake flour, I would mix the batter for an extra minute to help develop a little extra gluten to compensate. You can divide the cake batter into more cake pans for sure! They will just take less baking time. Good luck and keep us posted on how it turns out. Great questions.

      • 5 stars
        I made the cake and it turned out awesome! Wish I could post a photo! Thank you for the great recipe and help!

        • Unpeeled

          Yea!!! I am so glad! I wish I could see it, too! If you have instagram, you can post a photo to your stories and tag @unpeeledjournal, or email a photo to inquires@unpeeledjournal.com. Congrats either way and I am so glad you enjoyed. 🙂

  • Greta Walsh

    5 stars
    I’ve been meaning to make this for a few weeks now and I finally had the chance this past weekend and love it. Thanks! We will be enjoying it all week. I wish I could decorate mine as pretty as yours 🙂

  • Tessa R

    5 stars
    I made this for a neighbor’s birthday last week and it was just the perfect celebration cake. Everyone loved it, as did I. Wonderful..

  • Hi, cake looks delicious! Please let me know where you purchased cake stand and plates/cups? Thx you!

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, Mia! Thanks so much! I hope you like it. The cake pedestal is a Mosser glass cake stand, which you can purchase online through Food52. I picked up the cute pink ruffled plates at a yard sale (where I find most of my best kitchen gems), but I suggest looking on eBay. You can often find similar items. Good luck!

  • Can this be made into cupcakes for a child’s birthday? Thank you

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, Cheryl!

      Yes; absolutely. You will probably get between 18 to 24 cupcakes, depending on the size of your cupcake tin. Baking time will be about 20 minutes, more or less. Enjoy!

  • Helen B.

    5 stars
    Excellent.

  • Katie V.

    5 stars
    Also a huge fan of Maida!! I made this and it came out perfectly and really delicious. Thanks!

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